JFK: Confirming the London Sunday Times Actuary’s 100,000 Trillion to One Odds
Updated Oct.1, 2014
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An actuary engaged by the London Sunday Times calculated 100,000 trillion to one odds against 18 JFK material witnesses dying in the three year period ending in Feb. 1967. The odds were displayed in the 1972 film Executive Action
“In the three-year period which followed the murder of President Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald, 18 material witnesses died – six by gunfire, three in motor accidents, two by suicide, one from a cut throat, one from a karate chop to the neck, three from heart attacks and two from natural causes”.
The calculation has been the source of much controversy. Assuming the data and calculation methodology were essentially correct, then it was clear proof of a conspiracy and refuted the Warren Commission conclusion that Oswald was the lone assassin. Penn Jones was the first independent researcher to investigate unnatural deaths: https://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=IB5JGfxIxFk&feature=endscreen
The Poisson Probability Function
The actuary’s odds are matched assuming N=454 witnesses (the CIA claimed 418 testified in person at the Warren Commission). A total of 552 testified (including depositions). There were n=13 unnatural deaths among the 18 material witnesses. We will ignore the five suspicious natural deaths.
The expected number E of unnatural deaths is based on N=454,T=3 years, R=0.000209 the weighted unnatural death rate:
E = N*T*R= 0.285 = 454*3*0.000209
P = Poisson (13, E, false)
P = 9.83E-18 = 1 in 100,000 trillion
It is important to note that the actuary worked with limited information. There were actually at least 42 unnatural JFK-related deaths in the three years following the assassination. View the JFK Calc spreadsheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AjAk1JUWDMyRdDFSU3NVd29xWWNyekd2X1ZJYllKTnc#gid=1
There were at least 10 unnatural deaths among the 418 witnesses who testified in person at the Warren Commission in the three years ending Feb. 1967. The probability is:P= 2.4E-15 = 1 in 400 trillion
There were 20 unnatural deaths among the 552 total witnesses in the 15 years from 1964-78. The probability is:P= 6.35E-16 = 1 in 1500 trillion
In 1978, the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) investigated the allegation (based on the actuary) that a statistically improbable number of individuals with some direct or peripheral association with the Kennedy assassination died as a result of that assassination, thereby raising the specter of conspiracy.
The HSCA declared that the actuary’s calculation was invalid, claiming that the universe (number of witnesses) was unknowable. Warren Commission defenders (Bugliosi, McAdams, Posner, etc.) have questioned the relevance of witness connections to the assassination. The HSCA made a number of errors in coming to that conclusion, It did not cite the
1. suspicious deaths of anti-Castro, CIA, mafia, Dallas police
2. unnatural witness deaths, the key statistic in the analysis
3. known universe of 552 Warren Commission witnesses
4. 500+ called to testify by Garrison, Church and HSCA
5. identity of the actuary
6. methodology used by the actuary
7. 100+ suspicious deaths
8. deaths of Oswald, Ruby, DeMorenschildt, Ferrie, Craig etc.
9. 7 FBI officials due to testify at HSCA died in a 6 month period in 1977.
Unnatural Mortality Rates and Expected Deaths
U.S. National Center for Health Statistics http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005124.html
In order to calculate the probability of a given number of unnatural deaths in a given group, we must first determine the expected number (E) of unnatural deaths.
E= N*T*R, where N is the size of the witness universe, T the time period under study in years, and R the average unnatural mortality rate.
Let H = the number of homicides, A = accidental deaths, S = suicides.
The actuary’s 13 unnatural deaths consist of:
H=8 homicides, A=3 accidents and S=2 suicides.
The corresponding average mortality rates for the period from 1964-66:
HR= 0.000061, AR= 0.000658, SR = 0.000128
The total unnatural rate (unweighted):
RT = HR+ AR+ SR = 0.000847
The total number ET of expected unnatural deaths:
ET = 1.15 = 454*3*0.000847
Only one unnatural death would be expected! But there were 13.
The weighted average mortality rate R is:
R = (H*HR + A*AR + S*SR)/ (H+A+S)
The average weighted unnatural rate:
R = .000209 = (8*0.000061+ 3*0.000658+ 2*0.000128)/13
The expected number E of unnatural deaths is based on the weighted rate:
E = 0.285 = 454*3*0.000209
The Poisson Probability Function
The Poisson function calculates the probability of 13 unnatural deaths in three years assuming 454 witnesses to match the actuary’s odds.
P = Poisson (13, 0.285, false)
P = 9.83E-18 = 1 in 100,000 trillion
If the 3 accidents and 2 suicides were actually homicides, then applying the 0.000061 average homicide rate, we have 13 homicides among 454 witnesses over three years.
E= 0.083= 454*3*0.000061
P= Poisson (13, 0.083, false)
P = 1.33E-24= 1 in 750 million trillion
The reference Who’s Who in the JFK Assassination contains information on 1400+ JFK-related suspects, victims, witnesses,Law Enforcement officials and investigators. Approximately 100 died suspiciously in 1964-78 and are listed in the JFK Calc spreadsheet database.
Crossfire, by Jim Marrs, includes a list of 103 “convenient deaths”. http://www.assassinationresearch.com/v1n2/deaths.html
There are 122 suspicious deaths (78 officially ruled unnatural) listed in the spreadsheet JFK Calc. The probability of 78 unnatural deaths is 1 in trillions. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AjAk1JUWDMyRdDFSU3NVd29xWWNyekd2X1ZJYllKTnc#gid=1
The Simkin JFK Spartacus Education website contains biographies of 656 JFK-related individuals. http://spartacus-educational.com/JFKindex.htm Approximately 70 died suspiciously (44 unnatutally, included 22 homicides). The probability is 1 in trillions. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1FmXudDf6pqisxq_mepIC6iuG47RkDskPDWzQ9L7Lykw/edit#gid=81
The chief of research of the HSCA, Jacqueline Hess, testified: http://jfkassassination.net/russ/jfkinfo2/jfk4/hess.htm
Our final conclusion on the issue is that the available evidence does not establish anything about the nature of these deaths which would indicate that the deaths were in some manner, either direct or peripheral, caused by the assassination of President Kennedy or by any aspect of the subsequent investigation.
One, to compute valid actuarial statistics, one must be able to determine to a reasonable degree of specificity, the universe of individuals to which the specific group is being compared. In other words, we would have to determine the total number of individuals who exist in each of the categories into which those individuals who have mysteriously died, fall. This means that we would need to establish the number of individuals who in any manner could be considered witnesses to the assassination of President Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald, the number of individuals who had any contact with Oswald or Ruby or with Ruby’s nightclubs, the number of individuals who professed to have material knowledge of the case or of the major figures in the case, all news reporters who had expressed interest, taken interviews or investigated the case, and all Members of Congress who sought to introduce legislation concerning the investigation of the case. This, as you can imagine, would have been an impossible task.
This was an incorrect statement. The universe of witnesses could be the four investigations in which at least 67 died suspiciously from 1964-78.
Two, in addition, for each of the individuals identified in the groups I have just listed, we would have to establish age, sex, race, occupation, geographical location, and any other extraordinary factors which have to be taken into consideration in order to compute mortality rates. Again, this was judged to be an impossible job.
Another incorrect statement. Natural mortality rates (heart attack, cancer, etc.) are age adjusted. Unnatural death rates are not age-related.
Three, we would need to determine the number of individuals in these categories who have, in fact, died and the number of individuals who, according to actuarial mortality rates, should have died.We had thus established the impossibility of attempting establish through the application of actuarial principles, any meaningful implications about the existence or absence of a conspiracy. Despite the fact that an inference of conspiracy, as here postulated by the critics, did not exist, we nevertheless decided not to dismiss the cited deaths out of hand, but rather, to look more closely at the nature of certain specific deaths to determine whether or not they could individually be considered mysterious or in some other manner a reflection of some sort of conspiracy.
Impossible to determine an approximate number of JFK-related individuals who died suspiciously? That is a canard. All the HSCA had to do was view the list of those called to testify in four JFK investigations – including the HSCA. It ignored 100+ deaths, including 7 top FBI officials who died suspiciously within 6 months in 1977, De Morenschildt and others who were due to testify at HSCA. Note: Hess noted 23 names, including two key Mafia figures (Sam Giancana and John Roselli). But the two were not included in the detailed report requested by the HSCA interrogator. Strange. http://www.cassiopaea.org/cass/jfkdeaths.htm
Mr. EDGAR – Will you provide for the record a detailed listing of the 21 names and the evidence you have found relating to their deaths?
Ms. HESS – Yes. Do you want me to read them for the record?
Mr. EDGAR – It might be helpful.
Ms. HESS – Edward Benavides, Albert Guy Bogard, Hale Boggs, Lee Bowers, Jr., Bill Chesher, Nicholas J. Chetta, David Goldstein, Thomas Hale Howard, William Hunter, Clyde Johnson, Dorothy Kilgallen, Thomas Henry Killam, Jim Koethe, FNU Levens, Nancy Jane Mooney, Teresa Norton, Earlene Roberts, Harold Russell, Marilyn April Walle, a.k.a. Betty McDonald, William W. Whaley, James R. Worrell, Sam Giancana, John Roselli.
Mr. EDGAR – Thank you. I think it very helpful for the record that those names be included. Can you indicate why Mr. DeMohrenschildt’s name was not included?
Ms. HESS – His was one of those which deemed further investigation and became part of a great investigative effort.
Actuary – 18 material witness deaths
M=homicide, A=accident, S=suicide, H=heart attack, O=other
W = testified at WC
Note:* No anti-Castro; CIA; Mafia; Dallas police in HSCA list of 21 deaths
S 6402 BETTY MACDONALD W
M 6403 HANK KILLAM
H 6403 BILL CHESHER
M 6404 BILL HUNTER
M 6405 GARY UNDERHILL * CIA/Life magazine, predicted his death
M 6409 JIM KOETHE
H 6503 TOM HOWARD
M 6507 HAROLD RUSSEL W
A 6512 WILLIAM WHALEY W
H 6601 EARLENE ROBERTS W
S 6602 ALBERT BOGARD W
O 6606 FRANK MARTIN W * Dallas Policeman (sudden cancer)
A 6608 LEE BOWERS W
M 6610 WILLIAM PITZER * Navy autopsy photographer, near retirement
A 6611 JAMES WORRELL W
O 6701 JACK RUBY W * Connected to Dallas PD, mob (sudden cancer)
M 6702 DAVID FERRIE * CIA, knew Oswald
M 6702 ELADIO DEL VALLE * anti-Castro, knew Ferrie
Convenient deaths spiked in 1964 (Warren Commission) and 1977 (House Select Committee).