INI304S Syllabus

INI304S1 The Illusion and Reality of Evidence 2020

Instructor: Roger Riendeau
Location: Innis College Residence, Room 127A
Office Hours: Tuesday 4-6 pm

Class Schedule

January 7

An Introduction to the Illusion and Reality of Evidence and to the Case Study Method

January 14

Critical Thinking as the Essence of Reasonable Argument: Evidentiary Analysis in the JFK Assassination Controversy

January 21

Distinguishing Fact from Opinion and Theory: Evaluating the Warren Commission's Single-Bullet Theory

January 28

Eyewitness Testimony: Is Seeing and Hearing Really Believing in the JFK Assassination?

February 4

Expert Authority: The Conflict of Medical Science in the JFK Assassination

February 11     

Logical Evidence: Deductive and Inductive Reasoning in the Warren Commission Report

February 25

Logical Fallacies: The Manipulation of Evidence in the JFK Assassination

March 3

Dealing with Alternative Views: The Question of Conspiracy and the Clash of Conspiracy Perspectives in the JFK Assassination

March 10

Conflicting Assumptions and Values: Why Apparently Reasonable People Disagree about the JFK Assassination

March 17

Relying on Media Sources: The Credibility of News Reporting on the JFK Assassination and the Conspiracy Question

March 24

Reaching a Meaningful Concluson: What Reasonable Conclusions Are Possible and Plausible in the JFK Assassination?

March 31

Term Test


Assignment Schedule


Assignment Value
February 11 Critical Analysis (1,500 words) 20%
April 3 Research Essay (3,000 words) 40%
March 31 Term Test (3 hours) 20%
End of term Class Participation 20%
End of term Final Grade 100%


Essential Readings

Bojczuk, Jeremy. 22 November 1963: A Brief Guide to the JFK Assassination. London: Boxgrove Publishing, 2014. (Available in the Kindle Edition at

Kurtz, Michael L. The JFK Assassination Debates: Lone Gunman versus Conspiracy. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2006. (Available in the Kindle Edition at

McKnight, Gerald D. Breach of Trust: How the Warren Commission Failed the Nation and Why. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2005. (Available in the Kindle Edition at

United States. The Warren Commission Report. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1964. Available online: or


Suggested Readings

Useful reading material for this course is available on the INI304H and INI204Y pages of my website The Online Resources of INI304H includes some of the most informative and reasonable websites devoted to a study of various aspects of the JFK assassination. But do not assume that online reading only is sufficient. In the "Other Assigned Readings" section of the INI304H Forum, I have provided an extensive bibliography of the more reliable or common books on the JFK assassination.

The Online Resources of INI204Y includes the websites of various Writing Centres or Labs, Writing programs and courses, Philosophy courses on critical thinking and logic, and books on Writing and Rhetoric. Exploration of the argument, critical thinking, and logic websites in particular will reveal a substantial volume of information of varying relevance to INI304H. I will give you direction on the navigation of these websites and the use of their resources throughout the year either during class or through the Discussion Forum on my website. Similarly books on Writing and Rhetoric are numerous and of varying quality. I have listed a few of my favourite texts below which you may wish to read but which I do not expect you to purchase. Indeed, excerpts from these texts may be available on my website under the link Assigned Readings in the website Forum.

Browne, M. Neil and Stuart M. Keeley. 2014. Asking the Right Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking. 11th edition. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

Kennedy, Mary Lynch. 2010. Reading and Writing in the Academic Community. 4th edition. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

MacDonald, Chris and Lewis Vaughn. 2016. The Power of Critical Thinking. 4th edition. Toronto: Oxford University Press.

Rottenberg, Annette T and Donna Haisty Winchell. 2015. The Structure of Argument. 8th edition. New York: Macmillan Learning.

----. 2015. Elements of Argument: A Text and Reader. 11th edition. New York: Macmillan Learning.

Thiroux, Emily. 1999. The Critical Edge: Thinking and Writing in a Virtual Society. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

Waller, Bruce N. 2012. Critical Thinking: Consider the Verdict. 6th edition. Boston: Pearson Higher Education.

Wood, Nancy V. 2009. Perspectives on Argument. 6th edition. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.



This course is an exercise in disciplined and organized writing. Moreover, the instructor needs sufficient time to evaluate each assignment and to provide meaningful comments. Accordingly, unless documented justification is provided, each assignment must be submitted by the due date, or it will be subject to a penalty of one full grade for every three days of lateness.

Section B.1. of the University of Toronto’s Code of Academic Behaviour stipulates:

It shall be an offence for a student knowingly:
(d) to represent as one's own any idea or expression of an idea or work of another in any academic examination or term test or in connection with any other form of academic work, i.e. to commit plagiarism ...;
(e) to submit, without the knowledge and approval of the instructor to whom it is submitted, any academic work for which credit has previously been obtained or is being sought in another course or program of study in the University or elsewhere….

The common penalty for these kinds of academic offences (often determined by the Office of the Dean of Arts and Science) is a grade of zero (0) for the entire course and a notation of the violation on the student’s transcript.