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This entry in the "odd but true" category concerns communication.  I'll bet you thought communication in the 21st century has reached its zenith.  You probably thought that the world-changing events of the last several months were instantly communicated nationwide and that nothing from prior years could ever come close.

Think again, and consider that the events you're about to read about happened almost 40 years ago.

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On Friday, November 22, at 1:30 pm (local time), U.S. President Kennedy was fatally shot in a Dallas motorcade.

Within 60 minutes of that event, nine of ten people in America knew the news. That rate of diffusion of information is still unprecedented and unapproached -- even in a world of optic fiber communication, including the rates of diffusion of the news of the Challenger Shuttle disaster or the terrorism attacks of September 11.

Bradley S. Greenberg, who has studied this subject and discovered this astounding rate in which nine of ten people heard within the hour, contends that this statistic "masks the real speed of diffusion. For 42 percent heard about the shooting within 15 minutes, and more than 70 percent knew within 30 minutes. In the extensive surveys taken," Greenberg writes, "the last person informed heard the news about ... three hours after the event."

- Bradley Greenberg, The Kennedy Assassination: 1965


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Revised: Tuesday, September 07, 2004 03:54:27 AM