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Wednesday, October 07, 2015

ASCE and Ethical Risks to the Engineering Profession

Conflicts between a Professional Society and its Code of Ethics

Written by 9/11 Truth Outreach Staff

In our complex modern world, professional societies and their credentialed members are often viewed as one of the most reliable sources of information about issues addressed by their profession. This expectation is bolstered when each professional society publicly adopts codes of ethics that embody the ideals of honesty and integrity with an eye toward the health and safety of the public.

Most of these codes of ethics mention fraud only briefly because it is implied that fraud cannot – and will not be – tolerated. The scientific, engineering and academic communities rely on the peer review process to prevent fraud, provide accountability and enhance the quality of published analysis. The public expects that the peer review process ensures that published conclusions are based on an accurate, transparent and ethical process.

The first Code of Ethics of the American Society of Civil Engineer (ASCE) was adopted over one hundred years ago on September 2, 1914, and was most recently amended in 2006. Canon 6 of the ASCE Code of Ethics states:

Engineers shall act in such a manner as to uphold and enhance the honor, integrity, and dignity of the engineering profession and shall act with zero tolerance for ... [fraud].

Pursuant to the Society’s Bylaws:

It is the duty of every Society member to report promptly to the Committee on Professional Conduct any observed violation of the Code of Ethics.

In other words, the ASCE Code of Ethics reminds it members, “if you see something, say something.” If members of ASCE were to look, they would see that the peer-review process has failed in an important ASCE journal: the Journal of Engineering Mechanics. This failure is a violation of the ASCE Code of Ethics which has the potential to undermine the credibility of the entire engineering profession.

ASCE Peer-Reviewed Journal

The reputation of the engineering profession has been harmed by the failure of the peer-review process in the Journal of Engineering Mechanics. In the past, the reputation of professions such as medicine has faltered because of the publication of flawed research. The purpose of this article is to expose a work published in an ASCE journal that represents a violation of their peer-review process. At issue is the engineering profession’s sole published explanation about the mechanics of destruction of the World Trade Center Twin Towers – an explanation that is in conflict with observations.

Professor Z. P. Bažant, a member of the civil engineering faculty at Northwestern University, wrote several papers on the Twin Towers, one of which was entitled What Did and Did Not Cause the Collapse of WTC Twin Towers in New York (JEM , 134(10), 892-906). Several versions of this paper were published, including one as early as September 13, 2001 (text and figures). Even though this hypothesis has been the subject of great professional disagreement, an ASCE journal allowed only a single discussion of Bažant’s hypothesis in a “discussion and closure” section which limits the length and scope of a critique.

analysis of crush up crush down smObservation in Conflict with Basic Theory

In engineering, mathematics is used to create an abstraction of the physical world. Formulas and equations that do not represent the problem under investigation are irrelevant. Therefore, as the foundational concept, if observations do not match the theoretical framework, then a reassessment of the theory is necessary. The adjacent figure shows Bažant’s foundational model illustrating how the top part of the Twin Towers (labeled as Block “C” which is structurally lighter) started at rest, then accelerated downward crushing through the undamaged stronger structure (labeled “A”) in what the authors call the “crush-down” phase—all without inflicting equal or greater damage to Block “C.” However, once Block “C” reaches the bottom and encounters additional resistance, the “crush-up” phase then destroys the previously indestructible Block “C.” A defined rubble pile within the footprint of the tower is hypothesized to result.

missing block smThis photo, taken from a police helicopter, has been available for many years. It has been available not only to Bažant and his co-authors, and not only to those that have peer-reviewed their paper, but also to the general public for whom Bažant’s article now gives them reason to question the engineering profession’s commitment to ethics. In this photo, it is not possible to see any portion of the required intact structure of which Block “C” was hypothesized to be the central mechanism of destruction. In this photo the Twin Towers are seen being destroyed as material is ejected perpendicular to gravity in all directions.

From this single photograph, Bažant’s hypothesis about Block “C” and the mechanism of destruction is invalidated. For the authors and reviewers of Bažant’s papers to have accepted the hypothesized mechanism without reviewing the wealth of photographic evidence from the destruction of the Twin Towers demonstrates that the peer-review process was flawed. From the public’s perspective, a questionable peer-review process discredits ASCE and by extension the entire the engineering profession.

debris field plan smIf the Twin Towers did not crush themselves into a rubble pile during the crush-down phase as the Block “C” hypothesis suggests, where did the structural material and office contents land? This figure taken from the 2002 report of FEMA’s investigation (and supported by an adjunct ASCE team) shows that the material was ejected into two symmetric 1,200 foot diameter debris fields, each of which was centered on the footprints of each tower. Some estimates suggest that approximately 90% to 95% of the mass of the Twin Towers was ejected outside the footprint of the Towers leaving an insignificant rubble pile within the footprint. Such an outcome would not have been possible according to Bažant’s crush-down/crush-up hypothesis.

surviving core columns smA photo taken two days after the devastation shows the intact core columns that protected the stairwell up to approximately the fourth floor. They are rising above the lobby floor at the center of the North Tower inside the surviving east and north perimeter walls. It is physically not possible for the limited debris on the lobby floor to be a rubble pile comprised of the remnants of 106 stories of structural materials and office contents. These crucial first-hand observations and photos were available to the authors, the peer reviewers, and the general public.

Taken together, these key observations discredit the ASCE’s peer-review process as fraudulent and taint the entire engineering profession by extension.

Public Perceptions

The public expects that professional societies such as ASCE will adhere to their established Codes of Ethics and will not tolerate fraud. When the public learns otherwise, the impulse is to distrust the credibility of not only the organization, but of its members—and in the extreme, the entire profession.

The result of this massive abdication of responsibility at all levels of engineering professional societies, the media and the government has been the formation of an unprecedented nationwide, even worldwide, patchwork of individuals, professionals and organizations who have analyzed the forensic evidence showing what really happened to the World Trade Center Twin Towers and Building 7 on September 11, 2001. These organizations and individuals have proven that the destruction of the three skyscrapers were not fire-induced, gravity-only collapses. Building 7 was not even hit by an airplane.

Groups such as Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth (AE911Truth) have worked to educate the architecture, engineering and academic communities as well as the public about the compelling evidence for a controlled demolition-based destruction and near-free-fall collapse of three World Trade Center skyscrapers. However, with over 2,300 degreed architects and engineers calling for a new investigation, AE911Truth has not been able to find a single credentialed professional willing to uphold the official fire-induced, gravity-only collapse hypothesis for how World Trade Center Building 7 was destroyed in a public debate, on a shared stage.

To read the entire paper that raises questions about the risk to the engineering profession as a result of its compromised peer-review process on a verifiable 9/11 issue, visit

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