|President Kennedy, all smiles, less than one minute before he was shot.|
I've been a conspiracy buff my entire life. I'd say it's been more than a hobby, and less than an obsession. To a great degree, this was instigated by the murder of one man, John F. Kennedy, nearly a decade before I was born.
When I was a child, JFK's death was still on a lot of people's minds, as a sort of given. It was a gigantic presence, and adults often talked about where they were and what they were doing when they first heard the news. Probably what cemented it for me was that every now and then, you could actually watch Kennedy get murdered right on TV. Abraham Zapruder had filmed the whole thing.
If you like, you can watch the Zapruder film right now, slowed down and in super digitized modern high quality (WARNING: very graphic footage - watch at your own risk):
The JFK Assassination was The Moment when everything went sour, when the American dream died. This had a lot to do with the fact that, at the time, most people seemed to believe that some part of the US government, maybe in cahoots with the Mafia, had killed him. That the murder wasn't just a random assassination by a crazed lone gunman, but was in fact a coup d'etat.
Most people thought the official story was ludicrous - that Kennedy had been killed by Lee Harvey Oswald, an idea that stood in opposition to mountains of evidence to the contrary, and which required one "magic bullet" to penetrate both Kennedy and Texas governor John Connally a total of seven times.
Funny how times change. As the years pass, an interesting thing is happening to public opinion about the murder.
First off, it's always been a rule that major media personalities have to believe in the official explanation, and have to foist that explanation on their audience. For example, in our era, people as far apart in the political spectrum as nice, reasonable, liberal hero Rachel Maddow, and rabid right wing pit bull Bill O'Reilly, both profess their devotion to the official story.
But even in the absence of any compelling evidence for that story, the general public is also starting to believe it. Check out this handy dandy infographic from a Gallup poll conducted in November of this year (click to enlarge):
As recently as the year 2000, 81% of Americans polled believed that Kennedy's murder was a conspiracy. Only 13% believed it was the work of Lee Harvey Oswald alone. Those numbers had stayed reasonably consistent for 25 years. Now, just 13 years later, 61% of Americans polled believe the murder was a conspiracy, and 30% believe Oswald acted alone.
What's causing this change? I believe there are several reasons. The generations who lived through the Kennedy assassination (and for whom it was a raw and open wound) are slowly dying off. Media mind control techniques are slowly being perfected. And those techniques are being marshaled to discredit conspiracy theories in general, especially in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.
As a result, people are gradually coming around to the official way of seeing things.