Conspiracy Theories

New Poll Shows a Striking Drop in Popularity for JFK Conspiracy Theories

For the first time since the '60s, conspiracy believers can't even muster a plurality.


The coin toss went back and to the left.
Coalition on Political Assassinations

Rasmussen released a new survey about conspiracy theories this week. The most interesting news in it is that only 32 percent of the people polled believe more than one shooter was involved in the death of John F. Kennedy, with 45 percent rejecting the idea. That marks a shift from Rasmussen's last report on the subject, which had the conspiracy believers narrowly outnumbering the nonbelievers, 37 percent to 36 percent. (I should note that the two surveys phrased the question differently, with this year's query specifically asking about multiple gunmen while the earlier poll referred more broadly to "a conspiracy.")

The new total is even more striking if you compare it to other pollsters' data. Rasmussen aside, last year's surveys showed somewhere between 51 and 61 percent of the country endorsing a Kennedy conspiracy theory. In years past, the total has hit 80 percent. It has almost never been less than half, and you'd have to go back to the '60s to find a result where the conspiracists didn't even manage to muster a plurality.

Last year I suggested that the decreasing popularity of these theories reflects the public's fading memories: If the assassination doesn't loom as large as it used to, the drive to explain it won't be as intense. I'll be interested to see if other pollsters find comparably low results in the future.

Among the other findings in this week's Rasmussen study:

• 24 percent believe the U.S. government knew in advance about the 9/11 attacks. That's more truthers than a Public Policy Polling survey found last year but less than a Scripps Howard poll from 2006.

• 14 percent say the Moon landing was faked. For more on this subject, see xkcd.

Hurrah for Old Bill Shakespeare/He never wrote them plays/He stayed at home, and chasing girls/Sang dirty rondelays
Jaggard & Blount

• 8 percent do not believe William Shakespeare wrote the plays that bear his byline. That doesn't sound like many, but Rasmussen says that "when you add the 36% who aren't sure, it's clear there's sizable doubt about the authorship of 'Hamlet,' 'Macbeth' and the others." Alternately, those 36 percent just might not be certain who Shakespeare is.

• 3 percent believe Paul McCartney was killed and replaced by an imposter. This total is low enough to fit within the margin of trolling.

Bonus link: The inevitable plug for my book on the subject.

NEXT: Ukraine: Pentagon Sending Advisers, 2 More Jets Shot Down, Red Cross Thinks MH-17 Attack Is War Crime

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  1. Out-effin’-standing alt+text.

    1. Agreed – Hall of Alt-Text Fame material this post is.

    2. *applauds vigorously in agreement*

  2. the commie in the book depository with a rifle.

    1. You mean, H.W. in the grassy knoll with a rifle. Poor guy, still upset about all the Cubans he trained at Zapata Corp dying on the beaches of Cuba. Can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same thing though if all my comrades died the same way.

  3. rondelets, dammit.

    Still, stunned by the drop in the JFK conspiracy belief.

    1. Everyone realized that Lee Harvey Oswald killed Kennedy so he could steal the Jack Ruby.

      1. He just wanted a good look at the President and the rifle discharged! All on it’s own!

        1. Six times! Working the bolt all by its lonesome.

          1. I keed, I keed, I have no recollection of how many times the rifle fired.

    2. rondelets, dammit

      It’s spelled “rondelays” in the novel I was quoting. (A no-prize to the first Reasoner who can identify the book.)

        1. Good Googling, Son!

  4. This is obviously a conspiracy against the conspiracy theories!

  5. This is just what they want you to think

    1. *narrows gaze, tightens foil hat*

      And you would know what they want, exactly how???!!!

  6. The Term “conspiracy theorist” is a label used by the establishment to dismiss the idea that powerful people might get together and actually plan anything.

    — George Carlin

    1. Also, assholes.

  7. I really hope no one ever takes a shot at BHO. I don’t want to hear about how he was a martyr and would have fixed the world if not cut down in his prime for the rest of my life.

    1. Yep, he deserves to live a long full life of watching his historic reputation get (justifiably) judged worse and worse as time goes by.

      1. Perhaps, but he is sure to be laughing all the way to the bank.

  8. “3 percent believe Paul McCartney was killed and replaced by an imposter.”


    Or, it may express persistent support for the belief that both Paul and Ringo, as well as the Queen, are actually lizards and part of the Lizard Illuminati.…..apocalypse

    1. 8% think O-care is wonderful!

      1. There are people in this world who think our politicians have our best interests at heart!

        I find them much more frightening than the conspiracy kooks.

        I look at birthers and truthers, and I think, you know, there’s a bunch of people my arguments about economics and political philosophy, and such aren’t really ever going to connect with–but we need ways to reach other people, too.

        …and if that’s how they come to the conclusion that our politicians aren’t to be trusted? Then that’s fine with me.

        I grew up in a religious tradition in which we were taught that the Bible says we’re going to all be subjected to an Anti-Christ led, one-world government…

        When I got older, I converted to Narcissism, but I remember this verse in Proverbs that went “The fear of God is the beginning of all wisdom”. I’d just alter that a bit to say “The mistrust of government is the beginning of all…”.

        How could anyone be so dumb as to think that politicians and bureaucrats–because they care about us–can be trusted to make better qualitative choices for us than we can for ourselves?

        If not even the nuttiest, crazy conspiracy theorist is so irrational that they’ll fall for that, what’s your average Obama fan’s excuse?

    2. The Duke of Edinburgh actually is a lizard. Just look at him.

      1. There is something lizardly about him

        I always thought the first season of the semi-recent Doctor Who reboot was based on Icke’s Lizard Illuminati.

  9. Kennedy died for the same reason the Bills will never win the Super Bowl.

    1. Kennedy was wide right? I never knew that.

    2. They never did explain what Cigarette/Smoking Man had against the Bills.

  10. Everyday that passes results in less people who are alive that worship JFK. This is a good thing.

    1. Yeah, a very mediocre President whose reputation was salvaged by martyrdom.

      1. I would take him over BHO or GWB any day.

    2. Everyday that passes results in fewer people who are alive that hated JFK. This is not a good thing.

      FIFY (also corrected grammar)

      1. How dare you correct my grammar! Mine is a unique patois!

      2. A pointless and pedantic rule, serving no purpose other than to tell the world that the corrector is worse than Hitler. In this it’s exactly like ending sentences with prepositions or splitting infinitives. FUCK PRESCRIPTIVE GRAMMAR.

        1. The preposition rule came from pedants who stole it from Latin grammar, without bothering to notice that English is not derived from Latin.

          1. Same with the split infinitive, except there the problem is that it’s not possible to split an infinitive in Latin. The fewer vs. less thing just comes from some guy’s personal preference.

            1. I’m more aggreived by the fact that people keep trying to throw away a perfectly good pronoun for one or more persons of unknown gender that has served the role since the days of Chauser. They, them and their served for one or many people until some 19th century asshole disagreed with centuries of common usage. I want it reinstated to its proper place.

        2. while we are cleaning up, can we completely toss the word “whom” into the garbage dump along with “thee” and “thou”. It isn’t needed ever for anything. I don’t give a crap whom you are.

          1. No dice. English is too uninflected as it is.

      3. That’s “every day”, a noun phrase, not “everyday”, an adj.

  11. The book depository building is a museum now, and you can look out of the window that Oswald shot out of, see the X on the street, and see just what an easy shot it was. And while you’re doing this, you can listen to dispshits around you pointing out the grassy knoll and telling their children that’s where the real shooter was. It’s revolting.

    1. Oswald also got at least one marksman medal while in the military.

      There are versions of theories that make some sense. It’s possible that Castro and/or the USSR was involved to some degree, even if it was a rogue operation, and that that was covered up to avoid war.

      1. My favorite conspiracy theory involved the CIA, the Mafia, and Marilyn Monroe. I forget how it worked, exactly, but it involved a poison suppository.

        1. Inserted by a lizard-tongue.

    2. see just what an easy shot it was

      Well, not that easy. It was a moving target, etc.

      1. A slow-moving target moving almost in a straight line away from him. It was a trivial shot.

  12. Kinda sorta OT: In 10th-grade English, the class know-it-all explained to us how Shakespeare could not have written the plays attributed to him. Since his argument rested on spelling, I raised my hand and asked him to explain the spelling conventions of the time. He really, really hated me after that.

    1. I am slightly warmer to who-wrote-Shakespeare theories than to most conspiracy theories. The guy seems to have had little to no education, and yet the plays are quite erudite. At the time writing plays was a bit disreputable, and writers could easily get in trouble if the Crown took offense. So the idea that Shakespeare was a front man for someone else doesn’t seem entirely implausible.

  13. I stopped flirting with that particular conspiracy when I learned to shoot. 53 meters (175) is too close to miss even a moving target with a rifle.

    1. “But no one could possibly shoot 3 shots in 6 seconds with a Mannlicher-Carcano!”

      Said someone who has never shot a bolt-action rifle in his life.

      1. HARTMAN: Do any of you people know who Charles Whitman was? None of you dumbasses knows? Private Cowboy?
        COWBOY: Sir, he was that guy who shot all those people from that tower in Austin, Texas, sir!

        HARTMAN: That’s affirmative. Charles Whitman killed twelve people from a twenty-eight-storey observation tower at the University of Texas from distances up to four hundred yards. Anybody know who Lee Harvey Oswald was? Private Snowball?

        SNOWBALL: Sir, he shot Kennedy, sir!

        HARTMAN: That’s right, and do you know how far away he was?

        SNOWBALL: Sir, it was pretty far! From that book suppository building, sir!

        HARTMAN: All right, knock it off! Two hundred and fifty feet! He was two hundred and fifty feet away and shooting at a moving target. Oswald got off three rounds with an old Italian bolt action rifle in only six seconds and scored two hits, including a head shot! Do any of you people know where these individuals learned to shoot? Private Joker?

        JOKER: Sir, in the Marines, sir!

        HARTMAN: In the Marines! Outstanding! Those individuals showed what one motivated marine and his rifle can do! And before you ladies leave my island, you will be able to do the same thing!


        PBS did a pretty good job debunking all those hypotheses.

      3. Said someone who has never shot a bolt-action rifle in his life.

        Just realized that sounds like I’m saying I’ve never shot a bolt-action rifle. Not true.

        1. I’ve watched TV personalities handily beat the three in six rate with a carcano, and these people were not trained killers.

      4. My brother had gotten a mail-order Mannlicher Carcano like Oswald’s just weeks before the assassination. We immediately tried to fire it three times in six seconds – one chambered, one rechambered and then final shot (which went wild)- and did it in six seconds.

  14. I totally did it.

    1. Is this a Spartacus thing? “I shot JFK!”

  15. Jesse Walker = apologist for the Big Lizard Illuminati.

  16. It was 3 shots in 8 seconds, and the clock starts w/ the first shot. You have all day for the first shot and 4 sec each for the next two.

  17. 3% is the margin of trolling? Everyone I know fucks with pollsters, because we hate pollsters. This shit is way too tempting.

  18. The third shot was the easiest, as it was an almost straight away shot with a slightly down angle that would have required little or no lead. The first two-shots were more crossing shots, requiring some lead. I have no doubt that any jarhead that ever finished basic would have lacked the skill to make the third shot.

    I was very surprised when I saw the book depository and car route for the first time. The Zebrugger (sp?) film gives one, or at least me, the impression that it was a right to left crossing shot. It was not, it was nearly straight away as the road starts to take a slight twist to the underpass. No way could someone standing on the “grassy knoll have gotten away with it without being noticed.

    1. And considering he was aiming at Connally, he didn’t do so well.

  19. So how do they classify a belief like mine, which is that John Kennedy died by accident? Seems James Reston agrees with me. I include Bonar Menninger’s explanation of Howard What’s-His-Name’s findings, so it adds up to nobody was deliberately shooting at him that day.

    But that means there was a conspiracy to cover up the awfully embarrassing accident?as well as for possibly other reasons.

    1. “Secret CIA files reveal: JFK shot himself!”

  20. I remember the book depository where they crowned the king of Cuba!

  21. FREE THE EXPO ’67!!!

  22. 3 percent believe Paul McCartney was killed and replaced by an imposter.

    That’s a cover-up; classic misdirection.

    The real truth is that George Harrison arranged for his own replacement by an impersonator, in 1978, so that he could go rule the world from a hidden monastery in Tibet.

    In accordance with the prophecy.

  23. They’ve mowed that Grassy Knoll so much it’s a sand trap now.

  24. Jim Garrison had a photo of LBJ, Castro, Ruby, Khruschev, the Cia, the Mob and Old Lady Zapruder, riding the same Mardi Gras float dressed as woman,except for Old Lady Zapruder, tossing beads to Oswald. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

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