Sunday, December 27, 2015

Skeptics Society Still Tilting At JFK Conspiracy "Windmills"

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You have to hand it to Skeptics Society Wunderkind,  Michael Shermer, who just can't let go of the JFK assassination conspiracy. Rather than sticking to the Loch Ness Monster, Biblical myths, Big Foot and UN black helicopter - "New World Order" fluff, he insists on venturing into the political conspiracy with the most heft.  Of course, when one indiscriminately plays with fire - as Tom Hanks found out, e.g.

One will get metaphorically burned, usually via his own arrogance. Recall, for reference, I  noted last year (Nov. 27 post) how  I warned the Skeptics bunch 22 years ago (in a letter published in their journal) of venturing in to hyper-skepticism .  I warned that this could backfire and was counterproductive. This was after the Skeptics journal took some initial critical shots at the claim for conspiracy in the Kennedy assassination - revealing like so many others before and since that they hadn't done their homework.

They managed to control themselves and steer clear of the topic for a while - but evidently have recently plumbed it once more, probably having run out of criticism to mount against the usual paranormal topics, like ESP, telekinetic spoon bending, alien abductions and the like.

But again, it's a bad idea to try to take on that event if you haven't done the necessary spade work, including plumbing the file documents released since the JFK Records Act. Thereby, skeptical critics are repeatedly broken on the 'wheel' of the JFK assassination because they treat it frivolously - without the respect it is due  - more often conflating it with nonsense pseudo conspiracies  or  relying on sources that have now been thoroughly discredited, such as Gerald Posner, see e.g.

And Vince Bugliosi:

See e.g.

The latest item from the Skeptics Society - received in the mail yesterday - is a pamphlet entitled 'The Top Ten Weirdest Things Countdown' and wouldn't you know that Number 5 would be the "JFK Conspiracy", e.g.
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And we see right away in his intro, that he cites Bugliosi's cinderblock book, and Posner's nonsense. This is just in case his little spiel "doesn't do it for you".

Let's consider his points to see why none of what he writes supports his case and "the mother of all conspiracies" (but which is essentially solved) ought to shut him up once and for all.

1) The "big deal" made about Oswald's Book Depository job and being planted there by the conspirators - namely the national security state, including CIA. This was not any "coincidence" as Shermer tries to make it out to be

I've already been through this multiple times but here we go again. Like other WC hacks, Shermer leaves out any mention of Ruth Paine not informing Lee of a better job offer- which has been documented via files accessed by James Douglass (author of 'JFK and the Unspeakable'). the actual background on Paine had to await release of lots more files after the JFK Records Act.  Paine testified before the WC that Lee left his keys, and other possessions as he left for work on the fateful day. All of which are lies.

Ruth Paine herself was a deceitful, untrustworthy witness who never truthfully acknowledged, either before the Warren Commission or a later New Orleans Grand Jury, that her sister (Sylvia Hyde Hoke) in fact worked for the CIA - while her husband's (Michael's) mother, Ruth Forbes Paine Young, was connected to Allen Dulles (the former CIA Chief) who JFK fired after the Bay of Pigs. (James Douglass, 2008, JFK and the Unspeakable, Orbis Books, p. 169)

Let us also recall that Dulles was appointed by LBJ as one of the Warren Commissioners. Does anyone else find that ironic? The very guy JFK mistrusted and butted heads with would sit on the "blue ribbon" (sic) commission investigating his death?

Paine, who Warrenites seem to hold up as some kind of unquestioned paragon or model citizen, also never acknowledged in any of her testimony that she withheld from Lee the news of a better paying job offer made on Oct. 15, 1963. This came by way of phone call to the Paine Residence from Robert Adams of the Texas Employment Commission. According to the documented materials presented by author James Douglass (op. cit., p. 171):

"Adams spoke with someone at the Paines' number about his being prepared to give Oswald referral for permanent employment as a baggage handler at Trans Texas Airways for a salary $100 a month higher than that offered by the Book Depository's temporary job".

Adams then left a message with whoever took his call for Lee to contact him about the job, but this was never done. Adams tried to phone Oswald the next day, and was told he "wasn't here". Why? Why wasn't the better paying job information passed on to Oswald? Given Paine's background, and her connections to CIA people like her sister and Allen Dulles, the obvious reason is to put the patsy in place. Had Ruth Paine given the info to Lee to enable him to take the better paying job, there was no way the architects' plan could have succeeded. They could never have been assured that the one they were preparing for patsyhood would be at the place needed to take the fall.

Her refusal to give that alternative job information to Oswald therefore makes her at least an accomplice to the set up in the minds of most serious researchers like Douglass, and myself.

(2) "Oswald's Carcano bolt action rifle with his fingerprints on it was found on the sixth floor of the Book Depository where he was employed. His sniper's nest , built out of boxes, also had fingerprints on it."

Facts: As Carl Oglesby, a member of the Assassination Information Bureau and author of 'JFK - The Facts and the Theories' (1992) has noted, there is absolutely NO chain of credible evidence that connects any of those fingerprints to Oswald. Sebastian Latona, a fingerprint expert at the FBI laboratory, examined the rifle and the photographs, but concluded that no identifiable prints were present (Warren Commission Hearings, vol.4, p.21). The rifle was returned by the FBI to the Dallas police on 24 November. In the minds of many researchers, it is therefore plausible that any prints of probative value subsequently found were in fact removed from Oswald while he was dead, at the morgue, and transferred to the rifle. Oglesby noting the limited chain of evidence for prints, accepts this as well, in addition to expressing a distinct distrust of the Dallas PD (also shared by former Justice Dept. agent Walt Brown in his chapter 'Blue Death' in 'Treachery in Dallas')

In addition, No fingerprints were found on any of the three empty bullet shells found in the TSBD, or on the intact bullet. Nor were any prints found on the rifle clip that held the intact bullet and into which the shells must have been loaded by hand (Warren Commission Hearings, vol.4, pp.253, 258–60).  Even if Oswald had taken the precaution of wiping his prints off the rifle, it is doubtful that he'd have done the same for the clip or the bullets. This is the same man the Warrenites believe was careless and stupid enough to purchase a mail order rifle that was traceable when he could have simply bought the weapon at a local gun store with no paper trail. It doesn't add up!

Other problems: As Oglesby (op. cit. p. 96) points out: The WC claim that Oswald left the rifle in a Dallas gunshop to be sighted several weeks before the assassination to have the sight mounted can't be valid because the WC also insists he was in Mexico City. How could he be two places at once?

The rifle was purchased in the name of 'Alex Hidell' "whom Oswald supposedly pretended to be"  but "the only source for the Hidell information was the Dallas police who can't be relied on in this matter".  Oglesby goes on to note (ibid.) that: "Even one of the Commission's members, Burt W. Griffin, has discredited the role of the Dallas police in that investigation, telling reporter Robert Kaiser in 1975: 'I never thought the Dallas police were telling us the entire truth. Neither was the FBI".

The last was most salient in respect of Oswald's contacts with James P. Hosty, the likely agent who had Oswald purchase the mail order rifle as part of a gun running investigation. But Hoover shut this entire angle down, committed as he was to the lone gunman myth.

Latona maintained any prints found on the cartons were too old (3 days or more) to link to Oswald so had little or no probative value as the WC claimed. In addition the prints of many other workers were also on the cartons.

Lastly, paraffin tests disclosed no residue of gun powder on Oswald's face or hands.

(3) "Three bullet casings found on the Book Depository floor match what 81 percent of Dealey Plaza witnesses reported hearing: three shots."

Facts:  Left out by Shermer is the fact that " two -thirds (67 percent) of the ninety original witnesses the Warren Commission asked said that the shots had come from the grassy knoll" ('JFK - The Facts and the Theories', p. 94)

So we have kind of a mighty divergence here. Since, if most witnesses heard shots from the grassy knoll  there had to have been a lot more than three shots. Again also, since there is NO chain of credible evidence connecting Oswald to the casings or the rifle found  at the Book Depository, neither proves Oswald fired from there- or fired at all. Further, Ogelsby himself suspects they were planted compliments of the Dallas PD. They were already under pressure (from the Warrenites, and no doubt, LBJ) to seal the deal on the lone assassin bunkum, so why not? LBJ also had the Dallas cops in his pocket, especially after ascending to power as commander in chief.    All of this is further supported by former Justice Dept. agent Walt Brown in his chapter 'Blue Death' in Treachery in Dallas.

Acoustics tests conducted by the HSCA show there were no less than four shots fired that day with two of the shots coming within 1.6 seconds of each other, too close for the purported Mannlicher-Carcano rifle which had a bolt action recylcing time of 2. 33 seconds.  This was what led the HSCA to find for a 96 percent probable conspiracy - which Shermer doesn't reference at all. It's as if he regards the Warren Commission as the last word. (Despite it being a complete confection of LBJ.) Clearly, Shermer and his Skeptic Society cohort never even read the Report of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, or the Conclusion which informed the reader that a conspiracy had been determined.

Methinks then that Shermer and his Skeptics need to get with the program, adopt the finding of the only official governmental investigation and cease the jihad against conspiracy in the JFK case. 

Let me further add that a full six shot sequence has also been indicated by many experts (e.g. Robert Groden) as follows:

Shot 1 (miss) at Z150-52: Shows crowd reactions at missing frames (155-56), JFK reacts too

Shot 2 (throat shot): at Z-207; JFK reacts by Z220. (This had also been identified as a separate ENTRY wound by Parkland dr Malcolm Perry) e.g.

Shot 3  Connally shot(1st time), at 236-7, note his rotation motion, dropping of right shoulder. However, he still holds his Stetson so his wrist still not hit.

Shot 4  (fatal head shot), at Z312-13

Shot 5  Connally shot(2nd time) in wrist and thigh, at Z328 (approx.)

Shot 6  Tague sprayed with pavement (could be simultaneous with #5)

 (The JFK neck shot and Connally's shot are  separated by barely 29 frames, or about 1.6 seconds. This means that two rifles would have been needed.)

The Ramsey Panel analysis was alleged to have  'refuted' the original Weiss -Barger study, but in fact only showed that the Weiss group had omitted some considerations. The Ramsey analysis certainly does not 'nullify' the Weiss/Barger analysis since up to now it has not been  reproduced, so cannot be accepted as a bona fide scientific conclusion.

Most importantly, the three- shot fable peddled by Shermer and assorted WC hacks is disproven by the 2001 paper ('Echo Correlation Analysis and the Acoustic Evidence in the Kennedy Assassination Revisited' ) of D.B. Thomas appearing in the journal Science and Justice. Vol. 41, p. 21, 2001.   The impulses are shown below, with the four highest amplitude peaks associated with rifle muzzle blasts (an association I will justify subsequently):
Thomas treated both the test evidence and actual data from the original date. He also used re- test evidence obtained in August, 1978 when a test shot was fired in Dallas’ Dealey Plaza to provide a fiducial mark for the putative Grassy Knoll shot – such that it could be compared with the impulse record obtained on Nov. 22, 1963 (also showing how this mark lined up to events recorded on the Zapruder film.) Thus, the test evidence (mainly in terms of echoes and echo delay times received via an echogram from a test shot (See Fig. 1) is essentially used to confirm the microphone recording & positions for the shots made on the actual date, by resort to microphones placed at the same (or approximately so) locations.  The geometry for Thomas' echo correlation analysis is shown below:
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 The hypergeometric p-function was used for differing weighting factor distribution sets, H{M..N, n, i} to assess significance or likelihood of occurrence. It's based on the no. of echo  'windows'  M,  with each spanning 190msec (total time)  at 2msec width per window and n for assigned impulses in the evidence pattern, with 'i' the "coincident impulses" or those matching the original (11/22/63)evidence and the test result. The question was whether a succession of first impulses of given amplitude could be manifesting a signal or was merely random noise. Thomas found that for a given configuration for 2 motorcycles at designated locations, 1 for (GK) shooter location and one for alignment of muzzle blasts with one pair of echoes, the p -value is 0.000012 or about 1 in 100,000 against the null hypothesis, i.e. that the impulses were from random noise. An alternative way to put this is that the odds are 100,000 to 1 in favor of the impulses comprising actual rifle shots.

For the test shot, using Thomas' sonar model and the muzzle velocity for a Norma 6.5mm Mannlicher-Carcano (which is very doubtful that the GK shooter used), one arrives at a 171 msec time for the shock wave to take the defined path to the microphone, from a distance of 28.3m. One must add the time taken for the putative bullet to travel the distance to the time for the shock wave. In this case: 126 msec + 45 msec. The first parameter is relatively fixed since the distance from bullet to test microphone is fixed at 44.2m and the speed of sound defined for the sonar model was 350 m/s.

The second component will alter depending on the muzzle velocity. A German Mauser, with muzzle velocity not much greater than 760 m/s will have its bullet traverse the 28.3 m distance in 37 msec, so that the time will now be: 126 msec + 37 msec or 163 msec, which is some 8 msec shorter. If the rifle used is now a Remington Fireball with muzzle velocity 825 m/s then the total time becomes: t1 + t2 = 126 msec + 34 msec = 160 msec, or 3 msec shorter still.

In the “analytically determined” schema (e.g. actual data obtained on 11/22/63), all the above values change slightly. For example, the distance to Kennedy (from the GK shooter) becomes 30.5 m, and the speed of sound is 342 m/s given the air temperature was 18  C (64.4 F)  at the time of the assassination. The distance from the (GK) assassin to the nearest motorcycle was 67 m leading to the muzzle blast arriving at the motorcycle some Delta t = [67m/ 342 m/s] = 196 msec, after the shot. When air resistance is corrected for by + 11.5% (from the shooter location) the muzzle velocity resulting becomes 748 m/s (using a starting assumed bullet speed of 672 m/s). Because of a shooter “location uncertainty” of +/- 1.5 m (A<-> A') the muzzle velocity uncertainty is at least +/- 32m/s, so one is left with a range of: 748 +/- 32 m/s. Assuming Thomas’ parameters are correct, then this excludes a Remington Fireball as a possible candidate weapon, but it does permit either a German Mauser or a .30-30 Winchester.

The bottom line is that Thomas' investigation soundly reconfirmed the original acoustic tests and that the kill shot came from the grassy knoll.

(4) "Tests with Oswald's rifle found that three shots are possible in the amount of time Oswald had to shoot."

This is total balderdash and Shermer ought to be ashamed of himself. In fact, the tests came no where close to replicating the alleged shots made by Oswald. To recap, by the end of the WC test trials, the Master Marksmen had each fired two series of three shots each (18 rounds in all) at 3 stationary targets placed at distances of 175’, 240’ and 265’ (the last coming nearest to the distance from the Texas School Book Depository to the head shot). Even Chief Simmons admitted that the targets were not placed where they ought to have been to emulate conditions on November 22, 1963.

Just one of the three expert riflemen was able to get off three shots in under 5.6 seconds – the designated time interval for total shots declared by the Warren Commission. And most to the point: none of the total 18 shots fired struck the targets in the head or the neck. In other words, from a technical standpoint of duplicating Oswald’s alleged shots- this trio of experts failed. Another key aspect: for the duration of the 18 rounds, two of the “master” riflemen were unable to reload and fire at the stationary target as rapidly as Oswald purportedly did for the moving limo.

(5) "The Carcano was the same rifle Oswald purchased  by mail order in March, 1963".

This was squashed by former British Intelligence officer Col. John Hughes-Wilson  who observes (p. 187, 'JFK - An American Coup  d 'Etat')  that the weapon supposedly used by Oswald was "40 inches long, weighed 8 pounds and purchased from Klein's Sporting Goods in Chicago". But....the Mannlicher-Carcano actually advertised in the magazine (from which Oswald allegedly ordered) was "a different model completely, a 36-inch, 5.5. pound carbine model".  This again supports the argument that Oswald was told to order the Mannlicher-Carcano as part of an FBI gun running investigation. We also know the FBI in New Orleans had access to Oswald's P.O. Box. So it would have been relatively easy to frame him, again in conjunction with the fake Mexico City cables crafted by David Atlee Phillips, as the "lone assassin".  The security state and its allies wanted to ensure the media would bite on this specious evidence, and they did.

Thus, the purchase of said rifle, just like the infamous back yard photos - which I already showed were faked, see e.g.

 - were all part of the Oswald frame job, enabling the actual mechanics to get away scot free..

(6) "Coworkers saw Oswald on the Sixth floor of the Depository shortly before JFK's motorcsade arrived"

More nonsense.  And we have author James Douglass (op. cit.)to thank profusely for going into this in detail with his own research. Douglass writes, for example (p. 284) that "co-worker and witness Carol Arnold saw Oswald in the SECOND floor lunchroom between 12:15 p.m. and 12:25 p.m. when the Warren Commission had him on the sixth floor at that time preparing to shoot President Kennedy".

In addition, Douglass' research discloses (pp. 285-86) Oswald was in fact the man in the doorway of the Book Depository as seen in the Altgens photograph, and not Billy Lovelady as the WC claimed. (Many in the JFK research community still regard this as a "myth" but they need to read Douglass' work on it.)  And logically,  it'd be far easier for Lee to get to that TSBD doorway by 12:28 p.m. or so from the 2nd floor-  in time to see JFK's motorcade pass - than to rush four floors up to grab a defective weapon and fire 3 shots by 12: 31. As Douglass writes (ibid.):

"The Warren Report's reprinted version of the photo is a travesty of Altgens' work as a professional photographer. What the Report presents to the public is a reduced, cropped, indistinct printing of an FBI copy of a magazine copy of the original crystal clear picture. In this smaller, muddied FBI/Warren Commission print, the man in the doorway is impossible to identify. By deliberately using a smaller fourth generation print, the government made the image of the man too tiny and blurred to be recognizable".

Bur, of course we've seen this chicanery of images in WC exhibits elsewhere including the FPCC handbills (pointed out by John Newman in 'Oswald and the CIA') and also in the photo outside of Gen. Edwin Walker's home of a '57 Chevy supposedly used by Oswald - but with the license plate scratched out.

Thanks to Douglass (p. 286) there was uncovered another "little known film taken in front of the Book Depository immediately after the assassination". This was used by author Harold Weisberg in his book, 'Whitewash II'  to identify the distinctive pattern of the shirt worn by the man in question, including that it "had several buttons missing".  This shirt "matched exactly the shirt worn by Oswald after his arrest." (Which interested readers can see for themselves in assorted film archives from the date.)

Moreover, Oswald's shirt can also be compared with Billy Lovelady's which - as historian David R. Wrone (ibid.) noted, "is distinctly different".

Douglass did one better, and interviewed Oswald's roommate James Antony Botelho (from his time at the Santa Ana, CA Marine base in 1959)  who said that by looking closely at the Altgens photo - even in its 4th generation form, he could tell the man in the photo was Oswald. He told Douglass that Oswald "had a habit of pulling the collar of his T-shirt down and stretching it out of shape."  He noted "the T-shirt collar of the man in the doorway looked the exact same way."

Thus, even though the face could not be clearly seen, the distorted shape of the T-shirt gave away the identity to Botelho.  In addition (ibid.):,

"Whereas Oswald and the man in the doorway had the upper halves of their outer shirts unbuttoned, exposing t-shirts with identical pulled down collars, Lovelady had his outer shirt buttoned all the way up to the collar, covering his t-shirt."

Douglass concluded: "Based on clothing alone it was clear Lovelady could not have been the man in the pbotograph presented to the public."

WHY be there to see JFK passing by as opposed to the sixth floor readying a defunct rifle? Because (p. 331) :"Oswald told his wife Marina, as she revealed later (1993 interview with Tom Brokaw), that he 'liked and approved of the President and believed that for the United States in 1963, John F. Kennedy was the best President this country could hope to have."

In effect, Shermer's take and spin - like the Warrenites  - is pure propaganda and bunkum. Lee Oswald was not the crazed commie fanatic that the WC and its flunkies claim murdered Kennedy but a long time admirer who actually listened to his speeches, and checked out library books (William Manchester's 'Portrait of a President' and 'Profiles in Courage' from New Orleans Public Library - as its records show-  cited by Douglass on p. 330)

(7)  "Oswald left, picked up his pistol...shot officer J.D. Tippet....then ducked into a nearby movie theater and entered without paying. He pulled out his revolver and attempted to shoot an officer with his revolver but the gun failed and he said 'Well, it is all over now"

Pure hogwash as both Oglesby and Douglass note. First, as Douglass points out (p. 291), the concession stand operator (Warren 'Butch' Burroughs)  at the Texas Theater observed that Oswald entered the theater between 1:00 p.m. and 1: 07 p.m. "several minutes before Officer Tippet was slain seven blocks away. If true, this would eliminate Oswald as a candidate for Tippet's murder."

Indeed, he'd have to have covered seven blocks or nearly 0.6 of a mile in 3 minutes or less, making him one of the fastest men who ever lived. Indeed, Burroughs was adamant he sold popcorn to Oswald at precisely 1:15 p.m. "information that the Warren Commission did not solicit from his testimony".  But why be surprised, since the whole artifice of this Whitewash commission was based on cherry -picking what they wanted to solidify the lone gunman case against Lee. As Douglass observes (ibid.):

"When Oswald bought his popcorn at 1:15 p.m. this was exactly the same time the Warren Report said Officer Tippet was being shot to death"

So never mind being one of the fastest men on Earth, Oswald had to be capable of bilocation too!  There's a real paranormal phenomenon for Shermer and the Skeptic Society to sink their teeth into!

But if rationality prevails, it had to have been another shooter that took down Tippet and that's where the actual evidence points. Officer Gerald Hill had custody of the .38 supposedly found on Oswald. Hill testified to the Warren Commission that he'd found six live rounds in the chamber and two empty cartridges  (that came from an automatic weapon) at the murder scene. (Revolvers don't discharge shells after firing) but the WC dismissed his account because, well, they'd lose their "Oswald the killer" tale otherwise.

Given Oswald failed a paraffin test for nitrate residue, and given the preceding account, the evidence indicates Oswald never fired a gun that day, period. Full stop. 

Under furious pressure from authorities, most of the original  Tippet killing witnesses subsequently changed their testimony to saying the killer "looked like Oswald." What they were threatened with we don't know, but it's interesting that a number of other  witnesses who came forward that day (e.g. Julia Ann Mercer, Lee Bowers, S.M. Holland et al) were threatened or cajoled into conformity if they insisted anyone but Oswald was the perp - whether in the assassination or the Tippet killing.

Two witnesses never did alter their words: Jack Tatum and Aquilla Clemmons, mainly because the WC never called them or took statements. But Tatum later testified to the HSCA  and Clemmons related to researcher Mark Lane (in the documentary 'Rush to Judgment')  that the killer was clearly a heavy set white male

Given Oswald had to have been at the Texas Theater buying his popcorn - unless one subscribes to bilocation, this means Oswald had nothing to do with the Tippet killing.

Now, since Shermer mentions the Texas Theater incident too, let's delve into that. Douglass (p. 292) makes it known that the Dallas cops approached Oswald (in his seat) "almost as if they were provoking the suspected police killer to break away from his seat ..which would have given Tippet's enraged fellow officers an excuse to kill him".

But Oswald did no such thing. Nor did he attempt to fire any shots as Shermer babbles. Lee clearly and obviously knew by now he'd been set up as the patsy and the last thing he wanted to do was make these Dallas cops his judge, jury and executioners. No, he wanted to have his trial and his say, and how and why he'd been set up.

So, rather than mindlessly react he expressly said:  "I am not resisting arrest! Police brutality!"  He never said  "It's all over now" - those words were put into his mouth by the WC's cavalcade of faux witness puppets and liars.

Douglass' most trenchant observation is perhaps this one, on the whole basis for Lee's being used as the patsy (p. 364) because he exposed the earlier plot in Chicago on Nov. 2, 1963:

"If Oswald was the same 'Lee' who called in and saved Kennedy and (Thomas Arthur) Vallee in Chicago then Oswald had risked becoming what he in fact became, the ultimate scapegoat in Dallas, where there was no one to save Kennedy and himself. "

Shermer and his Skeptic Society buddies might do well to ponder those words, and the evidence against their baloney, as opposed to resurrecting it again.

See also this excellent lecture by Prof. David R. Wrone:

1 comment:

Richard Charnin said...

Shermer also maintains that the steel-framed WTC7 and Twin Towers fell at free fall due to office fires. Sir Isaac Newton is turning over in his grave. Talk about a shill. But the sad part is, he gets quoted in major periodicals in his unending quest to insist that conspiracies are just figments of tinfoil-hat wearing buffs. Shermer is a disgrace. He has no shame.