Monday, August 18, 2008

YouTube Pied Pipers


I’ve gotten more than one email in the last few days asking about a video posted on YouTube over the weekend claiming to debunk my computer animation work on the validity of the single bullet theory.

This latest video posting, entitled “Dale Myers or Voodoo Geometry 101,” arrives courtesy of conspiracy advocate Robert Harris who manages to prove how little he knows about my computer work, photography and geometric relations, and the Kennedy assassination in general in less than six minutes.

The crux of Mr. Harris’ argument is that yours truly (that’s me) falsified the geometric positions of Kennedy and Connally in order to make it appear that the single bullet theory was valid and that the single bullet shot traced back to Lee Harvey Oswald’s firing position on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. In short, according to Mr. Harris, my computer work is a transparent lie.

Never mind that Mr. Harris’ charges have been made numerous times in the past by equally ignorant detractors and rebutted in detail on my own website (see, FAQ: Computer Reconstruction of the JFK Assassination) and here in this forum (see, Con Job: Debunking the Debunkers).

The modern day pied pipers of the YouTube generation count on the short attention spans and general ignorance of their audience to sell their own brand of snake-oil and promote themselves as reliable purveyors of truth via video on the Internet.

Of course, anyone can point a webcam at their own mug a pretend to be someone of knowledge and responsibility. Hence, the wisdom of the ancient axiom, “You get what you pay for.”

In this case, those who buy Mr. Harris’ free offerings are getting a pig in a poke.

For instance, Mr. Harris makes the foolish claim that he can measure a two dimensional still frame of a computer rendering of the presidential limousine and it’s occupants (as culled from the Discovery Channel program, “Beyond the Magic Bullet”) and determine the angle of a three-dimensional trajectory from the sniper’s nest.

Apparently Mr. Harris never heard of (or understands) the underlying principle of photogrammetry, which in essence shows that it is impossible to project three dimensional lines in space onto two dimensional photographs without taking into account the location and angle of both known vantage points. By some wizardry unknown to human science, Mr. Harris is able to do both.

Conspiracy guru Jack White found out the lessons of photogrammetry the hard way when he took a beating in 1978 while trying to convince the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) that multiple press photographs of Oswald’s Mannlicher-Carcano rifle depicted multiple rifles of differing lengths. The “proof” Mr. White offered of the multiple rifle cover-up were measurements he made on two-dimensional press photographs.

As the HSCA photograph experts called to rebut Mr. White rightly pointed out, the former advertising photographer failed to take into account the relationship between the camera making the photograph and the tilt of the rifle in three dimensional space. In fact, White had never heard of the principle of photogrammetry.

Apparently, Mr. Harris never heard of Jack White’s boo-boo, because he makes the same error. And he makes it more than once.

For instance, Mr. Harris claims that a comparison of a photograph of the presidential limousine made early in the parade route with a computer rendering of my limousine model shows that “Myers has jammed the two men much more closely together than they really were.” Mr. Harris claims that the distance between the back seat where the president was seated and Governor Connally’s jumpseat were compressed in my computer model by “a little over fifty percent.”

What is the evidence for the charge that I manipulated the dimensions of the limousine to better serve the single bullet theory?

Mr. Harris offers nothing more that his own self-proclaimed expertise at visually aligning two different photographs made from two completely different angles in three dimensional space – a virtual impossibility – along with an unsupported declarative statement: “There is no way JFK’s legs could have been up against the back of Connally’s car seat.”

In fact, Mr. Harris’ credibility on this last point is effectively destroyed by the existence of numerous photographs taken throughout the motorcade (a photograph on the back dust jacket of Bill Sloan’s JFK: Breaking the Silence to name one) which shows exactly the opposite to be true – Kennedy’s knees were comparatively tight to the back of Connally’s jump seat.

In addition, Mr. Harris’ claim that “when the House Select Committee on Assassinations depicted the victims they had to move Connally considerably [more] to his left” than he appeared to be in other photographs suggests that Mr. Harris doesn’t know that the HSCA Photographic Panel mistakenly based Connally’s position on a line of sight as seen in a photograph made by Hugh Betzner and that the HSCA analysis failed to take into account the fact that Connally’s right shoulder was below Betzner’s line of sight (as proven by the Altgens’ photograph) and hence Connally might have been seated further right than the HSCA believed. My three dimensional analysis of the Zapruder film bares this fact out.

Most importantly, Mr. Harris states, “The next scene from [Mr. Myers’] presentation includes an amazing sleight of hand or pixels or whatever. Watch closely folks, as Mr. Myers tries to hide the evidence of his deception by slipping the victims back into a proper position.”

Here, Mr. Harris shows a clip from the Discovery program which features my computer work in which the moment of the single bullet is shown in wireframe and in solid form as the camera circles the limousine and its occupants.

Mr. Harris then adds this, “Okay, notice two things here. First the car and the background are all wireframes. Also, he still has Kennedy and Connally close together, so that 18 degree bullet trajectory looks pretty reasonable. But as the car rotates, notice that something happens. The wireframes disappear and right in the middle of the rotation, Mr. Myers switches to a totally different video. In this video he positions President Kennedy and Governor Connally correctly.”

What Mr. Harris doesn’t know is that the two renderings (wireframe and solid form) depict the same model.

That’s right folks, the wireframe model that he claims has been “jammed together” in order to mislead the American public and perpetuate the cover-up, is the exact same model (and in the same position) as the solid form model which Mr. Harris says depicts Kennedy and Connally correctly.

For you tech junkies, the model of the single bullet moment was simply rendered in a 360 degree rotational view multiple times with a variety of surface settings (wireframe, solids, etc.), and then combined with simple dissolves pulled between the various layers.

At the end of his presentation, Mr. Harris proudly boasts, “People like Myers have been playing this same game for years, misconstruing the positions of the President and Governor Connally to make it appear that the shot was fired from the sixth floor of the depository. But the angles from there just don’t work.”

Of course, the only game players in this case are the conspiracy diehards like Mr. Harris who refuse to accept the reality of what happened in Dealey Plaza and prefer instead to prey on the young and naïve who are more than happy to follow any video pied piper willing to tell them whatever they want to hear about the Kennedy assassination – truth be damned.


Dale K. Myers said...

Mr. Harris cannot seem to let well enough alone, posting a response to my article above on one of the newsgroups dedicated to assassination discussion, in an effort to redeem his false and poorly conceived charge that I manipulated geometry in my computer reconstruction of the Kennedy murder in order to hide the truth about the trajectory of the single bullet theory.

Normally I wouldn’t respond to Mr. Harris’ retort because he has proven in the past (and again in his latest response) to be incapable of grasping even the simplest of scientific concepts. I’m going to make an exception this time in order to demonstrate in living color why I don’t bother to spend any valuable time debating such nincompoopery.

Since Mr. Harris has deemed it necessary to serve up his rosey bottom for a thorough spanking on this issue, I will be happy to oblige him - this one time. I promise this will not be a habit.

In a newsgroup thread title “Myers Responds!”, Mr. Harris repeats his unfounded and false contention that I “reduced the distance between JFK and Connally, in the first part of his presentation, using what was obviously, a hastily thrown together wireframe of the limousine, and that he switched back to an accurate rendering of the two victims after finishing his ‘analysis’.”

This charge was made after Mr. Harris was informed that the wireframe version of the limousine and the solid form version (which Mr. Harris refers to as “an accurate rendering”) were one and the same model rendered with two different rendering shaders – a fact Mr. Harris fails to even mention in his response, and with good reason: it shows him to be completely ignorant of the process involved in constructing the model and destroys the foundation of his entire argument.

What evidence of deception does Mr. Harris offer in the face of the true facts about my work that show his claims to be false at their very core?

Get this - Mr. Harris writes: “…my argument was that he shrunk the distance between the two men - a fact which is quite obvious, and requires no extrapolation whatsoever…” Mr. Harris explains that “…But what is really great about debates on graphics is that you don't have to rely on the *words* of either Mr. Myers or myself. Look at the images - pause the video, and hold a ruler up to your screen. Decide for yourself, who is full of crap here…”

For Mr. Harris, proof of deception is as simple as holding a ruler up to a computer monitor. Even a child of five could accomplish this task, right?

Yet, Mr. Harris has conveniently and methodically avoided the central scientific principle pointed out in my original response – the principle of photogrammetry – which effectively proves (to anyone of even the simplest mindset) the fallacy of “holding a ruler up to your screen” to prove anything.

I pointed out that Jack White, a leading conspiracy advocate, made the same mistake thirty years ago (as revealed in testimony before the House Select Committee on Assassinations.

Mr. Harris not only ignores this fact, but continues to make false and malicious statements about my work base on the same false methodology used my White three decades ago.

I don’t know how many ways to say it, but let me try it this way – no one can deduce a three dimensional angle in space by holding a ruler or protractor against a two dimensional photograph or computer monitor. The principles of photogrammetry explain why this methodology leads to false results.

Mr. Harris claims to be able to do what is scientifically impossible using images of my computer work as broadcast on the Discovery Channel. It has already been pointed out to Mr. Harris and others (see, Con Job: Debunking the Debunkers) that the Discovery Channel sequences were filmed from a computer monitor that was situated at a considerable angle to the camera (this can clearly been seen by looking at the images themselves).

These filmed sequences were mixed with other sequences which originated directly from the computer renderings. Consequently, there are multiple compound angles present in the broadcast sequences which prevent anyone – especially Mr. Harris – from holding a ruler or protractor up to a computer monitor and gleening anything that remotely resembles the truth.

Mr. Harris has proven in this latest outrage to be incapable of dealing with the truth. The best he can hope to do is play the martyr to an audience largely ignorant of basic scientific principles. None of this is new.

In a second thread entitled, “A question for Dale Myers,” Mr. Harris writes:

“At 4:50 in my video, I overlayed a white line on the image I took from the finished portion of your presentation - that is, the part where you replaced the wireframes with a completed image. That line measured 18 degrees, in 2D space, which was exactly the angle of your own trajectory line, which you cut off after switching to the finished animation. Do you deny that your own line measured *exactly* 18 degrees, as mine
did? If so, I will be glad to post an image with an overlayed protractor to prove otherwise. If you agree with me, then please explain why your own line, had you not terminated it at JFK's back, would extend to a point well below Governor Connally's back wound - exactly as I pointed out in my video. Please be specific.”

As I pointed out in my original response and in detail above, one cannot project a line in three dimensional space using a two dimensional image and obtain a reliable angle. This should have been obvious since the first image Mr. Harris used was a wireframe seen at one angle, while the second image he used was a solid form seen at a completely different angle.

In addition, the wireframe image was obtained from a computer monitor by a camera that was situated at a considerable angle to the monitor (which is obvious from the horizontal compression of the image), which itself introduces yet another set of angles into the screen grab. Mr. Harris then mistakenly compared that wireframe image to a solid form rendering that was created at yet another angle (notice the view is looking down into the limousine).

Finally, Mr. Harris is wrong about the trajectory line in the original rendering terminating at the inshoot point of Kennedy’s back wound. The line does extend through Kennedy and into Connally’s back. Mr. Harris makes the mistake of using compressed imagery from secondary sources which effectively hides the rendered trajectory line to draw his fatally flawed conclusions.

One final note, in a thread entitled, “Dale Myers,” Mr. Harris writes:
“…Dale and I go way back, to when I emailed him in 1995 in response to his article in Toaster magazine. To this day, I am still waiting for him to reveal the angles he used to
conclude that a line through the known wounds in JFK and Connally pointed directly back at Oswald….”
The angles that Mr. Harris is “still waiting for” were published long ago on my website detailing the results of my computer work (see, The relevant passage reads:
“The result shows the bullet moving at a 10 degree angle, right to left, relative to the midline of the limousine. The angle of declination is about 20.5 degrees below true horizontal. Accounting for the three degree slope in the road, the bullet is moving downward at an angle of about 17.5 degrees relative to the limousine. These figures are comparable to those determined in previous trajectory analysis conducted by the FBI in 1964 (WR106) and the HSCA's Photographic Panel in 1978. (6HSCA46)”

I don’t for a minute believe that Mr. Harris will stop his malicious and disparaging remarks about myself or my work on this case. His record of ad hominem attacks and personal insults is long and easily accessible to anyone willing to indulge in a search of the newsgroups.

My refusal to engage him and his ilk over the years has, I’m sure, emboldened him to some degree. However, I believe that most people are smart enough to realize that the loudest voices aren’t necessarily the ones worth listening to.

Frankly, if Mr. Harris had any bullocks, he’d yank his latest video voodoo off YouTube and apologize for being such a dope for so many years.

Dedicated_Dad said...


I've recently just started reading up on this topic and very much admire the work you have done.

You have much to be proud of.

I'm no expert in any of the related topics, and make no claim to be. OTOH, I'm not an idiot and I am educable because I have no pre-conceived notions.

I also have an uncommon ability to visualize things in 3-d space -- a surprisingly uncommon ability which certainly helps create misunderstandings among those who were not so gifted. If I recall correctly the term is "spatial reasoning"...

The density of your loudest detractors proves their weakness in this area - they're simply unable to visualize things in 3d and thus simply cannot reconcile your conclusions to their 2-D world.

One question occurs to me. Please forgive me if this has been covered in the past but I haven't been able to find any example...

I understand the discrepancy in frame rate between Zapruder and your animation, and the resultant fact that single-frame comparisons aren't really possible except for certain chosen "key frames."

It seems to me that it would be useful to overlay a running vid of Zapruder with a running vid of your animation, as viewed from the same point, with transparency set to allow both to be viewed at once.

This should settle once and for all whether your animation and the Z. film are in fact identical.

Further, if I understand the rendering software correctly, once all the data is input to create the 3d scene, the "virtual camera" can be moved to any possible point in space, and (given time and processor power necessary for rendering) show the view from said point...

Thus, with this model, it SHOULD be possible to also validate the model from the viewpoint/perspective of Nix and other films (not to mention photos) and by working backward even pinpoint their cameras' positions in 3-d space...

Do I misunderstand?

In any case, seeing the film(s) and animation overlaid with suitable transparency should be enough to shut up any reasonably intelligent doubters by eliminating the cognitive problem of trying to compare the artificial to the film.

This would be different from trying to line up individual frames - the Z. film would play at its proper frame rate, as would your animation, the vid. capture of the result should also eliminate these discrepancies - no?

It should actually be fairly easy - once the scene was rendered - to create a run-time that would allow changing the opacity of each vid by moving a slider, thus allowing anyone to bring either vid to the fore and change its transparently at will!

When it is right in front of them, rather than trying to use vid-caps from TV, they should have no choice but to grasp the point you're trying to make.

Thanks again for a great effort and an amazing contribution to our collective knowledge of this pivotal event.



Dale K. Myers said...

Dear DD,

Part of the process of aligning the model with the film involved creating a frame-by-frame match of the wireframe models to the Zapruder film. This alignment sequence has been seen by a number of individuals including the team from Z-Axis Corporation who vetted the process.

Other points of view matching other films and still images were also created during the reconstruction process.

I have not made these sequences available on the Internet due to copyright restrictions.

While making these sequences available would certainly aid those having a tough time visualizing in three dimensions, I don't believe the die hard conspiracy crowd would be among them.

Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

Anonymous said...

"While making these sequences available would certainly aid those having a tough time visualizing in three dimensions, I don't believe the die hard conspiracy crowd would be among them."

I would just respectfully submit that there are new people looking into this every single day. Letting Bob get hold of them first isn't going to help dwindle their numbers.

Dale K. Myers said...

I think most people are smart enough to figure out - eventually - who the hucksters are in these assassination debates. No one can help the rest.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dale, there's so much stuff out there my head spins but I have recently seen a documentary which included a lot of your stuff concerning the trajectory of the bullet and I must say that it sounds very feasable to me. But one thing bothers me.
The thing that bothers me is that the exit wound on Kennedy's neck (if we are to believe it is an exit wound) was horizontal but I believe the entrance wound on Conolly's back was a vertical one.
Are you able to shed any light on this at all?

Dale K. Myers said...

Anonymous, The exit wound on JFK's throat was round according to doctors who saw it before making an incision through it, Connally's entrance wound was elliptical in the horizontal plane - indicating that the bullet passed through JFK's neck true to its alignment, then began to tumble before striking Connally's rear right shoulder. The recent PBS Nova program "JFK:Cold Case" demonstrated this ballistic event effectively.

Unknown said...

Mr Myers!

You haven't posted ANY arguments against Robert Harris' very specific arguments. All you have done is talk about how mr Harris does not understand 3D geometry. That is not much of an argument, is it? te trouble is: there are many people who do understand 3D geometry and happen to agree with mr Harris.
That is: the mistake on your presentation has nothing to do with 3D geometry. It has everything to do with the fact the you haven't been able to place the wounds to the proper place.

So far, it does seem that you have been caught in altering the results the way you want the results to be. This is not exactly honest, is it?

Dale K. Myers said...

Ott wrote: "...You haven't posted ANY arguments against Robert Harris' very specific arguments..."


Thanks for writing and proving once again just how doopey some people can be about this subject.