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Monday, October 26, 2015

Questioning ASCE’s Commitment to Ethics at their Annual Conference

Many Members Left Speechless by the Information

Written by Wayne Coste, PE

At the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 2015 Annual Conference in New York City, six intrepid volunteers raised questions about ASCE's commitment to ethics. The approach we used to raise this issue resulted in no significant push-back from the ASCE memberships toward any of us. Our approach was effective and can be replicated at similar venues when doing outreach to ASCE members or any other organizations in the engineering community.

The approach entailed volunteers distributing flyers outside the Marriott Marquis hotel adjacent to Times Square in New York City. The flyers informed ASCE members that there is a "peer-reviewed" ASCE journal article that promotes a fraudulent explanation of the mechanism of destruction of the World Trade Center Twin Towers on 9/11. This article is the sole "peer-reviewed" journal article that purports to explain the mechanism of collapse that occurred.

We raised the issue that observations do not support the author's hypothesis. Furthermore, this fraudulent "peer-reviewed" article represents an ethical violation that could damage the credibility of not just the ASCE journal in question, but ASCE itself – if not the entire engineering profession.

coste slesinger et al smOver the course of three days of outreach outside the convention hotel, 600 flyers were handed out. About half of the recipients were attendees at the conference. The remainder was people passing by on the sidewalk. Some were engineers curious about the signs suggesting ethical risks to their profession. Others were family members and friends of the engineers. The reception was largely favorable with a lot of conference attendees saying "thank you for the information."

The flyer was entitled "ASCE and Ethical Risks to the Engineering Profession." It posed the concern that "The peer-review process has failed in one of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) journals: Journal of Engineering Mechanics. This failure violates the ASCE Code of Ethics, with repercussions that may contribute to undermining the credibility of the engineering profession."

Whenever an interested person stopped to learn more, we would say, "We are concerned about a journal article published in an ASCE engineering journal where the observations of the event did not support the hypothesis proposed in the paper. While any flawed paper in a peer-reviewed journal is unfortunate – where this issue approaches the definition of fraud is when the ASCE editors refuse to allow a more complete discussion and corrections. Additionally, ASCE has gone to the extent of returning payment for an exhibit booth by Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth at the ASCE conference on Forensic Engineering – what could be more appropriate at a forensics conference than a discussion of the facts surrounding the destruction of three of the most famous steel-framed structures in history.

analysis of crush up crush down smFig. 2. (Top) Scenario of collapse; (bottom) crush-down and crush-up phases of collapse; (A) intact stationary (lower) part; (B) dense layer of crushed debris; and (C) intact moving (upper) partContinuing, we explained that "In science and engineering, for a paper to pass a peer-review phase prior to publication, the hypothesis must be supported by the data. If the destruction of the World Trade Center Towers was a gravity-only collapse, the data to support author Z. P. Bažant's hypothesis would, at a minimum, have to note that there was actually a block "C" that began moving at the top of the Twin Tower, gained momentum, and then crushed the entire Tower down into the ground level with a large compact rubble pile at the bottom.

Thus, there should be a very visible block "C" in the photograph taken from a police helicopter during the collapse event. However, it has been observed that there is no block "C" in the photograph. Nothing even resembling a block "C" can be seen. This completely invalidates Bažant's theory. The presence of a large and visible block "C" is necessary to do the crushing. Without a block "C," there is no mechanism to transfer the momentum down from one floor to the next lower floor.

Furthermore, the absence of a rubble pile is devastating to the hypothesis. The photograph of the lobby area taken a few days later shows no significant rubble pile. Instead it shows about four stories of the core columns rising up out of the North Tower lobby floor.missing block smThus, there should be a very visible block “C” in the photograph taken from a police helicopter during the collapse event. However, it has been observed that there is no block “C” in the photograph. Nothing even resembling a block “C” can be seen. These columns protected the stairwell where 13 members of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) survived (the "miracle of Ladder 6"). When they looked up after the dust cloud cleared, the firemen saw a blue sky above them.

What happened to the 106 stories of material above them? The FEMA report compiled in the aftermath of the event shows that 90 to 95% of the structural material was ejected into two twin 1,200-foot-diameter debris fields centered on each of the Tower's footprints. These observations do not support Bažant's hypothesis. The acceptance, publication and restricted critique of Bažant's faulty article by ASCE's journal editors amounts to fraud. Fraud is not allowed by the ASCE code of ethics. Publishing a poor-quality analysis by itself is not fraud. It could merely be an error or incompetence. However, to not allow a refutation of the flawed explanation is what makes the journal's editors perpetrators of a fraud."

One legal dictionary defines fraud as: "A false representation of a matter of fact—whether by words or by conduct, by false or misleading allegations, or by concealment of what should have been disclosed—that deceives and is intended to deceive another so that the individual will act upon it to her or his legal injury."

Interactions with ASCE Members

We experienced pushback by only two members of ASCE, both senior representatives. They commented that "... of course the buildings collapsed in that way. That is because of the damage to the steel by the fires." However, when it was pointed out to them that there was no rubble pile and that the debris had been ejected into twin 1,200-foot-diameter debris fields with virtually no rubble pile-up on the lobby floor, they simply walked away.

As they walked away, I called out that in the last few years there has been a challenge offered by Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth to debate the facts. To date, no credentialed professional engineer or licensed architect has been willing to step forward for a debate format on a shared stage and support the NIST reports describing the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7. The men kept walking away. By contrast, the reception from rank-and-file engineers who came from all parts of the world was very good.

Several ASCE members who were either active or former editors of ASCE journals lamented the difficulties of finding worthy articles, providing competent reviews, and the controversies over what gets published. One conversation drifted into the pitfalls that many pharmaceutical journals face because of the enormous pressure from Big Pharma manufacturers.

In discussions outside the hotel, nearly two dozen attendees mentioned how heat weakened the columns to the point of collapse. They were surprised to hear that the NIST report says jet fuel contributed little to the total heat generated by the fires in the Twin Towers. They most assuredly grasped the enormity of the fact that office fires – burning fire-resistant carpet, fire resistant chairs and paper in file cabinents cannot bring down steel-framed skyscrapers.

"Jet fuel sprayed onto the surfaces of typical office workstations burned away within a few minutes. The jet fuel accelerated the burning of the workstations, but did not significantly affect the overall heat released."
[Source: NIST NCSTAR 1, p. 184]


Vignette #1: One young structural engineer, possibly a student, commented that "Of course the Towers would've fallen like they did. You only have to remove one column in a structure for the whole structure to collapse." I pointed out to him that "This would've been a violation of long-established building codes where the failure of a single element must not result in the collapse of an entire building. Because of redundancy, loads get shifted around the damaged structural member."

surviving core columns smThe young engineer's misperception speaks to the unfortunate yet inevitable outcome that transpires when a paper with patented errors authored by a well-respected structural engineer is published by a well-respected journal without any opportunity for opposing commentary. While incorrect, the young engineer's erroneous comment is no less damning than the unsupportable hypothesis presented in Bažant's paper.

Vignette #2: One older engineer who was intrigued about our ethics banner began to talk about working in metropolitan New York. He commented about a run-in with the consequences of "excessive truthfulness" that prevented his further participation on a project. After a long conversation about the role of money in getting projects done correctly, he walked away with a flyer.

Vignette #3: Before the opening reception, the president of the Metropolitan Section of the ASCE stopped to find out what we were doing in front of the convention hotel. We then had an extended interaction where I got to explain the details contained in the flyer – and more. The official returned later after the reception and asked quite pointedly, "Why are you doing this?" My reply was that given the ASCE published a fraudulent paper, it is obvious the author and peer reviewers never actually looked at the photographs of the event. Worse, the ASCE has not allowed any discussion or corrections to this paper. The rejection of AE911Truth from the allowed exhibitors at the ASCE's forensics conference in Miami speaks to a need to bring the issue before the ASCE membership. As an engineer, these violations were an affront to me and my profession.

To this person and anyone else, when asked about my motivations, I enumerate the following six points:

First: I am a witness to a mass murder in which the people who pushed the buttons and brought the Towers down are still at-large.

Second: As an engineer, I believe that physics and engineering is important. To be told that the laws of physics didn't apply on September 11 is an affront to me as an engineer.

Third: There is a greatly villainized community in this country, the Muslim community, which may not even be at fault for the crimes of 9/11.

Fourth: If something like this can be hidden in plain sight, what other stories are being filtered out of the media discussions?

Fifth: 9/11 changed everything. Now, every time a politician opens their mouth, they invoke 9/11 to prop up their rhetoric. There is no money for education, no money for healthcare, no money for social safety nets, yet there is plenty of money for war, for drones and for wiretapping and surveillance. When asked why we need this, their answer is some variation of 9/11. But that is an answer laden with deceptive manipulation.

Sixth: Every lie requires a bigger lie to cover-up the last one.

I encourage you or your group to consider leafletting at industry conferences or any public event for that matter. It is a valuable outreach activity anyone can do.

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