Date: Fri, 13 Mar 1998 16:31:38 -0600 (CST)
From: james fetzer
Cc: dweldon, james fetzer
Subject: A RESPONSE TO ANTHONY MARSH
Something I do not understand about someone who claims to be a scholar
of the assassination of JFK is that the principal method of argumenta-
tion you employ is "begging the question" by taking for granted what
needs to be established on independent grounds. Notice, for example,
that you have never explained how you KNOW when your photo was taken.
If your answer is that there are logs that indicate as much, then say
so and let us ask whether your evidence is as substantial as the evi-
dence for an alternative interpretation. (I think calling motorcycle
policemen and a reporter for the ST. LOUIS POST DISPATCH "a few idiot
witnesses" does not advance your cause, since it is obviously not the
case.) Your second most relied upon tactic is "the straw man", in
which you create (virtually out of thin air) exaggerated and implaus-
ible versions of my position which you then proceed to ridicule. ("If
you accept Fetzer, you are headed down a road where all the evidence
is faked and every federal agents (sic) lies all the time.") Surely
you know better than that, Anthony. Sometimes I have the impression
that you have the mental age of a twelve year old and the emotional
development of a toddler. Give me a break! No serious student of any
subject--much less one as important and controversial as this--should
employ these methods. As though they were not enough, you supplement
them with hysterical remarks about "bizarre theories" when it is not
obvious that you are right and I am wrong. I have a photograph that
unmistakably was taken DURING THE ASSASSINATION that includes (what
appears to be) a through-and-through hole in the windshield, where
the President's left ear would be if it were not obscured by a small,
white spiral nebula with a dark hole in the center. I have eyewitnes-
ses who state that they saw (what appeared to them to be) a through-
and-through hole in the windshield when the limo was at Parkland. I
also (thanks to Doug Weldon) have the eyewitness report of a worker
from Ford who was responsible for removing the windshield from the
limo and replacing it on Monday, 25 November 1963, and he tells us
that there was a through-and-through hole in the windshield when he
removed it from the vehicle. Now given that photographs can be al-
tered and faked (witness the the controversy in the O. J. Simpson
case over the Bruno Magli photographs), the law REQUIRES that an ap-
propriate foundation be laid BEFORE photographs are introduced into
courts as evidence. I am simply asking you to do that. In partic-
ular, I am asking, HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN IT WAS TAKEN? According to
Doug, moreover, the photograph is rather dark and difficult to inter-
pret, which seems to me to make it all the more problematic as evi-
dence in support of your position. In offering my interpretation of
the situation and identifying the evidence in its support, I am not
insisting that you are wrong. Maybe you are right and I am wrong.
I am simply interested in learning how you know that you are right
and why you should be so goddamned cocksure that YOU ARE RIGHT AND
I AM WRONG! Doug and I are not dismissing what you have to say by
not taking it seriously. But to quote you a few posts ago, if you
are offering a theory, then you ought to be willing to defend it!
I really do not understand the methodological inconsistency that
allows you to assert your view WITHOUT DEFENDING IT but insists of
others that THEY MUST DEFEND THEIRS! Clearly, you are simply tak-
ing for granted that you are right! What I want to know is why we
should agree with you, given the available evidence to the contrary.
Other comments on your latest post are given below (without ">"s):
> can give you a complete response right now. I am too shocked by your
> attitude. If someone's theory has any scientific validity, then he
> should be able to defend it. Rather than refusing to answer questions
> counter arguments because he feels that someone is attacking him.
Rereading my last post and reviewing our exchange, I see that I have
answered or replied to every question you have advanced, but that you
have not answered or replied to questions I have advanced. So I think
you had better come clean or be regarded as an intellectual hypocrite.
As for "scientific validity", I wonder what precisely you think that
you mean by phrases like that. This is related to other questions I
have advanced that you have also not answered as I will explain below.
> As for your acceptance of Fetzer, I can not tell you how disappointed
> am that many people who are new to this case will accept people like
> that. Who is Fetzer and how long has he been researching this case?
> than 5 years maybe? Is he a well-respected researcher? Only to you and
> the others in his group who would believe what he puts out
What difference does it make HOW LONG I have been investigating the case?
If I had spent a long weekend on it, I might have come up with findings
that no one else had ever noticed. So why make a misleading appeal to
a temporal factor? Moreover, my scholarly qualifications are published
in various places and not in doubt. Consider, for example, pp. 462-463
of ASSASSINATION SCIENCE, where a brief sketch is provided of everyone
who contributed to the book. (I must ask at this point, Anthony, if you
have and have read the book.) I have received numerous academic prizes
and awards for my research and publications, which now include around
20 books and more than 100 articles. My A.B. was awarded by Princeton
magna cum laude and my undergraduate thesis won the Dickinson Prize.
My Ph.D. was earned from Indiana in the history and philosophy of sci-
ence, and I have published many books on the nature of science, espec-
ially scientific method, scientific theories, the structure of scien-
tific explanations, the interpretation of probability, and scientific
reasoning in general. Try SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE (1981), for example, or
perhaps PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE (1993). I have received the Medal of the
University of Helsinki for distinguished research and other significant
forms of recognition. Having been born in 1940, I am now 57 years old.
I served as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1962-
66 and spent two years stationed at the USMC Recruit Depot in San Diego,
where I supervised recruit training, including marksmanship training on
the same rifle range (Edson Range) where Lee Oswald received his marks-
manship training. One of many reasons why this case has been so very
difficult to resolve, I think, is because it has been left in the hands
of amateurs for so very long. Among the only professional scholars to
have studied the case are Josiah Thompson, who was also a professional
philosopher, and Peter Dale Scott, who was a professor of English. It
should not be surprising if individuals of the qualifications of David
W. Mantik, M.D., Ph.D., and Robert B. Livingston, M.D., can make rapid
progress when they apply their background and abilities to problems in
the interpretation of evidence, while others have not known what to do.
Who am I? I have been researching the JFK
> since about 1972 and was one of the people who helped establish the
> HSCA. I have worked with many of the most well-known researchers in
> case. You can read my research which has been published in researcher
> journals or presented at conferences. I don't have to defend myself.
That is all well and good, Anthony, but what I asked you is: What is
your age, your educational background, including any study of reason-
ing, and your profession? Why are you evading these questions, which
will better let me judge your intellectual competence? Why won't you
tell more about your general intellectual background and profession?
> I have seen several people come into this research community with no
> real interest in research methods only to promote bizarre theories
> requires people to abandon common sense, scientific method and
> When I see that, I point it out. If you consider that to be personal
> attacks, so be it.
I have a great deal of interest in research methods, Anthony, consider-
ing that I am a professional philosopher of science as I have explained
above. Therefore, it is false to say of me that I have "come into this
research community with no real interest in research methods". More-
over, I am not desirous of promoting "bizarre theories" (which, given
your use of the phrase, seems to apply to anyone who disagrees with you)
but in discoving the truth about the assassination of Jack Kennedy. I
have noticed, by the way, that you are adept at launching personal at-
tacks on people, as you do here, without knowing the score, just as you
apparently did not know that I am indeed a professional scholar with re-
spect to the nature of science, scientific method and critical thinking.
(In case it matters, Anthony, I have held faculty appointments at the
Universities of Kentucky, Virginia (twice), North Carolina at Chapel
Hill, New College of the University of South Florida, and Minnesota,
where I hold the rank of Distingished McKnight University Professor.)
Yet you have no hesitation in implying that I have come into this com-
munity with no interest in methodology to promote "bizarre theories"!
Surely you must know of some instance where people
> have been promoting bizarre theories such as Cooper or Morningstar
> rely on faked evidence or incorrect analysis of poor-quality exhibits.
> Aren't you troubled by those people and their bad research? Can't you
> accept that fact that some evidence is real and that some government
> agents might accidentally tell the truth some of the time?
Here's a nice example where you attack a straw man. Neither Doug nor I
have ever suggested that "no evidence is real" or that "no government
agents ever tell the truth". So why suggest we make such claims? Be-
cause, it would appear, you cannot defend your own position or attack
ours without committing various fallacies, which betray your position.
I would remind you, moreover, that there is a great deal of evidence
indicating that the Secret Service set up Jack for the hit and that
the FBI was used to filter and cover-up the evidence in this case. I
would also note that the autopsy was obviously conducted in a manner
that was intended to conceal the true nature of the wounds. So it is
not appropriate to "take for granted" what the FBI or Secret Service
had to say about the crime without independent corroborating evidence.
Moreover, you should not suppress the introduction of new ideas into
a research domain, wether or not they ultimately pan out. Cooper and
Morningstar are just as entitled as Marsh to advance their views. The
crucial question is how well those views withstand critical scrutiny,
which is the same standard that must be applied to your views and mine.
> Fetzer, you are headed down a road where all the evidence is faked and
> every federal agents lies all the time. So, what is left to believe? A
> few idiot witnesses who didn't know what the hell they were talking
> about? Or people who make up stories based on rumors they heard? Is
> that research?
> Anthony Marsh
I have already responded to this exaggerated version of my views above.
Why, if you are such a competent scholar, do you find it necessary to
launch personal attacks and employ straw men and beg the question? On
the basis of our exchange thus far, I would have to conclude that, at
best, you are a mediocre thinker with no real intellectual substance.
So why don't you prove me wrong by now engaging in a serious exchange?
James H. Fetzer
University of Minnesota
Duluth, MN 55812