Message #21

Date: Mon, 09 Feb 1998 16:42:51 -0600
From: jack white 
To: james fetzer 


           Re: Concluding the Exchange with Howard and Martin 
           Sun, 08 Feb 1998 21:05:29 -0500 
           Martin Shackelford 


       You should be ashamed of yourself. For the second time, you've
posted a libelous smear about a fellow researcher. Last summer, it was
Madeleine Brown's phony allegations about Harrison Livingstone, for
which you soon apologized.
       Now it is Jim Fetzer's accusation that I am a disinformation
agent, in his "learned" opinion. Jim may be desperate enough to resort
to this kind of slanderous garbage, but that's no excuse for you to make
yourself a part of it by posting it to a newsgroup. In the past week,
Jim has tried argument, he's tried calling me "UNTRUSTWORTHY," he's
compared me to "a scum-sucking pig," and now he's calling me a
disinformation agent. All the while, you have broadcast his messages as
a "neutral" participant. There is nothing neutral about it--you should
have better judgment than this, Jack. As far as I am concerned, Jim
Fetzer has zero credibility and zero integrity. To forward whatever he
writes, without reading it (as you indicated recently) is irresponsible.
In a post the other day, you said you don't defend nonsense. Why, then,
do you circulate it?
       Mr Fetzer's ego has again fully displayed itself: "In my
considered opinion (which I am confident is shared by most of those who
have followed these posts)." Although nearly all of the posts on the
subject on this newsgroup (including JFK DPQ editor Jan Stevens, Mike
Sheppard, Bennett Sims, Cheryl Overfield, Eulalia Moreno, plus critics
of Mr. Fetzer's name-calling) have been supportive of me, he assures the
reader that, in private e-mails, his positions have been endorsed. He
might find the comments interesting in some of the private e-mails I've
received. Here are a few examples:
1) A request for an article rebutting alteration claims.
2) "I have always considered you one of the foremost experts regarding
this case. Your knowledge on this case transcends the usual and far
exceeds serious researching."
3) "I think your arguments are head and shoulders (and waist and KNEES)
above Fetzer's. Now he's repeating himself and not responding to your
points. And he teaches LOGIC?"
4) "Thanks for keeping the faith and fighting the madness. If it's any
consolation, the medical stuff in "Assassination Science" is as bad as
the stuff on the Zapruder film. Do you think there is any chance the
community will reject this path to destruction?"
5) "Just a note to say you are doing a great job on Fetzer and
Twyman--they deserve it in spades. I wish I had never wasted my bucks. I
am very tempted to close down any research I am doing--what good does it
do--nobody pays any attention to source material."
6) "Fetzer is a master of rhetoric. However, I find its intrinsic
content quite lacking."
7) "Fetzer is dreadful! Appalling!! He should be an embarassment even to
those who think the film is altered. What is Mantik doing hanging around
(intellectually) with him?  He is as nasty and silly an intellectual
bully as [ ], but maybe not as articulate. Distinguished professor? His
silly syllogisms read like a parody of academic philosophizing, and the
first time I saw them my estimation of the University of Minnesota
dropped a few notches."
8) "Fetzer's a glutton for punishment. Each time he comes back he gets
smarmier. Yet, in his self-centered delirium, he probably thinks he's
winning on the judges' cards. How on earth, I ask myself, could a
much-published philosopher of science behave so much like an obnoxious,
teenage know-it-all know-nothing is beyond me."
9) "The way you are handling Fetzer is masterful. All the things you
said were completely rational and well-expressed. I don't know the man,
but he sounds like a pompous jackass to me."
10) "I see that Uncle Fester is really getting nasty. I think it is very
possible he knows very well that his entire philosophical proof system
is shaky (and that many of his "conclusions" are unlikely). I have his
book and have scanned through it to some extent. I find it surprisingly
weak. Their proof systems make no sense. I don't think Fetzer is this
stupid. Fetzer is incredibly prolific. But is he really as irrational as
he appears in his long, raving newsgroup posts, or is he just
acting--and he's playing mind games for some reason? The whole thing
just doesn't make sense. Are they so desperate for "discoveries" and the
resulting acclaim for these findings, that their intellect is
compromised? The frustrating thing is the fact that I'll probably never
know why the book is so bad."
11) "Fetzer is a schmuck. Why waste your time?"
12) "Fetzer is a relative newcomer. That tells me a lot about this
13) "Good to see you have been getting good, positive support."
(There have been others, but these examples are representative of the

       Mr. Fetzer described his post-before-last as "the last," so I
suppose we can expect still more. In this instance, he says of me:
                "I am convinced that he has a role to play within
                the research community, namely:  to appear to be
                spiracy while actually espousing loyalist views and sub-

                jecting the views of others to criticism and ridicule in

                a deliberate effort to sow seeds of confusion among us."

Those who are familiar with my published writings, as well as my posts,
know this for the absolute nonsense that it is. Apparently he feels that
agreeing with him is the acid test of genuine pro-conspiracy belief;
unfortunately, he is not the only person who takes this approach--but
it's interesting that none of them entirely agree with each other,
either. I've always considered that a sign of honest disagreement. He
seems to be arguing that it is evidence of disinformation. Once again,
he is defining "proof" for his own convenience. In case anyone doubts
him, he has some anonymous backup:
               " This is not simply my opinion, but that of others on
this list who
                have contacted me."
As mentioned, he isn't the only one who has been contacted regarding
this debate. Next, he gives me a sort of backhanded compliment:
    "In all my experience in dissecting arguments, I
    have never met anyone who was so ferocious about it, deliberately
    lating the canons of rational discourse, and so skillful in
    false and misleading (but often plausible-sounding) replies and
    tals.  These are not the sorts of skills that one develops when
    professional career lies in social work!  Indeed, if I were not ade-

    quately prepared to dissect his arguments (because of a background
    critical thinking), I suspect I should have found them
Apparently, it is I, not Fetzer, who has been "deliberately violating
the canons of rational discourse." And it is Fetzer who switched
paragraphs to make it appear that I misleadingly replied to something I
hadn't replied to.
           As for his sinister implication: "These are not the sorts of
skills that one develops when their professional career lies in social
work!," it only suggests that he knows even less about social work than
he does about the Kennedy assassination. I've been involved with debate
and persuasive speech, of course, since junior high school. In college,
I was active in political debates as well as intellectual ones (and my
field at that time was history, in which I received my B.A.--a detail
Mr. Fetzer seems to keep avoiding, as he talks only of "social work.").
I had further practice in local political activism, appearances before
public bodies, and in mediating disputes between factions. In social
work, I have spent twenty years using persuasive speech with delinquent
teenagers, their parents, the Juvenile and Adult courts, and reluctant
         Although I have posted substantive posts on several newsgroups
on many of the key issues raised in Assassination Science, Mr. Fetzer
(who has tended to avoid factual arguments himself in favor of
rhetorical responses) accuses ME of "wanting to avoid crucial issues,
such as whether the findings that are reported in ASSASSINATION SCIENCE
are well-founded or not." Then we come to the crux of his latest post:
          "The suggestion I am making--that Martin is an agent of
           which is my tentative conclusion--has to be considered
against his-
           torical background."
I will make this as plain as I can. James Fetzer is a damned liar when
he says that I am "an agent of disinformation." Of course, he masks
this, slightly, by calling it "my tentative conclusion," apparently his
shorthand for "I have no real evidence, but this is my best guess."
Having shown his ignorance on the assassination, on social work, and in
this post, his shallow understanding of "COINTELPRO" (of which I was a
victim, as a member of Ann Arbor SDS, of one of the "disinformation
agents," Jim Mellen, that he has the unmitigated gall of accusing me of
being!), he concludes with:"I believe that the evidence is very
persuasive." Given some of the other things about which he has reached
that conclusion, that isn't saying much.
          Mr. Fetzer seems to be attempting the same sort of
divisiveness he accuses me of practicing, if I am a "disinformation
agent." The other day, he said I made no valid criticisms, but Joe
Durnavich had. This time, he says I am a disinformation agent, but
Howard is a sincere critic. This is too crude to fool Howard, or me, or
(I'm sure) anyone else on this newsgroup. He finds Howard's criticism
sincere, because Howard, he says, has made some reasonable suggestions
for followup. He conveniently ignore the fact that he had earlier argued
that Dr. Mantik's work had advanced well beyond his presentation at
Lancer partly because David had followed up on some of MY suggestions
made AT Lancer, including the suggestion that he examine other 8mm
films, and not just the Zapruder film, to determine how much of what he
was seeing consisted of common artifacts. Mr. Fetzer informed us that
David had in fact done that.
          Among Mr. Fetzer's sillier comments is his latest toss-off
reference to a "phoney limo." It seems that he has a fresh bankrupt
claim to slip into each new message, but no indication of what the
reference means. He also throws in a new ad: he now has a website!
(, for those who haven't tired of him yet).
There we can read such unsurprising claims as Assassination Science

                                    "is the one book which will
                                     convince you, beyond any
                                     reasonable doubt, that
                                     there was indeed a
                                     conspiracy and a
                                     cover-up. Completely
                                     lacking the wild
                                     speculations that have
                                     marred some books on
                                     the shooting of JFK,
                                     Assassination Science
                                     sticks to the hard facts,
                                     interpreted by medical
                                     and scientific expertise."

I will spare you further examples. The curious can look for themselves.
My guess is that the more fully one has researched the assassination,
the more ludicrous the site's contents will appear. Fortunately for
Fetzer, there are many new people coming in who haven't yet developed
the background to defend themselves against such nonsense, and whom he
can profitably exploit. He's the one, you'll recall, who's trying to
sell a book here. Not only is he selling THIS book, the website has
instant links for the purchase of ALL of his listed books (three and a
half pages worth)! Lest we forget, he's also selling his videotape
overview of the assassination, a four-hour seven-part lecture series.
         His contents page lists an item called "Aguilar's Letter." When
I sought to look at it, I got this message:
                    File Not Found

                   The requested URL /aguilar.html was not found on this

                   There was also some additional information available
about the error:
                   [Sun Feb 8 20:48:59 1998] access to
/home/jfetzer/www/aguilar.html failed
                   for, reason: File does
not exist
 There was a similar message when I clicked on "McCarthy's Affidavit,"
"Wrone's Review," "Radio Talkshow," and "Correspondence with the Justice
Department." Perhaps construction on the site is not yet completed.

         Back in 1993, I produced the first detailed published critique
of Gerald Posner's book Case Closed. Mr. Fetzer, five years later, posts
a detailed critique of ONE PAGE of Posner's book, which he advertises in
a post accusing me of being a disinformation agent. His listing of
"logical fallacies" he found on the page is reminiscent of the lengthy
"fallacies" posts of David Stager. I would invite the reader to examine
Mr. Fetzer's piece on Posner, and my own (on JFK Place and The
Assassination Web), and decide for him or herself which offers the more
useful rebuttal to Case Closed. The main purpose of this may be to offer
Mr. Fetzer a chance to focus in depth on one topic, and imply that he
knows the rest of the case in the same depth, of which there's little
Website addresses:
My original 1993 critique:
My followup on the paperback edition:

Plus detailed documented responses on specific issues:
Cover memo:

Items 1-11:

Item 12:

This work, of course, was done gratis. I'm not selling anything. Nor,
Jim, am I being paid for anything, or working for anyone, regarding the
assassination. In fact, I have spent many thousands of dollars since I
began doing this research, and my total received from all sources
relating to it has been $2050 ($2000 from a generous colleague to
encourage me to purchase a computer, and $50 for a lecture at a local
college). All of my other presentations, school and conference, have
been done for free.
          If Mr. Fetzer thinks he has any evidence, rather than simple
"inference," that I am or have been a "disinformation agent," let him
produce it. Otherwise, I would advise him to be more careful about
slandering people in future.