Main Menu

The ultimate put down

I’m sure someone could do worse, but my idea of the ultimate put down is:

You’re incapable of understanding the truth.

It’s saying that someone is both wrong and irredeemably wrong.

When looking at the pathological thinking of birthers, one is invited to compare and contrast it with Obot thinking. Comparisons are easy: vehemence, confrontation and argument; however, contrasts are more striking with the birthers holding fringe views and the Obots consensus views. The birthers rely on their own authorities and their fringe reading of the evidence; Obots rely on mainstream authorities and expert reading of the evidence.

An essential contrast is how birthers and Obots view each other. Typically the birther believes that Obots disagree with them for a number of reasons (refusal to look at the evidence, dishonesty, partisanship or evil intent), all of which could change. Birthers believe that the honest person who gives them a fair hearing will agree with them, and this is reflected by their continued attempts to prevail in court. The fact that their cases are dismissed is not attributed to the fact that the courts disagree with them, but because they are corrupt. The firm birther hope is that eventually almost everyone will see it their way. The birther view is based on optimism that it is only a matter of time before the tables are turned and they represent the consensus view.

On the other hand I believe that the birthers will not change their minds if they give a fair and patient hearing to what the Obots have to say. I believe that they are incapable of comprehending any opposing argument, and that trying to convince them otherwise is a futile gesture. I firmly believe that they will never see it my way and I am pessimistic that any birther will change. I base my pessimism on the academic writing on conspiracy theories (which I continue to study) and my anecdotal experience on this blog.

Of course birthers and Obots have views that suit their desires, belief in change (birthers) or belief in the status quo (Obots). To date, the Obots seem to be right, and barring some cataclysm (like hyperinflation in the Weimar Republic), I don’t see the inmates taking over the asylum, and put down or not, I believe that the birthers are incapable of understanding the truth.

32 Responses to The ultimate put down

  1. avatar
    Fred June 26, 2011 at 2:25 pm #

    Much simpler than that. Birthers are fueled by hate. Obots are not.

  2. avatar
    US Citizen June 26, 2011 at 2:31 pm #

    It’s all a matter of beliefs.
    For example, let’s say that you, Doc, went to an atheist forum.
    You’d say you believe in God and they’d reply “where is your evidence?”
    You likely wouldn’t drop your faith because of anything they had to say.
    Consensus would be on your side, but empirical evidence? No.
    You’d be forced to maintain your position (faith) in the face of an overwhelming lack of evidence of God, afterlife, etc.
    So perhaps empathy is in order.
    Birthers are wrong by consensus and empirical fact, but what about Christians being held to these same tests?
    Would you drop your faith if everything suggested you were wrong?

  3. avatar
    G June 26, 2011 at 3:12 pm #

    Although I appreciate the analogy you are trying to build in this argument, I don’t think it is properly comparable to Birtherism, except to identify that “Birther” prejudices are wholly “belief-based” and rely on adhering to blind “faith” in their preconceived conclusions. But those Birther preconceived conclusions are rooted requiring an empirical world of evidence, laws and data in order for them to matter in the real world (which they don’t, hence why Birthers always fail).

    The huge difference here is that our laws are not a matter of “faith” or “belief”. They are written down, tested in courts, etc. In other words, they are material evidence and grounded in empirical reality, not philosophy. Same with Obama’s records, etc.

    However, religions by definition are “faith based”. They may have a physical organized structure (church, leaders, etc.) and books, but in the end of the day they are all foundationally belief-based structures and not empirical. In an actual “theocracy”, you could argue about faith-based laws being empirical, but that is not what our American system actually is (although there are many theocrats that wish it were).

    What I’m getting at is that most Birther myths are easily debunkable and falsifiable. While their fantasy versions of things may be completely detatched from reality, the root issue itself is not.

    Issues of the existance of God are neither provable nor really falsifiable as they are utterly belief/faith based philosophical constructs. While there are many specific Biblical stories or other religious claims that translate into specific falsifiable claims, the main premise of those religions (the existance of God) falls outside of that. Further, due to that nature of religion itself, religious tales that don’t hold up to “real world” scrutiny can merely be partially or completely allegorical in order to convey a point – and be just as relevant as a philosophical point to faith.

    Birthers seek legal redress to “remove” a President they can’t accept. Their goal is something that exists in the physical world and won’t happen in the manners they seek, because their entire premise is falsifiable. A Birther who admitted reality and “dropped” Birtherims would stop wasting time seeking an overthrow of a legitimately elected official. (They can simply chose to vote for someone else next time, which is not the same – casting a ballot is part of our process of democratic choice, which allows us to replace instead of overthrow).

    A religious person who determined that their own belief system was wrong and “dropped” that faith as a result is only impacting themselves and their personal choices in such change (unless their religious beliefs led them to be “activist” in certain causes…but then you are now into a whole different argument, where religion is actually an underlying motivation/’excuse for the cause…and I think you have to separate pursuing a cause using religion as a justifier from the mere holding of a belief system/faith in terms of cause/effect).

    US Citizen:
    It’s all a matter of beliefs.
    For example, let’s say that you, Doc, went to an atheist forum.
    You’d say you believe in God and they’d reply “where is your evidence?”
    You likely wouldn’t drop your faith because of anything they had to say.
    Consensus would be on your side, but empirical evidence? No.
    You’d be forced to maintain your position (faith) in the face of an overwhelming lack of evidence of God, afterlife, etc.
    So perhaps empathy is in order.
    Birthers are wrong by consensus and empirical fact, but what about Christians being held to these same tests?
    Would you drop your faith if everything suggested you were wrong?

  4. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy June 26, 2011 at 4:05 pm #

    You bring up an interesting point. I used to engage in religious-themed argument on USENET in the newsgroup talk.religion.misc. On USENET an article can be cross-posted to multiple newsgroups and when one replied to a comment, that reply by default would post to all of the newsgroups of the subject comment.

    What happened was that one’s comments frequently ended up on the alt.atheism newsgroup. All manner of mayhem resulted.

    It was my practice, whenever I noticed a cross-posted comment to alt.atheism, to remove that newsgroup from my reply. I did this because 1) the atheists got irritated at religious-minded content on their newsgroup and 2) the comments were irrelevant to atheists.

    The only time I would go to an atheist forum would be to ask a question about what atheists thought about something, not to argue religion with them.

    In my view, if one holds a faith-based view then it is important to realize that it is faith-based and not to attempt to use bad logic or junk science to prop it up.

    And by extension, birthers are rather like the Christians who argue that their faith is magically proved by secret codes in the Bible, geological evidence that the earth is 6,000 years old, weeping statues other crank history and junk science. It can be intensely frustrating when people are unable to convince others based on evidence like that.

    US Citizen: For example, let’s say that you, Doc, went to an atheist forum.
    You’d say you believe in God and they’d reply “where is your evidence?”

  5. avatar
    ballantine June 26, 2011 at 4:08 pm #

    I think it is human nature to not want to know if one is wrong in a belief one holds dear. Hence, I don’t think they really read or consider our points. I’ve seen the same type of behavior in debates on religion where people on both sides don’t even consider the other’s argument. When I was a kid I read all the books on aliens visiting our ancient world. When a book came out debunking it, I refused to read it convincing myself it had to be garbage. In reality, I didn’t want to be debunked. However, when one becomes a lawyer, scientist or some other professions, one is taught to think differently. The first thing I have been taught to do is try to understand the best opposing argument I can in order to tell my client if they cannot win. At this point, it is second nature.

    Take our friend here. I bet she will not give up one of her talking points as she is probably not even considering our arguments. For example, she thinks Bingham’s quote is somehow authoritative. Now, it has been pointed out to her that Bingham had nothing to do with the citizenship clause, that his statements were inconsistent and she was provided with a link showing that dozens and dozens of members of such Congress, including the author of the citizenship clause, adopted the Blackstonian view of citizenship or Presidential eligibility. Now that this has been pointed out, an honest person wouldn’t cite Bingham unless they can argue that somehow Bingham’s opinion matters over the dozens and dozen of other Congressmen following Blackstone. Does anyone think our friend will mention all these members of Congress the next time she cites Bingham?

  6. avatar
    G June 26, 2011 at 4:29 pm #

    Excellent points. I completely agree.

    Dr. Conspiracy: In my view, if one holds a faith-based view then it is important to realize that it is faith-based and not to attempt to use bad logic or junk science to prop it up.

    And by extension, birthers are rather like the Christians who argue that their faith is magically proved by secret codes in the Bible, geological evidence that the earth is 6,000 years old, weeping statues other crank history and junk science. It can be intensely frustrating when people are unable to convince others based on evidence like that.

  7. avatar
    G June 26, 2011 at 4:33 pm #

    Good points. Once you are able to teach yourself to think differently like that, it actually is is rather freeing. The old ego-fear driven impulses to desperately cling onto something become much, much easier to overcome.

    ballantine: However, when one becomes a lawyer, scientist or some other professions, one is taught to think differently. The first thing I have been taught to do is try to understand the best opposing argument I can in order to tell my client if they cannot win. At this point, it is second nature.

  8. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy June 26, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

    One can also learn this if one has basic integrity and gets his ass kicked enough times on the Internet.

    ballantine: However, when one becomes a lawyer, scientist or some other professions, one is taught to think differently.

  9. avatar
    US Citizen June 26, 2011 at 5:52 pm #

    Thank you.
    (also to Doc for kindly fixing my posting error.)

    The only impasse I have in personally endorsing the viewpoints you’ve presented is that from a purely objective viewpoint, both the religious faithful and the birthers cannot be swayed.
    Birtherism IS their faith.
    In the same way one could argue any number of plausible for/against points in religion, so can birthers.
    Again, it’s belief systems.
    For example what we consider evidence here proving a legal point, is also evidence to a birther that there’s a conspiracy afoot.
    We can easily embrace a “buck stops here” standpoint about laws whereas we stop arguing once comfortable the law agrees with us.
    So too can a birther use those same laws to prop up their beliefs.
    In the same was that our current ‘missy funpants’ is interpreting long-established constitutional law incorrectly from a legal standpoint, so have religious authorities in respect to the gospel.
    It’s all in what the subject believes.
    Of course the acid test for law is attempting to apply it and either being successful or not, there is no such test for religion.
    No one knows if they’re truly saved or damned.
    This same faith and uncertainty is as prevalent in a birther’s mind as it is for the religiously faithful.
    They’re SURE Obama is evil as much as anyone of faith is sure God exists.
    Birthers apply Obama’s actions to their reinforcement of his “evil” in the same way some people are sure they see Jesus or Mary in a tree knot or piece of fruit apply such to their reinforcement of faith.

    I’m not trying to be a protagonist here, but I simply don’t see a huge difference.
    It’s no different than Muslims believing Jews or Christians are evil and vice-versa.
    One can say until they’re blue in the face that no, really, truly, legally Obama is our duly-elected president, but people that don’t believe this never will no matter how much evidence one shows.
    Same for arguments between scientists and creationists.
    Both parties have an answer they believe in.
    Have we seen many of the people convinced that homosexuality is a conscious decision swayed to DNA evidence?
    I haven’t.
    Anyway, I respect all of your opinions and come here to learn and laugh. I just think that the confusion we have in trying to understand why birthers cannot be convinced isn’t much difference than age-old arguments regarding science vs religion.

  10. avatar
    Bovril June 26, 2011 at 5:53 pm #

    I mentioned this before, Birthers show far more of the characteristics of a cult than a “normal” religious organization.

    There is the wholesale rejection of “wrong thought”,

    The violent underpinning for those outside the cult,

    Active proselytizing and recruiting,

    The excommunication of those who do not cleave to the only and holy word,

    Which mutates and becomes the NEW “holy word” at the drop of a hat by the inner acolytes etc.

    Complete inability to accommodate

    Seperation Separation [Changed by the Dr. Conspiracy jihad against misspelling “separate.” Remember: there is “a rat” in separate. Doc.] from family and friends who also become members of the unclean

    Conspiracy theories ABOUT the conspiracy theory that is the belief system

    Child like adherence to wholly unsupported views

    Etc Etc Etc

    Jim Jones type of behaviors come the next Presidential election that doesn’t go there way…?

  11. avatar
    Expelliarmus June 26, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

    The part that I find depressing is the obvious very low level of education of birthers, especially those who seem to buy into the Vattel-base theory. They are ready to believe a whole array of outright bunk about American history, the Founding Fathers, and the writing of the Constitution. Then you see Sarah Palin saying that Paul Revere rang bells to warn away the British, or Michele Bachmann referring to the Founding Fathers working to end slavery …. and you really have to wonder how low it can go?

    These people do not have the basic level of knowledge that would act as a filter against the vast majority of specific birther claims. So they buy into all manner of garbage that any high school student enrolled in an AP US History class would find laughable.

  12. avatar
    G June 26, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

    The issue I have here is the false equivocation here. Science is a methodology not a faith-based belief system. Only those ignorant of how science works try to equivocate between religion and science. One is the realm of faith-based belief and philosophy. The other is based on empiricle evidence and rigid testing.

    Creationism is not science. It is not supportable outside of pure faith alone and science does clearly provide overwhelming evidence that contradicts it.

    US Citizen: Same for arguments between scientists and creationists.
    Both parties have an answer they believe in.
    Have we seen many of the people convinced that homosexuality is a conscious decision swayed to DNA evidence?
    I haven’t.
    Anyway, I respect all of your opinions and come here to learn and laugh. I just think that the confusion we have in trying to understand why birthers cannot be convinced isn’t much difference than age-old arguments regarding science vs religion.

  13. avatar
    G June 26, 2011 at 6:02 pm #

    Bovril: I mentioned this before, Birthers show far more of the characteristics of a cult than a “normal” religious organization.

    I agree.

  14. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy June 26, 2011 at 6:05 pm #

    There I would disagree with you. Religious people drop out all the time. Even the Christian scriptures talk about apostates. Now there are religious people who think like conspiracy theorists and I suppose have parallel blind spots.

    If an atheist comes to me and says “there is absolutely no objective evidence that God of the Christians exists,” I agree with him. However, if I say to the birther “there is absolutely no objective evidence that Obama was born in Kenya” he will not agree with me.

    Now it may be a fallacy for me to characterize “all birthers” in this way, while rejecting the characterization of “all Christians” in a similar way, but Christians talk about faith, and birthers do not.

    US Citizen: The only impasse I have in personally endorsing the viewpoints you’ve presented is that from a purely objective viewpoint, both the religious faithful and the birthers cannot be swayed.

  15. avatar
    G June 26, 2011 at 6:07 pm #

    I think it is much worse than that. These folks are WILLFULLY ignorant. They don’t just have a warped and incorrect view of history, they desperately WANT to and to be able to rewrite history to match their worldview fantasies. Reality is inconvenient for them and viewed as an enemy. They view history as malleable and able to be re-written to their liking. Total shades of Orwellian brainwashing here and they are both willing dupes and participants in this. Let’s look at the example you gave of Palin’s woefully pathetic and wrong accounting of Paul Revere. Look at what immediately followed – desperate attempts by her followers to rewrite history of the event on sites such as Wikipedia and even Conservapedia so that they would now match up with her botched ramblings…

    Expelliarmus:
    The part that I find depressing is the obvious very low level of education of birthers, especially those who seem to buy into the Vattel-base theory. They are ready to believe a whole array of outright bunk about American history, the Founding Fathers, and the writing of the Constitution.Then you see Sarah Palin saying that Paul Revere rang bells to warn away the British, or Michele Bachmann referring to the Founding Fathers working to end slavery …. and you really have to wonder how low it can go?

    These people do not have the basic level of knowledge that would act as a filter against the vast majority of specific birther claims.So they buy into all manner of garbage that any high school student enrolled in an AP US History class would find laughable.

  16. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy June 26, 2011 at 6:17 pm #

    You point out some strong similarities. Birthers, however, lack one key element of a cult: infallibility of the leadership. Conspiracy theories glorify the “lone researcher.”

    Bovril: I mentioned this before, Birthers show far more of the characteristics of a cult than a “normal” religious organization.

  17. avatar
    Expelliarmus June 26, 2011 at 6:21 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy: You point out some strong similarities. Birthers, however, lack one key element of a cult: infallibility of the leadership.

    That’s because they are so utterly stupid that there isn’t anyone with minimal leadership qualities available to take up the helm. They are left with a set of utter misfits like Orly Taitz, who can’t even keep her own story straight from minute to minute.

  18. avatar
    Sef June 26, 2011 at 6:25 pm #

    Expelliarmus: That’s because they are so utterly stupid that there isn’t anyone with minimal leadership qualities available to take up the helm.They are left with a set of utter misfits like Orly Taitz, who can’t even keep her own story straight from minute to minute.

    OT was much better off when she had CELIII to do her briefs. Since she’s doing them herself they have been quite amusing.

  19. avatar
    G June 26, 2011 at 6:29 pm #

    Agreed. I also think the traditional definition of cult needs to be revised to adapt to the new phenomenon of primarily internet-based movements, where there are multiple voices and therefore “leaders”. I consider Birtherism to be a “virtual cult” and that a new definition needs to be created to capture the characteristics particular to this version of a cult.

    Expelliarmus: That’s because they are so utterly stupid that there isn’t anyone with minimal leadership qualities available to take up the helm. They are left with a set of utter misfits like Orly Taitz, who can’t even keep her own story straight from minute to minute.

  20. avatar
    Bovril June 26, 2011 at 6:48 pm #

    Doc,

    I agree that the cult sole leader as a personal individual is missing, what we have instead is the meme as the infallible leader where the “truth” changes but the underpinning lead never changes.

    In this case the meme is that Obama simply CANNOT be President because…….We have seen the methods and rationales change but not the infallible leader, the meme.

    I truly see this as a natural outgrowth of the Internet and the ease and ubiquity of any fool to publish cack and push it to millions.

  21. avatar
    Tarrant June 26, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

    G:
    I think it is much worse than that.These folks are WILLFULLY ignorant.They don’t just have a warped and incorrect view of history, they desperately WANT to and to be able to rewrite history to match their worldview fantasies.Reality is inconvenient for them and viewed as an enemy.They view history as malleable and able to be re-written to their liking.Total shades of Orwellian brainwashing here and they are both willing dupes and participants in this.Let’s look at the example you gave of Palin’s woefully pathetic and wrong accounting of Paul Revere.Look at what immediately followed – desperate attempts by her followers to rewrite history of the event on sites such as Wikipedia and even Conservapedia so that they would now match up with her botched ramblings…

    In addition to this, in a manner similar to birthers, there’s the insistence that what she said was actually right due to a technicality – follow Freep and see a huge collection of people pointing out that Revere did, at one point, write things telling the British they weren’t going to prevail, etc. Her followers use this true fact to spin her comments and say “See? She was absolutely right, he DID try to warn the British!” ignoring the fact that she specifically said he was doing his Midnight Ride to warn the British, not that he didn’t do things at some unspecified point in the future.

    This to me reminds me of the birthers taking a small quote – Bingham’s is a good example, or misquoting Minor v Happensert. Take a small part, ignore all other context, and thus insist it is right. Freep right now has a multiple-hundred page thread on Minor, saying it makes Obama 100% ineligible because they declared Minor had parent citizens, despite the fact that it did not in any way say that such a condition was a requirement, only that she happened to have them. Take a small part and insist it proves the point, irrespective of any other reality.

  22. avatar
    John Potter June 26, 2011 at 10:22 pm #

    A lot of them appear to consider WND infallible. By extension, whoever is spitting out hypotheses presented as “fact” that supports the general theme (Obama cannot be legitimate) is considered infallible. Idea as leader. I suppose the one missing element is an active leadership with near-total control over the believers’ actions. The level of control is mediated by the distance of the connection? It is thankfully “only” a media cult? Still, there is the very real possibility that a voices could take it on themselves to start planting suggestions, and some believers may take it on themselves to realize those suggestions. This is, after all, the lunatic fringe.

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    You point out some strong similarities. Birthers, however, lack one key element of a cult: infallibility of the leadership. Conspiracy theories glorify the “lone researcher.”

  23. avatar
    Keith June 27, 2011 at 4:16 am #

    G: The issue I have here is the false equivocation here. Science is a methodology not a faith-based belief system. Only those ignorant of how science works try to equivocate between religion and science. One is the realm of faith-based belief and philosophy. The other is based on empiricle evidence and rigid testing.

    That is not the equivocation going on here.

    The similes are actually, birther/religionsist and law/science. Both of these equivalences are quite debatable, but no one is trying to equate religion and scientist.

  24. avatar
    The Magic M June 27, 2011 at 5:06 am #

    > You’d be forced to maintain your position (faith) in the face of an overwhelming lack of evidence of God, afterlife, etc.

    That’s different. Neither do Christians claim that atheists actually believe in God and just pretend not to for nefarious reasons. Nor the other way around.

    But Doc has touched one of the cornerstones of conspiracy theories: they all share the notion that their side is the ultimate truth *and* that this truth is basically a no-brainer – there are no reasonable arguments against it and everyone, even if of mediocre intelligence, would quickly see it. And consequently, that everyone saying he disagrees and considers the opposite proven or more probable is deliberately lying (for different reasons).
    You can see this attitude reflected in the fact that almost all conspiracy believers are totally unable to admit to *any* error, no matter how small (e.g. see the sudden silence of birthers who are told that Kenya was called Kenya before 1963 or that US citizenship laws make it virtually impossible for a minor to lose his US citizenship).
    Because *anything* they concede to the “other side”, any weakness they admit, any hint there could actually be “something to it” to the arguments of the other side, anything like that could be interpreted as admission their version of the story is not as obvious as they think or the arguments in its favour are not as strong as they claim.

    And the motivation for that is obvious and not limited to conspiracy theories – if you hold a view that (currently) is a clear minority opinion and contradicts what everyone sees as “common knowledge”, you know (or at least believe) that “the others” will take to any weakness your theory shows.
    Imagine how Einstein must have felt when he realized how different his theories were to established ones and how counterintuitive they were. Or Heisenberg with his uncertainty principle.
    Scientists with weaker self-confidence would probably have tried to “explain away” or even deliberately hide anything that could be seen as a weakness of the theory – out of fear for being ridiculed or their hard-work theories being shot down.

    Consequently, for conspiracy believers, you can expect to see a perverted, intensified version of this behaviour.

  25. avatar
    G June 27, 2011 at 10:18 am #

    The Magic M: That’s different. Neither do Christians claim that atheists actually believe in God and just pretend not to for nefarious reasons. Nor the other way around.

    Sadly, there are some Christians out there that do hold that view and make that claim against atheists.

    I guess they are so convinced in their worldview that they just assume anyone who doesn’t buy into it must secretly be lying…or as I’ve heard said, are intentional “agents of Satan trying to spread deception”.

    The Magic M: And the motivation for that is obvious and not limited to conspiracy theories – if you hold a view that (currently) is a clear minority opinion and contradicts what everyone sees as “common knowledge”, you know (or at least believe) that “the others” will take to any weakness your theory shows.
    Imagine how Einstein must have felt when he realized how different his theories were to established ones and how counterintuitive they were. Or Heisenberg with his uncertainty principle.
    Scientists with weaker self-confidence would probably have tried to “explain away” or even deliberately hide anything that could be seen as a weakness of the theory – out of fear for being ridiculed or their hard-work theories being shot down.

    There are definitely some weak scientists out there and pseudo-science quacks.

    However, real science is all about controls and testing and trying to disprove one’s hypothesis by poking holes in it. The entire peer review system exists to challenge every step of a claim or discovery and to ensure the same results can be reproduced by others.

    Therefore, real science welcomes all serious challengers. Completely opposite to the conspiracy mindset.

  26. avatar
    Horus June 27, 2011 at 11:43 am #

    Birthers are like Mormons, they just believe.

  27. avatar
    Sef June 27, 2011 at 11:46 am #

    Horus:
    Birthers are like Mormons, they just believe.

    Have you ever asked a Mormon what they know of Solomon Spa(u)lding?

  28. avatar
    aarrgghh June 27, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

    actually, their problem is not belief. it’s the lack of it that ails them.

    birfers are in denial. it’s where the psychosis starts.

    they are in denial of the results of nov 08. they are in denial of its legitimacy. they are in denial of the winner and his biography. they are in denial of the constitutional laws that they claim to worship.

    it’s that denial that allows them to believe absurdities, and makes them ready to commit atrocities.

    Horus:
    Birthers are like Mormons, they just believe.

  29. avatar
    G June 27, 2011 at 12:37 pm #

    aarrgghh:
    actually, their problem is not belief. it’s the lack of it that ails them.

    birfers are in denial. it’s where the psychosis starts.

    they are in denial of the results of nov 08. they are in denial of its legitimacy. they are in denial of the winner and his biography. they are in denial of the constitutional laws that they claim to worship.

    it’s that denial that allows them to believe absurdities, and makes them ready to commit atrocities.

    Excellent points. I think you are absolutely right about denial being a key driver of their psychosis.

  30. avatar
    Arthur June 27, 2011 at 5:05 pm #

    Dr C.:

    Here’s an article in New Scientist about philosopher Stephen Law’s new book, “Believing Bullshit.” http://richarddawkins.net/articles/641072-a-field-guide-to-bullshit
    The book investigates the subject of conspiratorial thinking. I’ve included a portion of the article that concerns the subject people have been discussing in this thread.

    You describe your new book, Believing Bullshit, as a guide to avoid getting sucked into “intellectual black holes”. What are they?

    Intellectual black holes are belief systems that draw people in and hold them captive so they become willing slaves of claptrap. Belief in homeopathy, psychic powers, alien abductions – these are examples of intellectual black holes. As you approach them, you need to be on your guard because if you get sucked in, it can be extremely difficult to think your way clear again.

    But isn’t one person’s claptrap another’s truth?

    There’s a belief system about water to which we all sign up: it freezes at 0 C and boils at 100 C. We are powerfully wedded to this but that doesn’t make it an intellectual black hole. That’s because these beliefs are genuinely reasonable. Beliefs at the core of intellectual black holes, however, aren’t reasonable. They merely appear so to those trapped inside.

  31. avatar
    Sef June 27, 2011 at 7:01 pm #

    Arthur: Beliefs at the core of intellectual black holes, however, aren’t reasonable. They merely appear so to those trapped inside.

    “And time began slowly to pass.” — DNA

  32. avatar
    justlw July 3, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

    All the marvelous points laid out on this site, and I finally delurk to applaud the Dirk Gently ref. Carry on.