Friday, 13 May 2022 16:40

Gagné Desperately Dispenses CPR for the Lone Gunman (Part 1)

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David W. Mantik responds to one of the newest books defending the Warren Commission, Thinking Critically about the Kennedy Assassination (2022) by Michel Jacques Gagné, with a genuine demonstration of critical thinking and its application to the evidence related to the assassination and its investigation. In part one of this two-part article, Dr. Mantik addresses Gagné’s analysis point-by-point.


Hi David, I just looked at the survey questions. These are WAY [sic] beyond my competency…Feel free to use the above and my earlier comments.

—Michael Shermer[1]

Another falsehood of this title [Gagné’s title] is thinking critically. As a criminology graduate with a first-class degree who applied critical criminological thinking to all his work, I can safely say no critical thinking has been applied to this one-sided rubbish.

—Anonymous Amazon Review (this constituted one-half of G’s reviews)

His volume is a cogent and incisive treatment of the whole assassination landscape, with a particular attention to recent conspiracy arguments…

—John McAdams, Ph.D.[2]

I concede that I am not an expert in any of these disciplines… [military history, ballistics, health sciences, photography and film and the like]

—Michel Jacques Gagné

It would take more than one book to respond to all of Aguilar’s and Mantik’s theories. Doing so would also force us to discuss complex medical procedures that might confuse the nonexpert and which this author does not have the medical training to debate in depth and detail. But this does not prevent us from identifying the many errors in logic and research that make Aguilar and Mantik’s theories refutable…

—Michel Jacques Gagné [3]

A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth.

—Daniel Kahneman[4]

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

—Aldous Huxley (who, like C.S. Lewis, also died on November 22, 1963)

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Michel Jacques Gagné. He teaches courses in critical thinking, political philosophy, philosophy of religion, and ethics at a junior college near Montreal, Canada. He has an M.A. in history with a thesis on civil rights. He enjoys discussing conspiracy theories, but has no specific training in science or medicine or forensics. He does not even cite any personal interviews with witnesses. By his own admission, his research has consisted solely of reviewing official sources and “thinking critically.” He has not been banned from the National Archives, nor has he ever visited there.

David Wayne Mantik. He completed his physics Ph.D. thesis on X-ray scattering from proteins while at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and then concluded his training with an NIH post-doctoral fellowship in biophysics at Stanford University (Grant FO2 GM37600). After several years on the tenure-track physics faculty at Michigan, he changed professions and graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School. He became Board Certified in Radiology after a residency at USC, where he was also awarded an American Cancer Society Junior Faculty Clinical Fellowship (#568). He next directed the residency training program at Loma Linda University, where he treated cancers with the proton beam. After 40 years now, he still treats cancer patients in radiation oncology—the only specialty in which knowledge of external anatomy is critical for precise targeting of cancers via modern imaging techniques. In this specialty, he is often required to read many X-rays every day. However, he is not board certified in the detection of forged X-rays—because no such specialty exists. He has visited the National Archives (specifically to view the JFK artifacts) on nine separate days. Like Michael Chesser, MD, he has now been banned from the National Archives (although not for misbehavior).

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NOTE: G identifies Gagné in the following discussion. My replies are identified by DM. The page numbers (in parentheses) refer to the Kindle edition (but these numbers may not be stable over time and usage).

G: “The logical principle of Ockhams’ razor” will serve as G’s guide. (xvii)

DM: On the contrary, it is not always possible to know which one of several conflicting theories is correct—or even which one is the simplest. For example, at the turn of the twentieth century, the ether was the simplest explanation. Does G therefore now believe in the ether?

Furthermore, there is no empirical evidence that the world is simple. For example, who would describe quantum theory as simpler than classical mechanics? So, does G truly not accept quantum mechanics (which I have studied over many semesters)?

The fundamental mistake that G makes is to assume that we can transpose a philosophico-scientific principle to the complex JFK case. In fact, he uses this pretext to gloss over (a la Michael Shermer) multifaceted, but crucial medical and scientific data, thus falling prey to confirmation bias. Also, recall that G has forthrightly admitted that he has no special expertise in the required areas for this case. Inevitably then, he alights on an improbable knife edge, where, like Humpty Dumpty, he often falls off and crashes. Moreover, he has not even read my peer-reviewed articles; even worse though, he—quite paradoxically—touts peer-reviewed articles as reliable treasure troves, but he never explains why he has excluded mine from his reading list.

Occam’s (or Ockhams’) razor can be useful in specific settings. For example, doctors use a version of it—“when you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras”—to ensure they go for the simplest diagnosis to explain their patient’s symptoms.[5]

G: “…my acceptance of certain conspiracy theories had less to do with the strength of the evidence and more to do with my emotional and existential needs for an inspiring story that gave my life meaning.” (xvii)

DM: My career, my family, and my hobbies provided complete fulfillment before I encountered the JFK case. I did not need this case for any self-realization. Besides, I was then already over 50 years of age.

G: We should “be ready to follow sound logic and clear evidence wherever these lead…and engage in meaningful and respectful exchanges.” (xviii)

DM: Contrary to his claim, G never cites the most powerful scientific evidence in this case—the optical density data[6] taken directly from the extant autopsy X-rays at the National Archives. And he has never tried to exchange any ideas with me—even though my e-mail address appears in my online (peer-reviewed) articles.

G: “We must be ready to tolerate uncertainty…” (xviii)

DM: On the other hand, G is never uncertain about the lone gunman! He implies that every single piece of evidence supports it.

G: “I have made every effort to avoid resorting to personal attacks.” (xxii)

DM: Here are quotes from G—do these seem like personal attacks?

“While we could surmise that Mantik, Aguilar, and Fetzer have simply been short-sighted, a final example suggests that they were purposefully duplicitous.” (367)

And then try this one:

“…Mantik is seeing monsters in his bedroom closet.” (372)

Or this one:

“…Mantik indulges in a five-page flight of fancy of photographic ‘what-ifs’…” (383)

G: “…conspiracists rarely submit their convictions to the scrutiny of formal logical analysis…careful critical thinking threatens to undermine the fragility of their untested theories, which can, in turn, trigger a personal crisis of faith…” (6)

DM: Just so, but G has not submitted his own convictions to the three alarming signs of X-ray alteration.[7] In fact, he totally avoids all three, even though the meaning of the T-shaped inscription (see the images at the end of this review) is purely a matter of common sense—the argument was instantly anticipated by my 15-year-old son (a non-radiologist) when I began to describe the evidence. And insofar as the lone gunman is concerned, if that baseless theory were proven to be true, my world view would be radically improved—and I would certainly not have a crisis of faith.

G: He cites “Richard Hofstadter’s influential 1964 essay, ‘The Paranoid Style in American Politics’…In Hofstadter’s view, conspiracism [that is G’s word—Richard did not use it] is essentially the fruit of economic and political angst, a fear of being dispossessed by suspicious minority groups…” (8)

DM: Richard Hofstadter’s article[8] was first published in Harper’s Magazine on the first anniversary of the JFK assassination—in November 1964.[9] What are the odds of that?

Furthermore, and quite contrary to G, no pertinent economic or political angst led me into this JFK case.

G: “JFK conspiracists are largely left-leaning liberals in their political views.” (8)

DM: That is not me—at all. I am more accurately described as a classical liberal (a la Adam Smith and John Locke).[10]

G: “Americans are most likely to believe in CTs when they feel themselves locked out of power…” (10)

DM: Although I believe in CT scanners, G’s description does not remotely apply to me. I have no interest in power, particularly not in political power. My career bears clear witness to that, although I know colleagues who fit that description quite well.

G: “British psychologist Patrick Leman similarly argues that conspiracism arises out of a condition called anomie: feelings of general disaffection, rejection, or disempowerment from society” (11).

         DM: I do not recognize myself here—at all.

G: “Kay identifies seven personality types that are easily seduced…those muddling through a mid-life crisis [I am 81 years old]; failed historians [not me]; mothers with autistic children [probably not me]; cosmic voyagers; cranks; evangelical doomsayers; and radical firebrands.” (12)

DM: None of my friends would recognize any of my new personas here. Furthermore, I wonder which members of the 9/11 Commission would fit G’s descriptors—after all, they proposed a conspiracy that included 15 Saudis!

G: “CTs are an example of what happens when people base their convictions on fears, unjustified suppositions, and wishful thinking instead of sound reason and investigation.” (15)

DM: So, that is what happened to me because I took hundreds of data points (from the extant autopsy X-rays and photographs) during my nine visits to the National Archives?

G: “Most conspiracists are notorious for insufficiently referencing their sources…I have selected expert academic or journalistic sources whose authors are subject to a rigid editorial process.” (16)

DM: My forthcoming hardcover book will include over 900 footnotes. Several of my articles have been published in peer-reviewed journals, but G cites none of them. In that case, how did he know that they were not subjected to a “rigid editorial process?”

G: “Kennedy crumpled sideways onto his wife.” (26)

DM: On the contrary, the Z-film shows that JFK was initially thrown violently backward. Did G miss the head snap? (As we shall see below— he barely noticed it!)

G: “[Oswald]…was a former US Marine trained to shoot rifles at long-range targets.” (27)

DM: Between May 8, 1959, and November 22, 1963, despite diligent efforts by the FBI, no evidence was ever unearthed to show that Oswald fired a weapon during those 1,600+ days (which is even longer than US involvement in WW II).[11] Moreover, Marine Colonel Allison Folsom,[12] testifying before the Warren Commission (WC), characterized Oswald (while he was in the Marines and using a Marine-issued M-1) as “a rather poor shot.”

Charles de Gaulle survived over 30 assassination attempts,[13] but (according to G) JFK could not survive even one attempt by Lee Harvey Oswald. If you genuinely believe this, you have a lot to explain, especially since JFK was hit by multiple bullets (as everyone agrees) from more difficult shots. Moreover, if G is correct, why did the OAS not hire Oswald to kill de Gaulle instead of squandering its resources over so many failed attempts?[14]

G: “Some witnesses described a man similar to Oswald standing in the sixth-floor window.” (27)

DM: Only one witness made such a claim, which he later retracted. Besides, the window was partially closed and only a small portion of the body would have been visible. But G’s approach here is oxymoronic—after all, he claims not to trust eyewitness testimony, so why does he cite a witness at all? The same bizarre paradox soon occurs when he cites witnesses who claimed to see Oswald at the Tippit murder scene. (28) Since when, given his penchant for “critical thinking,” is being inconsistent (about the reliability of witnesses) truly required for critical thinking?

G: “A 6.5 mm Mannlicher-Carcano rifle was also found stashed between stacks of boxes.” (28) “No evidence of 7.65-millimeter bullets, casings, or fragments [sic] was ever found anywhere in the TSBD or Dealey Plaza.” (283)

DM: G cites the several policemen who initially described a different weapon. Weitzman described the weapon that he and Boone discovered as “a 7.65 Mauser bolt action, equipped with a 4/18 scope, a thick leather brownish-black sling on it.” (Click here for details) But, of course, G fails to cite the report of my friend, Noel Twyman, who during the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), discovered a receipt for a 7.65 mm Mauser shell recovered from Dealey Plaza. The shell was found between November 22 and December 2, 1963.[15]

G: “A handmade paper bag [was] recovered on the sixth floor of the TSBD…” (29)

DM: Two different paper bags may have existed; furthermore, no photograph was taken at the time of discovery. To salvage his story, G omits most of the relevant evidence. (Click here for details) The FBI had two reports on the paper used for the bag—one stated that the paper was “not identical” with the book depository paper, while the other stated that the paper had the same “observable characteristics.” The astute reader can likely guess which one was prepared last.[16] Of course, we learn none of this from G.

G: “[The Carcano]…had been purchased the previous spring from a Chicago sports store…” (29)

DM:

  1. The WC was never able to prove that Oswald received the weapon through the post office.

  2. The bank deposit slip read February 15, 1963, even though Oswald did not order the weapon until March 1963!

  3. In the book depository, the police found a 40.2-inch carbine with a 4-power scope.

  4. Oswald ordered a 36-inch carbine in March 1963; the 40-inch weapon was not advertised for sale until April 1963.

  5. Klein’s employee, Mitchell Westra stated, “Klein’s would not have mounted scopes on 40-inch Mannlicher-Carcanos.”

  6. Klein’s microfilm records disappeared.

  7. The FBI did not find Oswald’s fingerprints on the money order.

  8. The clip was still inside the weapon when it was found even though it is nearly impossible for an empty clip to remain there.

  9. The serial number was not unique—John Lattimer owned the same weapon with the same serial number. (C 2766)[17]

G: “The same weapon was used linked to the ammunition used to kill Tippit.” (29)

DM: This is a remarkably childlike approach to the complexities of the Tippit murder. For a much fuller explication read the 675-page Into the Nightmare (2013) by my fellow Badger, Joe McBride. Sergeant Gerald Hill had told Officer James Poe to mark two shells with his initials, but when Poe examined the shells for the WC, his initials had disappeared! Even G’s bald-faced claim that the shells matched the gun is far from certain,[18] but we can no longer expect G to express even a sliver of doubt when evidence favors his biases. For example, nowhere does he mention the conundrums posed by the multiple wallets in the Tippit scenario. This is critical thinking?

G: “The evidence against Oswald was strong.” (29)

DM: The evidence against Oswald was contaminated. Even Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry became a vocal doubter of the lone gunman theory: “We don’t have any proof that Oswald fired the rifle, and never did. Nobody’s yet been able to put him in that building with a gun in his hand.”

G: “The entrance wound in the president’s back, for instance, could finally be linked to the wound in his throat (as an exit wound).” (30)

DM: Three members of the WC—Hale Boggs, Richard Russell, and John Cooper—thought that the single bullet theory (SBT) was improbable.[19] Russell even insisted that his opposition be printed in the report; of course, this was not done. In any case, the SBT is anatomically impossible—see my many discussions of this issue as well as my demonstration of this faux pas on a CT scan.[20]

In late 1966, Jim Garrison was on a flight with Louisiana Senator Russell Long, who convinced him that the Warren Commission Report was fiction.

More importantly, the Magic Bullet (of SBT fame) is irrelevant—its provenance has long since been trashed by Tink Thompson and by Dr. Gary Aguilar.[21] Even worse though, two bullets arrived at the FBI lab that night (see my online FFF lecture[22]). Which one of these bullets does G accept? He does not say—so we do not know. Perhaps G does not know either?

If Oswald had acted alone, why then are his tax returns still being withheld for “national security reasons?” And why did Gerald R. Ford, my fellow Michigan alumnus and near neighbor in Rancho Mirage, tell the former French president (Valery Giscard D'Estaing) in 1976 that “It wasn’t a lone assassin.[23] It was a plot. We knew for sure that it was a plot. But we didn’t find who was behind it.”[24]

G: “The Dallas DA reached the conclusion that Oswald did murder Kennedy, that he probably did so alone [sic].”

DM: Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade (6 PM, November 22, 1963): “Preliminary reports indicated more than one person was involved in the shooting.” The legendary Dallas DA ran a conviction machine that was results-oriented (i.e., not truth oriented).[25] Wade obtained 19 convictions that were later overturned. Oswald might well have been #20. So, should we accept Wade as a “critical thinker?”

G: “The suspect, it turned out, had expressed hatred for the United States on several occasions…” (30)

DM: Did G fail to read Oswald’s speech (in July 1963) at the Jesuit House of Studies at Spring Hill College near Mobile, Alabama? He does not cite it. In this rather private setting, where he presumably shared his real opinions, Oswald has little good to say about communism or communists, whom he describes as “a pitiful bunch.”[26]> This is more critical thinking by G?

G: “[The Warren Commission] would paint him as a disgruntled and unstable loner.” (30)

DM: If so, why then was Paul Bleau able to show that Oswald had either plausible, probable, or definite intelligence links to at least 64 individuals?[27] Does that seem like more than average? And Senator Richard Schweiker (The Village Voice, 1975) stated: “We do know Oswald had intelligence connections. Everywhere you look with him, there are fingerprints of intelligence.”

G: “…the rifle’s ammunition closely resembled pieces of lead recovered from Connally’s body and bullet fragments found inside the limousine.”

DM: This is disgraceful. Even I have no idea what G means by “resembled.” If he means that it was visibly similar, then that is meaningless. If he means that it was matched by neutron activation analysis, then he is hopelessly out of date. And he surely cannot mean that lands and grooves matched—because lead fragments would be useless for this. Is this truly the best we can expect from “critical thinking?”

G: “The Commission also discovered that the ammunition fired at Kennedy…shared a resemblance with a slug found at the site of an unsolved cold case...photographs of Walker’s house were found among Oswald’s possessions…” (36)

DM: This is the logical fallacy of the a priori argument, which our critical thinker should immediately recognize. Furthermore, “resemblance” is meaningless—unless G ties it to some specific scientific evidence, which he forgets to do. This is merely more of G’s “critical thinking.” In fact, the Walker ballistics evidence is very much in doubt. Walker himself claimed repeatedly that CE-573, the bullet fragment supposedly retrieved from the scene of the shooting, was not the fragment he had held in his hand and examined.[28] Furthermore, how could Oswald miss such an easy stationary target, but then be so precise with much more difficult (and multiple) shots on November 22?[29] (G also does not inform us that the rear license plate on the vehicle in that photograph had been suspiciously cut out!)

G: The JFK autopsy “was performed by a team of pathologists with insufficient experience with forensic investigations.” (38)

DM: In a book already jam-packed with myths, this is merely one more. Humes conducted the weekly brain cutting sessions at Bethesda, so he surely knew how to examine a brain. To appreciate the respect in which Humes was held by his pathology colleagues during the HSCA investigation, just read Real Answers (1998) by Gary Cornwell.

But that point is merely the tip of the iceberg. Humes was not a victim of inexperience. On the contrary, he was an active participant in the cover-up. We recently learned this from Rob Couteau: Perry claimed that one or more of the autopsy doctors warned him (during a telephone call that night) that he would appear before a medical board if he continued to insist on his story (about a throat entry wound). Perry said they threatened to take away his medical license.[30]

G: “Precedence should be given to physical evidence…” (41)

DM: If so, why does G totally ignore the optical density data—which may be the most important physical evidence of all? Moreover, this data was confirmed some years ago at the National Archives by Michael Chesser, M.D.[31] But G does not even cite Chesser!

G: “…the single bullet theory was not accepted unanimously by its [the WC] staffers…” (41)

DM: (Final Report of the ARRB, 1998, p. 11): “Doubts about the Warren Commission’s findings were not restricted to ordinary Americans. Well before 1978, President Johnson, Robert Kennedy, and four of the seven members of the Warren Commission all articulated, if sometimes off the record, some level of skepticism about the Commission’s findings.”

G: “As we shall see, the WC’s findings have been scrutinized, verified, and largely accepted by a wide range of historians, forensics, and ballistics experts…” (42)

DM: I wonder how many of these purported experts have made nine visits to the National Archives to examine the JFK artifacts. And how many of these experts actually examined JFK’s body and brain? After all, this is the only traditional means of ascertaining the cause of death. In particular, photographs are never a satisfactory substitute for the body or for the brain. Finally, how many were trained to detect (illegitimate) photographic or X-ray alterations? I can assure you that there is no such specialty. Even forensic pathologists are typically unaware that, of Rembrandt’s supposed original 600 paintings, only 300 are now considered authentic. Ironically, X-rays have been used to decide this issue. Does G know anything about any of this? If so, he does not say.

G: “…the CIA later explained that its Mexico City station had simply photographed the wrong man.” (Chapter 2, footnote 43)

DM: G disingenuously regards this merely as proof of their disorganization, but not as proof of their role as accessories in a coverup

Even J. Edgar Hoover knew that an imposter had played a role: “We have up here the tape and the photograph of the man who was at the Soviet Embassy using Oswald’s name. That picture and the tape [sent by the CIA] do not correspond to this man’s voice, nor to his appearance.”

Even Robert G. Blakey concluded that the CIA had lied. (Click here for details) Does G not know this?

G: “…the name Hidell was that of a former acquaintance in the US Marines.” (Chapter 2, footnote 44)

DM: Richard Case Nagell had been a US counterintelligence officer from 1955 to 1959. Oswald’s path converged with Nagell’s in Tokyo, where both worked in an operation code namedHidell.” In 1963, Nagell worked with Soviet intelligence in Mexico City. (See chapter 4 in the book by Jim Douglass.) On October 31, 1995, the ARRB mailed Nagell a letter from Washington, DC, seeking access to documents about the JFK conspiracy. The very next day (November 1, 1995) Nagell was found dead in the bathroom of his Los Angeles house. For more about Nagell (and his remarkable parallels with Oswald), see The Man Who Knew Too Much (1992), by Dick Russell (i.e., not Richard Russell, Jr., the WC member). Of course, you will look in vain for a reference to Dick’s book in G’s book.

G: “However, it remains possible that Tague’s injury had another unexplained cause.” (Chapter 2, footnote 65)

DM: After G warns us against the speculations of conspiracists, this is an example of critical thinking? Why else would Tague’s cheek have been struck in Dealey Plaza? Just what is our “critical thinker” pondering here to explain a cheek injury?[32]

G: “A myth is a story made up…that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people.” (50)

DM: This is a perfect description of the lone gunman potion that has been served up to the public by the power elite, which now includes the media. G has finally hit the nail on the head. The lone gunman has perfect explanatory power for them. And it truly is all about power, just as G has claimed all along.

G: “Chomsky’s volume responds to claims that Kennedy, had he survived, would have pulled American troops out of Vietnam…” And then G claims, “Kennedy thus completely misunderstood…the plight of the people of South Vietnam…” (59)

DM: G seems too timid to clarify his own views on this subject so he hides behind Chomsky. However, Harvard historian Fredrik Logevall (of course, he is not cited in G’s book) does not agree with Chomsky’s conclusion—at all. He is the Laurence D. Belfer Professor of International Affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. Read his book, Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam (1999). On the contrary he believes that Johnson immediately changed course. Has G read this book, or the books by John Newman or David Kaiser or Gordon Goldstein or Jim Blight or Richard Mahoney? Perhaps G really prefers to limit what he reads. After all, he seems irresponsibly ignorant in medicine, in science, and now in history.

G: “President Johnson and his entourage quietly wondered whether the Russians or Cubans had something to do with all this.” (60)

DM: LBJ apparently stated: “I never believed that Oswald acted alone…” LBJ added that the government “…had been operating a damned Murder Inc. in the Caribbean.” (Click here for details)

G: “Two days later, during a memorial service held at Capitol Hill, the Supreme Court judge [oddly not named, but clearly Earl Warren] would again intone that Kennedy had been a ‘believer in the dignity and equality of all human beings…’” (63)

DM: Since Oswald had not yet been killed, Warren had unethically prejudged the accused assassin.[33] In the American justice system, the accused must be presumed innocent when the trial starts. Judges especially must not proclaim the guilt of the accused in the court of public opinion. So, how did Warren forget this—and then get away with this serious breach of ethics? Did he merely toss his ethical standards into the trash bin? Instead, he publicly seized upon the lone assassin myth while he asserted, “…an apostle of peace has been snatched from our midst by the bullet of an assassin. What moved some misguided wretch to do this horrible deed may never be known to us…”[34] Does this suggest that Warren was open-minded to conspiracy?

G: “…the vast majority of conspiracist works have undiscriminatingly accepted the ‘saintly’ view of President Kennedy as a great humanist.” (72)

DM: I did not even vote for him.

G: “…there is a strong left-liberal or libertarian bias running through much of this literature…” (72)

DM: None of my friends or family would recognize me as a left liberal.

G: “Garrison was right to say that Clay Shaw worked for the CIA.” (98)

DM: Kudos to G for acknowledging that Shaw was a paid CIA informant. In fact, Shaw had worked for the CIA since 1949, first starting as a contract agent—and he had filed 30 reports for the CIA during 1949–1956.[35] In order to facilitate his private life as a gay person, he had used the name Clay Bertrand. However, G does not inform us that, by the end of Shaw’s trial, the jury (perhaps all of them) had come to believe in a JFK conspiracy.[36]

G: “…Dan Rather produced an ambitious four-part investigation…that vindicated the Warren Report.” (84)

DM: This was on CBS during June 25–28, 1967. Nonetheless, Rather had also reported that, in the original Z-film (as he viewed it that initial weekend) JFK had gone forward—just the opposite of what we now see in the extant film. Robert Tanenbaum (Deputy Chief Counsel for the HSCA) directly confirmed to me a remarkable 1993 confession by Dan Rather (Jim DiEugenio, Probe, January-February 1999, p.3): “We really blew it on the Kennedy assassination.” Does G know this?

G: “However, it is rarely acknowledged by most conspiracists that the HSCA’s acoustic evidence …was impeached almost immediately…” (94, 113)

DM: Then I am indeed a rare bird, since I have never accepted the acoustics case of the HSCA. In fact, over ten years ago, I wrote a 100+ page, extremely critical review of Don Thomas’s book (an update is now at my website). And my new hardcover book will include further devastation of this issue, along with lethal comments from the reigning acoustics expert, Michael O’Dell. My update should bring closure to this hopelessly conjured case. So, in view of this, will G then stop calling me a conspiracist? I shall not hold my breath for his great awakening.

G: The ARRB “…found no cover-up.” (100)

DM: However, the ARRB final summary did emphasize that the Secret Service had quite deliberately destroyed pertinent records of JFK’s trips—even after the ARRB had warned them not to do so.

More importantly though, the board members had no clue about the medical evidence. I wrote a letter to the chairman, John Tunheim, and included about 20 questions to be distributed to each board member. The purpose was to ascertain their level of knowledge about (and interest in) the medical evidence. Although John promised to forward this questionnaire to his colleagues, I never received a reply from anyone. That told me all I needed to know. Douglas Horne (a nonmedical person), who served on the ARRB staff for several years, was also appalled at the medical ignorance (both of the board and its staff—except for lawyer Jeremy Gunn), so we should not be surprised at their misleading summary.

As Horne tellingly wrote, “I know from personal observation that not one Board member attended one medical witness deposition and I was reliably informed by Jeremy Gunn that not one Board Member read the transcript of any medical deposition during the active lifespan of the ARRB.”[37]

G: He cites John Costella once. (101)

DM: Yet John, with his physics PhD and his vast technical knowledge of optics, is the world’s expert on the Z-film. He has clearly demonstrated, via clever mathematical transformations, exactly where (inside the film) and how this film was altered. G is technically unable to address these issues, so he wisely chose to bypass Costella’s stunning work.[38]

G: He cites “Interview with Former NIPC [sic] Employees: The Zapruder Film in November 1963” in Fetzer (2000). Horne is also the focus of several low-budget online interviews and lectures such as ‘Altered History: Exposing Deceit and Deception in the JFK Assassination Medical Evidence…’” (115)

DM: G’s typo escaped him—the reference should be to NPIC, the National Photographic and Interpretation Center. And G needlessly tries to impugn Horne’s effort by calling it a “low-budget” offering. This is a strike below the waist. In fact, Horne produced an excellent documentary—which still remains unrefuted. Of course, G says little about it.

G: “All those who knew him agree that Oswald was a tight-lipped and enigmatic figure who rarely shared his own thoughts, even with those close to him.” (210)

DM: Prof. Ernst Titovets, MD, PhD, is the author and the only English-speaking friend of Oswald in Minsk. So his book (Oswald: Russian Episode) offers a unique insight into the authentic Oswald. Exceptional in assassination-related literature, Oswald emerges here as a fully human character without the burdens of post-assassination history and conjecture, which often either distort his character or his motivations.[39] I have read this book, but Titovets is not cited in G’s book. Surely G should read this entire book before concluding anything about Oswald, but here again we are assailed by G’s ever-present “critical thinking,” in which in-depth research is quite unnecessary.

G: “One of the most succinct and comprehensive conspiracist descriptions of what happened…is found in Oliver Stone’s 1991 JFK.” (243)

DM: I disagree. It would be wiser to consult a real expert—an actual sniper. For example, read Fry The Brain: The Art of Urban Sniping and its Role in Modern Guerrilla Warfare (2008) by John West. Has G read this book? I doubt it—as he does not cite it.

G: “Shortly after the assassination Lt. J.C. Day…did lift…a palm print belonging to Oswald from the rifle barrel…” (278–279)

DM: In my acerbic, online critique of John McAdams, I have summarized the (dishonest) use of fingerprints in the courtroom, with special emphasis on its abuse in the Oswald matter.[40] Very recently we have learned even more about junk science in the courtroom: forensic scientists have often overstated the strength of evidence from tire tracks, fingerprints, bullet marks, and bite marks.[41] And John McAdams committed the same fallacy in his book.

G’s forensic knowledge of fingerprints is gravely delinquent. He has not read my summary here. And he has ignored the statements of experts: “When somebody tells you, ‘I think this is a match or not a match,’ they ought to tell you an estimate of the statistical uncertainty about it”—Constantine Gatsonis, Brown University statistician.

He has also misinterpreted Carl Day, who took Oswald’s palm print. In 1964, Day refused to sign a written statement confirming his fingerprint findings. (See WC Exhibit 3145, which is the FBI interview of September 9, 1964) When FBI expert, Sebastian Latona, got the weapon from Day, he found no prints of value, no evidence of fingerprint traces, and no evidence of a lift. Furthermore, Day took no photographs of this palm print—either before or after he supposedly lifted it. (Click here for details)

In 2009, a committee at the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) concluded: “No forensic method has been rigorously shown to have the capacity to consistently, and with a high degree of certainty, demonstrate a connection between evidence and a specific individual or source.” In other words, judges and juries have sent (many) people to prison (and some to their deaths) based on bogus science.[42]

Also see Pat Speer’s comments here.

G: “…Kennedy’s throat wound was not visible to the pathologists at Bethesda…” (306)

DM: This is utterly false, as discussed in detail in my forthcoming book.

First, Boswell has repeatedly claimed (from early on) that they did know about it.

Second, we do not even require Boswell’s recollection. The bruising at the right lung apex immediately told Humes that the apex had been struck by a projectile on Elm St—and the only possible cause was a throat shot. He already knew that the back wound was superficial and that it was far too inferior to explain the throat wound (just look closely at the face sheet—it is obvious there). Furthermore, while at the National Archives, I had a model wear JFK’s jacket—the bullet hole was preposterously low. (And yes, I have seen the photograph of the bunched-up collar on Elm St.) Besides, the jacket tells us nothing about the bullet hole in the shirt, which is also ridiculously low (as I observed at the National Archives). Many eyewitnesses have also confirmed this.

Third—and even worse—we have just learned that Malcolm Perry (who performed the tracheostomy) had immediately (and in private), confirmed his initial conclusion: the throat wound was an entry.[43]

Fourth, Malcom Perry originally recalled (for the WC) phone calls on November 22. Parkland nurse, Audrey Bell,[44] reported that Perry had told her that he had been kept awake by such calls during the night.

Fifth, Dr. John Ebersole, the autopsy radiologist, told me (now on a recorded interview at the National Archives) that the first phone call had occurred at 10:30 PM and that a second one followed, still during the autopsy.[45]

Sixth, Pathologist Dr. Robert Karnei (who would have performed the autopsy on anyone but JFK—and who retired in July 1991 as director of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology) recalled hearing of such calls before the body left the morgue.

Seventh, William Manchester, in his 1967 book wrote this: “Commander James J. Humes, Bethesda’s chief of pathology, telephoned Perry in Dallas shortly after midnight…”[46]

Eighth, the commanding officer of the Bethesda Naval Hospital (Capt. Robert Canada, MD) told Michael Kurtz that “…we were aware from telephone calls to Dallas and from news reports that the president had an entrance wound in the throat…”[47]


[1] Shermer is one of Gagné’s (positive) reviewers. The quotation is excerpted from his e-mails to me. The pertinent JFK assassination survey (with Shermer’s quote) is at my website: The Mantik View - Articles and Research on the JFK Assassination by David W. Mantik M.D.,Ph. D.. My website also includes a review of Shermer’s naïve view of the JFK assassination.

[2] Gagné’s book was published in 2022, but McAdams died on April 15, 2021. John was an associate professor of political science at Marquette University, where he taught courses on American politics, public policy, and voter behavior, but he had no training in science or medicine or in forensics. “How to Think Like John McAdams” is my critique of his book; this critique is at my website. Like McAdams, Gagné offers not a single reference to standard works on logical fallacies. During the ten years after I wrote this devastating critique of his book, McAdams mumbled not a single word in self-defense. And McAdams is surely wrong about Gagné being up to date. For, example, Gagné never cites my e-book, JFK’s Head Wounds (2015), which is far more current than my earlier work (which was mostly based in the 20th century). My current hardcover book (of 600+ pages), Paradoxes of the JFK Assassination (2022), will soon be released on Amazon. It should also be emphasized that none of Gagné’s reviewers are (or were) forensic science experts—nor does he quote any forensic pathologists, although he enjoys alluding to them. On the other hand, Cyril Wecht, MD, JD, who cheers my work (and who accompanied me on my first visit the National Archives), is the past president of both the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the American College of Legal Medicine.

[3] My research is most notable for its experimental data, taken directly from the extant JFK autopsy X-rays at the National Archives—it is not especially notable for any theories. In fact, if I were asked what my theories were, I would be momentarily mystified. G seems haplessly disoriented and incapable of distinguishing between experiment and theory—and so he never cites my optical density data. For him it is sufficient merely to pronounce a conclusion, as in a papal-like edict, i.e., if he makes a claim then that is adequate—no proof need be forthcoming. We are plainly off to an unfortunate start, especially for a supposed “critical thinker.”

[4] Kahneman was the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his seminal work in psychology. The quotation appears in Thinking Fast and Slow (2011).

[5] Exactly so. When my son had anomalous symptoms, his primary care doctor recited the zebra rule. Instead, after my diagnosis of an exceedingly rare, growth hormone secreting pituitary adenoma proved to be correct, I told this excellent physician, “Don’t let a zebra bit you in the rear.” If I had taken Gagné’s advice, my son might have become incurable—instead of being cured by surgery. But now he will soon complete his medical residency and take his board certification examinations.

[6] Greg Henkelmann, M.D. (physics major and radiation oncologist): “Dr. Mantik’s optical density analysis is the single most important piece of scientific evidence in the JFK assassination. To reject alteration of the JFK skull X-rays is to reject basic physics and radiology.” Unbelievably, the phrase “optical density” appears nowhere in G’s book. Exactly how does a “critical thinker” justify ignoring such hard scientific data? Meanwhile, G accuses me of being selective in citing evidence! (My original optical density article appeared in Assassination Science (1998), edited by James Fetzer, pp. 120ff.)

[7] https://www.fff.org/freedom-in-motion/video/jfks-head-wounds/

[8] See A Conspiracy So Dense: Richard Hofstadter’s “Paranoid Style” – Brewminate: A Bold Blend of News and Ideas and also Richard Hofstadter’s Brilliant Essay Misled Us About the Paranoid Style of American Politics | History News Network. Unfortunately, Richard had overlooked the chronic conspiracy theories found in the mainstream, e.g., the recent Russia Collusion Hoax, the Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction, as well as those persistently devised by the CIA (such as the so-called Missile Gap during the Kennedy era).

[9] According to Wikipedia, on November 21, 1964 (sic) Hofstadter delivered the Herbert Spencer Lecture at Oxford University (on this same subject).

[10] What Is Classical Liberalism? Definition and Examples (thoughtco.com). I am also sympathetic with “the constrained vision,” as described in A Conflict of Visions (2002), by Thomas Sowell; but I also empathize with Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo’s Tragic Sense of Life (1921). But none of this should matter in assessing the JFK assassination evidence.

[11] As a more current example, Tiger Woods had recently gone 1700+ days without a major tournament win.

[12] Frazier RA: Testimony of Robert A. Frazier before the Warren Commission: http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/russ/testimony/frazr1.htm).

[13] How Charles de Gaulle Survived Over Thirty Assassination Attempts (theculturetrip.com)

[14] By late 1963, there was an international pool of 2,000 to 3,000 highly trained and motivated assassins, ready and willing to make a buck: JFK: The French Connection (2012) by Peter Kross, Kindle, 4820. If G is correct, however, none of them could match the success rate of Lee Harvey Oswald, who worked for free.

[15] Max Holland Says Enough! (kennedysandking.com)

[16] Bugliosi supposedly solved this conflict—by claiming that the reports were from different days, thus implying that further work had clarified the situation. Unfortunately for Bugliosi, both reports were created on the same day (November 30, 1963). Pat Speer has even argued (with surprising support) that the bag currently in evidence is not the original one. This issue is further confounded by the fact that the police did not photograph the bag where they say it was found; in fact, it was not photographed at all until November 26, 1963!

[17] Kennedy and Lincoln (1980), John Lattimer, p. 250: “In 1974 and 1975, my sons and I had conducted a series of experiments with a 6.5 mm Mannlicher-Carcano carbine, model 91-38, serial number C2766…exactly like Oswald’s.”

[18] FBI agent Cortland Cunningham (not in G’s book) could not match the bullets (taken from Tippit) to Oswald’s supposed handgun (WC Volume 3, p. 465). Did G actually read Cortland’s report here: Cortlandt Cunningham (whokilledjfk.net)?

[19] Even the initial FBI investigation did not accept the SBT! And JFK’s personal physician did not accept the SBT either: Admiral George Burkley, MD, refused to agree that there had been only one shooter: JFK Revisited Misleads on Dr. Burkley’s Suspicions of a Conspiracy (onthetrailofdelusion.com). Of note, Burkley had been the only physician at both Parkland and at Bethesda, so if he did not inform the pathologists about the throat wound, then he promptly became a culprit in the cover-up. On the other hand, my good friend Dr. Robert Livingston had telephoned Dr. Humes before the autopsy and told him about the throat wound. Surely Dr. Humes was not so senile as to forget this within the next few minutes: Robert B. Livingston (spartacus-educational.com). Dr. Livingston repeated this claim under oath in the lawsuit against JAMA, in which JAMA had defamed Dr. Charles Crenshaw. My professional society (the AMA) rightfully lost that suit: Item 33.pdf (hood.edu).

[20] Murder in Dealey Plaza (2000), pp. 252ff, edited by James Fetzer. The dispositive CT scan is illustrated in Document 45 of Cover-Up (1998) by Stewart Galanor.

[21] The Magic Bullet: Even More Magical than We Knew (history-matters.com)

[22] https://www.fff.org/freedom-in-motion/video/jfks-head-wounds/

[23] http://jfkfacts.org/president-ford-spoke-jfk-plot-says-former-french-president/.

I asked Ford to autograph his Oswald book for me, which he promptly did, reminding me (while he signed with his left hand) that he was the last surviving member of the WC. Perhaps I got lucky—he did not seem to recognize me.

[24] https://www.facebook.com/killjfk/posts/586489194733140

[25] Wade had obviously forgotten (or more likely had never learned) the Canons of Professional Ethics, Canon 5 (1908): “The primary duty of the lawyer engaged in public prosecution is not to convict, but to see that justice is done.”

[26] http://22november1963.org.uk/lee-oswald-speech-in-alabama

[27] https://kennedysandking.com/john-f-kennedy-articles/oswald-s-intelligence-connections-how-richard-schweiker-clashes-with-fake-history.

[28] For his correspondence, see Justice Department Criminal Division File 62–117290–1473.

[29] http://22november1963.org.uk/lee-oswald-speech-in-alabama

[30] Kennedys And King - The Ordeal of Malcolm Perry

[31] Assassination of JFK – A Review of the JFK Cranial x-Rays and Photographs. Chesser discovered the presence of many tiny metallic particles near JFK’s forehead on the two lateral X-rays—as well as a small hole in the skull at that site, consistent with the passage of a bullet through the forehead. These observations can only lead to one conclusion: JFK was hit in the forehead by a bullet. (Actually, there is much more evidence for this, as I have outlined.) Although Chesser’s online lecture occurred in 2015, G is blissfully unaware of it. Of course, he cannot be allowed to know this, or else his entire case would collapse—and his book would be totally useless, except for lighting a fireplace.

[32] JFK’s cheek had several (highly suggestive) puncture wounds, which I have discussed, but G seems unaware of these.

[33] Oswald had been killed only a few hours before Warren’s eulogy, but Earl had likely prepared his address while Lee was still alive.

[34] Eulogies for President Kennedy | JFK Library

[35] The French Connection (2012), Kindle p. 239, by Peter Kross.

[36] Max Holland Says Enough! (kennedysandking.com)

[37] Inside the Assassination Records Review Board (2009), by Douglas P. Horne, Volume 1, p. 17.

[38] A Scientist's Verdict: The Film is a Fabrication - John P. Costella, Ph.D. (assassinationscience.com)

[39] I have adapted this comment from the Amazon website.

[40] https://kennedysandking.com/john-f-kennedy-reviews/mcadams-john-jfk-assassination-logic-how-to-think-about-claims-of-conspiracy-1. Regarding fingerprints, for Frontline in 1993, Vincent Scalese (the HSCA fingerprint expert) offered the perfect example of misleading testimony, when he used the word, “definitely”: “…we’re able for the first time to actually say that these are definitely [sic] the fingerprints of Lee Harvey Oswald and that they are on the rifle. There is no doubt about it.” To make matters even worse, John McAdams’s oxymoronically titled book endorses this view even though, given the state of the literature in 2011, he should have known better: JFK Assassination Logic: How to Think about Claims of Conspiracy, p. 161, note 27.

[41] “Reversing the legacy of junk science in the courtroom,” by Kelly Servick, March 7, 2016:

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/03/reversing-legacy-junk-science-courtroom.

Michael Chesser, MD, has just notified me of another human tragedy—due to reliance on junk science: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/apr/28/forensics-bite-mark-junk-science-charles-mccrory-chris-fabricant?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other.

[42] We have seen this scenario before; for the HSCA, Robert Blakey once declared that neutron activation analysis was the “linchpin” of the ballistic evidence against Oswald. Unfortunately for Blakey, that linchpin is totally fractured, and such evidence is no longer even permitted in the courtroom.

[43] According to Jim DiEugenio, the pathologists’ knowledge of the throat entry wound (from contemporaneous records) while at the autopsy has just been confirmed by author Rob Couteau: Kennedys And King - The Ordeal of Malcolm Perry

[44] https://history-matters.com/archive/jfk/arrb/medical_interviews/audio/ARRB_Bell.htm

[45] My transcript of our conversation is in Murder in Dealey Plaza (2000), edited by James Fetzer, p. 433.

[46] The Death of a President, Penguin Books (1977), pp. 432 – 433, by William Manchester.

[47] The Assassination Debates (2006), p. 87, by Michael Kurtz.

Last modified on Friday, 20 May 2022 04:43
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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