Who killed John F. Kennedy? Lee Harvey Oswald. Who helped Oswald? No one. Who hired Oswald? No one. Who really killed Kennedy and set Oswald up to take the fall? No one.
We find it hard to believe Oswald acted alone because the crime was so horrific, so monumental, so shattering that the notion of a single, troubled man altering history just doesn’t compute. The explanation is just too simple given the results it generated.
A critical part of what makes us human is our imagination and our drive to make sense of the world we live in. It’s a survival skill. Why is that bush moving in the distance? Is it the wind or a saber-toothed tiger? We’ve known why bushes move for eons. But how did we explain the sun going dark in the middle of the day before we understood how the solar system worked? We used our imagination and created an explanation.
Mythology is central to the human experience. It provides a framework to explain the inexplicable and gives us comfort and certainty that the world is not random and is therefore, to at least some extent, within our control.
But our need to make sense of the world also inspires us to explore, invent and experiment. That’s how we determine what is true and what is myth. That’s been done with the Kennedy assassination, and there’s a Phoenix connection. Lucien Haag is a former director of the Phoenix Police Department’s forensic laboratory. His son Michael is also a forensics expert and they both appear in the Nova special “Cold Case JFK.” You can watch it online and see how far the sciences of ballistics and forensics have come in 50 years.
There was no magic in the single bullet that hit both the president and Gov. Connally. Physics and neurology can explain why the president’s head snapped back when he was hit from behind.
Mythology is comforting, but knowledge is power.