I hope that everyone out there will understand that, just because I have
yet to respond to an argument (from Martin S. or from Howard P., for ex-
ample), that does not mean that I have no response or that no response
will be forthcoming. I confront the task of unravelling an endless set
of poor arguments, including 10 fallacies I discovered in CASE CLOSED
that occurred in the space of a single page! Since it took me 8 manu-
script pages to explain them, it must be understood that those who tell
falsehoods (make mistakes or commit errors) have the advantage that it
is far easier to make things up than it is to explain why they are wrong.
There are approximately 500 pages of text in CASE CLOSED, which, at the
rate I encountered, would take a book of 4,000 pages to explain them all!
P.S. I should add that, having finished this post, I have just received
a copy of Martin's latest diatribe. I would simply note two key
points: One, Martin explicitly acknowledges that he has not read
ASSASSINATION SCIENCE. If anyone out there thought that someone
who was going to launch an all-out assault on a book would be at
least morally obligated to read it, you might want to ask Martin
how he could be putting all of us through this, including trashing
me and David Mantik, when HE HAS NOT READ THE BOOK. Two, he accus-
es me of misrepresentation when I state that David was reworking his
chapter on the Zapruder film "right down to the wire", because, he
says, "at some point, well before the release of the book, it had
to be in final form for typesetting, etc., so 11 months is an exag-
geration". But I had already pointed out that I was responsible for
preparing "CAMERA READY" COPY. Perhaps as an act of kindness someone
will explain to Martin what that means before he makes a further ass
of himself. I cannot abide a phoney who pretends to criticize a book
he has never read! Conduct such as this ought to be intolerable and
severely condemned by everyone who has bothered to read what he has
said on this list for months and months by pretending that he knows
what he is talking about. HE IS NOT TO BE TRUSTED. I rest my case.
I shall attempt to deal with some recent arguments from M. Shackelford
and from Howard P. that attack David Mantik's work on the autopsy X-rays,
which are models of scientific inquiry. It should be apparent that the
arguments they advance, although plausible on their face, are specious
and should carry no weight. They are examples of fallacious reasoning.
The first comes from a post by Martin Shackelford dated 31 January 1998:
"Jim Fetzer seems to have a habit of going well beyond the evidence
in his statements. There has been no confirmation of David Mantik's
theory of X-ray alteration (replicating your own work doesn't count,
and Fetzer--who claims knowledge of science--should know better than
to offer it as confirmation), and some (pro-conspiracy) medical ex-
perts have questioned whether optical densitometry proves what David
says it does."
I wondered what Martin had in mind, but since this was a reply to a re-
sponse of mine to a post of Howard P., I took a look at my post and dis-
covered the following passage, which apparently inspired these remarks:
"Mantik has not only discovered that the X-rays were fabricated in
ways that I have described but has also replicated the results in
experiments of his own, some of which are described in his work."
There appears to be an ambiguity here surrounding the word "replicate".
First, David might have replicated his results by recalibrating his
instrument and repeating his measurements on the original X-rays at
the National Archives. That is one sense of "replication".
Second, David might also have taken his discoveries concerning not
only THAT the X-rays were fabricated but also HOW they were fabri-
cated and replicated that result "in experiments of his own".
When I wrote the passage in question, I was thinking about his work at
home in Rancho Mirage during which he has created fabricated X-rays us-
ing a portable X-ray machine, some of which are described in his work
published in ASSASSINATION SCIENCE (see, for example, p. 135, where he
describes creating an X-ray of a skull with a pteranodan inside of it).
Of course, as I have previously explained, it would be more than I can
expect for Shackelford to have actually read any of David's studies, in-
sofar as his earlier posts have already disclosed that he has not actu-
ally read the book! However, let's consider replication in the first
sense. According to Shackelford, replicating his work (in this sense)
would provide no confirmation of his discoveries! Sounds right, but is
it correct? What happens in this case is checking your own work to be
sure you have made no mistakes and that the result are accurate to the
best of your ability. So it at least offers evidence you have made a
serious, sustained effort to be sure our work is accurate and complete.
Take some simple comparisons. When you double-check before going camp-
ing to make sure that you have brought enough food, clothing, and ammo
(if you are hunting or target shooting), does it not count as confirm-
ation that you have indeed brought enough merely because you have done
this yourself? Admittedly, the case is more complex with regard to the
fabrication of X-rays, so let's compare it to something more difficult.
When a programmer runs his program repeatedly--again and again--to look
for bugs, does it not count that the program is bug free merely because
the same programmer has repeated this process over and over? Obviously
even in this sense replicating your own results counts in their favor.
Moreover, the fact that "some (pro-conspiracy) medical experts have ques-
tioned whether optical densitometry proves what David says it does" is
unsurprising in the extreme. Some (pro-conspiracy) medical experts, I
am sure, have questioned every aspect of this case! The question that
I would raise in response is why Martin would think that medical experts
would be knowledgeable about optical densitometry results, which involve
the laws of optics and of radiation as purely physical phenomena. There
is no distinctively medical aspect to optical densitometry. You should
be asking an expert on physics this question, not an ordinary physician.
In the second sense, of course, which was what I had in mind at the time
as I mention above, his "replication" of his work meant actually creating
fabricated X-rays, which could hardly provide more relevant and persuasive
evidence not only THAT it can be done but also HOW it apparently was done!
The second is from a post by Howard P. in response to comments of mine,
where my post is in lower-case and his in caps (both comments indented):
Insofar as Howard P. cares about "credentialed experts", he should
agree that, with respect to the vast majority of findings presented
in the book ASSASSINATION SCIENCE, credentialed experts have made
BUT NOT IN THE FIELDS THEY ARE EXPERTS IN! EVEN MANTIK, WHO KNOWS
X-RAYS, NEVER GETS TO DEAL WITH DOCTORED X-RAYS IN THE NORMAL COURSE
OF HIS WORK. HIS METHODOLOGY IS INTRUIGING, I DO IN FACT BELIEVE HIS
ARGUMENT IS SOUND - BUT WHERE IS THE TESTING OF HIS HYPOTHESIS WITH
THOSE AS EXPERT AS HE IS? (AND FETZER AND I ARE NOT)
When I first read this rebuttal, I thought it was very pecular, indeed,
insofar as Howard P. seems to be insisting that there have to be experts
in the fabrication of X-rays in order to make such discoveries. Mantik
in fact is an expert on X-rays and board certified in radiation oncology,
where his interpretations of X-rays may make the difference between life
and death. Moreover, he suspected that the lateral cranial X-rays were
fabricated on the basis of naked-eye inspection, because the contrast be-
tween light and dark appeared much too great to be ordinary X-rays. In
any case, he went to the Archives, studied the X-rays, repeated his re-
sults (again and again), and has now discovered how to fabricate X-rays.
In the beginning when only the conspirators knew how this could be done,
of course, there were no experts on X-ray fabrication. There are now!
It was at least faintly ridiculous to suggest (as Howard P. does here)
that X-ray fabrication is a separate "field" from X-ray interpretation.
By that standard, if you must have a "credentialed expert" in a non-ex-
istent field to establish such results, they could never be established.
The reason why others have not replicated his results appears to be the
demanding credentials it takes (someone with a high level of competence
in physics with respect to optical densitometry who is also an expert
with respect to the interpretation of X-rays). So far as I am aware, he
is in a class by himself as the most highly qualified individual to ever
study the autopsy X-rays. Neither I nor Howard P. are experts in these
areas, of course, which I have never claimed and he would never deny.
What is odd to me--and indicates the incoherence of his position--is
that until now, you have heard nothing from him about these results,
which are of enormous evidential importance to understanding the JFK
BECAUSE MANTIK COMES MUCH NEARER TO BEING AN EXPERT ON FRAUDULENT
X-RAYS THAN ON FRAUDULENT FILM, I DON'T HAVE THE SAME LEVEL OF CONCERN.
NOW I'M BEING ATTACKED FOR NOT REGISTERING UNIFORM DISCONTENT WITH
EVERY ARTICLE IN THE BOOK! IN FACT, I'VE SAID THAT RON WHITE'S ARTICLE
IS SO STRONG THAT IT WOULD HAVE SERVED AS A MUCH BETTER INTRODUCTION
Here I am still a bit baffled. Anyone who had actually read the book (as
Howard P. suggests he had) would understand by now that, if there is any-
one who is expert on X-rays, fabricated or not, it is David W. Mantik! I
brought up other discoveries reported in the book on which Howard P. had
not commented simply because they would seem to meet the requirements he
maintains have to be satisfied, namely: that such findings be estabished
by "credentialed experts", which is indeed the case for virtually every-
thing we claim to have established (with the exception of our analysis of
the Zapruder film, which I have elsewhere addressed). So in consistency
he ought to have acknowledged that. Instead what does he do but display
ignorance of Mantik's work that clearly qualifies him as an expert (and
a "credentialed" one at that!) on fabricated and unfabricted X-rays, etc.
Ron White's article, by the way, is not an introduction to the book and
therefore could not have served as one in lieu of the Prologue. It is
an outstanding discussion of the problems encountered in assassination
research, however, which is why I wanted to make it the first part (in
lieu of the JAMA material) of the book. My in-house editor suggested it
was too difficult for most readers because of its philosophical charac-
ter and that it put off for too long getting into the issues, but it was
my preference that it should appear immediately after the Prologue. In
particular, it illustrates problems we had to overcome in our research.
The rest of the book shows that science can still contribute to the case.
* that the lateral cranial autopsy X-rays have been fabricated by the
use of a patch to conceal a massive blow-out to the back of the head,
a discovery of David W. Mantik, M.D., Ph.D., who is board certified
in radiation oncology and an expert on the interpretation of X-rays;
AGAIN, FETZER HAS PROBABLY NEVER SEEN A DOCTORED X-RAY IN HIS LIFE AND
HIS METHODOLOGY FOR PROVING FRAUD HAS NOT BEEN DUPLICATED BY, OR EVEN,
SUPPORTED BY ANYONE WITH EXPERTISE IN ANY RELEVANT AREA - AT LEAST NO
ONE HAS YET POINTED ME IN THE DIRECTION OF A BURGEONING CONSENSUS ON
THE SOUNDNESS OF HIS TECHNIQUES.
There is a persistent pattern in Howard P.'s posts of offering himself as
THE STANDARD OF ALL STANDARDS for measuring progress in this case. For
example, "NO ONE HAS YET POINTED ME", he says, as though that made a dif-
ference to anyone! Unless Howard P. could establish that his standards
are the appropriate standards to apply, these are merely reports on his
personal history (of belief and non-belief, credulity and non-credulity,
and so forth) of no systematic or objective significance to these issues
at all. He ought to come down off his high horse and explain why anyone
should care what he thinks about these things, because he has yet to offer
any of us a good reason. (And his possession of a Ph.D. in philosophy is
a good reason only if it made a difference to his ability to analyze and
understand arguments, which--I have repeatedly demonstrated--it has not.)
I can only assume that Howard P. meant to say "MANTIK" where he actually
says "FETZER", since I make no claims to expertise where X-rays are con-
cerned. Mantik's qualifications are manifest, regardless of whether his
discoveries have yet to be replicated by others of comparable expertise.
I skip ahead to other aspects of this post I have not discussed before:
* that Jack was hit at least four times (once in the throat from in
front, once in the back from behind, and twice in the head from in
front and from behind), a result that receives support from many dif-
ferent kinds of evidence (including the Boswell sketch, the shirt and
jacket, and the Berkley death certificate) but also from David W.
Mantik, M.D., Ph.D., who is board certified in radiation oncology,
and Robert B. Livingston, M.D., a world authority on the human brain;
NOW LIST ALL THE CREDENTIALS OF EXPERTS WHO DISAGREE WITH THESE
CONCLUSIONS. THEY ARE IN MANY CASES MORE IMPRESSIVE - IS THERE AN
ALVAREZ ON THE CONSPIRACIST SIDE? - AND THERE ARE MORE OF THEM. YES, I
KNOW, THE CREDENTIALED EXPERTS HAVE MADE A HOLY MESS OF THIS CASE, BUT
THERE ARE NEW GENERATION OF EXPERTS OUT THERE FETZER ET AL. SHOULD BE
REACHING OUT TO. I JUST WONDER TO WHAT EXTENT THIS REFLECTS HIS
DETERMINATION TO TAKE CENTER STAGE.
Notice Howard P.'s very unphilosophical deference to authorities such as
Luis Alvarez here! It is of course somewhat difficult to interpret what
he means with respect to the multiple claims made in my post: is he as-
serting that Jack was not hit once in the throat from in front? But we
have much evidence to that effect, including Malcolm Perry's reports dur-
ing the Parkland Press conference, confirmed by Charles Crenshaw and al-
so widely reported on radio and television the day of the assassiation
and reported in The New York Times (23 November 1963), p. 2. Is this
what he denies? How about once in the back from behind? We have Bos-
well's diagram, the shirt and the jacket he was wearing, the death cer-
tificate executed by Admiral Berkeley, an FBI report of 9 December 1963.
If we don't have enough evidence to establish this--a result that even
the HSCA medical panel endorses--then we must know very little indeed
about the death of JFK. As for two shots to the head, one from behind
and one from in front, we have both Josiah Thompson's analysis in SIX
SECONDS IN DALLAS (1967) and David Mantik's analysis in ASSASSINATION
SCIENCE (1998), which appears on pp. 156-157. So which of these find-
ings does Howard P. not accept? I also wonder how much of the book he
has actually read to be citing Luis Alvarez as though his claims had
not been throughly discredited. Take a look at the index of the book
and you will discover multiple entries for Alvarez, including a dis-
cussion of the "jet effect" in Ron White's piece, which suggests that
Alvarz has done no more than offer a speculation for which there is no
evidence, absent establishing the existence of the causal factor that
he invokes, and a critique of his work on "jiggle analysis" by Michael
Stroscio, which David Mantik considered to be so important that he had
it included as an appendix to his own work (found on pp. 343-344). If
Howard P. read the book more carefully, he would have discovered this.
* that an absolute minimum of at least six shots had to have been fired
in Dealey Plaza that day, namely: four to Jack, at least one (prob-
ably two) to Connally, and one that missed (striking James Tague), a
result that follows by addition from the previous finding combined
with common knowledge about the case that even a professor of phil-
osophy and former Marine Corps officer such as myself is competent
to establish on the basis of the assumption that 4 + 1 + 1 = 6; and,
ALL THIS DEPENDS ON OTHER CONCLUSIONS NOT PROVEN.
I am really not sure which matters remain "not proven" in the mind of
Howard P. Moreover, I really don't care. The evidence supporting all
of these and other claims made in the book are discussed there, and we
have no reason to believe that Howard P.'s thoughts matter to us at all.
* that the famous "backyard" photographs of Oswald, which many others
have suggested have been faked (see, for example, Robert Groden, THE
SEARCH FOR LEE HARVEY OSWALD), have indeed been faked, as Jack White,
widely acknowledged as an expert on photographic evidence, has shown.
MARINA OSWALD, WHO IS THESE DAYS TRYING TO ESTABLISH LEE'S INNOCENCE,
TOLD TOM WILSON THAT SHE REMEMBERS TAKING ONE SUCH PHOTO. IF THE
CONSPIRATORS HAD ONE AUTHENTIC INCRIMINATING PHOTO, WHY BOTHER
CONCOCTING ADDITIONAL FALSE ONES? NO REASON THAT COMMON SENSE SUGGESTS.
CREATING FAKE PHOTOS, AND UNNECESSARY ONES AT THAT, ONLY EXPOSES THEM TO
This, I must admit, is one of the most baffling passages that I have yet
to find coming from Howard P., but it reinforces my opinion that what he
thinks really doesn't matter. If Howard P. is unaware that there were at
least three backyard photographs, then he ought to consult Robert Groden's
THE SEARCH FOR LEE HARVEY OSWALD (1995), especially pp. 90-95. Are we to
infer, based upon Howard P.'s peculiar logic, that in fact "the conspira-
tors" only took one photograph, so the others must be fakes? That is an
original argument, but entirely absurd. Moreover, Marina recalled taking
one photograph but in the opposite direction, where the steps should not
be in the picture at all. Just out of curiousity, how did "the conspir-
ators" know that their one photograph would come out just right? That is
an interesting question that flows from Howard P.'s odd line of thought.
Howard P. makes other assertions in this post, but none worth discussing.
The situation, as I see it, is as follows. David W. Mantik, M.D., Ph.D.,
has undertaking pathbreaking studies of the autopsy X-rays which stand as
the most thorough, painstaking, and complete to which they have ever been
subjected. His measurements, which he has replicated repeatedly, provide
empirical evidence that the X-rays have been fabricated--and, indeed, in
two different ways! This evidence is relevant, consistent, and uncontra-
dicted. It therefore--at the very least!--establishes a prima facie case
that the X-rays have been fabricated! No one knows more about the X-rays
at this point in time than does David Mantik. Unless he is incompetent,
it is difficult to imagine where he has gone wrong; and there is nothing
to suggest his incompetence. The burden of proof has therefore shifted
to those who, in spite of this very imposing empirical evidence, want to
maintain that the X-rays have not been fabricated after all! But they
had better produce evidence, because an absence of evidence cannot over-
ride the impressive studies that a "credentialed expert" has conducted.
The situation regarding the film is highly analogous, though not exact.
For reasons I have outlined elsewhere, Mantik appears to have precisely
the right general abilities (for making very careful observations and
measurements) to conduct analyses of the film of the kind that he has
undertaken. (I cannot imagine anyone who has actually read his studies
thinking that he was not competent to undertake them! But I have found
several indications that Shackelford has in fact not read the book and
others that suggest that Howard P. has at least not read it carefully.)
The situation is rather like that encountered by Galileo when he first
turned his telescope to the moon. The Bishops of Padua, who wanted to
preserve their Thomistic synthesis of Christian theology and Aristotel-
ain cosmology, which was undermined if not destroyed by his findings,
resorted to a variety of argumentative strategies, suggesting, for ex-
ample, that he was not actually looking at the moon or if he was then
the moon looked different than it actually was when viewed through a
telescope. It is rather like the man who defends himself in a case
by denying he was at the scene of the crime but also insists that if
he was at the scene of the crime then he did nothing improper. There
are always ways of attempting to defeat an unwanted conclusion in this
or any other case. As in the case of Galileo, Mantik was applying a
relatively simple technology in a fashion that had not been done be-
fore. As in the case of Galileo, Mantik made discoveries that were
akin to crucial experiments. And as in the case of Galielo, Mantik's
work will be corroborated by others and be seen as one of the turning
points in the history of science--in this case, on the death of JFK.
James H. Fetzer
University of Minnesota
Duluth, MN 55812