Mantik's AnticsFrom: email@example.com (Dave Reitzes)
Subject: Mantik's Antics (slightly revised)
Date: 26 Oct 2002 22:43:01 -0400
David Healy wrote:
>> >Also, where is Dr. Mantik way off re: the Z-film? What specifically is
>> >he wrong about?
>> >You say: "... documentation are our best allies" Sounds like you
>> >should be taking your own advice -- unless of course ...
Let's see . . . Mantik begins his article, "Special Effects in the Zapruder Film: How the Film of the Century was Edited" (Fetzer, ed., Assassination Science, Chicago: Catfeet Press, 1998) by questioning whether the Zapruder film would have been admissible in court had Oswald come to trial.
"The legal principle is that eyewitness testimony has priority over photographs. This principle was turned upside down by the battalions of lawyers who worked for the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) and for the WC. For them, against all legal precedent, the assumption was always the reverse: if the witnesses disagreed with the official view, it was assumed that they were in error or even lying. On the other hand, the photographs (and the X-rays, too) were assumed to be immutable monuments to truth. In a real trial, no competent judge would have permitted this illegal approach." (265-66)
Is Mantik completely unaware that, rather than accept "the photographs (and the X-rays, too)" as "immutable monuments to truth," the HSCA hired a panel of world class photographic analysts to subject the autopsy photos and X-rays, as well as other photographs in cases where authenticity was an issue, to state-of-the-art examinations, precisely for the purpose of determining whether or not the films were authentic?
Hasn't he read the HSCA panel's reports? For example:
Mantik doubts that a "competent judge" would allow the Zapruder film into evidence in a "real trial"? Is Dr. Mantik wholly unfamiliar with the court case, State of Louisiana v. Clay L. Shaw? Was there something incompetent or corrupt about Judge Edward Haggerty's decision to admit the Zapruder film into evidence? Is Dr. Mantik going to present evidence, perhaps, demonstrating that Judge Haggerty was secretly in the pocket of the local District Attorney?
I'd like to see that. \:^)
Mantik argues that the Z film must be fake because it conflicts with eyewitnesses who reported the limousine stopping or nearly stopping: "All of these comments are in obvious conflict with the film. No abrupt slowing of the limousine is seen and it certainly does not stop." (274)
Mantik himself notes that Dr. Luis Alvarez graphed a sudden deceleration of the limousine "from about 12 to 8 mph, centered at about Z-300" and extending over about nine frames. "This slowing, however, is subtle and is not usually noticed by viewers of the film." "It is peculiar that this modest, almost imperceptible, deceleration -- last only one half of a second (!) -- should be what prompted several dozen eyewitnesses to describe this as a marked slowing, or even a possible stop." (274)
If it sounds like Mantik is backsliding, it's because he is. Had he bothered to take a look at the Nix film, taken from a greater distance, without any panning of the camera, and including the limousine's wheels in the frame, he would have seen what is transparently obvious in that film -- the "modest, almost imperceptible, deceleration" of the limousine is anything but imperceptible in Nix, yet is fully compatible with what is seen at a different angle, with the camera panning and without fixed points of reference, in Zapruder.
Click here to download a research copy of the Nix film.
Mantik then spends several pages arguing about whether eyewitnesses can be trusted, in which, among other things, he grossly distorts the research of Elizabeth Loftus. (274-79)
He then spends several pages arguing the irrelevant subject of the jet effect. (279-84) To his credit, however, he acknowledges that the post-313 head snap cannot be due to a bullet from the front. (284) (Doesn't matter; the film is fake.)
He continues with a spectacularly desperate attempt to claim that the many witnesses who referred to two shots striking the President (e.g., Abraham Zapruder: ". . . I heard the first shot and I saw the President lean over and grab himself like this. I heard a second shot and saw his head open up . . .") were actually referring to TWO HEAD SHOTS! (284-93)
That's right, folks -- all those witnesses who saw JFK slump over with one shot then get hit in the head with a second were NOT seeing the SAME EXACT THING we see today in the FAKE Zapruder film; they MISSED any shot to any OTHER part of JFK's body, and actually witnessed TWO SEPARATE SHOTS TO THE PRESIDENT'S HEAD. ("Some witnesses even recall events that occurred between these two head shots -- thus buttressing the case for two closely spaced, but readily distinguishable shots.") (286)
Along the way, Mantik notices that "no one saw a head snap!" (286) This is true; I've never come across a statement from even a single eyewitness that describes the head snap that begins in Z frame 314. As Mantik notes (286), the witnesses frequently describe JFK slumping FORWARD after being shot a second time.
But can't Mantik hypothesize even a single reason for this more likely than wide-ranging "editing" of the entire film? Is this someone whose judgment as an assassination "expert" we're supposed to trust? Is he unaware that a number of people described the EXACT SAME THING after viewing the EXACT SAME FILM we have today for the first time?
Oops. I'm getting a little ahead of things. \:^)
Mantik then spends several pages arguing that the streaks of matter apparent in the frames following the head shot "cannot represent biological tissue from JFK's head" (296) -- because they're "inconsistent with the eyewitness reports of debris in the air" (294) and just plain contrary to the laws of physics (294-95).
Of course, the latter claim is precisely what "assassination experts" (including a number of those published elsewhere in Fetzer's volume) were claiming about the head snap until actual physicists told them to sit down and shut up. Whereupon they began claiming the entire film was fake. (Whatever it takes to avoid the simplest possible explanations for events . . .)
Mantik then briefly delves into some material about the speed of the limousine during the official reenactments. (295) Then comes an enlightening section (295-96) entitled, "Did all the witnesses hear the same 3 shots?" which cites several articles from that eminent scientific journal, PROBE.
Then comes a section arguing that William Manchester was correct when he claimed that JFK raised his hand to his head immediately prior to the head shot. (297) Mantik points out that Mrs. Kennedy recalled something similar ("And then he sort of did this [indicating], put his hand to his forehead and fell in my lap."), so obviously it must have happened. (But then how come Manchester doesn't report the TWO head shots Mantik claims were on THAT film? Or was there a THIRD film? Just how many films DOES Mantik think there were? And is Manchester part of the cover-up, or is he just too stupid to realize the film he saw was totally different from the one that's been in circulation since the late Sixties?)
Then Mantik notes that Zapruder told CBS News that he began filming "as soon as the limousine turned onto Elm Street . . ." (297) But of course the film of the limousine does not begin until a few seconds or so after the turn was made. Therefore, Mantik wonders, isn't this evidence of alteration?
Yet Zapruder authenticated the film at the Clay Shaw trial. So, according to Mantik, Zapruder is truthful and accurate when speaking to CBS News, but either grossly inaccurate or outright lying when he authenticates the film (yes, the one with the obvious "gap" between the two motorcade sequences) at the Shaw trial.
Then Mantik gets into a discussion of people whose reports of the film don't seem to square with the extant film -- Dan Rather, for example; John Manchester, as noted above; a LIFE employee who described the film ten years after viewing it; autopsy pathologist Pierre Finck (!), who viewed color prints of some frames; "John Lattimer of all people" (you said it, Dr. Dave!); and onetime PROBE contributor Milicent Cranor. (298-300) (Cranor claims she saw a divergent version of the Z film at the NBC Archives in 1992, one with no head snap, with a completely different head wound, and in which "JFK went flat across Jackie's lap, not forward but leftward, away from the viewer," then bounced "back up to about where he was before."  Cranor has written that NBC now -- surprise!! -- denies having any such film.)
So, as with the distorted testimony of eyewitnesses who viewed the assassination itself being "proof" of alteration, if eyewitnesses reporting on the FILM describe it differently than one would expect, they must have seen a different film. And if Dr. Mantik has to rely on crackpot assassination buffs to make his claims, so be it. He's the expert, after all; if we can't trust his expert judgment, whose can we trust?
Mantik argues that, since he thinks the limousine is stopped in the Moorman Polaroid, this is proof that the Z film is fake. (300) Whether Mantik is right about what is seen in the Moorman photo is never questioned; and again, Mantik overlooks the fact that, for a fraction of a second, the limousine DID all but stop, as seen in the Nix film, at a time that -- to my mere layman's eyes -- would certainly appear to correspond to the instant (circa Z 314) Moorman's photo is believed to have been exposed.
Mantik then goes on to argue at length (300-304) that the Marie Muchmore film shows the limo's braking lights to have been on for a fraction of a second prior to the head shot, and "If the brakes were applied just before the head shots [sic!], then the limousine would probably have slowed." (301)
Remember: on Mantik's planet, the limousine DOES NOT SLOW DOWN IN THE ZAPRUDER FILM.
Mantik then goes on to assert, "If the Zapruder film has been edited, then it should also have been possible to alter both the Nix and Muchmore films." (304)
This in spite of the fact that, at the time LIFE magazine began PUBLISHING frames from the Zapruder film on November 23rd or 24th, 1963, the Nix and Muchmore films were both STILL IN THEIR OWNERS' CAMERAS! (cf. Richard Trask, Pictures of the Pain, Danvers, Mass.: Yeoman Press, 1994, pp. 183, 205; Gary Mack has confirmed that the November 29, 1963, issue of LIFE, which contained frames from the Zapruder film, went to press on either the 23rd or 24th, and began arriving in subscribers' mailboxes on Tuesday, the 26th.)
Then there are Mantik's findings about discrepancies between the Z film and the official reenactments (305-08), the "internal inconsistencies" previously noted by the likes of Jack White and Noel Twyman (308-21), the shocking revelation (shades of Kennedy's brain!) that Mantik has been unable to determine the current whereabouts of the pre-assassination portion of Zapruder's film (323-28), and, of course, "Synthesis" (328-40), "Summary" (340-41), and "Acknowledgments" (341-42).
We also have editor Fetzer's interjected note, describing how "During the final production of this book, we had what appears to have been a close encounter with the CIA. In the course of ordinary events, we have become familiar with a person claiming to have been a high-ranking official of the CIA, who has told us that the Zapruder film was in the hands of the CIA almost immediately and that it was edited at Ft. Meade under the authority of the National Security Agency, part of which was done prior to the publication of selected frames in LIFE. He has advised us that instructions for this undertaking would have had to emanate from a level of government at least equivalent to that of Lyndon B. Johnson or of J. Edgar Hoover. We have found much of what he has to say quite fascinating and, in general, consistent with our discoveries." (341) Fetzer calls Mantik the "world authority on the Zapruder film."
Is it any wonder that David Mantik, M.D., Ph.D., As.S. (Assassination Scientist), and James Fetzer, Ph.D., As.S., are considered among the leading lights of the alterationist school?
Back to the top
Back to Reitzes newsgroup menu
Back to Jim Garrison menu
Back to JFK menu
Dave Reitzes home page