RE:: "Not to belabor the obvious . . ." [Editor's note: It was becoming increasingly apparent to me that Josiah Thompson had not actually read the DISINFORMATION page, which provided the context for the post to which he had been taking such strong offense. When I suggested that we shift focus and discuss the discuss the "16 smoking guns" with which it begins, he cited criticism of that post from prominent students of the assassination. In this post, I explained why, though I was not their equal regarding physics, medicine, or the law, they were not my equal in relation to deliberate abuses of logic and language.] RE:: RE:: Others have read what you wrote and condemned it. -- Josiah Thompson Posted by Jim Fetzer ® , Fri, Jan 05, 2001, 11:36:30 But you haven't answered the question. Time after time, I have invited you to become specific. Not long ago, it was in relation to the 16 "smoking guns". You did not respond. Appealing to what others may or may not have said is not a very attractive tactic from someone who attacks appeals to authority and insists that everyone should be judged on the basis of the quality of the evidence they present and the sharpness of their argument, as I recall you phrased it. Well, here's your chance! Once again, however, you are running away from issues rather than confronting them and even committing appeals to authority you claim to despise. I find it fascinating that you would accuse me of "coward- ice" for steadfastly adhering to the distinction between knowledge and belief. As any serious student of the the- ory of knowledge is aware, even though we personally re- gard every belief we accept to be true, that it not the same thing as also possessing sufficient evidence to jus- tify its qualification as "knowledge". That you act like an agent of disinformation is overwhelmingly clear, even from your conduct on this very thread. The question is, WHY? If you motives are personal, a possibility that I have always allowed, then perhaps you are not "an agent of disinformation" in the stronger sense that you deny. But even if that were true, you would remain "an agent of disinformation" in the weaker sense appropriate to disinformation of Type I. Everyone has to understand that there are different modes of disinformation, one of the most important of which involves the abuse of langu- age and argument. Persons who commit fallacies of equiv- ocation, special pleading, appeals to force, appeals to pity, and straw men, for example, are trading in disin- formation--especially when they ought to know better, as in your case--because they are practicing activities that promote falsehood and distract from the search for truth. The question that arises with persons who tend to commit fallacies thus becomes that of motivation: what's going on? This could occur in the case of someone who is ignorant of practices involving the abuse of reason, but no one with a Ph.D. in philosophy could possibly fall into that category, given that the whole objective of the study of philosophy (of actually doing philosophy as opposed to reviewing its history) is to learn to detect and to avoid the commission of fallacies in the pursuit of truth about heretofore unresolved conceptual and theoretical problems. So while there are many contributors to this forum of whom it might be the case that their commission of fallacies is rooted in their ignorance, that cannot be the case with you. Whatever the explanation, ignorance will not work for you. It may therefore be worth noting that the very notion of a "disinformation agent" in the broad sense can be defined as "someone who abuses reason to promote faulty arguments, especially through the deliberate use of rhetorical fallac- ies", which becomes increasingly more serious with the de- gree of seriousness of the subject. This practice becomes all the more important the more systematically, repeatedly, and deliberately it is pursued. In this instance, because we are devoted to pursuing the truth about the death of JFK, the subject could not be more serious. Consequently, the deliberate use of rhetorical fallacies by someone who knows better becomes increasingly striking the longer and longer it persists and the worse and worse their arguments become. Now, whether you like it or not, a professional philosopher such as myself is trained to detect and expose the abuse of reason. That is what we are paid to do. I have been a pro- fessional philosopher for some 30 years now. I offer courses in logic, critical thinking, and the philosophy of science, among other subjects, that are highly relevant to detecting and exposing abuses of reason. I (and others with similar background and training) might therefore be likened to very sensitive "disinformation detectors", because that is what we have been trained to do. With all due respect to others you have cited, there is really no comparison between what I have been trained to do and what they have been trained to do in relation to detecting and exposing disinformation. Here is a simply analogy. I do not pretend to possess the knowledge of forensic medicine possessed by Cyril H. Wecht. I do not pretend to possess the knowledge of opthalmology possessed by Gary Aguilar. I do not pretend to possess the knowledge of physics, medicine, or radiation oncology pos- sessed by David W. Mantik. Why would any of them pretend to possess the knowledge of disinformation that I possess? It is my specialization! One of the most fascinating as- pects of your rhetorical campaign on this forum, moreover, has been the repeated claim that expertise does not matter, as though everyone were on a par in terms of their training, background, and experience. That appears to me to be meant to obfuscate the difference between people who know what they are talking about and those who do not, which is an important technique to employ if you want to obscure truth. With all due respect to Gary, David, and Cyril, they are simply not in the same category with respect to detecting and identifying abuses of reason, many of which are rather subtle and complex, with a professional philosopher, esp- ecially one whose life has been devoted to this subject. I would suggest that even Gary, who studied philosophy as an undergraduate--who, like the others on this list, possesses superior intelligence--would hesitate to claim that he has the same level of competence for detecting and exposing a- buses of reason possessed by professional philosophers, in- cluding me. My background with respect to analytic philos- ophy has turned me into a sensitive disinformation detector. Moreover, even if Gary, David, or Cyril DID possess a back- ground comparable to mine, they do not have the EVIDENCE I have acquired about your abusive practices with respect to reason. I have been engaged in these exchanges with you since 1997! I have never seen anyone so tenacious in the deployment of fallacious arguments within a serious context in my professional life! When it comes to the dissemina- tion of disinformation, you're the top! the best there is! And the way you have insinuated yourself into this forum is a textbook example of how to sow the seeds of distraction and confusion. Before your arrival, this forum was doing very well in the pursuit of truth about the death of JFK. Since your arrival, its been dominated by controversy and acrimony. It was an oasis in the desert before you poisoned the well. Indeed, I have gone out of my way to keep David free from the kinds of petty controversy that all too often tend to prevail on these sites. Gary visits from time to time, but to the best of my knowledge, Cyril is not even on-line. At least, if he is on-line, I am not aware of it. And for you to suggest that he has seen our exchange because someone may have sent him an extract from my web site is ridiculous! We have been at this for years and years, where the number of posts we have exchanged must be well over 100! Anyone who is engaged in these exchanges, moreover, is vastly more sensi- tive to the precise words and the exact arguments that are being made than any other party! As a consequence, not only do Gary, David, and Cyril not possess the same degree of ex- pertise in the detection of disinformation but they have not been in the position to acquire and process the information they would have to have in order to assess it. Yet you im- ply that their opinions in this matter should override mine? I suggest this is no coincidence. It appears to be to be a part of your deliberate efforts to distract attention from major new findings about the death of JFK, including those published in ASSASSINATION SCIENCE (1998) and in MURDER IN DEALEY PLAZA (2000). Anyone who wants to understand just how abusive your attacks on those books have been has only to review earlier posts on this thread, including, especi- ally, " strikes out!" And if the want to understand the general features of the tactics you have been employing here and elsewhere, they should read, " strikes again!" Your abuses of reason, selective quotation out of context, and other rhetorical practices--including repeated attacks upon expertise, as though all opinions are on a par--appear to be intended to promote an atmosphere in which everything can be believed and nothing can be known about JFK's death. The evidence that you have been acting like an agent of dis- information (in the stronger sense) since 1997 is overwhelm- ing. It is therefore beyond argument (for those competent to evaluate such things) that you are a disinformation agent (in the weaker sense). As I have candidly acknowledged in many places, including the post that is the subject of this exchange, I would not know if you belong to "some shadowy government agency", a phrase, by the way, that you intro- duced into the discussion. There might be ways to ascer- tain if that is true--such as determining your sources of income, how you spend your time and with whom--but that is your business, not mine. I therefore do not go beyond the evidence at my disposal and infer that you are simply not the person you pretend to be, which remains my conclusion. I wish I knew who you really are. But I find it a bit much for you to claim that I am some sort of coward for not going "all the way" and alleging that you ARE part of some shadowy government agency. If I had evidence that were true, then I would certainly be willing to assert it. The evidence that I do have, however, only supports the weaker conclusion that you ACT AS IF you were a disinformation agent (in the strong sense). And as for cowardice in general, there is nothing cowardly about adhering to appropriate standards of reason- ing and going only as far as the evidence itself warrants. It is those who abuse reason, takes sentences out of context, and commit fallacies in relation to the investigation of the death of JFK, rather than those who attempt to expose and combat them, who ought to be despised. Others must judge for themselves, but I have no doubt about what you are doing here.
PART 1: Background and Overview
PART 2: The Disinformation Page
PART 3: The Controversial Post
PART 4: "**** strikes again!"
PART 5: "**** strikes out!"
PART 7: "Consider the evidence"
PART 8: "Over the edge . . "
PART 9: "A Partial Response to Tink"
PART 10: "The one post to read . . ."
PART 11: "THE DISINFORMATION SERIES, indeed!
PART 12: "DISINFORMATION SERIES continues"
PART 13: "This crap has got to stop!"