Date: Fri, 13 Mar 1998 18:38:36 -0500
To: james fetzer , Doug Weldon
Subject: Re: A RESPONSE TO ANTHONY MARSH
james fetzer wrote:
> Something I do not understand about someone who claims to be a scholar
> of the assassination of JFK is that the principal method of argumenta-
> tion you employ is "begging the question" by taking for granted what
> needs to be established on independent grounds. Notice, for example,
> that you have never explained how you KNOW when your photo was taken.
> If your answer is that there are logs that indicate as much, then say
> so and let us ask whether your evidence is as substantial as the evi-
> dence for an alternative interpretation. (I think calling motorcycle
> policemen and a reporter for the ST. LOUIS POST DISPATCH "a few idiot
> witnesses" does not advance your cause, since it is obviously not the
> case.) Your second most relied upon tactic is "the straw man", in
> which you create (virtually out of thin air) exaggerated and implaus-
> ible versions of my position which you then proceed to ridicule. ("If
> you accept Fetzer, you are headed down a road where all the evidence
> is faked and every federal agents (sic) lies all the time.") Surely
> you know better than that, Anthony. Sometimes I have the impression
> that you have the mental age of a twelve year old and the emotional
> development of a toddler. Give me a break! No serious student of any
> subject--much less one as important and controversial as this--should
> employ these methods. As though they were not enough, you supplement
> them with hysterical remarks about "bizarre theories" when it is not
> obvious that you are right and I am wrong. I have a photograph that
> unmistakably was taken DURING THE ASSASSINATION that includes (what
> appears to be) a through-and-through hole in the windshield, where
> the President's left ear would be if it were not obscured by a small,
> white spiral nebula with a dark hole in the center. I have eyewitnes-
> ses who state that they saw (what appeared to them to be) a through-
> and-through hole in the windshield when the limo was at Parkland. I
> also (thanks to Doug Weldon) have the eyewitness report of a worker
> from Ford who was responsible for removing the windshield from the
> limo and replacing it on Monday, 25 November 1963, and he tells us
> that there was a through-and-through hole in the windshield when he
> removed it from the vehicle. Now given that photographs can be al-
> tered and faked (witness the the controversy in the O. J. Simpson
> case over the Bruno Magli photographs), the law REQUIRES that an ap-
> propriate foundation be laid BEFORE photographs are introduced into
> courts as evidence. I am simply asking you to do that. In partic-
> ular, I am asking, HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN IT WAS TAKEN? According to
> Doug, moreover, the photograph is rather dark and difficult to inter-
> pret, which seems to me to make it all the more problematic as evi-
> dence in support of your position. In offering my interpretation of
> the situation and identifying the evidence in its support, I am not
> insisting that you are wrong. Maybe you are right and I am wrong.
> I am simply interested in learning how you know that you are right
> and why you should be so goddamned cocksure that YOU ARE RIGHT AND
> I AM WRONG! Doug and I are not dismissing what you have to say by
> not taking it seriously. But to quote you a few posts ago, if you
> are offering a theory, then you ought to be willing to defend it!
> I really do not understand the methodological inconsistency that
> allows you to assert your view WITHOUT DEFENDING IT but insists of
> others that THEY MUST DEFEND THEIRS! Clearly, you are simply tak-
> ing for granted that you are right! What I want to know is why we
> should agree with you, given the available evidence to the contrary.
> Other comments on your latest post are given below (without ">"s):
> > can give you a complete response right now. I am too shocked by your
> > attitude. If someone's theory has any scientific validity, then he
> > should be able to defend it. Rather than refusing to answer questions
> > or
> > counter arguments because he feels that someone is attacking him.
> Rereading my last post and reviewing our exchange, I see that I have
> answered or replied to every question you have advanced, but that you
> have not answered or replied to questions I have advanced. So I think
> you had better come clean or be regarded as an intellectual hypocrite.
> As for "scientific validity", I wonder what precisely you think that
> you mean by phrases like that. This is related to other questions I
> have advanced that you have also not answered as I will explain below.
> > As for your acceptance of Fetzer, I can not tell you how disappointed
> > I
> > am that many people who are new to this case will accept people like
> > that. Who is Fetzer and how long has he been researching this case?
> > Less
> > than 5 years maybe? Is he a well-respected researcher? Only to you and
> > the others in his group who would believe what he puts out
> > unquestioningly.
> What difference does it make HOW LONG I have been investigating the case?
> If I had spent a long weekend on it, I might have come up with findings
> that no one else had ever noticed. So why make a misleading appeal to
> a temporal factor? Moreover, my scholarly qualifications are published
> in various places and not in doubt. Consider, for example, pp. 462-463
> of ASSASSINATION SCIENCE, where a brief sketch is provided of everyone
> who contributed to the book. (I must ask at this point, Anthony, if you
> have and have read the book.) I have received numerous academic prizes
> and awards for my research and publications, which now include around
> 20 books and more than 100 articles. My A.B. was awarded by Princeton
> magna cum laude and my undergraduate thesis won the Dickinson Prize.
> My Ph.D. was earned from Indiana in the history and philosophy of sci-
> ence, and I have published many books on the nature of science, espec-
> ially scientific method, scientific theories, the structure of scien-
> tific explanations, the interpretation of probability, and scientific
> reasoning in general. Try SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE (1981), for example, or
> perhaps PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE (1993). I have received the Medal of the
> University of Helsinki for distinguished research and other significant
> forms of recognition. Having been born in 1940, I am now 57 years old.
> I served as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1962-
> 66 and spent two years stationed at the USMC Recruit Depot in San Diego,
> where I supervised recruit training, including marksmanship training on
> the same rifle range (Edson Range) where Lee Oswald received his marks-
> manship training. One of many reasons why this case has been so very
> difficult to resolve, I think, is because it has been left in the hands
> of amateurs for so very long. Among the only professional scholars to
> have studied the case are Josiah Thompson, who was also a professional
> philosopher, and Peter Dale Scott, who was a professor of English. It
> should not be surprising if individuals of the qualifications of David
> W. Mantik, M.D., Ph.D., and Robert B. Livingston, M.D., can make rapid
> progress when they apply their background and abilities to problems in
> the interpretation of evidence, while others have not known what to do.
> Who am I? I have been researching the JFK
> > assassination
> > since about 1972 and was one of the people who helped establish the
> > HSCA. I have worked with many of the most well-known researchers in
> > this
> > case. You can read my research which has been published in researcher
> > journals or presented at conferences. I don't have to defend myself.
> That is all well and good, Anthony, but what I asked you is: What is
> your age, your educational background, including any study of reason-
> ing, and your profession? Why are you evading these questions, which
> will better let me judge your intellectual competence? Why won't you
> tell more about your general intellectual background and profession?
> > But
> > I have seen several people come into this research community with no
> > real interest in research methods only to promote bizarre theories
> > which
> > requires people to abandon common sense, scientific method and
> > reality.
> > When I see that, I point it out. If you consider that to be personal
> > attacks, so be it.
> I have a great deal of interest in research methods, Anthony, consider-
> ing that I am a professional philosopher of science as I have explained
> above. Therefore, it is false to say of me that I have "come into this
> research community with no real interest in research methods". More-
> over, I am not desirous of promoting "bizarre theories" (which, given
> your use of the phrase, seems to apply to anyone who disagrees with you)
> but in discoving the truth about the assassination of Jack Kennedy. I
> have noticed, by the way, that you are adept at launching personal at-
> tacks on people, as you do here, without knowing the score, just as you
> apparently did not know that I am indeed a professional scholar with re-
> spect to the nature of science, scientific method and critical thinking.
> (In case it matters, Anthony, I have held faculty appointments at the
> Universities of Kentucky, Virginia (twice), North Carolina at Chapel
> Hill, New College of the University of South Florida, and Minnesota,
> where I hold the rank of Distingished McKnight University Professor.)
> Yet you have no hesitation in implying that I have come into this com-
> munity with no interest in methodology to promote "bizarre theories"!
> Surely you must know of some instance where people
> > have been promoting bizarre theories such as Cooper or Morningstar
> > which
> > rely on faked evidence or incorrect analysis of poor-quality exhibits.
> > Aren't you troubled by those people and their bad research? Can't you
> > accept that fact that some evidence is real and that some government
> > agents might accidentally tell the truth some of the time?
> Here's a nice example where you attack a straw man. Neither Doug nor I
> have ever suggested that "no evidence is real" or that "no government
> agents ever tell the truth". So why suggest we make such claims? Be-
> cause, it would appear, you cannot defend your own position or attack
> ours without committing various fallacies, which betray your position.
> I would remind you, moreover, that there is a great deal of evidence
> indicating that the Secret Service set up Jack for the hit and that
> the FBI was used to filter and cover-up the evidence in this case. I
> would also note that the autopsy was obviously conducted in a manner
> that was intended to conceal the true nature of the wounds. So it is
> not appropriate to "take for granted" what the FBI or Secret Service
> had to say about the crime without independent corroborating evidence.
> Moreover, you should not suppress the introduction of new ideas into
> a research domain, wether or not they ultimately pan out. Cooper and
> Morningstar are just as entitled as Marsh to advance their views. The
> crucial question is how well those views withstand critical scrutiny,
> which is the same standard that must be applied to your views and mine.
> If you
> > accept
> > Fetzer, you are headed down a road where all the evidence is faked and
> > every federal agents lies all the time. So, what is left to believe? A
> > few idiot witnesses who didn't know what the hell they were talking
> > about? Or people who make up stories based on rumors they heard? Is
> > that research?
> > Anthony Marsh
> I have already responded to this exaggerated version of my views above.
> Why, if you are such a competent scholar, do you find it necessary to
> launch personal attacks and employ straw men and beg the question? On
> the basis of our exchange thus far, I would have to conclude that, at
> best, you are a mediocre thinker with no real intellectual substance.
> So why don't you prove me wrong by now engaging in a serious exchange?
> James H. Fetzer
> McKnight Professor
> University of Minnesota
> Duluth, MN 55812
This is only a partial response, as I have no located and scanned in
everything which I would like to send to you. The first criticism I will
address is the one in which you accused me of begging the question. You
implied that I assumed that the photo CE350 was taken on 11/23/63
without any direct evidence. Wrong! I did not specify the origin of the
evidence, because I had assumed that you were already familiar with it.
Anthony, I cannot know what evidence you are relying upon if you
do not tell me! (This is the reason laws must be public if the
people are supposed to conform to them; it is a form of tyranny
to punish people for not adhering to laws that are kept private.)
Every argument creates its own context. I was observing that with
respect to what you had been asserting and your mode of argument,
YOU WERE BEGGING THE QUESTION. Undoubtedly, I was right about that,
but you have more resource of the kind appropriate for a REBUTTAL.
Indeed, one of the first lessons I convey to students of logic is
that arguments must be taken AS THEY ARE PRESENTED. Your move of
appealing to suppressed premises may be appropriate to defend your-
self in the face of criticism, but it does not make the original
criticism--directed at the original argument--any the less sound.
Please remember that I am not a Warren Commission defender. I am a
Warren Commission critic. Nevertheless, you should have picked up the
clue that CE meant Commission Exhibit, as in Warren Commission evidence.
I am not saying that the Warren Commission was 100% correct.
Anthony, we all know the meaning of "CE", and I do not maintain
that all evidence before the Warren Commission was wrong. Let
me remind you that Sylvia Meager's ACCESSORIES AFTER THE FACT
demonstrates that most of the conclusions drawn in the report
are contradicted by the evidence found in supporting volumes!
I would also observe that the statements of Marrion Baker and
Roy Truly about encountering Oswald in the lunchroom within 90
second of the assassination may be found in the report itself!
But as far
as I know this particular evidence was never admitted into any real
court, although it may have been mentioned in the Garrison/Shaw trial. I
have scanned in Frazier's testimony at page 69 of the Warren Commission
Hearings Volume V. As a critic of the Warren Commission, you should
already have been familiar with this testimony, especially as Frazier
was the leading FBI examiner who examined the limousine staring at about
1 AM on 11/23/63 and it was he who took the evidentiary photos of the
limousine which later became the WC exhibits. I am not saying that you
have to read the Warren Commission documents and become a Warren
Commission supporter. But at least you should be familiar with the
evidence they presented, especially if you intend to challenge it.
Look, Anthony, I cannot read your mind (especially via the net),
so don't get all hot and bothered that I have not known what you
were relying upon in this instance when you had not told me! I
think we are making progress, however, insofar as you are begin-
ning to share with me (and Doug). Since we are talking about a
SPECIFIC FBI agent and not ALL FBI agenst, I hope you will un-
derstand that there may be grounds for skepticism in this case.
I have marked the GIF scan to show where Frazier testified about the
origin of CE 350. Again, I realize that you can easily dismiss any
Warren Commission testimony and claim that it was not a court of law and
that witnesses were not sworn to tell the truth and the Commission had
no power to compell witnesses to tell the truth. Fine with me. But if
you want to claim that CE 350 was a fake or that there was no chain or
evidence, etc., then you need to claim that Frazier knowingly lied to
the Warren Commission as part of a massive cover-up. Is that what you
are saying. If you call that a straw man argument, fine. Show me an
innocent alternative solution. I am pointing out the implications of
your not accepting CE 350 as genuine. I am not saying that you believe
the alternative solution. I am asking if you are prepared to go that
far. I suggested to Doug that if he does not believe Frazier, that he
ask Frazier himself directly if Frazier had lied about this to the
Warren Commission. Jim, I suggest that you do the same.
I would observe that your proposed remedy--if you think that a
man has lied about something important, then just ask him--is
almost too ridiculous to discuss! Do you really think that an
FBI agent who has (by hypothesis) made false sworn statements
to the Warren Commission and thereby participated in covering
up the assassination of JFK would hesitate to LIE about it?
Would you also suggest that, since many of us think that O.J.
killed Nicole and Ron, that we can resolve the issue by ASK-
ING O.J. whether or not he killed them? And you're serious?
Really, Anthony, this is among the most navie statements that
I have ever encountered in any context. Moreover, I have ex-
plored Frazer's testimony in another context (regarding the
Mannlicher-Carcano), and I can assure you that what Frazer is
telling the Warren Commission is complete and utter bullshit.
Now if you would like to consider my reasons, then get ahold
of the latest issue of THE FOURTH DECADE 5/2 (January 1998),
"Artful Deceptions and Other Fallacies: A Page from Posner",
pp. 8-12, and you can judge for yourself. So not only am I
prepared to assert that Frazier was willing to lie to the War-
ren Commission, I have already documented a case in which he
did precisely that! I am mystified, however, by your asser-
tion that that implies there was "a massive cover-up". May-
be I would agree that his "knowingly lying" carries such an
implication, but I am not sure why you are asserting that it
does. In any case, I have no doubt that Frazier (and other
FBI agents, though by no means all) participated actively in
covering up some of the most important evidence in the case.
[Incidentally, I would never dismiss evidence merely because
it had not been admitted into a court of law! The only evi-
dence of which I am aware that was admitted into courts re-
garding the assassination of JFK was during the Garrison in-
quiry and later the suit that E. Howard Hunt brought against
the Liberty Lobby, which is documented in PLAUSIBLE DENIAL.
None of the evidence before the Warren Commission, for ex-
ample, was admitted before any court, though the appearance
of the Chief Justice may have subtly conveyed that impression
to many Americans. You might notice, if you have ASSASSINA-
TION SCIENCE and have read as few as the first 10 pages, that
I observe that the legal significance of the WARREN REPORT as
the report of an advisory body to the President is in doubt.]
I also provided
the worksheet (unavailable to most researchers for many years and found
by me at the National Archives) which indicates what Frazier found when
examining the limousine. Again, if you think it is a straw man argument,
I would still ask how Frazier would have known what to lie about so
quickly after the assassination.
Please allow me to explain that there is ample evidence that
a cover-story had been planned in advance. (Consider, for
example, Jean Hill's apprehension in Dealey Plaza IMMEDIATELY
AFTER the assassination and the publication of stories and
photographs around the world implicating Oswald BEFORE HE
HAD EVEN BEEN CHARGED WITH KILLING THE PRESIDENT.) Do you re-
ally think that the autopsy could have gone forward without
a plan concerning how the wounds were supposed to look? Let
me suggest that you read my two statements of 18 November 19-
93 from ASSASSINATION SCIENCE, pp. 145-148 and pp. 149-152.
If we are going to discus these matters further, Anthony, I
am going to expect you to become familiar with this book. I
have dealt enough with assorted assholes who have attacked
our work without bothering to read it: let that not be you!
I cannot be accused of falsely characterizing (as a straw man)
an argument that you had yet to present. So come down off of
your high horse and start acting like an adult human being. I
also say--in relation to the remarks you make below--that eye-
witness evidence is not only NOT the most unreliable form of
evidence (a popular belief but apparently false, for reasons
explained in ASSASSINATION SCIENCE, p. 210, and discussed by
David Mantik on pp. 278-279) but is actually HIGHLY RELIABLE
and, more importantly for the sake of our exchange, is neces-
sary in courts of law to establish a foundation BEFORE photo-
graphic evidence may be introduced! Stop and consider some
of the things I am trying to explain to you before you offer
a half-assed response like the following. WE KNOW FOR SURE
THAT SOME OF THE AUTOPOSY X-RAYS, SOME OF THE AUTOPSY PHOTO-
GRAPHS, AND MUCH OF THE ZAPRUDER FILM HAS BEEN FABRICATED OR
FAKED! If you think that it would be a big deal to create a
false record of photographs of the windshield--especially if
authentic ones would blow the cover story of three shots from
above and behind--then you are utterly mistaken. Your naive
faith in Frazier astounds me, because heretofore I had assum-
ed that you were a sophisticated thinker about these matters.
My general advice is that you stop this obsession with claiming that
photographic evidence has been faked and simply deal with the evidence.
Do not rely on eyewitness testimony. It is the most unreliable form of
I will address other issues as I find the right documents and scan them
You do not have to rummage around to answer the questions that
I posed about you: What is your age, your educational back-
ground, including about reasoning, and your profession? I am
not going to attack you, no matter what they are, Anthony; I
simply want to know more about how I am dealing with. I note
that I have provided similar information about myself already.