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JFK Witness Death Probability Calculations: Data and Methodology

JFK Witness Death Probability Calculations: Data and Methodology

Richard Charnin
August 30, 2013

Click Reclaiming Science:The JFK Conspiracy to look inside the book.

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JFK Calc Spreadsheet Database

This post will illustrate the methodology used to calculate the probabilities of the unnatural deaths of JFK witnesses. JFK Calc: A Spreadsheet/Database of Mysterious Witness Deaths contains 122 JFK-related suspicious deaths, probability calculations, graphs and links to other data sources.

When the film Executive Action was released in 1973, it ignited a controversy. It noted that an actuary engaged by the London Times calculated 100,000 trillion to one odds that 18 material witnesses would be dead within three years of the assassination (8 homicides, 2 suicides, 3 accidents, 3 heart attacks and 2 from natural causes). In 1979. a statistician testified at the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) and claimed that since the witness universe was unknowable, the calculation was invalid, effectively stating that the problem as unsolvable. At that point, the controversy apparently ended. No one has come forth since to analyze the problem while political pundits, bloggers and others have quoted the HSCA result as gospel. But a fairly straightforward mathematical analysis confirms the actuary’s calculation – and proof of a conspiracy.

As noted in previous posts, the universe of witnesses is known. Approximately 1100 were called to testify at the Warren Commission, Garrison/Shaw trial, Church Senate and HSCA investigations. Of the 1100, 67 are included in JFK Calc. Of the 552 witnesses were interviewed by the Warren Commission, at least 30 died suspiciously (20 unnaturally) from 1964-1978.

Warren Commission defenders who try to refute witness connections to the assassination can no longer make that claim: the witnesses were relevant enough to be called to testify in at least one of the four investigations. But even the connection is a non-issue. What matters is that among a known universe of witnesses, a statistically impossible number died from unnatural causes. That is a mathematical certainty. The mortality data constitutes the factual evidence in plain sight. The probability calculations of the these unnatural deaths are 1 in trillions. This should put an end to the debate. Anyone who follows the analysis and still defends the Warren Commission report is either a fool or a fraud. Those who cannot follow it have no basis for even attempting to refute it.

The JFC Calc database includes 122 witnesses who died mysteriously in the 15 years following the JFK assassination (there have likely been many others). The witnesses are primarily from Jim Marrs’ Crossfire list.

At least 78 deaths were officially ruled unnatural (34 homicides, 24 accidents, 16 suicides and 4 from unknown causes). Based on unnatural death statistics, approximately 17 would normally be expected. But the suicides, accidental and “natural” deaths were highly suspicious; there were probably more than 78 unnatural deaths. At least some of the “natural” deaths may have been induced heart attacks or poisonings. If they were in fact homicides, the weighted unnatural mortality rate and associated probabilities would be lower (the homicide rate is much lower than accidents and suicides). But it’s a moot point; the probabilities are essentially zero for the official causes of death.

According to the reference Who’s Who in the JFK Assassination, there were approximately 1400 individuals related to the assassination. Of this group, 97 are included in JFK Calc. The other 25 who are not in Who’s Who are very relevant.

Convenient deaths spiked in 1964 (Warren Commission) and 1977 (House Select Committee).

These graphs are mathematical proof of a conspiracy.

To calculate probabilities, we need just a few data inputs:
a) N, the number of material witnesses
b) n, the number of unnatural deaths by type (homicide, suicide, accident)
c) R, the weighted average unnatural mortality rate
d) T, the time period

There are a number of ways to calculate the probabilities.
1. Choose the universe of witnesses: WC (552); four investigations (1100); HSCA, Who’s Who (1400 est.)
2. Choose the appropriate mortality rate to apply (total unnatural, homicide, weighted)
3. Determine the time period: 1, 3, 15 years

The simplest approach is to use the total unnatural rate. Nationally, suicides and accidental deaths are 10 times more likely than homicides. But among the JFK-witnesses, at least 34 of the 78 officially ruled unnatural deaths were homicides. The average weighted mortality rate is a function of the number and causes of unnatural deaths, not just the total number. The weighted rate is
R= 0.000247=(0.000084*34 + 0.000594*24 + 0.000130*16 + 0.00001*3)/ 78

The next step is to calculate the probabilities using the POISSON spreadsheet function, a simple tool which requires just the observed (n) and expected (E) number of unnatural deaths. E is the product of the total number (N) of witnesses in a group, the mortality rate (R) and time period (T) in years.

In the spreadsheet we calculate the exact probability P of n deaths among N witnesses in T years as
P = POISSON (n, E, false). Probability of at least n deaths is P = 1 – POISSON (n-1, E, true).


Unweighted and Weighted Mortality Rates

JFK Calc has all the information required for a robust analysis: a) known witness universe, b) official cause of death, c) average unnatural mortality rates and d) the relevant time period (1964-1978). The weighted unnatural rate is the sum-product of the individual unnatural rates and corresponding deaths.

Nationally, accidents comprised 66% of unnatural deaths compared to 11% for homicides. But 44% (34 of 78) JFK witness unnatural deaths were homicides. Therefore we need to weight the JFK-witness rates by cause of death. If the analysis was restricted to homicides the mathematical proof would be simpler and even more powerful.

To Tom Hanks, Vince Bugliosi, Stephen King, Rachel Maddow et al: The case for conspiracy is closed. You are beating a dead horse. You continue to shill for the Warren Commission which Jim Garrison called a fairy tale and Richard Nixon said was one of the greatest hoaxes ever perpetrated on the public. If after reading this mathematical proof, along with the mountain of physical evidence which proves a conspiracy, you still persist in telling the people lies, then you are complicit in aiding and perpetuating the crime of the century and can go back to sleep. That is, if you still can sleep at night.

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Posted by on August 16, 2013 in JFK


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JFK Witness Deaths: Calculating the Probabilities

JFK Witness Deaths: A Guide to the Probability Calculations

Richard Charnin
May 27, 2013
Updated: Oct.15, 2013

Click Reclaiming Science:The JFK Conspiracy to look inside the book.

JFK Blog Posts
JFK Calc Spreadsheet Database

An actuary engaged by London Sunday Times calculated 100,000 TRILLION to 1 odds against 18 JFK material witness deaths from Nov. 1963 to Feb. 1967. Unfortunately, the actuary could not be identified and interviewed since no one at the Sunday Times could recall his or her name.

The House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) claimed that the number of material witnesses was unknowable and dismissed the calculation as invalid. But exactly 552 Warren Commission witnesses testified, a subset of approximately 1400 material witnesses.

Here are the graphs and probability calculations which prove a conspiracy:

In fact, the actuary’s odds are conservative. There were at least 42 unnatural witness deaths in the three years following the assassination. Assuming 1400 material witnesses, the probability is ZERO.

The JFK Witness Spreadsheet Database includes 118 material witnesses, of which there were at least 83 unnatural deaths. The sensitivity analysis tables display unnatural death probabilities for 552 Warren Commission and 1400 material witnesses (based on unnatural, weighted and homicide mortality rates) over 1,3 and 14 year time intervals.

According to the reference Who’s Who In the JFK Assassination approximately 1400 material witnesses were connected in any way to the assassination. At least 83 died unnaturally. The probability is ZERO.

Convenient deaths spiked in 1964 (Warren Commission) and 1977 (House Select Committee).

Warren Commission apologists have suggested that there were many more than 1400 material witnesses and therefore the probabilities are not valid – without providing a list. Even assuming there were 25,000 witnesses, then given the 0.00006 average homicide rate, the probability of 24 homicides within three years following the assassination is 1 in 12 billion. So much for the bogus 25,000 witnesses argument.

The unweighted unnatural rate results in virtually ZERO probabilities. But since the JFK-related deaths were mostly homicides, the weighted average rate is a theoretically superior rate to use for the probability calculations – and results in significantly lower probabilities than the unweighted (national) rate. But even the weighted rate is too high, since many witness “suicides” and “accidental” deaths were clearly homicides. If all of the unnatural deaths were in fact homicides, the probabilities are at their lowest.

The unweighted unnatural mortality rate produces virtually zero probabilities for both the Warren Commission (552) and material witness (1400) groups, so it may appear to be overkill to use the lower weighted average and homicide rates to calculate the probabilities. But they illustrate 1) the implausible ratio of homicides in the total witness mix, and 2) the inflating effects of “suicides” and “accidental” deaths in the probability calculations.

At least 62 of the 118 witnesses in the database testified or died suspiciously shortly before they were due to testify at the 1964 Warren Commission, 1969 Garrison/Shaw trial, the 1975 Senate Intelligence hearings and the 1977 HSCA (including 7 top FBI officials in June-November 1977). There were at least 37 unnatural and suspicious deaths of approximately 1100 witnesses who were called to testify. The probability is 4.7E-30 (1 in 200,000 MILLION TRILLION TRILLION).

The HSCA made the following errors:
1) misstated the actuary’s method of calculation
2) Did not consider that there were over 80 unnatural and at least 30 other suspicious deaths
3) did not consider suspicious deaths of HSCA witnesses (including 7 FBI) just prior to their scheduled testimony
4) did not run a sensitivity analysis of probabilities for various data assumptions
5) ignored unnatural mortality rates in calculating the probability of unnatural deaths
6) did not use the POISSON distribution function to calculate probabilities
7) did not calculate probability of 11 WC homicides in 15 years.
8) ignored the fact that the JFK homicide rate far exceeded the national rate
9) did not calculate the ZERO probability of at least unnatural deaths among 1,400 witnesses (1964-78)
10) did not calculate probability of 25 homicides in three years for the impossible 25,000 witnesses the FBI claimed to have interviewed

The HSCA succeeded in misinforming the public by falsely claiming that the actuary’s calculation was invalid and therefore did not prove a conspiracy.

The Poisson Distribution calculates the probabilities of rare events over time.

The key to calculating the probability of a given number (n) of unnatural deaths occurring in a given group (N) in a given time period (T) is to recognize that it is based on the difference between expected and actual unnatural deaths. The larger the discrepancy between the actual observed and expected number of deaths, the lower the probability.

These are the relevant probability input parameters:
n= number of observed unnatural deaths
N= total number of witnesses
T= time period in years
R= unnatural mortality rate

The expected number of unnatural deaths E = N*T*R


Posted by on May 15, 2013 in JFK, Media


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JFK Assassination: A Probability Analysis of Warren Commission Witness Unnatural Deaths

JFK Assassination: A Probability Analysis of Warren Commission Witness Unnatural Deaths

Richard Charnin
April 24, 2013
Updated: March 23, 2014

Click Reclaiming Science:The JFK Conspiracy to look inside the book.
JFK Blog Posts
JFK Calc Spreadsheet Database

The following mathematical proof closes the book on those who still promote the fiction that Oswald was the lone assassin. The few remaining defenders of the Warren Commission’s Magic Bullet Theory have tried mightily for nearly 50 years to dismiss the mathematical significance of the mysterious deaths of JFK-related witnesses – starting with Ruby shooting Oswald. After all, a “clean-up” operation would only occur in a conspiracy. Of course, Warren Commission apologists claim that Oswald was a lone nut who acted alone.

The basis of the lone nut “argument” has been to claim that 1) the dead witnesses were of minor or no importance and that 2) the universe of total witnesses was ultimately unknowable. But they ignore the fact that the Warren Commission considered the witnesses important enough to have them testify.

The analysis focuses on the 31 unnatural and suspicious deaths of 552 Warren Commission witnesses from 1964-1978  At least 14 were officially ruled as unnatural: 4 homicides, 2 attempted murders, 6 accidents, 1 suicide, 1 unknown. But it is likely that least 21 deaths were unnatural, of which 17 were likely homicides. The deaths are among the 122 listed in the JFK witness spreadsheet database.

Warren Commission Witnesses (1964-78):
– 14 official ruled unnatural deaths

There were officially 3 homicides, 1 attempted murder, 4 suicides, 6 accidents, Given the 0.000316 weighted average mortality rate, the probability is P= 4.0E-07 (1 in 2.4 million).

– 21 unofficial actual unnatural deaths
There were an estimated 17 homicides, 2 accidents, 1 suicide,  1 unknown. Normally, 7 unnatural deaths would be expected. Given the 0.000132 weighted rate, the probability is P = 4.0E-20 = 1 in 20 million trillion

The “universe” of 552 Warren Commission witnesses is obviously a known quantity. Therefore, given the number, cause and timing of the unnatural and suspicious deaths (and corresponding mortality rates), we have all the information needed to calculate the probability that the deaths would occur in a given time interval.

The probability analysis is straightforward; it is not a theoretical exercise. It is a mathematical proof of conspiracy based on factual data (552 total witnesses, at least 21 unnatural deaths, corresponding mortality rates) and the Poisson probability formula. The numbers and probabilities speak for themselves.

A number of Warren Commission witnesses were sought in later investigations but never lived to testify. Three deaths officially ruled as suicides were likely homicides. Roger Craig supposedly shot himself after surviving several attempts on his life. George DeMorenschildt supposedly shot himself the same day he was called to give testimony at the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA). Albert Bogard supposedly committed suicide from carbon monoxide. Jack Ruby and Frank Martin had sudden cancers within one month after being diagnosed. Edward Voebel, a classmate of Oswald, died from a mysterious blood clot. Other natural deaths (heart attacks and natural causes) were suspicious.

This is a challenge to those who still claim that the deaths do not prove a conspiracy: You must refute the data (i.e., the Warren Commission witness list), the unnatural mortality rates and the use of the Poisson formula.


This graph shows the long-term trend in the U.S. homicide rate. Note that in 1963 the homicide rate was 5.4 per 100,000.

Deaths by Major Causes: 1960-2011 Source: U.S. National Center for Health Statistics. The average homicide rate for 1964-1978 was 8.4 per 100,000.

Warren Commission apologists have suggested that there were many more than 1400 material witnesses and therefore the probabilities are not valid – without providing a list. Even assuming 25,000 witnesses, the probability of at least 84 homicides is 8.55E-15 or 1 in 100 trillion.

The 1973 film Executive Action depicted a conspiracy to assassinate JFK and revealed that an actuary engaged by the London Sunday Times calculated the probability of 18 material witnesses dying within three years of the JFK assassination as 1 in 100,000 TRILLION. The actuary’s calculation is confirmed assuming 459 witnesses and 13 unnatural witness deaths, given the 0.000207 weighted unnatural mortality rate.

The Warren Commission witnesses are a subset of approximately 1400 material witnesses who were related in any way to the assassination (police, reporters, eyewitnesses, FBI officials, CIA contacts, anti-Castro Cubans, Ruby and Oswald contacts, etc.). A comprehensive analysis is provided in Executive Action: JFK Witness Deaths and the London Times Actuary.

Of the 126 witnesses in the JFK Cac spreadsheet/database, 80 deaths were ruled unnatural (homicides, suicides, accidents, unknown). The other 46 were highly suspicious heart attacks, sudden cancers, etc. Of the 126, 65 were sought in four investigations – and obviously relevant: 32 testified at the Warren Commission (1964), the others were sought by New Orleans D.A. Jim Garrison at the Clay Shaw trial (1967-69), the Church Senate Intelligence Committee (1975) and the House Select Committee on Assassinations (1977-79).

Hit List: An In-Depth Investigation into the Mysterious Deaths of Witnesses to the JFK Assassination by Richard Belzer and David Wayne, is a unique and welcome addition to the massive trove of JFK Assassination literature.

It is important to recognize that the average 1964-78 national 0.000084 homicide rate (1 in 12,150) was much lower than the 0.000594 accidental death rate (1 in 1,660) and the 0.000130 suicide rate (1 in 7,700). The ratio of actual unnatural deaths to the expected number is much lower than the ratio of actual homicides to the expected number.

Nationally, homicides comprised 10% of unnatural deaths. But at least 34 (43%) of the 80 JFK witness deaths ruled unnatural were homicides. In fact, if the analysis was restricted to homicides, the mathematical proof would be simpler and even more powerful. Statistical expectation indicates at least 80 homicides.

The probability of 84 homicides among 1400 witnesses is E-107. To put this in context, consider that there are 60 TRILLION TRILLION (6E25) hydrogen atoms in a quart of water, approximately 700,000 TRILLION (7E17) grains of sand on the earth and 300 BILLION TRILLION (3E23) stars in the universe.

Here are the graphs and probability calculations which prove a conspiracy:

In this video, Mark Lane, famous author/investigator of several books on the assassination, interviews Penn Jones, an independent researcher of JFK witness deaths.


Posted by on April 24, 2013 in JFK


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