Sunday, August 7, 2011

Hatemail Sundays

A couple of e-mails came in last week bleeting the same tired tropes all true believers have to hurl against their detractors. Every skeptical blog you read gets them, so I’ll quote and refute with brevity.

“You, like Screw Loose Change and Mark Roberts, are asserting that all conspiracy theories are bunk.”

No, we aren’t. Or at least, I’m not. Iran-Contra was a conspiracy that was not bunk, for example.

My second complaint stems from the fact that you, like Mark Roberts, state that the assassination of John F. Kennedy was obviously the work of a lone nut

It was.

After reading Vincent Bugliosi’s vast and worthy tome on the subject I made this point in a previous post that this person obviously took exception to. In order to buttress this complaint a link is provided to a particularly pathetic defense of lunatic theories. I’ll be brief.

Part one is dedicated entirely to whining about “name-calling” in the book. Time for an important lesson: Ad hominem is only ad hominem if it is the entirety of the complaint. “You’re stupid,” is an ad hominem. “You’re stupid, and here’s why you’re wrong” is merely rude. Including footnotes, Bugliosi gives you 2,000 pages of reasons why every single conspiracy theory is false. Because this is a 9/11 denier blog and not a JFK denier blog I don’t want to dwell on this too much. As I breezed through this site I scrolled through for the key points, and so here is essentially a random sample of the lies this site tells, which, coincidentally, seemed to be the case with every sentence I read:

In this long Introduction Bugliosi … states that the critics have always written that no rifleman has ever duplicated Oswald's feat at the Texas School Book Depository on 11/22/63. That is firing three shots, and getting two hits in the head and shoulder areas in less than six seconds. He says that this charge is not accurate. He then points to an example in the Warren Commission of a mysterious soldier named Miller (no first name given) who a commanding officer said actually bettered Oswald's feat. Now, Bugliosi's implication here is that this has been out there for years and the critical community has ignored it since it would undermine their arguments…

Because when you examine the testimony completely it does not undermine the critic's case at all. Three "master marksmen" took two tries at duplicating what Oswald was supposed to have done. Now what does this qualification of "master marksman" mean exactly? As Meagher explains it, they were rated at the very top of the scale, not by the Marines, but by the NRA. In other words they were even better than the top shooters in the armed services by a level of two or more classes. In fact, they were so proficient they qualified for open competition and even the Olympic Games! Now compare this to Oswald who was one point above the minimum class possible when he left the Marines in 1959. Fair comparison right?

Bugliosi writes quite explicitly in his book that each of these riflemen were at precisely the same class as Oswald. Indeed it may be true that they are highly rated by the NRA as well, but as we have no idea as to what Oswald’s NRA rating would be, this constitutes systematic bias. Of course, the exact same feat – in which other Marines replicated Oswald’s supposed “perfect shooting” – was shown in a Discovery Channel special a few years ago, but conspiracy theorists aren’t exactly in it for the truth.

And so as not to bore you guys, here’s another shorter one. In a debate between Bugliosi and conspiracy theorist Gerry Spence filmed for London Weekend Television as a “mock trial” between “the Warren Commission” and JFK deniers, the audience and “jurors” sided with Bugliosi. The author of this site drags up a claim so silly I just had to share it here:

Finally, the trial never moved out of London. This was not a good idea. The actual evidence is located at the National Archives in Washington. So the attorneys were never allowed to present this material and the jury was never allowed to see it. This is quite important in a case where there is much indication of evidence tampering. It is a theme I will return to later.

Because, you see, there was no such thing as a fax machine or authorized copies or any such thing in the 1980s.

JFK and 9/11 conspiracy theories bear a lot of similarity in their penchant for dishonest de-contextualization and simple lying. Case in point.

1 comment:

M Gregory Ferris said...

Yup, I was a JFK conspiracy nut for a good 20 years. My mistake was that I assumed that the people making the claims knew what they were talking about.

Then I went to Dallas...

Standing in the 6th Floor Museum, and looking out the window it was clear that it was an EASY SHOT. In all of the conspiracy lore the fatal head shot was some kind of circus trick shot coming from the Depository.

Gus Russo's book, "Live by the Sword", is the only book to accurate discuss the Mannlicher Carcano in any detail. It was used by the Italian Olympic Team because of its accuracy, and it was sought after by Elephant hunters because of the penetration capability of the Mannlicher round. It was hardly a piece of crap.

Coupled with an easy distance of 300 feet for a rifle that was deadly up to 600 yards, it became impossible to rule out Oswald (or his rifle) shooting from behind.

There was a cover-up, but it was at the direction of RFK. This has been documented, he was the one who halted investigations of Mexico City, he was the one who steered ivestigators away from Cuban exhiles, and he was the one who directed that his brother's brain be reinterred with the body a few years later. It was not done to cover-up the truth of the assassination, but to protect JFK's legacy.

The problem that I now have with the JFK thing is that by taking Oswald out of the picture allows conspiracy nuts to insert their own boogy man/men (big oil, CIA, Maffia, Cuban exhiles, the military industrail complex, etc).