Cercle Zetetique


Frenchman Against Conspiracy TheorieS

Bulletin anglophone réalisé par François Carlier.

Vous pouvez réagir à ce dossier dans son forum en ligne associé.

VOLUME 1, NUMBER1 - November 1998



Dear reader, you are now holding (or seeing on your computer screen) the new international JFK assassination research journal. It is written by me, François Carlier, a French researcher. This journal has two advantages. Firstly, it is free ! And secondly, it is written with an open-mind. My aim is to apply critical-thinking methods to the JFK-assassination mystery. Contrary to what is too often seen with would-be researchers, here reason is placed above passion ; in "F.A.C.T.S." I will weigh evidence, separate facts from fiction, distinguish between what is relevant and what is not, identify arguments ; make sure fallacies and bad arguments are avoided, and most of all, call a spade a spade ! Some people only care about making a big name for themselves, others care only about making money. I do not belong to either category ! Well, I know I don't live in Dallas, and unlike some writers, I do not claim to have learned the whole 26 volumes by heart ! But I have enough common sense, I am intelligent enough, I know enough of science to be able to tell what's possible and what is not, what is clever and what is ludicrous. I have nothing to sell. Put simply I only want to apply honesty and logic in order to seek and tell the truth !

PS : Needless to say, you are welcome to give your feedback, opinion, reaction. Passion and insults don't belong here. Reason, logic and healthy debate, that's what's "F.A.C.T.S." is all about.

Enjoy your reading

An outsider's view of the Kennedy assassination community.

(The following is an article that I had written in the spring of 1997. It dealt with my previous trip to Dallas. I had sent it to many people in the research community. It is reproduced here for those didn't have the chance to receive it, and because it is worth reading for anybody !)

I went to Dallas last November ! I was very excited. I had been interested in the Kennedy assassination for years, I had read dozens of books, and there, for the first time, I was going to attend conferences by the best-known researchers in the world, I would have a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity of listening to them and talking to them. Most important I expected to hear the most convincing arguments against the Warren Commission version.

Well, let me tell you very briefly what kind of guy I am. As far as making an opinion goes, I am a follower of the scientific method. To give you a good idea of my approach I read books by authors such as James Randi, Martin Gardner, Paul Kurtz, Joe Nickell, and other people from the CSICOP. I particularly like the way they debunk hoaxers. I am myself an amateur conjurer, and a founder member of a French scientific association that copies the CSICOP. One thing was important for me. I had twice read "Case closed" by Gerald Posner. I had been impressed. Then I had bought and read "Case open" by Harold Weisberg. And I had been very disappointed. I had hoped Weisberg would address the criticisms raised by Posner but he did not do that to my satisfaction, far from it. I was hoping I could ask every researcher what they thought of the book, and what they had to answer to the criticism. I expected to see debates ; researchers and experts confronting arguments. Then the assistance could ask questions ; I had hundreds of questions to ask. (But soon enough I would discover that that was not to be !).. On the plane from Paris to the USA I was reading an American book by William D. Gray "Thinking critically about New Age ideas", a book which teaches critical-thinking skills and among others how to identify arguments, to recognize fallacies and other bad arguments. I wondered how many people in the JFK critical community had read that fascinating book.

I had registered to attend the COPA conference and the JFK-Lancer conference. Excitement grew as the JFK-Lancer conference began. I was all ears. I was impressed by what I was showed. The speakers were indeed very good ! But the assistance had very little time - if any - to ask questions. And we came nowhere near having any kind of debate ! But let me now give you an example that speaks for itself and illustrates the point I want to make. On day one, a researcher called Mark Oakes gave a lecture. It was about the Paschall film and Dallas witnesses. All right, I said, that's interesting. Then the day after, in the same room, under the auspices of the same JFK-Lancer, there was a lecture on the Zapruder film. The Zapruder film symposium, with David Mantik, David Lifton, James Fetzer and Jack White. I talked to Mantik and Fetzer afterwards. They were utterly convinced the Zapruder film was altered. But then, the day after, still in the same room, I saw Mark Oakes again and decided to go and talk to him. I asked him his opinion about the possibility of the Zapruder film being a forgery. His answer startled me, to say the least. He wasn't aware that it was an issue, nor was he aware that some people had talked about that on the previous day, for he was out of town making filmed interviews ! I then realized that the speakers were separate and had not met. All that was well, but here I was realizing I was not about to reach certainty on any given issue. It was clear to me that not everybody agreed with each other among the experts invited by JFK-Lancer. More important, some of them were not even aware of what the others were saying. All this showed me that I had overestimated the organizers' grasp of the zetetician way of thinking, the scientific method, the rational, unbiased and foolproof way of investigating. The day after, Mantik and Fetzer had an argument with Robert Groden during one of the COPA lectures, concerning the Zapruder film. It was clear to me that I would go back to France with more questions than I had when leaving. And I had better forget about any chance of having answers ; thirty-three years after the assassination, the top experts in the field did not even agree on whether the film of the assassination was forged or not !

In Dallas I learned more about the quarrels between different researchers than about the Kennedy case proper. And at no time was I or anybody who was attending the conferences, for that matter, given a chance of asking pertinent questions to speakers. It was always a race in-between lectures, to get an opportunity of interviewing some of them. Good thing I was French and coming from far away : it gave me the right to ask questions that was not granted to other people ! Looking back it was a disappointing experience. I had thought the research community was a group of people working together with the common aim of getting at the truth (that would sound logical to me). On the contrary I found men speaking ill of their colleagues (so-and-so is a thief, so-and-so is a liar) and working each in their corner. But never did I find men having debates. Yet, that should be the thing to do.

Another thing which I would like to mention is the difficulty I have encountered when trying to have an answer to even simple questions. It seems as if the JFK assassination researchers are inaccessible men. There are so many of them to whom I wrote, asking interesting questions, but who never seemed to find the time to reply. I have to say that Doctor Wecht has always been very nice, always showing great patience, always replying to my letters rapidly and sending lots of interesting documents. I owe him a lot. But in contrast, I have got to say that some researchers are not willing to help. One of them, whom I will not name, to whom I had written in order to have his opinion on specific points, sent me a letter saying he had no time to answer, but remembered to put an order slip for his new book in the envelope !

Anyway my quest for clear-cut answers continues. On the Internet I have found lots of interesting articles. I hereby would like to mention two of them, which I urge everybody to read.

  1. In the Fair Play section called Miscellanea, Errata, Et Cetera, I recently found a good article by a citizen called Tom Braun. In it he issues a challenge to JFK conspiracy advocates (Fair Play called it "a tiresome challenge"). Unfortunately, they declined the offer. How sad ! Well, that's exactly what all the critics do ; they decline to challenge the evidence found by other researchers.
  2. Let me quote from Fred Litwin (1994-95)
    "A conspiracy too big ? Intellectual dishonesty in the JFK Assassination" :...the HSCA addressed many of the issues raised by the critics in the sixties. Since then, the literature has taken on a disturbing tone - one that rejects any piece of evidence contrary to findings of conspiracy...In the clash between evidence and theories, theories have to be discarded. It's true that evidence is often weak and open to multiple interpretations, but to argue that evidence is fraudulent is to undermine the possibility that any theory might turn out to be "true". To argue in such a style is to cause the collapse of the entire empirical edifice of assassinology... So the critics are doing two things. They are rejecting many pieces of evidence. This rejection then forces them to paint a monstrous conspiracy and cover-up..."
    Litwin's article then goes on to show why he doesn't believe in a conspiracy. If he's right, let's have the guts to admit it, in the name of Honesty and Truth. If he is wrong, well, then address all the issues he raises and answer them. Don't decline this challenge, again in the name of the pursuit of Truth and Justice

Organize debates. Invite Gerald Posner and Jim Moore. Let them express their opinions, their beliefs, why they have come to such and such conclusions. Let a critic give a rebuttal. Then let the public decide. Let everybody decide together. And only then can you move on to the next controversial issue. All this has to occur in a friendly atmosphere. Facts are important, men are not, in our search for the truth, which is the element we all have in common. That's how you (and that means we, the public) will arrive at the truth. All right, I know now, the Failure Analysis work was not done for Posner primarily. As Weisberg has written, Posner has misappropriated the research of others. So what ? You critics are begging the real issues. You are not challenging Posner. You are simply making fun of him. But that won't help getting at the truth. Jim Marrs, for example, in a taped interview I had the opportunity to make, kept on telling me the Oswald backyard photos were fakes, although he very well knows (even if he doesn't mention it) that the HSCA conducted tests which showed the photos to be authentic. He thinks Marina took other pictures, not the ones we have. Also I talked to Craig Roberts, who too claimed that Marina took a picture of Oswald with a rifle that may not be the Mannlicher Carcano. But what does all that mean ? They admit that Marina took similar pictures of Oswald with a rifle. Why has Oswald done so ? And why would anyone have faked photos when they already had some ? The point is Marina took pictures of her husband with a rifle. What the Warren Commission says is that it means Oswald was a violent man. Now, if all the critics can do is deny the authenticity of the photos (when a panel of experts say they are authentic), although they admit that similar real photos were taken with Oswald, then what the Warren Commission said is true after all. And what happened to the genuine photos ? In fact the HSCA did conduct numerous extensive tests that answered or debunked many of the critics allegations. But regardless, the critics never learn and keep repeating these allegations instead.

Will I come to Dallas next November ? I doubt it. Unless you critics accept to challenge Posner and Tom Braun (the burden of proof is on your side), unless you answer Fred Litwin in a conclusive way, if you can, I see no point in attending another JFK conference. You see, I have come to think that the big mistake that is being made is to rely on not-yet-released-documents or future new discoveries. The point now is not to uncover new evidence. We have all the evidence, all the data we need. The only way to have the truth one day lies with the people, the researchers attitude. I think the only way to get to the one-and-only truth, the universally accepted truth, is to round up every researcher, put them in the same room and allow no-one outside until the mystery is solved. I know the tough part will be to make some people admit that they had been wrong. I know that is going to be very hard for some of the researchers to acknowledge publicly that their theory was wrong, or that what they wrote in their book with great conviction was off the mark. Well, let's face it, this will have to happen. Indeed there are so many different versions of the assassination, not all of them can be true. No everybody can be right. David Lifton, who is on the conspiracy side, says there were no shots from the rear. Robert Groden who is also on the conspiracy side, says there were shots from different locations, among which the rear. Jim Moore, who is on the Warren side, has a reconstruction of the shooting (Kennedy raising his arms upon hearing the first shot, making his suit and shirt bunch up, explaining the hole in the shirt lower that the neck) which is not that of Gerald Posner, who is also on the Warren side. David Mantik, like Robert Groden, is a conspiracy theorist, but unlike Groden, he claims the Zapruder film was altered... And I could go on and on... What a mess ! I mean, there was only one way the shooting occurred. But there are so many different versions. Well everybody, at the outset of this "big and final meeting", would have to agree on the most important thing ; that what matters is the interests of your country, the USA, not the pride of any single individual. But there is no shame in having been wrong. On the contrary, every researcher should be praised for their work, and the millions of hours of work and sacrifices spent in the name of truth. That was so noble of everybody. In a way everybody in the community helped everybody. No one can ever said to be the winner. Or rather, either we all lose if we can't reach the level which I call "the solution", or we all win, your country the USA wins and the principals for which your Constitution stands win. I say, and this is no overstatement, that the whole world will be a better place to live when the truth - whatever it is - is finally known (and that's when you will all agree, when you all together push your own reasoning until you get to the point where everybody joins, because it will have become the inescapable conclusion !). At the end of his video, David Lifton says that, in light of the new evidence he has found, a national investigation is warranted, focusing on the chain of possession of the body, etc... Well, you can make it. Just gather. Just set your petty quarrels aside and meet and work together. Use the JFK-Lancer 1997 conference. Instead of having different people talking at different moments about their own research, make everybody debate and work together. Everybody has to have an open mind and behave like a scientist. No bias. Posner is not the only one to have written against the critics ; lots of "laymen" have written sound and enlightening articles on the Internet which convincingly debunk some claims made in the conspiracy literature. Invite them all. If you are right, you'll inevitably end up proving it and convincing everybody. It is now or never. Indeed, you are in the situation where you have lots

about Lifton's theory of body alteration

I have here on my desk a presentation of the JFK-Lancer 1997 Second Annual November in Dallas Conference. That was one year ago. They were going to ask the question : "was the president's body surgically altered in order to deny an assassination conspiracy ?" Well, let's pause for a minute, shall we ? Lifton's book had been published 17 before ! The fact that the question was still asked means that seventeen years after we still don't know whether this theory is right or wrong ! Hasn't anyone looked thoroughly into the matter ? Shouldn't it be easy, if one really wanted to know, to check and get to the truth ? But more to the point, did the JFK 1997 Lancer conference gave us the answer ? They asked the question, but did they give an answer at the end of the conference ? Not to my knowledge. So now I am asking ; who has the answer ? And what is it ?

Let's put it another way. Everybody is well aware that much has been written concerning David Lifton's theory. You know full well that Gerald Posner refutes this theory. That's expected. But he is not the only one. Harold Weisberg, among others (he agrees with my quoting him) utterly denies Lifton's theory, claiming it is ridiculous at best ! Dr. Wecht too ; he, as an expert medical practitioner, who was president of the American Academy of forensic pathology, states that Lifton's theory is simply an impossibility ! Robert Groden also disagrees with Lifton on that issue. Weisberg, Wecht and Groden belong to the same team ; they are Warren report critics ! Yet in 1996 David Lifton was a keynote speaker at JFK Lancer's conference and at no time was it said to the audience that in no way does he enjoy unanimity on his theory. Now, what is important is the present. Can I hope that, at last, we will have a definite answer ? Will we have a definite "Yes, Lifton was right" or "No, Lifton was wrong" ? The critics have to give us an answer (They will have to organize a debate, not a lecture by one man). Then we can move from there. Otherwise, if you give no answer, then it will mean that you cannot go forward, you cannot discard wrong theories, you cannot reach any agreement, you cannot go closer to the truth. It would be terrible for your cause ! So my question is : will you have the guts to call a spade a spade ? I maintain it is possible to have debates and determine to the point of certainty (beyond a reasonable doubt) whether Lifton is right or wrong. I am then telling you that your duty is to give us an answer. And I am asking you if you will indeed have the courage to do your duty. If Lifton was wrong, you owe it to the American people to let it be known ! I hope you understand.

When I read and hear what Americans lay people say (for example, in the letters-to-the-editor section of "The Assassination Chronicles") all they can do is butter the editor up. I find it appalling. They praise COPA, JFK Lancer, and other research groups for the good work they're putting. Work ? Yes, a big "yes". I have got to admit that I am very impressed by all the work that has been done these past years. The organization is impressive. A lot has been achieved. But the question is : is it good quality ? What you need is a critical appraisal from serious and unbiased people, not immature congratulations from people who anyway would praise you no matter what ! I, for one, am willing to be of help by being constructive. The research community - if it exists at all - must gather and follow the scientific method. Most of the researchers have not the faintest idea what that is. Claims are never publicly checked, let alone double-checked, which would be considered standard procedure. Very often, a very convincing argument later proves to be wrong from beginning to end. But lessons are seldom learned. Moreover, newsgroups are filled with useless posts, in which nothing is learned about the assassination but a lot about what somebody thinks of somebody else !

Now, here is the most important point I want to make. In order to reach a conclusion on any given affair, you need two things : material (and in our case, it is the documents, the facts) and a tool (the method). I say that you researchers have a tremendous amount of material ; tons of documents, investigations, witnesses, etc. etc, But you lack the method. Well there is no shame in not being an expert at everything. I mean, nobody can. Some people are experts at driving (Formula One pilots), at playing tennis (Pete Sampras), etc. And some people are experts at thinking critically ; they know how to separate facts from fiction, how to draw reasonable conclusions from the evidence. The best in that field are people such as Martin Gardner, Paul Kurtz, Ray Hyman. They mat not know everything about the Kennedy assassination but I am convinced they could help you apply the right method to get to the truth. The researchers would be well advised to follow the rules of science, apply critical thinking, weigh the evidence available, ask pertinent questions to knowledgeable people, try to learn about common fallacies in reasoning so as to avoid making errors, be rigorous. I urge every person who wants to research the JFK assassination to start by reading the following book : "Thinking critically about new age ideas", by William D. Gray (Wadsworth Publishing company, 1991). Now, let me give you an example : I have seen, on page 59 of the Spring 1997 issue of "The assassination chronicles", a book by Jim Marrs : "Alien agenda". Let me tell you, in a nutshell, for I don't want to waste my time on that ridiculous topic ; the mere fact that Marrs wrote such a book makes me realize how poor "Crossfire" was, and the mere fact that the book is praised indicates that writers of "The assassination chronicles" can be taken in by nonsense. Because a government cover-up regarding UFO's is nonsense. I am prepared to believe there can be a government cover-up concerning the killing of a president. Of course, one can always try to hide what they have done. If the government has killed Kennedy, they can and they will try to - quite successfully it seems - cover it up. But how could anyone (even an all-powerful CIA-controlled US government) cover up the existence of UFO's ? It is stupid, by definition ! Suppose a UFO had actually landed on earth, by sheer coincidence on the premises of a controlled military area (Roswell, for instance). I am well versed in astronomy and knowing about the tremendously huge distances, the odds of this happening (the coincidence of the UFO landing in a military field, or a no-trespassing area) are more than mind-boggling. Anyway, suppose "CIA people" realize they have found a UFO (and its extra-terrestrial occupants). Now they know extra-terrestrials do exist, and they have captured some. But how in the world could they try to hide that truth. And why ? If they have a UFO, how do they know others won't come to try to fetch their comrades ? The CIA has no way of preventing another UFO to come and land, say, in New York City in the middle of a busy day. Or on a football field in front of thousands of people. And what if a UFO would land in another country ? No way the could then keep on covering up the truth. My point is, UFO's, if they exist, are beyond the control of the US government ! Therefore, there is no way the US government would think of covering up their existence, even if they wanted to ! But anyway, that is not the issue we are concerned with in the journal. let's focus on the JFK assassination. See the bibliography at the end ; I will list a few books that are definitely worth reading. I say Jim Marrs should have read them before writing his books.

Simply speaking, I advise you to seek advice from CSICOP people, because they know the right method to clear the field of errors and to avoid making fallacies. I suggest you ask someone like Martin Gardner, who is an American citizen, who can speak very well, who is very intelligent, honest, unbiased, and all, to give a lecture at the next JFK-Lancer's conference. The research community needs that kind of outside contribution.

But let's go back to the question : "was the president's body surgically altered in order to deny an assassination conspiracy ?" It is, in a nutshell, David Lifton's theory, put forth in his famous book "Best evidence". Below are some sources (among others) that we must take into account if we want to make an honest opinion about that theory. Instead of spending hours typing all the arguments, I list the sources so everyone can read them.

  1. See "Crime of the century" by Michael Kurtz (The University of Tennessee Press, 1993). from page 206 to page 212.
    Among others : Lifton claims that Kennedy was shot in the front of the head by gunfire from the Grassy Knoll, yet he fails to account for the fact that no one at Dallas saw an entrance wound in the front of the head. Also Lifton quotes the FBI agents but not all the other witnesses who provided widely divergent accounts of the wounds. And, of course, what about rigor mortis, algor mortis and livor mortis ?
  2. see "Conspiracy of one" by Jim Moore (The Summit Group, 1992). from page 95 to page 101.
    Among others : Dave Powers maintains that Kennedy's body was never left unattended. And what about Jenkins's letter to Lattimer about the back wound ?
  3. see "Case closed" by Gerald Posner (Anchor Books, 1993). from page 294 to 297 and 298.
    Among others : doctors say Lifton's theory is a medical impossibility. I mean, a non-doctor writes a medical theory that is ridiculed by doctors ! Who is right ?
  4. see Bob Artwohl, (on McAdams site.)
    Among other errors of fact and interpretation of the medical evidence, the Harper fragment was not occipital bone but parietal bone. See also "Anatomy of the Harper fragment" by Joseph N. Riley (also on the Internet). I quote : "...there can be no reasonable scientific doubt that the Harper fragment is parietal bone.". Another problem for Lifton : the body bag was not mentioned in the FBI report.
  5. from Harold Weisberg (in one of his replies to me) ; I quote : "Lifton's theory of body alteration is absolutely impossible and made up out of nothing. Lifton misrepresented the reality. He did not include the FBI report in his book because it proves his theory is false."
  6. from Robert Groden (personal interview) ; "Lifton claims all the shots came from the front, and none from the rear. He doesn't account for Connally's wounds !"

Well I think that will do, if you do read all those sources. It all adds up to a huge number of arguments against Lifton's theory by knowledgeable people. I state it again : David Lifton is no physician. Yet he writes a medical theory that is ridiculed by doctors. At the very least, we should use caution with his theory and avoid jumping to conclusions. Was Lifton trained as a physician, a pathologist ? Drs Baden, Lattimer and Wecht are far better trained than he is, but all three say Lifton's theory is crap ! Then he claims the body was taken off its casket, when Dave Powers says the casket was never left unguarded. What do you make of all this ? I mean, Dave Powers was on board the plane. Lifton was not ! Some people never learn.

A lot of people (not me, I am talking about Artwohl, Wecht, Groden Posner, Moore, Powers, etc.) have criticized David Lifton's theory. They say it is wrong, they say it is ludicrous, they say it is just impossible. So now, it is your turn, Mister Lifton, to answer. Either you can answer, and in that case please do it, for we are all waiting for your answer, or you can't, which means you were wrong. We want to know ! It is put up or shut up.

(Addendum : This article was recently posted on an Internet newsgroup. Needless to say, some people liked it and others didn't. But instead of giving arguments, those you disagreed could only write insults with their keyboard ! Following is a summing up of what I replied to angry posts.)

The point is, this fellow Lifton wrote a book in which he puts forth a new theory. But when knowledgeable people such as doctors (take Artwohl, Wecht and Baden, for instance) read that book, they say it is absurd and ludicrous as well as impossible. And also Lifton, 17 years after the event, writes a book saying the body was stolen from the casket, when the very people who actually were there swear the casket was never left unattended. And those are just a few examples (I listed more in my article). So to the reader it surely looks like this theory is wrong. So it seems quite evident that its author has to explain why he still believes in it and why he wants us to believe in it. In short, if he wants to convince us, he will have to be convincing ! That means he will have to prove he is right. And that means he must answer the points raised by so many people who read the book, and they are people who are either better trained than Lifton is (Wecht and all) or who actually were there when Lifton was not !

I mean Weisberg, Groden, Wecht, Aguilar, Kurtz, and lots of other people who are conspiracy theorists, that is they do not believe in the Warren report, say that Lifton is wrong. They have read his book but they do not believe his theory of body alteration and stuff. What I mean, and you should stop to think about it, is that the fact that those people reject Lifton's theory should make people realize what is obvious to anybody who can apply critical thinking methods. If Lifton is right, why isn't he believed by other conspiracy theorists ? If he is right, if his theory can so well explain the discrepancies between Dallas and Bethesda, why are there so few people who follow him ? I say that if Weisberg, Wecht, Groden, Aguilar, not to mention others, say that Lifton is wrong, that surely suggests he is indeed wrong !

More to the point : people like Wecht, Moore Artwohl and Posner have challenged Lifton. He has never been able to answer them. Wouldn't he have answered if he could have ?

Most people who believe in conspiracy theories lack the understanding that witnesses accounts must not be taken at face value. Whenever you investigate a crime or any affair, you have to base your conclusion on facts and scientific evidence, certainly not on what the witnesses tell. That is because out of any given number of witnesses to the same event, none will have remembered the event the same way. That was bound to happen in Dealey Plaza, in Dallas, in Bethesda, etc. like anywhere else. JFK was shot, and everybody remembered things that are utterly incompatible with one another. That was to be expected. It happens all the time and everywhere ! That does not mean that people were lying. It means human recollections are not something you should rely on. But critics rely on nothing but the witness statements that suit them. Lifton has gathered statements by witnesses that suit him. But there are as many statements by witnesses that destroy his theory. But those who want to believe him read only the eyewitnesses accounts that they like. But if they were smart, they would take into account all the eyewitness accounts. The conspiracy theorists would then see that those accounts contradict one another (that is normal) and realize that the majority of them destroy Lifton's theory.

When David Lifton can convince Artwohl + Wecht + Baden that his theory is indeed a medical possibility, when he can convince Groden + Weisberg that his scenario makes sense, when he can answer to the sound arguments made by Posner + Moore + Kurtz in a convincing manner, then he will have gone a long way to prove his case. If he were right, that should be very easy to do ! But I am not holding my breath. This day will never happen. Only gullible people think he will ever be able to do that !

a few thoughts

I visited Internet newsgroups in order to check a few things, but I was kind of dumb - I admit that to expect people on these newsgroups to have anything interesting to say. I learned nothing. But I read countless posts full of garbage and insults and emptiness.

People like me try to be constructive, and honestly debate, discuss, think, give arguments, weigh evidence, and move forward ! But most people can do nothing but insult others, try to make fun of them, resort to ad hominem attacks, and duck the issues by refusing to answer. They don't know what critical thinking is. Now, I admit that answering my questions is hard, certainly harder than insulting me via a computer !

Conspiracy theorists can't be stopped in their dream world : they claim the X-rays were altered, the autopsy photos were altered, the backyard photos were altered, the body was altered, the Zapruder film was altered... What else ? I wonder what was genuine ?

The also say the Mafia + the CIA + Johnson + the FBI + oil men + the DPD did it together. What a terrible country they are painting ! But I will tell you what. As a Frenchman, I believe in your institutions. Your government is legal and sound and clear. There never was a conspiracy. You live in a democracy. Your country is a fine one, and I like it a lot. A lone nut killed your president, and that's all there is to it. It was a sad event. I liked John Kennedy a lot, he was a great president. I wish he was still alive ! But I, for one, trust your government and your institutions. And I am not going to think otherwise because gullible people paint a big conspiracy where everybody was involved and every document forged !

It is hard to have a debate on the JFK assassination issue. The whole field is plagued by passion and guts, and therefore instead of arguments and logic and reasoning, we too often can only read ad hominem attacks. What is that ? That occurs when someone attempts to refute a person's claim by attacking that person rather than the claim. It is a fallacy, i.e. a defective argument, one in which the premises do not provide an adequate basis for the conclusion. Indeed it is a fallacy because the person's character has no bearing on the truth or falsity of the claim. Too many people in the JFK research community resort to ad hominem attacks. And Gerald Posner is the person who has suffered the most ad hominem attacks ! You all have forgotten that the truth or falsity of a claim depends ultimately on the facts, not on who makes it. I think I have read all that was written against Posner. And this is precisely what convinced me he must be right after all. Because all the criticism I found against him was ad hominem attacks, nothing of substance against the facts. Because those who criticize Posner don't give arguments pertaining to the facts of November 22, 1963. Instead they say Posner made a spelling mistake, or he said such WC member attended eight meetings when in fact it was only five. Who gives a damn ? I mean, Posner could have misspelled my name, for all I care. That has no bearing on the real issues ! For instance, the book "Case open" is the most empty book I have ever read. It is full of unnecessary commentary and insults. The books claims Posner took credit for other people's research. So what ? A critical thinker doesn't care who takes the credit for what. But he tries to know whether the research is good quality or not. And indeed Posner gives lots of intelligent arguments. For example, Posner is more honest that any critic because he openly says that experts (I mean, real experts, not self-proclaimed experts) of the HSCA have said, beyond any doubt, that the documents are real. Only a few conspiracy theorists, who are far from having the credentials of the HSCA experts, claim that they are forged ! Now that is a fact, and I thank Posner to have made it clear !

Now, I admit he should make public his tape of his telephone interview with Boswell. If I were him I would surely do it at once. So on this particular aspect, I certainly support Gary Aguilar. No question.

There is one aspect I thought about a long time ago. Critics claim Oswald had not enough time to go from the sixth floor to the second floor where Marion Baker and truly met him. So critics claim Oswald was on the second floor during the shooting and not on the sixth floor. They say Oswald was set up as the fall guy. But that does not make sense. In other words, critics are saying that plotters were very clever in their scenario, they had someone shoot at Kennedy, they made sure Oswald would be the accused by tying the shots to the rifle and the rifle to him, but they forgot to make sure he had no alibi. Indeed if I were to commit a crime and blame it on somebody else, I would make sure that person was not seen by anybody during the time of the crime. If you want to blame the assassination on Oswald, but let him go loose so he is seen on the second floor by a policeman too early after the shots to have been the shooter, then the patsy scenario collapses. I mean, it is clear that if whatever group of plotters had wanted to blame Oswald, they would have made sure he was not seen far from the sixth floor around the time of the shots ! Because otherwise anybody could have come forward saying they had seen Oswald on the second floor at, or just after the time of the shooting ! The whole plot (which had been prepared for months, according to the conspiracy theorists) would have collapsed on the spot ! That does not make sense. Do I make myself clear ? Anyway, it was indeed possible for Oswald to be on the second floor when he encountered Baker, as Jim Moore has written in his book.

As far as the "research community" is concerned, one thing is obvious. I have realized that it is possible to write empty books that become best-sellers, it is possible to be considered as an expert even when that's not true, it is possible to earn lots of money without merit, it is possible to be admired by lots of people for no reason at all. The Kennedy assassination research community is full of people who consider themselves as intelligent experts. But they are not.

The research community, as a whole, has to discard wrong theories. But you haven't had such courage yet. One example : Armstrong has a theory of two Oswalds that seems impressive. But David Lifton, who has researched that area, says it is all wrong. Now, organize a confrontation, and let them both debate in public. Then you can move from there. But you owe the public to say who was right and who was wrong. You cannot go on with both researchers keeping on claiming that "the other one is wrong". Because not both of them can be right. Only if you discard one of them can you keep your credibility as a research group. So what I'm saying is this : there are a lot of theories out there that may be true, or not. But it is high time you checked once and for all. You have to move forward. You are all wasting so much time making fun of those who don't share your opinions, but the inquiry into the case doesn't move a bit ! It's time to face FACTS.

selected bibliography

  • Kendrick Frazier, "Paranormal borderlands of science"
  • Kendrick Frazier, "Science confronts the paranormal"
  • Kendrick Frazier, "The hundredth monkey"
  • Martin Gardner, "Fads and fallacies in the name of science"
  • Martin Gardner, "Science : good, bad and bogus"
  • Martin Gardner, "The New-Age : notes of a fringe watcher"
  • Martin Gardner, "On the wild side"
  • William D. Gray, "Thinking critically about new-age ideas"
  • Terence Hines, "Pseudoscience and the paranormal"
  • Ray Hyman, "The elusive quarry"
  • Philip Klass, "UFO's : the public deceived"
  • Philip Klass, "UFO abductions : a dangerous game"
  • Paul Kurtz, "A skeptic's handbook of parapsychology"
  • Larry Kusche, "The Bermuda triangle mystery - solved"
  • James Randi, "The truth about Uri Geller"
  • James Randi, "Flimflam"
  • James Randi, "The faith healers"

Talk to you next time

This journal of research on the Kennedy assassination is sent free either by electronic mail or by snail mail to the following people : Doctor Cyril Wecht, David Lifton, Gary Aguilar, Jim Marrs, Robert Groden, Gerald Posner, Clint Bradford, John Mc Adams, Debra Conway, Jack White, George Michael Evica, John Judge, Anthony Summers, Walt Brown, Henri Hurt, Michael Kurtz, Michael Griffith, Ed Dolan, Jim Moore, Carl Oglesby, Craig Roberts, Robert Harris, Anthony Marsh, Gary Mack, Jerrol Custer, David Scheim, Mark Oakes, Thierry Lentz, William Reymond, Gary Shaw, Jo Backes, Greg Jaynes, Barb Junkkarinen, John Kelin, Jerry Organ, Larry Charbonneau, Ian Griggs, Gaeton Fonzi and Paul-Eric Blanrue.

(About the author : François Carlier is a Frenchman who has spent his last ten years researching the JFK assassination and writing a book. He swears his next ten years will be spent differently, with more interesting topics : music and girls J ! In the meantime, you can send him your messages at : F-Carlier@wanadoo.fr )