The intellectual desert

    As you begin this semester of study, you should be forewarned that contemporary research into the JFK assassination is like an intellectual desert. Nearly all is barren wasteland, with hardly a correct idea in sight. As you make your way along in search of some nuggets, the hot, searing winds of ill-conceived conspiracies and nasty personal vendettas dry you and weaken you. On those rare occasions when the oasis of a sound idea appears on the horizon and you struggle toward it, you eventually watch it disappear into the heat waves in front of you, and you realize that it was only a mirage. Like a real desert, there are genuine oases out there, but they are few and far between. You will stumble onto them purely by accident. You will of course doubt them at first, given all the others that turned out to be mirages, but once in a great while they will be genuine.
    What do we do in such a bleak situation? We turn away from the desert and make our own fresh, cool waters of reason. Like good academics everywhere, we focus on principles of sound thinking rather than allowing ourselves to become caught up in minutiae. We construct an orderly framework of thinking and choosing evidence, drawn from the best classical minds available, and stick to it. We persevere even when we see the distance increasing between us and the rest of the research community. After a while it begins to pay off, as order gradually replaces disorder. Eventually all the sound evidence falls into place and provides us a simple, coherent picture of what really happened in Dallas on that terrible day. We then see that the answer is very obvious, and we begin to wonder how anyone could have missed it.
    That's when our second task begins, of trying to understand what forces have made so many well-intentioned people go so wrong and stay so wrong for such a long time. If we can finish this job by May, I will be satisfied. It takes considerable intellectual courage to buck the conspiracy locomotive, but nobody ever said the life of the intellect was easy. I guarantee you the results will be worth the effort.

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