Date: Sun, 18 Jan 1998 17:10:44 -0600 (CST)
From: james fetzer
To: james fetzer
Subject: Re Assassination Science: Response to Howard
Howard P. missed my response to Shackelford and apparently thought our
--his and my--personal exchange had occurred prior to this post, which
was not the case. Consequently, some of his comments seem to me to be
motivated by misunderstandings about when I received his personal post
regarding his background and training. I am going to reply, but all of
this personal stuff is extremely distracting from the contributions to
understanding the assassination of JFK made in this book. Ask yourself,
would it matter if I were the world's greatest egotist if the work that
I had helped to bring to publication were important and interesting? I
am merely the messenger; the message is what is fundamental. As Jessie
Jackson has said on more than one occasion, keep your eyes on the prize!
P.S. Readers should refer back to the original post from "Howard. P."
> Fetzer lower case; Platzman in CAPS
> Debra Conway has forwarded a commentary on ASSASSINATION SCIENCE by
> someone identified as "Howard P.", who claims to have a Ph.D. in
> philosophy. After reviewing what he has had to say, I can assert
> with a high degree of confidence that Howard P. may have studied
> philosophy but he obviously mastered very little.
> A CHEAP SHOT BUT ONE THAT EVEN I WOULD HAVE FOUND DIFFICULT TO RESIST.
This was not a "cheap shot" but a rhetorical assertion intended to
contrast the writer's background with the poor quality of the post.
> This review is a transparent hatchet job that is intended to discredit
> the work
> SOMEONE SO CAREFUL IN ASSESSING EVIDENCE SHOULD TRY TO GET HIS FACTS
> BEFORE ARTICULATING A RESPONSE. MY POST WAS NOT A "REVIEW" BY ANY
> STRETCH OF
> THE IMAGINATION. I VERY CLEARLY SAY THAT:
> (1) I AM MERELY REPORTING AN "IMPRESSION" OF THE "TONE" OF THE BOOK.
> (2) I DO NOT INTEND TO DISCUSS THE SPECIFIC ARGUMENTS IN THE BOOK UNTIL
> I HAVE
> HAD A CHANCE TO THINK THEM THROUGH THEM A BIT MORE (AND, PERHAPS, CALL
> THOSE MORE EXPERT THAN I)
> (3) I AM PREPARED TO ACCEPT THE TRUTH OF THE Z-FILM TAMPERING THESIS,
> BUT NOT
> UNTIL I HEAR MORE ON THE SUBJECT.
> I DON'T REALLY SEE HOW SOMEONE COULD OBJECT TO THESE 3 STATEMENTS, ALL
> MADE IN MY POST. IN FACT, THESE STATEMENTS REFLECT JUST THE SORT OF
> CIRCUMSPECTION PHILOSOPHERS ARE TRAINED TO DISPLAY. I SAY THAT I WILL
> JUDGEMENT ON THE SUBSTANCE OF THE ARGUMENT UNTIL FURTHER ANALYSIS
> JUSTIFIES MY
> TAKING A POSITION -- AND THIS STRIKES YOU AS UNREASONABLE? PROFESSOR,
> DOST PROTEST TOO MUCH.
> without actually discussing its contents, the nature of the argu-
> ments it presents or the character of its evidence. No one would
> know from this commentary, for example, that the researchers whose
> work is reported here include a world authority on the human brain
> who is also an expert on wound ballistics, a Ph.D. in physics who
> is also an M.D. and board certified in ratiation oncology, an ex-
> pert on photographic evidence who assisted the HSCA during its re-
> investigation of the case and later advised Oliver Stone in the
> preparation of the film "JFK", a physician who assisted in treating
> JFK at Parkland and three days later his accused assassin, or a
> former Marine Corps officer who is also a professor of philosophy
> and an expert on critical thinking and on scientific reasoning.
> AGAIN, I DID NOT WRITE A BOOK REVIEW. I EXPRESSED FRUSTRATION AT THE
> ABSENCE OF
> CREDENTIALED EXPERTS ON CINEMATIC SPECIAL EFFECTS IN IT - NOTABLE
> BECAUSE THE
> Z-FILM PIECE IS THE CENTERPIECE OF THE BOOK. I DON'T DOUBT THE
> BRILLIANCE OF
> ANY OF YOUR CONTRIBUTORS, THEIR KNOWLEDGE OF SUBJECT MATTERS THEY MAY
> OR MAY
> NOT BE CREDENTIALED, OR THEIR ARGUMENTS (I MYSELF CONTINUE TO HARBOR
> DOUBTS ABOUT THE X-RAYS AND PHOTOGRAPHS). I SIMPLY NOTE THE INSULAR
> TAKEN BY THE BOOK. I'M NOT TALKING ABOUT "EQUAL TIME," JUST ABOUT THE
> KIND OF
> THING YOU DO AS A MATTER OF COURSE IN WRITING FOR A SCHOLARLY
> PUBLICATION. YOU
> SUMMON THE BEST ARGUMENTS OF THOSE WHO OPPOSE YOUR VIEW AND YOU
> CRITIQUE THEM.
> WHERE ARE GRODEN'S BEST ARGUMENTS? OR SHACKLEFORD'S? OR THE
> THERE MUST BE A REASON WHY DEBATE ON YOUR BOOK HAS BEEN LARGELY ABSENT
> IN THIS
> NEWSGROUP, COMPOSED LARGELY OF BRIGHT-TO-BRILLIANT AMATEURS ON
> FORENSIC PATHOLOGY, AND FILM. THE REASON IS THE SAME ONE I USE IN
> CITING MY
> DISCOMFORT WITH THE BOOK, I.E., NONE OF US HAS THE SPECIFIC EXPERTISE,
> TO SAY WHAT INFERENCES CAN UNMISTAKABLY BE MADE FROM THE "EVIDENCE"
> No one would know from this commentary that the book is divided
> into four sections, that the first concerns the medical evidence
> in this case and how it has been distorted by the JOURNAL OF THE
> A STORY EVERY BIT AS HORRIFYING AS YOU SAY IT IS - BUT NOTHING NEW.
> HAS RAKED THEM OVER THE COALS PRETTY GOOD.
> that the second reports the content of a national press con-
> ference during which important findings concerning the medical evi-
> dence in this case--including the fabrication of autopsy X-rays of
> JFK, the falsification of the "magic bullet" theory, the substitu-
> tion of diagrams and photographs of the brain of someone else for
> that of JFK--were presented (none of which was reported to the Am-
> erican people by our national press),
> AGAIN, NOTHING NEW HERE. I HAVE THE SAME QUESTIONS YOU DO.
> that the third publishes mycorrespondence with the Department of
> Justice in
> (what turned out to be) a futile attempt to convince it that a
> reopening of the
> case was warranted by new evidence,
> AGAIN, I JUST THINK THERE'S TOO MUCH HERE ON YOUR PERSONAL TRAVAILS. WE
> KNOW WHAT A BITCH IT'S BEEN TO GET DOCUMENTS RELEASED AND
> STARTED. THIS CORRESPONDENCE ADDS NOTHING TO THE DEBATE. BETTER TO USE
> SPACE TO PUBLISH ANOTHER EXPERT'S TAKE ON THE EVIDENCE.
> or that the fourth part presents a series of studies of the Zapruder
> which "prove" (invarious senses that I explain) that the film has been
> edited using highly sophisticated techniques, apparently by the
> CIA, which had the film in its possession already Frdiay night.
> AGAIN, YOU SAY IT'S PROOF. I SAY I'VE HEARD THAT SONG BEFORE.
> THERE WAS A TIME, LIKE UP UNTIL A YEAR AGO, THAT THE BACKWARD HEAD SNAP
> "PROVED" A SHOT FROM THE FRONT. PERHAPS WE WILL FIND ULTIMATELY THAT
> CINEMATIC ANOMALIES ARE INNOCENT ARTIFACTS JUST WE ARE NOW BEING TOLD
> (TO MY
> GREAT HORROR AND SADNESS, I MIGHT ADD) THAT THE BACKWARD HEADSNAP IS AN
> ARTIFACT OF FILM DOCTORING. YOU HAVE TAKEN AWAY ONE OF THE FEW
> FACTS" POINTING TO CONSPIRACY AND MADE TIED IT INTO A MUCH MORE COMPLEX
> THAT, TO MY MIND, STILL NEEDS TO BE PROVEN.
> Not only does this "review"
> THANKS FOR THE QUOTATION MARKS. PLEASE ASK DEBRA CONWAY TO ACTUALLY
> SHOW YOU
> MY POST - CLEARLY NOT A REVIEW OF THE BOOK, JUST AS CLEARLY A PLEA FOR
> DISCUSSION OF THE BOOK IN THIS NEWSGROUP, AND NO LESS CLEARLY A
> STATEMENT OF MY
> DISCOMFORT WITH ITS TONE. READ IT BEFORE YOU MAKE THIS MISTAKE AGAIN.
> not begin to describe the chapters
> of the book or the qualifications of the individuals who con-
> tribute to it but commits several common informal fallacies in
> the process. The claim that David Mantik, M.D., Ph.D., is not
> an expert on the film ignores the vast amount of research that
> he has devoted to the film. He may not have majored in cinema-
> tic techniques in a program on film production, but I have no
> doubt that, at this point in time, he is the world's leading
> expert on the Zapruder film. Moreover, to fault his research
> on the ground that he does not carry the title "film expert"
> is to commit the genetic fallacy.
> PLEASE DON'T TRY THIS PHILOSOPHER'S GAMBIT ON ME . YES, I KNOW I WOULD
> COMMITTING A "GENETIC FALLACY" IF I ASSERTED THAT MANTIK WAS NOT HIGHLY
> KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT THE FILM, BUT I DO NOT. I MERELY ASSERT THAT THERE
> CREDENTIALED EXPERTS HE SHOULD BE DISCOURSING WITH WHO MIGHT HELP GUIDE
> RESEARCH PROGRAM AND PREVENT HIM FROM WASTING HIS TIME, YOUR TIME, AND
> MY TIME
> ON SPECULATION AS TO WHETHER SOMETHING IS AN ARTIFACT OR NOT.
> BY THE WAY, A PHILOSOPHER'S BOOK ON JFK RESEARCH IS A WELCOME ADDITION
> TO THE
> FIELD. I WISH I HAD THE TIME TO WRITE IT. YOU ARE TO BE COMMENDED FOR
> TO EXPLAIN THE RIGHTS AND WRONGS OF REASONING ABOUT THE ASSASSINATION
> (OR ABOUT
> ANYTHING ELSE, FOR THAT MATTER), AND SOME OF IT YOU DO QUITE WELL. THE
> CHAPTER IS, HOWEVER, QUITE SILLY. YOU MIX UP PROOFS OF A CONSPIRACY TO
> WITH PROOFS OF A COVER-UP, WHICH, INDEEED, IS ACTUALLY POSSIBLE WITHOUT
> CONSPIRACY TO KILL (YOU KNOW, RELATED SKELETONS IN THE CLOSET, E.G.,
> CIA-MAFIA'S ANTI-CASTRO ESCAPADES). WORST, THOUGH, ARE THOSE "IF X IS
> WELL-FOUNDED, THEN THERE MUST BE A CONSPIRACY." SYLLOGISMS, WHICH GLOSS
> ANY EVIDENCE THAT MIGHT BE SUMMONED TO ARGUE THAT X MIGHT NOT BE
> YOU JUST RUN PAST ALL DEBATE TO SUMMARIZE YOUR CONCLUSIONS. WHAT DO YOU
> REALLY, BY PUTTING THEM INTO KINDERGARDEN-LEVEL SYLLOGISMS? IT IS HAS
> THE TONE
> (I'M SURE NOT THE INTENT) OF CONDESCENSION.
> His blatant ad hominem at-
> tacks upon me take matters out of context. Most obviously,
> he judges a book by its cover, even faulting the appearance
> of a photograph of the editor on the back! If there could
> be a more superficial criticism, I cannot imagine what it is.
> I NEVER SAID YOUR ARGUMENTS ARE UNSOUND BECAUSE YOUR PICTURE IS ON THE
> (AND, I BELIEVE, BETWEEN THE COVERS). NOW THAT WOULD BE AN AD HOMINEM
> I ONLY SAY THAT THESE PICTURES, LETTERS, ETC. ARE IRRELEVANT TO THE
> ARGUMENTS IN THE BOOK. THEY ARE A DISTRACTION.
> YOU ARE A RESEARCHER WITH THE HIGHEST LEVEL PHILOSOPHICAL TRAINING AND,
> SURE, AN EXCELLENT REPUTATION AMONG YOUR PEERS: THAT IS PRECISELY WHY
> SHOULD STICK TO THE ARGUMENTS AND THE EVIDENCE -- AND LET YOUR
> PUBLISHER DO THE
> SALES JOB.
> Indeed, although you would not know it from listening to this
> reviewer, there are comments that appear on the jacket from
> four different individuals, whose comments are as follows:
> "ASSASSINATION SCIENCE is a watershed. Past and future
> assassination studies will have to be read through the
> painstakingly logical lens with which it scrutinizes the
> murder of John Kennedy. The contributors collectively
> offer an exhaustively documented and tightly reasoned
> argument bound to give the most loyal defender of the
> Warren Commissioners or Gerald Posner pause for thought.
> There is no sentimentalism or sensationalism here, even
> though the web of bureaucratic roadblocks and deceit
> encountered by Fetzer in his investigations would make
> for an exciting thriller. Instead, the cool clinical
> breeze of rigorous thinking blows throughout."
> --KERRY WALTERS
> Distinguished Professor,
> Gettysburg College
> "ASSASSINATION SCIENCE--particularly Dr. David Mantik's
> chapter on the Zapruder film--constitutes a significant
> addition to me literature on the JFK assassination. Those
> who believe that the Zapruder film (characterized by some
> as the closest thing to 'absolute truth' when it comes to
> the shooting) is unimpeachable are in for a surprise. In
> addition, the publication of certain documents (such as
> the full text of the Dallas doctors' 11/22/63 press con-
> ference) as well as Fetzer's musings about what is knowable
> and the record of his jousting with the establishment (from
> THE NEW YORK TIMES to the Justice Department) make for in-
> teresting reading.
> --DAVID LIFTON
> Author of BEST EVIDENCE
> "Although certain to provoke further controversy, this
> book supplies important scientific assessments of the
> medical evidence laid before the Warren Commission, to-
> gether with a valuable narrative account of the American
> Medical Association's entry into this contentious field.
> I was particularly gripped by compelling new arguments
> that the Zapruder film had been altered, along with
> related documentation concerning the Warren Commission's
> re-enactment of the shooting in Dealey Plaza.
> --PETER DALE SCOTT
> Author of DEEP POLITICS
> AND THE DEATH OF JFK
> "Every serious student of the Kennedy assassination
> should read this excellent compilation of articles,
> which dissect and destroy the Warren Commission Re-
> port in a meticulous, objective, and analytical man-
> ner. The authors are all accomplished professionals,
> and their investigative studies unquestionably shift
> the evidentiary burden to those who through ignorance,
> naivete, or conscious pro-government bias continue to
> defend the Warren Commission Report, the greatest hoax
> ever perpetrated on the American people."
> --CYRIL H. WECHT, M.D., J.D.
> Past President, American
> Academy of Forensic Sciences
> GOOD BOOKS HAVE BLURBS, BAD BOOKS HAVE BLURBS. THAT'S HARDLY THE POINT.
> IF YOU
> ARE SUGGESTING THAT THESE BLURBS, AND THE MENTIONS OF ALL THOSE
> DEGREES, SOMEHOW CONFERS MORE CREDIBILITY ON YOUR TEXT, THEN YOU'VE
> COMMITTED A
> LOGICAL FALLACY YOU WELL KNOW THE NAME OF: APPEAL TO AUTHORITY. AS
> JACK WEBB
> MIGHT SAY: "JUST THE FACTS, SIR."
> Now if anyone wants to judge this book by its cover, then
> they may want to consider the comments of Kerry Walters,
> David S. Lifton, Peter Dale Scott, and Cyril H. Wecht
> which appear there. They may also want to consider why
> the remarks that have now been advanced by "Howard P."
> appear to diverge so drastically from their appraisals.
> WHY ARE YOU APPEALING TO THEIR STATUS AS EXPERTS (WHETHER CREDENTIALED
> OR NOT)?
> THAT'S A PRETTY CLEAR APPEAL TO AUTHORITY. NEWSGROUP MEMBERS SHOULD
> KNOW THAT
> YOU SENT ME AN E-MAIL ENTITLED "WHO IS HOWARD P.?" -- WHICH, AFTER
> READING THIS
> PASSAGE, SOUNDS VERY MUCH LIKE YOU ARE CALLING UPON ME TO PRODUCE MY
> I RESPONDED TO YOU AT LENGTH, SO NOW THAT YOU HAVE MY LIFE STORY, WHAT
> IS IT
> THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO SAY ABOUT "WHO I AM"? THAT BECAUSE I'VE SPENT
> THE PAST
> 15 YEARS OUTSIDE THE IVIED WALLS, BECAUSE YOU'VE NEVER HEARD OF ME, YOU
> SAFELY DISMISS NOT MERELY COMMENTS ABOUT SUBSTANCE (WHICH, I POINT OUT
> AGAIN, I
> DO NOT MAKE) BUT EVEN MY COMMENTS ABOUT TONE? SURELY YOU COULDN'T BE
> THAT. THAT WOULD BE AN AD HOMINEM ARGUMENT, WOULDN'T IT? A LITTLE
> ISN'T TOO MUCH TO ASK FROM SOMEONE WHO'S TAKEN AND PERHAPS TAUGHT A FEW
> IN LOGIC.
> Better yet, why not get a copy of the book and read it
> for yourself to see whether this reviewer has given it
> a fair shake? It should not be very difficult to tell.
> BY ALL MEANS, READ IT! AND PAY FULL PRICE LIKE I DID, IF YOU CAN
> AFFORD TO.
> JIM - THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT BOOK. I WANT PEOPLE TO READ IT. [THE
> ARTICLE BY AN HISTORIAN OF SCIENCE, WHOSE NAME ESCAPES ME, MAY BE THE
> ARTICLE I'VE READ SETTING FORTH THE SCOPE OF THE ISSUE AND THE STATE OF
> EVIDENCE.] I WANT PEOPLE TO READ IT SO WE CAN BEGIN SHARPENING OUR
> ALL THE BETTER TO UNDERSTAND THE CREDENTIALED EXPERT COMMENTARY WHEN IT
> [AND I DO HOPE IT COMES].
> I'LL REPEAT WHAT I SAID TO YOU IN MY E-MAIL: I HAVE BEEN A BELIEVER IN
> CONSPIRACY FOR 34 YEARS. I DO NOT WANT TO BE WRONG. BUT NEITHER I NOR
> RESEARCH COMMUNITY SHOULD ACCEPT ANYTHING SHORT OF THE MOST STRINGENT
> OF ARGUMENT - OR ELSE HOW COULD WE EVER HOPE TO SPUR YET ANOTHER
> AS A PHILOSOPHER, YOU SHOULD UNDERSTAND THE VALUE OF A DEVIL'S
> ADVOCATE. THINK
> OF ME THAT WAY AND, QUITE POSSIBLY, WE CAN BE FRIENDS AND EVEN, IN A
> ADVOCATE SORT OF WAY, COLLABORATORS.
> ALL THE BEST (SINCERELY),
> Howard Platzman
> I am asking Debra Conway to post this reply on my behalf.
> James H. Fetzer
> McKnight University Professor
> University of Minnesota
> Duluth, MN 55812
> JFK Lancer Productions & Publications
> "Serving the research community, educating a new generation."
> Updated regularly
> It is time for us to unite behind these simple facts:
> there was more than one shooter and there was a
> government coverup to JFK's political assassination.
> ---- End Forwarded Message