by Jim Hoffman
Version 0.9; August 27, 2009
(Please refer to original article at this link for updated versions)
By now it’s quite predictable:
every year as the anniversary of the attack approaches,
some of the most established mainstream media brands
are pressed into service to sell the official story of 9/11.
The 2009 iteration of this spectacle
is notable for the contrast between
the designated brand
and the obligatory message.
That brand, best known for its high-brow photojournalistic
National Geographic Magazine,
has existed since 1889, complete with a non-profit Society dedicated to
education in geography, archaeology, history, world cultures,
and natural science.
One can’t help but wonder how National Geographic’s many benefactors
would feel if they understood how the brand was being
used to prop up the “War on Terror”
attack piece to be aired on August 31, 2009.
A web feature on the website of the
National Geographic Channel
provides a preview of the show
and a window into the methods and goals of the show’s producers.
Those methods are so heavy-handed that the critical reader
can’t help but see
that those goals are something very different from educating.
As an exercise, the reader might want to
read the one-page feature first,
and then compare notes with
my analysis of it below.
National Geographic Then and Now
The 2009 documentary isn’t the first time the
National Geographic brand has been used to rubber-stamp
the official account of the attack.
On September 17, 2001 an article in
National Geographic News
attempted to explain the “collapses”
with such memetic devices mouthed by “experts” as
“the raging inferno” (likened to a fraction of the Hiroshima A-bomb)
turning the steel to “Play-doh” and precipitating
a “domino collapse” in which
“the buildings’ majesty was their own undoing”.
as these purported explanations are,
with their transparent appeals to authority and metaphor,
one might excuse them as the attempt of a journalist
to make sense of the horrific events
at a time when rational analysis was eclipsed by shock.
Clearly, something very different is at work
in the 2009 effort,
a fact that is apparent even in its lurid graphical production
reminiscent of the BBC’s Conspiracy FIles.
promoting National Geographic Channel‘s
2009 “documentary” implying that the official account is “science”
and all challenges to it are “conspiracy”
endorsing the official story that the “inferno”
brought down the Twin Towers
Deconstructing “9/11: SCIENCE AND CONSPIRACY”
Below is the
text of the page
in the 2009 National Geographic Channel
feature promoting its “documentary”
9/11: SCIENCE AND CONSPIRACY.
Added comments follow each of its points.
Although I show that every point in the page
appears crafted to mislead the reader about a particular issue,
the greater misdirection lies in how the article frames
the broad subject of the official account of 9/11
and challenges to it.
First, the article gives no sense of the scope of those challenges, such as is readily surmised by an enumeration of
in the official account.
In other words, the article implies by omission that it has disposed of
the only problems with the official account.
Second, the article selects exactly two prominent assertions
countering the official story:
- That the WTC collapse explanation is flawed
and the Twin Towers must have been destroyed by controlled demolitions
(failing to note the destruction of the third skyscraper
- That the Pentagon was damaged by something other
than the crash of Flight 77.
The placement of these two assertions on par with each other
illustrates a key technique of disinformation in which
a well supported theory is paired with a poorly supported one
in order to discredit the former.
has made the case since 2003 that
the Twin Towers and Building 7 were
subjected to controlled demolitions
and since 2004 that the vigorously promoted theories
that a jetliner couldn’t have hit the Pentagon were likely
designed to discredit
the truth movement.
Third, the article uses labels to flog its target
in an obvious appeal to prejudice.
The “Conspiracy” label prefaces each
regardless of whether the claim implies a conspiracy
or how any implied conspiracy compares to
the officially theorized conspiracy.
Conversely, the “Science” label prefaces each
paragraph allegedly debunking the “conspiracy” claim.
Of course, “Scientists” only support the official story,
and only “truthers” question that story.
How comforting that the world is so simple!
Apart from insulting the reader with such patronizing language,
the article also uses language more subtly,
presupposing the official conclusion with repeated use of “collapse”
imagery of the Towers’ destruction
that better fits the word “explosion”.
CONSPIRACY VS. SCIENCE
Conspiracy theories are put to the test.
How well do they stand up against the visual simulations
of professional engineers?
See how science supports official stories
and debunks the conspiracies below.
THE COLLAPSE OF THE BUILDINGS
Official Story: The collapse was caused by fire initially fed
by the jet fuel from the planes.
Science: Using original construction blueprints, photographs,
and construction data, Purdue University,
along with the American Society of Civil Engineers,
created a model structure of the north World Trade Center tower
and a scaled 767 jetliner.
To model the fuel load, Purdue launched aluminum cans filled
with liquid to represent an airline wing colliding with a steel column.
The final simulation showed the internal destruction of supporting columns,
the disintegration of the jetliner, the atomizing of the fuel,
and the resulting fires that softened the steel framework
of the building and brought it down.
Contrary to what the article implies, the
was designed only to create a realistic visualization of the
767 colliding with the Tower, not to assess structural damage
or model how it supposedly led to the total destruction of the building
102 minutes later.
It’s curious that the article uses this rather than
much more detailed simulation,
which makes specific claims about which columns were destroyed,
to support their assertion that the buildings were
“poised for collapse”.