My teaching schedule
for Fall 2001 began late in the day and included a long
evening class on Tuesdays. Being somewhat of a night
owl, I set my alarm for sometime after 9:00 AM. On
9/11, I happened to wake up before my clock-radio alarm
came on and was working in the next room on my computer
when the clock radio finally did come on. I vaguely
heard the radio in the background and kept on working,
though I wasn't paying much attention to what was being
said. Then I began to notice that whatever story
they were telling seemed to go on an on. It sounded
as though they were telling some sort of sick joke about a
drunk driver who made a wrong turn on the way home from a
party and ran his plane into a building. But then
the same thing seemed to have happened a second time.
It sounded like a joke, except that they never got to the
punch line. Eventually, I began to wonder if what
they were saying might have something to do with
reality. So I went downstairs and turned on the TV.
The same story was
being played on every station I could pick up. There
had indeed been a horrible event. But why were we
getting the same story on every station? Then I
realized also that there were no commercial breaks.
That meant that this must be serious. But whatever
happened to the idea of getting another perspective?
When there's a plane crash, one network might be replaying
the video of it while another is playing an "up close and
personal story," or a "background story" about someone's
loved one who left home that morning to go on a trip, or
about some parts manufacturer of the aircraft, or what
detailed experience some innocent bystander went
through. But here we had every station playing nearly
the same video and in nearly the same way, saying
essentially the same thing, over and over again with out
a commercial break. To me, it did not feel
right. (this is when I called my mother in the Washington,
D.C., area to ask if she saw fighter jets overhead.)
The mere fact that there were no commercial breaks
commanded my attention as if to say, "This is more
important than anything you've ever known." That is,
like War of the Worlds, it was a sustaining
How many stories have aired without
commercial breaks, and what effect does that have on us?
I gathered my things
together and headed into campus. It must have been
around 10 AM. When I got to campus and was walking
up to our building, one of my graduate students met me in
the street. That conversation is one I will never
forget. He asked, "Dr. Wood, who is Bin Laden
and what's Al-Qaeda?"
I entered our
building and went up the corner stairs. My
colleagues were talking about what they thought had taken
place. One said, "After the USS Cole, we should have
just taken them all out. These guys need to be
taken out." I asked, "For what?"
My colleague responded, "The towers, they're down,
they're both down." Then we all went to the
faculty conference room to watch the replays on TV.
What I saw was
surreal. These buildings did not just "collapse,"
they unraveled--as I've said before, like sweaters.
Something did not smell right, but here were my colleagues
(full professors who should have recognized the apparent
contradiction of physical principles already being put out
as "the story"), with pitchforks in hand, rallying the
troops to "go get the bad guys." It was like a done
deal, open-and-shut. Meanwhile, there I was, looking at
the TV monitor and thinking there was a kind of War of
the Worlds sick joke being played on us.
If there had been commercial breaks
during War of the Worlds
, would there have been such
If there had been commercial breaks
during news coverage on 9/11 would people have questioned it
On September 11,
2001, we were told that an airplane hit a building and
caused the building to self-destruct an hour later, taking
just 8 to 10 seconds is physically impossible, no matter
what might have initiated the gravity collapse (bombs,
natural causes, and so on). In addition, we were
told that two airplanes, each hitting one of the Twin
Towers, had caused the total destruction of the entire
complex of seven buildings---while not significantly,
fatally, or totally damaging any other buildings!
The explanation we were given was that jet fuel had
ignited office material and that this fire, fed by burning
office material, significantly weakened the steel-frame
buildings. But steel fireplace grills don't collapse
Nearly everyone has heard of kerosene
heaters. Do they melt?
"jumping" from the towers was a phenomenon contrary to
anything firefighters had ever before observed. Even
to these New York City firefighters, it was unbelievable.
So, when did this phenomenon become Believable?
and dangerous events where someone doesn't have time to
evaluate the situation and yet must react. For
example, if a team of police officers with rifles were to
yell, "get down on the ground!" most people would
immediately follow those orders. When someone yells,
"Fire!" in a movie theater, one can expect a stampede to
the exit even without evidence of a fire. Shouting
and confusion will get most people to do what is
asked of them. Most of us will acquiesce so as not
to add to the confusion. People watched the
jumpers. They saw it, so it must be real.
Yet we also know that gasoline burns
hotter than kerosene and we know that cars do not collapse
from over heated or melted engines.
And wood stoves made of steel do no
self-destruct from fire.
C. What Did We Really See?
So what did we
really see on 9/11/01? It may or may not be what we
were told we saw. What if the first reported
observation was wrong, and then everyone followed
it? The human mind does not operate like a tape
recorder. The human mind puts together the best
story it can based on what it has been presented with, and
it adapts. In a confusing and unbelievable
situation, people tend to look for something that makes
We look for what
we're accustomed to seeing or expect to see, and we use
this to make what sense we can of the confusion. My
heart goes out to the doctors who, amongst the confusion,
tried to make sense of what they saw and what they were
told (along with the rest of us). In an interview,
two doctors recall that patients quit coming in to the
emergency rooms by noon on 9/11. Dr. Tony Dajer was
asked, "Where are all the people?" He groped for and
explanation. Another doctor latched on to the hope
that most everyone made it out alive. These two
doctors are a a wonderful example of how much people care
for their fellow man. And, like the rest of us, they
desperately wanted---and needed---it all to make sense.
But what happens when it doesn't make
We must observe the
actual evidence, carefully. But how do we do that
through a preconceived, conditioned, and biased
perspective? One way might be to wipe the slate
clean and begin with a new vocabulary, a new language,
including a visual language. This may require that
we ignore images that we have long been conditioned to
react to in very predictable ways.
In the chapters
that follow, I have purposely given each of the observed
phenomena a new and unique name, using a new vocabulary
that does not come preloaded with familiar connotations
and therefore biased interpretations. Referring to
particulate-filled air as "smoke" causes the biased or
pre-conditioned observer to think of "fire" as the cause
of what is seen. Instead, then, let us use a very
generic term(perhaps even an elementary-level term) that
we would not normally use in this situation, but one that
describes solely and only what we do see, with no other
weighted or pre-supposed meaning. Let's use not the
word "smoke" but the word "fume." A glossary of
terms is provided at the end of this book for convenience.
July 22, 1980 2nd major
Eruption Mt. St. Helens
Below pictures are not in Judy Woods Book.
My wife took these pictures. From a Cessna 150 on
July 22, 1980.
Please compare what you see in the picture below of
Compare the Towers with the Eruption of Mt. St. Helens
For more information: http://wheredidthetowersgo.com/