Members of any conspiracy cult have an altered sense of what is real and what is created by "the conspirators." With the creation of the Internet in the mid-1990s the number of conspiracy cultists has literally exploded with hundreds of thousands of new converts joining the ranks every few weeks. Oftentimes the cultists feel their numbers validate their claims--"if what we are saying wasn't true it wouldn't be so popular" goes the logic. But there is another explanation to be considered--remember that no matter how thin one slices the balony there is still always two sides.
The general populace is often not extremely well-read. In spite of the arrogance such a statement suggests it is true. Today, text messaging, emailing, and contributing to online chat rooms often takes the place of sitting down and reading a real book written by recognized scholars with formal training and possessing a solid background in the area about which they write. Sensationalism often supplants solid scholarship. Case in point. Former University of Minnesota philosphy professor Jimmy Fetzer has reinvented himself within two conspiracy movements: the Kennedy assassination conspiracy cult and the mis-named "9/11 Truth" movement. He has edited three books dealing with the photographic evidence that recorded the assassination of President Kennedy. In these three books (one of which is hilariously named "Assassination Science") Fetzers cast of characters (not one of whom has ANY recognized training or expertise in the area of photographic analysis) reach the puzzling conclusion that virtually EVERY SINGLE film and still photograph taken of the assassination is either totally fabricated or is an altered version of an original photograph which the authors believe revealed a conspiracy. This mentality demands a bit of analysis. Let's look at how the conspiracy cultist sees the world around them and how they then attempt to re-invent reality to fit their world-view.
1.l Conspiracy cultists start with a preconceived theory and then deny ANY evidence that disproves this theory. Secondly, if factual, scientific evidence disproves the theory then it is an article of faith within the cult that the offending evidencde MUST be labeled flawed, faked, or phony. Of course this approach is the exact opposite of the scientific method. Real scholars examine the evidence ("What were the causes of the Civil War?" "Why did democracy grow dramatically during the era of Andrew Jackson's presidency", "Why has the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints become one of the fastest-growing Christian religions in America today?" THEN after examining the evidence a conclusion is reached. The evidence leads to the thesis statement that later drives the essay, article, or book. NOT the other way around. Flawed historical research entails starting with a preconceived idea ("Rev. Martin Luther King was a racist") and then seeks for evidence to support this predetermined conclusion. This is akin to the young man who brags to his friends about what a great pistol shot he is. To prove his point he shows them the side of the barn with dozens of bulls eye target drawn in chalk with a bullet hole at or near the center of each one. Having been sufficiently impressed the friends leave convinced their friend is a crack shot never knowing that the "crack shot" goes about his target shooting in much the same way the conspiracy cultists do: He shots the gun first and then walks to the barn and draws the target around his bullet hole. When one starts with the conclusion already firmly in mind and then proceeds merely to find supporting evidence, ANYTHING can be "proven". But this is flawed historical research.
2. Conspiracy cultists do not accept ANY human error, if a misidentification occured it wasn't a mistake it was an unguarded slip of the tongue that allowed a momentary glimpse within the inner-workings of the conspiracy. A few examples form the Kennedy assassination:
a. When Wesley Frazier glanced at the package Lee Oswald carried to work with him on the morning of 11/22/63 he estimated its length to be less than the minimum size needed to conceal an unassembled Mannlicher-Carcano rifle like the one found on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. But Frazier NEVER claimed to have paid close attention to the package (why would he?) he has stated for 49 years that he glanced at it as Oswald carried it into work with him. He assumed Oswald cupped it beneath his armpit and held the bottom of the package in the palm of his hand, but even as he observed Oswald carrying the package, he NEVER closely examined the length of the rifle nor the manner in which Oswald carried it. Conspiracy cultists accept his momentary glimpse of the package as rock-solid proof that the package couldn't have contained the disassembled rifle--therefore Oswald couldn't have been the rifleman. THey ignore the proven fact that ALL bullet fragments and the one intact bullet recovered that day came from Oswald's rifle (to the exclusion of ALL other rifles on the planet in 1963.) They ignore the proven fact that Oswald owned the murder weapon, it contained HIS prints and no one elses, the package contained Oswald's left index fingerprint as well as his right palm print (exactly where his palm print WOULD have been had Oswald carried the package as Frazier recalled.) They ignore the fact that NO ONE ever saw Oswald carry a rifle into work and they ignore the fact that Oswald said he was carrying curtain rods to work that day with him--yet when Oswald was seen leaving the building after the assassination he held nothing but a bottle of Coke--no curtain rods. AND no curtain rods were ever found in the building. However Oswald's rifle--the one matching all the murder bullets--WAS found there. None of these incontrovertible facts bother the cultists one whit. All they care about is Wesley Frazier's glimpse of a package.
b. When two Dallas police officer glanced at the hidden rifle where Oswald hastily stashed it after the assassination they initially misidentified it as a Mauser. These early mistakes are not mistakes at all according to the conspiracy cultists--they are proof positive that TWO rifles were found in the TSBD: a Mannlicher-Carcano (planted to frame Oswald) and the REAL murder weapon, a Mauser. Of course it makes absolutely no sense for the cultists to claim the real murder weapon was a Mauser when ALL bullet fragments and the one intact bullet matched the Mannlicher-Carcano and NO bullets or fragments matched the Mauser they believe exists. Tom Alyea, a loical Dallas photographer was inside the TSBD as it was being searched and NO film footage was ever taken of a Mauser being found, no audio recording exists of officers talking of a Mauser, and no stipp photographs were ever taken of a recovered Mauser. But the initial misidentification still lives on today in conspiracy cult lore.
c. Some earwitnesses thought they heard a shot or shots eminating from the right-front of the President's motorcade. But later evidence discovered proved beyond any and ALL doubt that they were mistaken. There was NO physical evidence of any right-front gunman--NONE. The autopsy proved conclusively that ALL bullets to strike the President were fired from above and BEHIND--NOT from the right front.
d. Following the assassination some residents of Dallas and even some in Louisiana seemed to recall seeing Oswald prior to the events of 11/22/63. Of course this happens whenever ANY famous news event takes place. Individuals seeking public attention come forth from all walks of life claiming to have "seen" the individuals who later became famous. Sometimes these sighting are legitimate--we KNOW they are legitimate because the known whereabouts of the individuals coincide with the location of the sighting. For instance, if someone claimed to have seen Oswald in Mexico City on such and such a date and we already know from independent corroboration that Oswald actually WAS in Mexico City on such and such a date, then the possibilities of someone seeing him there is more likely. If however someone claims to see Oswald in North Dakota when we already know with 100% certainty that Oswald was living in New York City with his mother then the North Dakota is immediately suspect and virtually a proven impossibility. But to conspiracy nuts like John Armstrong, these "sightings" of multiple Oswald don't prove the human condition but rather reveal an elaborate plot to plant duplicate "Oswalds" going back to the mid-1950s. Of course no rational or sane researcher believes one single word John Armstrong wrote in his fanciful book "Harvey and Lee." But his conspiratorial thinking is evidence of how conspiracy cultists see the world around him.
It is interesting to listen to the cultists when human error does NOT add fuel to their theory. For instance, when Oswald was first arrested and his name was not yet common knowledge. There were several published mistakes concerning his middle name. He was referred to as Lee Henry Oswald, Lee Harold Oswald, and Lee Harvey Oswald. But the conspiracy cultists don't make the claim that there were THREE different individuals arrested, they concede that human can be explained for name confusion. But if the rifle is misidentified THEN it is gospel truth and lives on for 50 years after the mistake was made. THis double standard keeps conspiracy cultists busy as they fabricate more and more theories.
3. Conspiracy cultists always refuse to accept ANY evidence that disproves their theory of the month. And if such evidence does exist then the standard response is that it was either:
d. unrelated to the criime itself
a. If Oswald's prints were found on the rifle then they must have been planted there after Oswald was murdered. But this ignores the fact that fingerprints and a palm print were photographed the NIGHT of the assassination and were on file at Dallas Police Department. But if this fact were widly known it would incriminate Oswald so the cultists simply lie about this fact and they repeat the claim that no prints were found on the rifle.
b. ALL medical professionals to examine the autopsy materials agree that Kennedy was shot two and ONLY two times from above and behind. In 1964, 1968, 1975, and 1978 teams of recognized medical forensic pathologists examined the original autopsy materials and in EVERY instance concluded unanimously that there is no medical or scientific evidence supporting the claim that a shot from the right front struck Kennedy and killed him. Even Dr. Cyril Wecht, the darling of the conspiracy cult, and a confirmed cultist himself, admitted that based on the medical evidence ALL shots struck Kennedy from the rear.
So how does Wecht still believe that multiple gunmen murdered Kennedy? Simple. He claims now that spaceage frangible bullets were used so that no evidence was left behind. So this former medical examiner has stooped to the level of basing his beliefs on evidence that doesn't exist. This is a common practice. If no evidence supports your theory...simply claim that the evidence USED to be there but has disappeared. Is it any wonder why real scholars don't waste their time debating conspiracy cultists. They reside in a bizarre nether world where up is down, white is black, truth is false, and dead is alive.
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