Hello. I have visited this site many times and would like to share my story of how I fell into and got out of the rabbit hole--Plato's Cave--and some other thoughts on CTs, skepticism, and debunking. In time I hope to bring value to this board and help debunk bad thinking and other distortions. I am going to make multiple post in this thread, many in fact. It may take a couple week to complete. My apologies if it is long winded. My hope is that my stories will be insightful. I once enthusiastically believed that JFK was murdered by a conspiracy involving members of the government, military, and defense contractors. I was young, 15 or 16 years old, when I was introduced to theories. It was the late 1980s, before the internet was a pixelated gleam in the international eye. I remember overhearing my mother say to her friends (my mother was in no way a CT fanatic, but the JFK CT meme was well established in the mainstream public) that she thought Kennedy was killed via a conspiracy. This really stoked my curiosity. First chance I got I made my way to our small town's library and checked out their only book on the subject. I do not remember the title nor the author. I do remember its writing style was accessible to the me, and it was structured like a noir detective novel. I remember feeling a kind of thrilling horror, not unlike that of a slasher film, and deep seductive intrigue while I read. As I read on, the 'evidence' became more and more convincing. The book described all the well known tropes of the theory: Fair Play for Cuba Committee, Dulles, FBI, CIA, the Zapruder Film, Eisenhower's warning about the military industrial complex, Ruby's mob connections, Bay of Pigs, Cuban Exiles, the dead witnesses, problems with the Warren Commission, and the Magic Bullet Theory, ect. I was caught--convinced that the official story was bull, and that a great crime had happened and was covered up by the deepest levels of government. Soon after, I was assigned a research paper for a high school writing class. I choose to research the assissination CT. I went to a nearby city's library and read several books, articles, and portions of the Warner Report. My ten page report received an A with the teacher comments, "I never knew this!" In retrospect, this reaction is shockingly appalling. Eventually the obsession would fade away in the urgency of other adolescent concerns: sports, cars, girls, video games. And it could had stayed nothing more than a month long teenage obsession if it wasn't for one man, one hand puppeteer casting shadows on the wall of Plato's cave just a year or two later--shadows that awoke the distortions already stuck in my mind, and put me in full bore CTer mode. ---------------------------------------- Like any teen I had posters on my bedroom wall. JFK was one, a nod to a hand-me-down reverence from my Irish-American parents who spoke about the man in adorative tones. The other was the lead singer from my favorite classic rock bad, Jim Morrison. But it wasn't actually a picture of Jim, but of Val Kilmer with fire-red hair and idol eyes. And underneath the photo the movie poster listed, in prominate font among the smaller pointed credits, the name of the man who would kindle the CT obsession--Oliver Stone. When I heard he was directing a film about the assasination it was like combining the two posters. A synergy, so to speak. I couldn't wait. On New Year's Eve a friend and I went to see it. Now Stone remain one of my favorite directors--his films are a visual delight, and his warp sense of reality is a by proxy ride on the wild side. But he is manipulative, and in sum, fiction. But I was 18, a high school senior, and unsophisticated. His cunning juxtaposition, his liberal use of facts, his weaving theories into narrative--history into myth--was overpowering to my young mind. It captured my imagination, and amplified that thrilling horror, that seductive intrigue to a very high level. In some ways, I believe, CT thinking is like a drug; its seductive affects, fear, intrigue, anxiety, hits the reward centers of the brain--perhaps releasing endorphins--and compelling the CTer to want more and more of it. Walking out after that movie, I felt that I was on a high. This began a decades plus obsession with the theories. Throughout college I read all I could about JFK theories; I read book after book, article after article; I could digest 100s of pages in a 3-hour bender; But only if they supported a conspiracy. If it was an essay or article from a skeptical perspective, I could only read a couple paragraphs before putting it down in a spat of anger. Although it never interfered with my studies, I did spend too much time on it. I got to know every theory, ever bit of 'evidence', every readymade argument ( strawman) to counter skeptics, and every line of 'reasoning' on why the CT was obviously true. By my sophomore year the World Wide Web went mainstream. And with it were the first webpages on assasination theories and the nascent messageboard, Alt.assasination. There I could finally converse with other assasination aficionados, discuss theories, rant against against the gullible sheeple, and troll the government spies (skeptics) that dare to participate. It was a hobby, and one that would lead me to other woo; but yet, the alt boards was the beginning, the crack in the handcuffs, the beginning of the sunshine through a hole that would one day lead me out of Plato's cave.