Even those too young to remember the assassination of John F Kennedy will be aware of the sequence of events from archive newsreel footage, repeated regularly on TV.
Tragically, because of that footage and the eye witness accounts we know for certain that JFK died in Dallas on that November day in 1963. There’s no conspiracy theory surrounding his potential survival; the conspiracy theories abound as to why he was murdered and who was ultimately behind the plot to assassinate him.
I’ve just finished reading two biographies of Jim Morrison, iconic lead singer of The Doors, about whom endless theories have circulated concerning his ‘fake death’ in Paris in 1971.
Morrison apparently wanted out from the music scene in which he was involved. He was tired of screaming fans who viewed him as a sex symbol rather than the poet he already was as well as the originator of meaningful lyrics which certainly went unheard at The Doors’ concerts, drowned out by the screams of the fans.
Conspiracy theories abound that he was murdered by the FBI and CIA in collaboration; it’s also been proposed that Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin were also murdered for ‘corrupting America’s youth’.
World leaders, music legends, Princess Diana: none it seems are immune from the hysteria of the conspiracy theory. Major world events are also subject to this force, notable examples being the UFO crash at Roswell in 1947, to 9/11, via the moon landings. Every major event has and continues to prompt a conspiracy theory.
Conspiracy theories have become part of our culture and the spread of mass media has fuelled their growth. Some theorists believe that we are overwhelmed by information that we frequently find difficult to believe and that conspiracy theories help to make sense of the event by involving us, rather than being passive onlookers.
That particular theory is widely held, but in a world where we have access to global information 24/7 from multiple sources, don’t we need to be ever more vigilant in trying to separate truth from fiction?