Fullerton/Novella 9-11 debate

Pete Tar

Senior Member.
Kind of a fail as a successful debate, but something that's interesting in a post-mortem/meta sense as an overview of abuse of logic and overuse of 'fallacy fallacies' on Fullerton's part. There's some nice analysis in the comments, and many points will feel familiar.
I like this one...

  1. # JDunhamon 09 Jul 2014 at 12:46 pm
    Fullerton claims he has presented “growing” and “copious” evidence for CD. Well, mainly for my own sake, I’ve tried to quantify all the evidence presented keeping as open a mind as possible. Let’s see how it stacks up.

    Fullerton’s Thesis: There is “no evidence for the official story” and “growing evidence for CD.” Therefore “the controlled demolition explanation is currently the most and only scientific explanation available for explaining the Twin Tower collapses.”

    Fullerton’s Evidence:
    –Part 1, Evidence against the official story:
    • Lack of evidence for the official story: “The official story of how the towers fell on 9/11 does not have a single solitary piece of supporting scientific evidence.” [not objectively true, as demonstrated in this very debate]
    • Lack of evidence for collapse initiation due to plane impact and fire: “There is absolutely no evidence however, that this damage [from the planes and fires] resulted in the falls of both towers.” [validity debatable, but Novella provides specific evidence, so saying "absolutely no" is objectively untrue]
    • Lack of a jolt in the collapse: “the Twin Tower collapses show no jolt when each upper portion hits the lower building.” [Irrelevant - the official explanation does not predict a jolt]
    • Failure to model collapse by other means: “A valid computer model or scale model for example will do. Why has no one ever produced a valid model? Presumably because the official story is impossible to model accurately.” [Hinges on “valid”—such models exist, but Fullerton dismisses them as “speculation.”]
    • Consensus on official story is not real: “No poll has been conducted to provide evidence to support this statement. The fact that 2200+ architects and engineers question the official 9/11 story[1] seems to throw cold water on this “consensus”.” [Experts may disagree on what percentage of agreement constitutes consensus.]

    –Part 2, Evidence for CD:
    • Collapse resembled a CD, therefore we should assume it was: “The rapid fall times and highly symmetric descents of the Twin Towers then are currently only scientifically explainable by the use of some form of controlled demolition. This observation then constitutes evidence that supports the controlled demolition explanation of the twin towers.” [Not evidence for CD, but evidence that asking the question of CD is worthwhile.]
    • Photographic evidence of white smoke, puffs of smoke, and molten material. [Non-specific; could support either hypothesis.
    • Anecdotal evidence of explosions: “CD does not require explosives. But in fact there were extremely credible eyewitness reports of explosions in the Twin Towers before collapse.[2] This evidence also supports the CD hypothesis.” [Weak evidence for CD – anecdotes are notoriously unreliable, especially when the contradict objective records]

    Novella’s Thesis: “The evidence overwhelmingly supports the NIST theory of collapse, while there is no evidence in favor of controlled demolition.”

    Novella’s Evidence:
    –Part 1, Evidence against CD:
    • Lack of specific predictions implied by any specific method of CD: “Despite the copious video recordings of the beginning of the collapse of each tower, no video shows, and no audio records, the explosions that would be required in a controlled demolition.” [Does not rule out a CD despite being a conspicuous absence]
    • Implausibility of CD: “Right at that moment, Michael would have you believe, each Tower was brought down by controlled demolition. The explosions were apparently invisible, silent, and coordinated so that the collapse would appear to begin at the exact level of each tower where the jet and fire damage was maximal. The explosives must also have survived without exploding prematurely, despite the raging fires.” [Explains why Fullerton’s assertion of CD is extraordinary as currently framed.]

    –Part 2, Evidence for the official explanation:
    • Expert consensus within the relevant fields: “the consensus of expert opinion that the collapse of the towers was due to the structural damage and weakening of the steel supports caused by the impact of the jets, the burning of the jet fuel, and the subsequent fires that burned through the buildings.” [Consensus indicates that people familiar with the details do not find them suspicious]
    • Photographic evidence: of sagging floors, twisting of the outer walls, and collapse initiation from the point of the fires. [As predicted by the “official” story]
    • Mathematical calculations showing that the collapse of the top of each tower would result in the type of fall observed, regardless of how the collapse was initiated. [Does not rule out CD, but does show that official explanation is equally plausible solely in the manner of collapse.]
    • The collapse as officially described would not result in a “jolt”: “the fall of each upper portion of the towers not only would have collapsed the entire tower below that level, but the cushioning effect of the lower floors would have been minimal – slowing the free fall of the tower by only around 6%.” [shows that the collapse as observed is consistent with the official story]

    Analysis of Fullerton’s claims:
    –Even without any rebuttal, Fullerton has not provided viable evidence of a CD. His arguments against the official story call that explanation into question, but do not support a CD. His only three specific claims regarding a CD are the symmetrical collapse, the observation of smoke and molten material, and anecdotes of explosions. The first does not support a CD because they are consistent with alternatives (such as the official story) that would produce the same result. The smoke and molten material are insufficient for the same reason. The anecdotes of explosions are therefore the only specific evidence of CD, and they conflict with objective recordings. Despite claiming to have provided evidence, Fullerton avoids specifics in most respects, arguing instead that his doubts about the official story should be sufficient to justify his “undeniable” alternative hypothesis. At no point does he question his own evidence.

    Analysis of Novella’s claims:
    –Novella’s evidence shows that the manner of collapse observed is consistent with the official explanation. Mathematical modeling shows that the fires and structural damage are sufficient to explain the observed result. Photographic evidence shows secondary characteristics that are expected given this explanation, including twisting and sagging floors and outer walls. A great majority of experts in these areas agree that this evidence is sufficient. Novella also points to the absence of any specific predictions of a CD, which does not rule it out, but diminishes its likelihood. Novella avoids speculation about what one might see in a CD and instead focuses on making a positive case for the official account. He addresses questions about his evidence specifically and directly.

    Conclusion: Given the evidence presented, I can find no reason to accept–or even continue to consider–Fullerton’s position. Novella has presented a clear and compelling case, and Fullerton appears unwilling or unable to support his hypothesis.
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