Toward an epistemology of the JFK assassination

    These pages are the overhead transparencies from the introductory talk on epistemology that I gave at our class's symposium on the JFK assassination in spring 1999. I am adding them to this year's web because they are so relevant to our rigorous approach to the evidence of the assassination and because they go into certain aspects of it in more detail that is yet available in the section on critical thinking. In due time I will transform these materials into a full-blown essay. In the meantime, here are the raw materials. Comments are always welcome.

Title page

Major questions after 35 years
Two possible answers to the questions

How to decide whether the problem is data or thinking

Major sections of this talk

Introduction to epistemology
    The nature of knowledge
    The sources of knowledge
    The validity of knowledge
    The limits (extent) of knowledge

The goal of epistemology
The fundamental goal of our JFK epistemology

Important preliminaries
    Initial assumptions
    Define important terms
    Three important concepts: probability, belief, and proof
    Types of evidence
    How to rank evidence
    C. Drago's "refutation" of strong vs. weak evidence

The three stages of using evidence

Basic requirements of any JFK epistemology

A provisional epistemology of the JFK assassination

The modified scientific method

What happens if we don't list every possible answer?
What happens if we don't include all the relevant evidence?

What happens if we allow weak (uncertain) evidence into our system?

    (Note on evidence that is strong but indirect)
What happens if we don't list all answers consistent with the strong evidence?

What happens if we don't follow the Principle of Parsimony?

What happens if we don't test our answer rigorously?

What happens if you are not your own harshest critic?

Commonsense justification of our modified scientific method

Who can dispute an approach that...

Formal statement of multiple working hypotheses
Informal statement of multiple working hypotheses

Summary of technique of multiple hypotheses

Example of the modified scientific method: the SBT
Trial evidence sheet for the single-bullet theory (SBT)

The assassination as viewed through the eyes of this epistemology

When do we have enough evidence?

Question 1: Why am I so willing to stop with the available evidence?
Question 2: How does my sequence of steps differ from those of other people?

What the Kennedy case is really all about about