A Shadow of Doubt

Fatal_VisionIn 1979, Jeffrey MacDonald was convicted of the 1970 murders of his pregnant wife and two daughters. At his trial, the relatively inexperienced prosecution team initially seemed to be at a disadvantage compared to the slick defense team; but ultimately it was clear that the evidence supported the former’s case rather than the latter’s.

MacDonald maintained that his family was killed by a gang of hippies that broke into their apartment. But the physical evidence — particularly the blood around the apartment, from four family members who happened to have four different blood types — clearly told a very different story. It showed what his actual movements and actions had been that night; and it gave no particular indication that any outside persons had been in the apartment at all, especially given how rainy and muddy that night was. While his family members had been brutally stabbed and clubbed, MacDonald sustained only one notable injury; and this had every appearance of having been self-inflicted (using his skills as a surgeon) as part of his trying to cover his tracks.

In spite of the rock-solid case against MacDonald, though, there continue to be people who believe he is innocent — that he was railroaded by a corrupt and incompetent system. Those in his camp have found many a way to cast a shadow of doubt on the case against him. They point to sloppiness in the initial investigation; to the mentally unstable person who “confessed,” apparently just to call attention to herself (giving various accounts that didn’t line up with MacDonald’s story, or with each other); and to whatever else they can find that would seem to raise a question as to MacDonald’s guilt. None of this, however, even begins to counter the story that’s told by the physical evidence and supported by many other factors.

Ted Cruz 2016


Various people have their own reasons for believing in MacDonald’s innocence. For some, the railroading of an innocent man makes for a more compelling narrative than the truth does. Some simply cannot believe the man to be capable of doing what he’s accused of. Either way, though, what they believe is about what they prefer to believe, rather than what the evidence should lead them to believe.

I bring all this up not to comment on the MacDonald case, but merely to use it to point to an unfortunate human tendency I’ve observed. It is, in part, the tendency to base beliefs on preference and emotion rather than on facts and reason, but it is also more than that. Specifically, it is the tendency of people to act as if they can take a clear truth that they are uncomfortable with, and somehow cause it to become not true by casting whatever shadow of doubt upon it that they can. The simple obviousness of the truth is beside the point, as is the strength of the evidence that supports it. If they can find ways to raise questions about it, to misrepresent it so that it appears wrong, to drum up evidence that can appear to counter it, etc., then they can convince themselves — and others — that it really isn’t the truth at all.

People have been falling for this kind of deception ever since the first humans were convinced by the Enemy — appearing as a “wise serpent” — that God didn’t really say what he said. In the present day, all one has to do to see this tendency in action is to observe how various controversial issues are discussed. On one side of the controversy there will be facts that are simple, clear and practically self-evident, but there may also be quite a few questions that aren’t easily answered. On the other side there may be valid questions and even good intentions, but there will also be emotional arguments, wrong assumptions, and observations that don’t actually prove what they’re supposed to. And, generally, there will be all manner of subtle tricks — including outright lies — that attempt to distract from and get around the clear, inconvenient facts. And there will be many who fall for these tricks instead of seeking to learn things for themselves.

Woodrow Wilcox


There are several matters in our world about which the clear truth has become unpopular. It’s always interesting, and instructive, to observe how people respond when confronted with the basic facts in each of these areas. The questions and objections they can raise are practically endless, and can sound quite convincing to those inclined to agree with them. But the hard, clear, overriding reality always remains. It can be ignored, avoided, dismissed, misrepresented, mocked and argued against… but it can never be shown to be anything other than what it is.

There will always be people who don’t like the truth and will try to cast shadows of doubt on it. Those of us who seek to know truth, and to make it known, are not responsible for having answers to every possible question. But we are responsible for remembering, and reminding others, that truth does not cease to be truth just because some people can find ways to raise questions and doubts about it.

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David Mann is a Christian who lives in Florida.
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  • AJ Castellitto

    Mac is guilty as sin - the father-in-law would come to know it - how one could butcher his own family like that is inconceivable. Mac is OJ x 10

    • DCM7

      Now… how many issues can you think of where the truth is even more obvious, but people still dispute it? That’s my main point.

      • AJ Castellitto

        Yes, I caught that… Very good, well written article….. I’m convinced for the ideological left that the ends justifies the means and even when they may know something is sketchy they will either deny, ignore or swallow it without acknowledgement….. Most of them are incapable of accepting a deeper truth…. They are indignant and exasperating ……

        *I still believe Sandy Hook was a hoax, however 😉 Bob never rejects my pieces but he did on this occasion -http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/castellitto/150830

        • DCM7

          I really don’t know about Sandy Hook being a hoax. I just know that the “ideological left” used it as a convenient political tool. And to me that’s just as bad.

          • AJ Castellitto

            Attrocity whether real, spun, exaggerated or staged as Moral Justification (a gateway) for tyranny is pretty reprehensible….. But yeah, it was staged….. That is a very troubling piece.

  • AJ Castellitto

    Gunderson is the one that led me astray and his support of DeCamp is what fooled me into believing he was credible - from YouTube comment section of fatal vision made for TV movie:

    Gunderson was a delusional, fundamentalist, paranoid fool. He made a lot of appearances on the Prophecy Club and other fundamentalist TV shows and publications. Don’t even get me started on the Geraldo Rivera “Satanic Panic” broadcast. Never heard a Satanic conspiracy he didn’t like. Always making wild, unsubstantiated claims based on “his sources” and “inside information”, which of course he never corroborated. His credibility was nil. True he did participate in the Franklin Child Abuse Scandal (which I’m convinced was real), but so what? John De Camp and Loran Schmitt were the real heroes of that story, not Gunderson. He only came in after the mysterious death of special investigator Gary Caradori. His connection with the Franklin is actually a liability, in my opinion. Perhaps he was a good FBI agent at one time, but he clearly “lost it” after he retired. Or perhaps he was always a bit loopy, which is why he was often “kicked up stairs” later in his career. Besides, Gunderson’s claims that J. Edgar Hoover was a fine upstanding American hero with no faults doesn’t speak well for his judgement either.