Reactions from readers on the Web, 2006

17 July 2006
    On 16 July 2006, Mr. Robert Harris, a long-time conspiracy advocate, posted this message to the newsgroups alt.conspiracy.jfk and alt.assassination.jfk. He concluded by wondering whether I had enough "pride" to post his comments on my JFK Web site. Here they are, without point-by-point editorial comment (at least for now). Mr. Harris's comments to my 20 points are given in italics. Readers need not be astute in order to see that they are not really replies. The 20 points are safe.   :-)

Message from Robert Harris:

These are Kenneth Rahnąs arguments in support of the lone nut theory, as posted at his website, and my rebuttal.

1. The JFK assassination is only as hard as you make it (by choosing bad evidence and methods). It is easy to make easy.
    Proof: consistent answers from physical evidence vs. scattered answers from testimony.

    Reply: Unsupported assertion: In reality, the case is as complicated as it turns out to be. The intent here, seems to be, to convince readers that they shouldnąt examine issues in depth.

2. You can't prove conclusively that Oswald did it, but you can get close enough to convict him in a two-day trial—Earl Warren.

    Reply: Self contradicting citation. If it can't be proven "conclusively", then no jury would have a right to convict Oswald in any trial.

3. The case against Oswald looks far better when you realize there is no case against anyone else.
    Proof: a case against anyone else would have been shouted from the rooftops.

    Reply: Totally false assertion. There are of course, solid cases against other individuals, which have indeed, been "shouted from the rooftops". The strongest have been against, Jack Ruby, James Braden, David Ferrie, and [last name in the series missing in original post—KAR]

4. The Warren Commission did a great job, even though it wasn't perfect. Proof: no one has materially changed the WCąs answer in 39 years.

    Reply: Preposterous assertion. The Warren Commissionąs "answer" cannot be changed by anyone. What apparently is being promoted here, is the argument that the Warren Commission was not refuted, which is another unsupported assertion that contradicts even the most fanatical lone nut supporters, who now admit to the Commission's bias and its dependency on highly dubious information from the FBI.

5. Not every little thing can be settled, especially in such a huge investigation that took so much testimony.
    Proof: even much smaller cases have loose ends as a natural result of testimony.

    Reply: This is pure propaganda, attempting to sweep under the carpet, numerous pieces of evidence without having to deal with them specifically. Evidence which points to conspiracy, can hardly be labelled as "small".

6. No proof of conspiracy has emerged, even after 39 years of trying.
    Proof: continued annual meetings; never-ending confusion and controversy.

    Reply: Another demonstrably false assertion. Dr. Rahn knows all too well, that the spacing of the shots eliminates any possibility, that they were all fired from the alleged murder weapon.
    Proof: In nearly ten years, he has evaded this issue, refusing to answer all specific questions and challenges related to it.

7. The right answer is several times redundant.
    Proof: wounds, Z-film, rifle, bullets and fragments, NAA.

    Reply: False and unsupported assertion. In fact, the Z-film provides indisputable evidence that shots were fired, which could not have all been fired by Oswald. The other points only suggest that one, and only one, of the bullets could be linked to a Mannlicher Carcano rifle.

8. The real story of the assassination is why so many people cling to flawed methodology and its wrong answers.
    Proof: the Warren Commission got the right answer 38 years ago.

    Reply: The first sentence is correct. The second is purely argumentative and unproven.

9. Physical evidence holds the key—all else is worthless, even harmful.
    Proof: the inherent nature of physical vs. witness evidence.

    Reply: False claim - as can be confirmed by any competent law enforcement professional or criminologist. Visual evidence, such as photos and films, can be infinitely more important than physical evidence, especially when the source of the physical evidence is dubious. The same can be said of witness confirmations, especially when the witnesses are competent, trained, law enforcment [sic] professionals.

10. Focus on the physical and all becomes clear. Admit the testimonial and you fall into a morass from which you can never escape.
    Proof: methods correlate with scatter of answers.

    Reply: Another unsupported assertion. And why does Dr. Rahn express no interest in attempting to corroborate witness statements in the numerous photos and films taken during the attack?

11. Working hypotheses and the tentative, stepwise approach are the keys to getting it right.

    Reply: Extremely ambiguous statement, but a working hypothesis is a reasonable idea, after ALL relevant evidence has been examined.

12. Working hypotheses are crucial because they let you go with the best available explanation, even if it's not perfect. This is the way we live life outside JFK.

    Reply: Repeat of 11 apparently.

13. The conspiratorial explanation is slowly fading away.
    Proof: fewer major books and conferences; newsgroups straining for something new but having to focus on ever-smaller details.

    Reply: False and highly misleading statement. All recent polls demonstrate that the vast majority of Americans realize that JFK was the victim of a conspiracy. Dr. Rahn seems to want us to believe that the conspiracy issue can be resolved by counting the number of new books coming out. Is it really possible, that this is what he calls, "critical thinking"????

14. Conspiracists use evidence sloppily because they can't or won't think straight.
    Proof: these are the only possible reasons for such failures with evidence.

    Reply: It is hard to imagine a more argumentative, abusive, and stereotypical statement, coming from the most wild eyed, conspiracy buff. I guess this is just more "critical thinking" :-)

15. Conspiracy theories represent predisposition rather than serious rational thinking.
    Proof: they arose immediately after the assassination and have remained similar ever since, while all else around them has changed.

    Reply: It is interesting, that after 15 arguments, Dr. Rahn has failed to describe a single, specific piece of evidence in support of his position. Without exception, every assertion, generalization, and insult he has written, has been totally unsupported.

16. The conspiracy beat goes on because conspiracists can't face their failed methods and, by inference, their failed world views.

    Reply: Ditto.

17. JFK "research" shows the same two cultures that the rest of American society does.

    Reply: No idea what he means here. Apparently, he thinks the 80-90 percent of Americans who disagree with him, are in the wrong "culture".

18. JFK "research" doesnąt progress because it's too closed a society.
    Proof: the narrow annual meetings and publications; denunciation of anyone who believes the SBT; inbred citations.

    Reply: This is just more attacks on his adversaries. Almost unbelievably, Dr. Rahn will complete his case, without presenting a single piece of evidence for his cause.

19. Leftists were by far the most vociferous group of voices raised.
    Proof: count articles in my first two sections.

    Reply: More false stereotyping and insults. I wonder if Dr. Rahn can explain why if, the 80-90 percent of the nation who disagree with him, are all leftists, that George Bush managed to win the last two elections:-)

20. The ARRB changed little. Proof: no smoking gun found; nothing major emerged, or we would have long since heard of it.

    Reply: Of course, Dr. Rahn has "heard of it", on countless occasions. He simply evades it all, and pretends that he is battling a crazed band of hippies and communists.
    The simple fact is, that he has presented NO evidence supporting his claim that a single assassin carried out the crime alone, and winds up using half of his article itemizing all the evidence types that he hopes we will ignore, and the other half, attacking his adversaries.

    Dr. Rahn stated that he "prides himself" on covering both sides of the conspiracy debate at his website. I wonder if he has enough of that pride, to post this article:-)