Bullshit! - My Reply
To Penn & Teller

By Douglas Herman
"Shams and delusions are esteemed for soundest truths, while reality is fabulous."
-Henry David Thoreau
Not long ago a friend wrote me that apair of Las Vegas tricksters had debunked the JFK assassination conspiracy theory. Those of us who claim a second gunman--or third and fourth--had popped the prez in Dealey Plaza, were proven wrong, he wrote. My friend, a former Phillie cop and Air Force veteran named Bill, claimed that P & T (not to be confused with PT Barnum, rumored to have said "There's a sucker born every minute"), proved that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. One gunman, one rifle, case closed.
Having been a rifleman, and received the magazine American Rifleman long before Penn or Teller pulled a rabbit or Bible out of their hats, I wondered how they had conducted their objective test. Had they enlisted an armored-plated driver and borrowed an old Lincoln convertible? Had they propped a dummy in the back seat and placed themselves sixty feet above a downsloping avenue? Had they acquired some war-surplus rifle with a misaligned scope? Had they planted a sizeable tree midway along their field-of-fire?
Nope, they hadn't done any of that. Debunking theories, American-style, means only creating an atmosphere for performing magic tricks. Sort of what Dubya did to trick gullible American voters and Congress into approving war, by pulling Colin Powell out of his hat like a performing rabbit.
Penn & Teller, being magicians, decided to abandon the scientific method altogether. Instead they got their own TV show, appropriately called Bullshit!, on Showtime no less, and decided to bamboozle the audience. In Las Vegas, all the sound and fury and flashing strobe lights signifies everything. Almost as much as it does in Washington DC.
Our two Las Vegas tricksters, decided to shoot at a stationary watermelon. I guess if you want to prove to viewers you can hit a bird on the wing, you go down to the nearest henhouse and shoot a chicken in the nest. Maybe that sort of test works for the mass of Americans, who've never shot any guns and certainly not a rifle with a scope, but any hunter or trap and skeet shooter must have scoffed at this pair of plump buffoons. The only bullshit I could see was the stuff they were shoveling.
A year ago I set up a similar limited test, using my brother's bolt action 30.06 (The rifle featured on the cover of The Guns of Dallas, below.) Similar to Oswald's rifle, the 30.06 was equipped with a 4x scope. We stepped off seventy paces, my brother KJ and I, and put a cardboard target on the side of an abandoned refrigerator. We conducted our test outside, in gravel pit atop Pillar Mountain on Kodiak Island, Alaska. Unfortunately we couldn't get that target--or the refrigerator--to move at a speed of ten mile per hour, as JFK did.
I wanted to see the effects of jacketed ammo, the same sort of ammo Oswald allegedly used. I've always wondered how some of Oswald's bullets fragmented while the so-called "Magic bullet" remained in almost pristine condition. According to conspiracy debunker, Gerald Posner, over 60 grams of fragments were recovered. Now, to any non-shooter, as most Americans are (and Mr. Posner?), a gram and a grain are apparently the same. But if 28 grams equal one ounce, that is a whole lot of bullet fragments. Why did some jacketed rounds fragment (and what did they hit?) and why didn't the so-called "Magic bullet" fragment, or mushroom, as normal bullets do?
We shot those 30.06 rounds through the target, and through four or five layers of sheet steel and few of the bullets fragmented until they passed through the fourth layer. We didn't use a watermelon. We didn't claim to debunk any lone gunmen theories. We simply shot jacketed rounds at a stationary target with an old bolt action rifle.
I found that my first shot was true. Oswald's first shot, amazingly, missed the entire Lincoln stretch limousine! After chambering the second shell, which pulled the muzzle of the rifle far off target, I found myself desperate to put my second shot anywhere close to a bullseye. Oswald, amazingly, struck both JFK and Governor Connelly with his alleged second shot!
One test I wished the magicians had conducted was to shoot at a moving target--as Oswald allegedly had done--using a scoped rifle. In the interest of science--debunking any conspiracy is a science--they would have needed a level playing field rather than a propaganda forum. They would have needed an abiding love of the truth rather than a huckster's love of sham. As Henry David Thoreau said: "Shams and delusions are esteemed for soundest truths, while reality is fabulous." Our Las Vegas magicians are exactly like those tricksters in Washington DC, seldom interested in the truth, simply con artists proclaiming their lies loudly, as they have for the last forty years.
Douglas Herman writes regularly for Rense and is the author of the recent novel, The Guns of Dallas, available online at Amazon or autographed copies may be purchased directly from the author at



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