But, as we've seen, it has been impossible for me to do so. Some elements of the research community are so set in their beliefs that they are psychologically unable to adjust to anything new, and heck, my analysis of the evidence is nothing if not something new.
As a result, when I first noticed that no one from the conspiracy research community had identified the Humes entrance on the “mystery photo” I wrote this off to a willful ignorance. It was right there in the photo, but no one seemed to notice it. I assumed this was because most researchers had been so thoroughly snowed by all the discussion of the large exit wound on the back of the head that no one even thought to look for the small entrance wound on the back of the head identified at autopsy.
While at the November, 2005, JFK LANCER conference, however, I noticed something which forced me to reconsider the ‘innocence” of some of those failing to notice this entrance.
But first a little background... In 1992, Dr. Charles Crenshaw, perhaps the most vocal of the Parkland witnesses, wrote a book, JFK: Conspiracy of Silence, which related his memories of November 22-24, 1963, and his theories on the assassination. After its publication, he was widely criticized. Articles were printed in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggesting he was a liar—that he’d never even seen Kennedy at Parkland—and so on. After winning a lawsuit against JAMA, he corrected some minor errors in his book, and updated his story to include a section on the lawsuit. He also added a section on the current state of the medical evidence, which was written by two leading members of the research community, Dr. Cyril Wecht and Dr. Gary Aguilar. The new version of Crenshaw’s book, released in 2001, was sold as Trauma Room One.
In Trauma Room One, on page 281 to be exact, there is a reproduction of the mystery photo, the photo of the President’s brainless cranium which has been the focus of so much of my study. What is astounding about this presentation of the photo, however, is that it is not printed in a way one can make sense of it. It is not printed so that the bone in the photo appears to be forehead, and it is not printed so that the bone in the photo appears to be the back of the head. If one is to believe this photo is of the back of the head, it is, in fact, printed upside down. Even worse, the scalp triangle and lock of hair at the top of the photo, and the neck lines and bullet hole at the bottom of the photo, have been cropped off the photo. This makes it even harder to orient. Suspiciously, this supports the book's argument that when inspecting the photo it "is virtually impossible to know which side is up, to know which bones are in the image, what part of the skull is being photographed, etc." It also makes it hard to second-guess the writers when they ask "Is frontal bone or occipital bone visible in this image. Not even Kennedy's pathologists know for sure."
Since both doctors had inspected the photo at the archives—Wecht was, in fact, not only the second non-government-affiliated doctor, after Lattimer, to inspect the photos, but had testified before both the Rockefeller Commission and HSCA—one has to question why they would not only make the argument that the photo is indecipherable, but crop it to make it far less decipherable. After all, even single-assassin theorists such as Chad Zimmerman and Larry Sturdivan present the photo un-cropped in their work. The website of single-assassin theorist John McAdams even presents the photo in the back of the head orientation so that his readers can judge for themselves.
Why would two leading lights of the research community misrepresent something so important?
Well, one possibility is that they were protecting their own reputations. Wecht’s disagreement with the HSCA was chiefly over their support for the single-bullet theory; he accepted the higher entrance in the skull and accepted that there was no clear-cut evidence for the Humes entrance on the autopsy photos. Similarly, Dr. Aguilar has built his reputation in part on his belief that the many eyewitnesses describing a large exit at the rear of the head were correct, and that the autopsy report is a sham. It is in neither of the doctors’ personal interest, therefore, to reveal that Humes was right about his low entrance. But are Wecht and Aguilar capable of such “skullduggery”? Would they deliberately mislead the American public just to further their own agenda?
I think not. I find it hard to believe these two men, whose work and statements have been hugely influential in the research community, and who have always pushed for the government to open up the archives and let the truth be known, would go to such lengths to conceal something of such importance. I suspect that, instead, they had a blind spot.
In re-reading the works of both men, in fact, neither seems to attach much significance to the photo. In Aguilar’s excellent 144 page on-line article, How Five Investigations into JFK’s Medical/Autopsy Evidence Got it Wrong, co-written with Kathy Cunningham in 2003, he devotes 16 pages to the Justice Department’s inspections of the autopsy photos in November 1966 and January 1967 (the so-called Military Review) and fails to mention that the mystery photo changed in orientation between the two inspections. This was probably the single-most important element of the inspections. And yet it goes unmentioned. Are we to assume from this that Aguilar deliberately left this out? Similarly, in his 42 page chapter in Murder in Dealey Plaza (2000), entitled The Converging Medical Case for Conspiracy, Aguilar declared, when discussing the possibility of a missing photo, “no images survive in which JFK’s scalp is shown reflected from the skull so as to demonstrate the skull wound.” This blanket dismissal of the significance of the mystery photo so alarmed Dr. Fetzer, the editor of the book (who is not a medical doctor), that he felt it necessary to insert an editor’s note, reminding the reader “Apart from F8.” (F8 is writer Harrison Livingstone’s term for the mystery photo.) While the probability exists that Dr. Aguilar, who is in everyday practice an ophthalmologist, was simply being short-sighted, and was referring specifically to the small entrance wound described by Dr. Finck, the fact is, as I’ve maintained throughout this presentation, that this wound is EXACTLY where Dr. Finck said it was. Why can’t Aguilar see this?
Dr. Wecht, for his part, never mentions the mystery photo in his 1993 book Cause of Death. There is a passage in the 63 page chapter on the assassination that reveals his blind spot, however. When discussing his first inspection of the autopsy photos, Wecht states “As I reviewed the X-rays and autopsy photographs, I noticed a little flap of loose tissue visible just above the hairline on the back of the President’s head…the loose flap very easily could be an exit wound, which would prove there was a second gunman shooting from the front. But even if it is an entrance wound from a bullet, it would destroy the Warren Commission’s conclusion that only three bullets were fired.”
It's undoubtedly revealing that Wecht’s immediate suspicion upon seeing something which could be a wound in the location where the autopsy doctors placed the entrance wound was that it could be an exit wound. This shows that Wecht had little doubt there was an entrance in the Clark Panel’s location. Apparently, It never occurred to him that the autopsy doctors could be right and Russell Fisher, the Clark Panel's ringleader, wrong. Wecht’s suggestion that the acceptance of even a lower entrance would destroy the Warren Commission’s theory is further evidence of this short-sightedness. It is the existence of a higher/cowlick entrance, a wound observed by NOT ONE witness, that would immediately destroy the Warren Commission’s conclusions. And yet Wecht fails to argue for the existence of such an entrance. As so many others, he readily accepts that the Clark Panel's red oval-shaped mark in the cowlick is an entrance wound. As with George Lundberg of JAMA, who blindly trusted Humes, it would appear that Wecht blindly trusted Fisher.
I suspect otherwise, however. I suspect that instead Wecht blindly trusted his own experience. In preparing for the writing of this study, I read dozens of papers and books on wound ballistics, most of which included photos of typical head wounds. The red mark in the cowlick noted by the Clark Panel does look a bit like the entrance of a low-speed, small-caliber, bullet. As a result, it may have looked like a typical entrance to Wecht. By no means, of course, is it a typical entrance for a high-speed, military-jacketed bullet, breaking up on the skull.
So maybe the cropping of the mystery photo was just a misunderstanding. On August 1, 2006, Dr. Aguilar responded to my questions about the photo in Trauma Room One. He said: “Somewhere along the line, after the images left our control, someone unknown to us shoehorned the image for reasons I don’t understand. At that time I had too many balls in the air and was at risk of dropping a more important one if I paused to catch this one.”
Upon my acceptance that Wecht and Aguilar did not deliberately mislead us by publishing a cropped version of the mystery photo, I have to accept the possibility that many of the misleading "mistakes" noted in my study of the evidence, even those by Arlen Specter, Robert Blakey, Dr. Michael Baden and Thomas Canning, were equally innocent.
To this end it should be noted that the doctors testifying in the American Bar Association's 1992 mock trial all made substantive mistakes. Dr. Martin Fackler, testifying for the prosecution, incorrectly asserted that Dr. Robert Shaw only claimed that Connally's back wound was 1 1/2 centimeters long at a point "later on," after he'd already determined it to be 3 cm. This was not true. While Dr. Shaw wrote "3 cm" on a report describing Connally's wounds, he testified from the first that this was the measurement after he cut away some skin around the edges of a 1 1/2 cm wound. Thus, there is no evidence that he ever "changed his recollection, " as claimed by Fackler. Similarly, Dr. Piziali testified that Kennedy's head "wound location and head motion shows that the shot was fired from the sixth floor of the TSBD," a statement without any real support. The location and movement may have been consistent with a shot from the TSBD, but came nowhere near "showing" that a bullet was fired from the sniper's nest, as purported. Piziali then said this shot was fired from "88 yards...290 feet", thereby confirming both his lack of basic math skills and lack of familiarity with the case. He then stated that the FBI's tests on Mannlicher-Carcano ammunition showed that it broke up on human skulls. The skull tests were, of course, not conducted by the FBI but by Edgewood Arsenal, a government contractor working with the Army. On the other side, showing that experts on both sides of the case were equally capable of error, Dr. Roger McCarthy testified that the 2 bullet fragments removed from Kennedy's brain were "in fact found in his scalp." He then embarrassed himself further by asserting that "the record is very clear on this."
Experts are mere humans, and busy humans at that, and, as such, prone to mistakes. It's sad, but true.
I suspect that only through this acceptance will we come to any consensus on what really happened on November 22, 1963.
The realization that Wecht's errors were quite possibly related to a misapplication of his extensive experience led me down a dark road of thought. I began to question whether it's possible for those "with knowledge" to ever learn anything new. Does our frame of reference frame our reality?
Let's use Wecht as a case study. On August 23 and August 24, 1972, Dr. Cyril Wecht became the first fully independent pathologist to inspect the autopsy materials. He also became the first conspiracy theorist to see these materials. He reported his findings in a 1974 article in Forensic Science.
As a long-time critic of the original autopsy, and as a long-time proponent of forensic science, Wecht undoubtedly had a chip on his shoulder. He resented, justifiably, that military doctors with little forensic experience were chosen to perform the most important autopsy of the century. It was indeed an insult to his profession. When the Clark Panel, made up of better-qualified civilians, had its report released in 1969, and concluded that the autopsy doctors had indeed made major mistakes, one can only assume Wecht shouted "Told you so!" There can be little doubt then, that he went into the Archives prepared to confirm the Clark Panel's basic findings.
Sure enough, in section 3.3 of the 1974 Forensic Science article discussing his findings, Dr. Wecht concluded "Generally speaking, the author's observations and measurements of the wounds and locations of bullet fragments are in agreement with the findings of the Clark Panel in 1968." At no point in his paper does Wecht side with the interpretations of the original autopsists over those expressed by the Clark Panel.
Wecht's failure to question the Clark Panel becomes painfully clear when one inspects Fig. 3 in his article. This is a drawing of a skull, purportedly showing the locations of the bullet fragments visible on Kennedy's x-rays. Wecht failed to properly assess the forward tilt of the skull in the x-ray. As a result the fragment in the middle of the forehead on the x-rays was depicted just above the right eye on his drawing. Wecht described: "A fragment from this location is reported to have been removed surgically and later subjected to spectrographic analysis." This helped fuel the mistaken and ongoing belief that the forehead fragment on the x-ray was the one recovered at autopsy. Far worse, Wecht's drawing depicted a large fragment on the back of the head by the Clark Panel's entrance. A close look at the x-ray purportedly studied by Wecht, however, shows THERE'S NOTHING THERE.
Even more intriguing, Wecht KNEW there was nothing there. In his best-selling book, Best Evidence, David Lifton reveals that he accompanied Dr. Wecht to the Archives, and that they discussed Wecht's findings both during and after his examination. Lifton recalls: "During the afternoon session, it became quite obvious that Wecht had great difficulty reading the X-rays--that he couldn't find the entry wound reported by the Clark Panel or by Dr. Lattimer. There was no hole there at all, said Wecht." Lifton then recalls that he discussed this with others and told Wecht that he shouldn't be looking for a "hole", but for a "subtle shading". He then recalls that Wecht "was still not able to locate the entry wound." Lifton then recalls that he measured out the length of thread the supposed entrance would be from the external occipital protuberance and gave this to Wecht to help him find the entrance on the x-rays. He recalls "Wecht did this, and that was how he found the entrance wound in the back of President Kennedy's head." (Unstated by Lifton but clear from his account is that Wecht was unable to locate the large fragment purportedly just below this entrance wound; if he'd seen the fragment, after all, he would not have needed to use this thread to find the location of the "hole.") Lifton then cites Wecht's dictation on the "finding" of this entrance. Wecht said "This is a change in density which apparently is what is referred to in the previous panel as a 'hole.' This either takes imagination or some very sophisticated radiological expertise because it is difficult for me to consider this a hole. In any event, it has to be because it fits the measurements that they give about 100mm from the external occipital protuberance."
Thus, Dr. Cyril Wecht, under pressure from David Lifton to confirm that the autopsy doctors were wrong, and unable to conceive that the civilians on the Clark Panel were so badly mistaken, ignored his own better instincts and came to not only accept that the cowlick entrance he could not find was there, but to depict the bullet fragment purportedly just below this entrance in his exhibits.
But this was not the only point on which Wecht wrongly deferred to the Panel. When discussing the angle of descent from the back wound to the neck wound, Wecht announced "Adopting also the Clark Panel's measurement of the vertical position of the exit hole, namely 9 cm below the same crease (although the author was unable to corroborate this measurement from his own observations) we are able to compute the trajectory of the bullet relative to the horizontal and sagittal planes through the President's body at the time he was struck. The downward angle works out to be 11 1/2 degrees..." As a more accurate measurement would have helped Wecht in his efforts to debunk the single-bullet theory, Wecht's acceptance of the Clark Panel's measurements made little sense, and suggests he'd given the Clark Panel's measurements and conclusions undue weight.
To his credit, Wecht seems fully aware the influence an "expert" can hold over another "expert." An April 19, 1975 memo in the files of the Rockefeller Commission reveals that when Dr. Wecht spoke to the Commission's Robert Olsen, he voiced his displeasure with the make-up of the commission's medical panel. Olsen related "Dr. Wecht was very unsettled by the identity of the members of the panel. Indeed, he was very angry to the point of shouting and indulging in frequent profanity. He said that almost the whole panel is made up of people from the Washington-Baltimore community; that all of them are under the control and influence of the Chief Medical Examiner of Maryland, Dr. Russell Fisher; that we should have looked elsewhere for impartial experts; that Dr. Fisher is a very strong-willed and influential man who has succeeded in getting more Federal grants in the field of forensic pathology than all other doctors in the United States combined...Dr. Wecht readily acknowledged the professional qualifications of all members of our panel. He said that among their fellow professionals each enjoyed a high standing. He stated, however, that it was wholly unrealistic to expect that anybody on this panel would express views different from those expressed by the Ramsey Clark Panel in 1968, which included Dr. Fisher and a radiologist from John Hopkins, Dr. Russell Morgan."
It seems Wecht knew of which he spoke.
Perhaps Wecht was thinking of Paul L. Kirk. Kirk was a respected criminalist, whose post-conviction study of the blood-spatter evidence in the Sam Sheppard murder case (the basis for the TV show and movie The Fugitive) brought Sheppard a new trial, and release. Understandably, this greatly upset Samuel Gerber, the coroner whose work helped convict Sheppard in the first place. Gerber is reported to have been so upset by this, in fact, that he retaliated against Kirk by using his influence with his fellow coroners to deny Kirk membership in the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. (This blackballing was only partially corrected by the Academy's naming a yearly award for excellence after Kirk. The Paul Kirk award was first issued in 1979, at which point Kirk had been dead for nine years.)
Or perhaps Wecht was thinking of a more benign form of influence. It goes without saying that people indebted to Fisher would be less likely to question his conclusions than those with a clean slate. It should also be evident that, once fed an interpretation of facts from someone one respects, it is difficult to completely shake off their interpretation and see this set of facts with fresh eyes.
In any event, Wecht's letter to Olsen was far from the only time he complained about the make-up of the panel. An interview of Wecht published in the October 1975 issue of Physician's Management shows that in the intervening months he had not only failed to cool down, but had actually heated up. He said the creation of the panel was "part of the cover-up" and described the panel's members as "government sycophants." He pointed out, and with good reason, that of all the lawyers in America who could be charged with heading an investigation into the CIA's illegal activities, and re-investigating the medical aspects of the Kennedy assassination, President Gerald Ford, the only member of the Warren Commission to write a book on his experience and tie his reputation to the single-bullet theory, picked David Belin, a corporate attorney from Iowa, whose only qualification came from his experience with the Warren Commission, and his being the only member of the commission's staff to write a book on his experience, and tie his reputation to the single-bullet theory.
On May 5, 1978, moreover, Wecht issued a press release in which he similarly attacked the make-up of the Rockefeller Commission's Panel. As two of the panel's members--Dr.s Spitz and Lindenberg--were close colleagues of the Clark Panel's Dr. Fisher at the Baltimore State Medical Examiner's office, and had contributed to Fisher's book Medicolegal Investigation of Death, and as yet another--Dr. Fred Hodges--was both a colleague of the Clark Panel's Dr. Morgan at John Hopkins University and the nephew of Morgan's mentor, Dr. Paul Hodges, it is easy to see Wecht's point. But it's worse than that. The other two members of the Rockefeller Commission panel were equally unlikely to question the conclusions of the Warren Commission and Clark Panel. One of these--Dr. Robert McMeekin--was a colleague of one of Kennedy's autopsists, Dr. Pierre Finck, at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, and the other, Dr. Alfred Olivier, had actually been the Warren Commission's wounds ballistics expert.
Not that Robert Olsen, to whom Wecht initially complained, was concerned about this, mind you. In the Rockefeller Commission's files there is a Memo to File by Olsen on the creation of the medical panel. It acknowledges that Olsen called an expert at NASA regarding the movements of Kennedy's head in the Zapruder film, and that this expert referred him to Dr. Charles Stahl at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, and that Stahl, in turn, referred him to Dr. McMeekin. It was then decided that a panel should be formed. McMeekin suggested Lindenberg and Spitz. He also suggested Dr. Charles Petty. Olsen rejected Petty, however, as Petty was at that time the Chief Medical Examiner of Dallas, Texas, the scene of the assassination. Lindenberg then suggested Olivier and Hodges. Presumably, Olsen didn't realize that birds of a feather...well, you know.
In 1993, in his book Cause of Death, Wecht once again questioned the impartiality of his colleagues. This time, however, it was the impartiality of his colleagues on the HSCA Forensic Pathology Panel, whose reports, much as the Rockefeller Commission Panel before them, pretty much rubber-stamped the findings of Russell Fisher and the Clark Panel. When discussing why he alone among the panel was willing to dispute the single-bullet theory, which he calls "absolute nonsense," and the concurrent conclusion that there was only one shooter, Wecht reveals: "I believe it's more of a pre-determined mindset that many of my colleagues have that a cover-up or conspiracy of this magnitude by the federal government is unthinkable, or, at the very least, unlikely. Just as lawyers disagree over what a particular law or court ruling means, forensic pathologists frequently have differences of opinion. I have no reason whatsoever to doubt my colleagues' sincerity. However, it should be noted that many of these same people had a long-standing involvement with the federal government--many had received federal grants for research and appointments to various influential government boards. To be highly critical of a government action could end that friendly relationship with Uncle Sam."
As strange as it may seem, Wecht was being far too kind. It is beyond doubt a gross injustice that, of the nine pathologists on the HSCA panel, six--Dr.s Spitz, Petty, Weston, Baden, Coe, and Loquvam--had a professional relationship with Dr. Russell Fisher, whose findings they would be reviewing. Dr. Spitz had not only worked for Fisher, and been trained by Fisher, he'd co-edited the widely-praised book Medico-legal Investigation of Death with Fisher, to which Dr.s Baden and Weston (along with Dr. Lindenberg from the Rockefeller Commission panel, who'd also worked with Fisher) had contributed. Dr. Petty had co-edited Forensic Pathology: A Handbook For Pathologists with Fisher. Forensic Pathology was published in July 1977, only two months before Petty was to review Fisher's findings. Even worse, Forensic Pathology was written under contract to the Justice Department, under whose guidance Fisher had made his findings in 1968. Even worse, of the twelve contributors to Forensic Pathology beyond Fisher, four--Petty, Baden, Coe, and Loquvam--ended up on the panel reviewing Fisher's findings.
Now how can this be? Does it make any sense whatsoever that, of the six pathologists to enter the archives on 9-17-77 and review the medical evidence, four had contributed to a book written for the Justice Department only months before? And that this book was edited by the prestigious Dr. Fisher, whose findings they would be reviewing? And that of the remaining two, one--Dr. Earl Rose--was the coroner of Dallas in 1963, and highly unlikely to say anything that might suggest a conspiracy, and cast doubts upon the "innocence" of his former home? And what about the second panel, made up of those who'd already studied the evidence? Does it make any sense that Dr. Wecht was deliberately isolated on a panel in which the other two members--Dr.s Spitz and Weston-- were not only close associates of Fisher's, but had already gone on record as saying the evidence supported Fisher's findings? The answer, of course, is that it does make sense--but only if you accept that the membership of this panel and its organization was designed to protect the reputation of Dr. Russell Fisher and the Justice Department.
This infection, moreover, was not limited to the pathologists on the forensic pathology panel. A quick google search into the background of the panel's chief radiology consultant, Dr. G.M. McDonnel, reveals that he served as a Lt. Col. in the U.S. Army Medical Corps throughout the 1950's--studying the effects of radiation on soldiers and civilians on behalf the Surgeon General of the U.S. Army. It reveals further that by June 1960, while still in the Army, he'd become a member of the National Committee on Radiation Protection and Measurements. a committee set up to determine the safety (and danger) of various doses of radiation. It reveals also that in August 1961 a 195-page report on a 1957 project run by McDonnel, Effects of Nuclear Detonations on a Large Biological Specimen (Swine), was published by the U.S. Dept of Commerce, and that its corporate author was listed as the Walter Reed Institute of Research in Washington D.C.
Now this would be bad enough. McDonnel did not testify before the HSCA, so his background, outside his being a radiologist working at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, went largely unexplored. Few, if any, people studying the Kennedy assassination medical evidence, realized he'd been a researcher for the U.S. Army, who'd worked out of Washington, D.C. But it's even worse than that. A 9-28-61 UPI article (found in the Lakeland Ledger) reveals that McDonnel was by that time teaching at the University of California, Los Angeles. This article did more than reveal McDonnell's latest position, however. It revealed that McDonnel had just spoken at the 62nd meeting of the American Roentgen Ray Society, and had been part of a three member panel pushing that the "dangers to mankind because of atomic tests are 'highly exaggerated.'" This article reported further that Dr. "McDonnell said recent measurements have gone to 500 but they would have to go to 'several million' before there would be real concern. He said x-ray workers have been exposed to many times the present readings without ill effects...Dr. McDonnel said some people in India have lived for generations literally on top of a radium bed. 'I don't think they will be harmed at all until someone comes along and tells them they are in real danger,' he added."
And Dr. McDonnel wasn't the only member of the panel downplaying the harmful effects of radiation. Another member claimed: "I am much less concerned with the fallout than with the arms race behind it." This member was Dr. Russell Morgan, of John Hopkins University, the very doctor whose findings on Kennedy's x-rays Dr. McDonnel would later be called on to review. John Hopkins University is, for that matter, only 40 miles from Walter Reed Hospital. It seems likely, then, that McDonnel and Morgan were well familiar with one another, and quite possibly close colleagues. Now, ask yourself, what are the odds that, at the height of the Cold War, three radiologists would appear before a meeting of their colleagues and try to convince them that the radiation released by the military's nuclear tests was of little or no danger to the public, and that 7 years later one of these radiologists would be called upon to study the x-rays of the murdered president who stopped these tests, and that, 10 years after that, another would be called upon to review his findings? I mean, was this all just a coincidence? Or was something else going on, whereby the consultants called upon by the government were not random, but were selected from a small pool of friends and associates known to be supportive of the government's objectives?
In any event, it's not just a coincidence that the HSCA rubber-stamped the Clark Panel's conclusions on the head wound. In his 1998 book Real Answers HSCA Deputy Chief Counsel Gary Cornwell reveals that he was all set to aggressively interview Dr. Humes and expose Humes' supposed mistakes--including that he'd misidentified the location of the entrance wound on Kennedy's head--but that the "committee's doctor" (presumably Dr. Baden, but possibly Dr. Petty) told him he couldn't do that, as Humes was a "respected man." This doctor then warned Humes of Cornwell's plans, and convinced Humes to acknowledge he'd made a mistake regarding the entrance wound location (a confession he subsequently recanted) in exchange for Cornwell's taking it easy on him, and not attacking his reputation. Well, if this doctor was Baden, as one might only assume, seeing as he was the only doctor on the pathology panel in regular contact with those running the committee, it's clear that protecting Humes' reputation was the last thing on his mind, and that his true goal in warning Humes was to get Humes to back off on his claim there was no entrance wound in the cowlick, and thereby prevent possible damage to the reputation of DR. RUSSELL FISHER.
And the proof of this is that, in Baden's 1989 book Unnatural Death, he shows little regard for Humes' reputation. No, check that--he TRASHES Humes' reputation. The autopsy conducted by Humes was a "disaster." Humes "had never autopsied anyone with a gunshot wound." Humes was "not competent for the job." Humes understood, without specifically being told, "that he wasn't supposed to do a full autopsy." "He was there to please his superiors." "He felt it was beyond his powers to describe the wounds." "The autopsy was woefully inadequate." "Humes couldn't understand what had happened to he head bullet..." "The autopsy is not finished until you work out the bullet tracks along with the exits and entrances. Humes explained that he was in a hurry, that the family was waiting for the body." Humes "burned his notes." "It is not clear what facts he used from his original notes." "The result was an autopsy report filled with errors, sins of omission and commission. Bullets weren't tracked, the brain wasn't sectioned, the measurements were inaccurate, the head wound wasn't described. The weights and measures of body organs made no sense."
Now this was not the random destruction of another man's reputation, mind you, but the willful destruction of a man's reputation in order to prop something up in its place. Having explained to his readers that Humes was incompetent and not to be trusted, Baden then thrusts upon them the one point he almost certainly knows they'd question if he was to tell them all the facts. Humes "didn't shave any hair from around the head wounds in order to examine them. The wounds were photographed through the hair." "The head is only five inches long from crown to neck, but Humes was confused by a little piece of brain tissue that had adhered top the scalp. He placed the head wound four inches lower than it actually was, near the neck instead of the cowlick." Baden never tells his readers that not only did Dr. Boswell, Dr. Finck, and autopsy photographer John Stringer also tell his panel the wound was where Humes said it was--and that there was no wound in the cowlick (where the great Russell Fisher said it was)--but that Finck had had a meeting with Baden's panel in an attempt to convince them of this fact, and had stuck to his guns despite Baden's badgering.
Dr. Wecht's suggestion that money played a role in the pathology panel's decisions is also understated. That the economic interests of doctors can influence their conclusions has been confirmed numerous times. By way of example, a survey by Mildred Cho and Lisa Bero published in the March 1996 Annals of Internal Medicine revealed that 98% of the studies of drug effectiveness funded by the drug's manufacturer came to a favorable conclusion, while only 76% of the studies funded by independent sources shared this conclusion. This suggests that a drug company is 12 TIMES as likely to avoid an unfavorable conclusion about its product if it funds the doctors making the conclusion. A survey published in the October 1999 Journal of the American Medical Association was almost as discouraging. It found that a study sponsored by a drug company was only about 8 TIMES as likely to avoid an unfavorable conclusion on its new drug than a study sponsored by a non-profit organization. Perhaps, as suggested by writers Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber in their book Trust Us, We're Experts!, the physician's motto of "First, do no harm" should be changed to "First, do no harmful publicity."
Of course, money is not the only motivating factor that can consciously or subconsciously color a doctors' perceptions, conclusions, and testimony. None less than Dr. Baden, in his book Dead Reckoning, has noted: "Physicians may be the worst witnesses. They are often swayed by whoever asked them to be an expert. If that lawyer is smart enough to ask their advice, they conclude, he must know what he is doing. That being the case, physicians therefore adopt whatever the lawyer tells them as the facts of the case and become, if only subconsciously, an advocate for the lawyer rather than an independent adviser." The ease with which scientists and doctors can be seduced into supporting otherwise unsupportable conclusions by lawyers is such common knowledge, in fact, that it was the subject of a well-received book, Gallileo's Revenge, by Peter Huber. Huber, a former law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, was so disturbed by what he found that he was led to conclude "Malpractice by scientific and medical professionals is not only tolerated but encouraged, so long as it is solicited by lawyers themselves." Damning words indeed.
But one doesn't have to question the motivation of doctors to question their ability to see evidence with absolute clarity. The susceptibility of doctors to innocent suggestion, and their innocent resistance to data challenging this suggestion, has also been studied. In 1972 Dr. David Rosenhan of Stanford University, along with seven recruits, checked themselves into psychiatric hospitals. These eight subjects told the hospitals they'd heard voices in their heads repeating words with no apparent meaning. After admission, however, the subjects claimed the voices had stopped, and started acting perfectly normal. The psychiatrists "treating" these subjects, however, routinely interpreted the "normal" behavior of these subjects as additional signs of their psychopathology. As a result, the patients were hospitalized for an average of 19 days, and fed an average of over 250 pills. Seven of them were diagnosed as being schizophrenic, and one as being bi-polar. Rosenhan himself was confined for almost two months. After his release, Dr. Rosenhan began the second half of his study. He told the hospitals of their mistakes, and that he'd be sending them more fake patients over the next three months. During this period 193 patients were admitted to one of the hospitals. 20% of these patients were identified by at least one staff member as being one of Dr. Rosenhan's "fake" patients. In fact, none of them were. Dr. Rosenhan had simply planted the suggestion that there could be fake patients in the minds of the hospital's employees, and they had begun to see them everywhere. Whereas not one of the original 8 patients pretending to hear voices had been spotted as a fake, over 40 actual patients were subsequently, and inaccurately, accused of being fakes.
The resistance to new perceptions, once one's frame of reference has been set, had been tested even before Rosenhan. In 1949, in a landmark study performed by Jerome Bruner and Leo Postman, subjects were flashed playing cards, some of which had a wrong color, i.e. red spades, black diamonds. They found that people would always recognize a normal card within 350 milliseconds, but would fail to recognize what they called a "trick card" 10% of the time, even when given a full second. They found, furthermore, that as one was exposed to more "trick cards," the speed in which one could identify the trick cards drastically improved.
Historians have also studied this resistance. In 1962, Thomas Kuhn published a landmark work of his own, "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions". As part of his study, Kuhn looked at the time lapse between the development of new scientific theories and their general acceptance by the scientist's peers. He found, amazingly, that very few scientists, once committed to a theory, ever change their minds and embrace the findings of another scientist, even if this other scientist's new theory better answers the questions answered by their old theory. Kuhn relates:
"Copernicanism made few converts for almost a century after Copernicus' death. Newton's work was not generally accepted, particularly on the Continent, for more than half a century after the Principia appeared. Priestley never accepted the oxygen theory, nor Lord Kelvin the electromagnetic theory, and so on. The difficulties of conversion have often been noted by the scientists themselves. Darwin, in a particularly perceptive passage at the end of the Origin of the Species, wrote: 'Although I am fully convinced of the truth of the views given in this volume...,I by no means expect to convince experienced naturalists whose minds are stocked with a multitude of facts all viewed, during a long course of years, from a point of view directly opposite to mine...But I look with confidence to the future,--to young and rising naturalists, who will be able to view both sides of the question with impartiality.' And Max Planck, surveying his own career in his Scientific Autobiography, sadly remarked that 'a new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.'"
So...if you've made it this far and have failed to be convinced by any of my arguments, I can only say that I hope you die soon... Just kidding. No, really, if you think I'm wrong about everything, but have nevertheless made it this far, I'm delighted to have entertained you on whatever level I've entertained you. Particularly in that there remains a chance I can convince you of something.
Let's go back to Dr. Wecht. In 2003, in an article co-written with Dr. David Mantik, Wecht publicly reversed his position on the 6.5 mm fragment he'd once portrayed on the back of Kennedy's head. This article, published in a compendium entitled The Assassinations, presented an image of Kennedy's computer-enhanced A-P X-ray with the caption "The 6.5 mm (white) object seen within the right orbit is almost certainly a deliberate artifact that was added to the original X-ray; the latter was then lost or destroyed." Above this image is an image of Kennedy's computer-enhanced lateral X-ray. It has an arrow pointing to the back of Kennedy's skull, where Wecht depicted the 6.5 mm fragment in his 1974 article. Only this new image is captioned: "The arrow at the rear identifies the corresponding site for the 6.5 mm fragment." It seems clear from these captions then that Wecht now readily acknowledges that he fails to see the 6.5 mm fragment at this site. While I would like to show Wecht my own work and convince him that the large fragment on the A-P x-ray is actually not an artifact, but the fragment behind Kennedy's right eye described and removed at autopsy, it is nevertheless comforting that some "experts", some time, can be convinced to change their opinions.
I suppose, in this light, I should also take comfort that Larry Sturdivan has changed so many of his opinions, and that Dr. Lattimer, while sure of Oswald's guilt to the end, nevertheless changed his opinion on the entrance wound on the skull. I'll work on that. Taking comfort.
But it'll be hard. Real hard. Yes, unfortunately, I now suspect that the divide between what the evidence suggests in the Kennedy case and what many believe stems not from people refusing to change their minds, but from people refusing to use their minds. (Or, at least, the fully rational part of their minds.)
People get used to what they know, without realizing a large part of what they "know" is what they've been told. People used to thinking that communists are insidious and will stoop to anything to undermine American life find it hard to believe a communist sympathizer like Oswald could be innocent. Similarly, people used to thinking an ambitious "loser" like Oswald is likely to be desperate and dangerous find it easy to believe Oswald could just wake up one morning and decide to kill the President he admired, and then pretend that he didn't do it. Thus, Oswald's guilt seems perfectly reasonable or even readily apparent to those with a rightward bent, as well as those from the upper castes of society, ever-fearful of what they believe to be the jealous rabble down below.
This bias undoubtedly clouds their thinking. While many will argue that their opinions are based purely on the evidence, they fail to see that they have a built-in bias that filters out the evidence they consider unimportant. They will say that Oswald's palm-print was on the rifle, without considering that this evidence is tainted by the strange fact that the palm print was not identified until after the FBI said there was no such print, and that the Dallas detective who found this print, Lt. J.C. Day, said it was an old print. They will say that Howard Brennan identified Oswald as the shooter, without admitting that Brennan's refusing to ID Oswald in a police line-up, but then later saying he knew it was him all along, and then later changing his story about how many shots he heard and where he was looking when he heard these shots, damages his credibility.
The intellectual integrity of single-assassin theorists is rarely as suspect, in fact, as when they hold Brennan up as their star witness. While the literally dozens of witnesses to state the first shot struck Kennedy and/or the last two shots were closer together than the first two are inevitably dismissed by these theorists due to "eyewitnesses not being credible" they nevertheless hypocritically persist in using Brennan to prove Oswald was the shooter in the sniper's nest. This signals that there is some sort of disconnect going on...that their emotional response to the case--that it must have been Oswald--has led to their unplugging their rational minds from its wall socket.
A February, 2009 online discussion with single-assassin theorist David Von Pein further illustrates this point. On the IMDB Forum for the film "JFK" Von Pein kept citing a 2003 ABC News poll as evidence the majority of Americans think Oswald shot Kennedy. I tried to correct him on this, and point out that the poll's question "Do you think Lee Harvey Oswald was the only gunman in the Kennedy assassination, do you think there was another gunman in addition to Oswald there that day, or do you think Oswald was not involved in the assassination at all?" was misleading. I argued that by saying "not involved in the assassination at all" at the end, the questioner misrepresented this as the only remaining alternative and pressured people convinced that Oswald was somehow involved to pick one of the first two options. I likened this to asking people "Do you think the Warren Commission was created to deceive, do you think the Warren Commission decided on their own to deceive, or do you think the Warren Commission told the American people the truth ABOUT EVERYTHING?", a question that, in my opinion, would lead people to overwhelmingly state that the Warren Commission deceived the public. But Von Pein would have none of this. He continued to claim, and continues to claim, that ABC's poll showed that 32% of Americans believed Oswald was the lone gunman, 51% thought Oswald was one of multiple gunmen, 10% had no opinion, and only 7% of the American people thought someone other than Oswald fired from the sniper's nest in the school book depository.
This was obviously wrong. If 83% believed Oswald fired from the book depository, and only 7% believed he did not, then it follows that for every conspiracy theorist suspecting that Oswald was framed, TWELVE people thought Oswald was guilty. This is ludicrous. If, as Von Pein claims, only 7% of the American people thought then and continue to think Oswald innocent of shooting Kennedy, then why are he and his fellow single-assassin theorists so driven to convince others of Oswald's guilt? I mean, far more than 7% of the American people think Hillary Clinton killed Vince Foster, or that AIDS was designed by the CIA, and you don't see a nation-wide movement of journalists, historians, and "researchers" arguing that these people are wrong. Such wild theories, when held by only a small minority of people, are just ignored. Furthermore, if by 2003 only 7% of Americans thought there was anything to the possibility raised by Oliver Stone's 1991 film JFK--that Oswald was framed by the American government--then where in the world do people like Vincent Bugliosi and Von Pein get off blaming Oliver Stone for misleading the American people? Are we to believe that BEFORE the movie "JFK" hit the theaters, far FEWER than 7% of the American people thought Oswald innocent of killing Kennedy?
A year later, as part of his ongoing campaign to paint those believing Oswald innocent of killing Kennedy as kooks, Von Pein started up on this again. This time, however, I asked him WHO the supposedly 51% of the public thinking Oswald fired shots as part of a team thought Oswald was working for. For this, he referred me to yet another poll, one in which 34% of the public said they believed the CIA was involved. This makes Von Pein's assertion only 7% of the public thinks Oswald innocent of shooting Kennedy positively bizarre. Could he really believe that at least 27% of the public believes Oswald shot Kennedy as part of a CIA plot? Could he really believe those thinking Oswald fired shots on behalf of the CIA outnumbered those thinking he was a patsy by a ratio of almost 4 to 1? And if so, how could he or his hero Vincent Bugliosi possibly believe the public was remotely swayed to believe such a thing by Oliver Stone's movie JFK, or any other film or publication? Outside a few researchers claiming Oswald was part of a CIA mind-control program, and a Manchurian Candidate-type assassin programmed by the CIA, no one, and I mean no one, in the conspiracy research community believes Oswald was an assassin for the CIA. I have talked to hundreds of non-buffs over the years, and can absolutely assert that this suspicion is next to non-existent in the non-buff public as well. Von Pein's assertion that as many as one out of every four Americans thinks Oswald was a hit man for the CIA is just plain wacky, and is proof positive that his thoughts on the assassination are not grounded in anything resembling reality.
And when I pushed him on this...he admitted as much. On March 4, 2010, on the alt.assassination.JFK newsgroup, he admitted: "if I WERE to disbelieve that "7%" ABC poll, where does that really lead? I'll tell you where -- such a belief leads to a vast MAJORITY of Americans actually falling into "Kookville." Yes, you read that right. In Von Pein's mind, his acceptance of that poll equates to his rescuing the vast majority of Americans from "Kookville." He doesn't want to believe HE is in the vast minority, so he trumpets flawed polls from years past to convince himself he is not, even though his acceptance of this poll leads to the inescapable conclusion that a substantial percentage of Americans believe Oswald to have been a hit man for the CIA, something he KNOWS isn't true.
One can see such cognitive dissonance, or "clognitive thinking", if you will, at work in our everyday lives. At times we all lack the ability to step outside our normal frame of reference and look at something with a fresh pair of eyes. On the image above, for example, the middle square on the side of the cube in shadow appears to be a much lighter color than the middle square on the side on top. Even after blacking out the squares surrounding these squares, and realizing that they are both the same shade, I still see the one in shadow as much lighter than the other every time I look at the image. My mind is stuck in its way of interpreting color. I propose then that many of those interpreting evidence in the Kennedy case are similarly stuck.
I have an anecdote that further illustrates this phenomena. One day, some years back, I was talking with a woman of above-average intelligence. She was telling me about a friend who'd purportedly had terrible luck with the lottery, and had bought over 150 "scratchers" without ever winning a dollar. When I pointed out that her friend was obviously exaggerating, as the odds of winning back a dollar at that time were 1 in 10, this college-educated woman with two degrees said no, that's what her friend said, and she believed her friend. I probably should have let it drop, but this annoyed me. I whipped out a calculator, and got her to agree that the odds of not winning on each scratcher were .9, and then multiplied .9 by .9 by .9 etc., and showed her that there was effectively a 0% chance someone could buy 150 scratchers in a row without encountering a single winner. Perhaps as a response to my arrogance, she STILL refused to believe that her friend was exaggerating her bad luck. Her friend had told her the truth and had had an amazing run of bad luck. Period.
The "Monty Hall Problem" presented in the movie "21" provides yet another example. In the problem, modeled on TV's Let's Make a Deal, someone is offered a choice of 3 doors. Behind one there is a prize. After the selection of the door, however, the host, who knows which door has the prize, opens up a door that has no prize, and then asks the contestant if he/she would like to stick with his/her original selection, or choose the other remaining door. Intuition tells most of us that the odds of choosing the right door at this point are 50/50 and that maybe we should stick with out first choice. But our intuition is wrong. The odds of our first choice being right are only 1 in 3, while the odds of the other door being right are 2 in 3.
The explanation is simple but, for some, incredibly hard to follow. (It took me awhile to figure it out myself) It goes like this. Since, the odds of your first choice NOT being right are 2/3, the other 2 doors represent a 2/3 probability of having the prize. When the host opens one of these doors, however, the remaining un-opened door becomes the sole bearer of this 2/3 probability. This is clear, right? And yet, we're so conditioned to look at two doors, and assume the odds of something being behind one of those doors is 50/50, that many can not accept this explanation. They just can't grasp it. To one acquaintance, an entirely different woman from the one described above but one equally intelligent and college-educated, I tried to demonstrate the concept by using sugar packets instead of doors. I put seven sugar packets on a table. I told her that one of them held a prize. She picked a packet. Playing the role of the game show host, I then excluded prize-less packet after prize-less packet, until there was but one packet beyond the one chosen. I then offered her a choice between these two. Even though the remaining non-chosen packet had effectively passed a series of 5 tests indicating it could hold the prize, and the chosen packet was entirely untested, she couldn't see how this effected the odds, and still thought her first choice had a 50/50 chance of being correct.
I believe these examples correlate to the resistance of some to the possibility of a conspiracy. Much as the first woman, they resent the know-it-alls in the conspiracy research community telling them what they should think. Much as the second woman, they've made their choice and are sticking to it, no matter how much the odds add up on the other side. They see that there is evidence implicating Oswald in the crime, but fail to see how most all this evidence is tainted, and that the Zapruder film and eyewitness evidence suggests at least two shooters. They fail to see how the obvious fact that both the Warren Commission and HSCA skewed the evidence to their advantage suggests that maybe, just maybe, both of them knew that the evidence never pointed to Oswald as a lone gunman, and yet pretended it did for political reasons. Similarly, they fail to see how the vastly different conclusions of the autopsy doctors and HSCA medical panel demonstrate the likelihood that at least one of these groups was incompetent, or less than truthful, either of which suggests the case is far from closed.
From the thousands of online discussions I've had with single-assassin theorists, it's also clear that they just can't perceive of a world in which the FBI could be wrong and conspiracy theorists like Mark Lane and Oliver Stone could be right. In direct opposition and yet perfect congruity with the Kennedy cultists they so despise, their world view revolves around their fervent belief that Jack Kennedy was a bad president, or a playboy, or an anti-communist, or all three, and that, in any event, no right-winger could possibly have conspired to kill him. To them, conspiracy theorists are not just wrong, but "dangerous."
They are stuck in a box and they can't see their way out.
Their cognitive dissonance is deafening.
Still, one cannot assume from the clognitive thinking of the right that the world they see is upside down, and that, in reality white is black, and black is white, and right is wrong...
And Left is Right?
No, not at all. Unfortunately, the clognitive thinking I've described is not unique to the single-assassin theorist community. Some conspiracy theorists are so desperate to believe there was a conspiracy that they will present the wackiest statements made by witnesses decades after the shooting as some sort of "proof." These people will claim that Jean Hill's latter-day recollections are credible and that the statements of Gordon Arnold, who claimed to have been on the grassy knoll at the time of the shooting--but whose presence can not be detected in any of the photographs--is all the proof they need. One such theorist, in fact, has written me numerous times arguing that Robert Knudsen's 1978 testimony, in which he stated that he first became aware of the autopsy photos on the morning after the autopsy, did not suggest that he was not in attendance at the autopsy, as one would suspect, but suggested instead that he only took photos of the autopsy after midnight. Yet another has tried to convince me that Dallas Postal inspector Harry Holmes' report on his interview with Oswald is evidence the shots rang out while Oswald was eating his lunch on the first floor, and that Oswald was then stopped by a policeman as he left the building. This is more than a tad strange as the report specifies that Oswald "went downstairs" after "the commotion surrounding the assassination took place" and never specifies when or where he encountered the policeman in question beyond his doing so after he went downstairs, but before he left the building.
Such cloudy thinking is so widespread, unfortunately, that conspiracy theorists holding that the mystery photo was taken from the front are as likely as single-assassin theorists to dispute the obvious fact that the original description of the mystery photo (that of a photo depicting a "missile wound over entrance in posterior skull, following reflection of the scalp") indicates it was taken from behind.
In fact, as hard as it is to admit, I've been forced to conclude that many conspiracy theorists are just as "stuck" in their ways of thinking, and just as unable to see the world through a fresh pair of eyes, as the blindest single-assassin theorists. To use the image on the Clognitive Thinking slide as a metaphor, they are stuck seeing the world in shade and the middle square of this world (the Kennedy assassination) as light brown, or even orange. To continue on with this metaphor, then, single-assassin theorists see the world in light, and the middle square (the Kennedy assassination) as dark brown. Meanwhile, in the eyes of someone looking at the squares separate from any particular world view, both squares are really the same color, and a shade somewhere in the middle. (This shade, should one find it, is the truth.)
The search for the shade in the middle, moreover, alienates both those seeing the middle square as dark brown and those seeing it as light brown. I've tried to see the shade in the middle, and have upset many individuals in the process.
Here's a most telling example...
In late 2009 and early 2010, I had a number of heated exchanges on the Education Forum, an online discussion group, with Dr. James Fetzer. He kept attacking me for being closed-minded and not subscribing to his and Jack White's claims that the autopsy photos, x-rays and assassination films have all been altered by the government. He also accused me of never having read any of his books. On January 4, 2010, after I posted the Eye of the Beholder section from chapter 13 of this webpage to demonstrate that 1) I had read at least one of his books, and 2) he had never read my webpage or else he'd have known that, he responded in a changed manner. He suddenly acknowledged:
You have made an extraordinary discovery here, by which I am referring to the apparent second entry wound at the back of the head in the HSCA photographs, which simply stuns me. To the best of my knowledge, you are the first and only person to have made this observation...At the very least, this means that a photograph that the HSCA used to justify its shift in the entry location by four inches was actually contradicted by the lower entry location shown on the same photograph. I am fairly astonished that no one has noticed this before. I would compare it to the photo showing Arlen Specter illustrating the path of the 'magic bullet' had to have taken, while the circular patch showing the actual entry is visible well-below his hand, which means that a photo intended to illustrate the 'magic bullet' theory actually refutes it."
Well, this is it, I thought, finally an acknowledgment from Fetzer and his colleagues that I am not just a nay-sayer to their wild theories, but am actually pushing the investigation forward in new and revealing directions.
But no such luck. Three hours later, he added:
"I don't know what to say, Pat, because Jack has taken a look and says that the hole you have 'discovered' isn't there. This will take some sorting out. I will invite David Mantik, David Lifton, and John Costella to take a look, too. Something is not right."
Well, we can agree on that. Something is not right when a supposedly independent thinker such as Fetzer, who taught critical thinking at the university level, has to check with his colleagues--all of whom have embraced theories which I have publicly rejected--before allowing himself to acknowledge what he has already admitted he sees. Something is especially not right, moreover, when his admitted reason for doing so is that Jack White, a long-time researcher who believes not only that the Kennedy autopsy photos, x-rays and assassination films are all fake, but that O.J. Simpson was innocent, no astronauts landed on the moon, no jet hit the Pentagon on 9/11, and the theory of evolution is a fraud, has told him that we are mistaken.
Or does that sound too harsh? Well, judge for yourself. Here is a February 11, 2010 post by White on the Education Forum in which he acknowledged that he perceived the election of America's first black President, Barack Obama, and America's humanitarian response to the then-recent devastating earthquake in Haiti, as all part of some master plot:
"There are not as many paid provocateurs in the JFK affair as in other more monstrous charades such as 911, Apollo, OKC, TWA800, etc. JFK was "just" the killing of a single man. Much more serious are the callous murders of thousands in other events in deceptions on an enormous scale (to say nothing of the ensuing wars).
These nitpickers have no concept of the gigantic struggle between GOOD and EVIL we are involved in. The sinister forces of the New World Order do not consider it wrong to "eliminate" the masses if it serves their corrupt agendas. The Skull and Bones elite death cult promotes death as a means toward progress. The evil international bankers, led by David Rockefeller, decide who our "leaders" will be (ala Obama). S&B and other evil groups promote EUGENICS as a means of wiping out entire populations, especially in third world nations, especially those places with abundant natural resources that can be taken over. Weaponry has been developed for weather control and creation of simulated natural disasters which can provide excuses for occupying countries in the guise of "humanitarian relief".
"Democracy" that the revolutionists brought to America will soon be gone in a world ruled by propaganda and mind control. Truth is the only lantern to shine light into the dark places and only truth can rip away the Oz curtain and expose the fraudulent wizards."
And, here is Jack's response to a January 20, 2010 post on the Education Forum in which I pointed out that his harshest critics are not the single-assassin theorists who write him off as a hopeless crackpot, but his fellow conspiracy theorists, who think that many of his claims are just too far out there to ever gain widespread acceptance:
"Your prism on things is too narrow. There ARE conspiracies. Vast conspiracies. Not "far out," as you have been led to believe. Politicians faked going to the moon. Exotic weaponry tested in Oklahoma City was then used to bring down the twin towers. The war on "terrorism" is a fake. "Presidents" past and present have been elected unconstitutionally and illegally. Agencies of the government fake evidence to suit their purposes...as far back as the JFK assassination.
It is YOU who need to learn how FAR OUT conspiracies have become. WAKE UP and smell the fakery...from Z-films to fake presidents!"
Fetzer's deference to White is particularly ironic in that his presence on the Education Forum in January 2010 was in large part fueled by his desire to push the then-recent release of Doug Horne's 5 volume set Inside the Assassination Records Review Board. The irony is that Horne has sought to distance himself from the non-JFK related statements of both Fetzer and White, and would most certainly question Fetzer's rejection of what he sees in the autopsy photo based upon what Jack White claims not to see.
From the very book Fetzer was on the Forum to promote...
"Another pet peeve I have is the false association by many in academia and the media of all JFK assassination researchers with persons who don't believe we landed on the moon six times (from 1969-1972); or with persons who believe that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were really 'controlled demolitions' set off by the government, and were not caused by fanatics flying airplanes into buildings.
I think the principal lesson of the JFK assassination is that we should not defer to arguments about major historical events (such as assassinations, and how wars begin) based on authority—we should study the primary evidence ourselves and reach our own conclusions. If people don't learn to do a better job of this in the United States, our democracy will remain in peril, and our society will continue to just 'muddle through,' rather than excel in tackling its many challenges."
FWIW, Dr. Fetzer never got back to me...
This was not true of Jack White, however...
As part of an apparently hopeless attempt to get Fetzer to see beyond White's nay-saying, I pointed out to him that the bullet wound he had admitted seeing on the back of the head photo directly overlay a wound on the skull that White had previously acknowledged. This, in turn, led White to go on the attack and falsely claim he'd never agreed with me about any such wound on the skull in the mystery photo. He then posted an image purportedly presenting his interpretation of the mystery photo.
This image was obviously in error, with the bullet hole on the back of the head enveloped in darkness, and supposedly on the left side of the head, but with a caption acknowledging it was in fact to the right of the EOP (which is at the middle of the head). I can think of no logical reason for him to use this obviously inaccurate image to refute me other than that in his rush to refute my assertion that the autopsy photos are far from fake and are in fact the key to understanding the assassination, he had lost track of what was left, and what was right.
Ironically, Fetzer was to be on the receiving end of such nonsense within weeks of the exchanges detailed above. By then, Fetzer had stopped pushing Horne's book and had instead begun pushing an upcoming book by Judyth Vary Baker, a woman claiming to have been Oswald's mistress. This upset White, who saw Baker's descriptions of Oswald as a challenge to the "two Oswald" theory he found so compelling. White thereby began attacking Baker, and presenting evidence she was a fraud. This caused Baker, through Fetzer, to challenge White's photo studies of Oswald. (These studies, published in John Armstrong's massive book "Harvey and Lee," suggested there'd been two different men using Oswald's name.) Baker then demonstrated that some of the images used by White to suggest there'd been two different Oswalds had in fact been altered to make Oswald's face look wider. White then challenged Fetzer and his ability to recognize photo alteration by presenting six photos of Fetzer, one of which he claimed was unaltered. Fetzer picked one. White then pounced and admitted that they'd all been altered, and how could Fetzer not know this, etc... To which Fetzer responded that he'd mistakenly assumed White was not a liar, and had not been lying when he'd written that one of the images had been unaltered.
From there, things only got worse for Team Fetzer. In April 2010, John Costella published an extremely critical review of Inside the Assassination Record Review Board, and attacked Doug Horne (whom he repeatedly called "government man D.P. Horne") for theorizing that frames from the Zapruder film had been removed and painted over, when Costella had (to his mind) already proven this impossible, and had shown that the film was either "completely genuine" or "completely fabricated." Costella then concluded that "regardless of his disclaimer at the end of his last page of his five massive volumes—page 1807—that his words do not represent the views or opinions of the U.S. government, one cannot fail to feel that Horne's work is, indeed, the final chapter of the government's cover-up of the brutal assassination of the thirty-fifth President of the United States." This, of course, was wacky. Horne had self-published a work claiming that Kennedy's body had been altered, that autopsy photos had been faked, and that the Zapruder film had been altered, and yet had failed to pass Costella's smell test simply because he had failed to embrace Costella's own research.
Emboldened by Costella, Jack White then acknowledged he had his own problems with Horne, and considered Horne's book to be a "Limited hangout," a widely-over-used term for a CIA operation in which a minor crime is admitted in order to conceal a much greater crime. By embracing Horne, Fetzer had, in effect, alienated two of his closest colleagues, Costella and White.
On April 19, 2010, moreover, after White began pushing that Judyth Baker's story of a romance with Oswald was the by-product of a fertile imagination mixed with sexual frustration and a life of disappointment, Fetzer cut ties with him altogether, posting online, for all to see:
"NOTICE OF TERMINATION OF FRIENDSHIP WITH JACK WHITE, WHO HAS FINALLY DISGUSTED ME
I cannot believe that someone I have admired in the past would stoop to such a sophomoric level by lodging such a blatant ad hominem. Those who resort to arguments of this caliber have discredited themselves massively. I denounce each and every one of them...Cease and desist, Jack White. You have forefeitted being taken seriously. Please know that I want nothing more to do with you in any context at all. We are no longer friends."
Fetzer's embrace of Baker also led him to denounce David Lifton, whose work he had previously championed. Lifton had, after all, many years before, done his damnedest to expose Ms. Baker as a fraud. This falling-out climaxed, sadly, when Lifton posted excerpts of Fetzer's work on 9/11 online, and called him to task for blaming the attacks, at least in part, on an international Jewish conspiracy. Now, this would be bad enough, but the ludicrous became surreal when Fetzer responded to Lifton's claims not by disassociating himself from the claims Israel was behind the attack, but by claiming Lifton's criticism of this position was motivated not by his Jewish pride, but by his desire to evade repayment of "loans" received from Fetzer years before. (After much back and forth, it turned out that these loans--more like small advances--were held by Lifton against the royalties Fetzer failed to pay him for his significant contribution to Fetzer's book The Great Zapruder Film Hoax, a book which Fetzer claimed had never broken even, but for which he'd supposedly never received a statement demonstrating as much from his publisher.)
The slow-motion train wreck of Team Fetzer was, one can only assume, embarrassing to all those involved. It exposed yet again the contradiction-in-terms that is the conspiracy research community. Conspiracy research demands one be suspicious, and independent-minded. People wishing to enter this world, myself included, have a deeply rooted desire to find and expose some higher truth. This leads them to feel passionate and defensive of the "truths" they uncover, a bit suspicious of those who won't accept their "truths," and a bit jealous and envious of others whose "truths" are more readily accepted by others. This leads to a lot of in-fighting, with researchers beating up on a researcher one week, and then forming an alliance with that researcher the next week or month or year to beat up on someone else.
In this particular instance--that of the scuffle between myself and team Fetzer--things came full circle on May 4, 2010. After Fetzer, in the ongoing discussion thread of Judyth Vary Baker's story she and Oswald were lovers, had once again insulted me and claimed I had no credibility due to my daring to disagree with Doug Horne and David Mantik, I responded by creating a new thread, in which I presented the section of Chapter 18 on the fragment behind the eye, in which I expose Horne's and Mantik's errors regarding said fragment. While Fetzer, to no one's surprise, failed to respond, you'll never guess who did. Actually, I suspect you will guess. That's right. Jack White. White wrote:
"Pat...a very interesting study. I am not qualified to interpret all of it.
However, I have never been satisfied with any explanation of the round 6.5 dense spot on the xray.
I particularly wondered how it could be on the back of the head, when that portion was missing, and that it did not show in the lateral views. You may be onto something that it was to the FRONT of the skull, and LOOKED DIFFERENT FROM THE SIDE.
But my observations are not from an expert.
Thanks for the thoughtful study.
So there you go. Fetzer had rejected my research out of loyalty to White, Costella, Lifton, Horne and Mantik. Horne had made it clear he felt no such loyalty to Fetzer and White when it came to 9/11. Costella and White later made it clear they distrusted Horne. Fetzer and White then fell out over Judyth Baker. Fetzer and Lifton then fell out over both Fetzer's attachment to Baker and Fetzer's theories regarding 9/11. White then made it clear he suspected I could be right about something on which Horne and Mantik had been wrong. Team Fetzer had thus been an illusion, and had dissolved in a puff of smoke.
Coincidence or Conspiracy?
Or had it? Through all their in-fighting, no member of Team Fetzer, numbering among them some of the most vocal and active researchers of the past few decades, had ever acknowledged I'd been right on anything regarding the medical evidence. They would say I was onto something, and then back off, as had Fetzer, or say my work was interesting but that they weren't expert enough to come to any conclusions, as had White. But no one would dare say that, by gosh, I had discovered anything. And stick to it.
I think I know why. They were afraid to disagree with Dr. David Mantik, whom Dr. Fetzer had long claimed was the number one expert on the Kennedy assassination medical evidence.
In September, 2010, while looking through Professor Fetzer's Assassination Science website, I stumbled upon Dr. Mantik's most recent power point presentation. He'd delivered this presentation--on the forgery of Kennedy's x-rays--on 11-21-09 at the JFK Lancer Conference in Dallas. Now, I was in Dallas at that time, and had intended to attend Mantik's presentation, but had arrived at the tail-end of the Q and A session afterward, just in time to hear him dismissing "Speer's Theory" regarding the "white patch" on the x-rays. At the time, I thought little of it. I mean, I can't expect everyone to agree with me.
Well, upon viewing Mantik's presentation, I came to understand why Mantik was so nervous when I spoke to him afterward. You see, not only had he dismissed my theories regarding the x-rays, as one might expect, but he'd spent much of his presentation concealing evidence supporting my theories.
Sounds pretty crazy, right? Well, if we're willing to consider that the bulk of the HSCA's Forensic Pathology Panel would misrepresent the medical evidence--if only on a subconscious level--in order to defend the credibility of their friend Russell Fisher, we should also consider the possibility that Dr. Mantik would misrepresent the evidence to defend his own credibility, and that Team Fetzer would align itself against anyone challenging their theories on the medical evidence, including yours truly.
There is evidence supporting this throughout Mantik's presentation.
First off, it must be stressed that Mantik quoted my website on one of his slides, put my name in the title of three of his slides, and actually showed several of my slides to his audience. So he is clearly familiar with my work. His being familiar with my work, then, makes it near certain that he is well familiar with my studies of the mystery photo, and my conclusion that the photo can be properly oriented through an acknowledgment of several features. So why, then, when he showed his audience the mystery photo, did he opt to bury all these features beneath boxes of text, that could just as easily have been placed to the side of the photo?
Was he concerned that those in attendance might notice these features, and argue against his orientation, which has the camera sharply to the left of the center of the skull? Was he concerned that their doing so would force them to reject his orientation, and thereby reject his conclusion the mystery photo shows a hole in the middle of the back of Kennedy's skull, where the Harper fragment used to be?
I don't know...that sounds pretty paranoid, even to a conspiracy theorist like myself. One would have to find more questionable images than this one before suspecting some deliberate deception was afoot, correct?
The Floating Debris
Correct. Unfortunately, however, Mantik provided several other questionable images, and made a number of other questionable "mistakes."
Perhaps the most egregious of these mistakes was his pulling a switcheroo on the Harper fragment. Now, to understand the relevance of this switcheroo, one must understand two things. The first is that Mantik had long ago asserted that, in his impression, the Harper fragment was dislodged from the back of Kennedy's head, and that, in his orientation, "the lead smudge" on one edge of the fragment "ended up precisely where the pathologists said the bullet had entered the rear of the skull." (This assertion, of course, failed to recognize that Dr.s Humes and Finck had consistently claimed this entrance was a through and through hole, and that even the confused Dr. Boswell, who made statements suggesting the hole was missing a piece, claimed this piece was matched up during the autopsy, which--as he was never shown or even told about the Harper fragment until many years later--rules out the Harper fragment as the source of this piece.)
The second thing one needs to know is that for many years no one from the conspiracy theorist community had challenged Mantik on his orientation of the mystery photo (F8), and his belief the Harper fragment derived from the center of the back of Kennedy's head. Some single-assassin theorists, such as Paul Seaton, had written articles challenging Mantik, but they were largely ignored by those in the CT community. Perhaps, then, Mantik had come to believe he'd really scored a bulls-eye, and that his findings had become those of the community as a whole.
And so it rested...until I came along...and challenged Mantik on both points...and pointed out that, when one accepted the impression of Dr. Lawrence Angel that the Harper fragment derived from the top of Kennedy's head, which Mantik admitted was a possibility, the discolored edge suggesting a bullet entrance lay not on the back of Kennedy's head, but at his temple, where most conspiracy theorists assume there was an entrance. (My analysis of the fragment can be found here: http://www.patspeer.com/harperfrag.jpg). My "theory" if you will, was thus something equally, if not more, attractive to the conspiracy theorist community than Mantik's theory. It follows then that Mantik should have countered my theory with evidence and intelligent argument during his Lancer presentation.
But, instead, perhaps as an innocent mistake--perhaps not--he changed the location of the "metallic debris" on the Harper fragment from his orientation to Angel's. Yes, as shown on the slide above, Mantik presented the metallic debris on the discolored edge of the fragment at a point counter-clockwise from the arm-like point when showing his orientation, and clockwise from this point when showing Angel's orientation. Even worse, he cited this new and not improved location for the debris as a reason to disbelieve Angel, claiming that by placing the Harper fragment as he had, Angel "ends up with metal over here..." (Mantik then pointed to the the top of the head on the image above.) He then pounced: "How could you have metal over here in the HSCA scenario, when the bullet enters in the rear at this x-mark and exits over here." (He then pointed to the other x-mark by the temple.) He had thereby concealed from his audience that in Angel's orientation for the Harper fragment, the lead smudge suggesting an entrance was by the supposed exit on the temple. I believe this is something the audience had the right to know.
I feel terrible about this. I have great respect for Mantik's intelligence, and have found his writings on the Kennedy assassination both interesting, and informative. His review of Reclaiming History, for example, was most insightful. And yet, here, while making a presentation on his specialty, the Kennedy assassination medical evidence, a topic on which some, including Dr. Fetzer, consider him the top expert in the world, he has either made a really dumb mistake, or a deliberate obfuscation.
Unfortunately, other aspects of Mantik's presentation support this second possibility. Let's see if you agree.
Here are some examples...
Mantik started out his presentation with a quote from Jerrol Custer, the radiology technician who took Kennedy's skull x-rays. He has Custer saying that the x-rays shown him are fake. Mantik failed to tell his audience that Custer made this statement after viewing the cropped and enhanced x-rays published by the HSCA, and that, in 1997, subsequent to making this claim, Custer was shown the un-cropped and un-enhanced original x-rays by the ARRB, and had acknowledged them as the x-rays he'd taken.
Mantik then discussed the optical density of the x-rays. He'd measured this himself. He claimed that these measurements were clear proof of alteration, as some areas on the x-rays were far too white, and others far too black, and there was far more contrast on Kennedy's x-rays than on the other x-rays he'd measured. While doing so, he pointed out the problematic white and black areas to his audience... He did this, however, on photos of the computer-enhanced x-rays published by the HSCA. He failed to tell his audience that these were not the original x-rays, and that these images were computer-enhanced to increase the contrast, and that this contrast was made even greater through the reproduction of these images on paper.
Now, he knew this was deceptive. In fact, in what may go down as an irony among ironies, Mantik had previously discussed the confusion caused by looking at prints of the enhanced x-rays, and had correctly attributed Jerrol Custer's initial failure to recognize Kennedy's x-rays to this confusion. Yes, on point 8 of his June 23, 1995 monograph Authenticity of the JFK Autopsy X-rays, Mantik relates "Custer has claimed that the x-rays do not look authentic. I suspect that what troubles him is the remarkable difference in contrast between the prints and the original X-rays. I know that several of us, who had repeatedly viewed only prints of these X-rays, have been somewhat surprised when first viewing these X-rays, at the lesser degree of contrast seen there."
Let's let that sink in... In 1995, Mantik suspected that Custer's confusion was related to his looking at prints of the x-rays. In 1997, sho' nuff, Custer looks at the original x-rays and says he now believes they are authentic. And then, in 2009, rather than saying "See, I was right; Custer did sign off on the X-rays once shown the originals!", Mantik ignores Custer's more recent statements and tells his audience that Custer says the X-rays are fake. And then explains to them that his own analysis supports that the x-rays have been altered. And then shows them a print of an X-ray -- the very print he'd previously claimed was the likely cause of Custer's confusion...
I mean, how is this not deceptive?
Mantik was also quite deceptive about the largest bullet fragment recovered at the autopsy. On several of his slides he pointed out a fragment in Kennedy's forehead, and claimed this was the 7 x 2 fragment recovered by Dr. Humes. He failed to tell his audience that Dr. Humes, along with just about every key player in the autopsy, had always claimed the fragment he'd recovered had come from behind Kennedy's right eye. Perhaps even worse, he failed to tell his audience that he -- Dr. Mantik -- had personally inspected what remains of the fragment removed by Humes. And had concluded that it was not the fragment in the forehead.
Now this deception fed into another. Mantik subsequently discussed my theory that the supposed 6.5 mm fragment supposedly on the back of the head was actually behind Kennedy's right eye. He told his audience that, as no expert had ever identified the fragment I'd identified as metal, this was a non-starter, and not even worth considering. He failed to consider that no true expert had signed off on his conclusions, either. Even worse, he presented my findings as those of a layman who'd thought he'd seen something on an x-ray; he failed to tell his audience that the location of the fragment I'd identified--behind Kennedy's right eye--was exactly where those present at the autopsy had claimed to have found a 7 x 2 fragment.
Now this was information which I firmly believe they should have been told...particularly in that the two radiology technicians who'd actually taken Kennedy's x-rays both said they saw a fragment in this location when shown the x-rays by the ARRB. That's right. They said they saw a fragment...just above or in the orbital ridge...where I've proposed there is a fragment...only years before I'd ever noticed such a fragment.
And yet Mantik failed to tell this to his audience. And let them think instead that little old under-qualified me was simply seeing things...
Well, if I wasn't then, I was almost a year later when I finally saw his presentation. I was seeing red. I'd looked up to Mantik. Although I'd disagreed with many of his findings, I'd hoped he and I could work together on something that would reach beyond the research community. I'd believed he was sincere. I'd never considered that he would go to Dallas to counter some of my arguments and conceal so much from his audience. I'd never considered that, in order to convince his audience they should ignore my ramblings, that he would lie. That's right, I wrote "lie."
Beyond his misrepresenting the location of the gray smudge on Angel's orientation of the Harper fragment, there is reason to suspect that Mantik lied--meaning "deliberately deceived" as opposed to "misled his audience" or "failed to tell his audience pertinent information"--at least one other time during his presentation. And this was when he was discussing the white patch visible on the lateral x-rays. To counter my theory that the "white patch" he'd identified on the x-rays was nothing more than the wing of bone seen on the autopsy photos overlapping intact bone at the back of Kennedy's skull, Mantik claimed, on a slide entitled "The White Patch--Impossible to Explain via Overlapping Bone" that "a single layer of bone contributes only a modest amount to the OD" (optical density measurements) -- "an amount far too small to explain the white patch." Well, okay, he's sticking to his original story here. Nothing wrong in that. I mean, he's never tested x-rays created on the equipment used to make Kennedy's x-rays, at various settings, let alone those involving over-lapping bone. And he's never explained why, if the loss of a layer of bone should have so little effect on the appearance of the skull on the x-ray, that the fractures in Kennedy's skull, which Mantik accepts as legitimate fractures, and which would have involved only one layer of bone, were so easily recognizable. But the man's entitled to his beliefs.
But he didn't stop there. No, in the notes accompanying his presentation on Dr. Fetzer's website, Mantik goes on to say "note that the dark area contains two layers of skull bone, one from each side, yet this area is astonishingly dark. One more layer of bone will not turn the Dark Area into a white patch." Well, this is total nonsense. My "overlapping bone" theory, if you will, does not hold that the white patch has three layers of bone, and the dark area two, and that the white patch therefore represents 50% more bone, it holds that the white patch has three layers of bone, and the dark area one, and that the white patch therefore represents 300% as much bone. This is a huge difference. One that Mantik should not have missed. I mean, where does he think this overlapping bone came from? Could he really have read my writings on the "white patch" and "dark area" and missed that I was claiming that the bone missing from the dark area was the bone overlapping the skull on the white patch? I just can't see how...
And that's not the worst of it. In the latter part of Mantik's presentation he discussed the conclusions of the three consultants hired by the ARRB. (He skipped over some of these slides in Dallas, presumably because he was short on time, but they appear to be the same slides as those on Fetzer's website.) Now, it's important to note that, prior to Mantik's presentation in Dallas, no one in the audience had ever read the memoranda in which the conclusions of these consultants were reported, as the reports of their conclusions were not made public until a month later, with the release of Doug Horne's book Inside the ARRB. And so, Mantik had pretty much a blank slate--he could have told his audience that these guys had agreed that he was right about everything.
It is to Mantik's credit, then, that, on his slide discussing the findings of Dr. John Fitzpatrick, a Forensic Radiologist, he noted, among eight other points of interest, that Dr. Fitzpatrick claimed he did not find the work of Dr. Mantik "persuasive." Now, on Fetzer's website, Mantik admits this is troublesome, and that he is annoyed that Fitzpatrick wouldn't respond to his letters and explain his failure to be persuaded.
But what Mantik should have known, and should have told his audience, was that Fitzpatrick's reasons for rejecting his conclusions regarding the "white patch" and "dark area" were readily apparent, once one read the entirety of Horne's report on Fitzpatrick.
You see, Fitzpatrick shared MY interpretation of the "white patch" and "dark area." While Mantik had spent the first part of his presentation dismissing my findings as those of a layman, and had spent the last part of his presentation discussing the findings of the ARRB's experts, and even claiming "The Buck Stops with Fitzpatrick" when he found something upon which he and Fitzpatrick had agreed, he failed to tell his audience that, when discussing the lateral skull x-rays with Horne, Fitzpatrick had claimed that "some of the dark appearance in the anterior portion of the skull is due to missing bone..." This is PRECISELY as I've claimed, and in opposition to Mantik's own claim that "the dark area contains two layers of skull bone, one from each side."
And that's just the half of it. Mantik also failed to reveal that Fitzpatrick claimed "Overlapping bone is clearly present in the lateral skull x-rays," and that, drum roll please, "the red flap above the ear" in the autopsy photos "equates with the overlapping bone in the lateral skull x-rays."
That's right. While Mantik had told his audience that the "buck stops with Fitzpatrick" when Fitzpatrick had agreed with him, he had completely concealed from his audience that Fitzpatrick had subscribed to the "overlapping bone" theory to which I subscribe, which explains both the "dark area" and "white patch." What Mantik had snidely dismissed as "Speer's theory" before his audience, had been in fact "Fitzpatrick's theory" years before. And Mantik had chosen not to tell this to his audience.
And Fitzpatrick wasn't the only expert whose findings he concealed. While Mantik noted, on his slide describing the findings of Dr. Douglas Ubelaker, a forensic anthropologist consulted by the ARRB, that Ubelaker found the "dark area" on the lateral x-rays "very puzzling," he left out that this led Dr. Ubelaker to wonder, not if the x-rays had been altered, as Mantik presumes, but "whether there had been some processing defect when the x-rays were developed." He also failed to reveal that Ubelaker had noted "overlapping bone fragments" in "the temporal-parietal region of the lateral x-rays," which we can only assume was yet another reference to the "white patch."
Now, should I give Mantik the benefit of the doubt on this, and assume he'd found these statements by Fitzpatrick and Ubelaker unimportant? Probably not. Not after so many other suspicious "mistakes."
Well, then what should I do? Should I just let it slide?
Probably not. Not after he went after me in a public forum, knowing full well that my theories were supported by those with better credentials than himself--men whose expertise he'd trumpeted elsewhere in his presentation--and had kept this from his audience. I mean, if Dale Myers or John McAdams, in the middle of a presentation, had made a similar series of mistakes and/or evasions in order to dismiss my theories, I'd assume their misrepresentations and evasions were by design, and call them out on it.
And so, while I'd learned some time ago to accept the possibility single-assassin theorists are just as honest as conspiracy theorists, I've been forced of late to accept the related possibility conspiracy theorists are just as dishonest as single-assassin theorists.
I'm still struggling with this information...
It's just hard for me to accept that Mantik could be so deceptive...on purpose. Perhaps Mantik, like so many others, has a blind spot, or two, or three. People--even those who in their minds are fully committed to learning the truth--settle into certain ways of thinking--and this groove, or rut, leads them to dismiss other ways of thinking--without ever seriously considering what it is they are dismissing.
But would this blind spot lead Mantik to misrepresent the location of the metallic debris on Angel's orientation of the Harper fragment? And misrepresent my theory (that was really Fitzpatrick's theory) regarding the "white patch"? I don't know.
Perhaps then--and this may be the most disturbing thought I've had in relation to the assassination--those pushing theories (of any breed) are often blind not only to the possibility someone else could be correct, but to the possibility they could be wrong. Perhaps then, in some people, when their theories are challenged to such a degree that they feel they are under attack, some sort of self-defense mechanism pops up that allows them to twist and reconfigure the facts, so they can avoid what to them would be a form of death--an acknowledgment that their pet theory is not house-broken. Perhaps then I should give Mantik a break, and assume he was so bent on defending his position that he began presenting what he wanted to be true as the truth, and subconsciously protected himself from anything that would suggest that he'd been wrong.
It is clear, however, that if I'm to let Mantik off the hook for his deceptive presentation, then I should be equally forgiving of Dr. Lattimer for his deceptive presentation of the single bullet theory, and equally forgiving of Dale Myers' for his deceptive animation, and equally forgiving of John McAdams for his continued defense of the deceptive Artwohl exhibit, and equally forgiving of Vincent Bugliosi for completely distorting the historical record while claiming to defend the historical record. And I find this really hard to do.
For some reason, the image above sometimes fails to show. Here is a link: Of ABC's and X-Rays
Of A, B, C's and X-Ray
But I'm trying. In 2011, I had a number of heated arguments with Dr. Fetzer in which he revealed himself to be even less rational than I'd imagined. At one point, in order to refute my questioning of his friend Dr. Robert Livingston's credibility, he claimed the transcript of Dr. Robert Livingston's testimony in a civil trial had been falsified to damage Livingston's credibility... This was truly wacky. Livingston had testified at the trial at Fetzer's urging. The plaintiff, Fetzer's friend, Dr. Charles Crenshaw, had won a large settlement. Crenshaw's attorney, and the one presumably responsible for the transcript, Bradley Kizza, remained friendly with Fetzer. The transcript, moreover, was made a public document by the ARRB, almost certainly at the urging of another of Fetzer's buddies, Doug Horne.
So what was he talking about? Apparently, when faced with evidence that his friend, Robert Livingston, was at best a weird egg, and not entirely credible, he opted to claim the evidence was fake, even though the evidence was, in fact, evidence he--Jim Fetzer--had brought before the public. (Dr. Livingston had testified that he'd come forward--with his highly dubious story he'd spoken to Dr. Humes on 11-22-63--in order to "save the world.")
In any event, shortly after this battle with Fetzer, (a battle in which David Lifton came down on my side, by the way), Dr. Mantik finally responded to my criticisms of his 2009 Lancer presentation...and totally embarrassed himself.
Yep, in a June 2011 response to my website published on the CTKA website (which, by the way, refused to allow a rebuttal), Mantik not only defended his many mistakes, he actually doubled down. While he admitted that I was correct on one key point--that in his 2009 Lancer presentation he'd presented the metal debris "at the opposite pole on the Harper fragment" from where he'd originally placed it, he maintained that he had done so not to refute Dr. Angel's interpretation of the Harper fragment, but because "new evidence on the Harper x-ray. discovered by John Hunt" convinced him the debris was really in this new location. As Mantik admitted merely that he'd left his audience with a "confused picture" of the site of the lead debris, and not that he'd thoroughly misled them, I at first thought this was mere obfuscation. That the "new site for metal" discovered by Hunt was in fact unveiled in Mantik's presence at a conference six years before the Lancer conference, and that he'd failed to admit that he'd continued to cite the old location of the debris as strong support for his own interpretation of the Harper fragment in the intervening years--and had even done so in the first part of his Lancer presentation-- only confirmed this suspicion.
While subsequently reading his April 2011 review of Don Thomas' book Hear No Evil, however, I came to realize that he really HAD changed his interpretation of the debris' location. Yes, in his review of Hear No Evil, Mantik not only admitted he'd been incorrect in placing the debris at its former location, he actually put a red arrow on an image of the Harper fragment purporting to point out the real location for the debris, and put this in the WRONG location. No, scratch that..the obviously wrong location. No, scratch that...the blatantly obvious 100% clear to anyone using their brain WRONG location. (This is demonstrated on the slide above.)
Needless to say, this raises some troubling questions. Just as I'd once felt McAdams could not honestly believe some of the bizarre stuff he'd claimed, it's hard for me to believe someone with a background in radiology, as Mantik, could possibly believe the metal debris on the x-ray is where he claims it to have been on the photograph. Pure fantasy. Alice-in-Wonderland kind of stuff.
And yet, he seems to actually believe this nonsense. While many of the claims in Mantik's response to my criticisms smelled to high heaven--he claimed, for instance, that he always presented the HSCA's contrast-enhanced x-rays in his articles while discussing what he claimed was an inordinate amount of contrast in the originals not because he was trying to deceive his readers, but because the available photographs of the contrast-enhanced x-rays looked more like the originals than the available photos of the originals--he made a number of surprising claims in his review of Don Thomas' book that led me to suspect he was not playing to any audience but himself. I mean, as a conspiracy theorist, I know full well there is NO upside in questioning if a bullet fired at Kennedy from the grassy knoll would leave a trail of fragments near the top of his skull and exit the occipital region. And yet, from answering these questions, Mantik not only concluded more than one shot struck JFK's skull but that "The GK shot, if any, missed." I mean, that's pretty much suicide in some circles. I wonder how his buddy Fetzer feels about that one.
Mantik's unpredictability and willingness to go against the grain, then, leads me to suspect he is NOT a liar, just grossly mistaken at times and blinded--truly blinded--by his belief in himself and his research. I can only hope I'm not equally blind.
It follows, then, that the bizarre and often looney claims of Dale Myers, John McAdams, et al, may be equally innocent.
There is a key difference, however, between the fighting among conspiracy theorists like Mantik and myself, and the fighting among conspiracy theorists and single-assassin theorists. Men such as Mantik, Fetzer and White do not have a support team, so to speak, in the mainstream media, and they aren't taken seriously by historians. Men such as John McAdams and Dale Myers, on the other hand, are taken seriously, even though their research may be as wild in its way as the research of the wildest CT.
This brings us back to a question raised in the last chapter--why so many supposedly rational people in the media embrace the work of irrational theorists.
2 + 2 = 3
Well, no, it doesn't. Or does it? The thought occurs that much of the disconnect between the thinking of the vast majority of the public, and that of mainstream journalists and historians, comes not from what information they've been exposed to, but from how they process that information.
To put this in mathematical terms...it seems quite clear to me that most Americans, for better or worse, look at the assassination of President Kennedy with the expectation things add up. They look at the evidence Oswald killed Kennedy, and see that this evidence amounts to, let's say, 1.7 out of a possible 2. They then look at the evidence Oswald acted alone, and see this, let's say, as a 1.6 of a possible 2. They then add these numbers together and get 3.3, which is NOT 4. They therefore suspect a conspiracy.
Now contrast this with the thinking of most mainstream journalists and historians. They look at the evidence Oswald killed Kennedy, and score this as a 1.7 out of a possible 2. They then look at the evidence he acted alone, and see this as a 1.6. Now, these were the same numbers provided by most Americans. And yet they come to a totally different conclusion.
Here's why: they round up. Yep, it seems clear to me that PROFESSIONAL journalists and PROFESSIONAL historians have it in their heads that, since the truth is either 1 or 2, they can't conclude 1.7 or 1.6. They feel they have to pick. So they round up. So 1.7 becomes 2, and 1.6 becomes 2, and 1.7 + 1.6 = 4, and the muddy case suggesting Oswald's sole guilt becomes the presumed truth until proven otherwise.
It seems likely, moreover, that many members of the media dismissing the possibility of conspiracy do so for personal reasons. Members of the media who left the story behind to tell other stories, for example, can take solace that they didn't miss out on the biggest story of the century. They can get on the ride at Disneyland and sing "It's an Oswald, after all" between refrains of Beethoven's "Hallelujah!" chorus, and not look back with discomfort. Similarly, mainstream historians, who take tremendous pride in their status as "professionals" and "recognized experts", can take comfort that the wacky amateur sleuths and wanna-be "Quincys" of the conspiracy research community, were wrong. The single-assassin theory promotes the belief that the government's experts were right, after all, and that we should, therefore, have more faith in "experts," including, by extension, professional historians. While this is dime store psychology at a discount, I have little doubt this is a factor in the widespread acceptance of the works of Posner and Bugliosi, et al, by those who should have known better.
Should this proposal sound ludicrous, and should one assume the competitive nature of the mainstream press would have led to the discovery of any hidden truths about the Kennedy assassination, should any truths be hidden, one should consider the wise words of Walter Lippman, one of the most respected journalists of the twentieth century. In 1920, in a detailed study published in the New Republic, Lippman argued that the New York Times, and by extension all the mainstream press, was biased in its coverage of the Russian Revolution. He reported that articles on the Revolution written by American journalists were "dominated by the hopes of the men who composed the news organization" and had inaccurately reported 91 times that the revolution was on the verge of collapse, while citing events that never happened, and atrocities that never took place. He summarized that "In the large, the news about Russia is a case of seeing not what was, but what men wished to see" and that, in their pushing what they wanted to see on the public, these men were guilty of a "boundless credulity, an untiring readiness to be gulled, and on many occasions a downright lack of common sense."
One can only assume then that the failure of the mainstream press to accurately report Kennedy's death was no surprise to Lippman. In fact, although Lippmann, in the days after the assassination, voiced his support for President Johnson, and later voiced his support for the Warren Commission's conclusion Oswald acted alone, he later told his biographer Ronald Steel that he had never ruled out a conspiracy.
And he may not have been the only journalism icon to privately harbor such doubts... There is an intriguing passage in A.M Sperber's 1986 best seller Murrow: His Life and Times that leads me to suspect legendary newsman Edward R. Murrow shared Lippman's concerns. Sperber relates that when Murrow, who was at that time working for Kennedy as head of the U.S. Information Agency, first heard Kennedy was wounded, he tried to reassure his wife, but that "When the word from Dallas changed to assassinated, he grew silent and wondered about Johnson." Wondered about Johnson, not worried about Johnson... My, what an interesting choice of words! In any event, Sperber then relates that Murrow, who was seriously ill at the time, almost immediately lobbied congress for more money so that his agency could "explain to the rest of the world that the government of the United States would continue," and further convince them that the assassination "was not the beginning of World War III." He then relates that LBJ's style had long-grated "on Murrow like a fingernail run across a blackboard," and that Murrow resigned from his position--and not because of his health, although it may have been a factor--on December 19, 1963, less than a month after Johnson assumed office.
Chapter20:Conclusions and Confusions