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Conspiracy Thinking – Skepticism’s Evil Twin

by Steven Novella, Dec 20 2010

Last week Michael Shermer wrote a nice post about JFK assassination conspiracies, and not surprisingly a couple of conspiracy advocates showed up in the comments. While reading through their arguments I was struck by how consistent the tactics and tone of conspiracy theorists tends to be. They are heavy on sarcasm, ridicule, and condescension, and like to call anyone who disagrees with them “gullible.”

It also struck me that skeptics can often take a similar tone, and certainly conspiracy theorists (as with deniers) think of themselves as being the true skeptics. But they are skeptics' evil twins – they use a tone that only the harsher skeptics use, and only when dealing with the truly absurd – those topics that we do not wish to legitimize with serious treatment, but don't wish to ignore either. Some claims deserve ridicule, and anything less falsely elevates them.

It is true that sometimes skeptics do not properly adjust their tone when dealing with topics that range from the truly absurd to the genuinely controversial. I do think it is counterproductive and unfair to attack a well-meaning and generally scientific individual with whom you happen to disagree about a complex and controversial topic, as if they were a homeopath or creationist. This is a minor problem, for example, with the show Bullshit. Penn and Teller have created a premise for their show that does not lend itself to a nuanced discussion of a scientific controversy – and so they end up giving circumcision and second-hand smoke the same treatment as magnet therapy and feng sui.

It is instructive, in my opinion, for skeptics to read conspiracy theorists because they are an excellent example of exactly how not to behave. Of course, their tone is all the worse when used to defend a pseudoscientific position, and attack the position that is most supported by logic and evidence.

JFK Conspiracies

It is not my intent to do anything like a thorough treatment of JFK conspiracies – books have literally been written examining this historical event in painstaking detail. As many have in the comments of Shermer's article, I highly recommend Case Closed by Gerald Posner. Posner's book is painstakingly researched – he actually itemized the Warren commission records, doing a service to future researchers. He also did what conspiracy theorists often neglect to do – take a close look at the prime suspect, Lee Harvey Oswald. Posner builds a compelling case that Oswald was indeed a lone nut and the lone shooter at Dealey Plaza.

Commenter “Joe” uses a “poisoning the well” strategy to dismiss Posner's impressive work in one stroke, writing:

Furthermore, for all you “Case Closed” freaks, you know that Posner is a recognized plagiarist, right? Why would you trust anything written by such a person?

This is highly unfair, and exactly what I predicted would happen when I first heard of the plagiarism case. Posner and the Daily Beast for which he was writing admit that the five sentences Posner paraphrased from the Miami Herald constitute plagiarism. Posner insists that it was inadvertant – in doing extensive research for an article you make a lot of notes, and apparently he confused copy from the Herald with his own notes and paraphrased them in the final article. Without getting off on too much of a tangent, knowing Posner and his work I am inclined to believe him. No matter how you interpret this episode, however, it does not invalidate the research and arguments that went into Case Closed – that is a childish stance.

JFK conspiracy theorists have also attacked Case Closed, arguing that it is riddled with errors. This is, in fact, true – there are numerous factual errors in the book. It would be remarkable, almost preternatural, if there weren't. Case Closed is a massive tome chock full of factual information. Errors are always going to creep into such a work. Posner is open about the errors. But the real question is – do any of the errors change the final analysis of the event? Most of the errors are trivial and inconsequential to the real question of whether or not Oswald was the lone assassin. Further, they are a random scatter of minor errors – not a consistent bias in one direction. Posner reports that he went into this project thinking that he would uncover the real conspiracy, but his research lead him to Oswald as the lone shooter.

The Head Shot

Commenter Sunny raises the old canard made famous on Oliver Stone's JFK movie – “back and to the left, back and to the left.” How could Kennedy's head move back and to the left if he were shot from behind? Doesn't this prove a shooter in front and to the right of the president? Well, no. This argument gets filed under the conspiracy theorist strategy of making naive assumptions about what should have happened, and then anomaly hunting for anything that does not fit the naive assumption. We see this, for example, with those who think they know what the debris field in front of the Pentagon should have looked like on 9/11.

When I made the point that the physics actually supports a single bullet from behind, Sunny wrote:

As for the bullet causing JFK’s head to be pushed towards the bullet I can only say YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING!!! Perhaps I overestimated the people on this blog. I thought you had a science background…

The head shot has been analyzed by numerous individuals, and the physics makes perfect sense. I wrote about it extensively here, but quickly – the bullet entered the back of JFK's head and exited in the right temporal area, essentially taking off part of the temporal bone. JFK's brains, compressed by the inertia of the bullet, then sprayed out of this hole in the skull – spraying up and to the right, pushing JFK's head back and to the left. I actually linked to a conspiracy site that has a good slow-motion close up version of the Zapruder film at the moment of the head shot. Look closely at the video – JFK's head first moves forward when the bullet impacts, then you can actually see the spray of blood and brain going forward and pushing his head back. Here is a good analysis by a neurosurgeon. When examined closely, you can actually see on the Zapruder film a spray of brain and fluids shoot up 30 feet above JFK's head.

Sunny, however, replaces careful analysis by scientists with an all-caps ridicule of the scientific background of those who disagree with him.

The Magic Bullet

The very name, “magic bullet,” speaks to the fact that this argument against the standard interpretation of the JFK assassination is a massive straw man argument. There is nothing “magical” about the second bullet fired by Oswald. It is likely that Oswald's first bullet missed. His second bullet (the alleged “magic” bullet”) hit Kennedy in the back of the neck, then struck Connally in  the back, went through to the front, hit off his wrist then lodged superficially in his right thigh. This bullet was later recovered from Connally's stretcher.

Conspiracy theorists love to ridicule the “single bullet theory” as if their ridicule is a substitute for careful analysis. Sunny writes:

But the magic bullet, the one that changed direction four different times and gained weight (lead) in the process. The bullet left lead in the bodies but when weighed had not lost that much lead. Go figure! More magic then we thought.

The trajectory of this bullet has been analyzed by multiple different teams, an every important aspect has either been replicated or supported by evidence. This page has a summary of links, various analyses indicating that the relative positions of JFK and Connally, with respect to each other and Oswald's sniper's nest, make for a straight trajectory, with a slight downward deflection from passing through Connally's chest. It did not have to change direction four times.

Then there is the question of the condition of the bullet recovered from Connally's stretcher, about which Sunny writes:

Then there is the bullet, in perfect condition, that magically (no can’t use that word, mysteriously) appeared on the stretcher at the hospital. This magical, oops, mysterious bullet was indeed fired from Oswalds gun ( the gun they claimed Oswald owned) but it was also just as clearly never fired at a body because it was captured in pristine condition. Clearly this bullet was planted for the purpose of implicating Oswald. So we have two Magic bullets.

The bullet, in fact, was not in “perfect” or “pristine” condition, although this claim is often repeated. Here is a picture of the bullet in cross section – showing significant flattening. This is hardly pristine. Further, this has been replicated (here also)- a similar bullet fired from the same kind of gun hitting a bone at the same speed results in similar flattening.

Sunny also repeats the claim that the total weight of lead found exceeded that of the original bullet. But this is simply not true:

“Some critics have contended that the four bullet fragments in Governor Connally are too many to be accounted for by the two grains of lead missing from bullet 399. In our experiments we were able to make forty-one such fragments from the two-grain piece of lead that extruded from our test bullet. It can safely be said, therefore, that four fragments are by no means too many to be accounted for by the two grains missing from bullet 399.” — John K. Lattimer; Pages 276-277 of “Kennedy And Lincoln”

Burden of Proof

Perhaps the primary strategy of the conspiracy theorist is to make a demand for proof to an arbitrary level of certainty (meaning whatever evidence is available will never be enough), and then declare the failure to meet their arbitrary demands indicates that their alternate conspiracy theory wins by default. Sound familiar? – this is the same strategy as denialists, such as creationists.

For example, Sunny writes about the single-bullet theory:

Its defenders have spent a lot of time proving that it could have happened that way, which is not the same as proving that it did, a distinction they don’t make.

This is a straw man. Conspiracy theorists spend a great deal of time arguing that the single bullet could not have caused JFK's and Connally's wounds. In response, conspiracy skeptics have demonstrated that the conspiracy theorists are incorrect in their analysis, and the single bullet could have caused the wounds. To this conspiracy theorists respond – “yeah, but that doesn't prove it actually did happen.” They then pretend that the confusion of “could” and “did” is the skeptics', and no theirs.

This is reminiscent of creationists who argue that evolution (or some particular aspect of it) could not happen. Biologists then respond by showing that evolution could happen, to which the creationist respond – “yeah, but that doesn't prove it actually did happen.”

Both conspiracy theorists and creationists miss the point – proving plausibility counters arguments of impossibility. But just as with evolution, there is plenty of evidence that the single bullet, and in fact the entire shooting, did in fact occur as the accepted story stated – three bullets fired by Oswald from the sniper's nest.

Commenter Joe writes:

Despite your insistence, NO ONE has ever exactly replicated what SBT adherents claim. There is always one or more missing or fudged elements, or some adjustment made or assumed in order to produce the preconceived results.

This is a good example of setting an arbitrarily high bar for evidence, then claiming the conspiracy theory wins by default. Experimenters have replicated every key aspect of the shooting. Analysis of the Zapruder film and other evidence is also consistent with Oswald as a lone shooter. But it is unreasonable to expect that someone can replicate the shooting in every detail. There is always a bit of chaos involved in such high-energy events. Some shots you just can't make twice. That doesn't disprove the single bullet theory.

Also, Joe is taking the wrong approach. Like creationists, he is trying to set up a false dichotomy – if there are flaws in the standard theory, then conspiracy theories win by default. Then all he has to do is shoot holes in the standard theory and make unreasonable demands for proof. (Again – shades of creationism).

A more rational approach, however, is to consider all competing theories and see which one the evidence fits best. The evidence fits the single shooter theory. There is no specific conspiracy theory for which there is any direct or compelling evidence. Conspiracy theorists resort to anecdotal and circumstantial evidence. They nitpick away at the solid evidence for Oswald, and then put in its place the flimsy evidence for their pet conspiracy.

There is no hard or compelling evidence for the presence of additional shooters in Dealy Plaza. No extra bullets have ever been recovered  (how did the alleged additional shooters ensure that their bullets would not end up in someone's body or the car?).


I cannot do justice to the volume of evidence for this complex historical event in a single blog post. My purpose here is to expose the style of logic and argument employed by conspiracy theory advocates. Their style is remarkably consistent. Further, they employ many of the same strategies as denialists.

While they try to wear the mantle of skeptics, their methods are not truly skeptical. Conspiracy thinking is pseudoskepticism. It is, however, a good object lesson for skeptics – a reminder of the need for humility in addressing complex topics.

105 Responses to “Conspiracy Thinking – Skepticism’s Evil Twin”

  1. Michael Yuri says:

    By referring only to “the five sentences Posner paraphrased,” without mentioning all of the additional evidence that has since come to light, you give a very misleading impression of the allegations against him.

    Only days after the initial story broke (and Posner gave the defense you linked to), Slate reported several additional instances of plagiarism:

    Furthermore, later reviews discovered fairly extensive plagiarism in at least three of Posner’s books. This included long borrowings extending over multiple paragraphs. To the extent these were “paraphrases” rather than exact copying, the changes are often only a word or two in otherwise verbatim sentences. See here for numerous examples:

    Posner’s misconduct was not five paraphrased sentences in a single article. It was extensive copying, sometimes verbatim or nearly so, in at least three books and several articles, over a period of at least 6 or 7 years.

    Yes, this is largely irrelevant to the JFK issue. As far as I’m aware, no one has yet demonstrated plagiarism in his JFk book, and even if they had, the fact that something is plagiariZed doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

    It’s not completely irrelevant though. First, when an author has been shown to be dishonest in one area, it’s certainly not unreasonable to discount the trust given to that author in other areas, though reasonable people will disagree how far this principle should extend. (If the plagiarism itself doesn’t qualify as dishonesty, then Posner’s excuses for it and his attacks on those who identified it do.) Second, a number of the plagiarized passages have the effect of passing off secondary sources (other news articles) as if they were primary sources (Posner’s own interviews with witnesses). This casts at least some doubt on his journalistic methods.

    I hasten to emphasize that I am not a JFK conspiracy theorist — based on my own reading, I’m entirely convinced that Oswald acted alone — and I have no quarrels with the substance of your post. I’m sorry for chasing this tangent, but your discussion of Posner bothered me, and read to me like a whitewash.

    • Jim Lippard says:

      I’ve seen charges online that Harold Weisberg’s _Case Open_ (a conspiracy theorist book, which I haven’t read) documents plagiarism in _Case Closed_, and that Weisberg has found more plagiarism in the book that he’s published online somewhere.

      In a crazy irony, Posner retained JFK assassination conspiracy theorist Mark Lane as his attorney over the plagiarism issue!

      • The link you has only talks about plagiarism in “While America Slept” and “Secrets of the Kingdom,” NOT “Case Closed” or his James Earl Ray book.

        If you have another link that does talk about alleged plagiarism in “Case Closed,” lay it on. That said, I didn’t think (other than the WC report) that there was an “omnibus” book about LHO-only before Posner wrote “Case Closed.”

        That said, it is sad that he’s trying to cover his tracks by Wiki-scrubbing.

      • Jim Lippard says:

        My reference regarding alleged _Case Closed_ plagiarism was to a book (I gave author and title) and to an alleged online source I haven’t located–I can’t vouch for either.

        Posner has also been sued (by Frank Owen) for plagiarism in his most recent book, _Miami Babylon_, about which there are also multiple enumerated instances found online (

        In any case, it’s pretty firmly established that Posner has engaged in serial plagiarism, so it wouldn’t surprise me to find instances of the same in _Case Closed_. The books for which many examples have been enumerated were all fed into plagiarism detection software by Gregory Gelembiuk. I think it’s likely he’ll find more if he feeds in _Case Closed_, with his record.

        BTW, the Wikipedia page for Posner says that several alleged interviewees for _Case Closed_ say that Posner never spoke to them (James Tague, J. Thorton Boswell, and another James Humes).

      • Jim Lippard says:

        Whoops, editing error on my part–for clarity, remove the word “another” (previously “another pathologist”) before “James Humes.”

      • Ugh. Well, if that is true, then we are past the part of just copying others’ information, and at “Plagiarism II,” if I may.

        However, plagiarism of true and accurate sources does not diminish the credibility of the plagiarized sources. So, while Posner’s credibility may be going further downhill, that doesn’t mean that the credibility of his information has.

  2. Michael – this does take us on a tangent, and will likely distract from my primary points.

    But – I do not have the same opinion as you regarding Posner. His explanations seem frank and reasonable. Sometimes he received the same canned quotes from primary sources as the sources he was alleged to plagiarize. But he also admits that his system of note taking has failed when applied to the fast pace of online journalism.

    He takes full responsibility for these occurrences, and is not denying them. Given the volumes he has written, the instances quoted seem few and fairly inconsequential. I suspect if you investigated any prolific blogger you would find that they compile sources in a similar way and may not remember to cite every source properly. This is not an excuse, but trying to put this whole thing in perspective. I do not think it rises to the level of calling into question Posner’s historical scholarship.

    • Jim Lippard says:

      I disagree. If you copy whole passages from a source you don’t cite with only minor changes of wording, and this happens multiple times, that’s intentional plagiarism. And we’re talking about his books, not just blog posts.

      Bugliosi identifies a number of cases of Posner sloppiness and misrepresentation (e.g., Bugliosi pp. 536n, 838n, 1106n, 1112).

      This doesn’t mean Posner’s not mostly correct–I think he is. But it looks like he has some sloppy habits and has engaged in intentional plagiarism in his books that shouldn’t be defended.

  3. Matt says:

    I thought the comparison of skeptics and conspiracy theorists was interesting. You clearly lay out the parallels, and point out where they diverge. You did a good job of explaining the differences, and didn’t resort to “No True Scotsman”.

    However, I think this would have worked better as two pieces; one examining the JFK conspiracies and another article purely on good skepticism vs conspiracy theories.

    • I think, psychologically, addressing the “why” of conspiracy theories, not just the “why” in general, but the “why” of each individual one, is part of the issue.

      For example, with JFK, it’s often a desire to believe in Camelot.

      And Camelot was perpetuated by Jackie Kennedy. A long story on her struggles with William Manchester over “Death of a President,” has this Manchester quote:

      In the end I concluded that [the Warren] report was correct on the two main issues. Oswald was the killer, and he had acted alone.… Those who desperately want to believe that President Kennedy was the victim of a conspiracy have my sympathy. I share their yearning … if you put the murdered President of the United States on one side of a scale and that wretched waif Oswald on the other side, it doesn’t balance. You want to add something weightier to Oswald. It would invest the President’s death with meaning, endowing him with martyrdom. He would have died for something.


      Many people claim modern conspiracy theories are rooted in a distrust of government. Not so fast. Roswell 1947 was long before people distrusted government that much. I think there, government secrecy backfired on itself. With UFOs in general, I think McLuhan’s “15 minutes of fame” is a large part of the “why,” especially when alien abduction is part of the claim. Ditto on Bigfoot, Loch Ness and similar.


      A variant on the “15 minutes of fame” might be part of what motivates some antiscience conspiracy theories, namely antivaxxer movements. Here, in addition to distrust of both big government and big business, a partial issue might be people, a la George Wallace or Spiro Agnew, considering scientists to be a bunch of “pointy heads” they have now proven wrong.

      • Max says:

        Roswell was forgotten until like 1980, when The National Enquirer did a story on it.

      • Well, it wasn’t forgotten when it happened. And, there were other UFO stories before 1980.

      • WScott says:

        Max has a good point, tho – Roswell wasn’t considered a credible case by most of the UFO community until (IIRC) Close Encounters With The Third Kind came out and everyone went UFO-nuts again. Junior Skeptic actually did a great piece on this a year or two ago.

      • WScott says:

        (Sorry, hit Submit too soon…)
        And yes there were certainly other UFO sightings in the 50s and 60s. But the conspiratorial government cover-up side of UFOlogy really became dominant until the 70s. I haven’t read much on this topic in awhile, so I don’t have any sources I can cite except for the Junior Skeptic article I mentioned above.

    • Dan Kennan says:

      I thought this piece was excellent because it used a very recent article and comment thread to illustrate some of the fallacies we often read about in standalone articles. Well done, Dr Novella, in seeing the teachable moment.

      As a bit of an aside, having been “the history guy” in a Dallas bookstore and having read DOZENS of these books, I came to the same conclusion as Dr Novella. I started out a firm believer that there must be a conspiracy, and read everything to figure out just which one was true. And at the end of the day the MOST consistent with the facts was the boring old Warren Commission version.

      Believe me, I only grudgingly accepted this, as it was much more fun to believe that I knew “the Truth” as opposed to all the dolts around me. It is in some ways less comforting to believe that one nutty guy in the wrong place can cause a national catastrophe; if there’s a conspiracy, you can try and track it and prove it and maybe one day see justice done, see the truth come out. But that’s not always the way reality is. Sometimes the lone nut gets lucky (or the cell just turns malignant or the child just has autism, or the treatment just fails, or the quake just happens…for no discernible reason). Leaving behind the JFK conspiracy theories was a big step in my becoming a skeptic.

      • laursaurus says:

        Thanks for describing the emotional reasons that conspiracy theories can be appealing. It makes it easier to understand why the other historical-related CT’s are so widely accepted like 9/11 or Princess Diana’s death.

      • William says:

        That’s why I’m a gradualist (I prefer this term to the now-radioactive “accomodationist”) when it comes to presenting skepticism to people…we believe odd things for a lot of illogical emotional reasons and it takes a while to get through them. I start small and introduce doubt a little at a time. Once you’ve got them examining one thing skeptically (I often choose something they aren’t too invested in but just sort of accept because they’ve heard it), that will be corrosive to all their non-reality-based beliefs. After deciding that the JFK case was not a conspiracy I started looking sideways at Roswell/aliens, and then eventually alternative medicine and finally religion. But it all started with the JFK thing, which I found interesting but was not a central belief for me.

  4. John Powell says:

    In Seattle we had a great local comedy show, Almost Live! that covered this topic with the respect it deserves:

    Yes, that is Bill Nye with the “Tiger got him” theory… He was local talent before his Disney show.

  5. sunny says:

    It is important to make a distinction between conspiracy theorists who hide in their basement and fear contrails, believe we attacked ourselves on 9/11 and think flouride in water is a conspiracy to kill us all AND those who can present cogent arguements about the facts of a specific event. Somene who believes all the truth didn’t come out in the assassination of President Kennedy would not be a conspiracy theorist. Does anyone really believe the official story as told is 100% correct? I have to add also that the word “gullible” is pretty beniegn when used in an internet arguement. There are generally some nasty insults thrown around in a heated discussion and “gullible” is tame by comparison. “liar” is so common that it is typically ignored and has about the impact of “no comment” or “oh yeah!”. In general, the worse the insults the more it degrades or diminishes the insulter’s arguement. One person’s conspiracy is another person’s truth. I would be skeptical of either position until I could hear all sides and investigate independently.

    • sunny – conspiracy thinking is clearly a spectrum, not black and white (as is almost always the case).

      I don’t think that the official story about any historical event is 100% correct. That is the nature of history and complex events. You can take any historical event and poke the standard story full of holes, request more evidence than is currently at hand, and set an arbitrarily high bar for accepting the story.

      A much better approach is this – which hypothesis best matches the evidence? In my opinion, that is the single-shooter theory.

      • sunny says:

        I think you missed the point. The statement “Does anyone really believe the official story as told is 100% correct?” was intended to imply that the record was intentionally falsified. So put another way does anyone really believe the Warren Commission did not coverup facts? That is the gist of the problem. The magic bullet was fabricated to coverup the fact that there had to be a forth bullet and thus a 2nd shooter. Even people on the commission later said they were bullied into agreeing with the magic bullet theory even though they felt it demeaned their intelligence.

      • Drew says:

        Oh, if you’re asking if anyone really believes that none of the story was intentionally falsified, then yes, lots of people believe that. I daresay most people do.

      • Bingo … “intentionality.” There’s no intentional falsification on the Oswald-alone history. Nor on James Earl Ray alone. Nor on 9/11 and 19 Muslim fanatics. Nor on a US spy balloon at Roswell, etc.

    • Drew says:

      “Does anyone really believe the official story as told is 100% correct?”

      Straw man. Lots of people believe that Oswald was a lone actor who fired three shots and no other assassins or gunshots were involved.

      “One person’s conspiracy is another person’s truth. I would be skeptical of either position until I could hear all sides and investigate independently.”

      You’re skipping a step. One must first assess prior plausibility to see which theory should have the burden of proof and how high that burden ought to be. In this case, as with every grand conspiracy theory I can think of, the burden is squarely on the shoulders of those alleging the grand conspiracy, and usually it is quite high due to the implausibility of, if nothing else, keeping everyone involved quiet about it for years, especially in the age of Wikileaks. Does anyone really believe that the JFK conspiracy theorists have met that burden?

      As for tone, the banality of one’s chosen dirty name does not cure an ad hominem. Such ridicule based attacks are usually inappropriate. Personally, I find them extremely distasteful, but as Steven articulates, they have their place from a purely tactical standpoint. I watched one episode of Bullsh*t and decided it wasn’t for me, but Penn and Teller are still the good guys.

      • sunny says:

        Drew, you need to look up the straw man fallacy because you have misused it in your statement.

      • You’re a conspiracy theorist on this issue and you’re lecturing someone else on his understanding of a logical fallacy term? Boy, that’s rich. You “top” yourself every time you post something new here.

    • Max says:

      Do you really believe the official 9/11 story as told is 100% correct?

      • sunny says:

        I know there are a million things people have said about 9/11 that are not true but I know of nothing presented officially that was intentionally incorrect. Do you?

      • Max says:

        For example NIST initially assumed that WTC 7 fell at constant speed, and was forced to admit that the descent was at free fall for a couple of seconds.
        I don’t expect any official story to be 100% correct.
        Look at Roswell. The military said the debris was from a weather balloon, when it was really from a Project Mogul spy balloon, so it was a cover-up of sorts, but the weather balloon theory was still closer to the truth than the alien spaceship theory.

    • Sunny, first:
      1. “One person’s conspiracy is another person’s truth”? Horrible false equivalence; the same time of comment could come out of the mouth of a creationist, a anthropogenic global warming denier, etc.
      2. If you believe that not all the truth came out because there was a conspiracy to suppress it, you’d be a conspiracy theorist.
      3. Re the JFK assassination, YOU started the flamethrowing by claiming people on this blog don’t know science, etc.
      4. YOU used JFK conspiracy-theory language, such as “magic bullet.”

      If the shoe fits, stop complaining when someone else points out your taste in shoes.

    • trifecta says:

      Not all has come out. Let’s just accept LHO as the lone shooter for a minute.

      The story of LHO is weird though. How does a military member defect, move to Russia, marry a Russian woman related to a top KGB official, and bring her back home no muss no fuss? That has never sat right by me. This was 1960 America, still in the thrall of the red menace. I wouldn’t be shocked if there are files buried in the CIA or FBI that show Oswald as being involved in spying of some sort. Nothing else really makes sense. If we are going to apply “logic” to the assassination, might as well apply it to what the hell was going on w/ Oswald as well.

      It might be something simple as embarrassment. Somebody thought they could use him as an asset, he was unstable, killed Kennedy, and all records of his involvement in government spying were buried.

  6. Max says:

    This discussion is really about the difference between skepticism and denialism, since we’re talking about conspiracy theorists (and Creationists and Global Warming deniers) denying an accepted theory rather than defending an alternative theory.
    Both skeptics and deniers think there’s insufficient evidence for some theory, and the difference is that of intellectual honesty.
    1. One’s personal beliefs do not interfere with the pursuit of truth.
    2. Relevant facts and information are not purposefully omitted even when such things may contradict one’s hypothesis.
    3. Facts are presented in an unbiased manner, and not twisted to give misleading impressions or to support one view over another.
    4. References are acknowledged where possible, and plagiarism is avoided.

  7. Joshua Hunt says:

    Great article, Dr. Novella! I would highly recommend Vincent Bugliosi’s book Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

    Have you read that one, Dr. Novella?

  8. MadScientist says:

    I’ll stick with the UFO people; they’re not as creepy as the JFK conspiracy demagogues. For a few years I was borrowing some office space at an observatory and I ran across a UFO guy. I can’t remember what he said, but I started laughing and almost choked on my apple. I spent a half hour or so explaining that observatories don’t use alien technology from Roswell, there’s no conspiracy, any astronomer who was aware of an alien spaceship would be racing to tell everyone else, etc. The guy also wanted a job in the instrumentation division so I pointed him to the observatory’s jobs webpage. I doubt he had the necessary skills to get a job there; I wonder if he’s still out there thinking he might have been excluded because the secret society didn’t want someone like him seeing the alien technology.

  9. Beelzebud says:

    I’ve seen a few skeptics in the community take this same snarky tone when dealing with their global warming denialism. Take Penn and Teller, for example, or even Shermer on occasion (he’s done it on this very blog..). On that issue, and a few others, they sound more like they’re in the conspiracy theory camp, than just being skeptical.

    • Bingo. It’s damaging to the credibility of skepticism. Oh, did you evolve resistance yet to the DDT I sprayed you with in a post on Dunning’s blog?

      • steelsheen11b says:

        So using the term ‘AGW Deniers” isn’t snarky, creepy and equating somebody with being Nazis is the way to engender a dialouge? Yeah that’s taking the high ground. Shoe fitting and all that.

      • Oldskool says:

        Well, no its not- you can’t call them skeptics (since the word now has a different meaning) because a true skeptic would go with the science, they are denying the science therefore they are deniers, it is you who made the link- I use the term AGW Denier because it is most accurate, not for any nefarious reason, I would not for one moment consider calling or comparing anyone to a Nazi- an idiot mayber…-

      • Mat says:

        Spoken like a true AGW peddler…

      • Exactly. Science denialism is NOT the same as skepticism. Plus, as noted above, in another comment of mine, follow the “intentionality.” Many AGW denialists have been financed by Big Oil; some, before that (Lindzen and others) also ran flak for and took money from Big Tobacco on secondhand smoke.

        Mat, below:
        Spoken like a true corporate whore.

  10. I found going to the 6th Floor Museum in Dallas and looking out the window a very compelling pro-Oswald argument. I think I could have made those shots with a few days practice with the weapon beforehand. It’s not that far from the window to the street and the car was not going very fast. I had a Navy sharpshooter qualification. From what I’ve seen that’s comparable to Oswald’s Marine quals. It’s just not that difficult a shot from that vantage point.

    That’s just my take on it, but it seems like the conspiracy evidence is much more a stretch than the single shooter evidence.

  11. Max says:

    Another thing that conspiracy theorists have in common with Creationists is that their core alternative theories are untestable, because conspiracies are ultra-secret and Creation is a supernatural miracle.
    But the alternatives to Anthropogenic Global Warming are testable.

  12. zoli says:

    interesting article Dr. Novella. I am not an expert in the JFK assassination case but I found a couple of articles and videos about it on the internet, of which one happens to be yours. To say the truth I dont care too mutch about this endless discussion whether or not JFK was shot by a lone gunman or a victim of a conspiracy. But there was one thing that came to my mind me when I finished your article. This was the lack of mentioning E Howard Hunt who was a famous spy (just google him) and was also a part of the famous Watergate Scandal. When he was in his evening of life he made comments ( on video and audio ) in conversations with his son about JFK amongst other things ( available on the internet). This culminated in his deathbed confession (available in audio) about his involvement in a plot to kill JFK naming also several others who were involved and who were also part of other CIA operations.
    This I found very interesting because I really dont see why somebody with his kind of history should invent such a thing out of thin air in his last moments alive. He could not care less about the squabbling regarding alleged conspiracy theories in such a case. Any way, the JFK Assassination is just only a little piece of history (when you get rid of the emotional balast which this event carries along with itself)and there are a lot of more important things to focus on (on both sides) at least in opinion..

    • Joshua Hunt says:


      Where have you read and heard all of this? Can you provide sources?

      I think history is important. It shouldn’t be tampered with. The conspiracy theorists are doing that exact thing in regards to this case. They could very well turn LHO, who was a psychopathic killer, into an innocent hero. I find that deplorable. This kind of thing should be fought and not ignored as some trivial matter, as you’ve suggested.

      • Especially with the “recorded” part of Hunt’s alleged deathbed confession, I think Zoli hae given Steven Novella an entree for his next blog post — on urban legends.

        Entering terms into a Google search to that end yields other urban legends, such as that E. Howard Hunt was related to H.L. Hunt, that Kennedy was going to get rid of the Federal Reserve and more.

      • zoli says:

        You can take the easy way and go directly to wikipedia.
        There you can find some information about his confession with some links too. And it is not like the authors there are ignorant of the criticism his statements got… (and there is nothing written about the federal reserve or H.L Hunt)

  13. I has Google, I has the interwebs and I has the need to start a revolution from my armchair. I are conspiracy theorist!

  14. Trimegistus says:

    It’s pretty hilarious how many of the commenters here are doing exactly what Mr. Novella describes in his post! Nitpicking tiny details, dragging in irrelevant arguments, and calling him stupid because he won’t agree with them. It would be highly instructive to compare MRI scans of their brains with those of other people.

  15. zoli says:

    thanks for your reply.As for the sources,as I mentioned, google it or go to wikipedia and type in E Howard Hunt. It shouldnt take much of your time. I find your argument interesting and I think I get your point. It is absolutely a good cause to search for the truth and to try to separate fact from fiction. As for this case I can only repeat what I have said. I find you should at least mention E Howard Hunts confession because of who the man was, what his profession was etc.. What you do with this information is up to you. As with the last sentence in my first comment, I can explain what I thought when I wrote it (It was definitely not my goal to advocate ignorance). I read Michael Shermers article “How I became a libertarian” where he speaks about Ludwig von Mises and also cites him twice at the end(Just look it up). I found the first citation most compelling and very close to what I think. It is part of a free society that people not only have “the right perception of things” or “good ideas”.In general, I think, you can trie to correct them but often it is a very difficult task( see for example all kinds of religious fantasies). Should the difficulties in trying this stop you? Abolutely not. But, like in this case, after so many years there is no end in sight. And we live in the present where there are more than enough things about which we should care about. This is just one little thing in comparison to much bigger problems, like it or not..

  16. DrXym says:

    Conspiracists (9/11, JFK, moon landing etc.), creationists, climate change deniers, and Holocaust deniers are all birds of a feather. They all adopt a belief which runs entirely contrary to the evidence and remarkably similar mechanisms to attack it. Quote mining, pseudoscience, making lists of experts, nitpicking inconsequential details, putting undue weight on unreliable data to discount overwhelming data, impossible demands, shifting the burden of proof etc. Anything in fact which throws up enough smokescreen that they can pretend that their other theory somehow wins.

    • The last two, especially.

      That’s why we go back to Carl Sagan: “Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence.” AND, that evidence has to come from those *making* the extraordinary claims, not those disputing it.

  17. WScott says:

    The thing I find both fascinating and maddening about conspiracy theorists is how easily they can spot logical fallacies and other denialist tactics in other conspiracies that they don’t believe in – and then turn around and use those exact same fallacies & tactics in defense of their own pet conspiracies. It’s gotten so anytime I hear anyone deriding some nutty conspiracy theory, I find myself counting the minutes until they go “Oh, but _____? That’s all true. I saw it on this website…”

    On my more optimistic days, I think that the key to dissuading conspiracy nuts is showing them “You know those ____ people you think are nuts? Well, you’re kinda doing the same thing.” On my more pessimistic days, I wonder what irrational beliefs I have that I’m unconsciously justifying the same way.

    • tmac57 says:

      Conformation bias can be a powerful thing.Our ears prick up when someone presents us with information that contradicts our world view,or that causes cognitive dissonance. We are motivated to somehow put the world back in order with our construct.But when someone agrees with us,we find it comforting and reassuring.No need to investigate.Of course they are correct and smart because they agree with me ;)

      • Max says:

        My ears prick up when I hear bad or weak arguments. Shermer’s post sounded like an argument from incredulity: The conspiracy theory sounds incredible, while the shot from the book depository looks easy, so that’s how it happened.

        Or last year, Shermer argued that 9/11 was not an inside job because al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula took credit for the Christmas Day bombing attempt.

        I don’t know if Shermer studies these things in-depth, but his arguments come off simplistic, yet skeptics don’t notice it until he says something they disagree with, like his posts on global warming and economics.

      • WScott says:

        Shermer’s post sounded like an argument from incredulity

        Or is that just Occam’s Razor?

      • tmac57 says:

        Well, to be fair Max, Shermer was implying that because al Qaeda took credit FOR 911 and threatened to do it again,then TRIED to do it again,that it was evidence that it was not an inside job by the Bush administration:”Will someone from the 9/11 Truth camp please wake up and accept the fact that when al Qaeda takes credit for 9/11, says that they would do it again, and then tries, we should take them at their word.”
        But I also don’t think that this constitutes the entire context that makes skeptics doubt the 911 truther’s conspiracy theory.There are many lines of evidence pointing back to Bin Laden and company that makes the truther’s argument the one that is weak.Shermer didn’t elaborate on those points in his short post,but you have to know that he is aware of them,right? Anyway,who do you believe was responsible for 911?

      • zoli says:

        I have to say that I have no problem whatsoever with believing that 19 Hijackers committed a terrorist attack on 9/11. But I am still sceptical about the circumstances under which such an event could have taken place. I also hope that I am not automatically a conspiracy theorist because I think the government didnt tell us the full truth.
        Did you hear about Lt. Col. anthony shaffer who was a highly decorated intelligence office in the “able danger” program? (Look him up at wikipedia or go to his blog.. or see .. He went public with some interesting revelations.
        You can also look up Michel Chossudovsky (whose credentials speak for themselve ). He wrote the book “Americas war on terrorism” which I would highly recommend to you. See also what Noam Chomsky (who is in no way a 9/11 truther) had to say about the invasion of Afghanistan for which 9 /11 was used as a justification (.. In my view the whole 9/ 11 was an inside job discussion is garbage because it diverts attention from the real and undisputable crimes and misbehaviors which are still going on.. Comments in a constructive manner are appreciated.

      • Max says:

        We have lots of good reasons to believe that al Qaeda carried out the 9/11 attacks, like multiple tapes of Bin Laden admitting it. The fact that an al Qaeda affiliate botched a much smaller attack eight years later isn’t the kind of evidence that’ll make truthers hang up their tinfoil hats, seeing as how the USS Cole bombing hasn’t convinced them.

        It’s like science articles that say some small new discovery proves Evolution. Speaking of which, Shermer’s analogy of evolution to erosion was simplistic too.

      • Oldskool says:

        Shermers argument lacks vast amounts of credibility- I am not necessarily a conspiracy theorist, but refutation of that argument is something any 12 year old could do. Around the world, multiple groups claim responsibility for bombings all the time- I am confident that more groups than al quaida claimed responsibility for 9/11. Secondly, failed execution of a second attack is evidence of execution of a previous highly successful attack? How is that even remotely approaching logic?

  18. laursaurus says:

    If you reject the source Dr. Novella suggested, here is another meticulous and in depth dismantling of every red herring,straw man, etc conspiracy theory: Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy by Vincent Bugliosi. This book is a daunting 1600+ pages and extremely well referenced.
    Dennis Prager devoted all 3 hours of his radio talk to interviewing this guest on his vast knowledge on this topic, also taking calls from JFK Conspiracy theorists. Bugliosi thoroughly refuted every challenge in detail.
    Link to part one of the podcast:

    It troubles me that the 9/11 Truthers are going to succeed at rewriting history like JFK. This books title is spot on.

  19. ‎”Skeptic” telling the “Truth” without any braincell involved. Kennedy was shot from the front, not from the back no sign of doubt about it. Lee Harvey Oswald could not have done it. So the killing of Kennedy was a conspiracy. Michael Shermer is a dead-end fantasist from “Skeptic” magazine. No doubt about that too.
    Michael Shermer and David Aaronovitch are now friends (facebook)

  20. zoli says:

    I have to say that I have no problem whatsoever with believing that 19 Hijackers committed a terrorist attack on 9/11. But I am still sceptical about the circumstances under which such an event could have taken place. I also hope that I am not automatically a conspiracy theorist because I think the government didnt tell us the full truth.
    Did you hear about Lt. Col. anthony shaffer who was a highly decorated intelligence office in the “able danger” program? (Look him up at wikipedia or go to his blog.. or see .. He went public with some interesting revelations.
    You can also look up Michel Chossudovsky (whose credentials speak for themselve ). He wrote the book “Americas war on terrorism” which I would highly recommend to you. See also what Noam Chomsky (who is in no way a 9/11 truther) had to say about the invasion of Afghanistan for which 9 /11 was used as a justification (.. In my view the whole 9/ 11 was an inside job discussion is garbage because it diverts attention from the real and undisputable crimes and misbehaviors which are still going on.. Comments in a constructive manner are appreciated.

    • Steve Thoms says:

      Just a note on the invocation of Chomsky, whom you rightly identify as definitely not being a ‘truther’.

      Chomsky’s view was not that 9/11 was the impetus for the war, but rather that the government was cynically opportunistic and used the attacks for political advantage (not just going to war in the middle east, but also on social, domestic, and even religious policies).

      I always get a little upset when I see truthers butcher the words of Chomsky to such an ignorant end. Sadly, Chomsky’s words often get misused….a likely result when a political commentator delivers his nuanced positions and opinions with the skill of a linguist….which he also is! ;)

      • Right. The PNAC was started when Clinton was Prez. Plus, he had “contingency plans” for invading Iraq. As Obama now shows again, warmongering and civil-liberties violations is a bipartisan “sport.”

      • BlackSwan says:

        Chomsky is just another useful idiot who hates America. He cannot speak honestly because his hate blinds him.

      • Beelzebud says:

        And yet there is not one shred of proof that he hates America. Criticizing ones own government isn’t hatred.

      • tmac57 says:

        Good point. Blackswan’s knee-jerk comment reminds me of the attitude of a child who has been punished or corrected by their parents.”Mommy and daddy must hate me because the criticize me all the time!!!” It is part of a good citizen’s duty to criticize their government when they think that it is on the wrong track,just as it is a parent’s duty to do the same with their children.

      • Max says:

        Criticizing one’s own government or another government isn’t necessarily hatred, but it certainly can be.
        Who said the following, Chomsky or Osama bin Laden?

        1. “So in answer to the question about the causes of the Democrats’ failure to stop the war, I say: they are the same reasons which led to the failure of former president Kennedy to stop the Vietnam war. Those with real power and influence are those with the most capital. And since the democratic system permits major corporations to back candidates, be they presidential or congressional, there shouldn’t be any cause for astonishment – and there isn’t any- in the Democrats’ failure to stop the war.”

        2. “The list of the states that have joined the coalition against terror is quite impressive. They have a characteristic in common. They are certainly among the leading terrorist states in the world. And they happen to be led by the world champion.”

      • The people who really hate America are the right-wing fascists who want to stop an introspective look at America, who believe in American exceptionalism, who believe in “America is right, whether right or wrong,” etc.

        BlackSwan, why do you hate America?

      • BlackSwan says:

        Thank you! You proved my point.

      • Max says:

        I think it was Joe Klein who argued that when you love someone or something, you ignore their faults and think they’re the greatest.
        So the right-wingers you describe do love America. They wave the flag, not burn it. They don’t spell America with a “kkk” or preach “God damn America!”

        If there are right-wing fascists who hate America, it’s the extreme elements of the “Patriot movement” like McVeigh, who hate the federal government, believe in conspiracy theories, and think America needs a revolution. That much they have in common with left-wing fascists.

      • And, you proved mine, here and below.

      • Max says:

        When I watched “Manufacturing Consent” a while ago, Chomsky sounded like a conspiracy theorist. I learned that the Corporate Media deliberately brainwashes the public, not just responds to demand and ratings, and that commercial breaks are there to keep long-winded critics like Chomsky off the air, not just to give viewers a bathroom break or pay the bills so the programming stays free. At least that’s how I remember it.

      • Boy, that’s a straw man, or two-dimensional, at least. The mainstream media doesn’t brainwash the public; rather, it props up the mainstream politicians with whom it is in bed.

        That said, the term “MSM” is a bit broad. McClatchy, for example, early on was “off the reservation” about the Iraq War; ditto for it’s not buying into the “Assange is a terrorist” line.

        However, most of what spills out of the DC-NYC corridor does fall under “MSM.”

      • BlackSwan says:

        Clearly gadfly is a “straw man” theorist.

    • Steve Thoms says:

      And as for 9/11 itself, a good resource is the 9/11 Commission report. It’s full of raw technical data, as well as putting the event in a larger (ie: socio-political and historical) context.

      The usual nefarious assumptions and connections with the ‘official story’ told by the government aren’t often that helpful, because it’s an attitude that lends itself to rejecting whole sets of data out of hand.

    • BlackSwan says:

      It is always interesting to wath the truthers dance around the simple fact that the 9/11 attack was planned under Clinton and committed under Bush but somehow the government was behind it. What did that meeting look like when Clinton told Bush about the planned attack and how did he convince him to go along with it. I guess it all depends on what the meaning of “is” is.

      • zoli says:

        Nobody said that and nobody implied! Where did you get that conclusion from?? I think you have a problem similar to that of many conspiracy theorists who think that a giant shapeshifting lizzard is gonna get them. Both of you live in a self created lalaland. They see in everything a conspiracy and you live in complete denial and both of you are willing to interpret everything to fit in your already existing belief system.

      • BlackSwan says:

        Huh! I read that twice and was there a point?

  21. zoli says:

    …and see also what Henry Kissinger(a jew himself) had to say about the situation of the jews in soviet russia (
    I think that it is safe to say that we are far away of being ruled by angles and a good portion of scepticism is advisable when we examine our government/corporate structure. And this has nothing to do with crazy conspiracy theories…

    • BlackSwan says:

      Searching everything a public figure ever said so you can take things out of context to impune a belief they probably never had is a lame substitute for truth.

  22. zoli says:

    What do you mean by out of context?? He made quite clear comments in private and it is not hearsay..But I think I understood what you mean by truth when I saw your comment on chomsky.. To be critical about something is equal with hating it!! right..

  23. BlackSwan says:

    You know! Context! Not one sentence or just the part that reinforces your belief.

    • zoli says:

      I know what the word context means. I would like to hear what you know about the context in this case. It seems to me that you know something about it what should be said to clarify things. So we can compare our knowledge about it and see to what conclusions we come. (So far you just made a statement without any content whatsoever)

      • BlackSwan says:

        Going through the TSA inspection last year my wife had to open her carry on luggage for inspection. It was packed so full that she “quipped” I just hope it doesn’t explode when I open it. I was standing beside her and fully expected the lady to put her in cuffs. Clearly the TSA lady did not believe my wife had a bomb in the luggage and even though the statement was kinda “provocative” she took it in stride.
        I do not think Henry Kissinger hates Jews or wants to see Israel wiped of the face of the earth. Does anyone think that? I don’t particularly like Kissinger but on the other hand I don’t hate him either. But I suspect there are in excesss of 1000 hours of Kissinger talking on tape sometimes in “private” conversation and sometimes when he fully knew he was “on the air”. To glean this statement to demonize him is unfair. I often hear politicians misspeak or say something that can be intentionally misconstrued. I try to see these things in context regardless of my personal politics. It is fun to jump on someone for a misspelling or malapropism but it is only necessary when you do not have the ability to defend your position.

  24. BlackSwan says:

    The reason you and I and the rest of the world don’t speak Japanese and/or German today is thanks to America. Have you ever heard Chomsky list any of the huge list of good things America has done? In about two dozen countries around the word today there are “wars” going on where innocent people are killed daily and in some case thousands of people are killed. Have Chomsky put as much effort into telling the world about those countries? Cuba is a hellhole where most suffer abject poverty and suffer daily. Tens of thousands of political prisoners have died in their prisons. What has Chomsky said about Cuba or some of the other pro-communist countries in the Americas??? But Chomsky always has time to “hate” America…

    • zoli says:

      Yes, indeed he did.. He pointed out things about America which are good and are worth mentioning and he put them in context too.( for example he mentioned our right to freedom of speech alot and described how much better it is in comparison to many other nations). I think you have probably a misconception there because while it is true that he speaks about(for example) american imperialism, it becomes quite clear that his focus of critique is mainly on corporatism in its many forms… For example the merger of corporations with supposed free mainstream media or the political establishment and its consequences. His main focus is not “on the bad American people” or on any irrational prejudice against individuals or groups of people because of religion,ethnicity or anything like that… Quite the opposit. Yes he spoke about human rights violations in other countries! But, right, his focus is on America. Why? It is reasonable to put more attention to America than for example to Cuba because America is (at least for now) the worlds dominant (military for sure) power and has also a huge cultural and economical impact on other nations and societies. When it will loose this position to somebody else I am pretty sure the focus (in general)will shift too. I would actually recommend to you to read some of his works. Apply critical thinking and dont accept everything he says on face value? Sure! But you have to think about his arguments in depth..

      • BlackSwan says:

        Chomsky is like a petulent child or the minister of propaganda. He does nothing to further America in the world and only speaks when he can put it down. He NEVER says anything good about America. Yet he somehow finds ways to spin things to make Cuba or Venezuela look good. Ironically Chomsky’s hero would have called him a useful idiot.

    • Blair T says:

      One of Chomsky’s positions I have heard him express is that as a citizen of a country you share moral responsibility for your country’s actions and that we should all make an effort to be informed about politics. If someone is acting in your name, and you think they are doing something wrong, you are obligated to say so. Thus, his focus on American actions and seeking to influence and change policy is not ‘hate’ but what a responsible citizen should do. But, that is not to say that he doesn’t criticize other countries – he does. To me he seems rather principled on this point.

      Your citation of WWII is an excellent example of the type of thinking that propagates double standards in foreign policy. Do you really think that because the USA was instrumental in defeating enemies 65 years ago that it should get a pass every time it props up a corrupt government? If you take that point seriously – the USSR did the most to defeat Germany in WWII – does that information enter into your calculations when evaluating post WWII USSR foreign policy decision?

      • sunny says:

        If you believe Chomsky is just being a good citizen of the world then explain his love affair with Cuba. A country where you are thrown in jail for disagreeing with their leader. A country where citizens have been killed by the tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands. A great example of socialism/communism. Why does he LOVE Cuba and HATE the U.S. The reason is he is a Marxist/Socialist and he in fact hates the U.S.

        I am not in favor of nation building or propping up corrupt governments. However I am also not in favor of suicidal foriegn policy. One person’s “corrupt government” is another person’s “lesser of two evils”. So I guess some of these corrupt governments you disdain are better left alive rather then overthrown. Did you have a favorite “corrupt government” that we propped up?

      • zoli says:

        Hmm, can you show me any sources which show that he has a “love affair with cuba”? I read two books of him and saw several videos and never saw anything like that. If it is truly as you say it would be very interesting to see what he says/ writes about this topic…

      • sunny says:

        Zoli from what you’ve said and the fact you read two books on him it does not sound like you are open to hearing anything bad about your hero. Let me suggest you Google it. But somehow I suspect that you will look for a reason to be a denier.

    • Derek Dadey says:

      Oh lordy how I hate the endless claims that America won WW2(single handedly I believe with a single punch of uncle sams mighty arm). The real heavy lifting was done by Stalin’s Soviet Union, they may have been led by a tyrant but they bore the brunt of the fighting. America’s entry to the war certainly ended things faster, but America’s only key role was to be a weapons factory for the allies. Little off topic but a pet peeve of mine.

  25. Sunny says:

    When we lose “this position to somebody else” it will be Chomsky and people like him that caused it.

  26. Henry says:

    Have any of the conspiracy theorists ever replicated the shooting in a way that is consistent with the evidence? Would a bullet fired from the grassy knoll or wherever their theory dictates lead to the same head wounds and movement as shown in the film? It seems to me, the burden of proof should be on them since they are the ones making the extraordinary claims.

  27. sunny says:

    I do in fact agree that any opposing theory would have to be proven. I do not know what happened and I have no counter-theory. I do not even know that Oswald didn’t fire the gun. I merely pointed out the errors and the coverup. If the Warren Commission had merely reported the facts as they knew them I think 90% of the conspiracy theorists would have never popped up. It was BECAUSE the Warren commission felt the need to fabricate evidence and suborn perjury that most of the questions have come up.

  28. rabrav says:

    loved Seinfeld’s lighter take on this –

    ‘magic loogie’