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The Debate over 9/11 Truth: Kevin Ryan vs. Jim Fetzer
#1
The Debate over 9/11 Truth: Kevin Ryan vs. Jim Fetzer

Jim Fetzer


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"The 9/11 Conspiracy: The Scamming of America" (2007)

The publication of "Is '9/11 Truth' based upon a false theory?" has led to many attacks upon me by Kevin Ryan, Niels Harrit, and others, as anyone who reviews the comments on that article can ascertain for themselves. In addition, a rather heated exchange has taken plane on an email thread initiated by T. Mark Hightower, the collaborating author of that article, which initially included Steven Jones, Kevin Ryan, Neils Harrit, and many others. When I sent them a set of questions that had been posed in the "Comments" section, the level of attack increased, where I sought to remind them that they not only have not done their homework with regard to the "explosive" properties of nanothermite but have made a practice of attacking me without doing research on my actual views and have gone out of their way to attack me even when I was standing up for 9/11 Truth. Ryan has even asked me if I had been recruited by the CIA as a graduate student at Indiana University after I had served four years of active duty as a regular officer in the USMC, to which my answer was a most emphatic, "No!

And, in what has to be one of the more bizarre twists of fate in relation to the 9/11 truth movement, Kevin Ryan, whom I have admired in the past, has also attacked me for criticizing "The 9/11 'Truth' Parlor Game", an article by Robert Parry, in my response, "9/11 Truth is No Parlor Game'". Ryan had already expressed his displeasure that I had responded to Parry's trivialization of the truth movement in a thread on the bloggerbrigade and was apparently taken aback when some of those on the thread responded negatively to his assault on me. When I was invited to reply and exposed certain shortcomings in his false and defamatory attacks, he left the thread saying that he was going to "write it up". His later blog, "Why Robert Parry is Right about 9/11 Truth", was the outcome.

Alas, this blog illustrates some of the worst tendencies in the 9/11 truth movement. Kevin criticizes me for trivialities, including a couple of typos. He attacks my JFK research, which he does not know, and assails me for trespassing into terrain that is "off limits" to the members of his clique. He pretends to understand a subtle debate between two professional philosophers over the meaning of the word "information", which drives him to absurd claims over a dispute where he hasn't a clue. To guard against public criticism, he even "closed" the comments on his blog before any could be posted. This shows that dogmas are not restricted to religious groups but can be embraced by 9/11 societies--where I would offer his exaggerated commitment to "explosive nanothermite" as the primary explanation for the destruction of the Twin Towers as another!

My Background

It is no secret that I am the founder of Scholars for 9/11 Truth, a former Marine Corps officer, a magna cum laude graduate of Princeton and a Ph.D. in the history and the philosophy of science. I have done a great deal of research on the assassination of JFK as well as on 9/11, where I edited the first book from Scholars, THE 9/11 CONSPIRACY (2007), organized and moderated its first conference, The Science and Politics of 9/11: What's Controversial, What's Not", and produced its first DVD. These events have proven to be expensive, however, where I lost about $10,000 on the Madison meeting, which was blackballed by Kevin Ryan, even though I had invited both him and Steve Jones to be speakers.

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"The Science and Politics of 9/11" DVD

I have participated in hundreds of interviews about 9/11 on radio and television, including a 3.5 hour appearance on television in Athens in December 2006, which was broadcast worldwide by satellite, speaking in New York in 2007 and in 2008, traveling to Buenos Aires for 9/11 presentations in 2008 and 2009, and organizing a London symposium on "Debunking the War on Terror'" in London in 2010. But none of that matters to Kevin Ryan, who insinuates that I have an agenda to spread false information about 9/11, which is apparently based, at least in part, on his misunderstanding of a subtle disagreement between professional philosophers. This means that, when he attacks me, the truth simply doesn't count.

Ryan's Attack

Since Parry was condemning the 9/11 truth movement, while I was defending it, that Ryan should attack me for doing so is rather peculiar. Acknowledging that mine was the only response to Parry that had been published at that time, he said I "did not contribute to any of the research he claims as our research', and apparently cannot even spell Parry's name or the name of the company that I worked for in his continued efforts to spread false information. The article also makes wild assertions that are not supported by evidence, such as"… every claim the government has made about 9/11 is false." I took a look to figure out what he was talking about and discovered that these claims were either trivial or false.

The name "Parry" appears nine or ten times in the article, and in one instance, I had it as "Perry". I had also referred to Kevin Ryan's former place of employment, as "Underwriters Laboratory", where, strictly speaking, it is "Underwriters Laboratories, Inc." I was curious about his allegation that I had made a "wild assertion" in saying that, "… every claim the government as has made about 9/11 is false". When I took a closer look, I discovered that he replaced the word "virtually" with "…", which is not the act of an honest critic. Indeed, since my rebuttal is devoted to elaborating major falsehoods advanced by the government, based upon research by the members of Scholars for 9/11 Truth and previous studies, as I observe in "Why doubt 9/11?", what's wrong with calling it "our research"?

My JFK Research

Kevin was not satisfied to trash me for trivialities but also claimed that, when I founded Scholars in 2005, I was "known for some dubious contributions to the JFK assassination research community". What he has in mind is beyond me. To the best of my knowledge, Kevin Ryan knows nothing about the death of JFK, where, in late 1992, I organized a research group that consisted of the best-qualified individuals to ever study the case. We discovered that the autopsy X-rays were altered, that another brain was substituted for that of JFK, and that a home movie known as "the Zapruder film" had been extensively edited. I have published these findings in three edited books, which Vincent Bugliosi, who defends the lone gunman theory, has described as "the only three exclusively scientific books" on the JFK assassination. Our work has shattered the cover-up and qualifies as of exceptional scientific significance.

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JFK was hit four times: in the throat (from in front); in the back (from behind); and twice in the head (from behind and in front). Two shots were fired from the vicinity of the Triple Underpass.

As an indication that others do not share Kevin Ryan's dismal assessment of our work, MURDER IN DEALEY PLAZA (2000), which has chapters from nine contributors, was reviewed by George Costello for THE FEDERAL LAWYER, a professional journal for attorneys who work for the federal government, who practice before federal agencies, or who appear in federal courts. His comprehensive evaluation, which you can read for yourself, is decidedly at odds with Kevin's dismissal as "dubious contributions". He concludes,

It is time for people of integrity who were involved in the official investigations -- especially the professionals -- to take a good-faith look at the new evidence and confront the likelihood that their conclusions were based on falsified data. <strong>Murder in Dealey Plaza</strong> may not be the last word on the medical evidence, but it should be the starting point for a fresh look -- not only at the medical evidence, but also at the assassination and its implications.

Costello would later write to me that he had subsequently received an award of recognition for his review. What I do not understand is why Kevin Ryan would hazard opinions about research on a topic that, if anything, may be even more complex and convoluted than research on 9/11, when he knows nothing about it. That does not strike me as a responsible approach for someone who wants to be taken seriously, especially when I have been pioneering the application of scientific reasoning to controversial political events like these.

My 9/11 Research

Some of my more recent JFK articles are "US Government Official: JFK Cover-Up, Film Fabrication", "Forrest Gump on the grassy knoll", and "Who's telling the truth: Clint Hill or the Zapruder film?" As in the case of my JFK research, which has focused on its most challenging aspects, especially with respect to separating authentic from inauthentic evidence, including the authenticity of the Zapruder film,

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"The Great Zapruder Film Hoax" (2003)

my research on 9/11 has focused on the most challenging aspects of that case, too. Thus, I have studied what happened at the Pentagon, the causal mechanisms by which the Twin Towers were destroyed, and the possible use of video fakery in New York. My research has included "What Didn't Happen at the Pentagon", "Seven Questions about 9/11", and "Inside Job: More Proof of 9/11 Duplicity". It is common knowledge that Kevin Ryan's society, Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice, shuns those who, like me, study the Pentagon and video fakery--and go ballistic over anyone who challenges the nanothermite dogma.

Even though Pilots for 9/11 Truth has concluded that the FDR data it obtained from the NTSB corresponds to a plane that flew toward the Pentagon on a different trajectory, too high to have hit any lampposts, and rather than crashing into the building, swerved over itfor which there is a great deal of evidenceKevin Ryan and his friends are intolerant of anyone who suggests that no plane hit the Pentagon. Indeed, there is also no evidence that a plane crashed in a field in Shanksville. Even though Elias Davidsson has shown the government has never proven the hijackers were aboard any of those planes and David Ray Griffin has established that all of the alleged phone calls were faked, Kevin and his associates refuse to even consider questions they raise for the prospect of "phantom flights".

The Scholars Breakup

Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice not only proscribes the study of video fakery (or "no planes") but also insists that thermite in one or another of its forms is the crucial ingredient for explaining the demolition of the Twin Towers. I am sure that Kevin took a dim view of my agreement with Parry on the point that thermite does not seem promising as an explanation of the demolition of the Twin Towers for the reason that it is an incendiary, not an explosive. For thermite to be explosive, it has to be combined with explosives, where the same could be said of toothpaste. That has long been my opinion, which is no secret within the 9/11 research community. I have given critiques of this theory during 9/11 conferences as well as elsewhere, such as "The Manipulation of the 9/11 Community".

Indeed, it was my growing conviction that thermite was most unlikely to be able to provide an explanation for the destruction of the Twin Towers that was behind the separation of Scholars at the end of 2006 and the creation of Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice, which entailed corrupt activities by those trying to wrest the control of Scholars from me, including the misrepresentation of my views, which continues to this day, but also by conducting a phony poll of the members while feigning to be the "membership administrator" and freezing our original web site at st911.org, even though I had been responsible for posting every item that ever appeared there, which forced me to create a new web site at http://911scholars.org, where the history of these events has been archived on Scholars home page.

Kevin's Distortions

Kevin claims, for example, that, less than one year after founding the society, "just before the 5th anniversary of the attacks" when media attention was at its peak, "Fetzer began speaking publicly about space beams destroying the WTC and other such nonsense". And he faults me for a radio interview with Judy Wood, Ph.D., which occurred on 11 November 2006, when I was about to speak in Tucson. With her degrees in structural engineering, applied physics, and materials engineering science, however, I regard Judy as one of the best qualified students of 9/11 in the world today. A former professor of mechanical engineering, she introduced her theory that directed energy weapons may have been employed on 9/11 during during our conversation on the radio. I found her conjecture fascinating because it opens up an unconventional approach toward understanding the events of 9/11.

Since 11 November is two months after 11 September, I have no idea where Kevin comes up with this stuff, but factual accuracy does not appear to be an important desideratum for him. I do not know to this day whether Wood is right, but her web site http://drjudywood.com and new book, WHERE DID THE TOWERS GO?,

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"Where Did the Towers Go"? (2010)

sets a high standard in accumulating evidence about the data that an adequate theory would have to explain, including the conversion of the Twin Towers into millions of cubic yards of very fine dust, the peculiar kinds of damage that were sustained by WTC-3, WTC-4, WTC-5, and WTC-6, and the oddity of the "toasted cars". While I have advocated the study of DEWsalong with nukes, lasers, masers, and plasmoidsI have not endorsed them becausewe still do not know how it was done. And I would add that Kevin Ryan and his colleagues are certainly not in any position to know that Judy Wood has it wrong.

The Exchange

What set him off in composing this blog appears evident from what occurred on a discussion thread between January 26th and 28th, 2011. Kevin began by expressing dismay over my article criticizing Robert Parry with the remark, "Oh God, not Fetzer again." He was immediately countered by Ben Collet, who replied, "Kevin Ryan's reputation as a scientifically-minded 9/11 activist has, unfortunately, taken a big hit with this snide comment about one of the most important voices in the 9/11 truth movement." Not to be outdone, Kevin responded with a partial transcript of my interview from 11 November 2006 in which I expressed fascination with Judy's theory. He was again countered by Ben:

Ryan's citation of this four year old interview demonstrates only that Dr. Fetzer starts with the appropriate attitude of the truth-seeker who is employing the scientific method. That is he exhibits curiosity and openness to a new idea. Nowhere does he say Judy Wood is correct, he simply evinces an honest curiosity to hear her views. This is the true scientific approach. Unfortunately others who do not have Dr. Fetzer's familiarity with the scientific method think it is enough to denounce unpopular views as heretical without even listening to them. Dr Fetzer has a PhD in the philosophy of the scientific method.

Kevin's Defense

Kevin responded by offering an exaggerated version of my position, which makes it easier to attack, and ridiculed Ben for supporting me: "Ben"s support for Fetzer's claim that space beams destroying the WTC is 'the most fascinating development in the history of the study of 9/11' is interesting.

Oh Really?? Oh ho ho ho ho! Oh Ben. Oh my oh my oh my oh my. This is huge ... this is huge Ben.

He added, "See attached for an article on the value of false information, written by Fetzer and presented in a conference one month before 9/11/01. Fetzer doesn't have any peer-review scientific articles on the attacks of 9/11. But he does know the value of false information."

Ben replied, Kevin Ryan misrepresents Dr. Fetzer's position. Fetzer never has said he supports "space beams", only that he supports the study of space beams and other theories of how it was done. This is the appropriate attitude to take until we figure out the actual method used. . . . In writing, "9/11 Truth is No Parlor Game", Dr. Fetzer is defending the 9/11 movement against an attack from a widely admired investigative journalist, Robert Parry. It is unfortunate that Ryan feels compelled to belittle and misrepresent the person who has so ably defended the truth against Parry's lies.

Another Response

While I am sure he was not pleased with Ben's comments, I imagine that another response from mlkjeldsen was even less warmly received, since it cut to the core of his attack upon my article:

Kevin,

I do not mean to attack you, because I consider your actions to be heroic and your tenacity inspiring. But I have two questions.

Number one, after going back and reading Jim's piece a second time, I found nothing to be untrue or disinformative. I found it to be a quality refutation of a piece of garbage written by a scoundrel. Did you find any flaws?

Number two, our phony president, while addressing the phony congress and the rest of the phony government actually made a joke about the sexual assault that the TSA carries out against us everyday. There are blimps surveilling us. The country is divided into ten FEMA regions. The economy is being collapsed on purpose. The noose is being tightened around our collective neck. How does, let's be honest, attacking Jim Fetzer help us to reach the critical mass of informed citizens that we need to hold off this tyranny? This is a war of government against freedom, plain and simple. He, like you and I, is reaching people with this messageis he not?

Kevin's response was almost guttural:

He has been reaching people with space beams and holograms and false information for many years. Please don't promote it. It is the problem.

To which he would subsequently add:

The most influential article relating to this topic that he wrote is the paper on the value of false information, which Fetzer presented at a conference in August 2001. Why would an expert on false information, who has made no serious contributions to the truth movement, be seen as worthy of our attention let alone be welcomed as a champion of truth?

Thank you, Ben and Mike, for reminding me of the power that false information still has in the 9/11 truth movement. I will turn my attention to this problem again, and write it up.

Kevin's Misconceptions

While I have not been endorsing "space beams" or "holograms" but promoting their study, I am now increasingly inclined to believe the plane rather than the video was faked. The hologram hypothesis to explain video fakery in the footage of Flight 175 hitting the South Towerwhere the plane is traveling at an impossible speed, entering the building in clear violation of Newton's laws, and passes through its own length into the building in the same number of frames it takes to pass through its own length in airis one of three possibilities, where the other two are the use of computer-generated images or the use of video compositing. Unless you have studied the issues involved here, it may sound a bit far-fetched. But how are we going to understand "the pivotal event of the 21st century" if we are not allowed to study the evidence and explore alternative explanations? Kevin's attitude is not only unscientific but is virtually illiterate.

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Flight 175 "hitting" the South Tower

The hardest part of scientific inquirywhich involves stages of PUZZLEMENT, SPECULATION, ADAPTATION (of hypotheses to evidence) and EXPLANATIONis figuring out all of the possible alternative explanations. Premature closure at this stage (by excluding hypotheses that seem too unusual, unconventional, or politically incorrect) can consign an investigation to failure by excluding the true hypothesis for consideration on inappropriate grounds. That, in my opinion, has been the case with Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice with regard to the possible use of directed energy weapons or the possible use of sophisticated technology to create images of a plane that isn't really thereas I have attempted to demonstrate many times now. But the most bewildering aspect of Kevin's assault concerns his attacks upon me for (what he claims to be) the use of false information, which is a massive confusion.

False Information

The differences between me and Professor Floridi concern whether or not truth is a condition for something (reports, photos, evidence) to qualify as "information". In other words, we are engaged in a classic philosophical debate over how a word should best be understood in order to clarify and illuminate its use within various contexts in which it might occur. He maintains that, for something to qualify as "information", it has to be true, which I deny. I argue that, for every assertion, there is a denial, where we are often presented with contrary or contradictory assertions from alternative sources. As I see it, we are being presented with information and have to figure out which is true and which is not. According to Floridi, however, we would not even know if one other the other of these assertions were "information" unless we knew that it was true.

As it happens, I have published two papers, one on this question and another on the nature of misinformation and of disinformation. I argue that "misinformation" is information that is false, where "disinformation" occurs by the deliberate dissemination of false information with the intention to deceive or mislead an audience. Think how awkward it is to even talk about "false information" if you have presupposed that, to qualify as information, it has to be true. This is another reason for rejecting Floridi's approach. It creates very awkwardeven incoherentuses of language in talking about false information, if that means talking about the falsity of what we have already implied is true merely by calling it "information". So I think Floridi's approach has no merit and have offered my reasons for holding that position in these articles:

"Information: Does it Have to be True?", Minds and Machines 14/2 (May 2004), pp. 223-229.

"Disinformation: The Use of False Information", Minds and Machines 14/2 (May 2004), pp. 231-240.

Kevin's Confusion

Imagine my astonishment when I read in Kevin's blog that, "In this paper, Fetzer argues that false information (including disinformation) is just as meaningful as true information, implying that false information has just as much value as true information." He further maintains that, according to Fetzer and his colleagues, "spreading and using false information (more precisely, misinformation, if the source is unaware of its falsity, or disinformation, if the source is aware and uses/spreads it on purpose, precisely because it is false) is perfectly fine and acceptable"! I must say that in my entire adult life I have never read such drivel, which has no basis in my work other than drawing a distinction between information, misinformation and disinformation. We are dealing with a man who has a diminished capacity for grasping conceptual distinctions.

To say that information, misinformation and disinformation are "equally meaningful" does not mean "that false information has just as much value as true information"! No one in their right mind would make such a claim. The point about meaning is that I define "information" as meaningful data, where the meaningfulness of data is not a function of its truth. If we are told my one source, "It is going to rain", and by another, "It is not going to rain", they cannot both be true but they are both meaningful! The problem that we confront in every area of inquiry is to sort out the claims that are both meaningful and true from those that are instead meaningful but false. Truth itself can even be defined as beliefs that provide us appropriate guidance for actions in the world, where, when our beliefs are true, actions based upon them are more likely to be successful than if they are false. Their value is enormously different!

What's the Deal?

In this blog, Kevin Ryan asserts that, "This paper challenged the work of a professor at Oxford University by the name of [Luciano] Floridi, who like most honest people, contends that, since information is data that changes what we do, only true information that helps us respond to our world accurately and effectively has value." He then contends that, "When contacted by 9/11 researchers who suspected Fetzer of being a propenent and purveyor of false information, Floridi confirmed that Fetzer was effectively arguing for the use of false information. Floridi responded that the arguments of Fetzer and his colleagues suggest that "spreading and using false information (more precisely, misinformation, if the source is unaware of its falsity, or disinformation, if the source is aware and uses/spreads it on purpose, precisely because it is false) is perfectly fine and acceptable". But there is no reason that Luciano Floridi would make such claims.

That Kevin Ryan did not know his first name, "Luciano", suggested to me that this was a false report. In spite of our philosophical disagreement, Luciano and I are friends, so I wrote him to ask if he had made such a claim to 9/11 researchers. He replied that, "I'm afraid I had not recollection of being contacted by any 9/11 researcher, but before writing to you I wanted to check my computer. It also does not have any recollection. So I might be wrong (it happens more often than I like to think), and my computer might be wrong (but it is a beautiful new iMac after all), but it seems more plausible to think that there was no contact at all. I do answer tens of emails a day, so who knows, but I would remember, I think, and there should be a trace in my mail, at least of my reply. But nothing, no biological or artificial memory of any of this." So it may be that one of usdeliberately or notreally is trading in false information.

Bringing It Home

On the basis of a gross misunderstanding of my position, Kevin Ryan contends, "Facts and evidence indicate that the use of false information to derail the 9/11 truth movement is a reality despite the inability of leading 9/11 researchers to admit such a possibility. With unsubstantiated claims of space beams, video fakery and holograms, Fetzer and his colleagues have taken advantage of the fact that many Americans are scientifically illiterate. These evil parlor games give influential professionals like Robert Parry, who are already psychologically challenged and fearful of the topic, additional reasons to ignore all the evidence and spout off about the issues with little or no understanding." Which is especially ironic, since, in this very blog, Kevin Ryan is spouting off about me and my positions, even philosophical ones, with little or no understanding. And nothing would give me greater pleasure than to discuss these things in a public forum. I therefore extend an invitationa challenge, if you liketo Kevin Ryan to debate these issues with me over the radio, where Kevin Barrett could serve as our host.

Once again, we see that Kevin Ryan wholly ignores the difference between STUDYING A POSITION and ADVOCATING A POSITION. I do not know how the Twin Towers were destroyed, but I do know that Judy Wood has advanced an interesting hypothesis. I don't know if holograms were used to perpetrate video fakery, but I do know that the weight of the evidence supports it. And I have no doubt at all that no Boeing 757 hit the Pentagon, for which there is abundant and compelling evidence. But don't ask Kevin Ryan, because he won't even consider them. How, I have to ask, could I be dedicating my life to sorting out the differences between authentic and inauthentic evidence regarding JFK and 9/11 were I not profoundly committed to discovering the truth? And why would I even care, if I held the absurd views that Kevin Ryan attributes to me? As a philosopher, I care about truth. As a former Marine Corps officer, I care about my country. And, as a philosopher of science, I know that scientific investigations are our most reliable means for discovering truth. One of us has lost his way and is betraying the movement, but it isn't me.

Jim Fetzer, a former Marine Corps officer, founded Scholars for 9/11 Truth in December 2005 with Steve Jones as his co-chair. This is an expanded and revised version of "The Misadventures of Kevin Ryan".
Reply
#2
Contrasting uniformity and non-uniformity of WTC dust sample results of the Harrit et al. paper "Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe"
http://www.bentham-open.org/pages/conten...7TOCPJ.SGM
T Mark Hightower
8/8/2011

ABSTRACT
Although the Harrit et al. paper claims great uniformity of results among all samples based on all the tests apart from the Differential Scanning Calorimeter (DSC) tests, this is in significant contrast to the tremendous lack of uniformity reflected in the DSC results.

Also, although the paper contains a rather doubtful statement regarding its findings in one part of the paper, it concludes with a strikingly confident conclusion in the final statement of the paper.

THE UNCERTAINTY OF THE DIFFERENTIAL SCANNING CALORIMETER (DSC) RESULTS
There are some weaknesses in the Differential Scanning Calorimeter (DSC) data that is presented in the paper (Harrit et al.) for the 4 dust samples.

There were 4 dust samples tested. Page 9 of the paper identifies them as

1 MacKinlay
2 Delassio/Breidenbach
3 Intermount
4 White

The DSC data is presented in the text of page 19, section 3, which refers to graphical results of Fig. 19 on page 20. One of the DSC traces is compared to a trace of published nanothermite data in Fig. 29 on page 25. The results are presented in Fig. 30 on page 27 in the form of bar graphs reporting units of kJ/g.

There is an oddity I want to point out before I get into the first weakness.

The data referred to on page 19 and in Fig. 19 appears to have not included sample 2 Delassio/Breidenbach, but instead has a MacKinlay 2 sample in its place to give a total of 4 samples tested. In Fig. 30 the 4 samples are clearly labeled as 1, 2, 3, and 4, so here it seems to imply that the 2 Delassio/Breidenbach sample is included. Interestingly, the numerical value of 3 kJ/g given in the text on page 19 for the MacKinlay 2 sample of Fig. 19 is the same or at least close to the same as the 2 (presumably) Delassio/Breidenbach sample of Fig. 30. Clarification from the authors should be sought to clear up this confusion.

So there were 4 separate dust samples, with multiple red/gray chips in each sample.

I will use the numerical values of energy release given in the text (page 19) as representing the values in the bar graph of Fig. 30 for the 4 WTC chip samples. These would be

Sample 1: 1.5 kJ/g
Sample 2: 3 kJ/g
Sample 3: 7.5 kJ/g
Sample 4: 6 kJ/g

As these four DSC data points are all we have, it is of note that there is tremendous scatter in this data. The average value is 4.5 and the standard deviation is 2.7. As two standard deviations is usually what is used when referring to a value being +/- some uncertainty, in rough terms, we would then say that the DSC data gives an average value of 4.5 kJ/g, with an uncertainty of +/- 100%.

It appears that only one red/gray chip was selected from each sample for DSC testing. If DSC tests had been done separately for multiple chips in each sample, then the question of whether the scatter in the data was present similarly within each of the samples could also have been addressed. You cannot find what you do not look for.

The paper offers some possible explanations for the scatter in the data. From page 19, section 3, it states,

"Variations in peak height as well as yield estimates are not surprising, since the mass used to determine the scale of the signal, shown in the DSC traces, included the mass of the gray layer. The gray layer was found to consist mostly of iron oxide so that it probably does not contribute to the exotherm, and yet this layer varies greatly in mass from chip to chip."

Page 29, Conclusion 10. offers an explanation for higher total energy release than can be explained by the classic thermite reaction (true for samples 3 & 4)

"The carbon content of the red material indicates that an organic substance is present. This would be expected for super-thermite formulations in order to produce high gas pressures upon ignition and thus make them explosive. The nature of the organic material in these chips merits further exploration. We note that it is likely also an energetic material, in that the total energy release sometimes observed in DSC tests exceeds the theoretical maximum energy of the classic thermite reaction."

If citing gray layer variation and organic content is not enough to explain the tremendous variation in the results, another explanation is added on page 27, section 6. I will quote an entire paragraph so you can appreciate the context.

"It is striking that some of the red/gray chips release more energy in kJ/g than does ordinary thermite, as shown in the blue bar graphs above. The theoretical maximum for thermite is 3.9 kJ/g [27]. We suggest that the organic material in evidence in the red/gray chips is also highly energetic, most likely producing gas to provide explosive pressure. Again, conventional thermite is regarded as an incendiary whereas super-thermite, which may include organic ingredients for rapid gas generation, is considered a pyrotechnic or explosive [6, 24]. As this test was done in air it is possible that some of the enhancement of energy output may have come from air oxidation of the organic component."

So the DSC tests were done in air so extra oxygen was present to help liberate energy from any organics that might be present.

I know there is very little data to go on, just 4 DSC scans of red/gray chips, but with the scatter in the data and the explanations offered to explain it, I get the impression that the red/gray chips are tremendously lacking in uniformity. Or else there is much inherent error in the experimental apparatus.

By having air and therefore a source of oxygen present in the DSC seems to be an error in method since it allows for the input of energy from outside the substance that is itself being measured for its energy content. From Fig. 30 Chip 3 liberates considerably more energy than the high explosive HMX, and Chip 4 also exceeds the HMX value, but only by a little. The HMX provides its own oxygen within its chemical makeup, so it would not depend upon additional oxygen present to liberate its full energy. (Be sure not to confuse energy release with detonation velocity, an issue I am not dealing with in this write-up.)

I would like to see what a DSC trace of pure HMX would look like. It would probably look quite different because it would start to release its energy at a lower temperature, the deflagration temperature of HMX being 287 deg C. (page 238, "Explosives," 6th edition, Meyer et al., 2007)

In summary, the DSC data is extremely limited with much scatter and has a potential method error. Drawing firm conclusions from it is extremely dubious.

QUANTIFYING EXPLANATIONS FOR SCATTER IN DSC DATA
Variability in proportions of gray layer within the red/gray chips and organics present in the red layer are cited as explanations for the scatter in the DSC data. Let's quantify these explanations to see what kind of variability of the specimens might account for the scatter in the data.

The energy release for thermite is cited as 3.9 kJ/g. For the lowest value from the DSC tests, 1.5 kJ/g for sample 1, let's first assume for the sake of illustration that this specimen had a low value because it had no organics in the red layer (in other words it is essentially pure thermite), and the gray layer being predominantly iron oxide as the paper says, acted as excess reactant and therefore was essentially inert providing no energy in the DSC test. In this case, the red layer would have to be present at 38 % by weight and the gray layer present at 62 % within the specimen. The math is 1.5/3.9 = 0.38. In summary, this would be assuming no organics, 38% red layer, and 62% gray layer.

The above calculation is done as a base case for comparison, even though its assumption of no organics in the red layer goes against the major thrust of the conclusion of the Harrit et al. paper that the red layer is a form of nanothermite that includes organics.

The next calculation is an attempt to quantify the high end of the DSC data, 7.5 kJ/g for sample 3. The presence of organics is cited as the explanation for the high value by the paper. Pure high explosive HMX has a energy release of 5.2 kJ/g, so even if sample 3 were 100 % HMX, this could not account for the higher value of 7.5 kJ/g obtained by the DSC test. So, for the sake of illustration, I am going to assume that the organic present in the red layer has an energy release of twice that of HMX, or 10.4 kJ/g. To help account for the high value of 7.5 kJ/g for sample 3, I am also going to assume that it contains no gray layer. In other words I am going to assume that sample 3 is 100 % red layer material. Setting x = weight fraction thermite in the red layer, the math is 3.9x + 10.4(1-x) = 7.5. Solving for x gives 0.45. So based on the above assumptions the red layer would have to contain 45 % thermite by weight and 55 % organic. In summary, this would be 100% red layer, no gray layer, with the red layer made up of 45% thermitic material and 55% organics.

Let's now go back to the low value case, 1.5 kJ/g for sample 1, and assume that it is made up of red layer (containing 45 % thermite and 55 % organic from the previous calculation) plus gray layer of inert excess iron oxide reactant. In this case then, the specimen would have to contain 20 % red layer and 80 % gray layer. The math is 1.5/7.5 = 0.2. In summary, this would be 20% red layer (made up of 45% thermite and 55% organic) and 80% gray layer.

Therefore, a very high degree of variability among the red/gray chips is necessary to explain the scatter in the DSC test data, unless there is significant error in the experimental apparatus and technique.

This is in contrast to these statements from the paper concerning the great uniformity of results.

From page 15, right column, it states, "From these data, it is determined that the red/gray chips from different WTC dust samples are extremely similar in their chemical and structural makeup. It is also shown that within the red layer there is an intimate mixing of the Fe-rich grains and Al/Si plate-like particles and that these particles are embedded in a carbon-rich matrix."

From page 23, upper left column, it states, "The results clearly show the similarities of the red/gray chips from the different dust samples from all four sites."

ANOTHER WEAKNESS IN THE DSC DATA
On page 25 of the paper, it says

"The red layer of the red/gray chips is most interesting in that it contains aluminum, iron and oxygen components which are intimately mixed at a scale of approximately 100 nanometers (nm) or less. Now we compare a DSC trace obtained for a WTC red/gray chip with a DSC trace obtained for known super-thermite (see Fig. (29))."

Note that in Fig. 29 the trace of the WTC sample is really not all that similar to the known super-thermite. The WTC sample cited in Fig. 29 is the MacKinlay sample, although it does not say whether it is the MacKinlay 1 or MacKinlay 2 sample. But from Fig. 19, where 4 WTC DSC traces are plotted, for the four samples, MacKinlay 1, MacKinlay 2, Intermont, and White, the two MacKinlay samples are the lowest energy release traces. The other two, Intermont (sample 3), and White (sample 4) have much higher energy release, and deviate even more from the known super-thermite trace of Fig. 29.

STATISTICAL WEAKNESS OF THE DATA PRESENTED IN THE PAPER
With the tremendous scatter in the DSC data presented in the paper, and its implication for extreme non uniformity of the red/gray chips that I have tried to quantify, the question needs to be raised on all of the other tests that were performed to characterize the red/gray chips, and whether additional tests should have been done on other of the chips within the samples, to see if those tests also would have shown such high levels of non uniformity.

OTHER QUOTES OF NOTE FROM THE PAPER
From page 25 of the paper, right column, first paragraph, the final sentence is

"We make no attempt to specify the particular form of nano-thermite present until more is learned about the red material and especially about the nature of the organic material it contains." This statement expresses a lot of doubt about the findings.

From page 29 of the paper, final paragraph.

"Based on these observations, we conclude that the red layer of the red/gray chips we have discovered in the WTC dust is active, unreacted thermitic material, incorporating nanotechnology, and is a highly energetic pyrotechnic or explosive material." This final conclusion statement of the paper expresses much less doubt.
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