Conspiracy is not a fact

Kenneth A. Rahn
Center for Atmospheric Chemistry Studies
Graduate School of Oceanography
University of Rhode Island
Narragansett. R.I. 02882-1197

For presentation at
"The Third Decade" Second Research Conference
Omni Biltmore Hotel, Providence, R.I.
17–20 June 1993


    I am concerned that the JFK assassination is being widely discussed with minimal attention to logical and procedural underpinnings. A good example is the starting point of this conference, that conspiracy is historical fact. I believe that data and logic support the opposite conclusion, namely that conspiracy in the JFK assassination has not been shown to be a fact.
    For a conspiracy to be a fact, one or more lines of evidence for it must be proven individually. In practical terms, this means documenting conclusively that the shooter in the Depository was helped by at least one additional person. Ways to help include planning the assassination, financing it, procuring the weapon(s), preparing for the shooting, the actual shooting (additional shooters or help in the Depository), escaping, or covering up the plot. Available evidence may support but does not prove any of these avenues of conspiracy, save possibly additional shooter(s). The strongest evidence for additional shooters, the backward lurch after the head shot, can be disproven with straightforward physics. The other major lines of evidence for multiple shooters—the head wound, the body wounds, and the acoustics—can be similarly shown to be unproven or disproven. Thus conspiracy remains unproven.
    I find this situation very unsatisfactory, for nonconspiracy is also unproven (and unprovable). Is the situation completely indeterminate? Not really, for by comparing the simplicity and adequacy of the conspiracy and nonconspiracy explanations, one can at least rank them. Because the nonconspiracy scenario is simpler and explains more than conspiracy does, nonconspiracy must be chosen before conspiracy.
    My full paper will discuss each of these topics in detail. My talk will combine an overview of these logical criteria with a more-detailed discussion of the physics of the head shot.