9/11, Steven Jones, and Me
My name is Robert Cronk and I have been informally investigating the evidence, testimony, and theories surrounding 9/11 for a while now and I have been fascinated by what I have experienced. Hopefully I’ll be able to offer a different point of view than the other multitudes of people out there talking about 9/11.
You’ve seen them. Some of them are selling a DVD or a book. Others seem to be doing it for popularity. Some have actually put their career or reputation on the line. Still others seem to struggle with the pride of “being right” above all else – sometimes I fall into that category too – oops.
In my estimation, most of these people, myself included, believe that they’re on to something that nobody else has found and they believe they are honestly just “seeking the truth.” In many cases, I have found that they have a vested interest in their particular theory being right and in my experience it seems that these vested interests get in the way of really “seeking the truth” above all else. So I’ll throw out my point of view and let you be the judge.
First of all, I’m not an expert in physics, structural engineering, or really any other relevant field involving 9/11. I am a software engineer – a computer geek. You know – I’m one of those guys who sit in a dark cubicle somewhere, eyes glazed over, eating pizza and writing code to make computers do amazing things like send email, balance your checkbook, or let you play solitaire while your boss isn’t looking.
A large part of my career has dealt with accurately comprehending and modeling reality in a computer – that’s what most computer geeks do. For example, if your business deals with money and goods, we would write a program that models the movement of that money and those goods so that you can track it and report on it. This is usually done by combining my own research and evidence with information gathered during interviews with people who are experts in whatever it is we’re trying to model.
I then go through all of the information, resolving conflicts between the evidence and people’s views of reality, and finally come up with (hopefully) an accurate model of reality to program into the computer. Any inaccuracies in the model end up causing problems for the customer and end up making a lot more work for me and so I try to get it right the first time and I try to be rigorous as I build the model – getting all the facts nailed down completely before coding anything up on the computer.
As I have done this over the years, I have learned a lot about figuring out what is true and what is false when I look at a set of information. This is the experience that I use as I investigate 9/11.
What’s that? You want me to be quiet about all of this computer stuff and get to the point? Ok, ok – Back in October of 2005, a friend of mine introduced me to the work of one Professor Steven E. Jones – a professor at BYU. Since that time, I have studied and researched the topics contained in his paper and presentations. I also attended a presentation that he gave at UVSC as well as receiving various versions of the PowerPoint slides used in those presentations.
I have also had continuing email correspondence with Professor Jones regarding the content of his presentations and his paper entitled “Why Indeed Did the WTC Buildings Collapse?” Throughout this exchange, I have found Professor Jones to be a very kind and civil person as I have interacted with him and I thank him for that.
In this series of articles, I want to describe my interactions with him as well as working through his paper and presentation slides. I would like to tell the story of what I have found.
Why am I doing this? Don’t I have something better to do? I could think of a few things I’d rather be doing, but my goal here is to publish the truth and error that I have found throughout this process.
I believe that this country is becoming more and more divided over these issues and I have found that much of what is dividing us is rooted in misleading quotes, incomplete information, testimony taken out of context, assumptions made in ignorance, all combined with flawed theories that are based on the aforementioned mess.
I want to reveal these things in an objective way to give the casual researcher of 9/11 events another point of view. I will do my best to keep my own feelings and theories out of this discussion. That’s hard to do and I’ll probably fail at times but I’m sure you’ll forgive me.
Currently I do not support any specific theory. I am therefore open to any theory, though I must admit that my research so far has me leaning toward some theories and away from others. Let’s get to it, shall we?
On Tue 18 Oct 2005, I received an email from a friend of mine concerning one Professor Jones from BYU who was investigating the events of 9/11. It had a PowerPoint presentation attached to it. I had been looking into the events of 9/11 for a while at that point and so I was interested in taking a look at it.
The email was a forwarded email from Jones to my friend and then to me. In the part that Professor Jones wrote, he said, “…if any of you spot errors or weak arguments in the enclosed presentation, please let me know.”
I opened up the presentation slides and noticed several things that caught my attention. And when I say “caught my attention”, I mean “errors or weak arguments”. I wanted to discuss these things with Professor Jones directly and so I emailed him the next day.
Before I get to the first email, I would like to explain my approach. It is based on my discussions of several topics with people over the years ranging from whether or not the moon landing happened to what happened on 9/11.
My approach has been influenced by all of my interactions with conspiracy theorists in the past. One thing I try to avoid is what I have called the “conspiracy theory pattern”. It goes like this: First, I find some evidence that refutes one of the theory’s supporting facts, next, the defender of the theory essentially avoids the evidence I presented and then brings up several (usually more than five) other facts that supposedly also support the theory.
This has the effect of keeping the overall theory protected since the issue in question doesn’t get resolved – rather, the theory seems to get even stronger as all of these other supporting (but thus far not proven) “facts” are brought up.
In my experience, it turns out that those other “facts” usually end up being a large pile of debunkable (is that a word?) “maybes”. It’s as though protecting the theory is more important than uncovering the truth – as if they have such a strongly held belief that their theory is true that they refuse to let any of the supporting “facts” be debunked because any debunked “fact” threatens whatever vested interest they may have in the theory being true.
They might also twist a fact into a pretzel shape so that it can fit into their theory. Of course I have found that this happens to most people defending their theories and so this behavior is not necessarily proof of anything, it’s just something to keep in mind as we go through this. My idea is that once all of the facts are proven true or false individually, then and only then can the true ones be gathered together to form a theory.
I didn’t know if Professor Jones would behave this way or not and so I initially tried to avoid the “conspiracy pattern” by asking him not to address multiple items at once. I should have been clearer, as you’ll soon see. I also wanted to address the fact that Professor Jones is a physics professor (i.e. not a structural engineer) and so I was confused as to why he was glossing over, dismissing, and asserting his opinion on so many structural engineering issues that were outside of his area of expertise. He seemed to do this with his various political assertions too – as we’ll see later.
I’ll only cover the first couple of emails and then I’ll switch from this detailed mode to a summary mode where I’ll summarize what we talked about and bring up unresolved issues from his paper and presentation. Professor Jones and I are communicating about these issues via email to this day though there was a period where we had no interaction. This first email will serve as an introduction.
Wed 19 Oct 2005 – My first email to him was as follows:
From: Robert Cronk
Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2005 10:30 AM
To: Jones, Steven
Subject: 9/11 Presentation
My name is Robert Cronk and I am a software engineer. I am a friend of [name deleted], who I believe you are acquainted with. He regularly forwards things to me and I give him feedback on them. He recently sent me the slightly stripped down PowerPoint presentation that you prepared from your past two presentations on 9/11. I wanted to thank you for working so hard to gather this information up. I am with you as far as finding out the truth of these events. I would like to give you some feedback that I hope will make your presentation more bulletproof and more accurate based on all of the information out there.
I seek the truth and I try to do it without any agenda. It’s difficult at times, but that’s the way I believe it should be done. Currently, I am open to all options regarding 9/11. I am open to it being: 1. initiated and orchestrated by the government to rob us of our freedom (using Arab terrorists as pawns), 2. Greedy businessmen trying to get money from insurance companies, 3. It’s as explained, that terrorists just flew planes into buildings and they fell down because of the damage, 4. Anything else that pops up in the process of finding the truth. I try to look at the facts without bias for one of the above scenarios and once I have gathered it all up, then I might lean towards one that makes the most sense given all of the facts….I hope that you are taking the same unbiased approach or we won’t be able to reach the truth.
Given this background, I would like to start with a single topic and go through your presentation one topic at a time to resolve or solidify or tweak that topic. I don’t like to deal with many topics at once because in my experience, nothing is accomplished when I deal with multiple topics at once. Thanks for considering my input.
In your presentation, you assert that the global collapse of WTC Building 7 was not explained by the NIST report that you gave a link to. In that report, it discusses the following scenario:
1. An initial local failure at the lower floors (below Floor 13) of the building due to fire and/or debris induced structural damage of a critical column (the initiating event), which supported a large span floor bay with an area of about 2,000 sq ft
2. Vertical progression of the initial local failure up to the east penthouse, as large floor bays were unable to redistribute the loads, bringing down the interior structure below the east penthouse
3. Horizontal progression of the failure across the lower floors (in the region of Floors 5 and 7, that were much thicker than the rest of the floors), triggered by damage due to the vertical failure
4. Events resulted in a disproportionate collapse of the entire structure
In my view, this combines some heavy architecture with physics. The missing link that you did not mention in your presentation is item #3 in the above list. The key architectural pieces involved are trusses 1 and 2. The architecture of floors 5 through 7 was unique because they had a transfer system between floors 5 and 7 that included the two trusses that are at the core of the collapse. This system of cantilever girders and trusses was supposed to be a kind of converter of loads between the Con-Edison substation (that WTC 7 was built on top of) and WTC 7 itself. The two buildings had different architectures and so there needed to be a conversion point between the two. The debris impacted and damaged components adjacent to truss #2. If trusses 1 and 2 failed, they would pull the whole line of columns over simultaneously since they were all attached in the middle of that transfer area between floors 5 and 7. “Floor 5 – which did not have any exterior windows and contained the only pressurized fuel distribution system on the south, west and north floor areas – is considered a possible fire initiation location”. Because there were no windows on that floor, fire observations from outside the building would not be possible. The orange section of the graphic below shows that a large portion of the south face was destroyed by debris from the towers and that this damage tore into WTC 7 about 1/4th of the thickness of that side of the building. This is part of the damage that weakened components near truss #2.
As I have gone and studied the architecture of this building and the pieces involved, I have found this explanation of the global collapse to be a reasonable explanation. At this point, please don’t move on to squibs or anything else. Let’s first finalize the facts before us and then move on to other topics afterward. What’s your take on this specific possibility?
Thu 20 Oct 2005 – Professor Jones replied the next day the way I feared he might – as explained above:
Thanks for your comments. Since I teach class this afternoon, 3 – 5:20 pm, I will not be able to answer your questions in much detail now. But I would like to ask you a few things that come to mind. You wrote: “At this point, please don’t move on to squibs or anything else. Let’s first finalize the facts before us and then move on to other topics afterward.”
Now why should we restrict the discussion in this way? Are you asking me to ignore relevant data in the analysis? And not just squibs would I include – but also:
1. Is there sufficient heat in hydrocarbon fires to cause column failure?
2. Is there any evidence for such heat?
3. How does heat transport to the WHOLE building structure, an enormous heat sink, as well as shifting of loads, affect the building collapse?
4. Does collapse of trusses (How many do you argue?) lead to rapid and SYMMETRICAL collapse of the entire building, onto a small footprint as observed?
5. How does one account for the molten metal found in the basement of WTC 7 (and both Towers), post collapse?
6. How does one account for sulfidation and partial evaporation of metal beams found (and reported!) in WTC 7?
So, no, I’m not willing to consider facts in isolation, ignoring other facts. But perhaps you can explain why I should take such a non-scientific approach. Or explain these other facts in correlation with the arguments you raise about trusses. Then I will consider further your questions.
I was a bit disappointed by his punting (refusing to address individual facts) and then moving to six other points – the conspiracy theory pattern strikes again. Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough with him. Perhaps I should have explained my approach better.
In my opinion, each piece of evidence should be able to stand on its own without being affected by or needing the support of any other fact. Once each individual fact has been proven true, then and only then can they all be gathered together and then an appropriate theory can be chosen that best matches the validated data.
I believe this to be one of the main logical fallacies of conspiracy theorists in general – just considering the hundreds of “maybes” without validating each one individually. He replied a few more times asking me a few questions about my explanation.
Looking back, I realize that I should have started with the firemen testimony and photographic and video evidence that shows that WTC 7 was so severely damaged on its south side (the side you never see in the demolition theory presentations) that the firemen set up a collapse zone hours before it actually collapsed, but we’ll get to that later.
Next we’ll be talking about diagonally cut columns, firemen testimony of WTC 7 damage, transits (what’s a transit?), laser doppler vibrometer evidence (what the?), photo and video evidence, and the extremely important issue of why a physicist would be talking about structural engineering, political, and religious issues.
We may even touch on how the majority of the scholars for truth’s membership is made up of mainly theologians, philosophers, English/literature teachers, etc. and not many engineers and why that might be important to the average person.
We might also talk about which scholar for truth believes the U.S. military is blowing up anti-matter weapons on Jupiter (he’s the engineer from France who hasn’t written anything on 9/11) and which one thinks a high energy beam was directed from WTC 7 toward the towers to blow them up – hint: his last name rhymes with “metzer” and he’s the co-chair who’s last name is not Jones. I’m being a smart aleck today – sorry.
Stay tuned and put on your thinking cap – be it cloth, leather, or tin foil – put it on and snug it up tight – this is going to be fun!
In my next post, I plan on discussing the details of Professor Jones’ powerpoint presentation and his paper along with bringing other evidence to the table that you don’t normally find on 9/11 sites. In some cases, I have dug deep to get this information. In other cases, it was a five-minute trip through Google to get to it – so why don’t the “9/11 truthers” find this stuff? It may remain a mystery until the end of time. See you in the next post.