I started “doing research,” which is what conspiracy theorists urge me to do about every week. (To a conspiracy theorist, “do your research” means “look at conspiracy websites and YouTube videos.” That is not research to me. My job involves research–with real books, in a real library–and research has been a crucial part of my day-to-day work for the last 13 years). When I “did my research” I found that Nigel Turner’s The Men Who Killed Kennedy was so riddled with errors and inaccuracies that it couldn’t even be broadcast legally in England, where it was made, without a disclaimer. Even some of the people interviewed in the film disavowed it. That got me thinking, if that movie was so inaccurate, what about Stone’s JFK?–
In around 2000-2001, my thinking on conspiracy theories changed dramatically. Every time I subjected a claim to logical scrutiny, it fell apart. I read the entire Warren Commission report. Contrary to what conspiracy theorists claim, it was not shoddy, incomplete or full of holes. It was very exhaustively researched and left very little out. I started looking at the other conspiracy theories I believed in. After reading a lot of scientific material, I concluded that TWA 800 crashed because its fuel tank blew up–an accident, not a Navy missile. I found out that the documents that I thought “proved” the government knew about aliens were total forgeries. The “alien autopsy” film, broadcast on TV in 1995, turned out to be a fake. Conspiracy theory after conspiracy theory simply crumbled when I touched it.
Nevertheless, I was a holdout on JFK. As late as 2003 or 2004–even as I had begun to push back against 9/11 “Truthers,” whom I regard as believers in a particularly fulsome and offensive conspiracy theory-–I still thought it likely that Oswald had help. Then I began to think maybe it was possible he did it alone. I read some more. I did some thinking. A lot of parts of the conspiracy theory simply didn’t add up.