THE MINDSET OF
CONSPIRACY THEORISTS


http://EducationForum.com


MIKE PICARDI SAID:

Request for Mr. Von Pein:

Date: Feb. 21, 2011

Hello Mr. Von Pein,

I'm a 34 year old business owner and screenwriter. I'm currently doing research for my current screenplay that centers around the world of conspiracy buffs, kooks, authors and debunkers. My protaganist is a debunker (much like you) who bumps into many conspiracy theorists along his travels.

As my main character is a man much like yourself, I think I could learn a great deal in regards to character profile/research from what your thoughts are on a number of things. Mainly, your disposition on the JFK CTers in particular. I recently phone interviewed Professor John McAdams who was very nice and generous with his time. He gave me an interesting point of view and it really helped me. I've been researching online and your fine website and blogs keep coming up.

I'm a former CTer (as a youngster) who now knows that Oswald was guilty as hell. I do not have the special outlook that folks like you and Prof. McAdams have towards dealing with prominent CTers.

I wanted to politely ask if perhaps I could ask you a few questions/interview you anytime that you would find convenient. I see how busy you must be and I certainly do not take offense if you are unable. I'm seeking a brief background, your spark of interest in the JFK case and your dealings with strong CTers.

I'm in Chicago and can provide references to prove who I am via my company website. I only offer that as some I've requested interviews with have been afraid that I'm a kook.

I really enjoy your JFK website and have gotten much needed info from it - thanks!

Please respond if you have a moment and I will look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks,
Mike Picardi

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DAVID VON PEIN SAID:

Hi Mike,

I'd be happy to answer your questions. I'd rather do it via e-mail/written correspondence. I find that I can articulate my thoughts better in print.

I can answer one of your questions right now.....

You asked:

What provided my "spark of interest" in the JFK case?

That occurred for me in 1981 when I bought and read David Lifton's fairy tale book of nonsense entitled "Best Evidence".

I know that the review contained within the link above isn't as in-depth as some who have written reviews for David Lifton's book, but it cuts to the chase regarding just how absurd Lifton's thesis really is. And he is still postulating that same basic "body alteration" theory 30 years later too. You can find some of Lifton's more recent interviews HERE (near the bottom of the page).

Fortunately, I wasn't persuaded by Lifton's book, but I did find it fascinating reading nonetheless.

And from that point on, my interest in JFK (and particularly his assassination) grew and grew.

I really haven't read all that many physical books on the JFK case, although I have read most of the "lone assassin" books, plus a few conspiracy ones too, with most of my recent information about the case coming mainly from online sources. Mary Ferrell's website and History Matters are invaluable resources when it comes to finding documents of all kinds relating to the assassination.

And, of course, I have gathered a lot of (false) information from talking and arguing with the "CTers" (as we LNers call them) on the Internet.

I'm sure if you've looked through some of my blogs (where I like to archive just about everything I write online), you can tell just exactly what kind of nutjobs and conspiracy kooks I've dealt with the last few years. Some of these people are just unbelievable in the things they believe.

Do you realize that a prominent CTer (Jim DiEugenio) actually believes that witnesses Buell Frazier and Linnie Mae Randle just MADE UP their story about Oswald carrying a large bag on the morning of 11/22/63? That is how desperate some of these people are to exonerate Mr. Oswald. It's crazy.

In short, it's my belief after conversing with several of the kookier conspiracy theorists on Internet forums that those type of "outer fringe" CTers can never be swayed to let go of their theories, particularly their notion that double-killer Lee Oswald was merely an innocent "patsy" and never shot anyone (not even J.D. Tippit!) on November 22, 1963.

That type of "Anybody But Oswald" theorist WANTS a conspiracy to exist so badly that they are willing to call EVERYONE "liars" or "cover-up agents" who block their path toward their "patsy" goal.

A great example of this is the previously-mentioned James DiEugenio, who is a very smart and articulate individual who possesses an immense amount of knowledge about all of the 1960s assassinations (JFK, RFK, & MLK) -- and, btw, not surprisingly, he thinks that all of those murders were conspiracies.

I've argued with him many times since 2008, and have noticed that there doesn't seem to be ANY limit to the number of plotters and co-conspirators and after-the-fact cover-uppers that he believes were involved in wrong-doing re JFK's death. He keeps adding more and more plotters and liars with each passing month and year.

I've noticed that there is something inherent about the JFK murder case that makes ordinarily very smart and sensible and rational people somehow want to turn off the "common sense" switch in their brain, so that they are now open and willing to accept almost any implausible theory that comes down the pike.

David Lifton is another good example. He's certainly a very smart person. I don't deny that for a minute. But he got involved in this (JFK) case back in 1966, and somehow all of his normal logic and common sense was thrown down the toilet after he talked with some witnesses who told him some things that he should have realized COULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED.

It was physically impossible for the things Lifton theorizes about in his book to have actually happened, but Mr. Lifton thinks they definitely DID happen nonetheless -- e.g., body alteration, casket-switching, JFK's body spirited off of Air Force One in full view of many witnesses who HAD to have been there, and--get this--his belief that ALL of the gunshots in Dealey Plaza came from the FRONT! ALL of them! This, despite the BACK WOUNDS being suffered by both Kennedy and John Connally. Can it GET any sillier than this? And yet we have a very smart person like David S. Lifton writing about such silliness, year after year.

It's almost as if there's a built-in mental barricade that prevents such conspiracy theorists from being able to step back and say to themselves -- 'Hey, this is kinda crazy, isn't it?'

But they never ask themselves that logical question. Instead, they throw away all garden-variety common sense when it comes to so many aspects of the JFK assassination (as you have no doubt seen, if you've looked at some of the discussions I've had with people like DiEugenio and the total nutcases I've battled at the Usenet newsgroups).

If you have additional questions, I'd be glad to answer your inquiries.

And you picked a good man to interview previously too -- Professor John McAdams. He's a man who knows far more about the case than I do, and always approaches things with common sense and logic at the forefront. He has a new book coming this year which I look forward to seeing -- all about the way "CTers" think. It should be enlightening.

For more insight into Mr. McAdams' JFK thinking, I can direct you to yet another webpage of mine that I created that includes many hours of radio debates on the JFK assassination that John participated in. Those audio files are located HERE.

Thanks for writing, and thank you also for your kind words about my sites and blogs. I'm just glad to know that at least a few people out there are getting some use out of them.

Best regards,
David Von Pein
[February 2011]

http://DavidVonPein.blogspot.com

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MIKE PICARDI SAID:

Do you believe it's possible that CTers (the otherwise intelligent ones) ever "wake up" and make a decision to keep the CT stuff going out of pride, books, money? What do you believe a guy like DiEugenio would do if he figured it all out today? Would he admit it?

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DVP SAID:

Hi again Mike,

I think it's quite possible (or even likely) that most life-long (and long-time) conspiracy theorists do, indeed, "keep the CT stuff going" due to the combination of things you just suggested. And particularly "pride".

It certainly isn't an easy thing to do to admit you were wrong about something that you have studied for many years (such as the JFK assassination), especially if that person has written millions of words, articles, and books about the topic of conspiracy in the case.

So, I really cannot envision a person like Robert Groden, who practically lives in Dealey Plaza on the weekends trying to sell his completely-wrong conspiracy-slanted books and videos, ever being able to wake up one day and say to himself--or anyone else--"I was wrong; Oswald did it after all". He has too much to lose if he ever did that.

Now, that same type scenario can easily be applied to LNers such as myself and Professor John McAdams, too. I.E., if we were to ever become convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that a conspiracy DID exist in the JFK case, would we be able to swallow our pride and throw away years of research and blog posts and articles, etc., and admit to the world that we were wrong and we have now joined the ranks of the conspiracists?

I'll be very frank with you, Mike -- when studying upon that question, I truly cannot give you an answer one way or the other (as for me personally).

I can't answer such a question, because I have never reached that point regarding my belief in any kind of a believable conspiracy (although there are JFK researchers, like Anthony Marsh for one, who have accused me of actually believing in a conspiracy--deep down--but I simply won't come out and admit it--because I'm a "propaganda" machine, per some CTers I've talked to).

But I'd like to BELIEVE that I would have the integrity to admit I was wrong if the day ever arrived when I was confronted with evidence that I truly thought WAS credible evidence of a conspiracy (and not just simply another "theory" spouted by the next in a long line of CTers with a book and a theory to sell). If that day ever comes, I guess I'll find out.

But thus far, I haven't been convinced of any large-scale conspiracy and cover-up, despite the efforts of people like Jim DiEugenio, Mark Lane, Oliver Stone, and Bob Groden.

Those people haven't come close to proving beyond a reasonable doubt that ALL of the vast amount of evidence against Lee Harvey Oswald was faked, planted, or otherwise tainted. And to believe in THAT kind of "It's All Fake" theory is, quite frankly, to believe in miracles of the first order. And miracles don't happen very often.

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MIKE PICARDI SAID:

One more follow-up question to that - I believe that you can NOT change a CTer's mind using the facts of the case at all. You must trick them into engaging into a lesson on how to think critically without their knowledge, of course, and maybe with that newfound talent, they will look at the case and their claims again with a different viewpoint. Do you agree? I would love your thoughts on this if you do not mind.

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DVP SAID:

That's an interesting line of thought, Mike. "Tricking" the conspiracy theorists into thinking in a reasonable and logical manner.

To tell you the truth, I had never thought about approaching the conspiracy theorists in such a manner. But it does sound like a good technique to use. But I'm a little dubious about having any success at "tricking" any of the hardened and hard-boiled CTers on the Internet into thinking in a totally different manner about a murder case that many of them have practically spent a lifetime studying.

From my experience with online CTers, I've learned that the thought processes of many of the conspiracy theorists about THIS particular subject (the JFK assassination) are just not the same as their thought processes when it comes to other topics.

As I said in my first message to you, it seems as if THIS CASE is a one-of-a-kind subject that I have never seen duplicated (although, lately, I think the subject of "9/11" might come close, what with the various nutty kooks who now want to believe that NO PLANES AT ALL hit the World Trade Center or the Pentagon).

But something weird seems to happen to certain people when the JFK assassination topic comes up. A person who would probably, under different circumstances, not be so willing to toss in the trash EVERY LAST PIECE OF EVIDENCE against the defendant (Oswald in this case), is more than happy (even eager) to accept the notion that ALL of the evidence pointing to Oswald is somehow corrupt.

To me, that type of thought process is just nutty, and particularly when we're talking about TWO murders that Oswald was charged with--and not just one. Because a lot of these conspiracy kooks (the otherwise intelligent DiEugenio included) also want to pretend that ALL of the evidence that exists against Oswald in the Tippit murder is also phony and intentionally tainted -- including every one of the many eyewitnesses who positively identified Lee Oswald as either the one and only killer of Officer J.D. Tippit or the one and only person seen running away from the vicinity of Tippit's murder.

Crazy conspiracy talk, huh? Yes, IMO, it is.

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MIKE PICARDI SAID:

I did NOT know that DiEugenio made those claims about Frazier and the curtain rods - it's almost sad to me (still a bit funny). Does he guess as to why they lied about it?

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DVP SAID:

Yes, DiEugenio at least tries to explain his very flimsy reasons for why both Buell Wesley Frazier AND Linnie Mae Randle lied about seeing Oswald with a large paper bag -- with Jim D. claiming (without a SPECK of evidence to support this silly claim, mind you) that the Dallas Police forced Frazier to tell that whopper of a lie about the bag (and the cops apparently forced Randle to tell a similar lie).

Below is a direct quote from DiEugenio on the subject (which is contained within a quoted passage that I wrote in an Internet post last year):

"[Jim DiEugenio] said on Black Op Radio that Buell Wesley Frazier had been "pressured into doing what he did" by the Dallas Police Department. And the "doing what he did" portion of that quote is referring to DiEugenio's belief (at least as of January 2010) that Frazier had been "forced" (DiEugenio's word) into telling a lie about seeing Lee Oswald carrying a bag into the Book Depository on November 22, 1963. Quoting DiEugenio (which can be heard at the 5:42 mark in [the video embedded below]): "I think Wesley Frazier was pressured into doing what he did, and the Dallas police forced him into doing it because they needed somebody besides [Howard] Brennan to pin the thing on Oswald." -- James DiEugenio; January 14, 2010"

http://JFK-Archives/DVP Vs. DiEugenio (Part 46)


video

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MIKE PICARDI SAID:

Again, I thank you for helping me out and I hit your website almost every night - really great stuff. I especially like the pages where you take on CTers' claims, one by one.

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DVP SAID:

Thank you very much, Mike. I've enjoyed talking with you. Write anytime.

Best Regards,
David Von Pein

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MIKE PICARDI SAID:

Hi Mr. Von Pein,

Very interesting answers to all of my questions and I really appreciate the time you spent responding to me.

First off, you may certainly use any and all of our messages for anything you like. You can use my name, etc. I'm very glad that you enjoyed the discussion that much.

I think it's worth sharing that I used to be a CTer. My own conversion story relates to some of what you wrote in regards to 9/11 truthers.

I was a CTer because, as a kid, I read all of the conspiracy books. I would always skip over the books that were pro Oswald - after all, I wanted to learn about the conspiracy as that is what interested me. After years of reading and interest, I was still NOT aware of facts of the case but I sure knew most of the different conspiracy theories.

I left the subject alone for years, then 9/11 happened and so did "truthers". I was disgusted at what I saw and read, but something sounded familiar - the same "passion for the truth" and the same acceptance of nearly or totally impossible things, and it was the same stuff I had read in the JFK CT books.

I decided to look at the facts of the case this time and it was a matter of days when I realized what happened that day - Oswald did it. There are things we will never know...Oswald still did it. Some FBI, Dallas Cops, Secret Service, etc. could of done a better job - Oswald STILL did it.

I give myself a break for believing in the conspiracy as I was young. I also had the integrity to admit how wrong I was.

One point that I've formulated on my own is this - (talking to a CTer) Let's say for a minute that Oswald DID do it and it pretty much happened the way the WC said (giving a break for the human factor and imperfections), then how do you think the evidence WOULD look? Wouldn't it look JUST like it does? What would you expect it to look like if Oswald DID do it?

The above worked really well on a CTer at my work and he often cites it as a spark of his conversion to a LNer. So, I just wanted to share it with you.

This strange phenom of an otherwise intelligent person (like DiEugenio) suspending logic in this case alone is something that fascinates me to dig into. I actually don't mean to pick on Jim DiEugenio at all, as I only cite him as I heard him on a debate and he seemed very smart and well informed to me.

I can't thank you enough for all your time and I will certainly send you some more questions as I write this screenplay.

Chicago Lone Nutter - Mike Picardi

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DVP SAID:

Thanks for your latest message, Mike. I appreciate it.

And good luck with your screenplay.

And remember to have your main character in your screenplay ask the following question when confronted with every conspiracy theorist he meets who thinks that President Kennedy was struck with bullets that came from the FRONT of his limousine and who also believes that Lee Harvey Oswald was merely an innocent patsy. That very logical question is this one:

If the conspirators who orchestrated the murder of President John F. Kennedy wanted to frame a lone person named Oswald for the murder, then why on Earth would those plotters/conspirators have even CONSIDERED for a single moment the idea of shooting at JFK from the Grassy Knoll in Dealey Plaza?

Such a multi-gun plot that ALSO involved framing Lee Oswald (who was located in the Book Depository at the time of the shooting) is one of the most ludicrous and bound-to-fail assassination schemes I have ever heard of.

But many, many conspiracy theorists (including the likes of Oliver Stone, Jim Garrison, Mark Lane, James DiEugenio, and Robert Groden) actually believe that such a plot was planned IN ADVANCE of November 22, 1963.

That is just one example (among many others) of conspiracy theorists trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole. And it doesn't matter how utterly illogical or outright stupid such a plot might be from the get-go, the conspiracy mongers who actually support such nonsense will pretend it is the truth from now until doomsday (with Oliver Stone actually making a multi-million-dollar motion picture that depicts just such an idiotic multi-gun, one-patsy assassination scenario).

I'm always amazed by the number of people who fail to see the built-in illogic that exists within such a "multi-gun, solo-patsy" plot. More conspiracists who think Oswald was an innocent patsy and who also think JFK was hit by frontal gunshots in Dealey Plaza should ask themselves the question I posed above. If they asked that question more often, maybe some garden-variety common sense would begin to seep into their skewed thinking.

Regards,
David Von Pein
February 2011