ON DECEMBER 10, 2017, A. JOHNSTONE SAID:
Is there a future in JFK assassination discussion?
Has the number subscribing to this discussion list been growing or declining?
Is the number of contributors to it rising or declining?
I'm asking this since it seems the issue about who and how JFK was assassinated may well fade away and have no interest except to future historians who will relegate CTers to the footnotes of textbooks.
JOHN CORBETT SAID:
My scientific wild-assed guess is that the numbers are declining along with interest in the JFK assassination among the public in general. There was very little buzz about the release of the remaining documents. I would bet a majority of Americans don't even realize that's happening. The JFK assassination is so 20th century. I can't imagine too many millennials have the least bit of interest in the case.
JOHN McADAMS SAID:
I can assure you Marquette students are interested in the assassination.
But what they may lack, compared with Baby Boomers, is an intense emotional investment in the issue. Thus they are relatively dispassionate students of the issue.
CHUCK SCHUYLER SAID:
I don't know if the numbers are still growing (I don't believe they are), but I am convinced that the "average" person who has a belief in a JFK assassination conspiracy comes to this board, reads a little, visits John [McAdams'] excellent website, and subsequently ends up changing their minds that there was a conspiracy.
Belief in a JFK assassination conspiracy is a mile wide and an inch deep. Lay out the facts to the "average" person (the buffs who post here are not "average" but instead are hardcore believers in a JFK conspiracy), and they say to themselves, "wow, I didn't know there was that much evidence Oswald did this," and then they put this down as a subject of interest.
The people who post here----Whether believers from the Oswald Alone side or buffs that believe all or some of the crazy theories---are the ones who dominate the discussion boards.
John McAdams, through his website, published work, this discussion board, etc., has probably changed more minds into believing Oswald acted alone on 11-22-63 than any other person in history.
JOHN McADAMS SAID:
That's a nice thought, but probably untrue. The influence of LNs who are darlings of the media -- Posner and Bugliosi particularly -- has to have been much greater.
CHUCK SCHUYLER SAID:
Absolutely disagree. The accessibility of your site and the ability for casual visits to this discussion board so the average "Joe" can get their feet wet on the subject and just lurk without posting and absorb what the participants are saying cannot be overestimated. Pretty tough for the average Joe to sit down and read Case Closed or spend weeks or months reading Reclaiming History.
There are other great websites on the JFK assassination, but this site assuredly has an outsized influence due to your university-level class on the subject, your stature within this field, and so on.
I was a buff---granted, a REASONABLE buff as I thought Oswald pulled the trigger but had help or was put up to it---until the early 2000s when I became re-interested in the topic for some reason. (The Z film on Good Night America and the HSCA in my high school years started the interest. I held a periodic interest in the topic for the next twenty-five years or so, just reading about the case when there was something newsworthy.)
I found [John McAdams'] site on the internet, began reading, and I actually laughed at how flimsy some of the beliefs I had actually were when compared to what some of the articles at your site pointed out. My JFK conspiracy beliefs fell away instantly. I'll bet there are thousands just like me.
JOHN McADAMS SAID:
That's good to know!
Might thousands of people have been influenced by my site? Likely. It gets about 6,000 distinct visitors per day. That's a lot of visitors in more than 20 years.
On the other hand, most of those people just load a page or two. Some probably read what they load thoroughly, but a lot probably don't.
But perhaps when people see that this or that conspiracy factoid is bogus, they approach the whole business with a bit more skepticism. You know where that leads. :-)
But the social scientist in me simply won't allow me to think that I've had the influence of mainstream media outlets, or people like Posner and Bugliosi who are the "go to" people of those outlets.
CHUCK SCHUYLER SAID:
Bugs is gone. Reclaiming History was a great book but unreadable to all but the most interested people in the subject. (I read it cover-to-cover, but I'm not your average Joe who is curious about a few things regarding the events surrounding 11-22-63.)
Posner is invited on radio talk shows and television shows right around the assassination anniversary date every year, is eloquent, and then disappears. He obviously retains an abiding interest in the topic, but he will also tell you that he's moved on, has other interests, and has written on many other subjects.
Think of your website like a business lit up in neon on the side of a very busy highway called the internet that is open 24/7, 365, with no entry fee, and accessibility to free "merchandise" in the form of the articles it contains. Loitering is allowed, no shoes, no shirt, you still get service.
I'll add Dale Myers, Dave Reitzes, David Von Pein (and there are others as well) to the list of people with websites who I think are gently changing minds and turning the page on the ugly chapter of JFK assassination conspiracism that---in my opinion---wounded our country.
In fact, I believe that had the internet been around when JFK was murdered, the depth and penetration of JFK conspiracism into the American culture would've been dulled. One of the problems in the 60s, 70s, and 80s was that almost everything produced, written, or broadcast was of a pro-conspiracy nature. There was no counter point. We need look no further than the 9-11 Truther movement which has been halted in its tracks by the flood of websites that sarcastically mock Truthers, tear apart the Loose Change video(s), crush the Nutty Professor, Jim Fetzer, and his beliefs on the subject in YouTube debates, promote the real science behind the tower collapses, etc. and thus this event never made deep inroads into the culture that the JFK assassination "conspiracy" did.
ANTHONY MARSH SAID:
Usually what happens is that it declines until a new movie or TV show or release of documents or confessions sparks interest in a new generation and they wander in here asking beginner questions and then get hooked. There are very few of us old-timers left.
John McAdams is one of my heroes. I don't know whether Posner and Bugliosi have had greater influence. I do know that McAdams website is a testament to clear thinking. His book, JFK Assassination Logic, is also a must-read. We all owe John a debt of gratitude for what he has done in shining a light on the JFK assassination.
JOHN CORBETT SAID:
Having participated in discussion groups like this for about a quarter century, I've only seen a couple of converts to the lone assassin position. I've seen none going the other way. One that comes to mind is Dr. Bob Artwohl who was a regular contributor on the old Prodigy board. He came to it as a CT and left an LN. I'm not sure if he was a contributor on this forum, but if so it was before I joined it. I've seen his name referenced but never a post by him.
Chris Matthews is another who has shifted from CT to LN. Back when he was a semi-regular on the McLaughlin Group, he expressed the opinion that Cubans were behind the assassination. He didn't say pro-Castro or anti-Castro. More recently he has stated he doesn't think Oswald was part of a conspiracy because he had his job at the TSBD well before the motorcade route was selected. That indicated to him it was a crime of opportunity. That was my primary reason for switching back to the LN position as well.
I have one friend who also turned from CT to LN. He saw the movie JFK and was convinced there was a conspiracy. About ten years later when it came up, he had changed his mind. That was shortly after ABC's Beyond Conspiracy, which did a pretty thorough job of debunking many of the conspiracy claims. I wonder if that was what changed his mind.
HANK SIENZANT SAID:
Were you on Prodigy back in the early 1990s? I was. I remember Dr. Artwohl and remember one conspiracy theorist advancing the notion that Artwohl was a bogus name, that it really stood for "Lee Harvey Oswald Was The Real Assassin" backwards.
Boy, you can't put anything past a good conspiracy theorist and his speculations.
DAVID VON PEIN SAID:
Hey, that's a pretty good one! ~grin~
Do you recall who the inventive CTer was who came up with that clever decoding of Artwohl's name? (It wasn't Tony Marsh by any chance, was it?) :-)
HANK SIENZANT SAID:
Last I saw, Bob [Artwohl] had his medical practice in Alaska. When he was posting on Prodigy, he was an emergency room physician in Baltimore, Md.
Like Bob, myself and my brother are both converts from CT to LN.
I was a conspiracy theorist from about 1965 (Weisberg, Lane, Meagher, etc.) until the early 1980s. I would flip-flop on occasion based on what I read last during this period. I finally decided I needed to do my own research instead of relying on the second-hand info I was getting from various authors.
I converted myself in the early 1980s after I purchased a copy of the WC 26 volumes of evidence from The President's Box Bookshop for $2500 (which was a lot of money for me at the time). I read through all 26 volumes (twice) and couldn't believe how badly the conspiracy authors had treated the evidence. I found, contrary to the allegations of the conspiracy authors, that it was they, not the Commission, that mostly took stuff out of context and weren't faithful to the evidence.
About ten years later, myself and my brother were together again for Christmas (we live in different states) and he happened to mention offhand how I must be happy that Oliver Stone was making (or had made) the movie JFK.
I said "there was no conspiracy, Stone's an idiot" (or words to that effect) and he, influenced to believe in a conspiracy by me prior to my conversion, and unaware of my conversion, couldn't believe it.
He started to argue for a conspiracy, and it devolved into a shouting match. We agreed to discuss via mail with long typewritten letters passing in the mail. Eventually I converted him.
The kicker for him, he told me later, was a minor point by a conspiracy author. This author claimed that the jacket found after the assassination in the parking lot couldn't be Oswald's because research established the jacket was only sold in California, and Oswald was never in California as a civilian. Makes sense, right? Well, I pointed out Oswald was in California as a Marine, and could have bought it there (I may or may not have pointed out he also could have bought it second-hand anywhere he had been, rendering the author's point moot). He said at that point he knew he couldn't trust anything those guys said, that there was always something they were hiding from the reader in advancing their argument.
So that's two more I can personally vouch for.
DAVID EMERLING SAID:
I have four children, ages 33, 28, and twin boys who are 27. On occasion, they snarkily tease me, "Dad, have you solved the Kennedy assassination yet?" They could care less. If it became known that the CIA was definitely behind the plot to assassinate the president, they would probably shrug their shoulders and not think a thing of it. They'd still probably drive to Arby's and order a Beef 'n Cheddar.
MITCH TODD SAID:
In a way, a book like Harvey and Lee is a metaphor for a particular type of conspiracy theorist: the poor sap who knows--...from the pit of their immortal soul--that there really was a conspiracy. Therefore, any evidence that doesn't point to a conspiracy must then be altered, manufactured, or substituted by the conspiracy.....which is even more evidence for a conspiracy.
And as the evidence piles up against against a CT interpretation, the enterprising CT has more evidence of an ever larger, ever more widespread conspiracy. It's like a big bowl of Chuck Wagon dog food: it makes its own gravy!
They wind up with their heads jammed in a parallel, fantastical universe, unable to deal with reality and unable to come back down to Earth because their egos and concept of self depends on the continued existence of the conspiracy that they asserted on day one.
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