Tag Archives: lee harvey oswald

Another Nail in the JFK Conspiracy

jfk
steven_novellaBy via NeuroLogica Blog

More than 50 years after JFK was shot and killed by Lee Harvey Oswald the majority of Americans believe that the assassination was part of a conspiracy. Recent Gallup polls show that 61% believe others were involved in the assassination, while 30% believe Oswald acted alone (in 2000 the numbers were 81% and 13% respectively).
JFK crosshairThis is despite the fact that the evidence overwhelmingly shows that Oswald acted alone, and there is no solid evidence of any conspiracy. What this reflects, in my opinion, is two things: the psychological allure of conspiracy theories, and the cottage industry of conspiracy theorists.
Whenever I discuss conspiracy theories I have to add this caveat about what I mean. Obviously there are real conspiracies in the world – whenever two or more people work together to commit a crime or do something nefarious, you have a conspiracy. “Conspiracy theories,” however, is short hand for a grand conspiracy, something that involves many people or powerful organizations working over long periods of time through vast networks of control.
Further, like many categories of proponents that skeptics tend to address (pseudoscientists, cranks, true-believers, deniers, etc.), conspiracy theorists are defined mainly by their behavior, the way that they construct their beliefs and arguments.
For example, the power of conspiracy thinking is that it is immune to refutation through evidence. Any lack of evidence was covered up. Any evidence against the conspiracy theory was planted. Anyone who mounts a convincing argument against the conspiracy is part of the conspiracy.
Oswald-Rifle-244x300But the cornerstone of conspiracy thinking is anomaly hunting – their “evidence” for a conspiracy is largely apparent anomalies, things that don’t quite make sense at first blush. It’s actually easy to trump up apparent anomalies, because the world is complex and it’s difficult to explain any complex event down to the tiniest detail.  Further, people are quirky individuals, and have their own complex motivations for doing things.
Why was there a man standing on the side of the road near where JFK was shot with an open umbrella, on a clear day? The behavior seems anomalous. Perhaps he was signalling the shooter. Unless you had some very specific historical information, you would never guess the real explanation.
One apparent anomaly that JFK conspiracy theorists have pointed to for years is the photo of Oswald prior to the shooting holding a Carcano rifle, the very one used in the assassination of JFK.

Continue Reading at NeuroLogica Blog – – –

Also See: Photo Forensics: Is The Lee Harvey Oswald Photo A Fake? (iLLuMiNuTTi.com)

10 Best: Conspiracies and legends around the USA

FBI Alien Ufos
By Leif Pettersen via USA TODAY

The items on this varied list may not all warrant heightened vigilance and tin foil hats, but better safe than sorry. So we’re all better prepared for welcoming the Lizard People, when they finally choose to reveal themselves, and assimilating to the New World Order, here are some of the best conspiracy theories and urban legends in the U.S.

10 • Area 51, probably underground, Nev.

area_510_250pxArguably, the country’s most famous conspiracy theory is focused on this remote part of Edwards Air Force Base in Southern Nevada. Also known as Groom Lake, it’s assumed the base is used to test aircraft and weapons systems. The air space overhead is absolutely restricted. Even Air Force pilots aren’t allowed to breach the perimeter. The extraordinary secrecy surrounding the base has fueled several Area 51 conspiracy theories over the years ranging from a lab/prison for studying aliens (both living and dead), a meeting place for Earthlings and aliens working in tandem on various projects, reverse engineering and testing of captured/recovered alien technology, developing a weather control system, time travel and teleportation technology and much more. All that said, nothing can be certain as everything that occurs in Area 51 is classified as “Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information.” The CIA didn’t publicly acknowledge the existence of the base until July 2013.

9 • Denver Airport, Colo.

A detail of a mural in Denver International Airport, subject of much conspiracy theorist interest. A plea for peace, or a plan for future martial law?

A detail of a mural in Denver International Airport, subject of much conspiracy theorist interest. A plea for peace, or a plan for future martial law?

Another conspiracy theory layer cake spot is Denver International Airport. That it was built while Denver had a perfectly good airport much closer to the city is the jumping off point for these theories. (For the record, experts have pointed out that the runway layout at the old airport was no longer efficient enough for the increased traffic.) It’s believed that building the new airport allowed for the secret construction of an underground headquarters for the Illuminati, or the New World Order, or the Neo-Nazis, or the Lizard People and so on. The vaguely Swastika-shaped runways, the (admittedly) disturbing murals and sculptures, and odd words engraved in the floor also fuel the theories. Furthermore, there is the question of funding. A stone in the terminal says the airport was funded by “The New World Airport Commission,” a nebulous entity, sanely theorized to be a group of local businesses, though many claim it doesn’t exist.

8 • UFO cover-up, Roswell, N.M.

Seth Shostak: The UFO BestiaryThough it’s now mainly fueled by local businesses wanting to cash in on tourist interest, the (alleged!) Roswell UFO incident of 1947 is the most popular (alleged!) UFO cover-up of all time and still merits time and energy among conspiracy theorists and movie/TV writers. Various people claim that a spacecraft with alien occupants crashed on a ranch near Roswell in June or July 1947, which was quietly hauled away for study, possibly by our friends at Area 51. The Air Force reported at the time that the object was a surveillance balloon. The conspiracy chatter didn’t flare up until 1978 when Major Jesse Marcel, who was involved with the recovery of the debris, gave an interview describing a spacecraft crash cover-up by the military. Since then additional witnesses have emerged, describing the cover-up and alien autopsies. These days, even passionate pro-UFO advocates generally dismiss Roswell as a hoax.

7 • Grassy knoll in Dallas, Texas

The grassy knoll in Dealey Plaza, where the 1963 assasination of US President John F. Kennedy took place in Dallas.

The grassy knoll in Dealey Plaza, where the 1963 assasination of US President John F. Kennedy took place in Dallas.

The Warren Commission concluded that there was no conspiracy involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas on November 22, 1963. However, after Lee Harvey Oswald was killed by Jack Ruby, an event that also brims with conspiracy, the theories that Oswald didn’t act alone or maybe wasn’t involved at all started flying. The situation was exacerbated in 1979 when the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations announced “…a high probability that two gunmen fired at [the] President.” Furthermore, while he was living in Belarus, it’s said Oswald was such a terrible shot that friends were afraid to go hunting with him. The dazzling list of conspiracy theories put forward at one point or another involve the collusion of one or more parties including the CIA, the FBI and/or FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, the Mafia, anti-Castro Cuban exile groups, Castro himself, then Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, and the KGB.

6 • Kensington Runestone, Runestone Museum in Alexandria, Minn.

Kensington Runestone

Kensington Runestone

Evidence that Scandinavian explorers pushed as far as the Midwest of the future United States in the 14th century or a 19th-century hoax? The Kensington Runestone is a 200 lb slab of greywacke inscribed with runes on the face and side. The story goes the stone was found in 1898 in the rural township of Solem, Minnesota (it gets its name from Kensington, a nearby settlement) by Swedish immigrant Olof Olsson Ohman. The Stone appears to describe an expedition of Norwegians and Swedes who camped in the area, then retreated to their boat at “the inland sea” after 10 were slaughtered by unknown assailants. Runologists and linguistic experts overwhelming agree that the language used on the stone is too modern (circa the 19th century, coincidentally) and didn’t match other writing samples from the 1300s. However, the legend persists, being occasionally revived with new evidence and arguments, some as recently the 1990s.

5 • D.B. Cooper airplane hijack, ransom and parachute jump, somewhere in the Pacific Northwest

A 1972 F.B.I. composite drawing of D. B. Cooper (wikipedia)

A 1972 F.B.I. composite drawing of D. B. Cooper (wikipedia)

The only unsolved case of air piracy in U.S. history was perpetrated by an unidentified man who the media came to call “D. B. Cooper.” (The hijacker purchased his ticket using the alias “Dan Cooper.”) On November 24, 1971, Cooper hijacked a passenger plane (a Boeing 727) during a Portland-Seattle flight. Claiming he had a bomb, he made his ransom plans known to the crew. On the ground in Seattle, Cooper released the passengers after officials gave him the requested $200,000 (equivalent to $1,160,000 today) and two parachutes. With only Cooper and the crew aboard, the plane then took off heading for Mexico. When they stopped in Reno to refuel, Cooper was gone, having jumped from the rear stairs while the plane was likely still over Washington State. Cooper was never found and it’s widely believe he couldn’t have possibly survived the fall, over remote mountainous wilderness, at night, wearing a trench coat and loafers, no helmet, into an initial wind chill at the airplane’s altitude of “70∞ F. The FBI investigation into the case remains open to this day.

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Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy

quick note_150pxI was in a discussion forum and somebody asked me to explain The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy. I started typing when i remembered a video from several years ago that will explain it better than i can write it.

Enjoy, my friend :)

MIB


Via You Are Not So Smart – YouTube

Also See:

10 Reasons JFK’s Death Might Have Been An Accident

jfk
By FlameHorse via Listverse

JFK crosshairThe assassination of John F. Kennedy remains one of the most controversial events of the 20th century. While the most widely accepted theory is that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing Kennedy, a huge number of conspiracy theories have arisen about that fateful day in Dealey Plaza. But what if the President’s death was actually a terrible accident? First popularized by the ballistics expert Howard Donahue, an intriguing theory holds that after Oswald opened fire on the motorcade, a panicking Secret Service agent accidentally discharged his rifle, firing the shot that killed Kennedy.

This list is not intended to accuse anyone other than Lee Harvey Oswald of having anything to do with the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Donahue’s theory is just that—a theory. The following is merely an examination of the evidence for (and against) one of the most fascinating “What Ifs” in American history.

10 • Multiple Witnesses Described the Last Two Shots As Very Close Together

jfk 1003_300pxOswald used a bolt-action Carcano rifle, which requires the shooter to make four movements after each shot in order to cycle the spent case and chamber the next round. The Warren Commission found that the minimum time required to fire the rifle, cycle the bolt once, and fire a second shot was 2.3 seconds. The most commonly accepted theory is that Oswald fired three shots, one of which missed, requiring him to cycle the bolt twice. Based on footage from the Zapruder Film, the Commission concluded that the two shots that hit Kennedy were fired 4.8–5.6 seconds apart.

If the second shot missed, then all three bullets must have been fired in that time. If, however, the first or third shot missed, then the minimum timespan increases to 7.1–7.9 seconds for all three shots. Neither scenario is impossible, although 4.8–5.6 seconds would be a remarkably short time to fire accurately on a moving vehicle.

But the Warren Commission’s calculations are only important if the shots are assumed to have occurred at equal intervals. If, instead, the last two shots were to occur almost simultaneously, then a single bolt-action rifle could not fire them both. Interestingly, some witness testimony seems to support that scenario. Notable is the testimony of Secret Service agent Bill Greer, who drove the Presidential limousine, when asked: “How much time elapsed, to the best of your ability to estimate and recollect, between the time of the second noise and the time of the third noise?”

Greer answered: “The last two seemed to be just simultaneously, one behind the other, but I don’t recollect just how much, how many seconds were between the two. I couldn’t really say.”

District Clerk James Crawford, who was standing at the intersection of Elm and Houston streets during the shooting, stated: “As I observed the parade, I believe there was a car leading the President’s car, followed by the President’s car and followed, I suppose, by the Vice President’s car and, in turn, by the Secret Service in a yellow closed sedan. The doors of the sedan were open. It was after the Secret Service sedan had gone around the corner that I heard the first report and at that time I thought it was a backfire of a car but, in analyzing the situation, it could not have been a backfire of a car because it would have had to have been the President’s car or some car in the cavalcade there. The second shot followed some seconds, a little time elapsed after the first one, and followed very quickly by the third one. I could not see the President’s car.”

Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig was standing in front of the Sheriff’s Office on Houston Street, having watched the motorcade pass and turn onto Elm. Once it was out of sight, Craig heard three shots and started running toward the scene. Here is part of his testimony, as taken by Commission staffer David Belin:

BELIN: About how far were these noises apart?
CRAIG: The first one was—uh—about three seconds—two or three seconds.
BELIN: Two or three seconds between the first and the second?
CRAIG: It was quite a pause between there. It could have been a little longer.
BELIN: And what about between the second and third?
CRAIG: Not more than two seconds. It was—they were real rapid.

None of this conclusively disproves that Oswald was the sole shooter. But it does raise an interesting possibility—if the second and third shots were fired so close together, is it conceivable that one of them wasn’t fired by Oswald at all?

9 • George Hickey Was The Only Secret Service Agent Armed With A Rifle

487585263_250pxThere were 12 Secret Service agents assigned to guard Kennedy on the day of the assassination. Special Agent in Charge Roy Kellerman rode in the front passenger seat of the Presidential limousine, with Special Agent Bill Greer driving. Win Lawson and Verne Sorrels rode in the lead vehicle and Agent Sam Kinney drove the rear vehicle, with the President’s limousine in the middle. Also in the rear vehicle were Special Agent Emory Roberts in the front passenger seat, George Hickey in the left rear seat, and Glen Bennett in the right rear seat. Special Agents Clint Hill, Tim Mcintyre, Jack Ready, and Paul Landis stood on the rear car’s running boards.

The lead vehicle was a hardtop, the other two were convertibles with their tops down. All of the agents were armed with 4-inch-barreled revolvers. As per standard procedure, one agent, Hickey, was also armed with an AR-15 rifle. Thus, assuming Oswald did not fire the headshot, then Hickey’s rifle was the only other one available.

8 • Hickey Did Produce The Rifle During The Shooting

jfk-1_250pxHugh W. Betzner, Jr., an eyewitness who had been standing at the intersection of Elm and Houston when the motorcade turned left onto Elm, reported that: “I also saw a man in either the President’s car or the car behind his and someone down in one of those cars pull out what looked like a rifle.” Betzner also described seeing a “flash of pink” somewhere in the motorcade, which has occasionally been interpreted as a muzzle flash. This flash could have come from Hickey’s rifle, or any of the agents’ handguns, although an AR-15 creates a much more noticeable flash. However, it is much more likely that the “flash of pink” referred to Jackie Kennedy, who was dressed in pink, reaching out to Special Agent Clint Hill, who had jumped from the rear car onto the back of the Presidential limo. Betzner actually specifically describes the flash as resembling “someone standing up and then sitting back down,” so the muzzle flash theory seems relatively dubious.

However, Hickey himself confirmed Betzner’s report that he did “pull out” the rifle during the shooting, testifying: “At the end of the last report I reached to the bottom of the car and picked up the AR-15 rifle, cocked and loaded it, and turned to the rear. At this point the cars were passing under the overpass and as a result we had left the scene of the shooting. I kept the AR-15 rifle ready as we proceeded at a high rate of speed to the hospital.”

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10 Mysterious Deaths Connected To The JFK Assassination

By FlameHorse via Listverse

Probably the best known mystery surrounding Kennedy’s death is his missing brain. Not as well known are the mysterious deaths of many people connected to the assassination, eventually prompting the House Select Committee on Assassinations to look into possible foul play. After a cursory investigation, it found none.

Of course, a mysterious death may or may not involve foul play. Here are accounts of 10 people who witnessed Kennedy’s actual assassination, or had pertinent knowledge of one or more people involved, and who died “untimely”—at least in some estimations.

10 • Jack Ruby

Jack_Ruby_mugshot_250pxWe begin with Ruby, the only very famous entry, who murdered Lee Harvey Oswald on live TV just two days after Oswald had been arrested for killing Kennedy. When Kennedy was shot, Ruby was five blocks away from the Texas School Book Depository, distributing ads. He originally claimed to have shot Oswald in order to “redeem” Dallas and spare Jackie Kennedy the agony of a trial. But these motives—and everything else in Ruby’s life—remain shrouded in contradictions.

Ruby himself later claimed that his first attorney had told him to testify to the above motives, while Vegas mobster Johnny Roselli claimed Ruby had been assigned to silence Oswald. In 1965, well after his conviction, Ruby had this to say about the murder: “Everything pertaining to what’s happening has never come to the surface. The world will never know the true facts of what occurred, my motives. The people who had so much to gain, and had such an ulterior motive for putting me in the position I’m in, will never let the true facts come above board to the world.”

On 3 January, 1967, Ruby died of a pulmonary embolism, a complication of lung cancer. Before his death, he had gone on record claiming that he had been visited by a man who injected him with what he was told were antibiotics for a chronic cold, but which he believed were really cancer cells. He had just been granted a new trial on the grounds that his first trial in Dallas could not have been fairly heard. Shortly before he passed away, Ruby told a psychiatrist that the assassination was a coup d’etat and that he knew who was responsible for Kennedy’s murder.

9 • James Richard Worrell Jr.

rsz_1600px-jfk_limousine_250pxWorrell was one of the very best eyewitnesses to Kennedy’s assassination, providing unusually detailed answers to the usual questions about that day (his entire testimony before Congress is available here). In 1963, Worrell was a 20-year-old high school student living in Dallas with his mother and sister. When Kennedy arrived, Worrell decided to skip school in order to see the President, leaving home early in the morning and hitchhiking to Love Field. Finding he was too late to get a good view there, he left for Dealey Plaza and waited four or five feet in front of the Book Depository, on the sidewalk at the corner of Elm and Houston.

He watched as the motorcade came down Houston Street, and turned past him onto Elm. Then Worrell testified that he heard “four shots.” He looked up after the first, which he realized was too loud to be a firecracker, and saw a rifle barrel protruding from the 5th or 6th-floor corner window of the building. He looked back to Kennedy’s vehicle, heard the second shot, and saw the President slump over. He looked back up and saw the third shot’s muzzle flash, then began running in a panic around the Depository and onto Houston Street, where he heard a fourth shot. Stopping to catch his breath, he turned in time to see a man run from the rear exit of the Depository and later gave a basic description of Oswald’s height, build, and dress.

Three years later, on 6 November, 1966, Worrell was riding his motorcycle along Gus Thomasson Street in Dallas, along with a passenger named Lee Hudgins, when he apparently lost control of the vehicle, jumped the median curb, and overturned in the opposite lane. Worrell’s head, without a helmet, struck the curb, and Hudgins was flung in front of a car. Both died at the hospital.

8 • Thomas Hale Boggs Sr.

640px-LBJ-Boggs_250pxBoggs was perhaps the most high profile person connected to the assassination to die under mysterious circumstances. A longtime Louisiana Congressman, he was House Majority Whip when Kennedy was killed and became House Majority Leader in 1971. In 1963, he was appointed to the President’s Commission on the Assassination, nicknamed the Warren Commission after its chairman, Chief Justice Earl Warren. The Commission ultimately concluded that Oswald acted alone, but three of its members disagreed—Boggs and Senators Richard Russell and Sherman Cooper. Russell, who died of natural causes in 1971, publicly stated his “lingering dissatisfaction” with the investigation, while Boggs accused FBI director J. Edgar Hoover of “lying his eyes out” during the hearings.

Boggs was a strong critic of the single bullet theory. According to this theory, Oswald fired three shots, the second of which struck Kennedy in the upper back, passed through his throat and continued into Texas Governor John Connally’s back. The bullet then exited Connally’s chest, smashed through his wrist, and stopped in his left thigh, creating a total of seven wounds in two people. Some critics have claimed this would have required the bullet to somehow rise in mid-flight between the two men, but Connally had actually been sitting in a specially added “jump seat” few inches lower than Kennedy, which would have made it possible for the bullet to cause the seven wounds.

The fact of Connally’s seat height was not known at the time, but Boggs also strongly opposed the theory that Oswald acted alone, and that Ruby acted alone in killing Oswald. As House Majority Whip, then Leader, his words carried great weight.

On 16 October, 1972, Boggs was flying from Anchorage to Juneau with Alaskan Congressman Nick Begich and two others. They never arrived. The cause of the crash has never been discovered, nor has the wreckage of the plane, nor the bodies of the dead. Many civil aircraft of the time did not have emergency transmitters that would broadcast their locations upon crashing (such transmitters were made mandatory as a direct result of the incident). The four men were declared dead early the next year.

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When Noam Chomsky says that’s an idiotic idea, he’s probably right

Sharon_hill_80pxby  via Doubtful News

One of the world’s most prominent intellectuals says it’s nonsense to buy into 9/11 conspiracy theories – get off the internet and think for yourself.

Noam Chomsky slaps down 9/11 truther: People spend an hour on the Internet and think they know physics | The Raw Story.

During a lecture on “Policy and the Media Prism” at the University of Florida a few weeks ago, 9/11 truth activist Bob Tuskin said the mainstream media had covered up evidence that Building 7 imploded in a controlled demolition. Tuskin asked Chomsky if he was finally ready to “jump on board with” 9/11 conspiracy theories.

“You’re right that there’s a consensus among a miniscule number of architects and engineers,” Chomsky replied. “They are not doing what scientists and engineers do when they think they’ve discovered something.”

“There happen to be a lot of people around who spend an hour on the Internet and think they know a lot physics, but it doesn’t work like that. There’s a reason there are graduate schools in these departments,” he continued.

Chomsky dismissed the claim that scientists and engineers hadn’t followed typical procedures because they felt intimidated by the government. He said publishing an article in an academic journal was virtually risk-free compared to other forms of political activism.

“There is just overwhelming evidence that the Bush administration wasn’t involved,” Chomsky added. “Very elementary evidence. You don’t have to be a physicist to understand it. You just have to think for a minute.”

Chomsky is advocating obtaining expertise and considering that the consensus view is most likely the right one. This is a good lesson – consider authorities who have specialized knowledge and see that it makes the most sense. Don’t rely on unrefereed stuff on Google. Anyone can publish crap on the Internet. Have some sense of reliable sources.

Michael Shermer has a piece that fits in well with this today. He talks about how people will want to subscribe to conspiracies anyway.

Conspiracy theories: Why we believe the unbelievable – latimes.com.

Why do so many people refuse to accept this simple and obvious conclusion? The answer: psychology.

There are three psychological effects at work here, starting with “cognitive dissonance,” or the discomfort felt when holding two ideas that are not in harmony. We attempt to reduce the dissonance by altering one of the ideas to be in accord with the other. In this case, the two discordant ideas are 1) JFK as one of the most powerful people on Earth who was 2) killed by Lee Harvey Oswald, a lone loser, a nobody. Camelot brought down by a curmudgeon.

That doesn’t feel right. To balance the scale, conspiracy elements are stacked onto the Oswald side: the CIA, the FBI, the KGB, the Mafia, Fidel Castro, Lyndon Johnson and, in Oliver Stone’s telling in his film “JFK,” the military-industrial complex.

A second psychological effect is the “monological belief system,” or “a unitary, closed-off worldview in which beliefs come together in a mutually supportive network,” in the words of University of Kent researchers Michael J. Wood, Karen M. Douglas and Robbie M. Sutton in a 2012 paper titled “Dead and Alive: Beliefs in Contradictory Conspiracy Theories.” A conspiracy theory, they wrote, is “a proposed plot by powerful people or organizations working together in secret to accomplish some (usually sinister) goal.” Once you believe that “one massive, sinister conspiracy could be successfully executed in near-perfect secrecy [it] suggests that many such plots are possible.”

A third psychological effect is “confirmation bias,” or the tendency to look for and find confirming evidence for what you already believe and to ignore disconfirming evidence. Once you believe, say, that 9/11 was an inside job by the Bush administration, you focus on the handful of anomalies that fateful day and connect them into a seemingly meaningful pattern, while ignoring the massive evidence pointing to Al Qaeda. JFK conspiracy theorists ignore the massive evidence pointing to Oswald while seeking deep meaning in trivial matters, such as the man with the umbrella on the grassy knoll, or the puff of smoke behind the picket fence, or the odd noises echoing around Dealey Plaza. Each become pregnant with meaning when the mind goes in search of cabals.

We are never going to not have people who believe in conspiracies. But we can make it embarrassing. There is no shame in telling people that their ridiculous conspiracy theories are RIDICULOUS NONSENSE. Belief in conspiracies take us off track and we waste our time and efforts on useless dead ends.


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Conspiracy theories: Why we believe the unbelievable

Michael ShermerBy Michael Shermer via latimes.com

With the passing of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy last week, and the accompanying fusillade of documentaries purporting to prove there was a conspiracy behind it, we might expect (and hope) that cabalistic conjecturing will wane until the next big anniversary.

conspiracy_theory 831_250pxDon’t count on it. A poll this month found that 61% of Americans who responded still believe that JFK was the victim of a conspiracy, despite the fact that the preponderance of evidence points to Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone assassin.

Why do so many people refuse to accept this simple and obvious conclusion? The answer: psychology.

There are three psychological effects at work here, starting with “cognitive dissonance,” or the discomfort felt when holding two ideas that are not in harmony. We attempt to reduce the dissonance by altering one of the ideas to be in accord with the other. In this case, the two discordant ideas are 1) JFK as one of the most powerful people on Earth who was 2) killed by Lee Harvey Oswald, a lone loser, a nobody. Camelot brought down by a curmudgeon.

The most powerful person on Earth was killed by a nobody. This doesn’t feel right. To balance the scale, conspiracy elements are stacked onto the Oswald side.

The most powerful person on Earth was killed by a nobody. This doesn’t feel right. To balance the scale, conspiracy elements are stacked onto the Oswald side.

That doesn’t feel right. To balance the scale, conspiracy elements are stacked onto the Oswald side: the CIA, the FBI, the KGB, the Mafia, Fidel Castro, Lyndon Johnson and, in Oliver Stone’s telling in his film “JFK,” the military-industrial complex.

Cognitive dissonance was at work shortly after Princess Diana‘s death, which was the result of drunk driving, speeding and no seat belt. But princesses are not supposed to die the way thousands of regular people die each year, so the British royal family, the British intelligence services and others had to be fingered as co-conspirators.

By contrast, there is no cognitive dissonance for the Holocaust — one of the worst crimes in history committed by one of the most criminal regimes in history.

A second psychological effect is the “monological belief system,” or “a unitary, closed-off worldview in which beliefs come together in a mutually supportive network,” in the words of University of Kent researchers Michael J. Wood, Karen M. Douglas and Robbie M. Sutton in a 2012 paper titled “Dead and Alive: Beliefs in Contradictory Conspiracy Theories.” A conspiracy theory, they wrote, is “a proposed plot by powerful people or organizations working together in secret to accomplish some (usually sinister) goal.” Once you believe that “one massive, sinister conspiracy could be successfully executed in near-perfect secrecy [it] suggests that many such plots are possible.”

With this cabalistic paradigm in place, conspiracies can become “the default explanation for any given event.” For example . . .

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Here come the conspiracy theorists about JFK

Michael SmerconishBy  Michael Smerconish via The Columbus Dispatch

Nov. 22 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. Get ready for more of this:

John F. Kennedy was murdered by a conspiracy involving disgruntled CIA agents, anti-Castro Cubans, and members of the Mafia, all of whom were extremely angry at what they viewed as Kennedy’s appeasement policies toward Communist Cuba and the Soviet Union.”

ventura bookThat’s according to Jesse Ventura in his new book, They Killed Our President: 63 Reasons to Believe There Was a Conspiracy to Assassinate JFK. Ventura’s “smoking gun” is a memo written three days after the assassination by Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach to Bill Moyers, an aide to newly sworn-in President Lyndon B. Johnson.

“The public must be satisfied that Oswald was the assassin; that he did not have confederates who are still at large; and that the evidence was such that he would have been convicted at trial,” Katzenbach wrote.

Alone, it sounds ominous. But not when viewed in the context of the sentence that precedes it: “ It is important that all the facts surrounding President Kennedy’s assassination be made public in a way that will satisfy people in the United States and abroad that all of the facts have been told and that a statement to this effect be made now.”

JFK crosshairMy hunch is that Katzenbach was already anticipating that, 50 years later, guys like Ventura would seek to prosper by spinning yarns. Katzenbach died in 2012. But Moyers is still with us, and I asked him what he thought of the current use of the memo he was sent 50 years ago. He told me he hasn’t kept up with any of this since leaving the White House.

“Some of my old colleagues and I collaborated a few years ago in a protest to the History Channel over a scurrilous documentary about LBJ and the assassination, but that’s been the extent of the attention I’ve given it,” he said over email. “The Warren Commission settled the matter for me, and conspiracy theories of any kind have always seemed a waste of time. I don’t even believe George W. Bush was behind the 9/11 attacks, and as a result am a constant target of those conspiracy theorists.”

When I recently asked Ventura, the former governor of Minnesota, who fired the shots that killed Kennedy, he could not answer. (“That’s impossible. How can you ask me to do that?”) How many people were in on it? (“It’s hard to say.”)

Typical was this exchange between us:

MS: You wrote the book They Killed Our President. Who are “they”?

JV: No one will ever know, no one will ever know. All I know is, Lee Harvey Oswald didn’t.

Part of Ventura’s explanation is that Oswald had a body double. I kid you not.

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JFK assassination conspiracy theory “blown out of the water” in new book, author says

jfkVia CBS News

(CBS News) It’s been nearly 50 years since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Questions still remain about whether Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone or was part of a larger conspiracy.

Now there’s new evidence about that fateful day. It comes from a book called “The Kennedy Half-Century,” written by professor Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.

From the moment shots rang out in Dealey Plaza the search for definitive answers in the Kennedy assassination has proved elusive. Was Oswald acting alone, or was he a member of a conspiracy?

JFK crosshairThe 888-page Warren Report issued in 1964 found no evidence that anyone assisted Oswald in planning or carrying out the assassination. The report had many critics and conspiracy theories multiplied over the years. Hundreds of books have been published about the case and dozens of documentaries and films, most notably Oliver Stone’s 1991 Academy Award-winning film “JFK.” But the strongest official confirmation for conspiracy buffs came in 1979 when the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded that President Kennedy was “probably assassinated as the result of a conspiracy.” A key piece of evidence was an audio recording that the committee believed captured the sound of four gunshots being fired. One of the gunshots apparently came from a second location, the so-called Grassy Knoll, a patch of land that was ahead of the president’s limousine.

This year, political scientist Larry Sabato had the tapes re-analyzed using state-of-the-art technology. He says they do not capture gunshots at all, but the sounds of an idling motorcycle and the rattling of a microphone.
Anomolie
Sabato also says analysis of the recordings showed the sounds — which were of police radio transmissions — were not from Dealey Plaza, but from a location more than two miles away.

A new poll conducted as part of the book found 75 percent of Americans still reject the Warren Commission’s conclusion that Oswald acted alone.

Sabato said on “CBS This Morning” his book has completely blown the 1979 House Select Committee on Assassinations report “out of the water.” He added, “Their evidence simply does not hold. And they concluded there was a conspiracy.

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Conspiracy theories are the refuse bins for logical fallacies

Via Eastfield College Times

nasa-moon-hoaxEvery time I hear someone repeat a conspiracy theory, it makes me question my stance on torture. Be honest, whom would you rather waterboard, 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or billionaire birther Donald Trump?

Conspiracy theories allow many people to feel more in control. It’s simply more comforting to imagine some grand conspiracy was behind the assassination of President John F. Kennedy than to accept the fact that one lone man, Lee Harvey Oswald, was able to assassinate the leader of the free world.

A recent study at the University of Kent in England shed new light on the minds of conspiracy theorists. It found that factual details were far less important to conspiracy theorists than their belief that secret and powerful forces are controlling everything.

The study also found people who believed Osama Bin Laden is still alive were just as likely to sign on to the theory that he was already dead at the time of the raid, a sort of SchrÖdinger’s Cat approach.

I have seriously studied the Kennedy assassination since 2003 and have read a stack of books on the subject taller than I am. I’ve also made countless trips to Dealey Plaza and to the Sixth Floor Museum’s research room to educate myself further on the assassination.

During a recent trip, I overheard a gentleman saying there must have been a second shooter positioned on the grassy knoll because after the shot the president’s head snapped back and to the left. This is a common misconception.

jfk
I explained to him that, according to Nobel prize-winning physicist Luis W. Alvarez, a bullet approaching the speed of sound transfers little resistance to the head as it enters the skull. However, upon exiting, the bullet pulls with it bits of brain matter and skull fragments creating a jet blast effect that sends the head in the direction of the shooter.

His response: “That actually makes a lot of sense, but I still think there must have been a second shooter.”

Christopher Hitchens called this the “exhaust fumes of democracy,” a result of a large population with unlimited access to large amounts of information that is often wrong or misleading.

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Who needs facts when you have conspiracy theorists?

jfk

Conspiracists and the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy

By Dr. Cory Franklin via ChicagoTribune.com

Lee Harvey Oswald shot President John F. Kennedy. Anyone who disputes that must explain the incredible chain of evidence surrounding how he was enmeshed in the assassination case. (Chuck Berman, Chicago Tribune / March 18, 2012)

Lee Harvey Oswald shot President John F. Kennedy. Anyone who disputes that must explain the incredible chain of evidence surrounding how he was enmeshed in the assassination case. (Chuck Berman, Chicago Tribune / March 18, 2012)

The 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy approaches, and debate begins anew. The evidence is overwhelming that Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK, and nearly as overwhelming that Oswald acted alone. However, history is never completely settled, and the conspiracy theorists are out and about. Many, motivated by profit or fame, are more eager to engage in ad hominem tactics than discuss facts. But some are honest and intelligent, and they deserve a hearing. How to separate them? Ten rules to follow when engaging a conspiracy theorist. Avoid anyone who:

1. Cites Oliver Stone‘s “JFK” as a source

Oliver Stone is an accomplished film director, and his 1991 film “JFK” is powerful. However, it is far removed from historical accuracy. Whatever Stone’s motives, the movie is full of distortions and outright falsehoods. The result features real historical characters in a crime-fiction fantasy, essentially a propaganda piece meant to demonize a covert, evil, right-wing paramilitary group.

2. Cites Jim Garrison as a source

In 1967, Garrison, the New Orleans prosecutor, launched the only prosecution arising out of the assassination. He gained worldwide attention with his accusations. The courtroom is the actual crucible, and Garrison’s prosecution of the Louisiana businessman he suspected of involvement was quickly laughed out of court. Today, most conspiracy theorists have disowned Garrison.

3. Claims the Secret Service accidentally killed JFK

jfk 1003_300pxA documentary on cable television this fall, based on a 1992 book, revives the theory that a Secret Service agent in a trail car accidentally discharged his weapon and fired the fatal shot. Despite its implausibility — nine people, including agents and Kennedy aides, were present and no one testified that the agent’s weapon was fired — the theory has gained new currency. Supporters include popular New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell and baseball savant Bill James. Before he died, the agent vehemently denied the allegation and filed a libel suit against the book’s publishers. Rather than go to court, the publishers paid him a confidential monetary settlement.

4. Claims the limo driver killed JFK

There are actually people who believe the Secret Service agent driving the JFK limo turned around, pulled a gun and killed him. Such people should not be trusted with sharp objects. Watch the Zapruder film.

5. Ties the murders of JFK and RFK together

I once rented a copy of “JFK,” and the teenager at Blockbuster (in his mid-30s by now) assured me of the movie’s accuracy. I engaged him by referring to Robert Kennedy, the attorney general who also happened to be the president’s brother. I asked, “How could all these conspirators have escaped undetected when the top law enforcement officer in the country, with every investigative tool at his disposal, was the president’s brother? Wouldn’t he have wanted this uncovered?” Without a hint of irony, the teenager looked at me earnestly and said, “Don’t forget, they killed Robert Kennedy, too.”

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Lincoln Kennedy Myths

An old story claims a long list of astonishing similarities between the assassinations of Lincoln and Kennedy.

By Brian Dunning via Skeptoid
Read transcript below or listen here

LincolnKennedy_300pxAnyone with email has probably received a chain letter revealing a startling series of similarities between the assassinations of U.S. Presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy. But even before the days of email, the story had been around, being printed and reprinted, quoted and requoted, and it all seems to go back to a book published the year after Kennedy died. Author Jim Bishop’s book A Day in the Life of President Kennedy, published in 1964 but written mostly while Kennedy was still in office, included an appendix listing a number of strange parallels between the two distinguished Presidents.

We’re going to examine these parallels to see if they hold up, but in doing so we should keep in mind the larger question. Are these similarities in any way meaningful? Do numbers and the spelling of names hold any consequential significance? Let’s find out. Today’s version of what’s become quite the urban legend will read something like this:

Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846.
John F. Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946.

Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860.
John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960.

The names Lincoln and Kennedy each contain seven letters.

Both were particularly concerned with civil rights.

Both wives lost their children while living in the White House.

Both Presidents were shot on a Friday.

Both were shot in the head.

Lincoln’s secretary was named Kennedy.
Kennedy’s secretary was named Lincoln.

Both were assassinated by Southerners.

Both were succeeded by Southerners.

Both successors were named Johnson.

Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln, was born in 1808.
Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy, was born in 1908.

John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated Lincoln was born in 1839.
Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated Kennedy was born in 1939.

Both assassins were known by their three names.

Both names are made of fifteen letters.

Booth ran from the theater and was caught in a warehouse.
Oswald ran from a warehouse and was caught in a theater.

Booth and Oswald were assassinated before their trials.

The Lincoln-Kennedy myths are really intriguing when you hear them, but perhaps equally captivating when you hear the counter arguments. If I drop six pairs of dice, chances are that one pair will match. Taken by itself, that match is pretty cool. Four U.S. Presidents have been assassinated in office, which results in six possible pairings; between those six, it shouldn’t be surprising that we’d find one pairing with interesting coincidences. But that’s just where the counter arguments start to get interesting.

A lot of the similarities are about dates that are exactly 100 years apart. This is no great shock; as U.S. Presidential elections happen every four years, so there are only 25 elections in a century, and every President has at least one other President elected exactly a century before and/or after. kennedyBut this century-centric nature of the Lincoln-Kennedy legend starts to fall apart very quickly when you look at what should be the most important dates: Lincoln and Kennedy died 98 years apart, not a century; and they were elected to the terms in which they died 96 years apart, not a century. Conveniently omitted from the chain email. But let’s look deeper.

My favorite disassembly of the Lincoln-Kennedy legend is the one on Snopes.com. Barbara Mikkelson, who does most of the research and reporting on Snopes, has always been most astonishingly thorough with the way she tracks down every last scrap of an urban legend, but she also applies a very keen skeptical eye to popular claims. The Lincoln-Kennedy legend is primarily a list of coincidences; and when taken away from the context of all the many non-coincidences that also characterized the two men, it seems amazing. She writes:

We’re supposed to be amazed at minor happenstances such as the two men’s being elected exactly one hundred years apart, but we’re supposed to think nothing of the numerous non-coincidences: Lincoln was born in 1809; Kennedy was born in 1917. Lincoln died in 1865; Kennedy died in 1963. Lincoln was 56 years old at the time of his death; Kennedy was 46 years old at the time of his death. No striking coincidences or convenient hundred-year differences in any of those facts. Even when we consider that, absent all other factors, the two men had a one in twelve chance of dying in the same month, we find no coincidence there: Lincoln was killed in April; Kennedy was killed in November.

Even advice columnist Ann Landers took on this question in 1995, and aptly pointed out that there are far more differences between the men than similarities …

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The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy

via You Are Not So Smart

The Misconception: You take randomness into account when determining cause and effect.

The Truth: You tend to ignore random chance when the results seem meaningful or when you want a random event to have a meaningful cause.

AL_JFK_300pxAbraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy were both presidents of the United States, elected 100 years apart. Both were shot and killed by assassins who were known by three names with 15 letters, John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald, and neither killer would make it to trial.

Spooky, huh? It gets better.

Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy, and Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln.

They were both killed on a Friday while sitting next to their wives, Lincoln in the Ford Theater, Kennedy in a Lincoln made by Ford.

Both men were succeeded by a man named Johnson – Andrew for Lincoln and Lyndon for Kennedy. Andrew was born in 1808. Lyndon in 1908.

What are the odds?

In 1898, Morgan Robertson wrote a novel titled “Futility.”

More than two miles down, the ghostly bow of the Titanic emerges from the darkness on a dive by explorer and filmmaker James Cameron in 2001.

More than two miles down, the ghostly bow of the Titanic emerges from the darkness on a dive by explorer and filmmaker James Cameron in 2001.
Source: National Geographic Magazine

Written 14 years before the Titanic sank, 11 years before construction on the vessel even began, the similarities between the book and the real event are eerie.

The novel describes a giant boat called the Titan which everyone considers unsinkable. It is the largest ever created, and inside it seems like a luxury hotel – just like the as yet unbuilt Titanic.

Titan had only 20 lifeboats, half than it needed should the great ship sink. The Titanic had 24, also half than it needed.

In the book, the Titan hits an iceberg in April 400 miles from Newfoundland. The Titanic, years later, would do the same in the same month in the same place.

The Titan sinks, and more than half of the passengers die, just as with the Titanic. The number of people on board who die in the book and the number in the future accident are nearly identical.

The similarities don’t stop there. The fictional Titan and the real Titanic both had three propellers and two masts. Both had a capacity of 3,000 people. Both hit the iceberg close to midnight.

Did Robertson have a premonition? I mean, what are the odds?

In the 1500s, Nostradamus wrote:

Bêtes farouches de faim fleuves tranner
Plus part du champ encore Hister sera,
En caige de fer le grand sera treisner,
Quand rien enfant de Germain observa.

This is often translated to:

Beasts wild with hunger will cross the rivers,
The greater part of the battle will be against Hister.
He will cause great men to be dragged in a cage of iron,
When the son of Germany obeys no law.

That’s rather creepy, considering this seems to describe a guy with a tiny mustache born about 400 years later. Here is another prophecy:

Out of the deepest part of the west of Europe,
From poor people a young child shall be born,
Who with his tongue shall seduce many people,
His fame shall increase in the Eastern Kingdom.

Wow. Hister certainly sounds like Hitler, and that second quatrain seems to drive it home. Actually, Many of Nostradamus’ predictions are about a guy from Germania who wages a great war and dies mysteriously.

What are the odds?

If any of this seems too amazing to be coincidence, too odd to be random, too similar to be chance, you are not so smart.

You see, in all three examples the barn was already peppered with holes. You just drew bullseyes around the spots where the holes clustered together.

Allow me to explain.

MORE . . . .

Top Conspiracy Theories

via Pakalert Press

 The JFK Assassination

This much we can stipulate: President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963, struck by two bullets — one in the head, one in the neck — while riding in an open-topped limo through Dealey Plaza in Dallas. Lee Harvey Oswald was charged with killing him, and a presidential commission headed by Chief Justice Earl Warren found that Oswald acted alone.

That conclusion hasn’t passed muster with the public. A 2003 ABC News poll found that 70% of Americans believe Kennedy’s death was the result of a broader plot. The trajectory of the bullets, some say, didn’t square with Oswald’s perch on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. Others suggest a second gunman — perhaps on the grassy knoll of Dealey Plaza — participated in the shooting. Others believe in an even broader conspiracy. Was Kennedy killed by CIA agents acting either out of anger over the Bay of Pigs or at the behest of Vice President Lyndon Johnson? By KGB operatives? Mobsters mad at Kennedy’s brother for initiating the prosecution of organized crime rings? Speculation over one of history’s most famous political assassinations is such a popular parlor game that most people have taken the rumors to heart: just 32% of those polled by ABC believe Oswald carried out the killing on his own.

 9/11 Cover-Up

Not since the JFK assassination has there been a national tragedy so heavily imprinted in American minds — or that has given rise to quite as many alternative explanations. While videos and photographs of the two planes striking the World Trade Center towers are famous around the world, the sheer profusion of documentary evidence has only provided even more fodder for conspiracy theories.

A May 2006 Zogby poll found that 42% of Americans believed that the government and the 9/11 commission “concealed or refused to investigate critical evidence that contradicts their official explanation of the September 11th attacks.” Why had the military failed to intercept the hijacked planes? Had the government issued a “stand down” order, to minimize interference with a secret plan to destroy the buildings and blame it on Islamic terrorists? In 2005, Popular Mechanics published a massive investigation of similar claims and responses to them. The reporting team found that the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) did not have a history of having fighter jets prepped and ready to intercept aircraft that had gone off route. And while the team found no evidence that the government had planned the attacks, lack of proof has rarely stopped conspiracy theorists before.

 Area 51 and the Aliens

We may have Tang thanks to the space program, but who gave us such innovations as the Stealth fighter and Kevlar? Aliens, of course. Conspiracy theorists believe that the remains of crashed UFO spacecrafts are stored at Area 51, an Air Force base about 150 miles from Las Vegas, where government scientists reverse-engineer the aliens’ highly advanced technology. Fodder for this has come from a variety of supposed UFO sightings in the area and testimony from a retired Army colonel who says he was given access to extraterrestrial materials gathered from an alien spacecraft that crashed in Roswell, N.M. Some believe that the government studies time travel at Area 51, also known as Groom Lake or Dreamland.

The government has developed advanced aircraft and weapons systems at nearby Nellis Air Force Base, including Stealth bombers and reconnaissance planes. And the government’s official line — that the details of Area 51 are classified for purposes of national security — is only seen as further proof that the military is hiding aliens or alien spacecraft.

 Paul Is Dead

Paul McCartney never wrote “Maybe I’m Amazed.” He never formed the band Wings. He never clashed with Yoko, became a vegetarian, or fathered any of his children. When Queen Elizabeth knighted him in 1997, she was actually knighting someone else. This is because, conspiracy-minded Beatlemaniacs say, Paul McCartney secretly died in 1966. Theorists claim the other Beatles covered up his death — hiring someone who looked like him, sang like him, and had the same jovial personality. But the guilt eventually got to them and they began hiding clues in their music. In the song “Taxman,” George Harrison gave his “advice for those who die,” meaning Paul. The entire Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album was awash with Paul-is-dead clues: the Beatles had formed a “new” band featuring a fictional member named Billy Shears — supposedly the name of Paul’s replacement. The album contained John Lennon’s “A Day in the Life,” which had the lyrics “He blew his mind out in a car” and the recorded phrase “Paul is dead, miss him, miss him,” which becomes evident only when the song is played backward. Lennon also mumbled, “I buried Paul” at the end of “Strawberry Fields Forever” (in interviews, Lennon said the phrase was actually “cranberry sauce” and denied the existence of any backward messages).

Paul-is-dead believers think the Beatles accompanied these backward tape loops and veiled references to death with album covers that illustrated the loss of their friend. The original cover of 1966′s Yesterday and Today album featured  the Beatles posed amid raw meat and dismembered doll parts — symbolizing McCartney’s gruesome accident. If fans placed a mirror in front of the Sgt. Pepper album cover, the words Lonely Hearts on the drum logo could be read as “1 ONE 1 X HE DIE 1 ONE 1.” And of course, there’s the Abbey Road cover, on which John, George and Ringo forwent all pretense and pretended to cross the street as a funeral procession. John wore all white, like a clergyman. Ringo, the mourner, dressed in black. George donned jeans, like a gravedigger. Paul wore no shoes (he didn’t need them, because he was dead) and walked out of step with the others.

If Paul is dead, then his imposter is still at large. He met and married Linda Eastman, with whom he had four children before losing her to breast cancer in 1998. He released a live album in 1993 called Paul Is Live (likely story), and produced more than 20 solo albums — and that’s not even counting the ones released by Wings. Then he endured a horrible divorce from Heather Mills, which may have made him wish he were dead — or, at least, were still Billy Shears. So who is the real McCartney? The world may never know.

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Photo Forensics: Is The Lee Harvey Oswald Photo A Fake?

By Hany Farid via Fourandsix Technologies

Ever since the assassination of President Kennedy, numerous theories have circulated claiming that Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin, acted as part of a larger criminal conspiracy. It has been suggested, for example, that incriminating photographs of Oswald were manipulated and hence evidence of a broader plot. I have never been particularly interested in these conspiracy theories. I do, however, like that at least one aspect of the theory was testable – were the shadows in the Oswald backyard photo physically plausible or not?

A portion of the argument for photo tampering goes something like this. Consider the shadow cast from Oswald’s body onto the ground. The orientation and length of the shadow suggest that the sun is to Oswald’s left and relatively low on the horizon. The long straight shadow under Oswald’s nose, however, suggests that the sun is directly above him. These seemingly incongruous shadows have led to speculation that Oswald’s head was pasted into the scene. In fact, Oswald himself claimed that the photo was a fake and had been altered to falsely implicate him.

I thought that there was a chance that the photo was fake because it does seem at first glance that the shadows in this photo are inconsistent with one another. I also know, however, that our visual system can be spectacularly bad at judging such things as lighting and shadows in a photo.

In order to reason about the shadows in this scene we need a three dimensional model of the scene (Oswald’s head/body and the ground plane) and the three dimensional location of the sun. In general, determining three dimensional information from a single two dimensional image is an under-determined and difficult problem. Estimating three-dimensional models of a person’s head, however, is relatively easy because of the somewhat constrained and well understood geometry of human heads.

A frontal and profile view are required to build a 3-D model of a person’s head – Oswald’s mugshots were perfect for this.

Keep Reading: … Photo Forensics Software | Fourandsix Technologies – Blog – Lee Harvey Oswald.

Photo Forensics: Is The JFK Zapruder Film Faked?

Hany Farid via Fourandsix Technologies

Abraham Zapruder's Bell & Howell Zoomatic movi...

Abraham Zapruder’s Bell & Howell Zoomatic movie camera, in the collection of the US National Archives (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over the years there has been a handful of images that many individuals, organizations, and media outlets have asked me to analyze. One of these is the so called Zapruder film which captured the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Since its release, there has been much speculation as to the authenticity of this video. Here I will describe a forensic analysis applied to one aspect of the Zapruder film that, as with the Lee Harvey Oswald photo, debunks certain claims of manipulation. (WARNING: some of the images and descriptions are graphic.)

Abraham Zapruder captured the most complete documentation of the assassination of JFK. After its public release in 1975, challenges to the authenticity of the Zapruder film began to surface.  The Zapruder film has been analyzed for evidence to support alternate theories of who and how many people were involved in the assassination. For example, it has been argued that on frame 317 (and neighboring frames) what appears to be a shadow on the back of JFK’s head is the result of tampering, purportedly to conceal evidence of a shot exiting through the rear of JFK’s head. This shot could only have come from a second shooter, as Oswald was positioned behind JFK.

Frame 317 of the Zapruder film (right: a magnified view of
JFK and the questioned shadow on the back side of his head.)

In order to determine if the lighting and shadows in this scene are physically plausible I constructed a 3-D model of the sun’s location and the relevant scene geometry.

JFK was assassinated on November 22nd, 1963 at 18:30 (UTC) in Dealey Plaza in Dallas, TX. It is an easy matter to determine the relative position of the light at this time and place. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration solar calculator, the sun’s azimuth and elevation at this location and date was 181.91 and 37 degrees, respectively.

We next need to know the angle between people and objects in the scene and the sun. At the time of his assassination, JFK’s car was traveling on Elm St. … (keep reading):  Photo Forensics Software | Fourandsix Technologies – Blog – The JFK Zapruder Film.

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