22 January 2006

Not so magic bullet...

Discovery Channel has a show called "History's Mysteries," that I usually enjoy. Tonight's installment was particularly well done. From my title, you've probably guessed they were examining the Kennedy assassination. Many have done so before them, and many will likely do so after, but this is the best examination I have ever seen. Why? Because it focused only on the hard, physical evidence. The films. The photographs. The recording from a police scanner. The clothes.

Most of the time, analysts wave their hands at the evidence and proclaim, "See! Something's off! It couldn't happen that way!" After that perfunctory statement, they generally go through all of the possible conspirators and why their favorite must be the culprit. This program said, "Let's SEE if it COULD have happened that way." It was beautiful. Computer synthesis of images gave them continuous coverage of the cavalcade, and they used computer modeling to fill in the obscured details when the "second" bullet hit (part of the investigation was whether there were really two bullets at this point).

Then they set about recreating the shot. Ballistics gel models were used at first, but then they moved on to a highly detailed recreation of Kennedy's torso, including bone and muscle tissue. Apparently these recreations are used to test human responses to land-mines. Without going through every detail, they very nearly reproduced the exact shot. The entry and exit wounds on Kennedy were near-perfect. However, the bullet passed through TWO ribs of the senator in front of him, rather than one, and didn't have enough energy to wound the senator's thigh. All in all, this showed the so-called "magic bullet" didn't need to be so magic. Their bullet was somewhat more deformed than the one from the assassination, likely because it hit two ribs instead of one. An earlier test found that a similar bullet could go more than a meter into solid wood without deforming significantly.

Of course, this doesn't prove that there WASN'T a conspiracy. It does indicate that a conspiracy is not necessary to explain events. It is plausible, even likely, that events occurred just as the Warren Report claimed. I think many people prefer the conspiracy theory because it makes them feel safer. A lone madman shouldn't be able to topple the country's leader. It should take more than that, somehow. On the darker side, only someone in a position of power is likely to be targeted by such a conspiracy, so ordinary people are "safe" from it. But a lone madman is a danger to everyone.

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