The Charnel House
The Internet can be a dangerous place, but never more so than when it distributes false and fictitious information that people take as truth and fact. "The truth is out there...?" I don't think so. Most of us are able to discern fact from fiction, and of course we always have Snopes to debunk stupid rumours. But there are conspiracy theories that take hold, and intelligent, well-read people actually buy into them. The conspiracy theories sound plausible, they have even been "proven" and in any case, folks love a good ghost story. Isn't it more fun to have shadowy people out there who are actually responsible for these things? The truth isn't sexy. It's more fun to believe that Diana was killed by the Royal family than by a drunk driver, or that JFK was killed by the (fill in the blanks with your choice) than by a crazy sniper with a good aim. And it's more fun to believe that the shadowy "they" were responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Centers on September 11, 2001, than a bunch of well-organized, well-funded, completely insane extremists who hijacked airplanes and flew them into the buildings.
The truth of what happened that day has been proven by no less than engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Albert Einstein's alma mater), and hundreds of books and papers have been published, including this one, describing exactly how the Towers fell, and what caused them to fall. Here is one excerpt: The claims that the jet fuel was not hot enough to melt the beams has also been disproved. FACT: Jet fuel burns at 800° to 1500°F, not hot enough to melt steel (2750°F). However, experts agree that for the towers to collapse, their steel frames didn't need to melt, they just had to lose some of their structural strength—and that required exposure to much less heat. "Steel loses about 50 percent of its strength at 1100°F," notes senior engineer Farid Alfawak-hiri of the American Institute of Steel Construction. "And at 1800° it is probably at less than 10 percent." But jet fuel wasn't the only thing burning, notes Forman Williams, a professor of engineering at the University of California, San Diego, and one of seven structural engineers and fire experts that PM consulted. He says that while the jet fuel was the catalyst for the WTC fires, the resulting inferno was intensified by the combustible material inside the buildings, including rugs, curtains, furniture and paper. NIST reports that pockets of fire hit 1832°F. "The jet fuel was the ignition source," Williams tells PM. "It burned for maybe 10 minutes, and [the towers] were still standing in 10 minutes. It was the rest of the stuff burning afterward that was responsible for the heat transfer that eventually brought them down."
I remember the Cold War, and the fear and anxiety that it produced in everyone in my generation. Part of our school curriculum was practicing survival techniques. The anxiety stayed with us 24/7 and it was an underlying anxiety that took years -- decades -- to go away. The ensuing anxiety spilled over into my personal life. I lived in fear of one government or another starting a war that would end the world. It was horrible. And now it seems to be starting again in this generation -- fear and paranoia of the unknown. And it is making me bloody angry. The only thing to be really afraid of is ignorance. The children of this generation have the right to live in the enlightenment of knowledge, not the shadow of ignorance. The truth is in education. The truth is in learning the scientific facts. The real predators of the Internet are the people who perpetuate the ignorance the children read and believe to be the truth. People love a good ghost story, but that is all these conspiracy theories are -- ghost stories.
The truth is out there...! We owe it to the children to tell them the truth, not some hocus pocus nonsense.