Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search


JFK assassination to moonwalk: 6 American conspiracy theories

American conspiracy theories date back to the days before the Declaration of Independence. Here are six – both old and new, well-known and obscure – that are percolating in the American zeitgeist now.

- Staff writer

An X marks the spot on Elm Street where the first bullet hit President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963, near the former Texas School Book Depository, now known as the Sixth Floor Museum (seen in the background) on Dealey Plaza in Dallas. (LM Otero/AP/File)

1. The Kennedy assassination

Sometimes dubbed the mother of all conspiracy theories, the hunt for the truth about the Nov. 22, 1963, assassination of John F. Kennedy continues to trouble and engage many Americans. Even a 1979 House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations report raises doubts.

Some skeptics claim that Lee Harvey Oswald could not have fired all three shots, and they try to explain the motivations as either Cuban payback for Kennedy's attempt to invade the Communist island or a CIA conspiracy to stop Kennedy's ambitions of ending the cold war.

Five years ago, the Discovery Channel assembled forensic experts to once again examine the evidence. It also simulated the motorcade procession, firing live shots at a dummy of Kennedy from different locations, including the "grassy knoll" from where some witnesses claim to have heard gunfire.

Though the team couldn't positively pin Oswald as the shooter, its findings did concur with the theory that the shots came from the sixth-floor window of the Texas School Book Depository, where Oswald worked.

Robert Holmes, in his new book, "A Spy Like No Other," argues that Oswald was probably the lone gunman, but that he was directed by a rogue element within the KGB striking back at Kennedy for his success in the Cuban missile crisis.


  • Weekly review of global news and ideas
  • Balanced, insightful and trustworthy
  • Subscribe in print or digital

Special Offer