Debunking resource: Engineers Assess the Truth in AE911Truth (Scott & Hamburger, 2021)


Senior Member
This White Paper seems to be making its rounds among serious structural engineers - a long-time contact of mine, himself a S.E., forwarded it to me. I have not found it via Google on a publicly accessible resource, but have reasons to assume this is meant for public consumption and spread, so I am posting it here.

The subject, "Engineers Assess the Truth in AE911Truth", refers specifically to the most recent incarnation of the 3-part webinar "9/11: An Architect's Guide" narrated by Richard Gage, formerly President and CEO of AE911Truth (more on that "former" thing below!) and various claims therein, which the authors, Ron Hamburger and David Scott, debunk.

The two authors have probably finer relevant credentials that AE911T's best 20 put together: Eminently qualified and experienced, national and international leaders in organizations of structural engineering and tall building design, and on-hands WTC-disaster experience as part of the SEAoNY (Scott) and FEMA (Hamburger) investigations of the collapses:

David M Scott Hon AIA, FIStructE, FREng, FRSE
Ron Hamburger, PE, SE, MIStuctE.

About the Authors

David Scott is past chair of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (2006-2009), and a structural engineer who led the design of many tall buildings. He was part of the Structural Engineers Association of New York (SEAoNY) team based at Ground Zero, after the attacks. He is a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Ronald Hamburger is a past president of the National Council of Structural Engineering Associations and the Structural Engineers Association of California and of Northern California, and a past chair of the Structural Engineering Certification Board. Since 2011 he has chaired the ASCE 7 Committee on Minimum Design Loads and Associated Criteria for Buildings and Other Structures. He was a lead author for the PEER Tall Building Design Guidelines and served on the FEMA/ASCE Building Performance Assessment Team following the World Trade Center collapse.
As an aside, Ron Hamburger was interviewed by Spike Lee for Lee's recent 4-part documentary on HBO, specifically the 30-minute segment dealing with AE911T's claims of "explosive demolition", which Lee excised following a wave of criticism from previewers (more on that below):
Ronald Hamburger, who investigated the collapse of the towers for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and also appeared in the original cut of the episode, said in an interview on Thursday that Mr. Lee interviewed him for the series about two months ago. The interview, which Mr. Hamburger said lasted about 10 minutes, revolved around the conspiracy theories about controlled demolition.

Mr. Hamburger, who no longer appears in the episode, said he explained to Mr. Lee that based on his work at the site and hundreds of hours of analysis, he had concluded that the cause was not controlled demolition.

“I did get the understanding in my discussions with him that he wanted to give them credence,” Mr. Hamburger said of the conspiracy theories.

Here are the three parts of said webinar (page 17, "References"):
Ref 1 9/11: An Architect's Guide | Part 1: World Trade Center 7 (5/6/21 webinar - R Gage)

Ref 2 9/11: An Architect's Guide - Part 2 - Twin Towers' Explosive Destruction (8-12-21) Webinar –
Gage) Source:

Ref 3 9/11: An Architect's Guide - Part 3: The Twin Towers and Extreme Heat (3/18/21 Webinar –
R Gage) Source:

This section provides a table of content:
How to Read This Paper

The paper is organised around the most common claims and questions that conspiracy theorists use to promote the idea that the WTC buildings were destroyed through intentional controlled demolition. It is designed as a reference document so that each subject can be read separately. Each section addresses a specific conspiracy theory and the authors explain why most architects and engineers do not support the controlled demolition theories:

• Sagging Floor Trusses Can’t Pull in Perimeter Columns
• Look at the Explosions
• What about the Massive Dust Cloud?
• A Small Section of Tower Cannot Crush a Larger Section
• Fires Have Never Destroyed a High-Rise Steel-Framed Building
• Towers Cannot Fail Straight Down
• Buildings Have Survived Much Longer in Fire
• What about the Eyewitness Accounts of Explosions?
• Normal Fires Can’t Melt Steel
• NIST’s Models Don’t Look Anything Like the Collapse
• NIST Caught with Their Pants Down
• Thousands of Architects and Engineers Support Ae911truth
• What about the Experts that Support Ae911truth?
• A Question of Integrity
• Do You Support a New Congressional Enquiry?
• Conclusions
• References
Our comments are based on a critique of the three latest Ae911truth educational videos: the 2021 Architect’s Guide series. These are essentially the same story that they have told for over a decade. A link to their videos is provided in the references below. We refer to those videos explicitly, e.g. “Ref 2-18:30” refers to Video 2, “An Architect's Guide - Part 2 - Twin Towers” at 18 minutes and 30 seconds.

I guess We can open separate threads for any specific debunk that spikes someone's interest - this thread for now is merely to present, and store as a linkable resource, the White Paper as a PDF.


Now for something completely different - twice in the above, I said "more on this below": Richard Gage no longer being CEO/President of AE911Truth, and Lee excising the part on AE911Truth from his film. Both issues are linked.

AE911T had apparently worked with Lee for quite a while, to get their message across in a big mainstream documentary. This documentary first made headlines when HBO provided a preview to members of the press this August, and the NY Times subsequently interviewed Spike Lee about it. It was revealed then that AE911Truth would play center stage on a 30-minutes segment, and that Lee gave them credence. Immediately, several media blasted back and condemned Lee's gullibility - most important among those was, apparently, Jeremy Stahl's piece for Slate, August 24th (my text coloring):

Spike Lee Has Fallen Down the 9/11 Truther Rabbit Hole​

AUG 24, 20214:48 PM
Lee devotes 30 minutes near the very end of his series to relitigating arguments that have been debunked a thousand times. Specifically, he presents about a dozen conspiracy theorists and members of Gage’s group, including Gage himself, in a back-and-forth with three credible scientists who investigated the 9/11 attacks in a teach the controversy–style format that presents the truth behind 9/11 as an open debate between two equally valid sides. In terms of conveying facts, this is a bit like presenting COVID-19 vaccine skeptics in a debate alongside Anthony Fauci...
But Lee and HBO are offering Gage and his conspiracy theories the biggest and most mainstream platform they’ve ever had, pointing their viewers directly towards a bog of heinously dangerous ideas: Like other conspiracy theorists, Gage doesn’t just stick to 9/11, and if Lee’s viewers follow Gage down the rabbit hole, they likely won’t, either.

Gage, for instance, considers himself an expert on the COVID-19 pandemic. In the past year, he has said on various podcasts that COVID-19 is a “deep state” “hoax” and “false flag event” that has been perpetrated by an “increasingly restrictive and tyrannical government that has locked us into our own homes, and kept us in isolation from each other with distance and masks, and poisoned us with vaccines that are going to kill us.” Gage has also claimed that “Bill Gates is a eugenicist” attempting to “reduce the population” by doing “a good job with the vaccines” because “his father was the head of the whole legal deal for Planned Parenthood.” Again, once people dip a toe into the fever swamp of conspiracy theories, they are often sucked all the way in—with all the attendant horrific consequences for society and public health.
When you listen closely to Gage and attend his events, other alleged criminals start to emerge. Chief among them: Jews. [...]

It appears that this article, particularly the bits I marked in dark red, cost AE911Truth their appearance in the limelight of a Lee-docu, and Gage his position and salary at AE, for Gage published this public letter on his new (?) website, (bolding original, text coloring mine):

Why I am Going Independent…​

Earlier this month AE911Truth issued a press release and e-mail to A&E Members that included this Statement:
“…Richard Gage, organization founder, will no longer serve as the organization’s CEO.”
As you can imagine, this has raised many questions, which I decided to wait until after the 20th Anniversary to address, in order not to distract from all of the important 9/11 Truth Movement events and activities. This Statement is on my own behalf and not on behalf of AE911Truth. It is my first post which I hope will answer a number of questions.

As you probably know by now we had been working with Spike Lee for months on what was one of the greatest opportunities the 9/11 Truth Movement had ever had to reach a wide mainstream audience, which would have been the final segment of his video documentary that was aired by HBO on Sept. 11th. That 30-minute segment, which included a dozen interviews with Family Members and technical experts, including myself, unfortunately was not broadcast. This action by Spike surely was at least in part due to enormous pressure from the Powers That Be, but my off-topic comments quoted in Slate Magazine’s August 24th article, which they had to have made a major effort to find, was most likely a significant contributing factor.

Spike may well have been upset to see my comments quoted in the article, which was on his interview with the magazine, as the first two segments of his mini-series “Epicenter” focused on the devastation, particularly by Covid-19 in NYC, in which he makes clear that he agrees with the official narrative on that subject.

This was of course a great disappointment—for A&E, for all of us in the 9/11 Truth Movement and for me personally—to have worked so hard to reach that historic moment only for it not to happen. In those moments of speaking off-topic I failed to remember that I represent 3,500 architects and engineers who have signed our AE911Truth Petition which is only about the destruction of the Twin Towers and Building 7 on September 11th, 2001—and nothing else. Any opinions that I hold about Covid-19 issues or any other off-mission topic based on research that I do on my own time have absolutely no place in any interview I give on behalf of AE911Truth.
Our board met and deliberated for hours in what was a very difficult debate for us all. In the end the majority felt that the PR problem regarding my off-mission comments could continue to undermine future efforts to break into mainstream media and made the very tough decision to ask for my resignation as CEO. The resulting board resolution effectively removed me as CEO along with my employment with AE911Truth.

So in summary, Gage cites the quotes found in the Slate article, that he made about his belief in Covid-19 CTs, as a main reason why Lee pulled the segment and the Board kicked him out.


Cutting back to my original topic, the Scott+Hamburger White Paper: I have little doubt that Spike Lee has been a recipient of this White Paper after the interview he did with Hamburger (and probably other actual experts), and that the authors made sure to amass some of their heavy-weight structural engineering colleagues behind it. This, too, may have been a contributing factor to Lee's decision to excise the AE911T nonsense.


  • Scott DM+Hamburger R (2021) - Engineers Assess the Truth in AE911Truth.pdf
    1.4 MB · Views: 56

Jeffrey Orling

Senior Member
I read this paper and it was not impressive and used the old appeal to authority argument. Their authorities do seem to have credibility whereas truth movement's experts do not. The paper lacked details of technical explanations and they promote the idea that floor trusses led to column buckling of the facade.
The problem I have always had with this... whether they trusses push or pull... is that there would have to be almost all the trusses involved on all 4 sides of the core as well as in the 4 corners... and more or less doing "whatever" in the same time frame. While the flames were extensive, I do not see evidence to support that trusses all around the core were failing in the same time frame... leading to facade column buckling.
And then there's the fact the the antenna descends before the upper block moved down. And there is no mention or accounting of the fact that the upper block appears to have translated... moved laterally mis aligning the perimeter columns.
Frankly I found the discussions on 911FF about the collapse of all three towers more robust and compelling.
While these engineers have impressive resumes the paper is little more than an appeal to authority.... not a convincing set of technical arguments.
Of course Spike Lee was in way over his head and had to trust/rely on experts he felt he could trust. He was apparently hoodwinked by Gage and understandable so (kinda). I hate quoting Regan but Spike Lee failed to... trust but VERIFY. And since he was not competent to verify... he was easily led astray.

Again I am struck by the fact that curious persons don't find sites like JREF, 911FF, Metabunk... but find all the crazy conspiracy YTs of David Chandler, Dylan Avery and Richard Gage et al.


Senior Member
...The paper lacked details of technical explanations....
I find that to be rather a strength than a weakness of this White Paper. It doesn't get lost on the 7th leave on the 3rd branch of the 48th tree of the forest - it understands the forest.


New Member
While these engineers have impressive resumes the paper is little more than an appeal to authority....
Am I misunderstanding what an appeal to authority is? At no stage do I remember the authors backing up their assertions with their credentials.

not a convincing set of technical arguments.
That doesn't appear to be their aim. I would suggest that technical arguments about this or that tiny aspect of the collapses are unnecessary if the main points can be explained in simple language.

Mick West

Staff member
Richard Gage no longer being CEO/President of AE911Truth
That's a pretty seismic shift in the whole 911 Truth movement. I wasn't anticipating that at all. Possibly a fatal blow to AE911. I also doubt that Gage is going to do very well on his own. Without the "3000 architects and engineers" behind him, he's going to slide quickly towards the more extreme end of the conspiracy spectrum.

Jeffrey Orling

Senior Member
I suppose engineers can do approach the AE911T materials in one of two ways... One is to demonstrate that all Gage's technical points are false... and the other is to present the technical explanations to explain the 3 collapses. NIST of course presented the sagging floor truss theory for the twins, and the girder and beam drop from column 79 in 7wtc. These explanations are technically correct and logically consistent. However, I would assert that there are other explanations which would produce the collapses and the same visuals and evidence. This is because these were complex structures and it's are to "pin down" the sequence of the runway structural failures. Hulsey asserts without proof that fire cannot destroy a steel frame high rise. As far as I can tell all engineers accept the same cause... heat from unfought fires.
So... what made columns fail to support their design loads? NIST tells us trusses pushed or pulled the perimeter columns and caused them to buckle. Other theories posit that the heat caused the beam braces inside the core to cause the core columns to misalign and buckle, the hat truss and upper floors collapsed and that mass "avalanched" the floors from top to bottom... all the columns below the plane strikes failed when they lost bracing as the floors collapsed down.
NIST sort of "punts' and calls the post imitation... a global collapse. Granted it was chaotic and complex... and not possible to precisely detail the sequence.... but the mechanisms are all understood by the engineering community.

So with no attempt to provide more details... I find the explanations unsatisfying.


I will say this.... the CD concept is something that the average person can understand... bombs destroy. That makes CD and easy sell for Gage
Progressive runaway structural and systems failure too esoteric for the public and so we saw a complex process distilled to falling pancakes... The heat driven explanations are a hard sell.
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And then there's the fact the the antenna descends before the upper block moved down.
I'm not sure about that. In the video below the initiating part of the collapse of the north tower was filmed from the Hudson. We are given a nice view on the west facade of the tower. We can see the top fall to the right, so southward. I believe most video's were taken from the north. The antenna thus is falling away from us from that point of view, where the north roofline stays in place for a short moment.


Jeffrey Orling

Senior Member
I'm not sure about that. In the video below the initiating part of the collapse of the north tower was filmed from the Hudson. We are given a nice view on the west facade of the tower. We can see the top fall to the right, so southward. I believe most video's were taken from the north. The antenna thus is falling away from us from that point of view, where the north roofline stays in place for a short moment.

My hunch is that the hat truss lost axial support in the core... antenna collapsed and all the floor loads were then moved to the perimeter which translated and buckled at the level of the plane impact where significant parts of the core was destroyed.
I find the floor trusses pulling or pushing at the perimeter all around the perimeter including the corner quadrants makes less sense. (NIST)
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