Wednesday, June 22, 2022

The Assassination and Mrs. Paine-Back and to the Left?

Another conspiracy golden oldie that filmmaker Max Good is happy to give time to is the interpretation of the “back and to the left” motion of JFK seen after frame 313 of the Zapruder film (10:20). “Finally in the mid-seventies the Zapruder film was shown to the public,” says Gary Aguilar a California-based physician who is a vocal critic of the lone assassin theory. “It shows Kennedy going back and to the left and everybody goes ‘hey wait a minute, if he’s shot from behind why is he going back to the left?’” Aguilar continues, “So then the House Select Committee looked at it again and they concluded that it’s likely there was a conspiracy.” Dutifully, Good zooms in on a page from the HSCA report that indeed states, “President John F. Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy.”

But the infamous “back and to the left” motion occurs only after a nearly imperceptible (at normal speed viewing) approximately 2.3 inch movement of JFK’s head forward between frame 312 and frame 313. This motion was first recognized in the sixties and as researcher Nicholas Nalli explains, “the only plausible source for this instantaneous, isolated forcing mechanism is manifestly and unequivocally the projectile impact [of a bullet fired from behind the President].”

Nalli notes that Nobel-prize winning physicist Luis W. Alvarez wrote about the so-called "jet-effect," a recoil caused by tissue matter exiting the large wound at the right-top of JFK's head, back in 1976 as an explanation for the back-left movement of the President. Nalli, who has written a scholarly paper on the subject, postulates that the motion that theorists believe indicates a frontal shot is caused by a combination of Alvarez's jet-effect and a neuromuscular reaction.

Theorists such as Aguilar believe that an extremely high velocity weapon firing a bullet from the front could create the movement seen on the Zapruder film. But Nalli's paper debunks two of the more popular frontal shot theories—frangible bullets and a near simultaneous head shot. Other factors working against a frontal shot include the beveling of the large wound in JFK’s head as seen at autopsy which showed that it was an exit rather than an entrance wound. In Internet discussions, Aguilar tries to counter this by saying that there are "exceptions" that prove beveling is not foolproof. But more than a dozen forensic experts have examined the autopsy photographs and x-rays over the years. They agree that the wound in the back of JFK's head is one of entrance and the large wound on the right side of the head observed both in the autopsy photos and the Zapruder film is the exit.

The forward motion of most of the matter expelled from JFK's head coupled with the skull fragments found to the left front of the limousine also support a shot from the rear. Additionally, no credible physical evidence of a grassy knoll or other front-firing gunman was found while the evidence for a rear shot from the Depository Building fired by Oswald is compelling.

By the way, had Good not quickly whited out most of that page from the HSCA report mentioning conspiracy, viewers could have learned that the HSCA also determined that “Oswald’s other actions tend to support the conclusion that he assassinated President Kennedy.” Further study would reveal that the sole basis for the HSCA conclusion of conspiracy was the so-called acoustics evidence rather than the "back and to the left" motion on the Zapruder film as Aguilar implies (or at least as Good's editing of Aguilar's comments implies).

A complete discussion of the problems with the acoustics evidence is well beyond the scope of this article. But the following excerpt from my previous blog article summarizes a few of these:

For those unfamiliar with the subject, two teams of acoustics experts analyzed data originating from a recording of Dallas police communications during the Presidential motorcade on the day JFK was killed. One team found that a 95% probability existed that a shot had been fired from the “grassy knoll.” This led to the unfortunate conclusion of “probable conspiracy” by the HSCA. Nalli [in his article The Ghost of the Grassy Knoll Gunman] argues that there are three “general categories of arguments” that discredit the acoustics evidence:
  • Timing issues.
  • Open mic location assumptions.
  • Insufficient information-content within the DPD recordings.

Nalli’s summary of just the mic location issues alone is enough to discredit the acoustics evidence:

the location of the transmitting mic was not found to be in the specific place it needed to be (as established by [Dale] Myers), nor in the motorcade (as established by Sonalysts), nor did the suspect impulses occur during the assassination timeframe (as established by Ramsey, Linsker, et al.), and the match was not to the exclusion of all other locations (as established by [Michael] O’Dell). These subsequent facts confirm to us that the Dictabelt waveform patterns (including those attributed to “echoes”) had a non-gunshot source.

Interested readers should take the time to read Nalli’s demolition of the acoustics evidence which draws on the work of several researchers.

In conclusion, the "back and to the left" motion of JFK as seen on the Zapruder film is explainable by a combination of a "jet effect" and a neuromuscular reaction. Additionally, the preponderence of the evidence supports the conclusion that a shot from the rear of the motorcade caused JFK's fatal head wound and does not support a grassy knoll or other front-firing gunman. The HSCA, while confirming that Oswald killed JFK, based their claim of probable conspiracy on the since-debunked acoustics evidence. Max Good does not tell his viewers any of these facts.


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