I thought I’d share a snapshot of my morning with you. For some reason, the internet seems like a good place for it.
The paper promised to be about the evaluation of evidence in understanding the assassination of John F. Kennedy. What follows are the notes I took during the approximately 25 minute conference presentation, edited to clean up typos. I’m not naming names; Google will provide if you really need to know.
The speaker is going to apply the principles of abductive reasoning to see what can be concluded about the assassination of JFK.
Evidence — all the available, relevant evidence (which should be true, too).
He’s laying out a lot of details. Most of these look like they’re drawn from popular sources.
He’s puzzled that official reports ended up departing significantly in their details from the immediate reports on radio and TV. (Can the news media have changed that much since 1963? The reports were totally reliable back then?)
Holy shit, this is neck-deep conspiracy theory!!
I’m looking around. No one else in the rooms shows any signs of being shocked by this talk …
Cars in the motorcade totally in the wrong order (also, an assortment of makes, models, colors — so you can tell where your target is). Secret Service agents destroying evidence on the spot.
Probability of all these events taking place if Lee Harvey Oswald was lone assassin and the government is telling the truth? Vanishingly small.
Now we’re looking at a single frame of the Zapruder film. It’s like is looking at a Rorshack test. Or a pointillist painting.
News report from the ’90s indicating Gerald Ford messed with the Warren Commission report on the details of the death. Analysis of image density of post-mortem head X-ray seems to indicate that it’s been doctored. Disappointing, but does it let us draw affirmative conclusions about how the assassination actually happened?
Hard from the remaining evidence to determine exactly what did happen. The speaker is going to turn to this soon, right?
Mafia couldn’t have tampered with data at Bethesda under control of US government.
KGB couldn’t have gotten its hands on the Zapruder films to tamper with them.
Once you sort out the authentic from inauthentic evidence, not that hard to figure out what happened to JFK on November 22, 1963.
Question from the audience:
Searching for facts afterwards might be expected to lead to unreliable results, right?
Nope, any model of reasoning will lead to the conclusion that the hypothesis of conspiracy is very highly supported.
OMG, and now we’re getting shouty!!
“This is one of those occasions where the ivory tower is not coming to grips with reality!” (Did he really just say that? Does “reality” have a special technical meaning here of which I am not aware?)
At least half of the things you stated are not evidence. You’re committing logical fallacies.
Shouty response. Those fallacies apply only in the realm of deductive reasoning, not abductive reasoning. (And now, I’m wondering whether this talk is secretly an attempt to turn people away from abductive reasoning.)
(Do we really need top conclude full-scale governmental conspiracy and cover-up? Couldn’t evidence support hypothesis of a fair level of government incompetence? No! The bulging veins insist otherwise!)
This is so not the talk I was expecting at a philosophy meeting.