Nutjobs Update

Now this will get the kooks in a dither:

A controversy over words at BYU this morning. A professor is on paid leave for suggesting the government is responsible for the destruction of the World Trade Center.
The man on paid leave is Dr. Steven Jones. He’s a physics professor involved in the so-called “9-11 Truth Movement.” Jones believes unnamed government agencies orchestrated the fall of the twin towers and he says there’s evidence to back it up.
Two weeks ago he published his theory in a paper called “Why Indeed did the World Trade Center Buildings Collapse?” In it, the professor says the towers fell not because of planes hitting them but rather pre-positioned demolition charges. He cites research conducted at BYU on materials from ground zero, asserting those materials show evidence of thermite, a compound used in military detonations. He says terrorists could have never set those charges.
The State Department has released a rebuttal to Jones’ theory in a 10-thousand page report.
BYU made this statement last night.
“Physics Professor Steven Jones has made numerous statements about the collapse of the World Trade Center. BYU has repeatedly said that it does not endorse assertions made by individual faculty.
“We are, however, concerned about the increasingly speculative and accusatory nature of these statements by Dr. Jones.”
The university added, “BYU remains concerned that Dr. Jones’ works on this topic has not been published in appropriate scientific venues.”
It is rare for some in Dr. Jones’ position to be under review because he has taught at BYU for more than two decades. He began his career at the university in 1985 and has been known for his cold fusion research. Other professors will teach his classes while he’s on paid leave. He will be allowed to conduct research in his field but the university is reviewing his actions.

I’m sure we’ll hear the usual screams about free speech, academic freedom, yada yada yada, with a dash of Rovian Conspiracy thrown in. Well, probably mostly that. BDS is awfully common in The Academy.
Stayed tuned and we’ll see how this develops.

12 Responses to “Nutjobs Update”

  1. The_Real_JeffS says:

    Maybe Dr. Jones was a fine teacher and researcher once, but that’s not a free pass to behave irresponsibly and reflect badly upon the university. The University has every right to question his behavior, which is erratic (to put it mildly).
    If something happened to Dr. Jones to cause him to snap (as the evidence suggests), maybe he can be helped. At the very least, don’t expose more students to this guy!

  2. “We are, however, concerned about the increasingly speculative and accusatory nature of these statements by Dr. Jones.”
    Translation: “He’s a fucking lunatic”

  3. Nightfly says:

    Alternate translation – “We’re not with this guy. Who are you? How did you get your name on this office?”

  4. The_Real_JeffS says:

    “He’s a fucking lunatic”
    These days, those words come to my lips more often than I care to think about.

  5. Mike Rentner says:

    How about that? A university with basic common sense and a sense of responsibility. How rare.

  6. major dad says:

    They should censure then fire the nut job. Might want to review just what he was teaching to his students.

  7. nobrainer says:

    Cold fusion, huh?
    That explains a lot.

  8. John says:

    nobrainer – no doubt. Ever since Fleischmann and Ponds published in the lay press first and then published in the Journal of Electroanalytical Chemistry, cold fusion has been a strange attractor for scientific dip$hits.
    Major Dad asked in a previous comment to the previous post “did these people ever study physics”? – but here is the perfect example of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing. Knowledge divides itself into the general and the specific – scientists generally deal with the general, engineers with the specific. General inveswtigations generally allow progress to be made, lack of specific knowledge kills you. The physics prof concentrateds on the melting point of a steel I-bar, the engineer looks at the weakest memeber – the steel clips, and says “what if the steel in the clips starts to flex a little?” Guess who I want building my house?
    Always be suspicious of someone talking (way) outside of his or her field.
    And Jeff_S -there might be some fine teachers at BYU, but I only saw one passable researcher in that department (yeah, I’m a geek, I went and looked). It’s not a Ph.D. granting institution, they are not hired to be researchers. There’s nothing wrong with that – I once aspired to do just what they are doing – but a man’s gotta know his limitations.

  9. The_Real_JeffS says:

    Good point, John. I didn’t check into the bios of the BYU staff, myself, as I figured anyone who made this sort of claim has certainly lost it as a rational person, let alone a researcher or teacher. I admit that the cold fusion link raised my eyebrows, but in this age of tenure uber alles, I just used that as a gage as to how long ago he lost it.
    When I said “…those words come to my lips more often than I care to think about..“, I meant exactly that. My reservoir of surprise was drained long ago, and the antics of Dr. Jones merely scratches a dead nerve.
    I think that his students have probably wondered how this clod kept his job for so long…..and that someone on the faculty has been looking for a way to take him down. Good on them, says I.
    Although, as a semi-explanation to my gaffe, one need not be a researcher to do research. My college had several teachers engaged in short and long-term investigations and/or research, usually by contract with an outside source, with some sort of agreement to use school facilities. None of this was basic research, but was aimed at solving specific problems (e.g., materials testing). It provided the graduate students (including me) good material to work with, and the teachers with papers and (I don’t doubt) extra income.
    That’s my (limited) experience, but I should have checked the bios.

  10. The_Real_JeffS says:

    Sorry about the double post, the server was cranky, and I thought I had to re-try…..feel free to delete one.

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