## Friday, November 22, 2013

### JFK magic bullet: irrationality of conspiracy theories

Today, it's been 50 years since the assassination of JFK.

The murder took place on Friday, just like today. For generic two years, the probability is 1/7 that a given day occurs on the same day of the week. However, for a 50-year gap, the probability is approximately 1/3 because each of the 50 years shifts the day of the week by 1 plus 11-13 (mostly 12) from leap years (it may be just 11 because about 3/8 of the 50-year intervals include a non-leap year like 1900).

A historical movie from that day, 15 minutes. Death at 6:01.

The shift is therefore 60, 61 (most likely), or 62 days which is 5,6 or 7 modulo 7. For 1963-2013, the case 62 i.e. 7 occurred. So even the same day of the week isn't too shocking – the day of the week is almost as likely to agree as it is to disagree after 50 years. These two paragraphs were preemptively included to fight another conspiracy theory about the day of the week. ;-)

I wrote about JFK 5 days ago but now I want to avoid particle physics.

About 2/3 of the Americans, including John Kerry and Oliver Stone, believe that there is some deeper story behind the murder than a lone gunman named Lee Harvey Oswald. Holy crap. Why are they doing it? I have already mentioned that they probably want to "restore some order", to save their (incorrect) assumption that famous men may only be killed by other famous men or their collectives.

In The Guardian, it is argued that people believe in conspiracy theories because conspiracies actually sometimes happen. This differentiates the believers from believers in telepathy and so on.

I agree that conspiracies do sometimes happen but I disagree that this fact prevents us from concluding that most people believing similar conspiracies are morons. One may estimate the probability $$P$$ that there is some big conspiracy behind a collection of similar enough events and compare this probability with the percentage $$Q$$ of people-event combinations in which the people believe that there was a conspiracy. If the people's opinions were sensibly reflecting some underlying reality (which isn't quite known), we would have $$P\approx Q$$. However, in the real world, $$P\ll Q$$. Assuming that you buy my arguments that $$P$$ is actually small enough in the absolute sense, it proves that most people who believe the conspiracies must be systematically deluded.

First, the actual story seems so straightforward that I wouldn't normally spend much time with it. The best movie of the incident was captured by the amateur Abraham Zapruder. There were probably exactly 3 shots and The Zapruder film shows everything you need:

The camcorder was running at 18.3 frames per second. It's being said that in the frame 160, there was the first shot that missed everything. After 220, there was the second shot (magic bullet) that hit the governor in front as well as JFK (non-fatally). They react in some way. The third shot at 313 was used to make JFK's head explode which turned out to be lethal. The time between the first and third shot was probably over 8 seconds.

One may reconstruct the trajectory of the second bullet from the holes in the bodies. The Texas governor John Connally was closer to the center of the car and at a lower height and his chest was just turned to the right side. One may still trace the holes in their bodies and they agree with a straight single shot whose origin (from the back) is moreover compatible with the 6th floor of the building where Lee Harvey Oswald is located. The direction where the brain fragments appeared (front) and the direction of the momentum transfer to the body agree with the predictions of physics, too, although the momentum transfer is a bit subtle issue.

You may clearly see these things in the movie. They couldn't really fake movies well at that time. Why would you doubt it? Some people want to protest against a bullet that goes through both bodies. But what's so shocking about it? When one body is behind another, and it clearly was from that angle (it is not too unlikely in a car, anyway), a shot simply gets through both bodies.

Now, take the claims that there was a different shooter, like the driver. Well, the driver theory just disagrees with all the evidence I could see. An even more popular theory is the Grassy Knoll Badge Man. I watched this conspiracy video defending this meme and I just had to laugh out loud. They take a random place in the noise of a picture and argue not only that it contains a man. They can say that he had a particular haircut or hat and a uniform and some of them say that he wore glasses. Holy cow, I don't see a damn thing. It's as noisy a piece of the picture as almost any other in the area.

So some people analyzed this theory in some more detail, using the state-of-the-art computer techniques. No clear signs of a human – or glasses or anything like that – were found. More devastatingly, the person had to be one meter tall if he were exactly there; or he was several meters tall and flying 5 meters above the Earth's surface at a much more distant place.

Great. Even if a really tall human had a ladder over there, one that no one had noticed in 1963, what do you exactly want to achieve with this extra contrived assumption? There was no shot through the bodies that would be going in that direction. So what else than the complete stupidity – or a form of religion that may be classified as a type of complete stupidity – could be the reason that someone still believes the Badge Man Grass Knoll theory?

Quite generally, the very idea that there should be more people involved in this shooting is bizarre. A vast majority of similar incidents involves a single shooter. Think about Breivik and lots of others. Why would someone think that it's more convincing to create a theory with numerous shooters?

There are exceptions. When the Czechoslovak government in London needed to execute a blonde beast called Reinhardt Heydrich, perhaps the main father of the Holocaust and a gangster who acted as if he were a leader of 2/3 of Czechoslovakia for almost a year (1941-1942) just because a nutcase with one testicle told him that he was one, they sent several parachutists including two shooters. This "backup" is what governments or companies do when they want to be "insured" that the maneuver will work. And indeed, the first executer's gun got jammed which is why the second one was ready and useful because he could throw the hand grenade that killed the beast after some delay in the hospital. It worked fine. Thousands of Czech lives (including two whole villages) were terminated in the hysteria afterwards but it was needed for the Czechs not to be a nation of complete cowards and collaborators.

But in the case of the JFK assassination, there is simply no evidence that there were numerous shooters and/or that there was any organization or group of people who would want to increase the probability of the success by a backup plan or a spare shooter. In fact, it's very likely that if there had been several shooters, we would almost certainly learn about some traces the others have left. There aren't any.

So why the hell would someone switch from the minimal, effective theory to the contrived one – one which needs several shooters and perhaps even some synchronization of their shooting? A contrived hypothesis that is not only less plausible a priori but one that also seems to almost directly contradict the empirical data about the shots and their trajectories? I think that the stupidity is the only conceivable explanation.

It's just far more effective for gunmen to act individually if they want to achieve a similar "goal". Without backups, some of them may fail but indeed, they sometimes do. But if someone wants to have a decent enough chance to kill the president of the U.S., the best strategy is simply to try. Individually. It may even be better not to inform or ask anyone else because that could reduce the probability of the success. That's what happened according to all the evidence I see: a lone gunman. People who find it natural to believe that there should be several shooters and backups think like communists and would be lousy managers if they adopted the same philosophy in their management. Some jobs may simply be done by one person. Shooting a man – and whether he's a president doesn't really matter – is an example.

A related issue is the question whether the shooters or the originators of the plots must be famous people. The conspiracy theorists generally believe that the answer has to be Yes. But it's another fact that there are many more ordinary people – even ordinary people with some access to guns – who might want to kill a politician. If it is possible to get to a reasonable floor of a building, they may just give a try.

So by pure counting, it is simply much more likely that the shooter is someone who isn't famous at all. Famous people are just too rare. Moreover, they are more visible. So I would think that a famous man probably has a smaller chance to organize something that remains completely secret than an ordinary man.

A computer reconstruction etc., 4 minutes. See 10 minutes.

On the contrary, famous people like politicians are probably much more likely to be shot simply because many more people know them and either hate them or consider them to be symbols of something they hate. The Earth is a large place and it's often difficult even for the best agent to perfectly protect such a politician. You don't need a very contrived theory to explain such data.

Even though it is "academically plausible" that there is something beneath the obvious and mundane events we have seen, one should understand that there isn't any real evidence and it is just a sign of irrationality to be attracted to unjustified contrived hypotheses and to (loudly) dismiss simple, effective theories that agree with the evidence, especially if one does so repeatedly.

(Of course, Kerry is less of a nutcase. He "just" believes that Oswald was directed by the Soviets or Cubans. Well, I would say that a marine who defects to the Soviet Union is probably extreme enough to think of similar acts himself. Even if Kerry were right, I don't think it is an important change to the story. There were surely people in the USSR who would rather openly say that the U.S. president should have been killed – along with many other "imperialists". And what? They couldn't do it. Oswald could. So even if he had met with some people who told him he should have, why does it matter? He was almost certainly a more unhinged commie than an average member of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party so he was still likely to be the key guy behind the murder. Unlike Oswald, the top Soviet officials were sane enough to realize that a murder of JFK wouldn't end capitalism in America etc. so they were less motivated than him, too.)

There are just so many illogical steps and contradictions with the empirical data from that day as well as with some historical data on similar events and with the knowledge about the human nature that these conspiracy theorists commit so that I can't avoid thinking that they're just stupid. But there must be more to it – it's some stupidity that is more likely to spread through the society. It may be the case that most of the JFK conspiracy believers haven't really tried to think about the sad day rationally and independently. They are just absorbing a mass delusion from their environment.

The misconception that famous men may only be "challenged" by famous challengers helps. Let me articulate a related, more religious point: Many people probably feel that death and sacrifice should always have a meaning and it must always be possible to find a fair, comparably large "revenge" for any crime (Oswald's death isn't a good enough revenge). But it's unfortunately not the case. The laws of physics guarantee neither afterlife nor the meaning for our lives nor universal justice.

While Oliver Stone shot another pro-conspiracy JFK movie, Bill O'Reilly was the executive producer of a movie whose main point was that there was no conspiracy. So much for the idea that conservatives are the conspiracy theorists. He points out that FBI wanted a conspiracy to exist at some point but they couldn't find it.

1. Dear Mr. Motl,
Excellent discussion. One point the conspiracy theorists seize upon is the idea that one bullet supposedly could not have struck two men. This assumption is false. The Italian 6.5 mm Carcano round Oswald used has a solid round-nosed projectile, very long for its caliber, which does not tumble or mushroom on impact. Such "military ball" type projectiles penetrate much more deeply than civilian hunting rounds.
There is no reason a 6.5 mm Carcano round could not go through one man and then strike another.

2. I agree that Kerry’s view adds nothing to the story even if true, which it may well be. More importantly, anyone espousing a conspiracy must deal with the Warren Report, which is damn convincing.
Many people have dismissed the Warren Report but they are the same ones that claim that the fact the flag that we planted on the moon was not waving proves that the whole scene was shot in a studio on earth.

3. Gene, isn't it because the flag *was* waving that conspiracy theorists thought the scene was shot in a studio ?
It is always impressing to see poor JFK getting shot in the head. Why is it shining at the place he is shot is it fire or something?

4. I don't see a reason to believe in a conspiracy in the Ruby case, either. He was a tough enough nightclub operator who realized that Oswald was a commie, didn't like it, and just "wanted to save JFK's wife from the painful experience of meeting the killer in the court room again". I am sure that millions of Americans wanted Oswald to die as soon as possible, too.

I am very sure about that now because someone poured - nearly lethally, she's still struggling - acid on the face a beautiful 25-year-old woman 900 meters from my concrete block. The discussion forums are full of ideas that the culprit should be treated equally. Someone might act as well - if we knew who it was.

The leading theories were the ex-BF whom she left; and Arabs whom she didn't hire in her work where she's hiring people. However, a more shocking and quite possibly right explanation emerged on Wednesday. The culprit could have been a woman - the former GF of the victim's new (rich) BF. The act ultimately looks "female" in our corners.

It's still not clear whether she will survive.

5. It's not shining, it's just blood and brain splashing out of his broken skull. Did I destroy your evening, Shannon? In that case, sorry but I know you are a tough woman! ;-)

6. If you still have the nerves, here there are killers of a cute deer whose head explosion is slowed down:

http://youtu.be/fJr7Ph5SGO4?t=37s

So the smoke is there but "fire" is a strong word.

7. I don't doubt that Oswald was the lone gunman. I do doubt -- or, rather, I don't find it incredible -- that Castro and company may have encouraged him and/or the mafia helped him set it up. They both had their motives. Not that it really matters anymore or that I ever cared very much. (At the time I thought Lyndon Johnson might have actually been involved, but that seems crazy now that I'm older.)

8. Otherwise, Gene, I agree with Shannon that you got the waving upside down! In the videos, the flag *is* waving, and *this* is used as a proof that there was air around.

But what it actually proves is inertia - some harmonic oscillator going back and forth, roughly speaking.

9. Now that everyone is talking about a dead US President, perhaps it's also time another one, who died in the same month.

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/364506/ghosts-november-mark-steyn

"“I can scarcely believe the Americans would be so stupid" - Ho Chi Minh is quoted as saying. Well, I think if he lived today, he would have got used to it by now.

10. Thanks Luboš for such a lovely movie evening :-D...

11. I would personally think that Cubans were less sophisticated, closer to Oswald, and therefore more likely to participate in such a thing. But if that's the case, what's the shock?

Just a few years earlier, they were in the full civil war against capitalism in Cuba. Mass killers like Che Guevara terminated many lives and many people wear them on their T-shirts, even today. At least, this is rarely happening with Oswald's T-shirts. At any rate, the incorporation of Cuban communists in murders around the early 1960s sounds utterly unshocking - it's closer to a cliche.

With this being said, I think it's more likely that Cubans had nothing to do with that. I just don't get the reasons why you think so. There doesn't seem to be a tiny glimpse of a rational reason to make the theory about Oswald's shooting more contrived by adding this whole unnecessary layer of extra structure, am I wrong?

12. Looking back at the photos and videos taken in Dallas, two things stood
out to me that have nothing at all to do with the assassination. First
is how healthy the people in the crowds look -- no 300 pound lardasses
like we have all over the place today. Secondly is that most of the the
black people in the crowds looked to be together as families, which
today's welfare state has pretty much done away with. Sad how much our
society has declined.

13. Good point. And they are all well dressed too.

14. And it may be nothing against older times. See e.g. car races in my hometown in 1914:

http://www.plzenska-televize.cz/galerie/media/nejstarsi-film-z-plzne-rok-1914

Can you imagine all men wearing suits like that to see a car race? ;-)

15. Lol... These suits didn't seem too comfortable. I'm so glad I don't live in those days... in every ways. ;-)

16. I no longer spend much time worrying about the JFK conspiracy or the 9/11 conspiracy, etc.

It seems crystal clear to me that the front office is loaded down with serial liars who believe the means, any means, are justified by their ends, their ends not ours.

And we have seen so many well-documented cases where they were caught blatantly lying.

The Russians seem to be more relaxed about the skeletons in their Soviet closet being unveiled. Our Vichycrats, on the other hand, are very uptight because those skeletons point to the structure of a continuing scheme as opposed to a fossil like the USSR.

17. Can't we instead focus on things that matter in today's world like whether peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are racist? ;~)

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich is Racist, Says Portland School Official:

http://www.thecollegefix.com/post/15414/

Of course there is a serious side of this: our tax dollars paying for this kind of PC horseshit.

18. it was just after I had read a send up of Lewandowsky's "scientific" paper "proving" climate skeptics believe in most conspiracy theorys.

Next site that I clicked to is Steven Goddard's Real Science with this headline.

You Can't Fire A Bolt Action Rifle That Fast

Pissed me right off. Because it's so stupid.
In a former life I was a Marine. I know how difficult it is to hold a tight group, from a sitting position, with a window sill to rest the rifle on, at a target distance of 88 feet, on a clear windless day.

(answer is: not difficult at all. In fact if you can't perform this task, you don't make it out of Marine recruit training. If you can't shoot straight they make you a corpman, and send you off to the Navy.)

Steven didn't like my saying so. Since then I get treated by Real Science the same way I get treated by Real Climate.

Thin skin I guess, coupled with an irrational lifelong hatred of former president LBJ - Only way I can explain it.

19. Aldous Huxley and C.S. Lewis both died on the day that JFK was assassinated.

Huxley's most noted work was legendary, timeless and a great piece of societal criticism. I guess Lewis did something too, something about a talking lion.

20. I bought a used Ruger 38 Special back in the 90's for $265. Here's an ad for a new one. http://www.ruger.com/products/lcr/models.html$800 might be nothing to you. And maybe you even have a dear friend who will gift you a gun for the price of postage.

But to me it adds up to "Saturday Night Special is a political short hand for someone who wants to talk about unicorns and fairy dust as if they really existed."

Once I had to synch the carberators on my motorcycle (read a manual how to do it). I got the engine working pretty well with no parts left over, so that was a success.
But somehow the throttle linkage became reversed, so you push forward on the throttle, instead of pulling back to give it gas.
This confounded the smog check guy. He nearly wrecked my bike just moving around the parking lot.
But to me it felt natural to pull my hand back and have that action slow down the bike.

Are you to have me believe that Oswald hadn't taken full stock of and adjusted for the peculiarities of his own weapon?

21. My wife, Nancy, and I have a golden retriever, Katie, who is as beautiful and innocent as that poor deer. Katie is family and I just cannot imagine someone doing that to a gorgeous and loving being like Katie. I really don’t know how anyone can do that.

22. I could kill a deer but only for extreme survival reasons... but never a nice dog. Anyway in Europe we are not allowed to carry guns... probably why Hollande is still alive ;-)

23. Etudiant, do you think the bullet that landed in JFK's skull was a "dumdum bullet"? (it must have been)... I know nothing of guns but isn't possible to streak the top of the bullet so the impact is huge when it reaches the target? (I saw this in a movie once).

24. Exactly, papertiger. The idea that shops are selling weapons that don't really work is bizarre enough. But the bonus idea that a planning assassin buys such a weapon that doesn't work and doesn't notice that it doesn't work, well, it's a unicorn. ;-)

25. It is extremely sad and troubling, and pretty much a complete novelty in Czechia.

I learned about her name - and searched for details about her achievements etc. - by Google-images reverse search of some censored photos in the media. A friend of hers on the Facebook confirmed it was her.

She's been beautiful, alumnus of the local university, played squash, cared about birds, and so on. She is said to be a very pleasant and modest woman, too.

26. Well, I don't know. I guess this tiger

was kind of provoked, but I don't see why we should have less rights than tigers. Still, a high velocity rifle at a long range seems too unfair to me.

27. Lubos & everyone - What do you think of this this? The author, Ion Mihai Pacepa, is supposed to be the highest-ranking defector from the Soviet bloc. Basically, he claims that Oswald was a Soviet agent, likewise Oswald's friend de Morenschildt, and that Khrushchev wanted Kennedy killed, but changed his mind and tried to call Oswald off, but Oswald wouldn't be called off, since he expected a hero's welcome in Moscow if he succeeded in killing Kennedy. Pacepa presents what he considers to be evidence. Note that this is the first of three blog posts; at the end of each is a link to the next.

28. Pacepa was certainly formally the highest ranking defector from the Soviet block (he was a general in the Securitate and at one stage close to Ceauşescu). However, he was far from the best informed defector since Rumania was always on the sidelines of the Soviet block. Pacepa's significance was, therefore, much lesser than that of the KGB colonel Oleg Gordievsky http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oleg_Gordievsky
or the Polish colonel Ryszard Kukliński
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ryszard_Kukliński

I have a couple of books by Pacepa and read a number of his articles. I find him quite reliable when he writes about things he really had access to, but prone to speculation where his information is not air-tight. There is no doubt at all that Oswald was, at one point, a Soviet agent, but I don't think there is any evidence that Khrushchev ever wanted Kennedy killed. In fact, Khrushchev was not personally in favour of such methods and besides, he had no reasons to want Kennedy dead either personally or for reasons of "grand strategy". I suspect this is just one of the cases where Pacepa is creatively "filling in" the gaps in his own information.

29. A few days ago I discovered in this interview that Fidel Castro supports the thesis of the movie "JFK" of his friend Oliver Stone:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/11/fidel-castro-oswald-could-not-have-been-the-one-who-killed-kennedy/281674/

Until that moment I thought that option was quite feasible, but seeing from whom Oliver might have got the plot, probability dropped drastically. So I revisited the movie yesterday, and although I still find a great movie (mainly for the great cast), gave me the impression there were some tricks that ultimately undermine its credibility.

To cite one, Donald Sutherland as Colonel X (who had been sent south pole, presumably so that he wouldn't be able to impede the plot), is in its return trip back, on a scale in New Zealand, where already has been published a newspaper with a comprehensive memorandum on Oswald a few hours after the murder (even before than in local news). And this is doubly absurd thing, if true, conspiracy could come to light automatically (although there was no Internet, if there hemerotecas), and also show that the creators of the alleged plot were quite incompetent in the "timing" (and extraordinarily effective for everything else). There are a number of details like this in the movie, that inject credibility to the film, but certainly not contribute a cent to the actual facts.

That said, the one-men-only official theory, does not contradict with the idea of that some external agent could have helped in the assassination (CIA, anti-Castro Cubans, Mafia...) Who knows?

30. Dear Smoking Frog, like Lucretius, I find it much more likely that a Romanian general wanted to earn some bugs. When it comes to the amount of meat one could buy for their salary, a Romanian general was on par with a U.S. nightclub manager or less. ;-)

I know various Romanian folks in physics and - sorry, no one specific is named - most of them are materially oriented which partly results from the poverty of their homeland.

Independently of that, I don't believe that a Romanian general would be informed about the inner secret plans of the Soviet Communist Party.

So it seems much more likely to me that he wanted to earn some bucks from a book that had a high chance to be successful because he surely noticed that the Americans are obsessed with similar conspiracy theories.

31. and you have another story , reagan murder attempt..
so a nut can kill a president...

we have a good story about kennedy assassination, we have a shooter ,the place, the feasability, the gun..
do we have any evidence that somebody else than oswald kiils : no.

i need just need an altenative shooter...but i would not change much.

In this story, from a conspiracy point of view, either oswald is guilty or "useless" .

32. There's a difference between a pet and a wild animal. In the wild an animal can have no expectation of kindness. A pet or other domesticated animal could (if it could comprehend) have an expectation of mostly benevolent treatment: a comfortable and safe upbringing in exchange for services (be it companionship or ultimately as food). Of course the pet or other domesticate has no say in this, and must be protected by law.

33. As I said, it is possible Oswald got a good rifle specimen and a decent batch of ammunition, but it remains true that this was a bottom of the barrel gun with awful ammunition and it did not shoot reliably or well for me.
I have no clue whether Oswald zeroed his gun accurately. The only objective input imho is that he missed on his first assassination attempt. Also, his scope was misaligned on examination. Of course, that may have been from handling damage during the prior investigation.
Shannon, the bullet is fully jacketed, not at all a dumdum. However, it is unstable and if it hits something it may wobble, which creates a much larger wound.

34. Yes, thanks, but I had already thought of all that. I just thought the article was worth pointing out.

I certainly don't think a conspiracy of some kind is out of the question (Soviet, Cuban, or other). For one thing, I don't find it as plausible as you do that Jack Ruby's motive was private - or however you say that - I feel like my English is worse than yours. :-) I think it's possible, but not very plausible.

35. Yes, thanks, Lucretius.

36. Lewis did far more than the talking lion. He was a very talented Christian apologist, and his novels were good, too.

37. Unfortunately, the only really serious people in government are all in the military and intelligence establishment. And they all have
unlimited resources to play with. Nothing is an accident around them.

And once you figure out how Wall Street and the defense establishment are joined at the hip, nothing sounds implausible in terms of motive.

They also invented "plausible deniability" and the "least untruthful statement" memes.

And they all believe they are doing God's work.

38. I’ve just watched the new Discovery episode and I really don’t
know; the evidence presented against agent George Hickey and the fatal third
shot seemed overwhelming to me…

39. As silly as usual. I suspect, I am one of the very readers of this blog, who has had personal dealings with both the FBI and the CIA. Unfortunately I could not have been of any help to either (in fact the approach by the FBI was an embarrassing mistake by them, which rather contradicts one of the many ridiculous assertions above). But I still keep my short letter of thanks William Casey as one of my treasured memorials.

40. Lewis was a very close friend of Tolkien (of "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit") and the better writer of the two. You can see them together here:

Both of them were Christians and strong anti-Stalinist and Tolkien supported the Nationalists in Spain (which I do not hold against him).

Zamyatin's "We" is much deeper and altogether superior to "Brave New World", which seems silly by comparison. Many people believed that Huxley's work was a "rip off" of Zamyatin's, in particular George Orwell thought so. Huxley himself claimed that he only read "We" after he had written "Brave New World". The novels are sufficiently different to grant him the benefit of the doubt but the literary quality is hardly comparable.

41. If by missed on his first assassination attempt you meant missed with the first shot, then my answer is not by much.

The first bullet impacted the dashboard on the driver's side.

Another thing. Let's put cheap saturday night special and $14.95 into proper perspective. Alot of social engineering and Brady bills have passed under the river since 1963. You present that Oswald skipped pizza night one week, sort of on a lark perhaps, nd instead picked up an Italian service rifle. One thing for certain sure to drive a massive surplus is a government gearing up for war and then promptly losing. The quality might be a bit loose but the quantity of product is what drives the price. And secondary market retailers will perform end user maintenance to punch up the price a bit; straighten up the sights, de-bur the bolt action, upgrade the ejector spring, Gasoline in 1963 was$0.30/gal Eu0.10/litre

A postage stamp was a nickle. A large pepperoni pizza cost $1.20. http://newjerseyhills.com/madison_eagle/news/article_4bee31d8-f305-11df-ab54-001cc4c002e0.html The idea of a cheap saturday night special is a political ploy. 42. I don't have too much to say about this, other than the fact that virtually all the principals are dead, and thus I don't believe we'll ever really know what happened for sure. However, in 2007, Vincent Bugliosi, a well-known former Los Angeles-based prosecutor, took up the issue and published a 1600+ page book that provides in excruciating detail overwhelming evidence for Oswald's guilt. There is absolutely no doubt that Oswald, at a minimum, was a perpetrator. Bugliosi does not find much evidence of other shooters, but perhaps he didn't look hard, or perhaps he looked and found the evidence lacking. I actually read Bugliosi's book cover-to-cover a couple of years ago. It is much more detailed than the Warren Commission report. I recently read Philip Nelson's book that fingers LBJ as the mastermind of the assassination. What struck me, in contrast to the Buglioso book, is that Nelson repeatedly makes statements without any documentary evidence behind them. In other words, one cannot tell if he made it up or not. Plus, Nelson has literally dozens of people involved in the conspiracy: I simply have a hard time believing that so many people managed to stay tight-lipped for decades. Oswald did it. Whether he had accomplices or not, we'll likely never know. But, he wasn't some simple "patsy". 43. Off topic: Lumo what's your opinion about biocentrism book by robert lanza ? If you didn't read it i can send you a copy of e-book this book is mind blowing! 44. Missed on his first assassination attempt refers to Gen. Walker, not the Kennedy murder. No argument that$14.95 back in 1962 was perhaps the same as $149.50 today, it was still a bottom of the barrel item. I used to peruse the ads back then and$14.95 was pretty much the low.

The idea that secondary market retailers would punch up the items is a nice concept, but it was not applied to the bottom of the line, that is one reason why that is the bottom.

The idea that there was a huge surge of Italian war surplus guns unleashed on the US market in the early 1960s which drove down the price of the Oswald rifle disproportionately is silly. It was just a substandard rifle, a gap filler on the page and priced accordingly.

Even Krag Jorgensen rifles used by the US military in the Philippines at the turn of the century were priced much higher back then, in the \$30 class if memory serves.

In general, I make no comment about Oswald, only about the reported assassination weapon. In my experience, it was a low quality gun combined with unreliable ammunition.
In fact, it is so incongruously bad that no rational plotter would build a plan around it.
Perhaps that makes Oswald more credible, or perhaps it explains his comment that 'I'm just a patsy'.

45. Thanks, David, I am afraid that I don't want to read it. Science clearly works on the paradigm of physics-centrism - all other sciences must be derived from physics. There is no way how it could be otherwise, especially not when we talk about mundane intermediate distance scales like those in biology.

46. That's unfortunate even lf you condemn biocentrism ,book give great insights into quantum physics.

47. I'd never heard of the Walker attempt. Thanks for sharing.

Just a coincidence that "not by much" still applies.
From what I read on the wiki General Walker owed his life to a window frame deflecting what was otherwise a well aimed round.

it's amusing to me that Oswald had a prior attempt at political assassin.

I don't think we give Oswald the full credit he deserves.

Let's imagine if Lee Oswald didn't exist.
Kennedy wasn't an especially effective president. His incompetence exasperated and increased tensions with the Russians.
On the domestic front, he had to court and pander to the Klu Klux Klan contengent of the Democrat party just to squeak out a plurality of the vote to get into office.
A civil rights bill would have insured Kennedy not see a second term, so being the opportunist he was the Civil Right Act would not have happened had he survived.
As a person Kennedy was a mess. Filanderer, fucking concubines in the Oval office before Clinton made that cool. Drugged out.
He had his own Dr. Feelgood on call to inject morphine as the mood struck.
All of it covered up by the same type of fawning presstituttes we are plagued with to this day.

Kennedy was no great man. He was a self serving asshole Forest Gumping his way through the presidency.
Second terms are not kind to men of low character.
Eventually he would have screwed up something so badly that even our willfully blind media would be forced to notice, and the bubble would have been popped.
Promises to go to the moon before the end of the decade would have been the 60's version of a Fisker Motors, slush funds for kickbacks to down ticket Democrat campaign coffers, that never amount to much.

Lee Oswald made Kennedy. He turned Kennedy from a rockstar ,breaking up hotel rooms due to his mix of debauchery, drug use, and ego, into a sainted martyr.

I think the argument could be made that Oswald made the moon landings politically possible.

48. BTW. The unstable round was for the 7.35 version of the Carcano. The Italians (along with the British) deliberately incorporated aluminum into the bullets tip to cause the tumbling effect. So much for Geneva conventions, and the 'merciful' full metal jacket.

Oswald used the 6.5 version. Different ammo. Doesn't have the aluminum duck shot spin.

49. I never thought Brave New World was much good, not even as a teenager, when I first read it. It's vastly inferior to 1984. Now, it may seem odd, but I can't recall whether I've read We, although I certainly knew of it.

Lewis was great, no question about it, IMO. BTW, I always got a kick out of "Old Solar," the original language of humans, with humans on Earth, Mars, and Venus.

50. papertiger - I think it was 81 meters, not 88 feet. Wikipedia says 81 meters.

51. I read biocentrism book in my view virtual reality game is better example
for a biocentric universe . in a virtual reality game if you look at
it from outside there is no past , now and future all of that is there
in a dvd in your hand but if you get inside a virtual reality game and
put a oculus rift on your head then this game is so real that suppose
yourself part of it and if game have 100 level and you go to play level
of 50 then if dig earth you will find fossil from level of 20 or 30 or
if you look at sky you will see ligth of stars from level of one or
in game was dying this virtual reality is so real that can't believe you
will survive death but when your personality in game is dead wow you
find yourself feel still alive but you are not anymore part of this
virtual reality and you will find yourself in another realm of
multiverse .you might think this is a tale but all experiment in
quantum physics indicate that this universe is a virtual reality and
only part of this virtual reality come into manifestation that is
observed by consciousness.

52. I read biocentrism book in my view virtual reality game is better example for a biocentric universe . in a virtual reality game if you look at it from outside there is no past , now and future all of that is there in a dvd in your hand but if you get inside a virtual reality game and put a oculus rift on your head then this game is so real that suppose yourself part of it and if game have 100 level and you go to play level of 50 then if dig earth you will find fossil from level of 20 or 30 or if you look at sky you will see light of stars from level of one or background radiation from big bang in beginning and if your personality in game was dying this virtual reality is so real that can't believe you will survive death but when your personality in game is dead wow you find yourself feel still alive but you are not anymore part of this virtual reality and you will find yourself in another realm of multiverse .you might think this is a tale but all experiment in quantum physics indicate that this universe is a virtual reality and only part of this virtual reality come into manifestation that is observed by consciousness.

53. My contribution to SUSY: