Turning the Tables on the Scientist
Tears of rage - that’s what I remember the most about my reaction to an article in my local paper written by Dr. Joe Schwarcz, a chemist with a weekly column related to his field.
This one, back in May of 2016, was about nanothermite. I don’t usually read his column because my interest in all things chemical is roughly the equivalent to that of watching a documentary on the finer techniques of needlepoint, but the title caught my eye immediately. Having been a 9/11 Truth advocate for years, I knew that nanothermite was an element that had been found in the WTC dust following the collapses of the 3 WTC buildings, and that the only explanation for this was that the buildings had to have been detonated – something that would call into question the entire official theory.
I didn’t think that the author would actually go there, seeing that this article was all about the science – but then, at the very end, he did, and wrote the following:
“Conspiracy theorists purport that it was thermite explosives planted inside the World Trade Center that brought down the twin towers in a CIA coordinated plot. They also maintain that the moon landing was faked and that the U.S. government is hiding the bodies of aliens. Some also claim that the rise of Donald Trump was engineered by a Democratic conspiracy and that on the verge of being elected he will announce “fooled you.” Wouldn’t that be something? It would trump the thermite reaction for heat generated.”
I actually gasped. I expected – maybe – a calling into question of the very fact that nanothermite had even been found. Or of how nanothermite behaves, in practice. Or that it is near impossible to get one’s hands on this substance. But I couldn’t believe the so very un-scientific attack by a supposed professional on a theory so very rooted in physics, and in that moment felt both the anger, and the tears, rising.
And so I did what I do best when I need to deal with something before it consumes me, and I wrote - to the editorial board of the Montreal Gazette, while cc’ing Dr. Schwarcz.
The Gazette never responded.
But he did.
The following is our word for word exchange - and a true reflection of how the scientific community is the one that doesn’t have a leg to stand when faced with the otherwise unchallenged laws of physics that it suddenly cannot seem to acknowledge. It’s the story of a truther’s life, and a perfect example of what we deal with on a regular basis.
From: Sandra J
Sent: Monday, May 23, 2016
Cc: Joe Schwarcz, Dr.
Subject: Dr Schwarcz’ column, May 21, 2016, “The Power of Heat”
Rather than availing himself of the scientific method to answer a scientific question - or at least provide an answer that is based on facts and research - Dr Schwarcz resorts to the idiot's guide to reasoning - logical fallacies. Put forth a theory, use ad hominem attacks by denigrating an entire group of people (which may or may not already be seen unfavourably by the general public), make sweeping yet completely unfounded generalizations about said group, and throw in a random association that is neither here nor there and that has even less to do with the initial theory at hand.
And yet, the scientific evidence contradicting the official narrative in the collapse of the three WTC towers (1, 2 and 7) is overwhelming. As a true chemist, Dr. Schwarcz would know that infrared images of the fires would have shown temperatures as high as 2800 F degrees, as confirmed by MTI, EarthData and NASA, while jet fuel only burns to 1400. He would know about the molten steel flowing like lava – another occurrence impossible to explain by regular office fires (even if originally triggered by fuel). He would know that microspheres formed from molten iron were found in the dust by USGS, the EPA, RJ Lee Group and independent scientists.
And I’m quite certain that despite a doctorate in chemistry, Dr Schwarcz has retained sufficient knowledge of high school physics to remember that objects cannot fall to the ground at freefall or near freefall speed while going through the path of greatest resistance – 11 seconds for Towers 1 and 2, and all of 7 seconds for WTC 7, a 47-story high rise a couple of football fields away. Even NIST (the National Institute of Standards and Technology) has admitted to free fall acceleration. This is only possible if the falling towers encountered NO resistance on the way down, and last I checked, I believe there were hundreds and thousands of tons of cold, hard and solid steel and concrete supporting the 100 or so floors below. Other steel-framed high rises have burned much longer in the past and yet, the core structure remained. And never before in the history of high rise fires has a building completely collapsed, and yet, on 9/11, three of them did just that – while one of them was never hit by a plane, which in itself does away with any jet-fuel theory to explain the collapses. Controlled demolition is the only explanation, aided and abetted by the use of thermite and nanothermite – substances, as Dr Schwarcz correctly points out, that are highly difficult to come by, and certainly not fabricated in a cave in Afghanistan.
There is a reason why over 2,500 architects, engineers and scientists around the world have signed a petition demanding a new investigation into the collapses of the 3 WTC towers on Sept 11th via the group Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth. They have put their careers on the line because they have done their research and are looking not for the comfortable answer, but the true one.
Over the years, Dr Schwarz has been a relentless advocate for the scientific method, making fun of anyone not abiding by those rules. The tables are turned. All this goes to show that in the face of an uncomfortable truth, even Dr Schwarcz is capable of denial, lack of reasoning and emotionally lashing out. I guess the scientific method is only valid when it’s convenient.
So when it comes down to it, Mr Schwarcz, you are nothing but a fraud, a coward, and a disgrace to the scientific community.
“Condemnation without investigation is the height of ignorance.” (Albert Einstein)
On Mon, May 23, 2016 at 8:30 PM, Joe Schwarcz, Dr. wrote:
Wow! People like you actually exist! scary.
Joe Schwarcz PhD
Director, McGill University Office for Science and Society
801 Sherbrooke St. West
Montreal, QC, Canada, H3A 0B8
SJ Not only do we exist, we work and have worked (as in my case) for the very newspaper that your column appears in, some of us (not myself) as reporters and even editors.
I was very angry when I wrote. I still am, really, even if solely for the double standard that you applied in your rebuttal, doing the very thing you would never tolerate from someone else. You usually reply with facts. You cannot say with a straight face that that's what you did in that column.
I apologize for the sarcasm, but not for speaking up where I thought - and still think - you were clearly out of line.
JS Sorry…but any claims that the towers were brought down by anything else than the impact of the airplanes just cannot be taken seriously. Surely you have read the official investigations and their conclusions. You can start here:
SJ I've been reading for 6 years...
If the towers' collapse was justified by the impact of the planes, then what comes of WTC 7, which was never touched? A steel-framed high-rise of 47 floors - same height as Place Ville-Marie - down in 7 seconds flat, at 5:20 that afternoon. NIST blames it on "normal office fires" Now that's scary to me.
You can observe the entire collapse, beginning to end, in a 9-second video:
WTC 7 Collapse
What do you see, with your own eyes?
JS Please list for me the courses you have taken in chemistry, materials science, physics or engineering.
SJ My degrees don't trump the laws of physics.
JS Exactly. Now you know how that building came down.
In this sudden recreation of Bizarro World, it appeared that the one presenting the hard facts, the evidence and the logical conclusions was not the scientist, but the layperson, while the one being evasive, condescending and incapable of offering a convincing rebuttal was not the conspiracy theorist, but the one with the PhD.
I never replied, and I didn’t need to. I had won the argument, whether he admitted it or not. My tears of rage had dissipated and made room for the knowledge that I could hold my ground against any scientist choosing to live in denial - and therefore betrayal - of the very basic laws of physics that had stood the test of time.
And that gave me the ammunition, and the courage, to keep fighting for the truth, no matter who my adversary may be – a fight I will never give up, for as long as I live. I owe it to the 3,000 people who died that day and have yet to see justice done.
Does magic exist?
The answer, of course, says more about our personalities and perceptions than any about any factual reality – the kind that you would back up with evidence, measurable results and predictable outcomes.
The Pollyannas of the world will happily come down on the “yes” side, whereas the cynics will evidently snub the very idea. And while it’s true that some see wonder in everything and tend to ascribe meaning to the most mundane events, others just view the universe as a random sequence of unrelated happenings that loosely intersect, with the chips falling where they may.
And it’s true: most of us don’t experience outrageous miracles, the kind you read about or see unfold on TV - winning the lottery, making it through to the next round of American Idol, getting the call to go play for the New York Yankees. Those are no doubt memorable moments for those who experience them, but as you are understandably thinking - these are also one-in-a-million cases and have nothing to do with our boring, daily lives, right?
While most of us are not aiming for fame or being seen on world stages, we do crave the high of something extraordinary happening to us and tend to go looking for it in very twisted and unhealthy ways. But I’d like to suggest that this is not necessary, and that all you need to do is temporarily adjust the parameters of the space-time continuum you operate in to discover that, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, you had the power all along. In this case, to see your life as the full-scale miracle that it has been and continues to be.
And here’s how.
Take your best friend. The one you confide in, lean on, cry to, laugh with. The one you’ve known for years, and with whom you’ve experienced the ups and downs of life. The one you’ve done a million things with, or maybe just a handful of significant things.
Now try to remember when that person first came across your radar, the very first time you became aware of him or her. Your initial impression. It may have been neutral, just like it may have been love or, surprisingly often, disdain at first sight. Regardless. Now imagine someone telling you, at THAT very moment, while you’re still sizing up this stranger: “You are looking at the person will become your closest friend, the one you are still going to know 20, 30, 50 years from now, and you will be at each others’ sides during all the important milestones of your lives.”
Wouldn’t that be something? Wouldn’t it feel absolutely “wow”? Would it not almost be overwhelming, as you’re trying to picture how on earth you guys will go from here – just being vaguely aware of each other’s existence – to there – laughing about the “old times” that are at this point still in utero?
Do the same exercise with your kids. You most certainly remember the day they were born - a screaming lump of tininess, served on a blank slate. Imagine being told THAT DAY what would become of him or her - character traits, interests, abilities, quirks, the challenges they will overcome. Would that not boggle the mind?
Imagine any situation, really. The kid born and raised in Hicktown, USA, being told that he will spend the rest of his adult life in bustling New York. The adopted child being told that he will finally meet his blood relatives at age 56. The drug addict being told that he will not only kick the habit but become a counsellor to other addicts. The business student being told that he will make a living off drawing cartoons one day.
And on a sociological level, what about the still-in-the-closet teen being told in 1989 that same-sex marriage will be possible in his lifetime? Kids in 2005 finding out that cannabis will be legal to smoke within a few years?
All those eventual outcomes are on standby, waiting to play out over the years; we just don’t, and can’t, know about them yet. But it would certainly seem magical to get a sneak preview. Hence the fascination with fortune-telling: being told of a development that is currently inconceivable comes with a lot of awe, even if by the time it materializes it almost feels normal, or par for the course.
And it feels normal because these things develop in increments, in tiny, difficult-to-measure and even more difficult to objectively assess fractions of moments. But that shouldn’t make them less impressive. This IS the jackpot. The people you love and are lucky to have around you, despite the admittedly terrible odds. The job you have. Your home. Everything you are passionately involved in. Your achievements. The hardships you’ve overcome. Your life circumstances. Think back to a time when they were not even a blip on your screen, and imagine finding out about how they will one day be part of your life's DNA.
Getting there can require effort and make the path feel more like an obstacle course rather than a direct line, and truth be told, many days probably won’t feel very magical. But you don’t get there by accident. You will have had an active hand in most of the outcomes, as you initially had to strike up a conversation with that stranger so that (s)he would become your friend, or your mate, or the parent of your children. You had to apply for that job before you got the interview, the callback, and the position. You had to draw on resources you didn’t know you had in order to get through some tough times in life. You even had to go to the store to buy that lottery ticket.
And speaking of lottery tickets, obviously some outcomes are not up to you, as an element of luck really is involved. At other times the outcome is out of your hands because it requires someone else – an actual person - to be on the same page as you, and feel the same way as you, be it about a relationship, or a job, or an idea. No matter. Just because it doesn’t play out the way you had hoped doesn’t mean it won’t lead to new places that become just as magical, and sometimes even more so. Even an event as tragic as a miscarriage leads you to the realization that you would have never had the child you ended up giving birth to had it not been for the tragic initial loss.
I don’t subscribe to “everything happens for a reason” or that certain things were “meant to be”. It’s what people say to make sense of the universe, or not feel so out of control. But when you look at everything it took, everything that needed to happen and fall into place for you to be where you are right now, then it’s difficult NOT to see it as at least semi-miraculous.
So fast forward to today, when - assuming you are not currently on your death bed - so much more of this magic still lies ahead. The people you haven’t yet met. The good times that are waiting. The book that will change your life. The cause you will want to fight for. The aha moments you will have. The places you’ve only visited in your dreams. The obstacles you never thought you could overcome. The good deeds that will help a person in need. Reconciling with people from your past. The new chapter of your career. Victories, small and large. A hobby you’d never considered. The person you will fall madly, passionately, deeply in love with, no matter your past, and no matter your age.
Trust in God, but do your part. If you are not where you would choose to be if you were on the outside looking in, then take the risk. Open your eyes. Open your mind. Open your soul, and make something happen.
So that by the time you ARE on your death bed, you can look back and see the big picture of interwoven magic threads that brought you here and became part of your life story, leaving no doubt that you made the most of every precious day on earth.
Sandra is a blogger, life coach and activist.
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