The Persistent—But Fading—Appeal of JFK Conspiracy Stories

of JFK’s assassination
, I have an
on the subject at today. Here’s how it

"That umbrella, we employed it."If you could settle the question with a
national vote, there would be no doubt that a conspiracy killed
John F. Kennedy. Two weeks after the shooting, a Gallup poll showed
52% of Americans blaming a force larger than Lee Harvey Oswald for
the President’s death. Half a century later, a new Gallup poll puts
the number at 61%. Earlier this year an Associated Press survey
said the number was 59%, while a Public Policy Polling effort said
it was a more modest but still substantial 51% — not far at all
from those initial results in 1963.

Those numbers may sound surprisingly high, but by other years’
standards they’re actually low. A decade ago, an ABC News poll had
70% of the population believing there was more than one man behind
the slaying. When ABC posed the same question in 1983, the number
was 80%. In 1994, the sociologist Ted Goertzel suggested that
belief in a Kennedy conspiracy has “increased as the event became
more distant.” For a while it did, but then it reached a peak and
started sinking.

So there are two trends that cry out to be explained here. Why are
Kennedy-assassination theories still so popular, and why are they
less popular than before?

For my answers to those questions, you can read the rest of the

On a related subject: New York magazine has marked the
JFK anniversary by publishing a mini-encyclopedia
of conspiracy theories. I contributed the entry on
Operation Mindfuck

from Hit & Run

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