Sunday, 17 December 2023 15:15

Nicholas Nalli and the JFK Case, Part 2

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Gary Aguilar and Cyril Wecht continue their explorations of the errors of Nick Nalli and his uses of faulty scientific models and precedents in the JFK field.

When Cyril Wecht, MD, JD and I put out a critique of Nicholas Nalli Ph.D.’s “peer reviewed” attempt to resuscitate Luis Alvarez’s moribund “jet effect” theory[1] - that Lee Oswald’s shot from behind “jetted” JFK’s head backward - we expected he’d respond. He did. Yet, he didn’t refute our scientific claims. Instead, he bristled that our commentary was, as the title of his rejoinder put it, “The Anti-Science Attack on Scientific Peer-Review.” Our major “sin” was impugning the questionable “peer review” processes that his journal, Heliyon, used to green-light his paper.

We stated that Heliyon was not a proper, peer-reviewed scientific journal, for it required authors to pay to publish, and it asked them to suggest whom they’d like reviewing their submission and, worse, who’d they like not to “referee” it. Given the obvious flaws in his work, we argued what seemed sensible: that Heliyon was an unrigorous, pay-to-publish, more or less “vanity journal,” and that his “peer reviewers” were likely neither true experts nor anonymous, but probably folks he chose, including long time Warren loyalist, Mr. Larry Sturdivan. Dr. Nalli responded angrily, demanding a retraction and an apology for our blasphemies that were “an anti-science slander against scientists and contemporary peer-reviewed science publishing.”[2]

Dr. Nalli is partly right: we are against “contemporary peer-review science publishing.” But not all of it. Dr. Nalli is apparently correct that nowadays some journals like Heliyon want authors to pay and to recommend reviewers. It didn’t used to be that way. Does anyone really believe science is better when a writer can select whom he or she does and does not want reviewing her submission?

Dr. Nalli admitted that he’d paid Heliyon. But that he neither picked, nor knew, his “referees.” He said Heliyon found them and assured him that they had the requisite expertise - in forensic science, ballistics, projectiles, trauma research, gunshot injury, head injury, and impact, etc. Finally, Dr. Nalli fumed that Mr. “Larry Sturdivan was not one of the anonymous reviewers,” although he did say that Sturdivan had “consulted with him during the writing period.”

If the above is true, in view of the errors in the work itself, one can have faith in the fact that Heliyon dropped the ball. Dr. Nalli’s reviewers plainly did not have the desired expertise. Nor did his consultant, Sturdivan.

For example, Heliyon’s “experts” in ‘forensic science and gunshot and head injuries’ didn’t know that Dr. Nalli was wildly proposing that JFK’s premortem brain weighed 2,100 grams, ~700+ grams more than an unblasted, adult male brain.[3] Obviously, neither Dr. Nalli, nor Sturdivan, nor Heliyon’s “peer reviewers” took the 20 seconds it’d take to fact check human brain weights. It’s something an expert in forensic science and/or head injury should have known without googling, and would certainly have spent the 20 seconds if he didn’t.

After his howler was brought to Dr. Nalli’s attention,[4] he published a correction, claiming his 2,100-gram figure wasn’t an error, but merely an “oversight.” It was indisputably an error; the oversight was his, Sturdivan’s, and his peer reviewers not bothering to check brain weights. Backpedaling to salvage his threadbare theory, he then proposed, with Heliyon’s “peer” approval, that Kennedy’s brain may have weighed “only” 1800 grams or 1650 grams,[5] both weights still well above the normal range of a compete brain - 1,250 to 1,400 grams.

Worse, Dr. Nalli also offered a third possibility: that JFK’s premortem brain might have weighed 1500 grams, precisely what it weighed when measured at autopsy![6]

If by pre mortem, Nalli means before he was shot, then Kennedy’s brain was quite above average. If Nalli means after he was shot but before the autopsy, then that would of course have been after bits of it had been blown all over Dealey Plaza, the limo, its occupants, the motor cops riding to the left rear of the limo (though not the right rear), etc. And after Jackie Kennedy had handed a “big chunk of the President’s brain” to Parkland Hospital’s chief of anesthesia, professor Marion “Pepper” Jenkins, MD, during the failed resuscitation effort.[7] Moreover, as per his “jet effect” theory, that would also have been after substantial brain ejecta had shot forward, providing the propulsion that Dr. Nalli argues jerked Kennedy’s skull rearward. Not very likely.

Zapruder frame 313 shows a mist of debris just in front of JFK’s face, but no real “plume” of brain and bone matter flying forward of him. The exiting bone fragments are flying more upward, not forward. Not discernable in the two-dimensional frame is that those bits were also traveling leftward, and were found to JFK’s left. Similarly, the “debris field” from the frame 313 head shot was principally to the President’s left-rear. (See Figure 1.)

Picture1Figure 1. Zapruder frame 313 and sketch of documented debris field from head shot at Z-313.

Zapruder Frame 313 (left image) shows, in two dimensions, that there is a cloudy mist in front of JFK’s face. (See Fig. 2 for comparison with a similar mist seen in a skull-shooting test.) Exiting bone fragments are going mostly upward and, as discussed, to the left. They were not actually going forward which they would have been if, as claimed, Oswald’s shot had entered through the rear of Kennedy’s skull and exited the right front. The debris field (image right) shows that most of the ejecta moved “back and to the left,” as the President’s head also did. This is evidence the shot was fired from Kennedy’s right front, the “grassy knoll,” not his right rear.

It was thus not accurate for Dr. Nalli to accuse Dr. Wecht and I of “anti-science slander against scientists.” Our brief wasn’t remotely against science or scientists. Quite the contrary. In our two articles we defended good science as against science that was not soundly based but was put out to primarily defend the government’s case for Oswald’s sole guilt.[8] Among these examples are several individuals Dr. Nalli heralds: Nobel Laureate Luis Alvarez, John Lattimer, MD, Messrs. Larry Sturdivan and Lucien Haag, Ken Rahn, Ph.D., Vincent Guinn, Ph.D.,[9] the so-called Ramsey Panel,[10] and, last but not least, the members of the House Select Committee’s forensics panel.[11] It would appear that, Dr. Nalli’s loyalty to these luminaries seems based less on their evidence than on their eminence and loyalty to the government. Let us exemplify our disagreement.

Luis Alvarez

Duplication Tests

Dr. Nalli dilates on Alvarez’s “duplication” shooting tests that he contends confirmed the “jet effect.” He reports that the Nobelist felt stung by a critique he’d received from then-philosophy professor, Josiah Thompson, Ph.D. So, he worked with Paul Hoch, one of his Berkeley graduate students, to find experimental evidence to support his creative theory. Hoch recommended that “Alvarez perform some sort of experimental test that ‘could demonstrate the retrograde recoil on a rifle range, using a reasonable facsimile of a human head.’ They experimented firing upon different targets, ultimately deciding a taped melon as the best facsimile.” Hoch noted that the melons consistently exhibited a ‘retrograde motion’ toward the shooter. Alvarez thus demonstrated that a recoil effect is indeed possible.[12] Dr. Nalli’s account is both selective and incomplete--in a word, unscientific.

Why did Dr. Nalli never address Josiah Thompson’s discovery that, in his “peer reviewed” Am. J. Physics “jet effect” paper, Alvarez never disclosed that he fired on multiple objects, and all but the melons flew away from the rifle, not towards it? (We had to wait for Thompson to learn of it.) While Dr. Nalli admits that Alvarez got different results from shooting at different objects, he doesn’t tell readers what they were. Is selective reporting that tells the test results that support one’s theory while omitting those that contradict it scientific? Apparently yes, according to Nalli. No, according to Thompson, me, and Wecht. And then there are questions about the specifics of Alvarez’s tests.

Neither Dr. Nalli nor Alvarez acknowledged that the light-weight target melons only recoiled after being struck with super-charged, deforming, soft-nosed bullets, not after being pierced by the slower, nondeforming jacketed bullets Oswald supposedly used. Furthermore, is a soft-skinned, light-weight melon a “reasonable facsimile” of a much heavier, bony human head, scientifically? Yes, it is, according to Drs. Nalli, Hoch, and Alvarez. No, it isn’t, according to Thompson, Wecht and me. We’ll leave that for readers as a thought experiment. It shouldn’t take too much thinking.

We challenged Dr. Nalli that this was shoddy scientific reportage. He gave no reply.

The “Jiggle Effect”

Alvarez had noted that some Zapruder frames are blurred, and concluded that the blurred images resulted from Zapruder’s delayed startle reaction to the sound of gunshots. “Delayed” because the sound of gunshots traveled more slowly than light, thus more slowly than the visible action in his film. In our review of Dr. Nalli’s tribute to Alvarez, we pointed out that the Nobel winner gave a preposterous, progovernment explanation for the most dramatic of the blurred frames: Zapruder frame 313.[13]

He wrote: “[I]n the light of this background material we see that the obvious shot in frame 313 is accompanied immediately by an angular acceleration of the camera, in the proper sense of rotation to have been caused directly by shock-wave pressure on the camera body.”[14] Although he mentioned “shock waves,” Dr. Nalli (wisely) kept a deafening silence on Alvarez’s ridiculous claim about frame 313.

As is well known, and which we pointed out, “shock waves” from bullet blasts travel at the speed of sound, about 1,100 ft/sec. They expand as a cone behind the nose of the bullet as it slices through air.[15][16] Oswald’s supposed bullet flew almost twice as fast as the shock wave, about 2,100 ft/sec. Thus, the expanding shock wave from that missile would not have reached Zapruder in time to blur 313 if Oswald had fired it, from 270 feet away. (Only a shock wave from a “grassy knoll” shot—~60 feet from Zapruder—would have been close enough to nudge the camera and blur frame 313. This fact provides additional corroboration that the frame 313 shot came from the “grassy knoll.” If Oswald had fired that shot, frames 315, 316, and/or 317 would be blurred, and they are not.)

It’s difficult to understand how Alvarez either didn’t know that, or didn’t check to see if he was right about it. It’s less difficult to imagine why Mr. Science Dr. Nalli never addressed this in either his peevish reply to Wecht and I, or even in his review of Thompson’s book.[17] Similarly, Dr. Nalli refused to glance through another window Thompson opened that offers a useful insight into Alvarez’s loyalties.

The Vela Incident and Alvarez’s Politics

Thompson reported that Alvarez had produced a government-friendly, but flat-out wrong, report denying Israel and South Africa had exploded a nuclear device in the so-called “Vela Incident.” Alvarez was promptly debunked by both expert government investigators and on-sight witnesses that Seymour Hersh personally interviewed.[18] Nalli says nothing about this incident, whether in his response to our criticizing him for ignoring it, or in his review of Thompson’s book where it is explored in extenso. It’s an episode that speaks to Alvarez's trustworthiness when he is called upon to weigh in on issues dear to the government’s heart. This history should not be ignored when judging Nobelist’s credibility on the government’s controversial version of Dallas’s darkest day. Dr. Nalli ignored it, as he did the problems with other Warren defenders he plugs.[19][20]

John Lattimer, MD

John Lattimer, MD, a confidant of J. Edgar Hoover[21] and a “jet effect” aficionado, is another of Dr. Nalli’s models.

Conducting more analogous trials than Alvarez had, Dr. Lattimer fired at human skulls using a Mannlicher Carcano. But he fired downward at them from close range, striking the rear of filled human skulls that were perched atop ladders.[22] The target skulls recoiled, but apparently not due to any “jet effect.” As we pointed out, in his book, Hear No Evil, Donald Thomas, Ph.D. explained the obvious:

“Lattimer’s diagrams reveal that the incoming angle of the bullet trajectory sloped downwards relative to the top of the ladder, with the justification that the assassin was shooting from an elevated position…But the downward angle would have had the effect of driving the skulls against the top of the ladder with a predictable result—a rebound.”[23] (A video clip of Dr. Lattimer’s shooting tests shows the bullet’s momentum rocking the ladder forward as the skull is driven against the top of the ladder and bounces backward.[24])

Lattimer’s downward-shooting technique was precisely what longtime Warren defender, and another of Dr. Nalli’s consultants, Paul Hoch, Ph.D. (physics) had sensibly warned against. The target should be fired upon along a horizontal trajectory, Hoch said, not at a downward angle. And the target should either be dangling from a wire or laying on a flat surface.

Lattimer’s botched technique gave predictably botched results, yet were published by a “peer reviewed” journal. Unlike Dr. Lattimer’s skulls, the base of JFK’s skull and jaw bone were not resting on a hard, flat surface. (It is also worth mentioning that the “wounds” sustained by the blasted skulls were not, as Dr. Lattimer reported, “very similar to those of the President.”[25]) While Dr. Nalli cites our paper debunking Lattimer’s tests, and while he also cites Don Thomas’s book, Hear No Evil, he champions science by maintaining a protective silence about Lattimer’s flawed technique.

Lattimer’s tendentious skull shooting results were of a piece with his other “peer reviewed” results: He also shot melons. “No melon or skull or combination,” he reported, “ever fell away from the shooter in these multiple experiments,”[26] a finding that deserves an honorable place in the Journal of Irreproducible Results.[27] By contrast, Warren loyalist Mr. Lucien Haag reported what happened when he fired Carcano bullets at melons: “the melons (which were free to move) remained in place, and the entry and exits holes were small.”[28]

Douglas Desalles, MD and Stanford Linear Accelerator physicist, Arthur Snyder, Ph.D. shot melons with MCC ammo and found the same thing: the targets barely budged, though some did roll slowly away. (Lucien Haag, however, did finally get melons to recoil. But only when he fired after clipping the tips off Carcano rounds to expose the soft lead cores, justifying doing so by arguing that the tip of Oswald’s jacketed bullet would have been breached when it struck JFK’s skull.[29])

Unscientific Practice Among Pro-Government Authors

A glaring omission mars all the scientific “peer reviewed” JFK papers by Haag, Alvarez, Lattimer and, given our mention of it in our critique, Dr. Nalli. It is requisite, standard practice in medical/scientific journalism to acknowledge and integrate prior published research findings that bear on an author’s thesis. Writers elaborating on newly discovered aspects of the Theory of Gravity, for example, might well tip their hats to Issac Newton and Albert Einstein. Earlier, published findings that are in conflict with a submitter’s research would typically be discussed and footnoted in referenced work. This is just standard, time-honored practice in peer-reviewed scientific, as well as nonscientific journalism.

Judging by his copious footnotes, Dr. Nalli appears to grasp this. But when it comes to the “jet effect” and duplicating shooting experiments, Dr. Nalli and jet effect promoters Alvarez, Lattimer, and Lucien Haag, observe this fundamental practice in the breach. They all avert their gaze from what is perhaps the most truly analogous, and credible, test for jet effect ever performed.

Undertaken by the government for the Warren Commission in 1964, the Biophysics Lab at Aberdeen Proving Grounds ran duplication tests that are virtually never acknowledged by government defenders.

Using the kind of rifle and ammunition Oswald owned, dried human skulls filled with gelatin were fired upon from the rear. Mr. Larry Sturdivan, a government employee and lifelong Warren defender, participated in those experiments. Using a film shot at 2200 frames/second, he described what happened while testifying to the House Select Committee on Assassinations.

“As you can see,” Sturdivan swore, “each of the two skulls that we have observed so far have moved in the direction of the bullet. In other words, both of them have been given some momentum in the direction that the bullet was going … In fact, all 10 of the skulls that we shot did essentially the same thing.”[30] (Figure 2)

Picture3Figure 2. High speed film images from Biophysics Lab skull shooting tests conducted for the Warren Commission in 1964. Note that while the bullet entered the back of the skull, the initial egress of misty material is thrown rearward from the point of entrance in the occiput, and that as much material appears to fly backward from the entry point as from the area of exit in the front. As the skull ruptures, the skull moves swiftly away from the shooter.

Like the rearward egress of debris in first frame of this series, a mist appears overlying the right anterolateral aspect of JFK’s head in Zapruder frame 313 (Fig. 1), which offers experimental corroboration of a bullet entrance in this location. Bony fragments in the third frame of this series are blowing forward. By contrast, those from Kennedy’s skull flew upward and to the left.

In our review, Dr. Wecht and I challenged Dr. Nalli on these government experiments. Like his heroes, Alvarez, Lattimer, Haag, et al, Dr. Nalli says not a word. This is science?

Dr. Nalli and Neuromuscular Reaction

In his original paper, Dr. Nalli argued that a “neuromuscular reaction” followed the initial “jet effect” at Zapruder 313-14, and it propelled Kennedy’s head and upper torso further rearward after Zapruder frame 315. Citing progovernment, nonexperts such as Gerald Posner, John Lattimer, and especially Larry Sturdivan, Dr. Nalli said that “a neuromuscular spasm is the only physically plausible mechanism known to this author.”[31]

In our review we assaulted Dr. Nalli on this point. “If ‘neuromuscular spasm’ is the only physically plausible mechanism that Nalli knows of,” we wrote, “it’s likely because he’s ‘cherry picked’ the “expertise” of untrained, inexpert. anti-conspiracy crusaders … Were Nalli the least bit serious, or curious, he’d have scoured and cited the work of proper authorities (e.g. neurophysiologists, neurologists, perhaps even trauma surgeons). But he doesn’t; he sources nonexperts.” Among them are the pathologists of the HSCA’s forensic pathology panel, who are authorities on the victims of “unnatural deaths.” (With apologies to coauthor Wecht, pathologists are no more expert on neurophysiological phenomena of living humans than orthopedists are on pediatric asthma.)

As we previously documented, JFK’s rearward lunge bears no resemblance to the two scientifically recognized types of “neuromuscular spasms” that have been repeatedly specified by Dr. Nalli’s consultant, Mr. Larry Sturdivan: “decorticate” and “decerebrate” neuromuscular reactions. In a filmed interview, Sturdivan demonstrated JFK’s “neuromuscular reaction.” (Figure 3.)

Picture4Figure 3. Mr. Larry Sturdivan demonstrating JFK’s “neuromuscular reaction” to the fatal head shot.

Mr. Sturdivan’s posture mimics neither JFK’s reaction to his fatal head injury nor an actual neuromuscular reaction.

Picture5Figure 4.

And here is how JFK actually reacted following the head shot at Zapruder 312-13, (Figure 5)

Picture6Figure 5. Image left, 1/18th second before his head explodes: JFK’s head is chin-downward, tilted forward and slightly to the left. Image right, ½ second after he’s hit, it is JFK’s head that has moved backward. His back does not arch. His right arm neither flexes inward in “decorticate” posture, nor extends in “decerebrate” posture, as it would were it a “neuromuscular reaction.” Instead, it falls limply to Kennedy’s side.

Note that JFK’s back does not arch; his legs do not extend, which would be detectable by an upward jerking of his body. His forearms do not adduct or extend as they would if his reaction was either decorticate or decerebrate; they simply drop. Unlike in “neuromuscular reactions,” Kennedy’s back passively follows his head, with no visible backward arching, or jerking.

All this medically/scientifically-based evidence, and more, was laid out in our critique. Dr Nalli offered no counterevidence to it.

He was similarly silent on our evisceration of his take on “neutron activation analysis” (NAA), another thoroughly debunked bit of junk science that supposedly buttressed Oswald’s sole guilt.

Dr. Nalli and Neutron Activation Analysis

NAA was first proffered as evidence in the Kennedy case by UC Irvine professor Vincent P. Guinn during his House Select Committee testimony. NAA is a sophisticated technique that supposedly allowed scientists to match bullet fragments from a crime scene to the bullet they came from. Guinn testified that NAA proved that all bullets and fragments from the assassination traced to but two bullets, which had been firearms-matched by the FBI to Oswald’s rifle. NAA was debunked years before Dr. Nalli ever put pen to paper on JFK. But because NAA is still touted by some anti-conspiracy evangelists, Dr. Nalli inexplicably tries to maintain it.

For example, in his review of Last Second in Dallas, Dr. Nalli touts Guinn. He writes:

…that it was ‘highly probable’ that the fragments in Gov. Connally’s wrist were from the ‘stretcher bullet’ (CE399) found at Parkland Hospital and that the fragments from President Kennedy’s head were from the same bullet as the fragments found in the limousine, thereby providing strong evidence that only two bullets caused all the wounds.[32] Dr. Nalli added a qualifier: “There has apparently been some degree of legitimate dispute about the NAA findings of Guinn. However, counterarguments have since been advanced from forensic experts such as Larry Sturdivan (cf. The JFK Myths) (sic) and Luke Haag. Lacking personal expertise, I shall remain, for the time being, agnostic on Guinn’s findings. Sturdivan and Haag are not to be easily dismissed…”[33]

Dr. Nalli neither mentions nor alludes to what the “legitimate dispute” is all about, nor even who has disputed Guinn, Sturdivan, and Haag. He has a good, though not a scientific, reason not to. It would be difficult to justify why untrained, uncredentialed, crusading anti-conspiracy “forensic experts,” Sturdivan and Haag, would also happen to have expertise on NAA that’s on par with their detractors who have, contra Dr. Nalli, quite “easily dismissed” Sturdivan and Haag (as well as Guinn, and Kenneth Rahn, Ph.D., Sturdivan’s NAA coauthor).

The ‘legitimate disputants’ Nalli didn’t think worth naming include the FBI’s National Laboratory, which abandoned the use of NAA to match bullets and fragments in 2005 because of its serious deficiencies;[34] two “conspiracy agnostic,” nationally recognized NAA authorities from Lawrence Livermore National Lab, Eric Randich, Ph.D. and Pat Grant, Ph.D., who specifically debunked Guinn’s JFK claims in the prestigious Journal of Forensic Sciences[35] (Guinn was one of Pat Grant’s professors at UC Irvine, and bore him no malice. See Grant’s “Commentary on Dr. Ken Rahn's Work on the JFK Assassination Investigation.”[36]); a distinguished professor of statistics at Texas A&M University, Clifford Spiegelman, Ph.D., and his coauthor, FBI chief lab examiner William Tobin, who, among other things, eviscerated the flawed statistical analysis that Sturdivan, had published supporting NAA;[37] as well as others.[38]

Furthermore, Nalli had every good reason to know of these inconvenient “alternative” facts, and not only from the “literature review” he should have done as a science writer during manuscript preparation. They’ve attracted considerable interest among assassination students. They are easily found by doing a simple google search.[39] Moreover, they were explored in extenso in a piece I wrote with coauthor Wecht that Nalli cites himself. That article included a detailed discussion of the collapse of NAA in bullet matching studies, both in the Kennedy case and elsewhere. It also provided the citations found here, with hotlinks to the peer reviewed papers and the source documents themselves.[40] Dr. Nalli averted his gaze from all this.

Tellingly, Nalli also fails to mention that neither Sturdivan nor Haag have any primary expertise in NAA. They have no applicable training or background, and no credible NAA research, apart from Sturdivan’s debunked statistical analysis that was demolished, without refutation, by the statistics professor at Texas A&M; by the NAA authorities at Lawrence Livermore Lab,[41] and by Stanford Linear Accelerator physicist, Arthur Snyder, Ph.D.[42]

Dr. Nalli thus puts lightweights Sturdivan and Haag on one side of the NAA scale, and these heavy-weight ‘legitimate disputants’ on the other, and says he must remain agnostic because they look balanced to him. This is exactly the kind of pro-government, anti-science, cherry-picking that skeptics have learned to expect from pro-Warren “scientific experts.” But the irony doesn’t end there.

Referring to Thompson’s showcasing the work of the internationally recognized acoustics authority, James Barger, Nalli sniffed that “Thompson has no problem ‘appealing to authority’ when it suits him.’” Without delving into the complexities of the acoustics evidence, James Barger, is, actually, an internationally renowned authority to whom one may perfectly appropriately “appeal.” For Barger’s acoustics credentials, and those of the other acousticians who reported to the House Select Committee, easily surpass those of the so-called Ramsey Panel, the Alvaraz-selected physicists who were not acoustics trained, but who Warrenistas like to believe have debunked credentialed acoustics authorities.

As he did with the government’s skull shooting tests at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, as well as with “neuromuscular reaction” and NAA, Dr. Nalli eschews credentialed, legitimate, published authorities, but has had ‘no problem appealing to the authority,’ and arguing from the authority, of inexpert, anti-conspiracy activists. For example, Eric Randich and Pat Grant versus Larry Sturdivan.

Should Dr. Nalli ever want to publicly address our science-based challenges to Alvarez’s selectively reported shooting tests that “proved” his “jet effect theory;” or his “jiggle effect” explanation for why Zapruder frame 313 is blurred; or how Alvarez handled the “Vela Incident;” or John Lattimer’s “duplication” shooting tests; or the U.S. Government’s skull shooting experiments; or Kennedy’s supposed “neuromuscular reaction;” or Neutron Activation Analysis, we would be only too happy to engage and respond in the true spirit of scientific inquiry.

We won’t be holding our breath. Interested readers shouldn’t either. For Dr. Nalli was invited to an on-line “frank exchange of views” with author Aguilar, a debate. He refused. He was then offered to debate physicist Paul Chambers, Ph.D., author of Head Shot: The Science Behind the JFK Assassination.[43] The host of the debate reassured Dr. Nalli that they would review the nature of the questions beforehand with both Dr Nalli and Dr. Chambers so Dr. Nalli would know it was not going to be an ambush.

He refused that, too.

Go to Part 1.

[1] Nalli, Nicholas. Gunshot-wound dynamics model for John F. Kennedy assassination


[3] Nalli, Nicholas. Gunshot-wound dynamics model for John F. Kennedy assassination

[4] Milicent Cranor. Scientist’s Trick ‘Explains’ JFK Backward Movement When Shot

[5] Nalli, Nicholas. [Heliyon 4 (2018) e00603] Corrigendum to "Gunshot-wound dynamics model for John F. Kennedy assassination"


[7]JFK in Trauma Room One: The Missing Piece: Last Moments Before Death.” A YouTube video of Parkland Professor Marion T. Jenkins, MD discussing the assassination. This quote can be heard at and after the 5 minute, 25 second mark. Available here.

[8] Gary Aguilar, Cyril Wecht. “Peer Reviewed” Medical/Scientific Journalism Has Been Corrupted by Warren Commission Apologists - Part 2

[9] V P Guinn. JFK (John F Kennedy) Assassination - Bullet Analyses

. Analytical Chemistry Volume: 51 Issue: 4 Dated: (April 1979) Pages: 484A-486A,488A,492A-493A

[10] Josiah Thompson. Last Second in Dallas. University Press of Kansas, 2021.


[12] P. 7.


[14] Alvarez L, “A Physicist Examines the Kennedy Assassination Film”, American Journal of Physics Vol. 44, No. 9, p. 817. September, 1976. Available here.

[15] “The speed of sound, known as Mach 1, varies depending on the medium through which a sound wave propagates. In dry, sea level air that is around 25 degrees Celsius, Mach 1 is equal to 340.29 meters per second, or 1,122.96 feet per second.” Available here.

[16] Robert C. Maher. “Summary of Gun Shot Acoustics,” Montana State University 4 April 2006. “A supersonic bullet causes a characteristic shock wave pattern as it moves through the air. The shock wave expands as a cone behind the bullet, with the wave front propagating outward at the speed of sound.” Available here.

[17] Nalli, Nicholas. The Ghost of the Grassy Knoll Gunman and the Futile Search for Signal in Noise

[18] A brief discussion with source notes is available on-line in ref. #18, here.

[19] See comment #3 following Nalli’s article, The Anti-Science Attack on Scientific Peer-Review. Comment posted here.

[20] See also ref. #18, here.

[21] See ARRB Testimony of Charles Baxter, Ronald Coy Jones, Robert M. Mclelland, Malcom Perry, Paul C. Peters, 27 Aug 1998, p. 39-42, here.

[22] Lattimer JK, Lattimer J, Lattimer G. “An Experimental Study of the Backward Movement of President Kennedy’s Head,” Surgery, Gynecology & Obstetrics. February, 1976, Vol. 142, pp. 246–254.

[23] Thomas, Don. Hear No Evil. Ipswich, MA. Mary Ferrell Foundation Press, 2010, pp. 362–363.

[24] Clip from a Walter Cronkite CBS special on the assassination, with voice over by Cronkite. Note that the test skull sits flat, atop the ladder. When it is struck from above, the ladder swings forward as momentum imparted to the skull is transferred to the ladder: watch here.

[25] Image available at: Milicent Cranor. Scientist’s Trick ‘Explains’ JFK Backward Movement When Shot.

[26] Lattimer JK, Lattimer J, Lattimer G. “An Experimental Study of the Backward Movement of President Kennedy’s Head,” Surgery, Gynecology & Obstetrics. February, 1976, Vol. 142, pp. 246–254. Available here.

[27] The Journal of Irreproducible Results 1980-2003. Available here.

[28] Haag, L. “President Kennedy’s Fatal Head Wound and his Rearward Head ‘Snap,’” AFTE Journal, Vol. 46, No. 4, Fall 2014, p. 283; see Figure 8. (Copy available by request.)

[29] Haag, L. President Kennedy’s Fatal Gunshot Wound and the Seemingly Anomalous Behavior of the Fatal Bullet. AFTE Journal, Vol. 46, No. 3, Summer 2014, p. 218ff.

[30] Sturdivan LM. HSCA testimony, Vol.1:404. Available here.

[31] Nalli N R. Gunshot-wound dynamics model for John F. Kennedy assassination.

[32] Nalli, N R. “The Ghost of the Grassy Knoll Gunman,” a review of J. Thompson’s book “Last Second in Dallas” published on-line, 6/3/21.

[33] Nalli, N. The Ghost of the Grassy Knoll Gunman and the Futile Search for Signal in Noise

[34]FBI Laboratory Announces Discontinuation of Bullet Lead Examinations,” September 1, 2005. FBI National Press Office.

[35] Erik Randich Ph.D., Patrick M. Grant Ph.D., Proper Assessment of the JFK Assassination Bullet Lead Evidence from Metallurgical and Statistical Perspectives. Journal of Forensic Sciences, V.51(4)717 ff. July 2006.

[36] Pat Grant, Ph.D. “Commentary on Dr. Ken Rahn's Work on the JFK Assassination Investigation.” Available on the Mary Ferrell website, here.

[37] Cliff Spiegelman, William A. Tobin, William D. James, Simon J. Sheather, Stuart Wexler and D. Max Roundhill. CHEMICAL AND FORENSIC ANALYSIS OF JFK ASSASSINATION BULLET LOTS: IS A SECOND SHOOTER POSSIBLE?, The Annals of Applied Statistics 2007, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 287–301. Check here.

[38] * Giannelli, Paul, “Comparative Bullet Lead Analysis: A Retrospective,” Case Western Reserve, Sept., 2001.
     * William Tobin. “Comparative Bullet Lead Analysis: A Case Study in Flawed Forensics”, The Champion.
     * Charles Pillar. “Report Finds Flaws in FBI Bullet AnalysisLos Angeles Times, 2/4/2004. Charles Pillar.

[39] *Cliff Spiegelman, Ph.D. “What new forensic science reveals about JFK, 12/12/2017.
      * See also: Pat Grant, Ph.D. (Lawrence Livermore Laboratory). Commentary on Dr. Ken Rahn’s (NAA) Work on the JFK Assassination Investigation.


[41] See Pat Grant’s evisceration of NAA defender, Ken Rahn. “Commentary on Dr. Ken Rahn’s Work on the JFK Assassination Investigation

[42] Arthur Snyder, Ph.D. Comments on the Statistical Analysis in Ken Rahn’s Essay: “Neutron-Activation Analysis and the John F. Kennedy Assassination”

[43] Head Shot: The Science Behind the JFK Assassination

Last modified on Thursday, 04 January 2024 04:06
Gary L. Aguilar, MD and Cyril Wecht MD, JD

Gary L. Aguilar, MD, is one of the few physicians outside the government ever permitted to examine the still-restricted photographs and X-rays taken during President Kennedy’s autopsy.  He has published widely on the medical evidence in professional journals, books and on-line.  He has  lectured before academic medical, academic medico-legal, and non-professional public audiences on the subject. He is currently Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology, U.C. San Francisco, and the head of ophthalmology and the Vice Chief of Staff at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco.

Cyril H. Wecht, M.D., J.D., is a forensic pathologist, attorney and medical-legal consultant.  Among his many achievements in the field figure consultations on numerous high-profile cases.  He is best known for his criticism of the Warren Commission's medical findings and his dissenting opinion on the HSCA forensic pathology panel.  He also consulted with Thomas Noguchi on the RFK autopsy.  Read more about his career here.

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