Sunday, November 24, 2013

Kennedy's Missing Brain

One of the reasons that I love conspiracy theories is the fact that some of them actually sound reasonable enough to be true, and interesting enough to make me think. Friday marked November 22 marked the 50th anniversary of assassination of  President John F. Kennedy. 

Conspiracy theorists have always had a field day when it comes to what is arguably the controversial assassination in U.S. history. Some have claimed that there was a shadowy figure who fired a shot while hiding behind a grassy knoll, and others believe that Lee Harvey Ozwald, the killer, was secretly working for the C.I.A, and was murdered by Jack Ruby to keep him quiet.

But other rumors have actually turned out to be based on facts, and after all fact is stranger than fiction.

Who stole JFK's brain? It has been a mystery since 1966 when, three years after the president's assassination, it was discovered that his brain, which had been removed during the autopsy and stored in the National Archives, had gone missing. Conspiracy theorists have long suggested the missing organ would have proved Kennedy was not shot from the back by Lee Harvey Oswald, but from the front.

The latest theory puts forward a less juicy cover-up – James Swanson, author of a new book on the assassination of Kennedy, suggests the president's brain was taken by his younger brother Robert, "perhaps to conceal evidence of the true extent of President Kennedy's illnesses, or perhaps to conceal evidence of the number of medications that President Kennedy was taking".

The world that surrounds the JFK assassination is, at baseline, so bizarre and so susceptible to any cockamamie idea that the news that the former president’s brain is missing seems like a standard news dispatch, a routine day at an office where alien abductions are greeted with a bored shrug.

But the fact is, somehow, JFK’s brain cannot be accounted for. A second fact about JFK’s brain is that, horribly, Oswald’s bullet blew away a large portion of it. The autopsy of JFK describes that a “portion of the projectile [bullet] made its exit through the parietal bone [skull] on the right carrying with it portions of cerebrum [brain], skull, and scalp.”  Furthermore, a large portion of the brain was clearly missing. In a ghoulish recollection by the doctors who treated Kennedy and performed the autopsy, published as apart of a three-part series, one recalls spotting Mrs. Kennedy near the emergency room bay where the nominally alive JFK was still being worked on. Dr Pepper Jenkins recalled, “I noticed that her [Mrs. Kennedy’s] hands were cupped in front of her…As she passed by, she handed me what she had been nursing in her hands a large chunk of her husband’s brain tissue.”

LIke I said the truth really is stranger than fiction.


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