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26 boxes of secret files released!!!!

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Re: 26 boxes of secret files released!!!!

Post by Stan Dane on Fri 13 Dec 2013, 4:03 pm

As far as consensus goes, perhaps it's a case of the quote often attributed to George Patton: "If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking." Some of the best new developments and fresh ideas seem to come from people who question long-held beliefs and firmly entrenched paradigms (e.g., the Murphys, Parkers and Farleys of the world). They didn't buy into a consensus others sought.

The historians here can chime in, but I think the way various individuals/groups have typically eliminated/reduced marginalization throughout history has been to directly challenge status quo sacred cow beliefs with energy, passion, and conviction. When they prevail, enormous breakthroughs often occur.

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Re: 26 boxes of secret files released!!!!

Post by greg parker on Fri 13 Dec 2013, 5:21 pm

Albert Rossi wrote:Greg, while there is certainly truth to what you say about those bemoaning a lack of consensus being at the extremes, I do think there are many simply frustrated by the ineffectiveness dissension fosters. 
Albert,

Those are the very people being targeted - in much the same way as certain religions exploit the lonely or the emotionally unfulfilled. 

I have expressed my own frustration here. But it has nothing to do with lack of consensus. 

Morley, writing for the WP on Nov 24, 1996: "We are closer than ever to having a firm factual basis for an assassination consensus." That's 16 years ago.

We don't need an army. This is more akin to guerilla warfare. An army is cumbersome and most troopers are merely making up the numbers anyway. 

I believe in using the available talent to the best advantage. Stan has done a tremendous job with his memes. We have Frankie, fresh from her successful Educate Hanks FB campaign on the job. We have beowulf who has been generous with his legal knowledge. We have a Russian speaker who has been a real boon in understanding some of the language issues. We have Jimmy di - author and historian par excellence. We have you, with your scholarly overviews of various issues. We have Richard and Hasan, not only contributing a wealth of knowledge (and in Richard's case, accurately targeted documents, tapes and photos he has obtained), but also helping run this place.  We now have people knowledgeable about weapons and ballistic science. The list goes on. Those with expertize in genealogy. Those with deep knowledge of the MLK assassination. The sharp mind of RCD. Anthony Thorne who has lent his time and skills to proofing and editing for me, and who also has a very sharp mind. Who knows what other talent we have here? It needs to be used to the best effect. 


The thing I find intriguing in all of this is the question of which discourse is to be adopted to characterize our efforts: that of hermeneutics, or that of empiricism.  Let me explain.

I am something of a Tiresias in that I have spent nearly equal portions of my life up until now on each of the two sides of the "two cultures" divide, to invoke the famous meme of C.P. Snow.  While I don't buy Snow's interpretation of this divide, I do think those two areas of human effort -- the human sciences on the one hand and the natural sciences on the other -- do exemplify orthogonal models of knowledge or "truth", which I have called for the sake of convenience the hermeneutic and the empirical.  Consensus, as a platform for dialogue, is useful in the realm of, say, scholarly interpretation, but therein does not carry with it any fundamental power of validation.  Consensus also has a place in the scientific disciplines, but is not of the same order, for it is there grounded in a shared method, whereas methods in the former are by nature plural.

What is interesting to me is how these imperatives get negotiated when it comes to the pursuit of historical understanding in general, and in particular, in the case of the JFK assassination. Stan's allegory is a telling one, for it models this enterprise in terms of religious faith (based on the interpretation of a text -- hermeneusis), not in terms of empirically verifiable knowledge.  But historiography actually lives on the margins of this basically humanistic model, for if it completely surrenders any pretense of empiricism, then it does end up being just a sophisticated form of myth making.  Those engaged in what I would call adversarial history (what we do as a whole in attempting to combat official propaganda) feel the tug of the empirical proof even more strongly. On the other hand, the gap between fact and significance generally tends to be wider in this domain than in experimental science.  And of course, all of this get further complicated by the nature of the evidence.  Einstein wrote that "God is subtle but not malicious" as characterizing the outlook a scientist must adopt with regard to the natural world in order to make any headway.  But few would be as trusting of the evidence in this case.

Aside from the purely "political" aspect of consensus (there is strength in numbers), I thus believe that the lack of and/or perceived need for agreement is worth meditating on seriously, for while consensus may not be necessary when discussing Shakespeare or Freud or Nietzsche or Beethoven or Proust or Picasso, its absence can appear to signify a more fundamental lack (and certainly that's what many wish it to signify) when the search for "historical truth" is at stake. 

The problem all of this points up is that we -- as with all historians worth their salt -- are engaged simultaneously in an empirical and hermeneutic quest, and are delicately suspended between those forms of understanding.  Which one deserves to gain more emphasis depends, I would say, on one's purpose.  Something analogous might be said to hold for how much emphasis one gives to consensus, and in what contexts it may or may not be necessary.
I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how well my co-author walks the tight-rope between those twin peaks. He perfectly summarizes the dilemma in his introduction to the first volume. 

Me? I thought Hermeneutics was a range of skin care products. 

But you are right to throw your lot in with the AEH. SHE has definitely been infiltrated, and don't get me started on the EHA. Splitters!

_________________
Mixing Pop and Politics he asks me what the use is
I offer him embarrassment and my usual excuses
While looking down the corridor
Out to where the van is waiting
I'm looking for the Great Leap Forward

            Billy Bragg
-----------------------------
 Australians don't mind criminals: It's successful bullshit artists we despise. 
             Lachie Hulme            
-----------------------------
The Cold War ran on bullshit.
              Me

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Re: 26 boxes of secret files released!!!!

Post by Albert Rossi on Sat 14 Dec 2013, 1:02 am

Greg: from the standpoint of preying upon sensibilities, I can see the argument you are making.  And as a person who tends to eschew group behavior and group-think in general, I appreciate your sense that the question in the end of a unified front is perhaps irrelevant.  It is in fact curious to me how much we Americans appeal to the need for unity (which too often translates into "conformity"), for aren't we purportedly a country of rugged individuals?  Rolling Eyes 

I am, as I am sure are others, anxiously awaiting the appearance of your first volume.

Stan: aside from the concept of guerilla warfare both you and Greg evoke, your comment reminds us of another relevant model, that of the scientific revolution as per Thomas Kuhn; you know, where progress is made precisely when a rigidified consensus is shown to be deficient through the efforts of one or more individuals working at the forefront of the accepted model.  Of course, what follows is a period of testing and verification, and the formation of another consensus.  But the critical moment happens at the margins.  I'm no doubt restating the obvious here, but that's precisely the kind of thing that has been occurring through the efforts of Greg, Lee, Sean, and others,with respect to the first-day evidence and the long held conventional wisdom about certain facts in the case (the second-floor TSBD encounter, etc.).

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Re: 26 boxes of secret files released!!!!

Post by Albert Rossi on Sat 14 Dec 2013, 1:58 am

Stan Dane wrote:
The historians here can chime in, but I think the way various individuals/groups have typically eliminated/reduced marginalization throughout history has been to directly challenge status quo sacred cow beliefs with energy, passion, and conviction. When they prevail, enormous breakthroughs often occur.


One last comment here, just to make sure we are clear: the "marginalization" I understand to be at stake is not so much the standing within the community of a particular, competing interpretation of events, but rather in terms of the status of the "critic" in general with respect to mainstream orthodoxy (which defends the official story). From that standpoint, all critics feel marginalized by the sledgehammer of the media and official organs of disinformation. We cannot forget that even when a paradigm is demonstrated (to most reasonable thinkers) as deficient, an orthodoxy which is enforced not by reason but by authority and power will not be defeated.  The history of JFK research in the US I think shows that what one would think should happen within the marketplace of ideas in fact does not, because (once again!) we have falsely understood that marketplace to be a free one, where in fact it is one that is controlled by cartels. So while an alternative interpretation may indeed have the hope of gaining ground inside the community via the energetic and passionate challenge to accepted wisdom Stan speaks of, I am not convinced that such challenges will have any direct effect on mainstream discourse (what we are witnessing ...).  That desperation is what also fuels the (as argued above, misguided) idea that we need to be unified.

OK, enough, lest I begin to beat a dead horse.

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Re: 26 boxes of secret files released!!!!

Post by Stan Dane on Sat 14 Dec 2013, 3:25 am

Very well said, Albert. And realistic. The task before us is daunting, and I'd say the odds are against us for the reasons you cite. But as Greg said:

greg parker wrote:Sooner or later, things change. Sometimes even for the better.
A prerequisite for any change is fervent, passionate belief in one's cause. When I look at big change processes throughout history (e.g., Civil Rights, Martin Luther and the Reformation, etc.), I see fanatical conviction, first in the leaders and then in followers. It grows, builds, and spreads.
 
This is no guarantee of change, of course—many people who strongly believe in what they do spend their lives seemingly tilting at windmills. But without passionate conviction, among other things, change won't happen.
 
I also think there are "cosmic" forces at play. I can't figure out why some movements catch on and others don't. But sometimes when things seem darkest, the situation suddenly changes for the better. There's no apparent explanation for it; they just do. Sooner or later.

We need some of that working in our favor.

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Re: 26 boxes of secret files released!!!!

Post by dwdunn(akaDan) on Sat 14 Dec 2013, 6:41 am

Good lord, even more responses??? I just finished writing this one ...... anyway, I'll have to take this one-by-one so bear with me. My responses in bold & brackets.

Stan wrote:

Thought provoking discussion, Dan and Albert.

To your point above, Dan, we surely do lack consensus. Could the reason for this be due, in part, to simple human nature?
For example, Christianity is a faith based upon one book, one set of "facts" it you will. Yet there are thousands of competing denominations, sects, cults, creeds, dogmas, doctrines, ideologies, etc. Why is this? I think if there are things that are subject to interpretation, there will be different interpretations. Different camps form around these interpretations and ultimately compete against one another.

[Yes, it's natural. And it's not only different interpretations based on different ideas about "facts," but on different socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnic/racial backgrounds, national backgrounds, etc etc, and the historical development thereof.]

Earlier this year, I read on Bill Kelly's blog how the second floor lunchroom incident actually exonerates Oswald. If the testimony of Marrion Baker was true, Bill said, then Oswald could not have just come down the stairs from the sixth floor. His logic sold me and I became a believer. Then, beginning in August, Sean Murphy in the Prayer Man thread over at the ED forum began to lay out a different twist: the second floor lunchroom incident never happened at all. As I followed this fascinating thread, I slowly came around to believe that Oswald was on the first floor/entryway when he encountered Baker. I then learned that Greg Parker was one the first to explore/articulate this scenario.

I think Bill Kelly is great, but if I had to place myself somewhere right now, it would be in the "church" of Parker, Murphy, and Farley. I agree with the general theories and ideas they've put forth. But Bill Kelly's "church" is a fine place too, and I can see many choosing to "attend" there. There are many other JFK assassination "churches" out there as well, many good, a great many not so good. If you follow me here.

One of the things I have been considering suggesting to Greg (when I'm not making pictures) was to establish some white papers on what the core group of researchers in this forum believe about the JFK assassination. A pithy "statement of beliefs" if you will. Everything in one sock. When new people come to visit, what is it about this place that distinguishes it from other websites? What is it that you would like people to know, without them having to browse thousands of pages of threads, etc.? Most people are not experts, so the positions formed here through much research must be distilled down into digestible forms so average people can understand. Most people today have short attention spans. To use the tree-falling-in-the-woods analogy, if great research is produced but nobody ever reads or understands it, is it really great research?

Would this eliminate our marginalization? Probably not, but it could be a step in the right direction. Who knows?

[I think it's not only a step in the right direction but a great idea, and was more or less the kind of thing I was advocating (despite not apparently being clear enough about it). Judging by the poll there's not just a consensus but virtually total agreement among about 20 of us on the identity of Prayer Man as Oswald; the same means could be used to determine what we can and can't agree on regarding other beliefs. That was really all I had in mind with talk about "consensus" on "basic facts of evidence."

It's very nice to (sort of) meet you, Stan, and thank you for taking the time to make such a thoughtful response. I likewise think very, very highly of Bill Kelly; and since his Philadelphia Eagles are the only thing standing in the way of the Cowboys, GO EAGLES!]

====================

Greg wrote:

I think it is human nature. But that human element is sometimes exploited to create more disarray than there would otherwise be. The FBI made an art form of it.

I think it's also true that those most often bemoaning lack of consensus - or calling for consensus are those on the extremes of the debate, or are otherwise professional fence-sitters masquerading as champions of consensus. Nelson Mandela clones they ain't, if you get my drift.

The thing is, I am not going to get behind the likes of Fetzer just for sake of having a united front. Unless the State sanctions otherwise, there will always be many churches because there is zero chance of ever proving any one of them is the right one. Call me naive but I remain hopeful that our "many churches" will be made redundant by the same State sanctioning a revised history via an open, honest new inquiry. Whether we like it or not, we don't write the history books that are given to our kids. We have to get an official new verdict. Putting it in the "too hard" basket is not an option. Being a naysayer is not an option. Consensus for the sake of consensus is not an option - and never is in any situation.

Sooner or later, things change. Sometimes even for the better.

How do we eliminate marginalization?

I think we need to refer to how that has historically been achieved by various individuals/groups.

Stan, I like your idea.

[It seems that I haven't been clear enough, so I'll try again. By "a consensus about basic facts of evidence," I mean what a majority can live with (as opposed to total agreement) regarding individual points of evidence in the John F. Kennedy murder case. There is already (more or less) a consensus in this community regarding the issue of conspiracy as such (otherwise all the talk, books, conferences, and so on would be unusual); so in other words, there's quite a consensus that President Kennedy's murder involved a conspiracy (as opposed to being the result of one nutjob going off to kill).

If I were in favor of consensus for the sake of consensus, or the submersion of serious disagreements for the sake of a united front (and so the tacit acceptance of often unacceptable ideas/arguments/etc), then I wouldn't bother to say anything at all because we already have that to a large extent. And THAT is what I was really getting at in the first place. It's not just that The Front isn't united; it's that people who are interested enough to check it out find it's a total circus which, though somewhat entertaining and interesting at first, eventually becomes completely discouraging because they wind up having no idea what to believe. (Other than the fact that it's not worth their time and energy because it's so fuckin crazy.)

Maybe a different example outside the JFK range would help. Some people say and apparently even believe that Sirhan Sirhan was shooting blanks when the attack on Robert Kennedy occurred. The most polite response I can give to that (aside from total silence and a blank stare) would be to ask them how do they account for the wounds sustained by several other people in the pantry. It's possible I could make some sort of common cause with such people (for instance, on the large general question of there being a conspiracy in the RFK assassination), but highly unlikely, because such an idea/belief strikes me as so utterly ridiculous that I would have to question their sanity and/or motives. More to the point, I can't imagine appearing before some person or body of persons to appeal for a re-investigation if such an idea were any part of the conversation; might just as well take a pistol and shoot off my toes, one at a time. It would be about as worthwhile.

So all I'm saying is that the great disparity in beliefs, ideas, opinions, interpretations etc etc etc about the basic facts of the JFK case is one thing that turns people off rather than turning them on (to the case). It's self-defeating, AND MAYBE IT'S BEEN SET UP TO BE THAT WAY. And if our original idea was to try to come up with ways to appeal to more people, and so to hopefully achieve some breakthrough(s) in regard to mainstream media coverage, then it's a problem that has to be confronted and not submerged. I believe we're really making the same argument, Greg: clear away the bullshit as much as possible; whittle things down to the basic core evidence; and so be able to present THAT for "public consumption" as well as to a new official inquiry. But noooooo, you have to be difficult and paint me as an extemist and professional fence-sitter masquerading as a champion of consensus ..... if you keep it up you'll leave me no choice but to come at you with a pointed stick. Or an apricot.]

===============
Albert wrote:

Greg, while there is certainly truth to what you say about those bemoaning a lack of consensus being at the extremes, I do think there are many simply frustrated by the ineffectiveness dissension fosters. The well-intentioned ones I do not think would equate consensus with compromise or with saying you must accept an argument you don't believe is valid, but would instead try to find the strands in common which unite everyone who disagrees with the official story and focus on using that as leverage against the prevailing myth. If indeed that common ground exists.

But I am with you on not joining ranks with a clique simply in order to form a united front ... see my remarks above regarding discernment.  And your remarks about human nature I think it is clear from my previous post that I share.
The thing I find intriguing in all of this is the question of which discourse is to be adopted to characterize our efforts: that of hermeneutics, or that of empiricism.  Let me explain.

I am something of a Tiresias in that I have spent nearly equal portions of my life up until now on each of the two sides of the "two cultures" divide, to invoke the famous meme of C.P. Snow. While I don't buy Snow's interpretation of this divide, I do think those two areas of human effort -- the human sciences on the one hand and the natural sciences on the other -- do exemplify orthogonal models of knowledge or "truth", which I have called for the sake of convenience the hermeneutic and the empirical. Consensus, as a platform for dialogue, is useful in the realm of, say, scholarly interpretation, but therein does not carry with it any fundamental power of validation. Consensus also has a place in the scientific disciplines, but is not of the same order, for it is there grounded in a shared method, whereas methods in the former are by nature plural.

What is interesting to me is how these imperatives get negotiated when it comes to the pursuit of historical understanding in general, and in particular, in the case of the JFK assassination. Stan's allegory is a telling one, for it models this enterprise in terms of religious faith (based on the interpretation of a text -- hermeneusis), not in terms of empirically verifiable knowledge.  But historiography actually lives on the margins of this basically humanistic model, for if it completely surrenders any pretense of empiricism, then it does end up being just a sophisticated form of myth making.  Those engaged in what I would call adversarial history (what we do as a whole in attempting to combat official propaganda) feel the tug of the empirical proof even more strongly. On the other hand, the gap between fact and significance generally tends to be wider in this domain than in experimental science.  And of course, all of this get further complicated by the nature of the evidence.  Einstein wrote that "God is subtle but not malicious" as characterizing the outlook a scientist must adopt with regard to the natural world in order to make any headway.  But few would be as trusting of the evidence in this case.

Aside from the purely "political" aspect of consensus (there is strength in numbers), I thus believe that the lack of and/or perceived need for agreement is worth meditating on seriously, for while consensus may not be necessary when discussing Shakespeare or Freud or Nietzsche or Beethoven or Proust or Picasso, its absence can appear to signify a more fundamental lack (and certainly that's what many wish it to signify) when the search for "historical truth" is at stake.

The problem all of this points up is that we -- as with all historians worth their salt -- are engaged simultaneously in an empirical and hermeneutic quest, and are delicately suspended between those forms of understanding.  Which one deserves to gain more emphasis depends, I would say, on one's purpose.  Something analogous might be said to hold for how much emphasis one gives to consensus, and in what contexts it may or may not be necessary.

P.S.  Sorry to have deadened that hilarious Monty Python bit with philosophizing ...  (By the way, I'm a member of the Association for Empirical Hermeneutics, NOT the Empirical Hermeneutics Association, and certainly not the Society for Hermeneutic Empiricism).

[Right, you're in.]

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Re: 26 boxes of secret files released!!!!

Post by greg parker on Sat 14 Dec 2013, 8:10 am

It seems that I haven't been clear enough
The fault is not yours, Dan. I picked out on one word and climbed up on my soapbox with it. None of it was specific to you - or meant to include you. 

I'm all for running some some polls to try and get a snapshot of where we're at here. 

Send the apricot hermeneutically sealed if you would, my good man. Thanks.

_________________
Mixing Pop and Politics he asks me what the use is
I offer him embarrassment and my usual excuses
While looking down the corridor
Out to where the van is waiting
I'm looking for the Great Leap Forward

            Billy Bragg
-----------------------------
 Australians don't mind criminals: It's successful bullshit artists we despise. 
             Lachie Hulme            
-----------------------------
The Cold War ran on bullshit.
              Me

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Re: 26 boxes of secret files released!!!!

Post by dwdunn(akaDan) on Sun 15 Dec 2013, 6:01 am

Understood Greg. I withdraw the apricot. And the pointed stick.


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Re: 26 boxes of secret files released!!!!

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