13 photographs, 6 illustrations, 2 tables, 1 chronology
The mother of all conspiracy theories concerns the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Many of its elements have even become part of American folklore: the single bullet, the grassy knoll shooter, and the mysterious deaths of interested parties.
JFK Assassination Logic shows how to approach such conspiracy claims. Studying Lee Harvey Oswald’s character and personality, for example, doesn’t help determine whether he alone shot the president, and our opinion of bureaucrats can often cloud our judgments. How people view the JFK assassination can be a model for how (or how not) to evaluate other conspiracy theories, including those generally considered dubious—such as President Roosevelt’s foreknowledge of Pearl Harbor, desert staging of the 1969 moon landing, and U.S. government involvement in 9/11—as well as those based on fact, such as Watergate.
John McAdams addresses not only conspiracy theories but also how to think, reason, and judge evidence in such cases. By putting the JFK assassination under the microscope, McAdams provides a blueprint for understanding how conspiracy theories arise and how to judge the evidence.
1. The Frailty of Witness Testimony
2. Problems of Memory
3. Creating False Memories
4. Witnesses Who Are Just Too Good
5. Bogus Quoting: Stripping Context, Misleading Readers
6. Probability: Things that Defy the Odds
7. More on Defying the Odds: The Mysterious Deaths
8. Did People Know It Was Going to Happen?
9. Signal and Noise: Seeing Things in Photos
10. Think Scenario
11. Not All Evidence Is Equal: Using Reliable Evidence
12. Too Much Evidence of Conspiracy
13. Beware False Corroboration
14. How Bureaucrats Act
15. Putting Theory into Practice: The Single Bullet Theory
16. Thinking about Conspiracy: Putting It All Together