966: Jet Fuel

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Jet Fuel
The 'controlled demolition' theory was concocted by the government to distract us. '9/11 was an inside job' was an inside job!
Title text: The 'controlled demolition' theory was concocted by the government to distract us. '9/11 was an inside job' was an inside job!

Explanation[edit]

This is another one of the "My Hobby" series, where Randall tells about a strange hobby. This comic is a reference to the "9/11 Was An Inside Job" theory that the World Trade Center in New York City was blown up by a "controlled demolition".

Hairy's statement that "jet fuel can't burn hot enough to melt steel" references a common argument used by conspiracy theorists in references to the attacks. The official investigation concluded that the combination of the impact of the jets and the subsequent fire sufficiently compromised the structural steel beams of the towers that they lost integrity and collapsed. People who do not accept this conclusion frequently insist that the flame temperatures resulting from burning jet fuel is less that the melting point of steel, and so argue that the official explanation must be wrong, supporting their argument that the towers were deliberately brought down by explosives, planted by some conspiracy.

This argument has been frequently refuted by experts, on a number of grounds. No fuel has a single burning temperature, the temperature of any given flame depends on a number of factors, which can be hard to predict in uncontrolled situtions. In addition, multiple fuels could have contributed to the fire, including not only the jet fuel but also flammables inside the building, and even metals (such as aluminum) that would have been pulverized and dispersed by the impact. Importantly, it is not necessary for beams to melt in order to collapse a building. Metals lose much of their structural strength well below their melting point. If enough beams were sufficiently weakened, they would fail under the weight of the building, putting more pressure on the remaining beams, which would then be likely to fail, and so on.

Cueball, however, doesn't argue with Hairy's premises, but instead takes a different tack, by appealing to a completely different conspiracy theory, concerning Chemtrails . The Chemtrails conspiracy theory claims that the Contrails left behind aircraft contain mind-control agents planted by the US Government (or any other goverment, reptiloids, Freemasons, etc.), which are used to drug the population en masse. Cueball operates under the assumption that this theory is true, and points out that this means typical passenger jets would be equipped with containers of these drugs, which could potentially burn at a high temperature. Because these drugs are entirely hypothetical, no assumption about them can possibly be disproven. This puts Hairy in a position of either having to argue against the chemtrail conspiracy theory, while arguing for a 9/11 conspiracy theory, or admit that there are factors he can't account for. This is unlikely to shake Hairy from his beliefs, but Cueball appears to find it entertaining to force a conspiracy theorist to confront the contradictions between conspiracy theories.

The title text is the natural "double down" on a theory which says that the conspiracy theory itself was concocted by the government and was supposed to distract from the truth, a parodic theory already seen in South Park episode Mystery of the Urinal Deuce.

Transcript[edit]

[Hairy throws his arms out as he talks to Cueball, who answers while lifting a hand palm up.]
Hairy: 9/11 was an inside job! Jet fuel can't burn hot enough to melt steel!
Cueball: Well, remember — jet fuel wasn't the only thing on those planes. They would've also carried tanks full of the mind-control agents airliners use to make chemtrails.
Cueball: Who knows what temperature that stuff burns at!
Hairy: Whoa.
Hairy: Good point!
[Caption below the panel:]
My Hobby: Playing conspiracy theories off against each other.

Trivia[edit]

For those wondering: it is true that kerosene does not burn hot enough in air to melt steel, but it does burn hot enough to cut the steel's supporting strength roughly in half, which is more than enough to collapse a building weighing thousands of tons. (Although standard engineering practice is to use a safety factor of three, and a safety factor of two is sufficient to allow for a 50% reduction in strength, over half of the columns in the two towers were severed in the initial impact, increasing the stress on the remaining columns.)

Cueball messing with 9/11 truther conspiracy theorists was also the subject of 690: Semicontrolled Demolition, and in 496: Secretary: Part 3 Black Hat claims the Twin Towers never actually collapsed. Chemtrails are mentioned again later in 1677: Contrails and 1803: Location Reviews.

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Discussion

I always thought it was the aliens trying to sabotage our civilization, but the inside job theory also works. Davidy²²[talk] 08:25, 9 March 2013 (UTC)

That's what 'They' want you to think. The 'They' being the aliens who brought you the Wormhole X-Treme episode of Stargate, the Visitors From Down The Street episode of Babylon 5's 'Crusade' spin-off and the whole of the X-Files (pre-retrospectively spun off from the latter, thanks to time-travel technology). 178.105.151.131 06:24, 25 April 2013 (UTC)

I don't know how may crazy conspiracy theories the government actually does come up with (probably not many, if any), but you gotta admit that they like them, and perpetuate existing ones simply because it, as the explanation says, distracts from real issues, but also because it makes all criticisms against them sound crazy.76.29.225.28 19:52, 6 July 2013 (UTC)

Frankly, that sounds like a crazy conspiracy theory to me. Brettpeirce (talk) 20:42, 22 October 2014 (UTC)

South Park did the "conspiracy was a conspiracy" idea first. 173.245.63.180 04:20, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

South Park also did the "[other show] did it (first)" meme first. --BigMal27 // 173.245.55.88 17:16, 28 July 2014 (UTC)

So where are the steel beams now? I used Google News BEFORE it was clickbait (talk) 20:35, 22 January 2015 (UTC)