"Rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated!" -- attributed to Mark Twain
Having recently discovered that the University of Minnesota publishes a newsletter for retired faculty, I thought that some of those who are in that category might enjoy reading about one of their own, who was among the first ten faculty appointed as Distinguished McKnight University Professors in 1996, when the program was initiated. My wife, Jan, has observed that, since I retired, I have been busier than I was when I was teaching full time--and I think she's right! For those who might like to know more about McKnight Professors, here is a link to the page devoted to the program: http://www.research.umn.edu/advance/distinguished.html
Unlike old soldiers, old McKnight Professors do not “just fade away”. Not, at least, if they are named “Jim Fetzer”, one of the first ten to be selected for that distinction in 1996. He graduated magna cum laude from Princeton in 1962, served as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Marine Corps for four years, and earned his Ph.D. in the history and the philosophy of science in 1970, eventually joining the UM faculty on the Duluth campus, where he taught from 1987-2006, when he retired after a 35-year career spent primarily offering courses in logic, critical thinking, and scientific reasoning.
It will not come as especially surprising that Fetzer has continued with his scholarly research in philosophy. His last book prior to retirement, THE EVOLUTION OF INTELLIGENCE (2005), for example, in which he argued that humans are not the only animals with minds, has been complemented by RENDER UNTO DARWIN (2007), where he tackles some of the most sensitive social issues in society today, such as the difference between creationism, creation science, and intelligent design in comparison with evolutionary theories from a scientific point of view, and also explains why morality does not require religion and offers a spirited defense of abortion, stem-cell research and cloning.
He has now co-edited a special issue of SYNTHESE (January 2011), on “Evolution and its Rivals” with Glenn Branch of the National Center for Science Education, which includes an article of his own, “Evolution and Atheism: Has Griffin reconciled science and religion?” Another article on “Limits of Simulations of Thought and Action” is about to appear in the premiere issue of the International Journal of Signs and Semiotic Systems, which is a natural extension of his work in cognitive science and as the editor of MINDS AND MACHINES, which he founded in 1991 and edited for the next ten years.
What may be most intriguing with regard to his article on evolution and atheism is that David Ray Griffin, another professor emeritus of theology and the philosophy of religion, is the foremost figure in the 9/11 Truth movement, which he invited Fetzer to join in 2005. Not one to take half-way measures, Jim founded Scholars for 9/11 Truth that December and has managed its web site since. In 2007, he edited its first book, THE 9/11 CONSPIRACY, organized its first conference in Madison, WI, and produced its first DVD, “The Science and Politics of 9/11”. He has given hundreds of interviews and lectures about 9/11.
Griffin had become aware of Fetzer because of Jim’s research on JFK, where he had organized a research group of some of the best-qualified individuals to ever study the case, including a world authority on the human brain who was also an expert on wound ballistics; an M.D. who is also a Ph.D. and board-certified in radiation oncology; a physician who was present when JFK was brought into Parkland Hospital and then, two days later, was responsible for the treatment of his alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald; a legendary photo and film analyst; and another Ph.D. with a specialization in electromagnetism, the properties of light and images of moving objects.
Their research led to the discovery that the autopsy X-rays have been altered to conceal a massive blow-out to the back of his head, that another person’s brain was substituted for that of JFK, and that the home movie of the assassination was recreated prior to its release. Jim has edited three books on this subject, ASSASSINATION SCIENCE (1998), MURDER IN DEALEY PLAZA (2000) and THE GREAT ZAPRUDER FILM HOAX (2003). Even Vincent Bugliosi, a leading proponent of the “long gunman theory”, has described them as the only “exclusively scientific” books published on the death of JFK.
The research produced by Scholars and others within the movement has created quite a sensation. Jim presented the principal lecture on 9/11 at the American Scholars Conference held in Los Angeles, CA, the same month he retired from UMD. C-SPAN filmed a panel discussion on that occasion, which featured him with three other members of Scholars—Steven Jones, Bob Bowman, and Webster Tarpley--and the host of the conference, Alex Jones. Since C-SPAN broadcast this 1:45 long session seven or eight times, it has had considerable influence in shattering the glass ceiling that had inhibited public discussion of 9/11.
Jim has been featured as a guest on “Hannity & Colmes” (twice) and with Bill O’Reilly on “The Factor”, who wanted to trivialize the truth movement, but without success. Today there are many professional societies, including Pilots for 9/11 Truth, Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, Fire Fighters for 9/11 Truth and many other groups, a sampling of which may be found at patriotsquestion911.com where more than 2,000 photos, bio sketches, and statements from scholars, experts, and others across a broad range of professions may be found. For those who may initially consider the very idea that we have been misled by our government about 9/11 rather implausible, this site is highly recommended.
His reception abroad has been even more striking. In December 2006, for example, he and his wife, Jan, were flown to Athens, where he was the featured guest on a 3.5 hour television program broadcast world-wide by satellite. He has been flown to Buenos Aires twice (in 2008 and 2009), where, on 11 September 2009, he presented the principal lecture at The International Symposium on 9/11 Truth and Justice at The National Library. And on 14 July 2010, he moderated a conference on “Debunking the ‘War on Terror’”, in London, the presentations from which are archived at noliesradio.org/archives/21621. He has been a guest many times on radio programs, including “Talk Radio Europe”.
Fetzer’s research on controversial subjects continues unabated. “The Dartmouth JFK-Photo Fiasco” he co-authored with Jim Marrs appeared in OpEdNews (20 November 2009) and was republished by GLOBAL RESEARCH. “JFK and RFK: The Plots that Killed Them, The Patsies that Didn’t”, was published by voltairenet.org (13 June 2010). THE DEALEY PLAZA ECHO (March 2011) has just published, “Who’s telling the truth: Clint Hill or the Zapruder film?” And a recent article, which combines his interest in AI with his research on moral theory, “On the Ethical Conduct of Warfare: Predator Drones”, has been widely republished.
It would be remiss not to mention that Jim published a co-authored book on the death of Sen. Paul Wellstone, AMERICAN ASSASSINATION (2004). His final public lecture at UMD, which was a three-parter on JFK, 9/11, and Wellstone in November 2005, can be found archived at the bottom of the menu bar of assassinationscience.com, which is his public issues web site. Jim would follow up with additional research in collaboration with John P. Costella, Ph.D., which they published as "The NTSB Failed Wellstone” in Michael Ruppert’s “From the Wilderness” newsletter in 2006. A new documentary, “WELLSTONE: THEY KILLED HIM”, in 15-segments, vindicates their research on Wellstone’s death.
Jim continues to contribute to conventional philosophical research, where his 29th book, THE PLACE OF PROBABILITY IN SCIENCE (co-edited with the late Ellery Eells) appeared last year. It seems to be accurate to conclude that he has devoted himself to (what he takes to be) the most pressing controversies confronting our society—and with great energy and enthusiasm. In retirement, he has become one of those “public intellectuals”, like Paul Craig Roberts (who happens to agree with him about 9/11 truth), if on a lesser scale, who are doing their best to convey to the public the kinds of knowledge it needs to steer the nation in something just a bit closer to the right direction.