Friday, November 25, 2011


It's so tempting to jump to conclusions when two events are closely related by time, distance, some other numerical measure, or all three.  Take for example the Penn State scandal.  After the alleged incidents were first reported to authorities and Joe Paterno by Mike McQueary in 2002 the district attorney for Centre County at the time, Ray Gricar, disappeared in 2005 and was declared legally dead.  His car and laptop without its hard drive were found but his body was not.  Former Allegheny County Coroner Dr. Cyril Wecht says he believes that the two incidents are related.  I have no way of knowing if the two events are related but it certainly should be looked into and the public should be told if they are indeed related.  Its only a matter of time before conspiracy theories surface of wider corruption

Dr. Wecht has also heavily criticized the Warren commission's report on the assassination of John F. Kennedy (the 48th anniversary was this week).  This is one case that has received considerable scrutiny in the years since 1963 especially after the Vietnam War and Watergate scandal.  The Senate Church and House Select Committees on assassinations reexamined the Warren Commission findings in public hearings and reaffirmed their findings.  Many still, such as Dr. Wecht who testified before the committee and was the lone dissenter among the medical experts, are unsatisfied with these conclusions.  Theories of the real culprits range from Lyndon Johnson to the Soviets to Fidel Castro to the Mafia to some combination of all of them to extinguish the bright light of Camelot (a myth that Jackie Kennedy helped create).  Again I do not have the data to evaluate any of these claims.  That is one of the problems of our modern world of having access to evidence (in other words data) so that we can evaluate evidence and make sound conclusions for ourselves.

There are lots of other conspiracy theory examples I can use that are dubious at best but some choose to believe.  Is Osama bin Laden & Elvis really dead?  Was George Bush really behind the 9/11 attacks?  Did Hillary Clinton kill Vince Foster?  Was Barack Obama born in Kenya?  I fear another one is coming, "did Joe Paterno, Jerry Sandusky, and then PA Attorney General and now Governor Tom Corbett hire the mafia to kill Ray Gricar?  Joe Paterno has been an outspoken critic of stereotyping Italian Americans as being mafiosi, was that just a ruse?"

On this blog I concentrate on things that can be measured directly.  One can learn a lot by following the evidence trail.  In the Watergate investigation they started out investigating a burglary, they followed the evidence trail and it led them to Richard Nixon.  It's better to start there with out jumping to conclusions.  The 9/11 attacks were the result of a conspiracy, most likely by Bin Laden & friends.  More often than not conspiracies end up like an episode of Seinfeld or the kidnapping plot in the movie Fargo.

**Related Posts**

Say it ain't so JoePa!


Statistics and Old Beliefs 


What is Sanity?


The Science of Why We Don't Believe Science | Mother Jones