Monday, 09 June 2014 18:28

Harrison E. Livingstone, Panjandrum: Secrets of the JFK X-rays

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[Livingstone] was once a heroic pioneer in the medical evidence. His books (and Lifton's contributions, too) were invaluable introductions for me. For that I am still grateful to both. Unfortunately, I see little of value in this book, but rather lots of pointless confusion. The book should not have been written-and it should not be read, concludes David Mantik.

The implied claim on these pages that both bone and brain are missing is fallacious, or that the brain is proven gone by so much darkness and the bone is still there is a non sequetor [sic] and quite wrong.
~Harrison E. Livingstone [henceforth, HEL], Panjandrum (p. 138)

So she went into the garden to cut a cabbage-leaf to make an apple-pie; and at the same time a great she-bear, coming up the street, pops its head into the shop. "What! No soap?" So he died, and she very imprudently married the barber; and there were present the Picninnies, and the Joblillies, and the Garyulies, and the grand Panjandrum himself, with the little round button at top, and they all fell to playing the game of catch-as-catch-can till the gunpowder ran out at the heels of their boots.
~Samuel Foote

This [DM: i.e., the above gibberish by Foote – not the initial babble from Livingstone] introduced the nonsense term "The Grand Panjandrum" into the English language and the name was adopted for the Panjandrum or Great Panjandrum, an experimental World War II-era explosive device.
~Wikipedia on Samuel Foote

NOTE: Quotations from Panjandrum in this review are in italics; page references are to Panjandrum.

The Main Issue

In essence, Panjandrum is merely about two questions, both related to the anterior portion of JFK's skull X-rays:

  1. Where was brain missing?
  2. Where was bone missing?

The answers (my answers) are also simple:

  1. Frontal brain was absent in a fist-sized area, best seen on the lateral X-ray (p. 89-of Panjandrum). I have previously labeled this as the "Dark Area"-see slide 5 at (the Dark Area is circled in white) or The Assassinations (2003), edited by James DiEugenio and Lisa Pease, p. 265, Figure 5A. The latter is the Mantik/Cyril Wecht essay cited by HEL.
  2. Bone was missing over the skull vertex, including anterior to the coronal suture, particularly on the right side; see my sketch in Panjandrum (p. 10). It was also missing from the right forehead/temple area.

Although HEL seems to hint otherwise, I would emphasize that neither of my two answers is due to (or in any way related to) altered X-rays. HEL claims (p. 50) that I "jump around," and also states (p. 36) that I have changed my mind. He even cites the "corrupt turn-about" of Mantik and Wecht (p. 46) and goes on to claim (pp. 134-135) that I have "walked away from [my] densitometer findings..." Of course, none of this is true – my opinions on these issues have not changed.

Neither of my two above answers, however, directly addresses a slightly different issue: What was the condition of JFK's right "face"? Livingstone struggles valiantly to state his question clearly, but the following is as clear as he ever gets (although not until p. 139): "It seems to me quite clear that both brain and bone are missing on the front right of the at least partly false [sic] double-imaged [sic] skull X-rays." So after many pages, we finally learn that, by "face," he does not mean the periorbital area or the maxillary bone, which most laymen would consider to be the face. Although his syntax fails to make his distinction clearly, his image of JFK's lateral X-ray (p. 93) decisively clarifies this issue: his white arrow points to the forehead/temple, not to the maxillary area. (The latter includes the area around the nose and above the jaw.)

The issue of missing "facial bone" totally possesses HEL. But here is what is most curious: my image of the forehead/temple area (p. 10) and JFK autopsy pathologist Thornton Boswell's sketch (p. 11) are in remarkable agreement with each other-i.e., this area is indeed absent. That should have satisfied HEL, since that is his point! Although Livingstone rants endlessly about this, stating that the right temple/forehead is absent (assuming that his syntax can be deciphered), he does not seem to recognize that my image shows precisely that bone to be absent. In other words, since we agree about this, he did not need to write this book. Even Boswell's sketch agrees with me (and HEL) that the right temple/forehead was absent. If, on the other hand, HEL's clamor is about the sphenoid bone (which is near the front of the skull behind the eyes) then we (Boswell and I) may actually disagree with HEL: Boswell and I agree that the sphenoid bone is present. Curiously enough, though, HEL never actually discusses the sphenoid bone, nor does he ever use that word. This means that his entire book is a tempest in a teapot. There is literally nothing more to say about his repeated and frenzied fears about Mantik and Wecht (pp. 1, 3, 7, 27, 32, 33, 34, 36, 46, 50, 51, 55, 75, etc.).

More Eccentricities from HEL

On p. 2. HEL quotes Boswell, who stated that one of the late arriving fragments formed part of the EOP entry hole. But Boswell is the only pathologist to state this-none of the others ever endorsed that interpretation. In fact, the OD data for these fragments renders such a conclusion quite unlikely. The average OD of the large triangular fragment (likely frontal bone) is 0.92. But both of the other two fragments have average densities consistent with thinner bones: 1.24 and 1.31. Occipital bone, however, should be thicker (i.e., have a lower OD) than frontal bone. Most likely therefore, Boswell was wrong about this, i.e., neither of these two smaller fragments likely formed part of the entrance hole. p. 6. HEL states that Humes and Boswell recalled removing the brain before taking X-rays. In fact, taking X-rays after the brain was gone would serve little purpose; the point was to visualize metallic particles within the brain. HEL also recalls that I estimated the amount of brain present via OD data-which is mostly what the Mantik/Wecht (M/W) essay is about. Later (p. 52) HEL strongly implies that no brain was present in the skull X-rays. And this statement is made despite all of the OD data presented (to the opposite conclusion) in the M/W essay, i.e., that essay estimated the fraction of residual brain at multiple measured sites. HEL repeats his claim that the skull X-rays contain no brain (pp. 81 and 140), but he does not even hint at why the OD data might be incorrect (in showing the presence of some brain); in fact he totally ignores the OD data. p. 8. "...but he [Mantik] failed to tell us that the two images [i.e., the lateral and AP skull X-rays] were in conflict." This is absurd, inasmuch as this was precisely the point of my presentation in NYC (pp. 106-107, 133) at HEL's own press conference (Assassination Science, 1998, edited by James Fetzer, pp. 153-160). This same issue recurs later (p. 29). Paradoxically, after that (p. 39), HEL recalls that I told him that the two X-rays were "incompatible." He has thereby stated two directly opposite opinions about this matter.

pp. 8-9. HEL claims that I describe the back of the head as intact, but then on the very next page, he quotes me as saying that the Harper fragment derived from the back of the head. He cannot have it both ways-only one of these statements can be true. For more detail see my upcoming essay, "The Harper Fragment Revisited," at the CTKA website. There can now be little doubt that the Harper fragment was occipital.

pp. 19-20. HEL claims that "David Lifton never subscribed to the idea that the X-rays and photographs of the body were forged..." But on the next page (p. 20), we read "Yet a few investigators bought into Lifton's whole ball of wax: Horne and Mantik among them." HEL here is not even consistent. After all, Horne and I do have an opposite opinion (from HEL's depiction of Lifton)-we believe that some critical X-rays and photographs indeed have been altered.

pp. 20-21. "The large head wound did not change at all before the autopsy, contrary to the claims of David Lifton. Dr. Mantik agrees with my findings that the wound did not change before Bethesda." But the head wound did change (purely as a side effect) of the illicit efforts of James Humes at Bethesda to remove bullet fragments from the brain before the official autopsy began. In retrospect, this was the most important deception in the entire medical cover-up. Absent this step, a conspiracy would have been obvious to all.

p. 21. "This led to Lifton's biggest lie of all: that the body had been stolen and altered, which was bought hook, line, and sinker by ...Horne and Mantik..." Also note this (p. 54): "Mantik buys into Lifton's body theft and alteration theories lock, stock, and barrel, and shows you that Horne accepts most of it." This is, of course, nonsense; neither Horne nor I believe in body alteration as described by Lifton. More to the point, Horne and I strongly suspect that Humes illicitly removed the brain before the official autopsy began. This was done, not to alter the appearance of the body, but solely in order to remove bullet fragments from the brain (to eliminate evidence for multiple head shots).

p. 22. HEL believes that the Parkland MDs cut the cerebellum loose and that they also probed the throat wound. This is pure drivel; there is absolutely no evidence for either of these statements-and HEL cites none.

p. 24. HEL quotes from his own book Killing the Truth (where he had stated his personal opinion): "The lateral X-rays show no significant loss of bone whatsoever on the rear of the head..." Of course, if HEL truly believes that the occiput was intact, then he disagrees with virtually all of the Parkland and Bethesda witnesses, who saw a large hole there.

p. 30. "So the term that needed to be better defined was 'frontal.' I was correct in saying that the frontal area down to the floor of the right orbit seemed to be missing in at least the AP X-ray." HEL astonishingly claims (p. 138) that I once said the right orbit was missing. Even worse, he claims that "all other doctors" believed that the right orbit was missing (p. 141)! This is more rubbish-the AP X-ray clearly shows the entire right orbit. After all of this, it is only appropriate that we read HEL's final comment on the right orbit (p. 139): "...because we know that it was impossible that any of the frontal or even forehead and orbital area bone or the vertex of the head was in fact lost, which it was not." [DM: I did not make this up.]

p. 33. HEL wonders if the X-rays have been enhanced too much [DM: for the original X-rays this would be an oxymoron], or possibly whether there was too much light [DM: another oxymoron-light is not used to expose original X-ray films] or whether the exposure of the X-ray beam was wrong. Regarding the latter, see a detailed analysis in my critique of Pat Speer, who raised the same question. (See item 10: "Were JFK's X-rays overexposed?" at JFK Autopsy X-rays: David Mantik vs. Pat Speer.) In fact, the X-rays were properly exposed. None of this makes any sense.

p. 45. HEL believes that the 6.5 mm fragment represents the base of a bullet. This is more than astonishing. Based on my extensive OD data (Assassination Science, pp. 120-137), HEL once seemed convinced that this 6.5 mm object was merely an artifact. This was, after all, the chief result of my OD data. But now HEL seems to have forgotten his prior agreement with me. In any case, the official story is that the nose and base of this bullet were found inside the limousine-so how can the base be visible on the X-ray? Larry Sturdivan, the HSCA ballistics expert has also stated that the 6.5 mm object must be an artifact. HEL disagrees with both of us.

p. 49. "No right lateral X-ray survives-just two left ones..." This is more drivel -one of each side exists in the Archives. If they were both from the same side I would have been able to visualize a 3D image (of metallic particles) via my stereo viewer, which I did try to see. That did not happen. Furthermore, radiology assistant Jerrol Custer unavoidably omitted the back of one of the laterals because of space constraints in the morgue; that alone demonstrates asymmetry between the two lateral X-rays. But numerous radiologists have likewise attested to both a left and right lateral. I agree with them.

p. 54. "A primary reason for altering the skull X-rays was that the large defect or hole in the back of the head created by an exiting bullet (seen by nearly all witnesses) had to be obliterated..." He repeats this again (page 75). The need for such a cover-up is totally false, as I discuss in detail in upcoming Harper fragment essay at the CTKA website; the defect caused by the Harper fragment lies at the very rear of the skull. Missing bone due to the Harper fragment is not (and never was) obvious on the X-rays, so it did not need to be covered up. I have never held (or stated) any other position, although others have misinterpreted my position on this matter.

p. 59. HEL implies that the M/W essay was suppressed, which is why he (HEL) could not obtain a copy. Our editor, Jim DiEugenio, however reports that this is false. Rather, the book is out of print and can only be purchased via e-book format.

p. 74. HEL asks how JFK's brain got out of the skull. For this, he should read Horne's discussion (Volume IV, e.g., p. 1005). Although HEL later (pp. 152-153) takes severe umbrage at my generally favorable review of Horne's Volume IV (, HEL missed the fundamental point: Humes had to remove the brain (illicitly, before the official autopsy began) in order to extract bullet fragments-or a conspiracy would have been obvious.

pp. 75-154. The discussion over these many pages is often repetitious; rather little new is introduced. However, some of these pages have already been cited above.

p. 155. HEL states that the Boyajian casket entry is a fantasy that ends with a bronze casket. He recalls Dallas doctor Kemp Clark's description (in the Warren Report) of a "bronze colored plastic casket." Horne has discussed these issues in great detail (Volume IV, pp. 988-1013). HEL does not wish to address this evidence.

p. 159. HEL accepts some witnesses for a tangential shot from the (right) front. See my Fiester review and my Harper fragment essay (previously cited) for more about the (almost certain) tangential headshot from the right front, which is consistent with Kemp Clark's description (and much other evidence).

p. 160. " was not necessarily Kennedy's head, but someone else's who they killed to manufacture this evidence." [DM: I did not make this up-also see p. 165.] HEL does not tell us here that the HSCA experts confirmed that the skull X-rays were, in fact, JFK's (p. 117). I, too, confirmed this, which HEL also fails to say. In addition, he does not tell us who "they" were, nor does he offer any details about when or who was substituted for JFK. And if it really was someone else, what are the odds that the substitute body also had no adrenal glands-and also had myelogram contrast dye in the lumbar area? And where did JFK's actual body (or head) go? Although HEL accuses me of ignoring "many complexities" (p. 159), perhaps HEL is merely describing himself.

p. 163. "The X-rays are what is called 'subtraction,' which is a composite made from several different pictures." HEL once seemed to understand (from me) that they were actually prepared via a double exposure (i.e., addition-not subtraction) in the dark room, but his memory has now faded.

p. 166. "All I know is, we do not need optical densitometry to prove any issue..." If HEL is correct about this, then all of the following conclusions go into the trash can: (1) the artifactual character of the 6.5 mm object, (2) the White Patch, (3) the near total absence of frontal brain, (4) the surprising amount of missing brain on both left and right sides of the skull, (5) the optical densities of the background air (which prove that the X-ray exposures were indeed reasonable), (6) the absence of a bullet entry or exit on the back of the skull, (7) the absence of soft tissue (brain, in particular) lying on the outside the skull, and (8) objective evidence for the location of the Harper fragment. HEL seems blissfully ignorant of how full his trash can would become.


HEL was once a heroic pioneer in the medical evidence. His books (and Lifton's contributions, too) were invaluable introductions for me. For that I am still grateful to both. Unfortunately, I see little of value in this book, but rather lots of pointless confusion. The book should not have been written-and it should not be read.

Last modified on Wednesday, 02 November 2016 22:24
David Mantik

David W. Mantik, MD, Ph.D., is a board certified radiation oncologist who previously served on the tenure-track physics faculty at U. Michigan. He received his PhD in physics from U. Wisconsin, his MD from Michigan, completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Stanford, and held a Junior Faculty Clinical Fellowship at USC.  He has visited the National Archives on nine separate occasions and has written extensively about the JFK medical evidence, particularly the autopsy images.  He has recently published an e-book, JFK’s Head Wounds.

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