David Blackburst Archive:



From: blackburst@aol.com (Blackburst)
Subject: Certainty
Date: 03 Jul 1999 00:00:00 GMT
Message-ID: <19990703103148.23762.00005714@ng-cf1.aol.com>

I continue to be struck in alt.conspiracy.jfk and alt.assassination.jfk by how many posters profess to offer "proof positive" of one thing or another. Nearly every day I come across a post from some LN who insists that the evidence proves that Oswald did it and did it alone, that it is pointless to even give serious consideration to the possibility that there might be more to the story. By the same token, I frequently see posts by CTs that claim that some bit of evidence or combination of evidence absolutely precludes the possibility of a single gunman or of Oswald's involvement. But in each case, it is necessary to do intellectual gymnastics to explain away contrary evidence.

It is as though such posters had looked cursorily at the bulk of evidence, read a few books that supported their own biases, and then eclipsed over a threshhold of belief into a new belief system that closes down objectivity. Some openly acknowledge this: One poster wrote that "Once you know the truth, there is no point to objectivity". One might define objectivity as the consideration of all hypotheses which find reasonable support in the body of evidence, up to the point where one hypothesis prevails beyond a reasonable doubt and to a moral certainty. But there are very few arguments in this case that are supported by the evidence to this degree, to the exclusion of all other arguments.

One of the problems with the JFK case is that there is SO MUCH evidence, much more so than in nearly all other murder mysteries. Say what you will about the FBI investigation, that agency did conduct an enormous number of interviews. Then there were interviews and reports by the Dallas Police, the Texas Attorney General's office, the Secret Service, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Warren Commission, the New Orleans District Attorney's office, the House Select Committee on Assassinations and a raft of other agencies and groups. Then there is the independent research done by news organizations and private researchers. There is so much information available about this case, that there are bound to be inconsistencies to any theory, and it is possible to selectively cite several items of evidence to support nearly any hypothesis. But this is essentially taking these items of evidence out of context with the bulk of the evidence.

I presume some of our posters have never had access to the WC's Hearings and Exhibits, and even more have never had the opportunity to pore through the unpublished documents at the Archives, which open up a whole new context to the investigation. For example, one might instantly believe any "false Oswald" sightings, but in the context of the hundreds of allegations investigated by the FBI of people who claimed to see Oswald somewhere, or who claimed that some adversary was associated with Oswald, one begins to feel that at least some of these are probably not true.

One area of reasonable doubt for me is the single bullet theory. There are enough contradictions to the SBT to make me stop short of certainty. But at the same time, I can't see that any of the arguments against the SBT - or any combination of arguments - absolutely rules out the SBT to a moral certainty.

I wish more posters could present their arguments in more objective, less categorical terms: The weight of the evidence suggests that so-and-so happened, and even though there is evidence to the contrary, I believe it can be explained in such-and-such a manner. I find such objectivity MUCH more convincing than blind dogma. But maybe I'm wrong. This newsgroup, after all, is named alt.conspiracy.jfk, and perhaps there is a case to be made for advocacy posting.

I would simply close by stating an opinion for those who have not read all the books, reports, looked at all the documents in the archives and other collections, conducted their own interviews or debated this endlessly with informed and objective observers: There is almost nothing about this case that has been proven to an absolute certainty. If you read that something is positively proven, regard that opinion with some skepticism. There is a great deal of overstatement in the JFK case. Dogmatic advocacy of exaggerated certainty and the quest for the truth are two different things.



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