Date: Sat, 14 Mar 1998 17:41:36 -0600 (CST)
From: james fetzer
Cc: dweldon, james fetzer
Subject: Re: A RESPONSE TO ANTHONY MARSH (fwd)
I have responded to your comments below. I
think that there is no point in continuing
this exchange. You say you are perfectly
willing to call witnesses (motorcycle patrol-
men and reporters, for example, who have no
apparent vested interest in the case) by the
name of "idiots". Well, there may be some
around here, but those are not the ones that
immediately come mind.... I think that you
have a good heart but that you are not equal
to the intellectual demands involved in ser-
ious research. That does not mean that you
have not done good things with the material
at your disposal, but only that we have ob-
viously reached a point of diminishing re-
turns in our discussion of this case. Let
me close by wishing you well! All the best!
P.S. I hope that, when you trash me in
the future, you will at least give
those parties copies of this post
so they will know my side as well
as your's--or that I have a side!
Thanks, Anthony. I appreciate it.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 14 Mar 1998 01:46:24 -0500
To: james fetzer
Cc: 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
I have absolutely no problem with calling a witness an idiot. You should
know by now that eyewitness testimony if the most unreliable type of
As I have pointed out several times during this exchange, based upon
empirical studies (scientific evidence) published in the HARVARD LAW
REVIEW, which are cited in the places I have cited in ASSASSINATION
SCIENCE, eyewitness testimony is in fact highly reliable. So where
do you come off repeating something that you may have heard and might
believe but which appears to be empirically false? The practice of
assuming that widely held beliefs must be true is known as the fal-
lacy of popular sentiments. I teach first-year students to avoid it.
I simply don't see how you can deny that you are engaging in ad hominem
attacks when you write sentences like this one:
> Sometimes I have the impression
> that you have the mental age of a twelve year old and the emotional
> development of a toddler.
I would be engaging in ad hominem arguments if I were to argue that
because you are naive, immature, and have the mental age of a twelve
year old, nothing you say is believable! That is an ad hominem. I
did not commit one, but instead made a remark about the impression I
have based upon our exchange. I did not use it as a premise to dis-
miss, contradict or undermine any of your arguments. I must tell you
that you have strongly reinforced that impression with these posts.
I have not said anything of the sort about you. What I have complained
about is your research method, or lack thereof.
You have in fact made many ad hominems or the equivalent in dismis-
sing my views wihtout even understanding them (calling some of them
"bizarre theories" when it is not obvious that you are right and I
am wrong) and making other entirely indefensible attacks on my work.
[From your latest post, moreover, I infer that you not only have not
read ASSASSINATION SCIENCE but also do not own it, so I wonder how
you could KNOW that I had not identified the exact location that I
have been talking about, considering that on p. 143 of that book. I
guess it might deprive you of the absurd claim--which you continue to
repeat, in spite of its falsehood--that I have refused to locate the
position on the windshield where it was alleged to have been found.
I don't understand how you can think of yourself as a scholar in any
reasonable sense of the term when you practice this kind of research.]
This is proven by the
fact that you are trying to discuss CE 350 yet were unaware of Frazier's
testimony. I can forgive the fact that you may not have seen the FBI
worksheets and am more than happy to provide these to any other research
who wants them. But if you are going to criticize the Warren Commission
it is imperative that you are familiar with it.
You made a big-to-do over all of this WITHOUT EVER MENTIONING WHAT
EVIDENCE WAS SUPPOSED TO SUPPORT YOUR VIEWS. As I previously ob-
served, neither Doug nor I is a mind-reader! The only way that I
was able to ascertain what evidence you were relying upon was by a
process not unlike the extraction of teeth! Give us a break! I am
always eager to learn more about the case, just as I had assumed you
were eager to learn more about the case. I have examined aspects of
Frazier's testimony (in relation to the Mannlicher-Carcano) and have
discovered that he made numerous important but false statements about
the carbine to the Warren Commission. That certainly creates grounds
for suspecting his testimony about other aspects of the case, espec-
ially when we have so much independent evidence to the contrary (in
the Altgens photograph, the eyewitness reports of the motorcycle pa-
trolmen Ellis and Freeman, the eyewitness report of Richard Dudman,
a respected reporter for the ST. LOUIS POST DISPATCH, the eyewitness
report of the man who supervised the replacement of the windshield on
25 November 1963, PLUS the report of Secret Service agent Charles Tay-
lor, Jr., who, as Doug has explained, wrote, "Of particular note was
the small hole just left of center in the windshield" (from the rear
or driver's perspective)! The new windshield was installed at Ford
11/25/63 and not at the Arlington Glass Company on 11/27/63, which
appears to have been a second round "to get the 'evidence' right",
as Doug has explained. Is it your opinion that all of the evidence
I am describing is to be dismissed because Frazier said otherwise?
If that is your position, I must infer that you are quite gullible.
I will continue to speak out about bizarre theories and bad research. I
was asking you and Doug if you knew of any bad research in your fields.
If so, how do you deal with it? Do you embrace it as being of equal
value as excellent research?
Go back and re-read your earlier posts, in which you were attacking
me as a uninterested in methodology and as promoting bizarre theor-
ies at a time when apparently you had no knowledge me or my views!
That does not speak well for your standards of scholarship, Anthony.
Have I read your book? No, and I probably will not read it until I find
it locally and can determine whether I want to buy it or not. I have
bought too many books which were a waste of money to buy more sight
So it is little wonder that, even when I point to specific pages
where you may find relevant evidence concerning the exact location
of the alleged bullet hole and concerning the reliability of eye-
witness reports, you continue to bulldoze ahead without even car-
ing whether or not this material might clarify important issues.
What difference does it make if you have not been researching this case
for more than a couple of years? For one thing, if you had been
researching this case for several years, you would have been more
familiar with the evidence. Second, if you had been researching this
case for several years, you would have seen all the false leads and bad
research, so you would not be taken in so easily by bad research.
I appear to be more familiar with the relevant evidence than are
you, no matter how many years you may have been at it. I already
explained that TIME INVESTED is not equivalent to RESULTS ATTAIN-
ED. In general, ACCOMPLISHMENT = ABILITY x EFFORT. I have seen
no indications that you have any accomplishments that would indi-
cate that you have ability equal to this case. On the contrary,
I have seen--and continue to see--many indications that is untrue
I do not expect you to answer all of my questions and I will not engage
in badgering or name-calling as you did when you assumed that I would
not answer all of your questions. I have hundreds of JFK files on disk,
so there is a chance that I might be able to send you both a file
(testimony or photo) very quickly. But if I do not happen to have a
particular page or photo on my HD then I have to dig out the best copy I
can find and scan it in. I have already done that for you both on
several occassions. I am more than willing to back up anything I say
with evidence. Whether or not I can find it in 5 minutes is a different
matter. In some cases I might even have to scan in the best version from
a book at a local library. In some cases I have loaned out books and it
takes time to retreive them. If you insist that I provide everything
which you have not seen (but should have already) within a day, then I
would consider that badgering.
It's OK, Anthony. You don't have to prove anything to me. I be-
came involved in this when Doug forwarded a post from you to him
in which you assailed both my research and my scholarship, appar-
ently WITH NO FIRST-HAND KNOWLEDGE OF EITHER! Why did you do it,
Anthony? I had no ax to grind with you. I had thought that you
were a responsible researcher, some of whose previous posts I had
mentioned approvingly to others, including Gary Aguilar. I don't
understand why you have taken off after me WITHOUT ANY JUSTIFICA-
TION and now seem to persist in spite of the fact that I have ans-
wered every question you have posed and have pointed about about
a dozen fallacies, mistakes, or errors you have made in your work.
I won't even mention the fact that YOU have not provided me with a GIF
of the Altgens photo clearly marking where YOU think there was a hole.
I won't even remind you that I have asked you several times to provide
the measurements of where you think the hole was and that you
consistently refuse to do so.
Listen, I have already responded to this ("badgering") question
with BOTH a citation where you can find a photograph with the
location indicated precisely by means of an arrow AND a descrip-
tion of the approximate location, namely, about 1/2" above the
upper-right corner of the rear view mirror (when viewing from a-
head back toward the limousine) OR exactly where the President's
left ear would be if it were not obscured by precisely the phe-
nomenon I have repeatedly described. I do not need to stipulate
because I have told you precisely where the hold was located on
the windshild by several means that make it fixed and immovable.
Both those questions become moot as long as you are willing to stipulate
that you think the hole is in exactly the same location as where the
crack was seen in CE 350 and identified by the FBI examiners.
Incidentally, I would observe that Robert B. Livingston's recol-
lection of his conversations with his friend Richard Dudman short-
ly after the assassination--no matter whether accurate in every
detail--provides corroborating evidence about Dudman's impressions
at the time, about which, of course, he wrote in an article for
THE NEW REPUBLIC (21 December 1963), which is published in ASSAS-
SINATION SCIENCE on p. 167. You might try looking at this book,
Anthony. Who knows? You might learn something, just as I have
from my exchanges with you. Meanwhile, I wish you all the best!
James H. Fetzer
University of Minnesota
Duluth, MN 55812