New York Times: JFK conspiracy theorists need to be shunned. Agree?

I was reading this excerpt of a review of Vincent Bugliosi’s new book on the JFK assassination the other day. It’s a 20-year-in-the-making 1600+ page book that includes a CD-ROM with over 1000 pages of research notes. If you haven’t heard, Bugliosi supports the lone gunman theory.

The NYT reviewer says:

Amen to that. Conspiracy theorists have had more than 40 years to produce something solid but all we get is an endless parade of bogus witnesses, pseudo-science, manufactured evidence, outright lies and reliance on previously debunked claims to further an argument. I started out as a firm believer in a conspiracy but after an intense amount of reading there was not a single conspiracy theory argument that had not been adequately debunked to my satisfaction. It wasn’t an easy thing for me to admit, either. I had to be dragged kicking and screaming by the evidence to finally admit that Oswald did it and he did it alone. So why must America still labor under this collective delusion? The evidence is there for anyone that gives a damn enough to do research. I suspect that a lot of people think the idea of a JFK conspiracy is “fun.”

The conspiracy theory authors must realize this. After all, what’s the ratio of conspiracy theory books to lone gunman scenario books out there? I think 10 to 1 is a conservative estimate. But enough is enough. Conspiracy theorists have always been their own worst enemies in regard to credibility. When King of the JFK Nutballs Jim Fetzer, a tenured college professor, gives “scholarly” lectures stating that the Zapruder film was an elaborate fake created by Hollywood special effects wizards and then refuses to answer any audience questions, I have only one thing to say. “Take it outside and bring your umbrella.”

I don’t know about shunning.

But they ought to be challenged on every single one of their points, as Bugliosi and Gerald Posner and others have done, and if they have no good answers to these thoughtful researchers, they should be dismissed or mocked, depending on their lack of seriousness.

Why is there even still interest in this, 40 years later?

The vast majority of Americans have moved on, and the conspiracy contingent is probably locked in on their 9/11 delusions.

What I don’t understand is who’d run out and buy Bugliosi’s book when it evidently just confirms what we’ve known for some time. Beyond the fact that you could probably market any book that mentions “Kennedy” enough times and has lots of PICTURES.

Were you reading it in the home delivery version of the paper? The amusing thing is that they put the review of the Bugliosi book opposite a review of a new conspiracy theory book. The juxtaposition made the other book and the conspiracy-lovin’ professor who reviewed it look very, very foolish.

I wouldn’t say that’s true. This ABC News poll shows that in 1966, 46% of the people suspected a plot. In 2003, 70% did.

I too amsurprised that there are enough people willing to buy a new book on the subject. it’s been 44 years-long enough for any conspiracy to spill out. Everybody connected with it is long dead, and nothing dramatic has emerged-so why rehash the whole thing? It is like the UFU nuts-everybody has a camera phone now-but you don’t see any photos of UFOs-I wonder why?

I do think there has been a shift away from the conspiracy nuts (errr proponents) to the lone gunman theory. I’ve been waiting for the annual poll asking Americans what they thing, but increasingly, I have to agree with an earlier poster - I don’t think they care.

The harm that I think it does cause, as well as the 9/11 conspiracy stuff, is that is erodes people confidence in government.  And there are enough problems in that area without creating additional, misplaced distrust.

But haven’t you heard 98 percent of the documents about the assassination haven’t been released, and won’t be made public until 25 years after everyone involved dies? :rolleyes:

Why is this stuff still interesting? You have to admit that if a President was murdered and people felt the mystery was still unsolved, and the people still lurking - perhaps within the government - that would be interesting. Why do people believe that’s the case with Kennedy? A combination of popular imagination, errors in the Warren Commission report, misinformation, and the fact that many people have trouble accepting the idea that Kennedy, who represented people’s hopes and ideals, could be killed at random by a nobody. That’s my take on it anyway.

Oswald acted alone!


E. Howard Hunt appears to have disagreed.

True, there are lingering suspicions. But only a relative few are still hung up on this, and the general public isn’t exactly convinced (as your link to the '03 poll shows):

“In a new follow-up question, fewer than half of Americans, four in 10, say they’re “pretty sure” there was a plot; another three in 10 say it’s just a hunch. Similarly, half of those who suspect a second shooter say this, too, is just their hunch.”

Hunt says it was a CIA job and LBJ set it up. That’s bullshit, man! Everybody knows it was the Mob!
Q: How do we know the CIA had nothing to do with the Kennedy assassination?

A: He’s dead, isn’t he?

Shun? Well, I don’t know about that. They’re on a similar playing field as evolution deniers, astrologists, 9/11 theorists, Rush Limbaugh fans, or really any religious believer. It’s better to simply nod your head as they begin their speech, divert eye contact, and slowly step away.

See, I get it’s a joke and everything and they were like the Keystone Kops when it came to their numerous attempts to assassinate Castro, Bay of Pigs etc., but otherwise they were remarkably effective.

Heh, this is one of those issues I don’t touch really. It’s like staring down a deep dark black hole, kind of like 9/11. One could spend their entire lives trying to unravel these mysteries.

What I have heard of the issue makes me suspect of both sides. The Zapruder film does seem to show impacts from multiple angles. That’s about the extent of what I can comment on.

I think that the ‘There is no such thing as high-level conspiracies ever’ crowd is just as loopy as the Tin-foil hat crowd. Reality is somewhere in the middle, and well, Espionage by definition is a vast underground conspiracy. I know that Bush and Kennedy had a falling out over Operation Zapata. I know that Skull and Bones via the Bush family had a huge impact on the formation of the CIA out of the OSS. I know I don’t trust the CIA to have the best interests of this country at heart. Things like Gladio and MKUltra just make me suspicious. The kind of person that is drawn to secret cabals of power is well, the kind of person who is drawn to secret cabals of power. The founding Fathers warned us about factionalism within the government, and we have a robust multibillion dollar espionage industry with a lot of different players, no one knowing exactly what the other tentacles are up to.

I disagree that conspiracy theorists should just be dismissed outright. It’s fine to take a side and argue it, and stick with it if you see it as true, hopefully you’ll be able to show the light to some other people.


History is consentual mythology, unknowable objectively.

Or, at least, E. Howard Hunt’s son and a freelance reporter looking for some revenue are willing to say that Hunt disagreed. Even the Rolling Stone story does nothing better than to claim that Hunt thought he was being invited to participate in an assassination that he declined (but did nothing to prevent) and that after the fact he supposedly put together the pieces that indicated (to him) that two cryptic phone calls of which he heard only one side were “proof” of a hit ordered by LBJ.

St. John Hunt is driving a twenty-year-old beater and having trouble getting work and Erik Hedegaard makes a living writing celebrity interviews for magazines and had gone to school with the younger Hunt. That is all very nice, but it hardly provides evidence that E. H. Hunt actually made any of the claims reported in the story (which he could have just as easily included in his own recent autobiography), and nothing in the story refutes that actual evidence provided by recent debunkers.

That’s fine mswas and I agree. We know all sorts of crazy shit the CIA did all over the world, some operations right here in the U.S. We know of conspiracies that actually happened, like COINTELPRO and hell, the conspiracey to go to war with Iraq and the failed coup of Venezuala in 2002 as recent examples.

The thing is, we have declassified documents, stolen documents, multiple and reliable eye-witness testimoney, and facts for these events. For JFK there’s debunked conjecture and a faithful following. We’re all from Missouri, “the show me state.”

You guys always get so exercised over these things when you should know by now that I usually include at least one weasel word that allows me an out, regardless of the preposterousness of the statement. In this case, it was “appears.” :smiley:

Oh, I was not exercised at you. I just wanted to provide enough synopsis to let others skip the link if they were short on time. :stuck_out_tongue:

Yeah, 9/11 is a big mystery. We saw two planes, on television, fly into the WTC. Eye witnesses and security cameras caught a third plane flying into the Pentagon, and we have the wreckage from the fourth plane. All this is supported by the gate agents, relatives of passengers, air traffic control, phone operators, …

On the other hand we have Rosie O’Donnel. I’d say it’s a toss-up.