Chapter 10:
I Can’t Stop Dreaming About Roger Feinman, Yet He Rebuffs Me

Between the Signal and the Noise
by Roger Feinman

(“Play Misty For Me”)

By Lifton’s own admission, our personal contacts were minimal, although I remember receiving during the mid– to late–Seventies somewhat more than just the three telephone calls from him that he indicates. Nevertheless, he evidently devoted a great deal of thought to me while he was working on his book. Who is Roger Feinman? What is he doing? What is he thinking? Why won’t he tell me? In his Compuserve essay, he goes so far as to construct an imaginary theory that he attributes to me, even purporting to give it a name: the “method actor” hypothesis. Likening himself to some worldly–wise mentor challenging a laggard pupil, he also confesses that he used to wait for me to call him (“I wondered whether the phone would ring one day, whether it would be Roger Feinman, etc.”). Why didn’t it ever dawn on Feinman that the body was altered?

Well, I had read Newcomb and Adams’ article in Skeptic in 1975. Why would I believe such a nutty idea? I’m an intelligent human being.

It seems to me as strange now as it did back in the late Seventies that Lifton, after years of diddling with his notes and memos and a failed manuscript, would fasten upon an obscure critic who, as he clearly implies, wanted nothing more than to avoid him, and whose views Mr. Lifton now so easily distorts and then dismisses. One of the keys to this mystery may lie in the subjects I was exploring: the role of Dr. Burkley (which seems to have eluded Lifton [see Chapter 7]), and the possibility of post–autopsy manipulation for the purposes of the photos and X-rays.

He incessantly requested, both over the phone and in person, access to whatever research files and whatever draft manuscript I had on the case. He insisted on coming to my apartment. I refused to allow it. We met in a student lounge at the New School for Social Research in Greenwich Village, and then went to a nearby coffee shop, both well–populated areas where I would feel safe. It will not escape the attention of alert readers of Mr. Lifton’s Compuserve essays that virtually all of our contacts were initiated by him, not by me. What may not be quite so obvious (but nonetheless evident from his essays) is that, while Mr. Lifton was writing his book — after a dozen years of researching, interviewing, thinking, and even drafting a first, albeit unpublishable, version of his manuscript — he seems to have obsessed over what I was thinking and doing, imagining conversations between us that never did and never would occur.

Lifton says that, if I had showed him my work, he would have given me full credit in the text of his book for anything he had not found, and list it in the bibliography. (Just ask Newcomb and Adams, or Harold Weisberg.) Lifton admits to his refusal to share his research with me. It seems he expected others to disclose their analyses to him, but he would not reciprocate in kind unless they spoke his language. I did not regard that as a suitable basis for collaboration.

He supposes that everyone envies him, from Sylvia Meagher, who was widely acknowledged to be the preeminent critic of the Warren Commission and the arbiter of factual disputes concerning its work, to Roger Feinman, a practicing attorney and virtually unknown critic, who insisted upon meeting him in a public place instead of inviting him home, and presumably others.

[Note: I do not recall asking Lifton to mention my name to anyone at the HSCA, unless it was some casual remark I made in response to Lifton telling me he was speaking to the staff about the medical evidence. I had my own contacts with them during the Gonzales–Downing–Sprague days, and later sent Chief Counsel Blakey some materials relating to John J. McCloy that I thought ought to be explored. Sylvia Meagher and Jerry Policoff, both friends of mine who had good relations with members of the committee staff, would have been more likely choices than David Lifton to ask, but it might have happened as he says.]

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