:mad: You see a smilie, I see a raspberry.
In the absence of a common glossary for what is implied by a smilie, you have to assume that people will react more to the text next to the smilie: in this case, “conspiracy nut.” I may have became wrathful with you rather quickly, but I have never reacted well to name-calling, even if it was humorously intended.
Back to the evidence:
The McAdams website is fascinating, informative and comprehensive. Here’s my take on some of the subjects it discusses:
The Dictabelt recording. I’m sorry, but I can’t make heads or tails out of the recording. All I hear is static and a trace of a human voice. No way I can distinguish any gunshots. That rock drummer guy must have had some pretty sophisticated sound-mixing equipment to come to his conclusions. Ditto the HSCA. Guess I’ll have to leave this one to the experts.
The single bullet. McAdams does a good job on this. The explanation for the bullet’s relatively undamaged condition – that it had slowed down after passing through JFK’s body – echoes the SKEPTIC article I read. However, McAdams undercuts his own credibility by displaying two different photos of the bullet. The first is the classic “pristine” side view, while the second is a head-on shot that displays a lot more damage. I’m sorry, but they don’t look like the same bullet to me. McAdams’ constant refrain of “Look, and judge for yourself” does not help. I looked, and I judged that the two photos are way different.
Occam’s razor. There are instances in which the lone-gunman advocates, in trying to explain away a conspiracist theory, resort to an explanation that is more convoluted than the one they are debunking. In answer to questions about the hole in JFK’s jacket being lower than the wound, and the address “544 Camp Street” stamped on some of Oswald’s leaflets, the lone-gunman advocates resort to unproven speculation about JFK’s jacket “bunching up” and Oswald wanting to embarrass a Cuban exile leader. In cases like these, Occam’s razor favors the conspiracists.
Witnesses in Dealey Plaza and before the fact. Good job discrediting Beverly Oliver. Good job identifying the hoboes in Dealey Plaza! I’m glad Woody Harrelson’s dad wasn’t one of the shooters. However, McAdams does not deny that Rose Cheramie, unstable and criminal individual that she may have been, may have actually foreshadowed the assassination. He also makes it clear that Julia Ann Mercer was telling the truth when she told about a stalled pickup truck near the Grassy Knoll prior to the assassination, and she consistently stuck to her story about one of the truck’s occupants walking up the hill with a rifle-shaped parcel, despite the presence of the police.
This is Posner’s unproven theory, trying to explain the fragment that hit James Tague. Again, Occam’s razor does not always favor the lone-gunman advocates.
A suspicious cluster of deaths of key witnesses to a crime should not be dismissed with “Shit happens.” McAdams does a good job of explaining the deaths of Bowers and several others, but not all of them. What about the organized-crime hits that prevented some underworld figures from testifying before the HSCA? What about the death of the most important witness of all, Oswald? In any other murder case, the violent deaths of so many witnesses, including the key suspect, would raise red flags. In particular, the motives and prior associations of Jack Ruby deserve more attention than just “So what?” He disposed of and silenced the prime suspect. McAdams admits that he could have killed Oswald two days earlier, and that his was one of the chorus of voices shouting, “Fair Play For Cuba Committee!” at the press conference. What happened in those two days to make him decide to kill Oswald?
So why did the President die instead of being crippled or blinded? The shot was well above the parts of the brain that control the limbic and autonomic nervous systems, and McAdams says the cerebellum wasn’t affected. A blow to the back of the head, just above the neck, is more deadly than a blow to the top of the head. James Brady survived a bullet to the brain. Or was it the neck shot that did JFK in? Is it possible quicker medical attention could have saved him, even as a vegetable?
And so I did. And I’m still not completely satisfied. McAdams does successfully disprove a lot of conspiracist theories, but in my opinion he does not prove that Oswald did it or that there was no conspiracy. (No fingerprints, no gunpowder residue.) Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s impossible to prove the negative, Occam’s razor and all that. However, there are enough nagging questions left to justify further investigation of the possibility of a conspiracy, or at least admit the possibility of a conspiracy. As I’ve said, Occam’s razor sometimes favors the other side.
McAdams does admit that some things are still mysteries, and doesn’t pretend to have all the answers. (He admits that the Warren Commission shot itself in the foot.) Even he must admit that Oliver Stone’s movie did one good thing: it caused a flurry of research in the early Nineties, including the re-interviewing of some key witnesses, which cleared up some nagging questions and inconsistencies. In this respect, Stone did the lone-gunman advocates a favor.
About conspiracy theories:
I was interested in conspiracy theories, in a faddish way, in the mid-Nineties, until two things encouraged me to move past that mindset. One was my continued reading of SKEPTIC Magazine. The other was Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World. Both appealed to my mind because they did not belittle or ridicule the conspiracists, or dismiss claims without answering them. Instead, they refuted conspiracy theories with facts, and tried to understand why conspiracy theories are so appealing. (See also Why People Believe Weird Things, written by Michael Shermer, an editor of SKEPTIC Magazine.)
There are several different kinds of naivete. One is the naivete that everything is a conspiracy. The other is the naivete that there are no conspiracies at all, especially not big governmental ones! It is just as useless to be an anti-conspiracist ideologue as it is to be a “conspiracy nut.” Even Carl Sagan admits that the UFO stories were probably fed by a real conspiracy: the cover-up of Cold War military maneuvers.
Who would have ever believed Watergate was possible? Or Iran-Contra, or Enron, or the Tuskegee Experiment, or the CIA’s attempts to kill Castro, or the CIA’s experiments with LSD, or the Fascist coup foiled by General Smedley Butler in the 30’s? These are all documented conspiracies. Why are they plausible, while Area 51, PROMIS software, black helicopters, programmed assassins, and government complicity in 9/11 are all considered totally implausible??? Is it because one set of conspiracies has been proven, and the other hasn’t? Why, then, shouldn’t the second set be thoroughly investigated?
While some mysteries about the assassination still persist, no possible explanation should be simply dismissed or ridiculed without factual refutation.
Guess I’ve answered my own OP.