Here’s the second entry on How to Research the JFK Assassination. If you missed the first article, click here.
It is hard to be objective when you believe, like I do, that our country lied to us; that there was much more to this than the powers that be would have us believe; and that many innocent people were treated like criminals and many criminals were treated like innocents.
In my years of research, I have found that the best way to understand the assassination is to first understand the political history of the times, and when I say that, I mean understanding the socio-economic, definitely the political and our culture. It’s a big order isn’t it? Sooner or later though, you’re going to have to go through some of the thousands of books on the subject. Some books are gems hidden away. Some are, in my opinion, a waste of your valuable time. As an author, I hope my new book will help you with some of this and I will publish excerpts from it as it nears completion. And while I’m on the subject of books and “experts”. One of the earliest lessons I learned was to never trust anyone. NO ONE! No one has all the answers to this, and if they say they do run the other way!
The key attributes I look for and questions I ask before spending my time on a book or someone’s theory or a conference are these:
- What’s their agenda? Are they promoting their election campaign? Their newest book? Their speaking tours? In my case, my agenda is to find my grandfather’s film. Sometimes an author will say, “my agenda is the truth”. Don’t judge their rhetoric: judge their actions, their track records and their reputation. Judge how long they’ve had friends within the community and how many friendships have soured and why? It has been my experience that the most honest authors/researchers will answer your questions. They will never say, “read the book.” They will help you and suggest other authors that will help you. This is what I mean by their actions. They treat people like they would like to be treated.
- Check the author out. Is there a history of lying? Are there questions about their validity? To be fair, sometimes authors are hard to get along with and as much, they get bad reviews. How do you know then? Check their notes. Do they rely on Wikipedia? Do they quote key ideas from other works? Is their history verifiable? Have they, like many politicians, switched sides, ideas or standpoints? When did they start talking about their experiences? How do they react to criticism? All of these are key to finding the truth. Is there a pattern of the same people and/or topics at every conference? Patterns in regards to any research is important.
- In tandem with the questions above, how often are their names mentioned in all the investigations? Remember, there’s not just the Warren Commission. There’s the House Select Committee on Assassinations; the Church Committee; the Rockefeller Commission; the Assassination Records Review Board; the Jim Garrison Investigation; the Texas Attorney General Waggoner Carr’s Investigation…and many, many more reenactments, studies, television specials, documentaries and more.
- Check the Universities for collections from noted researchers and key witnesses as well.
- Is the author or researcher professional? Do they ask for donations? Are they always hawking some idea, book, DVD, or asking for donations for themselves instead of an organization?
Start with these questions and before you buy a bunch of books, I would like to suggest some places to start that have been of HUGE help to me.
Duncan MacRae’s JFK Assassination Forum is a great beginning place but I’m warning you, you will lose yourself in the many topics these people have covered. Reading through some of these posts may be difficult as sometimes people become so passionate in their beliefs they forget to treat others like they would like to be treated. For a great overall view of many aspects of the JFK Assassination both from believers in the Warren Commission and those who don’t, go to the JFKassassinationforum.com If you sign up as a member, you can view the photos and links. This site also hosts the invaluable JFK Assassination Gallery of pictures by Robin Unger. Click here to visit it. When I was writing my book about Orville Nix, I spent many hours here talking to people who were a big help to me.
If you know a lot about the JFK Assassination but are interested in new findings, you can’t beat the REOPENTHEKENNEDYCASE site run by Greg Parker. I may not always agree with what people say or think they see in pictures on this site, but I have such respect for people who are willing to dig deeper and not just regurgitate the same old things. There are still witnesses out there with stories. There are still files that are classified. There are things to be learned and this is the place to find them.
If you are interested in the media and Cuban/Mexico City insights, then you should visit the JFKfacts Forum run by Jefferson Morley. The posts here are passionate, but tend to be more civil than some of the other sites.
The next in the series will be out in a few weeks and will discuss studying the history of the time, books and other ways to find the answers. Please let me know if you have any tips that have helped you with research.