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  • Writer's pictureZa K

Jet Fuel Can't Melt Steel Beams

If you, like me, have ever gone down some deep conspiracy theory trail, you will know what I mean when I say, “jet fuel can’t melt steel beams”. It has become some sort of symbol for ridiculing so-called conspiracy theorists. Originating from a film series addressing the US government’s supposed involvement in orchestrating the 9/11 terrorist attacks called “Loose Change” which aired in 2005, the phrase is part of conspiracy theory which suggests that the burning fuel from crashed planes would not have been able to melt the supporting beams of the World Trade Center - therefore there must have been some sort of controlled demolition (most likely carried out by the US government).

In summary, it says that:

  1. Jet fuel can not burn hot enough to melt steel beams. Jet fuel burns at about 1800 F tops in ideal conditions, and steel melts at 2800 F.

  2. The government (NIST) said that the jet fuel burned off in less than 10 minutes

  3. Melted steel was reported at Ground Zero by 8 PhDs and a FDNY Captain.

Of course, there have been countless experiments which debunk this claim and it is often mocked online for being based on flawed evidence and having no real factual foundation. But this article is not about the validity of conspiracy theories themselves, more like the validity of the theory of conspiracy theories, if that makes sense.

Recently, when discussing one of these ridiculous theories in a history lesson, my teacher interrupted by saying “Now back to reality, where things are based on facts”. To be fair, yes, I was interrupting our lesson about women’s suffrage to discuss whether it was “Sex IN the City” or “Sex AND the City” (Mandela Effect). But, I would think that, as a history teacher, they would value looking at events with a different idea of what is fact and what isn’t.

What is interesting to me is the difference with which people perceive conspiracies and history. These days, reading history textbooks, what you see, you take as facts. Whereas at the time, they could have been discounted by the powerful. An important example of this would be the Gulf of Tolkin incident in 1964 where the USS. Maddox opened fire on what it claimed were several North Vietnamese targets. This incident was an excuse for the Americans to get more involved in the Vietnam War. The only issue is, these “targets” didn’t actually exist, it just allowed for the United States to deepen their intervention in the spread of Communism in South-East Asia. Those studying GCSE history in 2018, are taught that the Americans were the ones who caused the situation. Whereas, at the time of the incident, questioning the American government’s authority would have earnt one the label of a crazy conspiracy theorist and they would be seen as sympathetic towards Communism. It is important to note that the truth was repressed in this situation by those in power.

So what does 9/11 and the Gulf of Tolkin have in common? 9/11 is so fresh in our history that it is arguably too soon to be questioning government reports and looking for other explanations whereas the Golf of Tolkin incident is far enough in the past that it is easier to ask questions about it. I would argue that theories about both these events should be treated similarly, regardless of when they happened. This is more important now than ever. The theory of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election was, at first, just that. A theory. Donald Trump would have put it in the box with other ridiculous theories such as “Jet fuel can’t melt steel beams”. As we know now, there was some level of truth to the suspicions. It is difficult to decide what is true these days as one is often bombarded with stories about “fake news” and it is sometimes hard get news from a fair, impartial source. Even by reading the newspaper, you are forced to think about how reliable it is - similarly to the way in which you would analyze a source in a History class.

Of course, I don’t personally believe that George Bush orchestrated terrorist attacks but the point of this article is that you should always be willing to challenge the rhetoric, no matter where it comes from.


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