Thursday, May 8, 2008

Con Job: Debunking the Debunkers


It’s been thirteen years since I released my preliminary computer-generated JFK assassination reconstruction and five years since an updated version was broadcast world-wide, although you’d never know it given the frequency with which the History and Discovery Channels re-broadcast the two programs my work appeared in.

And consequently it’s no wonder that conspiracy theorists continue to hammer at my work in the hopes of convincing mainstream America that my computer reconstruction is nothing more than a carefully constructed sham designed to further a supposed cover-up in the murder of President Kennedy.

The newest crop of debunkers push their warped ideas about my work with graphic illustrations and self-produced YouTube videos which purport to show the “obvious” lies and distortions these theorists have supposedly discovered among sequences of my work aired by the History and Discovery Channels.

One of the more vocal and equally off-base debunkers is Patrick J. Speer, a self-acknowledged wanna-be poet, turned wanna-be-musician, turned record buyer for the music industry who eventually became “obsessed with recent American history.”

Mr. Speer’s graphic intensive website promises “a new perspective on the Kennedy assassination” and while some newcomers to the subject may be impressed with the eye-candy, there’s nothing really there that rises above the same old, tired arguments and misinformation kicked around by conspiracy theorists for better than four decades.

It’s the same old shoe with new laces.

There are plenty of identical websites that offer up the same kind of misinformation for those who don’t know any better and if visitors to these kinds of websites are willing to get their facts about American history from wanna-be poets and the like, who am I to spoil the party?

In fact, I’ve largely avoided confronting this army of wackiness, outside of addressing a few of their more frequent allegations, because doing so proves time and again to represent a colossal waste of time.

It doesn’t take long to figure out that one could waste a lifetime attempting to hammer a little common sense into these people who for one obsessive reason or another find it their calling to opine about something they know very little about, or in the case of Mr. Speer, know absolutely nothing about.

I’m referring of course to the multitude of vile and reckless charges concerning my computer reconstruction of the Kennedy assassination which are featured as part of Mr. Speer’s “new perspective” on the case.

Utilizing screen grabs lifted from the two television programs I participated in, Mr. Speer pretends to debunk my work using graphic overlays that break every rule of photogrammetry accompanied by childish headlines like Dale Myers’ House of Mirrors; Murder by Cartoon; and Cutting the Crap.

I pointed out Mr. Speer’s photographic follies on my FAQ page over three years ago (without using his name in order to save him embarrassment), yet Speer continues to use the same deceptive photographic techniques to – get this – claim that he has evidence of my deception.

For instance, Speer uses overlays of images taken from two different angles and claims that because they don’t align I am being deceptive; or, Speer draws lines of trajectory on a two-dimensional image of a three-dimensional scene and claims that because the two-dimensional line doesn’t line up with the three-dimensional scene (an impossibility due to the basic rules of photogrammetry) that I am being deceptive.

Forget about convincing Mr. Speer that one cannot draw a rational conclusion from an irrational premise; I’ve tried. Suffice it to say that Mr. Speer prefers to live in a land of illusion where physical realities don’t hold a candle to obsessive conspiracy theories.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time here pointing out the ridiculous nature of each and every one of Mr. Speer’s goofy assertions. But here are just two to make the point, as well as the truth of the matter:

Charge: Myers shrunk the model of Governor Connally and his jumpseat 25% in order to get the single bullet theory to work.

Truth: Mr. Speer used a frame grab from the Discovery Channel’s “Beyond the Magic Bullet” to make his point, but failed to note that the image he used was taken from a portion of the program in which my computer work was being displayed on a computer monitor which was at a significant angle to the camera – the effect being that the computer images of Kennedy and Connally were compressed horizontally and consequently the Connally image appeared smaller than the actual model.

When Mr. Speer was informed that wide-angle sequences from the Discovery program showed the relationship of the computer monitor to the program camera (and therefore the fallacy of his argument), he wrote on his website, “I must admit I did not realize this footage was shot at an angle. I mean, why would they do that?” Believe it or not, Mr. Speer than proceeded to claim that the producers of the program and I conspired to deceive viewers (and presumably the hapless Mr. Speer) about the true alignment of the single bullet theory by purposely shooting the monitor on an angle!

In a recent post on the UK’s Education Forum, Mr. Speer writes, “No one to my knowledge, including Myers, until this response, had ever suggested the images were distorted because the animation – the animation shown round the world to convince people the single-bullet trajectories worked, mind you – was shot at an angle from a computer monitor.”

Mr. Speer doesn’t seem to understand that in the real world there is no need to acknowledge something that is self evident – namely, that Discovery Channel viewers were watching a presentation being given from a vantage point that was not perpendicular to the presentation screen. This is obvious from the Discovery program sequences that show a wide-angle view of the studio in which the presentation was being given. Mr. Speer failed to note that fact and now claims that the Discovery Channel and yours truly conspired to deceive everyone about the single bullet theory.

Can it get any sillier? I’m afraid it can.

According to Mr. Speer, “By admitting the images used in the program were distorted, Myers is as much as admitting that his whole presentation in 2004's Beyond the Magic Bullet was irrelevant. No, it's actually much worse. Since the program's creators added a trajectory angle onto Myers' distorted figures that lined up perfectly with their wounds, Myers is as much as admitting that the single-bullet theory--which he set out to prove some years ago--and which he calls the 'single-bullet fact,' does not work on undistorted figures.”

The so-called distortions Mr. Speer refers to are of course the unintended result of the Discovery Channel photographing the presentation monitor at an angle and have nothing to do with the alignments depicted in the actual images appearing on the monitor. And the trajectory path superimposed over the videotaped sequence by Discovery editors after the fact has no more relevance or accuracy to the images below it (other than to illustrate, in very broad terms, the path of the bullet) than Mr. Speer’s own attempts to project two-dimensional lines into three-dimensional space.

It’s unfathomable to me that anyone could swallow Mr. Speer’s illogical rationale for dismissing the breadth of my work on the single bullet theory, but in the world of conspiracy theorists bent on embracing anyone and anything critical of the single bullet theory, such idiocy is common place. (The UK’s Education Forum’s administrator, John Simikin, applauded Speer writing, “Congratulations. I am sure all members have been very impressed with your work in this area.”)

Charge: Myers misplaces Connally’s jumpseat in order to ensure the alignment of the single bullet theory.

Truth: The location of the jumpseat has no bearing on the alignment of any trajectory plotted in my computer reconstruction. The figures of JFK and JBC were matched to the Zapruder film perspective, not to the location of the jumpseat. Frankly, you could eliminate the entire limousine from the reconstruction and the alignments of JFK and JBC would still be valid since their position in space is based on Zapruder's view of the scene and the relationship of JFK to JBC, and their combined relationship to the TSBD and the surrounding buildings. In short, the position and size of the jumpseat has no bearing on the single bullet theory.

All of this means little to Mr. Speers who now writes, “As he is now asserting that the limousine model had nothing to do with his positioning of Connally, only measurements taken from the Zapruder film, I decided to put the seat in the correct location on Myers' undistorted over-view, and see how it matched up with Connally….”

Does it matter that Mr. Speer cannot really move the jumpseat to the “correct” location within my computer rendering (i.e., move a two-dimensional image in three-dimensional space)? Apparently not, because Mr. Speer then proceeds to once again break the Cardinal Rule of photogrammetry (i.e., draw two-dimensional lines on a three-dimensional image) to “demonstrate” that Connally doesn’t align with the single bullet trajectory, concluding, “Myers undoubtedly knows this. Which fuels my suspicion that the distorted animation used in ‘Beyond the Magic Bullet’ was no ‘mistake’.”

Mr. Speer further complains that the animated sequence I produced in which Connally is shown sitting inboard of Kennedy by six inches is equally deceptively because it shows Connally and the jumpseat moving in unison. I explained in a recent email that Connally and the jumpseat were moved as one for clarity.

According to Mr. Speer, “This is as good as a confession that Myers knew the jumpseat was not 6 inches in from the door when he created animation showing it to be 6 inches from the door… I wonder how many [millions of viewers] would feel deceived to find out that Connally's sitting comfortably in the middle of his seat was merely a Myers invention designed to ‘clarify’ things for them? Some might call this an out-and-out fraud perpetrated on the public.”

I don’t know how many ways to say it, but Connally was situated six inches inboard of Kennedy at the time they were both hit. Connally’s jumpseat, however, was fixed to a track in the floor of the limousine, the outside edge of the jumpseat cushion measured at 2.5 inches from the inside door panel, according to body drafts produced by Hess & Eisenhardt Company.

To demonstrate the difference between a rather common (and inaccurate) drawing purporting to show Connally seated directly in front of Kennedy at the time of the single bullet shot and their actual positions as deduced from the Zapruder film and other photographs, the models of Connally and the jumpseat were moved as a single unit during presentations for ABC News and the Discovery Channel.

The relationship between Connally and the jumpseat are identical in both positions. Moving Connally and the jumpseat in unison was simply easier than moving the two separately given the television time available – especially given the fact that the position of the jumpseat had absolutely no bearing on the single bullet theory.

But for Mr. Speer, focusing on inconsequential minutia is better than acknowledging his own obvious mistakes in photographic analysis and logic. It also allows him to play the marytyr for his fellow conspiracy theorists and pretend he has actually proven something, writing, “While I've given Myers a hard time, and have received a substantial amount of abuse in return, I believe Myers' acknowledgment of the failure of his animation to demonstrate the single-bullet theory, was probably worth it. Now we can all stop pretending the alignment of Kennedy and Connally, and thus the likelihood of the single-bullet theory, has been ‘proven’.”

One can only feel sorry for Mr. Speer after reading such nonsense. The only one being conned by such addled thinking is Mr. Speer himself who despite all efforts is determined to prove just how thick-headed conspiracy theorists can truly be.

Anyone who wants to pretend my reconstruction work is false or doesn't matter is free to do so. As I’ve said before, in the final analysis, the truth doesn't require anyone's belief.

I don't respond to posts on the many Internet newsgroups because of the sophomoric nature of the vast majority of the postings (and I know many respected experts on the assassination who feel the same way). It is the insipid name-calling and disrespect for honest research and work that I (and others) find the most appalling. It is worse than a kindergarten sandbox.

Too bad. The Internet promised to bring people of common interests together. Instead, it gives a global soap box and a megaphone to those who have the least amount to say.

On occasion, I feel the need to defend my work against these childish armchair detectives if only to plant a little sanity in a field of nonsense. Unfortunately, whenever I speak up, it only seems to bring more nuts out of the woodwork for yet another round.

It's a never ending cycle of lunacy; one ridiculous argument after another to see who can be the top fool.

Congratulations, Mr. Speer! You’re tops with me.


Anonymous said...

You know you leave a lot of wiggle room for these conspiracy theorists to peddle their theories.

Publish your 3d model and animation as open source, then watch them go silent.

If you want, have a kickstarter campaign to raise some money before open sourcing it. Give the proceeds to some charity and watch the conspiracy theorists choke.

Dale K. Myers said...

If I thought it would help, or better yet end the personal attacks, I would. But the reality is it won't. Even when questions raised are dealt with reason and logic the attacks continue. You can't have a rational conversation with the irrational.