Fifteen years after the event, 9/11 conspiracy theories — many popularized by the documentary Zeitgeist — continue to beguile a certain segment of the population, despite the fact that almost all of them have been thoroughly debunked by experts.
— Vocal Bastard (@jnglbro69) September 11, 2016
Still, it’s easy to come across the occasional meme on social media that knowingly claims “jet fuel can’t melt steel beams” as all the proof you need that the United States orchestrated the world’s deadliest modern terror attack on 9/11. Even though that does, perhaps, seem like the kind of thing the plotters of an international conspiracy to murder nearly 3,000 civilians wouldn’t overlook.
There’s also, of course, the fact that steel loses its structural strength when it reaches the temperatures the World Trade Center did, according to Popular Mechanics, which has devoted several articles and even a book to debunking 9/11 conspiracy theories.
— starrick1 (@starrick1) September 13, 2015
One popular theory used as proof that 9/11 was a conspiracy is the “pancaking” of the floors that some say indicate other explosives were present within the World Trade Center. Detractors have often claimed the steel beams holding up the building could not have been so easily melted, and Popular Mechanics actually agrees — steel needs to reach 2750°F to melt. Unfortunately, long before that, it becomes compromised, said senior engineer Farid Alfawak-hiri of the American Institute of Steel Construction.
“Steel loses about 50 percent of its strength at 1100°, and at 1800° it is probably at less than 10 percent.”
— The Hill (@thehill) September 11, 2016
Those temperatures were easily reached by the igniting of jet fuel and subsequent burning of everything else in the office, a combination of pressure and heat that yielded at least 1800°F, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). New York deputy fire chief Vincent Dunn argued that it’s nothing out of the ordinary.
“I have never seen melted steel in a building fire. But I’ve seen a lot of twisted, warped, bent and sagging steel. What happens is that the steel tries to expand at both ends, but when it can no longer expand, it sags and the surrounding concrete cracks.”
— Esquire (@esquire) September 11, 2016
Though the internet was already in full swing when 9/11 took place, perhaps nothing was more effective in spreading conspiracies about the event than the viral documentary Zeitgeist. A large portion of what you need to know about this documentary’s reliability is express in the first part of the film, where 9/11 isn’t even discussed. Instead, Zeitgeist delivers a painfully poorly researched account of the world’s religions.
Research is important…Must watch. https://t.co/pNRo647Pg5
— Phundamentalz (@Phun2wear) September 2, 2016
One site, Skeptic Project, took it upon itself to tear apart all of these claims one by one. As it points out in the guide to the pre-9/11 portion of Zeitgeist, the filmmakers took a great amount of liberty with the history of several religions, often bending the truth or outright abandoning it to serve a thesis statement: Christianity is the root of all the world’s evil.
“Zeitgeist did not make [these claims] up originally, you can find several places on the Internet that [do], but there are no sources or suggestions as to where this information came from. It is highly possible all this originates from The Christ Conspiracy… if these claims all originate from this book, there’s absolutely no evidence for it. I should note that this book is used as a ‘source’ in Zeitgeist.“
I’m 9/11 af brohttps://t.co/gK5I2Lfdtg
— dick n chill (@whrthrnbwnds) September 11, 2016
In its attempt to present itself as a beacon a truth in a world full of Illuminati manipulation, Zeitgeist violates its own ethical code by coldly lying to its audience. While asking its viewers to use critical thinking to see the truth behind 9/11 conspiracy theories, it copies and pastes together a paper-thin argument rife with intellectual dishonesty. Simultaneously easily debunked and easily kept alive by the internet, its ideas are unlikely to fade away any faster than the memory of 9/11 itself.
[Photo by Fabina Sbina and Hugh Zareasky/Getty Images]