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Crackpots of the world, unite!

I’ve long been fascinated by conspiracy theories, not for the conspiracies themselves, but by the reasons people believe them. Some of the theories sound downright crazy.

There are people who think that an unseen force causes things to happen in their world, and that their very thoughts are being monitored!

Are such people delusional? The highlighted phrase was carefully crafted to sound delusional, but to literally apply to billions of adherents of the world’s religious. As I noted back in 2009,

The DSM defines a delusion as:

A false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly sustained despite what almost everybody else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary. The belief is not one ordinarily accepted by other members of the person’s culture or subculture.

By this definition people who believe in God are not clinically delusional, and I would argue that neither are conspiracy theorists such as birthers. Through the Internet, subcultures arise easily, and the network of birther web sites gives the illusion of ordinary acceptance.

Birtherism may well have been an engineered conspiracy theory rather than something that arose naturally as an attempt to explain a set of facts. Still it grew, according so some reports, as a chain email. Such emails are passed from contact list to contact list, and so they exist within an existing subculture. It is not some unkempt fellow on the street with a sign saying “Where’s the birth certificate,” but rather a family member, a co-worker, or a social friend passing made up citations from authoritative sources. The mutual support of a community, along with confirmation bias gets these conspiracy theories growing.

I think we can expect phenomena like the birther movement to be common in the future.

(I don’t suggest that all conspiracy theories are false, but I’d bet money that the birthers are wrong.)


Washington Times: Yes Clinton did start the birther movement

An opinion piece in the Washington Times titled “Fact checking the media – yes, the Clinton Machine started the birther movement” appeared August 22. The article argues that because an internal campaign memo suggested attacking Obama as a multicultural outsider, that somehow that constitutes starting the birther movement. Just the use of the word “machine” in the description of the Clinton campaign shows where the Washington Times has its bias. I left the following comment on the article:

There is no evidence presented in this article that suggests that Clinton, or anyone in her campaign started the “birther movement”. Birther means claiming that Obama is legally ineligible to be president because of the circumstances of his birth. While today “birther” has an expanded meaning, that was certainly not so in 2008. The other significant distinction between what is described in this article and real birthers, is that Obama really did spend part of his childhood in Indonesia and he really does have a multicultural life experience. Birthers believe in false conspiracy theories that he was born in Kenya and his birth certificate is a fake.


Arpaio, associates referred for criminal contempt of court

I only have a minute sandwiched between my Habitat for Humanity project and a social event to put a place holder for this story. Federal Judge G. Murray Snow ordered Friday that Sheriff Joseph Arpaio and three associates be referred for prosecution for criminal contempt of court for their actions in violation of court orders in the Melendres v. Arpaio lawsuit. Also referred were defense attorney Michele Iafrate, Chief Deputy Sheridan and Captain Bailey.

Read about it at and the order at the Phoenix New Times.

Poor Sheriff Joe. He may have to drop out of his re-election race to prepare his defense, and be forced to live off the $10 million in unspent campaign contributions.


Sheriff Arpaio swears: birth certificate “investigation is not yet done.”

Phoenix (3TV) reported yesterday on a deposition given by Sheriff Arpaio this past July in a lawsuit against him for malicious prosecution.

America’s toughest sheriff doesn’t seem to have a very good recollection of what goes on in his department, based on the number of times Arpaio couldn’t answer questions, but he is sure of one thing: the birth certificate “investigation is not yet done.”


Continue Reading →


My experience with Douglas Vogt and Miki Booth

by Brian Reilly

On August 22, 2011, as a Surprise Tea Party Patriots member, I met with Sheriff Joe Arpaio, at 9:00 A.M., in his office, on the 19th floor of the Wells Fargo Building. As a group, five STPP members and Jerome Corsi had already met with Sheriff Arpaio on August 18th to present him with the petition I had written requesting that Arpaio investigate the authenticity of President Obama’s birth certificate. The birth certificate had been posted on the White House website, April 27, 2011. Arpaio wanted me to return, on August 22, 2011 , to his office with a formal letter of request and all of the evidence that I had on the subject.

The most important piece of evidence that I had, was the “Eligibility Book” that had been supplied to me by Mr. William (Bill) Wolf, via author, Jerome Corsi of This book became the source material for the Cold Case Posse investigation and I specifically discussed Mr. Douglas Vogt’s report with Sheriff Arpaio and Chief Brian Sands on August 22, 2011. To give one a sense of the importance of the Eligibility Book, what follows are excerpts from Bill Wolf’s correspondence. (Please note the correspondence with Representative Mike Pence, the current 2016, GOP pick for Vice President of the United States.) Continue Reading →

Birther cage match

Sometimes in a moment of weakness I wish that the birthers could be locked in a room to argue out their own inconsistencies, rather than have them running around the Internet bothering decent people.

My recent article about Douglas Vogt and Miki Booth is one example. Miki Booth actually cites arguments by Vogt against Obama’s birth certificate in her book, “Memoirs of a Community Organizer from Hawai’i” and then Douglas Vogt turned around and accused her of submitting forged birth certificates for members of her family to Jerome Corsi, eventually reaching Mike Zullo. Vogt says that he worked with Zullo and that Zullo agreed with some of his conclusions, but Zullo also supports Miki Booth. Zullo is unwilling to throw Booth under the bus, but he is not willing to admit that the extent to which supporting Booth undermines Vogt across the board. If one listens to Vogt, he is certain that Booth’s certificates are as much forgeries as that of Barack Obama, and that they come from the same source. This is a big inconsistency in the birther story that they should resolve among themselves before trying to convince anyone else.

I was reminded just today in an email from Linda Joy Adams that she has a completely different birth narrative for Barack Obama than some other birthers. Nancy Owens, a commenter here, has yet another distinct narrative. Some have Obama born in Hawaii with a different father, some in Washington State, some in Kenya, some in Kansas, some in Canada and some in Florida.

Mile Zullo seems to believe that the CIA created Obama’s birth certificate (don’t ask me why they would do that) based on his reliance on Dennis Montgomery, other birthers believe that Obama’s birth certificate was faked contemporaneously to his birth, Owens says that she did it, and Vogt blames a friend of Miki Booth from Hawaii (plus 4 accomplices including me).

When a robbery occurs, eyewitnesses often disagree over details, even if they agree that there was a robbery. This is human nature, to misperceive things and not get the whole story. Imagine how much variation there would be in testimony if there were no robbery at all, if it were a false memory. In the case at hand, there was no birth certificate forgery, and this explains why birthers cannot arrive at a consensus in their story to explain it.