David Blackburst Archive:
The Single Bullet Theory: Reasonable Doubt?



From: blackburst@aol.com (Blackburst)
Subject: The Single Bullet Theory: Reasonable Doubt?
Date: 11 Dec 1999 00:00:00 GMT
Message-ID: <19991211012327.23011.00000404@ng-cj1.aol.com>

(In the following presentation, the phrase "to a certainty" should be read to mean "beyond a reasonable doubt and to a moral certainty".)

In order for the Single Bullet Theory to be rendered "impossible" and "indefensible", it is necessary for the arguments against it to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt and to a moral certainty. Are they?

The TIMING argument holds that Kennedy and Connally cannot have been hit at the same time because Kennedy is first seen to be reacting at Zapruder frame 224, and Connally is first seen to be reacting at Z238. The argument is based on observation of still frames from the Zapruder film. But the Z film does not establish to a certainty when any shot hit either man, except for frame Z313. It is true that Kennedy's hands seem to move toward his throat starting at about Z224, but we cannot say to a certainty that this move necessarily establishes the moment of impact. Likewise, while it is true that Connally's shoulder drops, his hair musses and his cheeks seem to puff out at Z238, we cannot say to a certainty that this might not be a reaction to an impact several frames earlier. (Even if we accept these two frames as the moments of impact, a delay of 15/18ths of a second in reaction times is not impossible.) However, when the ultra-clear digital copy of the original Z film is seen in motion, it appears that Kennedy and Connaly both seem to lurch at about the same time, starting at around Z224. (This is most evident in the IOAA zoomed-in version.) Such a lurch cannot be detected in still frames. In any case, the film does not establish the moment(s) of impact to a certainty. (Connally did state that he thought he was hit at about Z238, but he based this on the viewing of still frames and a third- or fourth-generation optical copy of the film.)

The TRAJECTORY argument holds that Kennedy and Connally cannot have been hit by the same bullet because they were not aligned properly at that moment. But the Zapruder film does not establish to a certainty at which moment the shot would have hit, so we cannot say to a certainty how they were aligned or not aligned. Some descriptions of the alignment have been wildly innaccurate: They show the two sitting erect, but we cannot be sure they were erect (In fact, Connally said he was in the midst of a right-to-left rotation at the moment of impact.), and further, the road was sloping downward in this period of time. They show the two men seated at the same height, but Connally's jump seat was lower than Kennedy's seat. They show the two in the same horizontal plane, but Connally was seated somewhat inboard from Kennedy. (Also, Kennedy had a distinctive hunch to his back, as seen in beach photos.) Since we cannot say to a certainty when the shot would have struck, we cannot say to a certainty that the two might not, in the process of motion, be aligned.

The NON-TRANSIT argument holds that the bullet that struck Kennedy in the back did not pass through his body, and therefore could not have hit Connally. While it is true that one of the autopsists stuck a finger in the hole and felt the end, this does not rule out the possibility of the bullet passing between two strap muscles of the upper back, which might swell a bit after such passage. The autopsist was also unaware that Kennedy even had a wound in the front of his throat. It is argued that the back hole was larger than the front hole, but the back hole was actually measured at 4x7mm, while the front hole was only estimated at 3-8mm (during a brief examination in a supercharged atmosphere). If we take the largest estimation of the front hole (8mm), it would have been the same size as or slightly larger than the back hole - not inconsistent with a pass-through. So neither argument establishes to a certainty that the bullet did not transit.

The LACK OF DEFORMITY argument holds that such a bullet, passing through Kennedy and Connally and striking two bones must necessarily be more deformed than CE399. This is one of the stronger arguments against the SBT. The bullet was deformed, in the sense that its sides were puffed out, and mass was extruded from its base. It is true that in MOST cases, such a bullet would be more deformed, but if only one test bullet were to show the same level of deformity, it would make such a passage possible. Some testers have fired test bullets that show very low levels of deformity. To establish the possibility to a certainty, one would have to fire a test bullet through a living Kennedy and Connally, but such a test is not possible. It has been speculated (and demonstrated) that a tumbling bullet can show very low levels of deformity, and the oval-shaped entry wound in Connally's back does not preclude such a possibility. So we cannot state to a certainty that CE399 cannot have passed through both men.

The LOSS OF WEIGHT argument holds that the amount of mass missing from CE399 is less than the mass of the fragments left behind in the two men. But, irrespective of the weight of unfired similar bullets, we cannot state to a certainty what the unfired weight of THIS bullet was. Measurements of fragments from x-rays and photos do not take into account that they may not be precisely to a 1:1 scale, or that x-ray fragments might be illusory in size (such as a thin wafer fragment seen only from its widest axis) or somewhat blurred in irradiated form. A strong argument, but it does not establish to a certainty that the fragments could not have come from CE399.

Finally, CONNALLY'S RECOLLECTIONS are argued to be inconsistent with a single-strike. In some statements, Connally said that he heard the first shot, then he was hit, then he heard the third shot, but this is not inconsistent with the "single bullet" having been the SECOND shot. In other statements, Connally said he was not hit by the same bullet that hit Kennedy, but he also states that he did not see Kennedy hit. So he is presuming that Kennedy was hit by the first shot, based not on his own observation, but on what others told him, or on his viewing of a third- or fourth-generation optical copy of the Zapruder film. So his recollections do not establish to a certainty that he was not hit by the same bullet that hit Kennedy.

These are the principal arguments against the Single Bullet Theory. All of them have "wiggle room". None of them establishes beyond a reasonable doubt and to a moral certainty that the SBT is impossible. Taken as a whole, the group of arguments is suggestive or persuasive, but does not reach the level of compelling or conclusive.

I am not saying that I endorse the SBT, but I don't find it as impossible as some have suggested. I realize I am swimming against the tide here. I suspect that many readers will disagree with my feelings about the arguments against the SBT. I am open to the possibility of being convinced by reasonable arguments, and I invite interested persons to respond with well-reasoned and well-stated arguments as to why the SBT is impossible and indefensible.

David Blackburst


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