Saturday, November 22, 2008

Conspiracy Theories

45 years ago today, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald. Kennedy, the youngest man ever elected President, was 46. Oswald fired three bullets from a sixth floor window of the Texas School Book Depository as the President's motorcade passed through Dealy Plaza in Dallas TX. One bullet missed. A second bullet struck JFK, passed through his throat and hit Texas Governor John Connally. The third bullet was a fatal head shot.

Over the past four and a half decades, an incredible list of theories has arisen claiming that Kennedy's death was the result of some sort of conspiracy involving (among others) the CIA, the FBI, the Mafia, Cuba, USSR, the Military-Industrial Complex, the Federal Reserve, Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, and J. Edgar Hoover. It's a veritable smorgasbord of conspiracies; choose just about any combination and you'll find someone who adamantly believes it.

A litany of phrases associated with Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories has entered into our lexicon: the Magic Bullet (sometimes called the Single Bullet), The Grassy knoll, the Three Tramps, the Second Gunman, the Lone Gunman, etc.

In his 2007 book Reclaiming History, Vincent Bugliosi, the famous prosecutor and author, looks at the entire assassination in minute detail. Almost half of the 1600 page tome is an examination and refutation of the various conspiracy theories including a look at some of the other 82 alleged assassins. It is an exhaustive and intricately researched work (including a separate CD containing end notes and source notes) and is mandatory reading for anyone with a serious interest in the subject.

Why do 75% of those surveyed believe there was some type of conspiracy behind the JFK Assassination? Aside from those suffering from Pathological Skepticism, I see three main reasons :
  1. Americans have grown suspicious of authority and jaded with government. Events over the past four decades prove that those in power will distort the truth and lie to suit their own ends. Starting with George W Bush's claim about WMDs in Iraq it is easy to draw a line of suspicion backwards to Richard Nixon and Watergate and from there further back to disbelief in the findings of the Warren Commission.

  2. If you lie with enough conviction and frequency, people will eventually believe you. Most of the conspiracy theories are based on distortions of truth, errors in analysis, sloppy research and outright lies.

  3. For many, John F. Kennedy was the symbol of a new era; call it Camelot or the New Frontier. He was young, smart, photogenic and he inspired a generation of Americans. He was a hero and we need our heroes to die in heroic ways; their deaths should have meaning. In short, we don't want them to be the random acts of lone gunmen; it doesn't fit into our perception of how things works.
We'll never know how different the World would have been had JFK lived to complete his first term and perhaps serve a second. Still, there is no doubt that the events of that sunny autumn day in Dallas affected our innocence. Some people just can't accept the utter randomness of it all.


  1. Talk about a "conspiracy theory", Mr. Mike would have us believe that Oswald blew the BACK of Kennedy's head off AFTER Kennedy's car had passed the Texas Book Depository building. That's a pretty far out theory there Mike. And then there is the Zapruder film showing the back of Kennedy's head flying straight back, not at a downward angle that it would have if shot by Oswald from the sixth floor of the building. (that's where Oswald's antique rifle was found) So get real Mr. Mike. Kennedy was shot twice from the front, once in the neck, and then in the side of his head, not the back of the head where Oswald was shooting from. Duh.

  2. 45 years later and passions still flair.

    "Bill", sorry to disappoint you, but I'm not part of the conspiracy; it's not a conspiracy when you base your conclusion on facts. I suggest you take a look at the actual medical evidence (X-Rays, autopsy photos etc) which clearly show that JKF was hit from behind by two bullets. Or you could look at the crime scene - the inside of the JFK's limo also indicates bullet strikes from behind. Conspiracy Theorists will claim that these are faked - of course they are - it's all part of the conspiracy.

    As for the "antique" rifle? The weapon found in the Book Depository, a 6.5 millimeter Mannlicher-Carcano rifle was manufactured in 1940, which made it 23 years old at the time - hardly an antique.

  3. for you Joe Bloke - while I admit you've opened up an intriguing possibiity, again I'll have to go with the evidence which seems to preclude the involvement planet-eating space gods.

  4. Got to see Kennedy as a wee lad in person. My mom said he was my favorite TV star and took me to watch him drive through town going somewhere to make a speech. We waited for what seemed like hours and then I remember seeing his car and him waving but being disappointed. Guess I expected him to get out and hang out with us awhile or something. Still, now I can say I saw one of the 20th ecntury's most legendary figures in person!

  5. Cool "brush with greatness" story, Steve. I was 2 when JFK was assassinated and have absolutely no memories of him when he was alive.

  6. I believe I have related the REAL truth to you before. The people who ran the farm stand in Canaan CT were ( according to my then VERY MUCH confused grandmother ) the real killers of JFK. She had this on the very much unimpeachable authority of someone who once came into the lunch counter of the pharmacy she worked at. He apparently admitted to all who would listen in Great Barrington Massachusetts that his brother was in fact the guy who killed JFK. I was impressed because my brother was always blaming stuff on me but lacked the moxie to pin a political assassination on me, let alone one that occurred before I was actually born ( he lacked motivation in his skullduggery ...). As her confusion increased she would actually share this with more and more people until fols in Cannan began thinking twice about who they bought their veggies from ( at least she seemed to think so).
    My own theory is much simpler than grandma's. All I will say is that noone has specifically disproven that there were any greyhounds in the area and a mysterious woman may or may not have been in the environs walking them with a length of heater cable at the time.Maybe Zapruder missed this but it was there I assure you.

    Grandma Said ...

  7. Damn - - my keyboard is sticking and causing me to make multiple typos as you can see by my other post. Clearly THEY don't want me to get the TRUTH out !!!

  8. well, galactus MIGHT have done it. . .

  9. Bic - You really need to write all of this down for posterity. So did your grandmother get the name of this assassin?

    Joe Bloke - What possible motivation could Galactus have had for assassinating JFK?

  10. Hmmmm
    Maybe Galactus worked at a certain farmstand ??

  11. Or maybe it was payback for the affair JFK had with Marilyn Monroe. It's a little known fact that Galactus and Marilyn dated briefly when they met on the set of "Some Like It Hot". Galactus had a walk on role as a hotel guest (what - you think he was born a planet-eating space god?). Anyway, apparantly Galactus never got over Marilyn and was insanely jealous.