On Research

I can remember a time when research into the JFK assassination was fulfilling. That was back when those conducting the research were polite, respectful, level-headed, intelligent—and especially mature.

This was not long after the Dallas horror show, when examiners of the official inquiry were more objective and more careful with the evidence. They routinely shared personal notes and the results of their most recent efforts by way of mail and phone. Some, for instance, often did the leg work for others unable to travel to Dealey Plaza or the National Archives. It was done with trust. It was done with courtesy. It was done that way because everyone had the same goal in mind – discovering truths.

My, how times have changed.

Recently it was announced that one of the better-known and long-standing JFK online forums will be shutting down. Why? “It [has] deteriorated into … bullying and personal abuse,” its administrator said. Not long ago, one of the more prodigious adherents to this group (the A to Z member list runs a whopping 106 pages) was booted for name-calling. Then a moderator charged with controlling such childish acts was kicked out too—for himself verbally attacking the administrator.

What is going on here?

The platform for all this, in my opinion, was ushered in by Vincent Bugliosi. His book, “Reclaiming History,” introduced us in 2007 to a most lamentable lexicon, which unfortunately is now being parroted by his ardent followers. Words like “nut,” “fool,” “crackpot,” “unprincipled,” “fraud,” “silly,” “fantasy-minded,” “uneducated,” “kooky,” “delirious,” and “disturbed” were launched throughout the 1500+ pages to describe critics of the Warren Report. Fueled by such epithets and equally tasteless refrains of ridicule (in an attempt at humor, I suppose, Bugliosi suggested that Vicki Adams was one of JFK’s assassins), this horde of hangers-on now repeat his tirades much like a Hollywood actor reading from a poorly written script.

Face it. There is no reward in arguing with people like this. I found that to be true when, naively thinking another of these online JFK-related forums was open to intelligent discussion, I noticed a Bugliosi supporter who had clearly misrepresented the facts in his attempt to bolster Oswald’s guilt. When I pointed out the actual evidence was contrary to his account and invited him to examine that evidence for himself, I was called a “$*#&!%.” Two days later, I saw the same guy in the same forum making the same errors to an unsuspecting newbie of the subject.

It is difficult to tell whether people who consistently spread untruths are stupid or just pretending to be stupid. They may in fact label themselves as researchers, historians, experts, or, ironically, those deeply concerned over what they perceive as the abuse of facts. But they are none of those. They are instead close-minded and stubborn purveyors of misinformation, non-information and disinformation.

And the kicker is, those kinds of people occupy both sides of the fence. Believers as well as non-believers of the Warren Report often display identical behavior. They may separate themselves by their opinions and stated goals, but the Bugliosi blather and accompanying derision usually embrace all involved. You can easily spot them; their nit-picking arguments and derogatory comments persist post after post after post, ad infinitum, ad nauseam. Truth and relevance–even credibility–become lost in the translation.

One who places ego ahead of evidence is just as bad as one who hand picks that evidence to support only his own beliefs. Those who boast of holding “solutions” or “definitive answers” to the crime or any aspect of it are not providing a service. They are simply diminishing what’s left of legitimate research and causing apathy within the general public. That, folks, is the real shame to this.

The resulting damage is inexcusable. It is intolerable. And it has become tiring.



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3 responses to “On Research

  1. I agree wholeheartedly in regards to your post about the JFK assassination debate and those who choose to believe in conspiracy or those who don’t. The name calling gets out of hand and contributes nothing to the overall pursuit of the truth. I enjoyed your book very much and believe that it is an asset to the JFK assassination literature. I attempted to read Vincent Bugliosi’s Reclaiming History and made it through the first 500 or so pages. It was too much at the time, so I had to return it to the library (wasn’t going to pay big $$$ for it), but he claims to try and be above the fray but insults authors who doubt the Warren Commission. He said since he read the Warren Report (and the exhibits), he should be listened to, while the conspiracy theorists shouldn’t be listened to because they didn’t. Not too long ago, I picked up “Praise from A Future Generation” by John Kelin. This book was hard to put down, it was so engrossing. People like Shirley Martin, Harold Weisberg, Ray Marcus, Sylvia Meagher (and others) read the report. These ordinary people took up the cause of looking for the truth when no one else wanted to. They worked together, in some cases, pursuing the unpopular cause of justice while mainstream media called them kooks. They should be remembered, not ridiculed in memory. The truth should be sought in an impartial manner, all sides considered, the journey to the truth is bumpy and fraught with peril, but the goal is worthwhile.

  2. Diane Rizzo

    Our classmate was truly missed all of those years. She missed all the class reunions because of her being at the wrong place at the wrong time. May she rest in peace.

    • Victoria Adams was a 1959 graduate of Presentation High School, an all-girls Catholic school in San Francisco. That year’s graduating class recently held its 50th reunion.

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