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If only…

In an article last Thursday, the Kentucky Post quoting Ben Boychuck condemned this blog by saying:

Every calorie burned and every neuron fired on the subject of President Obama’s birthplace — yes, contrary to what you might have heard Alan Keyes say, he is president — is energy better spent elsewhere.

I’m crushed.

I have heard over and over again that “if only Obama would show his birth certificate, then this would all go away.” That’s an obvious fallacy. If the first birth certificate was not respected, then neither would the second, and the “natural born citizen” redefinition would carry on full stream. However, Boychuck, a Conservative speaking to Conservatives presented a different “if only” fallacy.

Why? Because of the fallacy of “if only.” If only we can show that Obama is constitutionally unqualified to be president, it would all just go away — the crazy socialized medicine schemes, the cap and tax energy legislation, the suicidal debt increases, the ridiculous posturing to Iran, Russia, and Venezuela, all of it.

If only politics were that simple…..

This news story is just one of many linked to by the Obama Conspiracy Theories Media Project. It’s a real calorie burner.

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17 Responses to If only…

  1. avatar
    Epectitus August 1, 2009 at 1:31 pm #

    I’m confused.

    That article wasn’t about this blog, and the quotation from Boychuck was him pointing out that the “only if” fallacy was false.

    What am I missing?

  2. avatar
    Bob August 1, 2009 at 1:42 pm #

    It was positing that all discussion is a waste of brain power. (You are correct that it did not specify this blog.)

  3. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy August 1, 2009 at 2:39 pm #

    I consider the article “applicable”, not “about”.

  4. avatar
    Bob Weber August 1, 2009 at 4:01 pm #

    As I’ve mentioned, I came to the study of Birferism in a Michael Shermer “Why Do People Believe Weird Things?” kind of way.

    Certainly, the Birfer notion of penniless college students Barack and Stanley Ann Obama coming up with a small fortune in cash, flying off to Kenya while Stanley Ann was in her third trimester just to visit the relatives, Stanley Ann giving birth in Kenya, the Obamas smuggling infant Barack back through Customs and Immigration, bribing unknown persons to list the birth in the Hawaii vital statistics published in the newspapers, etc, etc is so outlandish that no sane person would entertain it without extraordinary evidence. But that’s the point. It’s more about the sociology of the birfers than anything else.

    Along the way I’ve also learned interesting bits of history and law and gotten practice in refuting arguments, silly as those arguments are. IIRC, Arthur C. Clarke pointed out that debating flat-earthers isn’t as easy as you may think. They’re very creative in their arguments.

    So this definitely has not been a waste of time.

  5. avatar
    Bob Weber August 1, 2009 at 4:10 pm #

    Regarding the “Why don’t they just release the long form?” meme:

    How would it be “released”? To whom would you “release” it? Wouldn’t you just post it on the internet as a JPEG?

    Since Polarik-Pollard has already proclaimed the JPEG of the COLB to be a forgery, wouldn’t the birfers merely proclaim the JPEG of the long-form to be a forgery, too?

    They are already in essence arguing for a vast conspiracy involving Hawaii Gov. Lingle, Alvin Onaka, Chiyome Fukino, Janice Okubo, and numerous necessary underlings. Why not go the extra step and demand the doctor’s records, the hospital records, etc?

  6. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy August 1, 2009 at 4:35 pm #

    We already know some of that attack vectors against the long form: it will say dad’s race was “African”, and WAYK will impugn the mother’s address, and Steve Cee will object to the certificate number.

  7. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy August 1, 2009 at 4:37 pm #

    Noting that among those relatives was another (undisclosed) wife of Barack Obama Sr.

  8. avatar
    Bob August 1, 2009 at 4:45 pm #

    How would it be “released”? To whom would you “release” it?

    I once read this very exacting demand about if the birth certificate didn’t go directly from the state’s archives to a neutral forensic documents examiner, then he wouldn’t believe if it is real. If a government worker or media type (read: liberals) touched it, it must be presumed to be faked.

    The usual argument is that a judge, or a panel of judges, or SCOTUS, will take possession of the document. (Presumably, they would then appoint an expert.)

    In real life, however, that’s not how it works. In real life, if there is a court case and there is disputed evidence (injuries caused by a car crash, for example), the judge orders the party in possession of the evidence to maintain it. Then the opposing side (either voluntarily or by court order) is allowed to bring in an expert to examine the controverted evidence.

  9. avatar
    Bob August 1, 2009 at 4:47 pm #

    My personal favorite: Obama recently purchased the type of printing press that printed birth certificates from that era. He’ll just find some paper and ink from that era, print a fake one, and pass that off as genuine.

  10. avatar
    aarrgghh August 1, 2009 at 5:40 pm #

    bob weber says:

    IIRC, Arthur C. Clarke pointed out that debating flat-earthers isn’t as easy as you may think. They’re very creative in their arguments.

    william gibbs mcadoo, woodrow wilson’s treasury secretary, purportedly quipped:

    “it is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in an argument.”

  11. avatar
    kimba August 1, 2009 at 6:05 pm #

    Unless CSPAN showed live a court-appointed, person who had never before been in the Hawaii records cave, retrieving the original from its storage space with white-gloved hands and then immediately held up for the camera, with a neutral widely-known documents expert standing right by to authenticate, they wouldn’t believe it. OK, even then, they would insist someone “got” to it. The only answer is to firmly tell the birthers you don’t get to see the original, there is no reason to see the original, it is unfortunate you can’t accept it but Notgonnahappen. I’m not sure who that is going to have to be. They think even the SC Justices are “in” on it. Steele and Boehner said let it go, and that wasn’t enough. It is beneath the President to dignify it by mentioning it. Daddy Bush maybe?

  12. avatar
    misha August 2, 2009 at 3:42 am #

    Why, that sounds perfectly reasonable. Haven’t YOU ever done that? I found some Press 25 flashbulbs on eBay. I sure Obama’s flunkies could find whatever they needed to continue this scam.

    My building was put up in 1896, and the ghosts tell me all kinds of things. For example, my wife was using my laptop for this site. My printer starting cycling, and she jumped. “What happened?” I told her it’s the ghost.

  13. avatar
    Bob Weber August 2, 2009 at 3:32 pm #

    I still HAVE some #25 “Press” flashbulbs from long ago! Some are even the “clear” variety (not the blue tint, which was for color film).

    I used them for night photographs of things like buildings. Set camera on “bulb” exposure, open shutter, trigger flash bulb, close shutter. #25 bulbs are still better than electronic flash for such purposes. They put out an enormous amount of total light, but over a longer duration than electronic flash, so you can’t use them to “stop” action. Makes no difference when you’re shooting static subjects. The problem is, you can’t get the batteries for the flashguns that use #25’s anymore!

  14. avatar
    Ben Boychuk December 4, 2009 at 1:28 pm #

    Thanks for the link, which I only just found. A couple of points, in no particular order.

    1) You spelled my name wrong. (You aren’t the first or the only, believe me.)

    2) Clearly, there is some utility in debunking the fact-averse assertions of birthers. But my argument is, as a practical political or prudential matter, when you have an administration working to implement policies that you think would be bad for the country and the economy, spending time on this birth certificate business is a monumental waste of time and energy. It’s fantasy, really. I’m more interested in making the serious case against cap and trade, for example, than in jousting with crazies — even well-meaning crazies.

    Now, it may be true that it’s better for some of the most strident birthers to be otherwise occupied with this fool’s errand. After all, the fringe will always be with us. Other than wasting the taxpayers’ money by adding additional work to already overburdened courts (for starters), what’s the harm? I would have felt more comfortable making such a claim the day before yesterday, however.

    Thanks again and cheers.

  15. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy December 4, 2009 at 6:56 pm #

    But of course, what Obama did back in 2008 was to order a standard birth certificate from Hawaii, scan it, put it on his web site, and let folks from FactCheck.org handle and photograph it. You see how much good that did toward ending the controversy.

    It is irrational to believe that releasing a different version of the same document would do anything to reduce the birther movement. They would just cook up even more fantastic theories about why the document they asked for is not what they need.

  16. avatar
    dunstvangeet December 4, 2009 at 7:30 pm #

    What’s the harm in just calling George Tiller “a baby killer”. Yes, he provides abortions to women who likely would die in child birth, and high risk pregencies. However, what’s the harm in calling him “a baby killer”. I mean, nobody’s going to go into his church, and shoot him dead in order to protect the unborn, are they?

    If you didn’t get my sarcasm, I was being sarcastic, but arguing esentially the same point. This all goes towards people waiting for a lone wolf to take this into his own hands, and go “You know, this usurper shouldn’t be in the White House. I’m going to do something about it.” The consequences won’t come until someone actually tries to assassinate the President, but I believe that it will come.

    You have these people who are so committed to their cause, that they’re talking about armed revolt against the United States if Barack Obama isn’t removed. Is there any harm in that?

  17. avatar
    Scientist December 4, 2009 at 8:33 pm #

    I think it’s a reasonable question though whether it’s worth attempting to debunk the ideas of those who simply aren’t amenable to reason. Perhaps the proper reaction to birthers is to say “Oh, that’s so 2008 and very boring. Let’s move on.” As far as those bent on violence, trying to assuage them is pointless. Efforts in the direction of increasing the budget of the Secret Service and other responsible agencies are more productive.