Reasoning about Assassinations: Critical Thinking in Political Contexts
The application of logic, critical thinking, and principles of scientific reasoning, involving collaboration between physicians, scientists, photographic analysts, and philosophers has transformed our knowledge of the death of JFK. Since 1992, a research group I organized has discovered that the autopsy X-rays have been altered, that someone else's brain has been substituted, that a home movie of the assassination has been recreated, and that the alleged assassin, Lee Oswald, was framed using manufactured evidence. This approach, which may be called "assassination science", benefits from applying the pattern of reasoning known as "inference to the best explanation" to important and controversial deaths, where political motivation may have contributing to bringing them about. By focusing on the "best evidence" — the autopsy X-rays, the autopsy report and photographs, the physical evidence (including the alleged assassination weapon), and other crucial evidence — we have undertaken a reconstruction of the case from the most basic evidence up, with special consideration for separating the authentic from the inauthentic evidence. When that has been accomplished, it becomes relatively straightforward to draw appropriate inferences, since the Mafia, for example, would not have been able to extend its reach into Bethesda Naval Hospital to alter X-rays under control of the Secret Service, medical officers of the US Navy, or the President's personal physician; neither pro- nor anti-Castro Cubans could have substituted someone else's brain for that of JFK; even though the KGB might have had the same ability to recreate a film as the CIA, it could not have gained its possession; nor could any of these things have been done by Lee Oswald, who was either incarcerated or already dead. As a novel area of application that might be viewed as "applied philosophical research", assassination science is establishing that the humanities in this new guise can make more than an incidental contribution to the solution of important mysteries in history.
Keywords: logic, critical thinking, scientific reasoning, philosophy of science, applied philosophical research, the death of JFK, resolving mysteries in history, historical research, "assassination science"
Dr. James Fetzer
Distinguished McKnight University Professor , Department of Philosophy University of Minnesota Duluth, American Philosophical Association, Philosophy of Science Association