Introduction to critical thinking


(Wileytoons 20 January 2000,

    A course on the JFK assassination is incomplete without a major section of critical thinking, even though it represents only one-half of what is required to understand the course of the debate over the past 36 years. (The other half is the role of mindset, or predisposition.) This section will expose you to the basic principles of evidence and reasoning. It will also establish a common terminology with which to discuss thinking patterns.
    We will use a series of short essays that I have been developing over the years, supplemented by outside material as needed. The essays divide into those that deal with basic principles of evidence and reasoning, and those that deal with actual evidence in the JFK case:

Twenty simple truths about the JFK assassination

Principles of evidence and reasoning
Primary essays
Using important words precisely

Probability, belief, and proof
Types of evidence useful for understanding the JFK assassination
Rating evidence by the product rule

Shadings of eyewitness testimony
Jean Hill--The Lady In Red
(Peter R. Whitmey)
Eyewitness testimony, memory, and assassination research
(Dennis Ford and Mark Zaid)
    W. Anthony Marsh's critique of Ford and Zaid's paper
    Mark Zaid responds
How a law-enforcement agencies investigate crimes (to come)

Expanded exposition and application of the critical method
    The overall plan (19 October 2002)
    A critical method for understanding the JFK assassination (Expanded description 19 October 2002)
    A critical method for validating physical evidence (17 October 2002)
    A critical method for interpreting strong evidence (19 October 2002)

Science, pseudo-science, and falsifiability (Karl Popper)

Secondary essays
The right way and the wrong way to use evidence
What do many pieces of weak evidence add up to?
The trouble with speculating
The two cultures of JFK research
Assassination research and the pathology of knowledge
(Dennis Ford, The Third Decade, 1992)
    An experimental psychologist and Warren Commission critic warns about weaknesses of current research in the JFK critical community.
Why "Who did it?" is the wrong question to ask first, and maybe ever
Trust is not enough
The central fallacy of JFK research

Reasoning from actual evidence
Primary essays
The types of evidence most available in the JFK assassination

List of strong evidence in the JFK assassination
The power of the physical framework
The minimum physical evidence must all be genuine

Which evidence is essential?

Secondary essays
The three jurists and the physical evidence
The brown paper bag and witness evidence
Whose predictions have come true?
A failed quest

Anatomy of a newsgroup discussion
Toward an epistemology of the JFK assassination

Other points of view

(To come)
We know too much about the JFK assassination
The jet effect doesn't matter
Cowardly critics
Cowardly conspiracists
The assassination lifestyle
Five easy pieces
Why most of the evidence in the JFK case is useless
The fatal error of moving to step 2 before settling step 1
Predisposition in JFK research
Hidden assumptions of JFK researchers of all persuasions
Why not all approaches to the JFK assassination are created equal
Why there is only one truth to the JFK assassination