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Why Don't We Admit Our Mistakes?


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Why doesn’t anyone ever admit they made a mistake?

Ordinary discussion moves forward in terms of give and take. A says: “X.” B says: “But A, you forgot about Z. That fact has to change what you said.” A replies: “You know you’re right, B. Z does change things” OR “You are right about Z. But if you recall Q, you have to understand Z in a way which really confirms what I said.” This is the way ordinary discussion moves forward among most adults. The dialogue back and forth actually produces understanding. On a good day it might even be called inquiry.

I wrote a book over forty years ago that dealt with a number of prickly evidentiary matters. Over the last forty years, a lot of new information bearing on those matters has come to light. So obviously on some of them I had to be wrong. Here’s an example and an important one.

When I measured the position of JFK’s head over time I found it moved forward between frames 312 and 313 and then started moving backward. This gave rise to the hypothesis that JFK got hit in the head twice within a split second... first from the back and then from the front. From the beginning this seemed to me to be an amazing coincidence... two bullets arriving at the same place within 1/9th of a second. But it was only a few years ago that a bright fellow named David Wimp came up with another explanation.

Since frame 313 is smeared along a horizontal plane, he thought some of the measured movement might in fact be due to the smear and not to any real movement. He made some very careful measurements on the film and determined that everyone in the limousine (not just JFK) started moving forward around frame 308. JFK starts that way and then he’s bowled over backward and to the left. The others keep going. Since the driver, Bill Greer, turned around to look in the back seat around Z302, Wimp offered the opinion that Greer took his foot off the accelerator for a split second. This decelerated the limousine while the occupants kept going forward. Most importantly, however, he figured out that most of the “movement” I had measured was actually just horizontal smear in frame 313. I read Wimp’s pieces but couldn’t understand completely the mathematics he used . (You can find his articles at: http://www.megaone.com/rwhepler/motion_blu...ion%20Blur.htm) I got in touch with Wimp, and, with Jim Lesar’s permission, invited him to give an illustrated talk at a conference in Washington, D.C. At that conference, I said publicly that I believed I had made a mistake and that Wimp had satisfactorily explained what I had taken to be movement. Things have become a bit more complicated over the last few years and right now I’m very much in a quandary as to what to believe.

I mention this only to put on the table my own bona fides in this matter. I’m sure there are a bunch of other things in Six Seconds that are wrong and I’d be delighted to have them pointed out. But this head movement was really important and Wimp’s analysis impressive.

I’ve noticed on this board and others that no one ever seems to admit they made a mistake. The brouhaha over Professor Fetzer’s “breakthrough” is a case in point. Professor Fetzer announced it with characteristic modesty:

Madison, WI (OpEdNews) February 5, 2008 — The editor of Assassination Research, James H. Fetzer, Ph.D., has announced the discovery of new proof that the home movies of the assassination of JFK known as the Zapruder film and a second known as the Nix film are fakes... Fetzer observed.. “This proof is based upon the convergent testimony of motorcycle patrolmen, members of the Secret Service, and the Dallas Chief of Police. That it contradicts the official account of the assassination recorded in the films qualifies as a major breakthrough.”

Then Jack White put his imprimatur on it by writing:

"This is perhaps the most important information developed in the past several years..."

[see “New Proof of JFK Film Fakery, ‘Conclusive Evidence,’ Experts Claim” and “The Breakdown of Fetzer’s ‘breakthrough.’”]

It turns out now that the self-accolades were a bit premature. Apparently, Professor Fetzer and his friends weren’t aware of the very clear evidence of the Bell and Daniel films as well as the Altgens and McIntire photos. These additional films and photos match exactly what we see in the Zapruder, Nix and Muchmore films. Not only did Officer Chaney fade back at the time of the head shot (as shown in the Zapruder, Nix and Muchmore films) but he’s completely absent in the Bell film and Altgens photo. Even more importantly, he is shown in the Daniel film and McIntire photo some hundreds of feet behind the limousine as it passes the pilot car containing Chief Curry. Either you believe that all these films and photos (Zapruder, Nix, Muchmore, Bell and Daniel films plus the Altgens and McIntire photos) were all faked up to make Officer Chaney’s advance to the pilot car much slower than it really was, or Fetzer and company made a mistake. Since what Chaney did has very little impact on anything important, if Fetzer and company would simply admit they’d made a mistake one could move on quickly to more important and interesting things.

But they won’t. Since the Altgens, Daniel, Bell and McIntire films/photos have been disclosed, they have produced exactly one new fact. Jack White came up with it.

In a 1969 book, a DPD sergeant riding at the point of the motorcade, claimed that he turned around in the middle of Elm Street while the shooting was going on and rode back to Officer Chaney. Then, together, the sergeant and Chaney rode forward to the pilot car where the sergeant (not Chaney) told Chief Cuffy there had been injuries. Since learning of this story I’ve been trying to figure out what it has to do with the “breakthrough” claim. It too, of course, is falsified by the new film/photo evidence.

Unwilling to admit their mistakes, the claims they make soon become religious postulates around which the faithful gather. The faithful spew insults and unpleasant asides and attack the character of their questioners. And so nothing ever advances.

How different things would be if admitting a mistake was just the regular and expected thing to do when you were shown to be wrong. I haven’t visited this board in some time. I think John Simkin has been trying to put together something worthwhile. I have to go back to New York this weekend to continue work on a case I’ve been working on for the last two years.... the collapse of Building 7 of the World Trade Center on 9/11. Sadly, this means I’ll have to tune out again come Sunday because of work load. But I thought I’d just put out this one idea before leaving.

Why can’t we admit we made a mistake when we make one?

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Josiah,

It is understandable to a degree; no-one likes to admit they are wrong. When things are not reasonable clear, such as in a matter of opinion, then it can be quite justified. When evidence is clear that someone is wrong, then maintaining the incorrect position is very counter-productive.

In some cases, where the two camps are completely opposed (such as Apollo), it is more understandable. It is less understandable in cases where everyone agrees on so much - such as an outcome - but each camp has a sacred theory on the sequence of events.

It does fall back to a simple maxim, though - if you are wrong, admit it.

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Why can’t we admit we made a mistake when we make one?

This is an important question. The main problem is psychological. In most situations, if we make a mistake and this is pointed out, we are willing to be corrected. However, JFK researchers, when publishing their information on the case, they are immediately faced with hostile critics. When mistakes are pointed out, instead of questioning their research, they immediately question the good faith of the critic. The issue then becomes one about the character, history, etc. of the researcher and critic than the original statement. The situation becomes worse because each figure in the debate usually has loyal followers. These people also become involved in what by this time has become a hostile debate. By this stage, it has become psychologically impossible to retract what has already been said.

It is not true that all researchers fall into this category. Larry Hancock, for example, has spent many hours on this forum defending the material published in his book. As far as I can remember, he has never attracted very much criticism (one member did claim he was a CIA disinformation agent but no one took him seriously).

However, Larry relies on documented information. Much of the hostile debate focuses on film and photographic evidence. This material is open to a variety of different interpretations. Personally, I rarely read the threads on this issue. It has no interest to me at all. I am already convinced that there was more than one gunman. It is far more important to find out who was behind the conspiracy than where individual gunman were standing.

The other source of conflict concerns confessions and denials from people who may or may not be connected to the assassination. Some researchers believe characters such as Gerry Hemming, Tosh Plumlee, James Files, Judyth Vary Baker, etc. whereas others seriously doubt their testimony. These people are often the source of hostile debate.

A third factor concerns the identity of the individual/group behind the conspiracy to kill JFK. This is usually tied up closely to the political views of the researcher. Therefore, someone who believes the CIA was involved in the conspiracy, are likely to be very hostile to any researcher who claims to provide evidence that Castro organized the killing of JFK.

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From chapter 20 at patspeer.com

This resistance to new perceptions has actually been tested. In 1949, in a landmark study performed by Jerome Bruner and Leo Postman, subjects were flashed playing cards, some of which had a wrong color, i.e. red spades, black diamonds. They found that people would always recognize a normal card within 350 milliseconds, but would fail to recognize what they called a "trick card" 10% of the time, even when given a full second. They found, furthermore, that as one was exposed to more "trick cards," the speed in which one could identify them drastically improved.

This resistance has been studied by historians as well. In 1962, Thomas Kuhn published a landmark work of his own, "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions". As part of his study, Kuhn looked at the time lapse between the development of new scientific theories and their general acceptance by the scientist's peers. He found, amazingly, that very few scientists, once committed to a theory, have ever changed their minds and embraced the findings of another scientist, even if this scientist's new theory better answered the questions answered by their old theory. Kuhn relates:

"Copernicanism made few converts for almost a century after Copernicus' death. Newton's work was not generally accepted, particularly on the Continent, for more than half a century after the Principia appeared. Priestley never accepted the oxygen theory, nor Lord Kelvin the electromagnetic theory, and so on. The difficulties of conversion have often been noted by the scientists themselves. Darwin, in a particularly perceptive passage at the end of the Origin of the Species, wrote: "Although I am fully convinced of the truth of the views given in this volume...,I by no means expect to convince experienced naturalists whose minds are stocked with a multitude of facts all viewed, during a long course of years, from a point of view directly opposite to mine...But I look with confidence to the future,--to young and rising naturalists, who will be able to view both sides of the question with impartiality." And Max Planck, surveying his own career in his Scientific Autobiography, sadly remarked that "a new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."

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Guest David Guyatt
QUOTE(Josiah Thompson @ Feb 22 2008, 06:21 AM)

Why can’t we admit we made a mistake when we make one?

It is largely a psychological problem of our times, I think.

The problem is that most of us automatically associates the views we hold as a function and possession of our ego (of which we are often largely daily unconscious of) and the latter struggles - and usually wins - to avoid any form of criticism that diminishes its authority.

It's is a wonderful servant but a Mephisto master.

It requires the ability to reflect and a sustained moral effort in order to step forward and volunteer to be diminished.

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QUOTE(Josiah Thompson @ Feb 22 2008, 06:21 AM)

Why can’t we admit we made a mistake when we make one?

It is largely a psychological problem of our times, I think.

The problem is that most of us automatically associates the views we hold as a function and possession of our ego (of which we are often largely daily unconscious of) and the latter struggles - and usually wins - to avoid any form of criticism that diminishes its authority.

It's is a wonderful servant but a Mephisto master.

It requires the ability to reflect and a sustained moral effort in order to step forward and volunteer to be diminished.

How well you have expressed this , including the volunteering to be "diminished"--I think that's key.

For many, confidence level is increased or diminished, by how many people agree with us. Now confidence in our theses increases with the agreement of others(if we find almost no evidence to the contrary), and that is what we are looking for. What I am addressing is that many times self confidence is attached to our studies. We feel better about being right, instead of searching for correctness.

Many times errors are sterile-a mistake in judgement based on what we thought we know, or a lack of knowledge of evidence which was presented to us. These are non ego threatening situations, ideally. But if someone is operating under attaching self confidence with being correct, there is a problem in the individual thinking that because an idea may not be tangible, based on new information, then he loses face, and it is accepted as a personal attack. The result is an attack on the informer.

(You attacked me, back at ya.)

We have all done this, I am sure, in some way. In the sense of research, it is an impediment toward our search for truth.

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Very interesting and acute replies. Nobody is right all the time. It seems to me that when someone admits they made a mistake, they become more credible... not less credible... in the future. What really sours so much discussion in Kennedy assassination circles is the claim that someone who criticizes one's work is "a disinformation agent"... or something like that. Fetzer tried that on me a long time ago and I've been after him ever since.

Very true - the ego is a very useful tool, but a poor master.
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Very interesting and acute replies. Nobody is right all the time. It seems to me that when someone admits they made a mistake, they become more credible... not less credible... in the future. What really sours so much discussion in Kennedy assassination circles is the claim that someone who criticizes one's work is "a disinformation agent"... or something like that. Fetzer tried that on me a long time ago and I've been after him ever since.

How true, Josiah. I remember that it was Fetzer who invited me to speak at my first Lancer conference because he liked what I had been doing on the forum and as you may recall ... soon afterwards came Jack's run of alteration claims. It was like overnight the images had become clear to one individual and alleged alteration was now being seen on a daily basis. But the minute I opened up with a response that said, 'Jack, I think you have made a mistake' when I noticed that Moorman's camera was above the tops of the cycles windshields, then anything about me or what I had done to get Fetzer's invite to speak at the conference went out the window. Now I had become the disinformation agent. That theme has been the alteration pushers tool of choice.

Edited by Bill Miller
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Very interesting and acute replies. Nobody is right all the time. It seems to me that when someone admits they made a mistake, they become more credible... not less credible... in the future. What really sours so much discussion in Kennedy assassination circles is the claim that someone who criticizes one's work is "a disinformation agent"... or something like that. Fetzer tried that on me a long time ago and I've been after him ever since.
Very true - the ego is a very useful tool, but a poor master.

Isn't that true? The admission of mistake is so uncommon these days, that the man who does so is honorable. More credible, that too, but a level of nobility is assigned to those who admit it.

Disinfo agent???? :lol: I am particularly fond of "provocateur", and whenever I see that word I mentally associate the theme song from HAWAII FIVE-0 with it. :lol:

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Hey, for every positive lead that takes you somewhere, there are dozens if not hundreds of dead ends, so if you don't recognize a dead end when you get there, you'll never know what it's like to find important gems or a treasure trove of puzzle pieces.

I appreciate Tink Thompson for spending this time with us, and would like him to review the thread on the Brown Sportscoat Man, one of the characters in his book Six Seconds in Dallas.

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=11639

I specifically would like to know if any traces of this suspect appears in any photos, and whether this yet unidentified person can be traced via the Ramber station wagon?

Thanks,

Bill Kelly

Edited by William Kelly
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I'm sorry, Bill. All I have to confess here is my own ignorance. I hadn't seen Weston's article... and a damn fine article it is!... and it was published in 1996. That shows how much I know.

I remember how excited I was when I found Murray's human interest photo from the corner of Elm/Houston which shows a white Rambler station wagon passing through the intersection soon after the shooting. I also remember being fascinated by the Richard Randolph Carr documents. It saddens me to see that he self-destructed later on.

With all the different reports Weston mobilized, this certainly is a fascinating loose thread. I'm sorry I can't take it any further.

Hey, for every positive lead that takes you somewhere, there are dozens if not hundreds of dead ends, so if you don't recognize a dead end when you get there, you'll never know what it's like to find important gems or a treasure trove of puzzle pieces.

I appreciate Tink Thompson for spending this time with us, and would like him to review the thread on the Brown Sportscoat Man, one of the characters in his book Six Seconds in Dallas.

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=11639

I specifically would like to know if any traces of this suspect appears in any photos, and whether this yet unidentified person can be traced via the Ramber station wagon?

Thanks,

Bill Kellt

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I'm sorry, Bill. All I have to confess here is my own ignorance. I hadn't seen Weston's article... and a damn fine article it is!... and it was published in 1996. That shows how much I know.

I remember how excited I was when I found Murray's human interest photo from the corner of Elm/Houston which shows a white Rambler station wagon passing through the intersection soon after the shooting. I also remember being fascinated by the Richard Randolph Carr documents. It saddens me to see that he self-destructed later on.

With all the different reports Weston mobilized, this certainly is a fascinating loose thread. I'm sorry I can't take it any further.

Thanks for the quick comeback.

Are you familiar with the work of Richard Bartholomew - The Possible Discovery of an Automobile Used in the JFK Conspiracy?

http://www.acorn.net/jfkplace/09/fp.back_i...mblr_frwrd.html

Thanks,

Bill Kelly

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