Reply to Gary Mack, Installment #1

 

March 5, 1998

Dr. James Fetzer
University of Minnesota
10 University Drive
Duluth, MN 55812-2496

Dear Dr. Fetzer,

I have read your book, Assassination Science: Experts Speak Out on the
Death of JFK, made notations, and reread the Zapruder chapters and
references.  I also consulted Bloody Treason by Noel Twyman, upon which
some of your writers' material is based.

My recommendation to our Interpretation Department and book store, based
primarily on the Zapruder sections, is that we do not carry your book at
this time.

    Mr. Mack,

    I certainly appreciate hearing from you about ASSASSINATION SCIENCE.
    Insofar as you have offered REASONS in support of your assessment,
    I am taking the liberty of pointing out those cases in which they
    appear to be BAD REASONS, which seem to predominate in this case.

    Let me ask a few preliminary questions about your book store.  It
    is my understanding that decisions about what is and is not carried
    are the responsibility of the DIRECTOR, where your opinions serve
    as recommendations, while he is the decision-maker.  Is that right?

    Moreover, I understand that your bookstore does NOT carry pro-con-
    spiracy books as a general policy.  Thus, you carry books such as
    CASE CLOSED, MORTAL ERROR, and CONSPIRACY OF ONE, but not RUSH TO
    JUDGMENT, ACCESSORIES AFTER THE FACT, SIX SECONDS IN DALLAS, BEST
    EVIDENCE, HIGH TREASON, or even DEEP POLITICS AND THE DEATH OF JFK.

    Please confirm that this is correct, especially by providing a list
    of the books that are carried by your bookstore.  I would observe
    that, if this information is correct, by carrying CASE CLOSED, you
    are endorsing a blatant hoax, which is demonstrably based upon an
    abuse of principles of reasoning by including only evidence that
    supports THE WARREN REPORT and thus commits the special pleading
    fallacy, while excluding books of unquestioned merit, such as RUSH
    TO JUDGMENT, BEST EVIDENCE, and other books because they argue for
    positions at odds with those this bookstore finds congenial.  But
    if this is correct--and I await your contention that it is not--
    then it was a predetermined conclusion that you would not accept
    ASSASSINATION SCIENCE for display there.  And if that is correct,
    then the reasons you offer are really a smoke screen for censorship.
    You must forgive me if I question the sincerity of your protesta-
    tions that excluding my book is dictated by standards of research!

I found several hundred questionable statements and, while I cannot list
all the problems, you are certainly due an explanation for my
conclusion.  Overall, they relate to the following observations:

    The book runs approximately 480 pages in length, where the number of
    sentences per page appears to run at least 15 per page.  Thus, if it
    were correct that you had discovered "several hundred questionable
    statements", that would represent the equivalent of perhaps 2O pages
    of text out of an 480 page book, leaving approximately 460 pages of
    the work NOT in the "questionable statement" category, which is an
    error rate of less than 5% and a success rate of over 95%!  That is
    pretty impressive, by your own standard, given the controversial na-
    ture of the subject.  Indeed, I have found almost no two researchers
    in this area who do not find the work of others to be "questionable".
    So I hope you don't mind my evaluation of your rather sweeping con-
    demnation of the book, which, even if it were true, does not appear
    to amount to much and, if false, of course, comes to nothing at all.
    This is especially true given your own degree of expertise (below).

1)	Your "experts," for the most part, are not experts in the
subjects they discuss and they show little understanding of them;

    This strikes me as quite incredible.  The qualifications of each of
    the contributors to ASSASSINATION SCIENCE are sketched on pp. 462-
    463.  Let's go through the list to see if you are right about this.

    Robert B. Livingston, M.D., is a world authority on the human brain
    and an expert on wound ballistics.  He discusses the authenticity
    of diagrams and photographs of a brain that are supposed to be the
    brain of JFK, but explains why they must be of the brain of some-
    one other than John Fitzgerald Kennedy.  He also discusses his per-
    sonal conversations with James Humes, M.D., on 22 November 1963 and
    other personal conversations with Richard Dudman shortly thereafter.
    According to your claim, he is no expert on the subjects he discus-
    ses and shows little understanding of them.  Are you serious?  I am
    astonished that anyone, much less someone who poses as some sort of 
    authority on research in this area, would make such fantastic claims.

    David W. Mantik, M.D., Ph.D., possesses a Ph.D. in physics from the
    University of Wisconsin, an M.D. from the University of Michigan,
    and is board certified in radiation oncology, which involves the use
    of radiation therapy to treat cancer.  He professionally interprets
    X-rays and prescribes treatments for patients that may make the dif-
    ference between life and death.  He has studied the original X-rays,
    photographs, and other assassination materials that are kept in the
    National Archives and has subjected the autopsy X-rays, for example,
    to meticulous studies using optical densitometry, which has enabled
    him to establish that several of the X-rays have been fabricated in
    two different ways.  It is difficult for me to imagine anyone who is
    better qualfied for the study of these X-rays, and it is incomprehen-
    sible to me that anyone could suggest, as you do, that David does not
    understand them.  Whether or not his credentials with respect to the
    study of the Zapruder film are judged to be equally impressive, how
    can you suggest that he is not an expert in the area of the interpre-
    tation of X-rays, where his understanding appears to be unparalleled?
   
    Charles Crenshaw, M.D., was a resident at Parkland when the President
    was brought in for treatment and, as you know, also attended his al-
    leged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, when he was brought to Parkland
    two days later.  He is discussing his personal experiences in light
    of records, documents, and other testimony that is avaiable to the
    public.  In what sense is he not an expert on his subject?  In what
    sense does he show little understanding of the subjects he discusses?

    Bradly Kizzia, J.D., was Crenshaw's attorney of record in filing and
    pursuing a law suit against the American Medical Association and its
    journal JAMA.  He thoroughly prepared the suit by extensive investi-
    gations of its legal and factual basis, including taking a large num-
    ber of depositions from various related parties.  He prevailed over
    the AMA and accepted a settlement of more than $200,000 on behalf of
    his client.  In his chapter, he recounts the legal action he under-
    took, its course and its outcome.  Who could possibly be better pos-
    itioned to discuss this?  Who could possibly understand it better?

    James H. Fetzer, Ph.D., is a professional philosopher of science 
    and an expert on critical thinking.  He is also a former commission-
    ed officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he supervised recruit
    training at the same recruit depot where Lee Oswald received his
    recruit training and at the same rifle range where Oswald received
    his marksmanship training.  He organized a research groug during
    November of 1992 in an effort to place the investigation of the
    assassination on an objective and scientific foundation.  As the
    editor, he was responsible for inviting and editing articles that
    appeared here as well as for organizing and editing the work as a
    whole.  He has reported his experiences with JAMA, including his
    personal conversation with George Lundberg, M.D., its Editor-in-
    Chief, his role in moderating the New York City press conference
    on 18 November 1993, and his correspondence with the Department
    of Justice and other responsible parties (such as the publisher
    and editors of The New York Times), all of which are matters of
    his personal knowledge.  He has also advanced a critique of the
    work of Robert Artwohl, M.D., in his capacity as an authority on
    critical thinking, and has elaborated the contents of the work
    as a whole in various different ways, including introductions
    for each section of the work and summaries of its findings.  It
    is difficult to imagine how anyone else could have done this in-
    sofar as these are areas of his personal experience and of his
    professional competence.  So what is the complaint in this case?

    These individuals are responsible for the first 205 pages of this
    book (actually, 221 when the front pages are taken into account),
    which includes the first three of the book's four parts.  Indeed,
    the Postscript is written by Ronald F. White, Ph.D., who holds a
    Ph.D. in history and who is an expert in the history of medicine,
    science, and technology.  His piece is a study of the background
    of the case and especially of why professional historians have
    been reluctant to pursue it, given the uncertain nature of the
    most basic assassination evidence.  As a professional historian,
    he appears to be highly qualified to undertake this inquiry and
    the quality of his research seems to be outstanding.  So that is
    another major segment of the book that is invulnerable to your
    alleged claims of lack of expertise.  Indeed, when you consider
    that the Epilogue is written by me and the Appendices offer no
    basis for criticism of this kind, it becomes apparent that these
    parts constitute another 118 pages (pp. 345-463), which added to
    the first 221, equals 349 pages where the objection that these
    authors are not experts on the subjects they are discussing are
    completely and utterly without merit.  So where do you come off
    making this sweeping but groundless accusation?  These authors
    are all experts on their subjects, which they well understand.

    What remains is precisely Part IV, which concerns the Zapruder
    film.  If you were the least bit more honest, then you should
    have admitted that the contributors to most of the book--the
    first three parts, the Epilogue and the Postscript--are highly
    qualified to discuss the subjects they address instead of mak-
    ing a false generalization that implies that the "experts" who
    address their subjects are not qualified to do so.  Given the
    evidence I have outlined above--and the fact that their quali-
    fications are summarized at various places in the book, such
    as the Preface and the Prologue--it appears as though the only
    reason someone would make such a statement is to deliberately
    mislead others about the qualifications of the book's authors.

    The only part of the book where such an objection may have any
    merit whatsoever is with regard to Part IV, which concerns the
    Zapruder film and indications that it has been extensively edit-
    ed using highly sophisticated techniques.  Even in this instance,
    I find your objections to the qualifications of the contributors
    to be a bit much, especially given what I take to be your meager
    credentials in this area.  Is it not correct that your college
    degree was not in film, film studies, photography, or related
    technical areas?  Is it not correct that your only professional
    position was in video editing and as film librarian at a local
    television station?  I know you have studied JFK films for many
    years and are a knowledgeable expert on their history, but does
    this give you professional expertise greater than other amateur
    researchers who have also studied JFK assassination films?  Every
    contributor--even to Part IV--appears to possess qualifications 
    equal to or greater than your own, with the possible exception of
    Mike Pincher, J.D., who is a trial attorney and who assisted Roy
    Schaeffer on their chapter.  Roy, after all, completed a six-year
    government-sponsored apprenticeship in film development from 1963
    to 1969.  So his qualifications seem to be better than your own.
    Jack White has earned near-legendary status within the research
    community for his work on the photographic evidence, and based up-
    on what I know of his work, I judge his photographic competence 
    and experience to exceed yours.  Jack has done professional photo 
    work for more than 40 years, and I have no indication that your 
    photographic competence is more than minimal.  As for Chuck Mar-
    ler, his work is an outstanding piece of research.  Whether or
    not Ron Hepler's belongs in the same category is another matter,
    but he was making a case for two shots to Connally on the basis
    of the available film, not trying to prove it had been edited.
    That leaves the long chapter by David Mantik, whose very exact
    and detailed methods combined with outstanding research ability
    seems to make him very well qualified for undertaking his study.
    So let us see what you have by way of criticism and then we can
    evaluate whether you have shown that some of the authors of the
    chapters of this book are not experts and do not understand the
    subjects they discuss, because the evidence that I have review-
    ed here indicates--conclusively, in my view--that you have given
    a highly misleading characterization of their competence here, a
    characterization that appears to have been deliberate.  So I am
    complelled to ask, Why did you, Gary Mack, make this statement?

2)	Appropriate, recognized experts were not consulted for insight
or contrary opinions, leaving a very biased presentation;

    You had better document claims of this kind, because your credibil-
    ity, at this point, ranks very low.  Moreover, saying that you had
    "found several hundred questionable statements" without documenting
    them should not impress any rational and objective student of the
    case.  So far, you have only demonstrated your bias and prejudice.

3)	At least one expert on motion pictures and special effects,
Oliver Stone, who is undeniably sympathetic to the conspiracy issue,
dismissed charges of Zapruder film alteration in 1992;

     This is silly!  That Oliver Stone may have made such a remark
     only matters if he had considered the evidence that we have
     discovered.  This is akin to the Department of Justice refer-
     ring me to the HSCA report, when I informed them of the dis-
     covery of evidence that completely undermined the HSAC inquiry.
     So how does a remark--a few words, for heaven's sake!--detract
     from discoveries that we have made during 1996, 1997 and 1998,
     because further confirmations of the extensive editing of the
     film continue to be made to this day by other investigators?
     I certainly hope you can produce better arguments than this.
 
     CONTINUED:  See "A Response to Gary Mack (2)".


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