Six Seconds in Dallas


                [Editor's note:  The announcement on Rich DellaRosa's
                 JFKresearch Forum that Josiah Thompson's book, SIX
                 SECONDS IN DALLAS (1967), was going to be reprinted
                 in collaboration with The 6th Floor Museum caused me
                 concern, for reasons explained in this post.  While
                 more than 125 persons read it, no one took issue with
                 what I had to say here, including Josiah Thompson.]

     The author of SIX SECONDS IN DALLAS (1967), Josiah Thompson, Ph.D., 
recently announced that his book is being reprinted by some (heretofore 
unidentified) university press. "The book will be reprinted in its original
form by a university press", he explained. "All income from this reprinting
will go to a special fund set up by The 6th Floor Museum for the acquisition
and preservation of original materials."

     Now university presses are not rare book dealers, so unless this 
"reprinting" were to include new material, it is difficult to imagine why it 
is being published. Who will buy it? If he were to address current issues of 
film authenticity, of course, that might make a considerable difference. Yet 
he assures us that "The claims of Zapruder film alteration will not be 
discussed since they are spurious." Precisely how he knows that the claims 
of Zapruder film alteration are spurious is beyond me, since, to the best of 
my knowledge, he has never addressed the vast majority, and those he has 
addressed in his DISINFORMATION SERIES have displayed his ignorance of recent 

     But there are even more general aspects of this situation that I find
puzzling. He has made much of the claim that three spent shell casings were 
found in the alleged "assassin's lair", which evidence photographs published 
by Gary Shaw, by Noel Twyman, and by Jesse Curry tend to undermine. Yet his 
own book claims that just two shots were actually fired from the assassin's 
lair, where the third--crimped--cartridge was a plant. So when Todd Vaughan 
attacked me for having this all wrong--citing, for example, that Curry had 
added the notation, "Three were found in all", where the third was kept by 
the DPD until the FBI demanded it-Thompson's own account of the matter 
(pp. 143-146) supports the conclusion that it was a fake. So even though his 
own position was essentially in agreement with mine--that this third cartridge 
casing was "of dubious origin"--he remained silent and said nothing. That is 
interesting all on its own, but not as much as that, if three shots had been 
fired from there, his own account of the killing would be false.

     In particular, it is the thesis of SIX SECOND IN DALLAS that four shots
were fired by three shooters, only two of which were fired from "the assassin's 
lair". A third, he claims, was fired from the Dallas County Records Building, 
and a fourth from the grassy knoll. One hit JKF in the back, another hit Connally, 
and the third and fourth hit the President in the head in very close
temporal proximity. (See Chapter VIII, which includes a diagram of this
scenario.) Since all four shots hit, he accounts for the injury to James 
Tague as having been caused by a fragment from the bullet that hit JFK in
the back of the head (pp. 230-233).

     Precisely where this fragment exited his cranuim on its trajectory he does
not explain, but that is his take. As I previously observed, the evidence has 
long since carried us beyond his position of 1967. In fact, by 1970, the studies 
of Richard Sprague, COMPUTERS AND AUTOMATION (May 1970), had already superceded
those of Josiah Thompson. As I observed in response to an inquiry from Todd
Vaughan, Sprague's analysis was not only better founded--based as it was on more 
than 500 photographic records, where the Z-film, for example, counted as only 
one--but it employed a vastly more sophisticated technology through the use
of computerized photoanalysis and arrived at very different conclusions about
the shot sequence itself.

     Sprague has two shots from the knoll (different locations), two from the
Book Depository (but none from the "assassin's lair"), and two from the Dal-Tex 
Building. So if Sprague is right, then Thompson is wrong. Since Thompson has 
assured us, "There will be no changes in the original text and photos though 
some minor corrections or clarifications may be added", apparently he will not 
discuss the work of Richard Sprague. But it may also explain his aversion to 
ASSASSINATION SCIENCE and MURDER IN DEALEY PLAZA. We had discovered by 1998 that 
JFK had been hit by at least four shots--one to the back from behind, one to the 
throat from in front, and two to the head, one from behind and one from in 
front--with at least one(and probably more) hit to Connally and a complete miss 
that injured Tague. So if ASSASSINATION SCIENCE is right, then SIX SECONDS must 
be wrong.

     And similarly for MURDER IN DEALEY PLAZA, where evidence for perhaps as
many as ten or more shots may be found. So perhaps there is a simple explanation 
for Thompson's otherwise seemingly irrational aversion to both of these books. 
must be wrong. So perhaps this is all about an author protectingg his "investment" 
in the for of his own book. He is not going to discuss Sprague's studies or more 
recent work, no matter how well supported they may be, because it severely undermines 
the position he adopted in 1967! That is remarkable in itself, but I am still puzzled 
why a serious university press would even consider publishing a book in 2001 whose 
principal conclusions had already been superceded by 1970! I speculate that this 
may be an elaborate public relations gimmick intended to dupe the unwary into 
mistakenly supposing that this is the latest research reflecting current work 
on the subject.

     If anyone has a more plausible hypothesis, I would like to hear it. We have
been reassured by Thompson, however, that he is not making "a dime" off this project, 
whose proceeds are going to support The Sixth Floor Museum: "All income from this 
reprinting will go to a special fund set up by The 6th Floor Museum for the 
acquisition and preservation of original materials." Preservation may be the 
operative word, at least in the case of his own work. Yet, for reasons I cannot 
quite identify, there still seems to be something peculiar about all this: an old 
book not updated, a university press, and now The 6th Floor Museum.
Apparently he knows who he is dealing with there, since he tells us, "I
have known and respected Gary Mack for nearly twenty years. We are friends." 

     Perhaps what bothers me is that The 6th Floor Museum has been criticized 
for years for its bias against research and evidence that point in directions 
other than that the crime was committed by a lone, demented gunman.  Not only 
are ASSASSINATION SCIENCE and MURDER IN DEALEY PLAZA not carried there, but virtually 
none of the books discussed in them are carried there either.  Len Osanic, who 
maintains a web site on behalf of Fletcher Prouty, who served as a liaison between 
the Pentago, the CIA, and The White House during the Kennedy administration, even 
maintains a file of complaints about the operation there.

     Anyone who would like to review these reactions for themselves is welcome 
to visit the file at  The web site itself 
holds many attractions, not least of all because Prouty was the basis for the 
character "Colonel X" in Oliver's Stone's film "JFK".  I find it odd that an
author ostensibly committed to the existence of conspiracy in the death of JFK 
would be on such cordial terms with The 6th Floor. Osanic has observed, "That 
the book MURDER IN DEALEY PLAZA is  not carried by The 6th Floor only 
underscores the fact that this is not a museum but a 'front'". If that is true,
then I guess that would explain it.  Consider the evidence and judge for 

*GO TO Three+ Questions for Josiah Thompson (1 item)



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