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The JFK Challenge

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Come watch the fireworks at the JFK assassination forum:


Here is my latest post:

Suppose I wrote a very brief article called Impossible: The Case That Elvis Is Dead, the contents of the article being as follows:

“I am sure that you will not be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Elvis is dead, and my evidence for this assertion is contained at elvisisstillalive.com, which I incorporate here by reference.”

I then make the following assertion: “If you can prove me wrong to a jury of twelve arbitrators, I will give you $6000. It is true that you will have to front $6000 initially to pay the filing fees, but I myself will have to put $12,000 in an escrow account, and if you succeed in proving me wrong, you get the entire $12,000, so the money you fronted will be returned.”

You are intrigued by this offer, so you go to visit the website to see what the evidence is, and quickly discover that there is no such website, and therefore, no evidence. Accordingly, if you take me before the group of arbitrators, you realize that you will be able to provide a massive amount of evidence that I am wrong, and since I have no evidence that I am correct, you will prevail.

While initially it might seem difficult that you could persuade twelve arbitrators of a point, you realize that this is a burden that is met every day by prosecutors across America, who have to convince a jury of twelve beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant is guilty. And if you need any proof that this is not really all that difficult a burden to meet, just take a peek inside the jails across America, where thousands of people reside to show you just how easy it is.

At this point, you realize that an offer like this is essentially money in the bank.

Now, if I made an offer like that, would I get any takers? You bet! This is because the confidence level that I am incorrect would be somewhere around 100%.

But, suppose I wrote a brief article called Impossible: The Case That Man Never Walked on the Moon, which would incorporate all the evidence that man actually did walk on the moon. And, I made exactly the same offer. Would I get any takers for arbitration regarding this article? Absolutely not! And this is because the confidence level that I am incorrect would be somewhere around 0%.

And that takes us to the instant case: I have written a book called Impossible: The Case Against Lee Harvey Oswald, and have made exactly the same offer. Now, if the confidence level (of the people to whom I have made this offer) that I was incorrect was close to 100%, they would be swarming to take the case. But, if their confidence level that I was incorrect was closer to 0%, then of course they would be avoiding this offer like the plague, which, in fact, they have at this stage of the game.

So, now we know that the confidence level of the conspiracy-deniers (a/k/a "the lone assassin theorist") is astonishingly low. This separates them from the Holocaust deniers, who, even though they have one or more screws loose bouncing around in the cupboard, at least do not suffer from inauthenticity: these people actually do believe that the Holocaust did not occur.

Alas, the same is not true for the conspiracy-denier, which leads to quite an anomaly: these are individuals who actually have very little faith in their position, and yet continually lie about it on Internet forums. For my money, a fascinating psychological conundrum, one deserving of exploration: wouldn't you like to get into the heads of these people?

Well, one way to get into the heads of these people is to find out just how low their confidence level is. And, thanks to the deductive power of mathematics, we can actually make an extremely good guess.

Here's how: return to the initial offer, $6000 at risk, $12,000 to be returned. In other words, for every $1 you bet, you have a chance of winning $2, or, to put it colloquially, you are getting 2 to 1 odds. So, all we need to do now is figure out the breakeven confidence level that you should have to take the bet, and when we do the math, we find that if you are more than 33% confident in your position, you should take the bet, but if you are less than 33% confident, then you should not.

So, when individuals refuse the initial JFK Challenge, we know automatically that they are less than 33% confident in the point of view they profess to claim: note I say PROFESS to claim. We can be absolutely certain, based on this refusal to participate, that they are at least 66% sure that they are wrong!

But just how low is their confidence, anyway? Very simple to discover. Just increase the amount to be returned, and if they refuse to accept those offers, you can very easily determine their resultant confidence level!

So, let us cut to the chase. I posed a hypothetical $1,000,000 as an amount to be returned (+ the filing fee could be fronted, $6000), and got no takers. In other words, for every $1 at risk (from the filing fee), they could expect $166 to be returned. So, just how confident would you have to be to take an offer like this? Oh, about ½ of 1%!! That is right: even if you were only 1% confident that you could prove your case that Oswald was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, this $1,000,000 would be an absolutely fantastic offer.

However, because no one is accepting this offer on a theoretical basis, we know that they are 99% confident that the point of view they claim to profess is absolutely wrong!!

Thus, The JFK Challenge definitively shows what I have maintained all along: no one believes that Oswald could be found guilty according to the standard of reasonable doubt. There are many who believe that it is theoretically possible that he could be guilty, and then, using that completely irrelevant standard, maintain their implausible position. Yes, with the unreasonable chance standard as your benchmark, you can pretty much maintain anything.

The beauty of The JFK Challenge is that it reveals with mathematical precision the “standard” that is deployed by these people, and therefore how intellectually bankrupt their position, and provides a ready index of their inauthenticity.

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