I had a conversation (and I use that term loosely. -ed.) with a "9/11 Truther" the other day, who claimed that over "700 architects and engineers" agree that the World Trade Center towers were toppled by some kind of pre-planted explosives / sinister government plot / Dick Cheney. That 700 number seems to be very important talking point for the Truthers, in a see-how-many-professionals-agree-with-us credability angle.
As a licensed architect who has worked on mid-rise and high rise buildings, and therefore know a bit about how to they are constructed (and how the WTC was constructed), I'm growing very tired of this Luddite argument. And I'm especially tired of folks trying to use my profession to bolster it. The Truthers are not interested in "truth"; they are trying to sell a conclusion with some circumstantial implications and very few facts. That's why that 700 number is so important.
So I did a little research to put that precious number in context. There is indeed a group of architects and engineers who believe that the World Trade Center towers were toppled by means other than what we all saw - Islamic nuts in hijacked planes. But does that 700 number represent a credibly large consensus of my fellow design professionals, as the Truthers imply? Um... no. Not even close.
Let's take a look at just the architects. According to this, in 2008 there were 141,200 architects employed in the United States. According to this at the architects and engineers 9/11 Truther website, to date 251 "architects and architectural professionals" have actually signed onto a petition for a new investigation. If you take out the 69 unlicensed interns, landscape architects, and engineers listed in the wrong place, you are left with 182 architects - out of 141,200 - calling for a new investigation. Do some quick division and you find out that that equals... 0.00129%.
Consensus? My arse.