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Consensus v fringe

Normal?

You’re crazy and I’m not

I think the issue of Barack Obama’s eligibility to be President is pretty much settled in everybody’s mind, although not settled in the same way. Most, like me, say that unprecedented amounts of evidence, investigation and scrutiny establish without any doubt that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii and eligible to be President. The other side believes that all official sources are tainted and that the truth is only known through original research on the Internet.

I don’t think that either side has a good intuitive understanding of the other. People on my side would describe the other as (choose all that apply) subversive, suffering mental defect, stupid /gullible/sheep, con men, liars, racists, and paid political operatives. People on the other side might describe people like me as (choose all that apply) subversive, suffering mental defect, stupid /gullible/sheep, con men, liars, racists, and paid political operatives. The historian Richard Hofstadter describes people like me as “consensus” and the other as having a “paranoid style.” I suppose the birthers would reverse those labels. Just as the consensus is taught to “beware the crazies,” the fringe is taught to “beware the authorities”.

There’s a lot of crazy going around

I recently finished Jon Ronson’s book: The Psychopath Test and through that book I was introduced to some really far out brands of conspiracy theory that I hadn’t been aware of before (such as the “no plane” theories of 9/11 and the British 7/7 theories). There are conspiracy theories about the NASA coverup of the end of the world in September 26 of this year (or December 21 of next). There are all sorts of stories about powerful cabals that secretly control the world, and who precipitate disaster whether financial or natural. The New World Order is coming to take away our guns.

It’s not all crazy

Nevertheless, there are real conspiracies to do illegal things. I was recently reminded of an FBI program to infiltrate and disrupt the anti-war movement in the 1960s, COINTELPRO. There was the Nixon campaign dirty tricks. And who doesn’t at least strongly suspect collusion between large corporations at the expense of the consumer?

Why conspiracy theories?

There is always the lone tinkerer who is convinced by confirmation bias, just look at the topic of perpetual motion machines. But apart from that, I think conspiracy theories are ways that we fill the vacuum of information and try to make sense out of random events. People on the on the margins of the information society are especially vulnerable to the vacuum of information because they reject the encyclopedia, the textbooks, the government, recognized experts and the mainstream media. They are forced to become lone researchers (susceptible to confirmation bias) or to get their information from others conspiracy theorists.

People look for explanations to horrific events: natural disasters, financial crises, wars, riots and even personal downturns. Sometimes there aren’t any satisfying explanations. Enter the conspiracy theory.

Finding patterns in things is how we discover how the world works. If I let go of the ball, it always falls. If George Soros goes to Europe the value of the dollar always falls (I made that up). We’re all conspiracy theorists at some level by our nature. Some of us are more skeptical by nature or training, but we all have the gene.

Conspiracies of the consensus

In order for people like me to understand the disaster (widespread belief in Obama conspiracy theories), I want an explanation. Labels like “crazy” or “racist” come easy, but I don’t think labels really explain anything. There is a pathological satisfaction in associating birthers with things that lurk in the depths of our most shameful and unacknowledged bigotry and bias. We pounce on instances where a birther uses bad grammar, wears unsophisticated clothing, uses foul language and lacks the level of culture we expect from our circle of friends. (I think the Russians have an aptly insulting word, некультурный — uncultured.)

I gain a sense power by exposing the flaws in individual birthers. “Aha! Now I know why these crazy people plague me!” And it is natural for me to expect those in power to deal with the situation, to put the violent-talking subversives in jail, disbar the lawyers, and punish the libel and declare in every official way that the birthers are crazy, seditious scum. And I want them to keep doing it over and over until the last birther and his crazy ideas is stamped out.

The birthers demonize the other side too, attaching to people who disagree with them the most vile labels they can imagine (pedophile, hater of country, socialist), foremost of which is “liar.” They are unable to believe that an informed person would not agree with them.

I think we must have a gene for that too.

The fringe

The fact is that some people are left out of what builds consensus for most of us. The fringe is a marginalized element in the culture. We all try to find our place, and for some of us, the place we find is outside the consensus. There can be any number of reasons, or perhaps there is no reason at all and it’s as random as the day of the next big earthquake.

I come back to the bell curve. With 300 million people in the country, we have to expect a fair number outside the 99.7% percentile. The fringe, like the poor, will be with us always.

This article is from the Understanding the Birthers series.

50 Responses to Consensus v fringe

  1. avatar
    ellen June 20, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

    Your discussion refers only to the birthers who actually believe the birther theory. What about the ones who actually know that it is wrong, and yet who continue to lie about it?

    I am referring to the ones who forge “Kenyan birth certificates” and the ones who keep posting the April Fool’s story that Occidental College had released Obama’s records, and the ones who continue to post claims that Obama’s Kenyan grandmother said that he was born in Kenya, when she said that he was born in Hawaii repeatedly.

    There are true believers, and then there are liars. The liars believe that their lies are justified by something (though I do not know what), and they are highly motivated. And the motives for their lies are EVIL.

  2. avatar
    Head Researcher June 20, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

    “In order for people like me to understand the disaster (widespread belief in Obama conspiracy theories), I want an explanation. Labels like “crazy” or “racist” come easy, but I don’t think labels really explain anything. . .I gain a sense power by exposing the flaws in individual birthers. “Aha! Now I know why these crazy people plague me!”

    http://birtherthinktank.wordpress.com/2011/02/12/the-demonization-of-birthers-or-how-the-obots-dull-occams-razor/

    The Head Researcher, as Agent

  3. avatar
    Bob June 20, 2011 at 3:03 pm #

    I had the same response, Ellen. I think the true believers make up perhaps 1% of Birthers and the rest are pretending and/or playacting. It’s more agreeable for them than facing the reality that their political views have hit a >-DEAD-END-> and that they’ll never be in the majority again.

  4. avatar
    Loren June 20, 2011 at 3:18 pm #

    “I recently finished Jon Ronson’s book: The Paranoid Test”

    I think you mean “The Psychopath Test.”

  5. avatar
    JustinHenry June 20, 2011 at 3:33 pm #

    I believe that most birthers are strongly partisan conservatives who really believe that because John Kerry was successfully “swiftboated” the same thing can be done to Barack Obama, albeit AFTER his election.
    Just today I read about birthers wanting the 2008 election “annulled” over Obama’s Occidental College records which they believe will show that Obama went to college on a Fullbright as a foreign student. (In spite of the fact that Fullbrights are for graduate study only and Obama was a freshman and sophomore at Occidental).

  6. avatar
    richCares June 20, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

    “strongly partisan conservatives ”
    is that “I didn’t come from no monkey, evolution is a hoax”, “Climate change is a left wing hoax”, “Obama is the usurper”, “Obats iz all Kommunists”
    do you mean that kind of strongly partisan conservative.

  7. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy June 20, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

    Head Researcher: http://birtherthinktank.wordpress.com/2011/02/12/the-demonization-of-birthers-or-how-the-obots-dull-occams-razor/

    I think your analysis of the birthers is totally unrealistic. It attempts to make the birthers (of both types) appear reasonable with the claim that certain reasonable evidence would convince them.

    The reaction to the long-form birth certificate, and the ignoring of the decision in Ankeny v Daniels, belies this claim. Time and time again solid evidence has been met with replies like: “yes, but those were aren’t…” This is the pattern.

    Granted, some QUESTIONERS, to use your phrase, have seen the evidence and gotten on with their lives. I am addressing those who continue to resist.

  8. avatar
    richCares June 20, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

    The girl living with my neighbors, her grand parents, was being forced to do home schooling so she would not be brainwashed by Obama’s thugs. Obama, the comunist usurper, will ruin her life, she was told. The grand parents put her in the local high school, where she became popular and was selected as class valedictorian. She is a wonderful child, one that will make her father regret being a birther. The father was told not to come to her graduation, which just occurred. This beautiful teen girl now refers to my wife as “Mom”.
    .
    To me it is not consensus, looking at that destroyed relationship makes me believe birthers are mentally ill. Partisan hate destroys familys.

  9. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy June 20, 2011 at 4:17 pm #

    ellen: Your discussion refers only to the birthers who actually believe the birther theory. What about the ones who actually know that it is wrong, and yet who continue to lie about it?

    What you describe aren’t conspiracy theorists, or if they are conspiracy theorists, they lie for the purpose of creating fake evidence for what the know in their hearts to be true.

    This harkens back to the “Rathergate” documents. Fake documents were put forth claiming poor performance by George W. Bush in the National Guard. When proven fake, the claim was made that they were “fake but true.”

  10. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy June 20, 2011 at 4:19 pm #

    Loren:
    “I recently finished Jon Ronson’s book: The Paranoid Test”

    I think you mean “The Psychopath Test.”

    Yes, we did.

  11. avatar
    JustinHenry June 20, 2011 at 4:27 pm #

    richCares:
    “strongly partisan conservatives ”
    is that “I didn’t come from no monkey, evolution is a hoax”, “Climate change is a left wing hoax”, “Obama is the usurper”, “Obats iz all Kommunists”
    do you mean that kind of strongly partisan conservative.

    If your ability to engage in political analysis is at the stereotype and denigrate level only, then yeah, that’s what I mean.
    If you’re intellectually capable of moving beyond that, you’ll realize that the United States has had two primary competing political ideologies since the late 18th century from Adams and Hamilton’s Federalists to Jefferson and Madison;s Democratic-Republicans.

  12. avatar
    Thrifty June 20, 2011 at 4:44 pm #

    You may be right.
    I may be crazy.
    But it just might be a looooooooonatic you’re looking for!.
    Turn out the light
    Don’t try to save me
    You may be wrong for all I know,
    But you may be right.

  13. avatar
    richCares June 20, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

    “you’ll realize that the United States has had two primary competing political ideologies”
    true, but lately the fringe partsans seem to be making a lot more noise on the right
    .
    as for these fringe types no need to stereotype and denigrate them, they do it quite well on their own.

  14. avatar
    richCares June 20, 2011 at 5:02 pm #

    Not a Bipolar Nation

    from PEW Research
    While dividing the public into liberal and conservative camps may be useful for helping to simplify and understand American politics, this analysis shows that most Americans defy such easy categorization. Only about a third of the public holds consistently liberal (18%) or consistently conservative (15%) opinions on political issues. Nearly one-in-four Americans are ideologically consistent in their outlook, but don’t fit the liberal or conservative labels (9% are libertarians who consistently oppose an active government in both the economic and the conservative spheres, and 16% are populists who consistently favor an active role for government). And the large plurality of Americans (42%) are in the ambivalent middle, and do not hold ideologically consistent views at all.
    http://pewresearch.org/pubs/17/in-search-of-ideologues-in-america

  15. avatar
    Loren June 20, 2011 at 5:20 pm #

    Head Researcher:
    http://birtherthinktank.wordpress.com/2011/02/12/the-demonization-of-birthers-or-how-the-obots-dull-occams-razor/

    From the link: “Obama did release a alleged copy of his short form birth certificate to some group who put a PICTURE of it on the Internet,”

    I’m curious – what, other than a picture, could be put on the internet? I ask because in my experience, it’s very hard to put physical objects onto the web.

  16. avatar
    Majority Will June 20, 2011 at 5:32 pm #

    Loren: I’m curious – what, other than a picture, could be put on the internet? I ask because in my experience, it’s very hard to put physical objects onto the web.

    Perhaps some people are confused over the concept of “touchscreen”.

    Weren’t all of our school textbooks copies? And the images of important documents, people and events within every textbook were all copies too, right?

    I guess it would have been real time consuming to pass around originals of everything and everyone. And more than a little messy.

  17. avatar
    Dr Kenneth Noisewater (Bob Ross) June 20, 2011 at 6:30 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy: I think your analysis of the birthers is totally unrealistic. It attempts to make the birthers (of both types) appear reasonable with the claim that certain reasonable evidence would convince them.

    The reaction to the long-form birth certificate, and the ignoring of the decision in Ankeny v Daniels, belies this claim. Time and time again solid evidence has been met with replies like: “yes, but those were aren’t…” This is the pattern.

    Granted, some QUESTIONERS, to use your phrase, have seen the evidence and gotten on with their lives. I am addressing those who continue to resist.

    Doc this is the same crap she posted last year. Almost the same exact article.

  18. avatar
    Joey June 20, 2011 at 7:46 pm #

    richCares:
    Not a Bipolar Nation

    from PEW Research
    While dividing the public into liberal and conservative camps may be useful for helping to simplify and understand American politics, this analysis shows that most Americans defy such easy categorization. Only about a third of the public holds consistently liberal (18%) or consistently conservative (15%) opinions on political issues. Nearly one-in-four Americans are ideologically consistent in their outlook, but don’t fit the liberal or conservative labels (9% are libertarians who consistently oppose an active government in both the economic and the conservative spheres, and 16% are populists who consistently favor an active role for government). And the large plurality of Americans (42%) are in the ambivalent middle, and do not hold ideologically consistent views at all.
    http://pewresearch.org/pubs/17/in-search-of-ideologues-in-america

    Out of 131,257,328 popular votes cast for president in 2008, 98.5% of those votes (129.3 million) went for either the Democratic Party’s candidate or the Republican Party’s candidate.
    My initial post referenced “partisan” conservatives. I was not meaning to discuss those on the lunatic fringe.
    Sarah Palin commenting on President Obama’s faith and citizenship as potential issues”
    http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7356783n
    Republican Governor Linda Lingle of Hawaii naming Kapi’olani Hospital as Obama’s place of birth:
    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/right-now/2010/05/hawaii_gov_lingle_answers_the.html
    Republican Speaker of the House John Boeher: “The state of Hawaii has said that he was born there. That’s good enough for me.”
    http://www.mediaite.com/tv/speaker-boehner-on-birthers-the-state-of-hawaii-has-said-president-obama-was-born-there-thats-good-enough-for-me/

    I was referencing the tens of millions of low taxes, small government, strong military, pro-life, pro-Israel, anti gun control, conservative Republicans.

  19. avatar
    Obsolete June 20, 2011 at 8:13 pm #

    Doc C:
    “This harkens back to the “Rathergate” documents. Fake documents were put forth claiming poor performance by George W. Bush in the National Guard. When proven fake, the claim was made that they were “fake but true.”

    Doc, maybe you don’t remember, but it was one of the people whose name was on a fake document as the author who examined it and said, as far as she could tell, the information was correct, but the document did not appear right.

    This is different than, say, the Lucas FKPOS. this would be equivalent to Dr. Heltan [Maganga] (can’t remember his name & I’m writing on an iPhone so please forgive me not looking it up) saying that although Lucas’s FKPOS wasn’t real, the info on it documenting Obama’s birth in Kenya was accurate.

  20. avatar
    richCares June 20, 2011 at 8:25 pm #

    I was referencing the tens of millions of low taxes, small government, strong military, pro-life, pro-Israel, anti gun control, conservative Republicans.
    .
    these do exist, such as Tom Selleck, Gary Sinese and many others
    However the anti-science, anti-evolution, anti-gay, religious right (David Barton type) are the ones I make fun of. Example, Huckabee & Palin believe in 4,000 to 6,000 year old eartn. Both would fit well in Salem of the 1600’s.

  21. avatar
    Head Researcher June 20, 2011 at 11:09 pm #

    Dr Kenneth Noisewater (Bob Ross): Doc this is the same crap she posted last year.Almost the same exact article.

    Timeless

    –adjective
    1.
    without beginning or end; eternal; everlasting.
    2.
    referring or restricted to no particular time: the timeless beauty of great music.

    The Head Researcher, as Agent

  22. avatar
    Joey June 20, 2011 at 11:40 pm #

    richCares:
    I was referencing the tens of millions of low taxes, small government, strong military, pro-life, pro-Israel, anti gun control, conservative Republicans.
    .
    these do exist, such as Tom Selleck, Gary Sinese and many others
    However the anti-science, anti-evolution, anti-gay, religious right (David Barton type) are the ones I make fun of. Example, Huckabee & Palin believe in 4,000 to 6,000 year old eartn. Both would fit well in Salem of the 1600′s.

    And the First Amendment gives you the right to make fun of any political weirdos that you damn well please! 😉

  23. avatar
    Nathanael June 20, 2011 at 11:46 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy: What you describe aren’t conspiracy theorists, or if they are conspiracy theorists, they lie for the purpose of creating fake evidence for what the know in their hearts to be true.

    This harkens back to the “Rathergate” documents. Fake documents were put forth claiming poor performance by George W. Bush in the National Guard. When proven fake, the claim was made that they were “fake but true.”

    Shades of the Dateline NBC story back in ’92 on the exploding GM trucks. The evidence was fake, the story may have been true (I don’t think it was ever proven, but GM did eventually settle several lawsuits out of court).

    Also reminds me of an interview I heard once with a believer in psychic phenomena. When the interviewer confronted him with famous examples of psychic fakes, he replied, “Hey, look, I’m more than happy to acknowledge there are charlatans out there. The existence of fakes hardly disproves the truth of psychic phenomena.” Nice, neat, tidy, unassailable.

    –Nathanael

  24. avatar
    J. Edward Tremlett June 21, 2011 at 12:17 am #

    I just wanted a Pepsi, and she wouldn’t give it to me. I just wanted a Pepsi, and she wouldn’t give it to me!

  25. avatar
    Nathanael June 21, 2011 at 12:28 am #

    Dr. Conspiracy: Finding patterns in things is how we discover how the world works.

    As I mentioned before in some other comment, finding patterns — or abstracting — is absolutely essential to our rational existence. Without seeing patterns, and abstracting characteristics, we could discuss cars, or policemen, or the color red, or have pet shops or do economics or discover math, or grasp any concept that requires categories or any level of abstraction whatsover.

    Without patterns and abstractions, our lives would be such a jumble of sensory inputs we wouldn’t be able to function rationally at all.

    But there is more to the conspiracy theory than simply the discovery of patterns. Behind most conspiracy theories is an element of fear, a perception of threat. The fear that America is moving away from its alleged Christian roots, and the corollary belief that religious beliefs are being squeezed out of the public arena, is the motivation behind much of the religious right. When others fail to adopt our point of view there are two options: re-examine our own ideology, or posit a secret conspiracy to explain why others fail to recognize the rightness of our beliefs.

    The former is frightening, the latter comforting.

    –Nathanael

  26. avatar
    G June 21, 2011 at 1:51 am #

    J. Edward Tremlett:
    I just wanted a Pepsi, and she wouldn’t give it to me. I just wanted a Pepsi, and she wouldn’t give it to me!

    Hat tip to you for the Suicidal Tendencies, “Institutionalized” reference! LOL! That takes me back to the 80’s…

  27. avatar
    G June 21, 2011 at 1:55 am #

    Nathanael: When others fail to adopt our point of view there are two options: re-examine our own ideology, or posit a secret conspiracy to explain why others fail to recognize the rightness of our beliefs.
    The former is frightening, the latter comforting.

    For some, being willing and able to re-examine their own ideology when presented with new information is normal or even comforting, NOT frightening. It is a path to enlightenment.

    I hold that needing to create conspiracies and fantasies is nothing but a weak-minded and fragile ego mask of self-protection. I view it as a sign of defect (character or mental) and weakness.

  28. avatar
    Charlie Burrow June 21, 2011 at 2:58 am #

    Dr. Conspiracy: “People on the other side might describe people like me as (choose all that apply) subversive, suffering mental defect, stupid /gullible/sheep, con men, liars, racists, and paid political operatives.”

    Troll, STUPID and COMMIE CONRADE (sic) are some of the labels I acquired soon after I began posting comments on WorldNetDaily a few days ago.

    Dr Conspiracy: “The historian Richart Hofstadter describes people like me as “consensus” and the other as having a “paranoid style. I suppose the birthers would reverse those labels.”

    Speaking of paranoid, has anyone had their comments blocked on WND? My postings there quit displaying since I posted several comments explaining why allegations of tampering with the original birth certificate are simply illogical, to wit:

    The only data items on the BC relevant to presidential eligibility are 1) birth place (is he a natural born citizen?), 2) birth date (is he 35+ years old) and, possibly, 3) father’s birthplace (if you believe the dubious claim that his father’s citizenship is relevant to whether he’s a natural born citizen).

    Obama’s age and his father’s citizenship are not in dispute, his birthplace is implicit in the document’s existence (Hawaii wouldn’t have his birth certificate if he wasn’t born in Hawaii). That leaves nothing to tamper with that would make any difference in his eligibility.

  29. avatar
    The Magic M June 21, 2011 at 4:24 am #

    > Sometimes there aren’t any satisfying explanations. Enter the conspiracy theory.

    I don’t think that puts the finger on it or at least is put too generally.

    Conspiracy theories don’t enter when there are no “satisfying explanations”. They enter when people are unable to cope with the fact they (or mankind in general) are not in control.

    Conspiracy theories all deal with control. An awful lot of control. Almost perfect, almost omnipotent control. Natural disasters as big as vulcanos? Man-made. Shifts in aspects of society (morals, political convictions, economy)? Man-made.

    Just like in the Stone Age when people thought there were gods responsible for thunder, rain, sunshine, good crops, bad crops… and that praying to these gods and aiming to please them somehow gave them “indirect control” over their lives.

    Today, the rationale is “If there is a powerful conspiracy of just a tiny fraction of mankind, that means just a tiny fraction of mankind is able to control ourselves; if I and my fellow-minded friends take that place, we have total control over everything that could harm us”.

    The motivation is the same: fear of being not in control, and, even worse, fear of things that are totally out of our control, no matter how powerful we are as individuals, governments or societies.
    All the powers in the world can’t stop a tsunami (at least not without wreaking even more havoc). And that makes people afraid. And that’s where conspiracy theories enter.

    (Though it pretty much escapes me why people invest time in theories as the moon landing hoax. After all, that pretty much just resolves to “Hollywood can fake a lot”, not to “these people must really be powerful”. I’d rather have expected something along the lines of “we’ve already been to Mars and Pluto and “they” just won’t tell us”.)

  30. avatar
    Northland10 June 21, 2011 at 7:13 am #

    G: For some, being willing and able to re-examine their own ideology when presented with new information is normal or even comforting, NOT frightening. It is a path to enlightenment.

    Yet, to let go of even a dying ideology is frightening. Enlightenment may mean the death of your old, comfortable (yet unhealthy), ideology. Being mortal, we do not react to death well. Whether it be the death of a loved one, a church/congregation, an ideology or even an addiction, we are fearful of letting go of that which we have grown attached. Even when it is not the death of an ideology, we have trouble letting go and accepting comfort from elsewhere.

    Consider the drowning man. When someone is drowning, they will reach out and grab at anything that they think may save them. However, it is often the case that, in the lashing for a “lifeline” they will actually endanger the one who is trying to save them. Instead of letting go and letting the rescuer help them, they grab for the highest point (i.e. the head) and bring take the other down with them. It is the trained lifeguard who stays just out of reach, calmly calls to them, and waits for the victim to exhaust themselves or pass out. Only then, can they safely go in and pull the victim out.

  31. avatar
    Sef June 21, 2011 at 8:45 am #

    G: For some, being willing and able to re-examine their own ideology when presented with new information is normal or even comforting, NOT frightening. It is a path to enlightenment.

    “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

  32. avatar
    G June 21, 2011 at 3:17 pm #

    The Magic M:
    > Sometimes there aren’t any satisfying explanations. Enter the conspiracy theory.

    I don’t think that puts the finger on it or at least is put too generally.

    Conspiracy theories don’t enter when there are no “satisfying explanations”. They enter when people are unable to cope with the fact they (or mankind in general) are not in control.

    Conspiracy theories all deal with control. An awful lot of control. Almost perfect, almost omnipotent control. Natural disasters as big as vulcanos? Man-made. Shifts in aspects of society (morals, political convictions, economy)? Man-made.

    Just like in the Stone Age when people thought there were gods responsible for thunder, rain, sunshine, good crops, bad crops… and that praying to these gods and aiming to please them somehow gave them “indirect control” over their lives.

    Today, the rationale is “If there is a powerful conspiracy of just a tiny fraction of mankind, that means just a tiny fraction of mankind is able to control ourselves; if I and my fellow-minded friends take that place, we have total control over everything that could harm us”.

    The motivation is the same: fear of being not in control, and, even worse, fear of things that are totally out of our control, no matter how powerful we are as individuals, governments or societies.
    All the powers in the world can’t stop a tsunami (at least not without wreaking even more havoc). And that makes people afraid. And that’s where conspiracy theories enter.

    (Though it pretty much escapes me why people invest time in theories as the moon landing hoax. After all, that pretty much just resolves to “Hollywood can fake a lot”, not to “these people must really be powerful”. I’d rather have expected something along the lines of “we’ve already been to Mars and Pluto and “they” just won’t tell us”.)

    Good analysis. I agree.

  33. avatar
    Wild Bill H June 25, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

    JustinHenry:
    Just today I read about birthers wanting the 2008 election “annulled” over Obama’s Occidental College records which they believe will show that Obama went to college on a Fullbright as a foreign student. (In spite of the fact that Fullbrights are for graduate study only and Obama was a freshman and sophomore at Occidental).

    Because we all know that rules are always followed and no exceptions are ever made – especially in Obama’s case. He lives his life strictly by the book – very normal and predictable – why, his life story could be the same as any normal Americans!! Hummmm….and I’m the crazy one?

  34. avatar
    Wild Bill H June 25, 2011 at 12:21 pm #

    ellen:
    Your discussion refers only to the birthers who actually believe the birther theory. What about the ones who actually know that it is wrong, and yet who continue to lie about it?

    There are true believers, and then there are liars. The liars believe that their lies are justified by something (though I do not know what), and they are highly motivated. And the motives for their lies are EVIL.

    I think your post is proof positive of what the good Dr. speaks of. I was truly taken aback by what you said. Trust me, I know very well what is wrong….but it certainly isn’t what you think is wrong.

    Because I don’t agree with you, I am lying and not only just lying, I believe my lies! What? How do you distinguish the difference between the true believers and the liars who believe their own lies?

    I truly believe I disagree with your pov. I believe Obama was born in Hawaii. I believe Obama is playing this ‘birther’ issue perfectly. I believe Obama when he says he was born a dual citizen and governed by British Law at birth. He said it – I’m not making it up or thinking that FACT is a lie that I just happen to believe. I therefore believe he is ineligible to be POTUS, based on Obama’s own admission that he was a dual citizen at birth – that as a citizen of two different countries at birth he cannot possibly be a NBC of either country.

    What part of my belief is a lie and which lies am I choosing to believe?

    Are you saying Obama is lying? Or that I’m crazy because I choose to believe Obama’s lie – or was it his truth that I believe is a lie?

    I don’t believe you are crazy because you believe Obama is eligible to be POTUS, any more than I am crazy because I have a differing opinion.

    We are both Americans where we are free to disagree – at least at this point in time. The fact that you cannot come to that conclusion is why I think you are crazy. I think you are crazy because you are all worked up over this issue to the point you feel the need to belittle and denigrate your fellow Americans simply and solely because they hold a believe that is counter to your own. Personally I think that is very short-sighted and narrow-minded of you. I can see your side and can fully understand why you would feel Obama is eligible and why you feel the need to defend him, but you cannot possibly see why I might feel differently or that my argument might have any merit….only that my argument is a lie that I believe.

    And again…you think I’m the EVIL crazy one????? LOL

  35. avatar
    Wild Bill H June 25, 2011 at 12:34 pm #

    richCares:
    The father was told not to come to her graduation, which just occurred. This beautiful teen girl now refers to my wife as “Mom”.

    That is truly a shame – both accounts. If the father believes it is in his daughter’s best interested to be home schooled it is NO ones business, not yours, not the states, not the governments to force a different form of education upon her. It might be the wrong choice, but that is the father’s prerogative and it is not for you, the state, or the government to say what is right or wrong. When it comes to that, we can no longer say we are free, because it is clear that we are not when others get to choose what is best for us.

    richCares:
    To me it is not consensus, looking at that destroyed relationship makes me believe birthers are mentally ill. Partisan hate destroys familys.

    If you think it is so bad, why continue and perpetuate the partisan hate? I’m NOT mentally ill, but you continue to believe I am simply because I have a different opinion than you do. I don’t think you are mentally ill – I think you see the world from a different perspective than I do and I respect your right to believe differently than I do, but you certainly don’t respect my rights. And you consider that to be partisan hate?

    No, sir, what you believe is partisan hate, what I believe is tolerance.

  36. avatar
    Majority Will June 25, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

    Wild Bill H: any normal Americans!!

    What is a “normal” American?

  37. avatar
    Majority Will June 25, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

    Wild Bill H: I therefore believe he is ineligible to be POTUS

    Your legal opinion is wrong and since you’re also not in any position of relevant authority, your belief or feeling is a meaningless fart in the wind.

    The two parent nonsense has been explained ad nauseam. Your stubbornness on the subject only confirms that you belong to a group of conspiracy theorists who refuse to acknowledge our standing legal decisions.

    You are confusing feelings and opinion with legal fact. You are not entitled to your own facts.

  38. avatar
    aarrgghh June 25, 2011 at 2:42 pm #

    Wild Bill H: What part of my belief is a lie and which lies am I choosing to believe?

    Are you saying Obama is lying? Or that I’m crazy because I choose to believe Obama’s lie – or was it his truth that I believe is a lie?

    I don’t believe you are crazy because you believe Obama is eligible to be POTUS, any more than I am crazy because I have a differing opinion.

    We are both Americans where we are free to disagree

    as the saying goes, “you are entitled to your own opinion but you are not entitled to your own facts.”

    three years into this debate the accumulated facts of obama’s eligibility and the circumstances around it have removed the question from the misty realm of the “fair and balanced” he-said-she-said.

    because keeping alive the belief that obama is ineligible requires defending the increasingly unwieldy conclusion that the entire administration, aided by the judicial branch and our legislative representatives, along with the state government of hawaii, and any number of miscellaneous domestic and international shadow organizations and operatives — starting with a once not particularly noteworthy multiracial family from the midwest — are all in collusion or under coercion to silently abet the unconstitutional usurpation of the highest popularly-elected office in the land while rebuffing every single effort of “millions” of patriots (who have repeatedly demonstrated the willingness to baldly lie, even to their own compatriots) to expose this multi-decade conspiracy that is now nothing more than a public secret, one that john and jane q. public already rejected years ago on election day.

    all of this despite being repeatedly shown that the sanest conclusion for all the behavior of all the actors above is that obama always was an eligible candidate and always will be a lawful officeholder for the length of any term he wins.

    enough time has passed to tell us that both sides are not equally valid; time tells us which one is reasonable. as long as birfers continue to defy reason they will continue to earn all the ridicule they get.

  39. avatar
    Charlie Burrow June 25, 2011 at 2:51 pm #

    Wild Bill H:

    I truly believe I disagree with your pov.I believe Obama was born in Hawaii.I believe Obama is playing this birther’ issue perfectly.I believe Obama when he says he was born a dual citizen and governed by British Law at birth.He said it – I’m not making it up or thinking that FACT is a lie that I just happen to believe.I therefore believe he is ineligible to be POTUS, based on Obama’s own admission that he was a dual citizen at birth – that as a citizen of two different countries at birth he cannot possibly be a NBC of either country.
    belittle and denigrate your fellow Americans simply and solely because they hold a .

    Wild Bill, I agree that it’s not a lie to make a false statement unless you know that it’s false.

    As for the dual citizenship theory, it makes no sense. If true, it would allow foreign countries to substitute their whims for the constitutional rights of American born citizens. Pick a foreign leader that you despise and imagine him/her decreeing that all descendants of emigrants from that country were automatically citizens of that country, thereby rendering all such descendants ineligible for US president. There’s no end to the potential scenarios.

  40. avatar
    Charlie Burrow June 25, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

    Sorry for the sloppy quote.

  41. avatar
    Scientist June 25, 2011 at 3:15 pm #

    Wild Bill H: What part of my belief is a lie and which lies am I choosing to believe?

    I think it’s worse to sincerely believe nonsense than to pretend to do so for cynical reasons. Cynical liars will stop once the phony beliefs no longer get them what they want, while true believers wiil go on and on, no matter how much harm they do to themselves and others.

  42. avatar
    Scientist June 25, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

    Wild Bill H: If the father believes it is in his daughter’s best interested to be home schooled it is NO ones business, not yours, not the states, not the governments to force a different form of education upon her. It might be the wrong choice, but that is the father’s prerogative and it is not for you, the state, or the government to say what is right or wrong.

    I’m just curious how far you would take this position. What if a father believed that it was in the child’s best interests to be severely beaten or forced into prostitution? Parents don’t own their children and the law puts the interests of the child first. I don’t know enough about the specifics of this case to say that the actions of this parent consttitute child abuse, but I certanly wouldn’t be so bold as to say they don’t either.

  43. avatar
    G June 25, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

    Wild Bill H: Because we all know that rules are always followed and no exceptions are ever made – especially in Obama’s case. He lives his life strictly by the book – very normal and predictable – why, his life story could be the same as any normal Americans!! Hummmm….and I’m the crazy one?

    Yes, in my view you are. His books well detail his background growing up. His first best selling autobiography was published well over 15 years ago. Nobody – not him nor anyone else has claimed he’s perfect or claimed that his experiences were the same as yours. Where you get that idea, I don’t know… your own demons and personal problems seem to drive you.

    In that book, he admits to his struggles growing up and using drugs. Something many American youth have done. Just as there are many American’s who’ve struggled to find their path in their youth, there are also many who’ve grown up and experienced very little hardship at all in life and never used drugs at all. Both are typical American stories really.

    What we have today is someone who got serious in his college days and rose to achieving one of the highest academic standards out there – becoming President of the Harvard Law Review and then went on to have a very successful professional and family career. Sounds like the American dream to me. Unlike many other politicians, he’s remained married to the same person his whole life and involved in his children’s upbringing. These are the kind of “family values” that we claim to champion and be inspired by as Americans.

    I simply don’t see why you get all hot and bothered about this. For some reason, it upsets you that he’s been successful and has a good family life. I can only surmise that you’re issues with this stem from your own personal problems and jealousies.

  44. avatar
    G June 25, 2011 at 3:36 pm #

    Your problem is that you rant about an issue of his being born a dual citizen at birth, as if that means anything or has any impact on his ability to be President.

    Simply put, you are wailing on about a meaningless issue that has no real legal issue to it and no relevance to today. As I’ve already stated, Obama’s autobiography was a best seller and no secret and had been out for well over a decade before he ever ran for POTUS. There has been no secret about his birth or who his parents were. There is no evidence he ever gave up US Citizenship nor that he every accepted other citizenship that he might have been entitled to before the expiration date for doing so. At the time of his campaigning to run for President in 2007, he met all age and citizenship requirements for doing so and then succeeded in winning the electoral votes and being certified by all our legal and Constitutional steps to become President.

    So you can “feel” all you want that that someone born in the US who had a foreign parent should not be able to be President, but NONE of our laws agree nor support your beliefs. So yes, your feelings and beliefs don’t matter in terms of the reality here and in terms of our laws. You can have all the crazy opinions you want, but they don’t change the reality that you are simply wrong.

    Wild Bill H: I truly believe I disagree with your pov. I believe Obama was born in Hawaii. I believe Obama is playing this birther’ issue perfectly. I believe Obama when he says he was born a dual citizen and governed by British Law at birth. He said it – I’m not making it up or thinking that FACT is a lie that I just happen to believe. I therefore believe he is ineligible to be POTUS, based on Obama’s own admission that he was a dual citizen at birth – that as a citizen of two different countries at birth he cannot possibly be a NBC of either country.

  45. avatar
    G June 25, 2011 at 3:43 pm #

    Wild Bill H: but you cannot possibly see why I might feel differently or that my argument might have any merit….only that my argument is a lie that I believe.

    But your argument is a lie that you believe, in a sense that you think it matters in any real world or legal fashion. It simply does not. If you wish to merely state that you disagree with our American laws and how they work, that’s fine. If you wish to petition the government to Amend the Constitution to change our laws to fit your world view, that is your right too.

    However, for you to claim that he can’t be President today because he was born with the rights to dual citizenship at birth, well that entire premise is clearly false and not supported by our existing laws. Therefore, to carry on with such a delusional view in the face of all reality and wasting your time ranting about it on websites is nothing more than willfully lying to yourself.

  46. avatar
    Ballantine June 25, 2011 at 3:45 pm #

    It depends upon how one defines lies. If one believes that the current law is that abortion is unconstituional, one is believing a lie or simply ignorant as it is a fact that such is wrong under present case law. One could believe that it should be unconstutional which means little unless one can make a compelling argument. Similarly, if one believes that current prevents dual citizenship, they are believing a lie or ignorant as such is not supported by any case law. You are free to believe the law should change but until it does, it is a lie or ignorant to say Obama is ineligible. Vattelists also believe many lies to support their arguments, such as claiming that many cases and founding statements support them that in no way do. So I think it is a choice between lying and ignorance for most of you. However, how many times can one be told the law before they can no longer claim ignorance.

  47. avatar
    G June 25, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

    Ballantine: So I think it is a choice between lying and ignorance for most of you. However, how many times can one be told the law before they can no longer claim ignorance.

    Exceptionally well put! Therein lies the clear distinction at which the person’s opinions move to become willful lies.

  48. avatar
    Rickey June 25, 2011 at 4:11 pm #

    Wild Bill H: Because we all know that rules are always followed and no exceptions are ever made – especially in Obama’s case.He lives his life strictly by the book – very normal and predictable – why, his life story could be the same as any normal Americans!!Hummmm….and I’m the crazy one?

    Crazy could be an apt description if you really believe that an 18-year-old who had just graduated high school in Hawaii could have been eligible for a Fulbright Scholarship.

    A mainstay of America’s public-diplomacy efforts, the Fulbright Foreign Student Program brings citizens of other countries to the United States for Master’s degree or Ph.D. study at U.S. universities or other appropriate institutions. The program has brought some of the world’s finest minds to U.S. campuses and offers program participants insight into U.S. society and values.

    Many foreign Fulbright grantees are early-career professionals who will return to take leadership positions in their home countries, often working at universities or in government service.

    More than 1,800 new Foreign Fulbright Fellows enter U.S. academic programs each year. Foreign students apply for Fulbright Fellowships through the Fulbright Commission/Foundation or U.S. Embassy in their home countries. The Institute of International Education (IIE) arranges academic placement for most Fulbright nominees and supervises participants during their stay in the United States.

    http://www.foreign.fulbrightonline.org/

    Occidental College is a COLLEGE, not a university. There are no graduate programs at Occidental, which means that no one has ever attended Occidental on a Fulbright Scholarship.

  49. avatar
    Scientist June 25, 2011 at 4:31 pm #

    Besides, Rickey:

    1. The names of Fulbright recipients are public.
    2. No one who graduates from a US high school is considered a foreign student, regardless of their citizenship.
    3. It is a fact that Obama received federal student loans-these loans are only available to US citizens and legal permanent residents. How do we know he had such loans? Remember the story of the people in Iowa arrested for looking at Obama’s federal student loan records without authorization? Well, they wouldn’t have been able to look at such records unless Obama actually had received such loans.

  50. avatar
    Rickey June 25, 2011 at 4:59 pm #

    Excellent points, Scientist. Will Wild Bill H take any of this to heart? I for one am not holding my breath.