‘No true Scotsman …’ award: a distinguished entrant

And we have our first entrant for this year’s ‘No True Scotsman …’ Award. Sad to say, he is an intellectual hero of mine. However this emphasises the point that none of us, not even those with the strongest powers of reasoning and clarity of thought, is immune to falling into logical fallacies.

First out of the stalls is the magnificent and prolific Dr Paul Monk. On November 7, 2013, in an article for the Fairfax Press (which I only recently found), Monk wrote:

Did you watch JFK: The Smoking Gun last Sunday night? Or buy the book, by retired Melbourne detective Colin McLaren? If you haven’t, don’t bother. Everyone seems to love a good conspiracy theory. And the JFK assassination is the mother of them all. It’s a terrific case study in how people get muddled by portentous claims and believe the most absurd things. This latest addition to the genre is a textbook case of muddle.

Its argument is that JFK was killed not by a bunch of nefarious conspirators (the grassy knoll, the magic bullet and all that) and not by Lee Harvey Oswald acting alone, but by Oswald acting independently and a Secret Service agent accidentally firing the fatal shot from his AR-15 automatic rifle as he fell backwards inside the vice-presidential car behind the car in which Kennedy was seated. And, naturally, it has been covered up ever since by the good old US government.

This is not a new idea. It was advanced 21 years ago by Bonar Menninger in Mortal Error. It has been ridiculed by every serious analyst, when they bothered to address it at all.

Yes, that’s right. You can distinguish whether an analyst is serious or frivolous by seeing whether or not they agree with Dr Monk on this question.

[Incidentally, regarding the Kennedy Assassination, and fully aware that there are more theories about this event than you can shake a stick at, I recommend the book Brothers in Arms by Gus Russo and Stephen Molton.]

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About Stebbing Heuer

A person interested in exploring human perception, reasoning, judgement and deciding, and in promoting clear, effective thinking and the making of good decisions.
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