Date: Fri, 24 Apr 1998 17:31:48 -0500 (CDT)
From: james fetzer
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Subject: Re: Fetzer (2) (corrected)
Some overlooked incomplete corrections to the text have been completed.
My interpretation of this post is consistent with my conjecture that its
author is selectively abusing his position to distort, mislead, and con-
found serious and sincere assassination researchers about evidence con-
cerning the editing and altering of the Zapruder film, much of which may
be found in the book, ASSASSINATION SCIENCE, of which I am the editor.
What I shall do is take this message from Martin and attempt to explain
why it appears to be to be a text-book example of disinformation, which
involves efforts to make right look wrong, true false, and black white.
It appears to be another in a long string of efforts to undermine work
on Z-film alteration by attacking me for publishing and defending it.
Perhaps I should add that, if Martin were an agent of disinformation, as
I am inclined to believe, then it should not be surprising if he were to
resort to fallacious reasoning, distorting evidence and other techniques
that obscure rather than promote the truth. These are methods that serve
to conceal the absence of evidence on your side by misleading stratagems.
On Fri, 24 Apr 1998, Martin Shackelford wrote:
> Ah, just what we needed on a 100-post day, a 12-page Fetzer
> post! At least he's posting himself today.
> A few comments on Jim Fetzer's latest attempts at a response:
Martin gets off to a fast start by implying that I am imposing upon
you by sending out a lengthy post. Anyone reading that post would
recognize that its length is a function of repeating prior posts to
which it is related, including a long post from Martin to which I am
there replying. My new material in this instance must be less than
1/3 of the post and, absent the context in which the exchange occurs,
would be very difficult to interpret and understand. So what I have
done is preserve the context to promote intelligibility, which you
might have thought was a GOOD thing. Martin, however, uses this oc-
casion to distort this and attempt to make it look like a BAD thing.
He also uses this opportunity to attack me for not always directly
posting messages, as on various occasions others have posted for me.
As I have previously remarked, who really cares how my messages are
posted as long as they arrive intact? This is a nice example of an
AD HOMINEM fallacy in attacking a messenger rather than his message.
> 1) No nastiness involved--setting up a situation where anyone who
> disagrees with you is defined as a disinformationalist is a form of
> intimidation. Jim then raises the issue of name-calling in discussing a
> paragraph which contains none. As for the "bounds of propriety," Mr.
> Fetzer seems only to be aware of them when someone ELSE crosses them,
> and then only as he defines them.
Anyone who so desires can read this post of mine, Re: Fetzer (2), to
see if what I am saying is supported by the evidence. If he had in-
cluded the post itself here, it would have been obvious that he's in-
deed attacking Jack White in a highly personal and extremely nasty
fashion. But of course that would not serve his purpose, so he does
not provide the evidence required to evaluate his misleading remarks.
Going back to the post itself, I see where Martin accuses Jack White
of an "asinine intimidation attempt" in the fourth line of his reply.
That sounds pretty nasty to me. Moreover, he goes on and on about
the quotations with which Jack begins, all of which appear rather
bland. If he does not think he is being targeted, then I cannot be-
gin to imagine why he clearly overreacts in such a vehement fashion.
> 2) Mr. Fetzer describes the quotes as "symbolic." Of course. What I was
> pointing out was what they symbolize and how the symbolism was being
> used. I would assume an academic would understand that fairly well.
Another AD HOMINEN based upon what I am alleged to not understand. If
this really were his attitude, why did he not say so when he trashed
Jack so severely in the earlier post? Maybe because it is not true?
> 3) He describes questions and a quoted biblical passage as "just more
I invite anyone to read what he says there about Jack's quotations and
not discern the extraordinary vilification that reeks from every word.
> 4) He says I "TAKE FOR GRANTED"[again the assumption that caps add
> importance to a statement that otherwise lacks it] that I am "the object
> of implied criticism," and asks if I "have a guilty conscience." No,
> Jim, I don't. And it's odd that you would make this assumption, as at no
> point do I state that I feel I am the object of Jack's post. When I
> referred to intimidation tactics, at no time did I mean that I felt
> intimidated, but I HAVE known others to be.
I really cannot imagine any other reasonable explanation for his dra-
matic and objectively unjustified overreaction to Jack's quotations.
> 5) I don't need to be lectured on "linguistic abuse" for using the word
> "crap", by a man who not long ago used the term "scum-sucking pig" in
> reference to me.
He is the pace-setter in this crowd when it comes to abusive language.
The point at which I used the phrase in question was in reply to his
describing me as using "slimeball tactics" while denying that he was
calling me a "slimeball", because he was describing how I was acting,
not naming the actor. I simply followed his lead as a counterexample
to display how artificial and misleading he was being, where I never
called him "a scum sucking pig" but only said that he was acting like
or talking like or writing like a scum-sucking pig, which by his own
standard implied that I was not calling him names. So I was adhering
to his own standard in this instance and demonstrating that what he
was claiming about his use of language was very far from accurate.
> 6) Amazing that the "ducks" quote sounds appropriate to an academic
> whose alleged field is logic. It is extremely illogical, and a gross
> oversimplification. If this is the kind of "inference to the best
> explanation" used to defend Assassination Science, it explains a lot.
The saying, "If something looks like a duck, walks like duck, and
quacks like a duck", of course, is common coin for suggesting that,
when you have enough evidence that something is a duck, then you are
entitled to infer that it is one. In this case, there is a growing
accumulation of evidence that he writes, attacks, and misleads as if
he were an agent of disinformation in this case, which (I believe)
justifies drawing the inference that he is one. The evidence, of
course, is inconclusive, which means that there might be some alter-
native explanation, such as that he is simply pissed off at me be-
cause I have stood up to his dogmatism and have had the temerity to
rebut some of his arguments over the net, which means that it is a
matter of ego preservation rather than attempts to deny the truth.
The saying does not guarantee that something that looks like, walks
like, and quacks like a duck IS a duck, but we are going to be hard
pressed for an alternative (duck toy, duck hologram,...) explanation.
> 7) Mr. Fetzer chalks up my belief in conspiracy as a victory for Jack.
> Anyone else find this credible? He does the same for CIA involvement,
> and anything else which is relatively non-controversial to veteran
> researchers. He is much too eager, like a young child, to make
> meaningless credit "points," as though every time Jack and I agree it
> is a victory for Mr. Fetzer. Apparently, Mr. Fetzer is trying to take on
> the role of umpire, failing to remember that an umpire is usually a
> neutral party, not an angry partisan.
Since he was critiquing Jack (and in a particularly spiteful and very
nasty tone), it seemed appropriate to add up the tally of point of dis-
agreement and points of agreement. Since the original he was attack-
ing was Jack's post, I counted points of agreement as points for Jack.
There was nothing inappropriate about that. Moreover, why does he des-
ME as "an angy partisan"? I have dealt with him enough that I find it
counterproductive to become angry over his attempts to mislead, con-
fuse, and obfuscate, which in relation to the Z-film have now gone on
for more than 18 months. Let any neutral party read his attack upon
Jack and my reply and decide just who qualifies as "an angry partisan".
> 8) He then makes a lame effort to define disinformationalist in relation
> to the Zapruder film by offering a definition that sounds like his
> descriptions of me, down to the terminology he uses in both. Having
> attempted this sham, he kindly informs the reader that his theory "makes
> a great deal of sense." Of course, he would only need to do that if he
> assumed the reader wouldn't come to that conclusion without being so
Without having the original at hand, I cannot imagine how anyone could
possibly appraise the propriety of what he is saying here. Indeed, I
do think the description given in commenting on Shackelford's response
to point 7 is very appropriate. Saying that it makes a great of sense
here is intended to suggest that it fits the sitatution that we are in.
That is merely a rhetorical device to emphasize that it appears true.
I mention several places in the post that I have introduced a DISINFOR-
MATION page on my web site at www.assassinationscience.com because it
is a subject to which we all need to devote more attention. I do not
claim infallibility for any thoughts about disinformation I offer there
and I invite comments and criticism. But it gives someplace to start.
> After criticizing my DISAGREEMENT with Jack here, he declares
> another point for Jack because we AGREE! He does the same on the next
> point. Apparently, unless I disagree DIAMETRICALLY with Jack, Mr. Fetzer
> counts Jack's point as universally endorsed, even if it is
> oversimplified to the point of being highly misleading.
Again, how could anyone tell without the original post? Of course, if
he had provided it, not only would most of his comments immediately be
seen for what they are--exaggerated and misleading--but his post would
have been several pages longer than my "Re: Fetzer (2)", which would
have also deprived him of the opportunity to attack me on that basis.
The selective use of evidence like this is known as SPECIAL PLEADING.
> 9) He finally gives me a point (!!), agreeing that John McAdams might
> not be a paid spook. I'm thrilled, as one may imagine. With the deck
> this stacked, getting even a single point is a surprise, unless Mr.
> Fetzer is just trying to give a false impression of fairness.
What I actually said was: "Disagreement over whether John McAdams
is a spook or only acts like one. Martin's case seems as good as
Jack's. Call it Martin's point." Actually, I was trying to give
Martin every benefit of the doubt throughout, but of course I do
think highly of Jack and I do not think highly of Martin, as most
of you already know. Still I was not atttempting be be "unfair"
and, so far as I can see, Martin offers no evidence that I was.
> 10) He attributes to me "blanket denials" of Z film alteration. All I've
> said is that I've not yet seen any convincing evidence of Z film
> alteration. That's simply an honest opinion, not a "blanket denial" that
> ANY proof could exist. He then labels his distortion of my position as
> "a telling example." It is a telling example of his style of argument.
For discussion of Martin on the film, see "Fetzer (1)". After more
than 18 months of ridicule, harassment, and disinformation from him
about the film, it is a triffle disingenuous to deny his own position.
> 11) Next, he says "there is something to Jack's rule of thumb." For
> those need a reminder, that "rule" was: "Importance of evidence is
> DIRECTLY PROPORTIONAL to the vehemence with which it is attacked by
> disinformationalists and Lone Nutters." The problems, of course, include
> measuring vehemence, and who determines who are
> "disinformationalists." Once that is done accurately, if such is even
> possible, there is still the fact that vehemence tells us nothing about
> the importance of the topic--Lone Nutters and conspiracy advocates alike
> may attack a myth (Greer shot JFK, Hickey shot JFK, Oswald was in the
> doorway, etc.) with great vehemence, as has occurred on these and other
> issues in recent weeks. Does that make the myth into "important
> evidence"? Surely you jest, Jim. The absurdity becomes even clearer when
> he says "That Greer might have shot Jack, after all, cannot be
> decisively ruled out." Jim seems to be left standing on the deck after
> the last lifeboat has departed.
After observing the force with which Martin has now attacked those who
argue for film editing/alteration, my respect for Jack's rule of thumb
is increasing. Describing the Greer hypothesis as "a myth" takes for
granted something that cannot be proven on the basis of the available
relevant evidence, namely: that Greer did not shoot Jack. Insofar as
the film has been extensively edited/altered, such behavior--like the
same man bringing the vehicle to a halt in Dealey Plaza after bullets
had begun to be fired (see Mantik's chapter on the film in ASSASSINA-
TION SCIENCE)--would have been the first thing that would have had to
have been removed. This is a nice example of BEGGING THE QUESTION,
which in common parlance now tends to mean INVITES THE QUESTION, but
which, in argumentative contexts, means taking for granted something
that requirs justification on independent grounds. I suspect that the
reason Martin has also vehemently attacked Noel Twyman's meticuous
studies of the Greer head-turn is because it provides ample evidence
that frames involving Greer's behavior have been edited from the film.
> 12) When I note that Oliver Stone had the film examined by GENUINE film
> and effects experts, who found no indication of alteration, Jim finds
> this (not surprisingly) "acutely distressing." He tries to dismiss it as
> a "misleading appeal that distracts attention from the best evidence,"
> meaning the opinions of NON-experts on the topic.
I like Oliver Stone. What do we know about the extent to which he has
investigated this question? Maybe Oliver simply called Robert Groden
or (god forbid) Martin Shackelford and asked them if it had been edit-
ed? Moreover, his opinion cannot overcome the objective evidence that
the film has been altered. If Roderick Ryan, Ph.D., a leading expert
on film who has more than 40 years of experience with Kodak, is unable
to explain these anomalies on the assumption that the film is authentic,
then we are going to have to look at the evidence and not some clip of
Oliver responding to a question that he was asked during an interview.
Opinions cannot change the broken shadow phenomenon shown on p. 322 of
ASSASSINATION SCIENCE, e.g., as indicative of film editing/alteration.
> 13) Another point (!!!), he has questions about Jack's famous Badgeman!
Since granting that point I have come into possession of more evidence
that strengthens Jack's position, if I interpret it correctly. So per-
haps I should have a less open mind on this point. (Sorry about that!)
> 14) Having indicated that the guideline in #11 is valuable, he responds
> to examples of its uselessness with "Forget the guideline, is the point
> correct or not!" He makes exactly the point I was making, without
> apparently realizing it, as he gives each of the examples as a point to
> Jack, missing the point entirely, a genius at seeing only what he wants
> to see.
Well, I am increasingly intrigued by Jack's line of reasoning. If he
actually came to these additional conclusions on the basis of such a
rule of thumb, that is quite striking and would seem to be strong evi-
dence that it can serve the function that Jack suggests. My remark
was intended to imply that, whether or not Jack came to these views
on the basis of his rule of thumb, there is ample evidence supporting
them, in most instances, with qualifications indicated, in any case.
So it's really a matter of the precise role this rule has played here.
> 15) James Files claims to have been an assassin of JFK; Mr. Fetzer says
> he doubts that Files was even present, but says "I give Files an 80%
> truth rating." How can he give Files 80% while denying the central
> thesis of his account?
What I said is not opaque: "I give Files an 80% truth rating, with
sufficient shortcomings to establish that he was thoroughly briefed
but was not present at the assassination. Martin's position is not
quite clear. Jack's point." How could anyone reading such remarks
wonder "How can he give Files 80% while denying the central thesis
of his account?" Because about 80% of the things he says about the
assassination are correct, not including his most important claims.
The question I have is, How could anyone reading my remarks attempt
to use them against me in this fashion if he were even handed and a
seeker after truth? As I see it, this is an especially clear case
in which Martin misrepresents, distorts, and misreads my position.
> 16) On medical evidence, the only options he sees are body alteration or
> fake autopsy photos. Others, who have thoroughly studied the medical
> evidence, see more options than that.
This matter is discussed in many works, including BEST EVIDENCE, HIGH
TREASON 2, ASSASSINATION SCIENCE and elsewhere. What's the big deal?
> 17) Mr. Fetzer returns to making a declaration (that evidence indicates
> "several of the films" have been altered) without dealing with the messy
> details like how they could be altered compatibly, given the fact that
> Muchmore was shown on TV on November 26, and Nix soon after. As long as
> he continues to glide over these "inconvenient" points, he's right that
> I won't take his claims seriously.
Michael Parks, Michael Griffith, and Ron Redmon are only some of those
who continue to amass evidence of film alteration that includes edit-
ing the Nix and Muchmore films to make them consistent with Zapruder.
Martin simply disregards the evidence while pretending he has studied
it. His attitude is that of someone with a permanently closed mind.
> 18) He declares his book contains proof "beyond a reasonable doubt." Put
> it is an adversary proceeding in front of a jury, and see how much of it
That's a good idea, which I endorse. I hope that there will be court-
room proceedings during which the evidence reported in ASSASSINATION
SCIENCE will be presented in pursuing a fuller account of the truth
about the assassination of JFK than previous inquiries have produced.
> 19) I've commented fully on Dr. Ryan several times already--simply
> stated, he's being used as an expert in an area which is outside his
> expertise (it's not enough to be "a film expert"--there are all kinds of
> sub-categories, many of which don't relate to detecting alteration,
> including Dr. Ryan's sub-category, if Michael Griffith accurately stated
Whatever specialties Ryan may have, his credentials are overwhelmingly
greater than those of Shackelford. As I observe in Fetzer (1), he is
a PROFESSIONAL who has been paid for over forth years to work on film.
Martin is an AMATEUR who is paid for his efforts as a social worker.
There is no comparison between them that makes them comparable in re-
lation to offering expert opinions here: his are, Martin's are not.
> 20) Mr. Fetzer again assumes that I see myself as the target of Jack's
> post, which is in no way supported by my comments. Oddly enough, he then
> describes my comments as "valuable." Apparently, however, this is
> because he can tote them up like a football score and declare Jack the
> winner on points, and his "disinformation" post "brilliant."
> Maybe he's not consciously propagandizing. Maybe he truly
> doesn't clearly comprehend what he's reading.
He of course could not resist a few more AD HOMINEMS about the possib-
ility that I don't "clearly comprehend what [I] read". What I found
useful about Martin's comments was that responding to Jack's post at
least had the effect of pinning him down on certain points. This was
what I meant. Martin's more unsavory rhetorical techniques were less
on display in his comments on Jack's numbered theses in contrast with
his overt nastiness in attacking his use of familiar quotations, which
still suggests to me that Martin was viewing himself as under attack.
His behavior in this post only serves to confirm my prior conjecture.
James H. Fetzer