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The BBC's The Third Tower

Just a month before NIST wrapped up its "investigation" of WTC 7's collapse, The BBC released The Third Tower, adding another "documentary" to the 9/11 section of its series The CONSPIRACY Files. The Third Tower follows the The CONSPIRACY Files formula of interviewing some of the more credible proponents of the target "conspiracy theory", which it initially presents as deserving of examination, and using a a variety of subtle and not-so-subtle techniques to discredit such challenges and reinforce the official story. For example, the web page describing the film contextualizes all alternatives to the official story as the product of mildly delusional conspiratorial thinking, with titles like "Conspiracy theorists at heart", "Conspiracy test: Find out how conspiratorial you are by taking our test". 1  

The review The Third Tower: A Critical Examination gives a blow-by-blow account of the film, concluding that the film supports the case for controlled demolition while working mightily to refute it.

The approach of The Third Tower certainly contrasts with the blatant use of the straw-man attack typified by Popular Mechanics . The BBC features Richard Gage, and favorably describes his group Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, and includes portions of interviews physicist Steven Jones. Other than through subtly injecting derision into the appearances of Gage and Jones by prefacing them with the show's conspiracy music and banner, the BBC treats them respectfully. It relies on propaganda methods other than ad-hominems and straw men to take on these articulate critics of the collapse theory. One such method is to answer and evade the arguments for demolition with assertions by a parade of experts, some presented as more authoritative than Gage and Jones. These assertions, although fallacious, are presented as plausible and given no rebuttal. Consider examples how how the BBC treats just two points of evidence, starting with the point, made by Gage, that the symmetry of WTC7's destruction indicates an engineered process:

A sixth grader can look at this building falling at virtual free-fall speed symmetrically and smoothly and see that it is not a natural process. Buildings that fall in natural processes fall to the path of least resistance. They don't go straight down through themselves.

The BBC never directly addresses the argument, following Gage with an animation and description of WTC7's straddling the electrical substation, perhaps implying that its unique structure could make a vertical collapse natural. Instead it shifts to another argument -- the supposed extreme difficulty of rigging the buildings -- asserted by demolition expert Controlled Demolition Inc. president Mark Loizeaux, who the BBC introduces thus:

Controlled demolition Incorporated is one of the world's leading demolition companies. Mark Loizeaux has been in his family business all his life. He knows what it takes to bring a building down.

Loizeaux asserts that demolitions have do be done in a certain way: gutting the building, placing hundreds of cutter charges, and connecting them together with, according to the narrator, "literally miles of initiating cable and miles more detonating cord". Asked if a controlled demolition could have been done with "no-one to have seen anything", Loizeaux answers:

In a screen play, in a movie, something with Bruce Willis in it maybe. In reality, no.

If these fallacies aren't immediately obvious, they should be after reading the 9-11 Research Demolition Frequently Asked Questions that the film's producer had been made aware of long before its release.

In a similar manner, the BBC uses its featured expert to debunk Jones, while affording Jones no opportunity to respond. After a review of some of Jones' evidence for the use of aluminothermics, Loizeaux scoffs at the idea:

I saw thermite once in high school.. I've never seen anyone use a material which melts steel for demolition purposes. I don't see how you could possibly get all of the columns to melt through at the same time.

Of course Jones has, all along, noted the existance of "super-thermites", or nano-thermites, which have reaction rates, and thus explosive power, matching that of conventional high explovies while providing much higher energy densities, and are thus quite capable of instantly slicing through steel. The BBC has Jones raising the subject of "super-thermites", but it fails to explain the significance of these energetic materials, instead implying that "secret formulations of thermite that have special properties" are the subject of crackpot internet gossip, rather than of military-funded research by the US government labs such as Lawrence Livermore National Lab, Sandia National Lab, and NIST. 2   3   4  


1. 9/11: The Conspiracy Files, bbc.co.uk, [cached]
2. Investigation of Ignition Characteristics of Heterogeneous Strongly Exothermic Reactions, [cached]
3. Nanoscale Chemistry Yields Better Explosives, llnl.gov, [cached]
4. Structure and Stability of Deflagrations in Porous Energetic Materials [PDF],

page last modified: 2008-08-27
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