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The dark side of confirmation bias

Confirmation bias, simply stated, is the tendency to accept evidence aligned with ones’ pre-existing beliefs, and to downplay evidence opposed to them. It is an error in judgment that we are all prone to make. Society has devised ways to try to overcome this human frailty through judicial system and the scientific method.

In the case of conspiracy theorists, and in particular the birthers, we see extreme forms of confirmation bias where any crank off the street becomes a forensic document expert, whereas all courts are corrupt.

While confirmation bias leads birthers to the wrong conclusion about Barack Obama’s eligibility as President of the United States, one can rationalize that these fringe beliefs have little real-world consequence because most of those folks wouldn’t vote for Obama anyway.

What troubles me is that confirmation bias not only leads to the wrong conclusion about Obama’s eligibility, it also confounds the moral choices birthers make. We see a handful of aging military special ops veterans breaking longstanding military ethical constraints on political activism; we see people like Jerry Collette blaming the victim, that Obama is to blame for the lawsuits brought against him; and we see birther plaintiffs like Todd House lying in court filings – none of these seeming to have a clue about the ethical implications of their actions. Just as confirmation bias hides contradictory evidence, so does it mask the ethical implications of dishonesty, slander, dishonor, disrespect and frivolous lawsuits.

46 Responses to The dark side of confirmation bias

  1. avatar
    Lupin August 25, 2012 at 11:10 am #

    The problem you’re having right now in the US (as I wrote in the other thread this morning) is that a goodly % of one party, the GOP, considers the other side de facto illegitimate, unAmerican and traitors.

    Their frustration in not getting their hands on power through legitimate means could eventually prompt them to seize it, turn into a Pinochet-type regime and deport all of you here (except john) into camps or worse.

    An Obama win will not make that problem disappear, au contraire. And a Romney win will only accelerate the devolving of the US into an oligarchy-controlled society, a cross between Russia and Brazil.

    I hope your younger generations manage to break free of this horrible dichotomy.

  2. avatar
    Paper August 25, 2012 at 11:14 am #

    Hear, hear, Dr. C.

  3. avatar
    Thrifty August 25, 2012 at 11:32 am #

    Lupin: Their frustration in not getting their hands on power through legitimate means could eventually prompt them to seize it, turn into a Pinochet-type regime and deport all of you here (except john) into camps or worse.

    An Obama win will not make that problem disappear, au contraire. And a Romney win will only accelerate the devolving of the US into an oligarchy-controlled society, a cross between Russia and Brazil.

    Jesus Christ. Alarmist much? Deport people into camps or worse? You sound like the right wing nut jobs harping about how Obama is gonna round us up into FEMA camps.

  4. avatar
    Lupin August 25, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

    Thrifty: Jesus Christ. Alarmist much? Deport people into camps or worse? You sound like the right wing nut jobs harping about how Obama is gonna round us up into FEMA camps.

    For what it’s worth, here is some of my life experience which informs my beliefs:

    I was on holidays in Yugoslavia in the late 70s before the break-up and if you’d told me then that ten years later, neighbors would be killing neighbors, I wouldn’t have believed you.

    I was in Spain as a high school student when they garrotted political opponents, and ten years later, it was all forgotten (except it isn’t really, but you have to pretend).

    When I was at university, I had a friend whose friends who had remained behind in Chile, a perfectly normal and civilized country “before”, just disappeared overnight.

    I was in Moscow making a film in the late 80s under Gorbachev and the best & the brightest from the local elite whom I met all believed the USSR would go on forever and that, with a few years of perestroika, they’d soon be at the level of West Germany.

    Ask any Jewish survivor of WWII how the thin veneer of civilization can evaporate literally overnight. Or how apparently stable situations can suddenly turn chaotic. Loot at the Arab spring, for example.

    I always hope for the best, of course, but to blithely dismiss the darker alternatives is being ignorant of the history all around us.

  5. avatar
    Lupin August 25, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

    Paper: The Patriot type Birthers I know are well aware of this. They speak of people as sheeple being led to the slaughter and that they are the only ones preparing to resist. The positive side is their fantasy is not about to happen. The negative side is they are the breeding ground of all kinds of terrible actions. They are virulent, but they are not epidemic.

    As the saying goes: from your mouth to god’s ears!

    One of the reason I worry is because, as we all know, our world is facing serious challenges in the decades ahead: peak oil, global warming, food shortages, etc.

    Right now, in France, not only are the reality of those issues not controversial, but even in my little village, there is an awareness and the will to adapt, and indeed the government is taking steps and spending money in various directions meant to help the transition.

    Adapting to these challenges is generally a somewhat non-political, non-controversial issue — obviously there are differences between our political parties, France and Germany, etc. but you get the sense that we’re more or less all pulling in the same direction.

    I don’t get the sense (perhaps wrongly?) that this is the case with the US. Certainly, the resources, the power, are there, but your population seems divided, unmotivated, unconcerned, with a sizable percentage that strikes me as frankly delusional.

    Now, I have no doubt that the US will adapt & survive in some form or another — after all, Russia did and look from where it started! — but what the above spells out to me is that the transition might be far more abrupt and messy than elsewhere.

  6. avatar
    Paper August 25, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

    I was trying to find a way of responding. I appreciate this view, and appreciate seeing how someone from the outside sees this country. Your further comments here make clear what I was grappling with. Such collapse is imaginable, but it is not going to happen without an infrastructural collapse of society. I know some Patriot type Birthers, the ex-military types. They are not going to be able to seize control. If they could, I have no doubt they would create a dystopia of some kind. But these people are virulent, not epidemic. The epidemic level catastrophe of which you speak requires a social collapse. That is indeed something of which to be aware. But they aren’t just going to be able to seize power. These people I know, who would be prime candidates for such, are themselves aware of this necessity. The extremists of the currently self-destructing Republican party would lead us, I believe, toward such social collapse, if only because their ideas have nothing to do with the practical aspects of building a society, but that is a different point.

    The dichotomy we face isn’t between junta and oligarchy. We do have an issue represented by your first comment about the dichotomy of us vs. them. That is inherent to America since the beginning. But on the plus side, there was just a poll that showed Obama considered more American, more mainstream than Romney and many others.

    A social collapse could indeed take us to a very nasty place. But we aren’t there, and we won’t get there by the route of these jokers deciding to take matters into their own hands. Civilization can evaporate overnight, but it’s the collapse that leads to the kind of power grabs you mention. They don’t happen just because someone wants to seize power.

    Lupin: For what it’s worth, here is some of my life experience which informs my beliefs:

    I was on holidays in Yugoslavia in the late 70s before the break-up and if you’d told me then that ten years later, neighbors would be killing neighbors, I wouldn’t have believed you.

    I was in Spain as a high school student when they garrotted political opponents, and ten years later, it was all forgotten (except it isn’t really, but you have to pretend).

    When I was at university, I had a friend whose friends who had remained behind in Chile, a perfectly normal and civilized country “before”, just disappeared overnight.

    I was in Moscow making a film in the late 80s under Gorbachev and the best & the brightest from the local elite whom I met all believed the USSR would go on forever and that, with a few years of perestroika, they’d soon be at the level of West Germany.

    Ask any Jewish survivor of WWII how the thin veneer of civilization can evaporate literally overnight. Or how apparently stable situations can suddenly turn chaotic. Loot at the Arab spring, for example.

    I always hope for the best, of course, butto blithely dismiss the darker alternatives is being ignorant of the history all around us.

  7. avatar
    misha August 25, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

    Thrifty: Jesus Christ. Alarmist much? Deport people into camps or worse? You sound like the right wing nut jobs

    Lupin has a point. I was raised surrounded by Survivors. My maternal grandmother was saved by being hidden in a trunk in an attic.

    I have not seen such anti-progress, anti-science and general hostility to anything outside of their little world, since 1933 Germany.

  8. avatar
    Paper August 25, 2012 at 1:05 pm #

    Ah, I deleted that original comment to rework it, to make sure I respected your main point while clarifying my perception of where we are now.

    One thing is America has always been messy. So the messiness of our politics and coverage in the media do not concern me as much as someone might just seeing the craziness highlighted in the media. For example, I realized very early I could not rely upon the nightly news, otherwise I would never walk out the door. And realized that, even having seen my share of violence.

    The serious challenges we face, that you mention, are the real crux. I agree completely. Those kinds of matters could lead to a collapse, where various monsters rise.

    The Patriot birthers I know tell me I will see, too late, that they were right once I am being slaughtered in their vision of the future. I like to tell them that even if such a fate occurs it will not be for the reasons they say. I also tell them to stop pretending they are protecting me, or will protect me, frorn such a fate. These fake protectors are dead ends. If society collapses, then yes, the “cholera” of their hate would break out of their stagnant toilets, but right now, our literal and metaphorical toilets still flush.

    Lupin: As the saying goes: from your mouth to god’s ears!

    One of the reason I worry is because, as we all know, our world is facing serious challenges in the decades ahead: peak oil, global warming, food shortages, etc.

  9. avatar
    misha August 25, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

    Thrifty: Jesus Christ. Alarmist much? Deport people into camps or worse?

    The Crackpot Caucus – Take a look around key committees of the House and you’ll find a governing body stocked with crackpots whose views on major issues are as removed from reality as Missouri’s Representative Todd Akin’s take on the sperm-killing powers of a woman who’s been raped.

    Read on:
    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/23/the-crackpot-caucus/

  10. avatar
    Paper August 25, 2012 at 1:13 pm #

    I also appreciate the concern about the lack of urgency. One of my main issues with birthers and such conspiracy theorists is that their urgency distracts from real urgent matters.

  11. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy August 25, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    I’m an optimist by nature, but I see us making a small correction as part of a long-term liberalizing trend. When I was a kid, interracial marriage was illegal, there was Medicare, sodomy was illegal and gay folks hid in the closet, there were whites only drinking fountains and rigged literacy tests and poll taxes suppressed large segments of the population from voting.

    The makeup the US population has shifted dramatically away from the old WASP paradigm. It’s no surprise that there’s a reaction to this much change, but Americans have too much to lose to rock the boat.

    Lupin: Ask any Jewish survivor of WWII how the thin veneer of civilization can evaporate literally overnight. Or how apparently stable situations can suddenly turn chaotic. Loot at the Arab spring, for example.

  12. avatar
    Steve August 25, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

    When I’ve heard people compare this President to Stalin or Hitler, my response is usually “Let me know when he rounds up and kills millions of people. Then maybe I’ll believe you.”
    Does that sound ignorant, flip or dismissive for me to say that?

  13. avatar
    G August 25, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

    I would say that is a good assessment of the situation.

    So yes, there are reasons for vigilence and concern. But at the same time, as you noted, our resources and power provide a lot of leeway for weathering through concerns of instability.

    The delusional side of our divided culture does deeply concern me. Particularly when they are being stoked and well funded by cynical and selfish sociopathic plutocrats. So yeah, there remains an inherent danger of what these folks can do to weaken existing laws and protections, or push us towards a path of fascist policies.

    Which is why elections remain important to try to keep these elements from controlling and influencing too much of our governmental structure. I just wish more Americans would wake up and realize what is at stake and not be so easily taken in by all the intentionally misleading propaganda.

    Lupin: I don’t get the sense (perhaps wrongly?) that this is the case with the US. Certainly, the resources, the power, are there, but your population seems divided, unmotivated, unconcerned, with a sizable percentage that strikes me as frankly delusional.

  14. avatar
    Thomas Brown August 25, 2012 at 10:36 pm #

    Steve:
    When I’ve heard people compare this President to Stalin or Hitler, my response is usually “Let me know when he rounds up and kills millions of people. Then maybe I’ll believe you.”
    Does that sound ignorant, flip or dismissive for me to say that?

    Ignorant? Not at all. Dismissive? Yes. Just not dismissive enough. I sometimes tell them “If he was a Stalin or a Hitler, you’d have been tortured and killed by now.”

  15. avatar
    G August 26, 2012 at 3:18 am #

    I echo Thomas Brown’s reply above.

    In other words – good for both of you with your responses to those reprehensible insinuations! Well done! I’ll remember to say the same in response, next time someone says something that stupid in front of me…

    Steve: When I’ve heard people compare this President to Stalin or Hitler, my response is usually “Let me know when he rounds up and kills millions of people. Then maybe I’ll believe you.”Does that sound ignorant, flip or dismissive for me to say that?

  16. avatar
    Lupin August 26, 2012 at 3:19 am #

    Obviously, no one can predict the future, but I see some serious reasons to be concerned.

    At the very least, whatever the future turns out to be, I think you’re in store for some massive changes in the next decade.

    In other words, I don’t have strong beliefs as to how America will evolve, but I do think that the America you and I have known since the 50s and 60s and 70s is over.

    If America 1.0 was that of the founding fathers, America 2.0 was created by the Civil War, America 3.0 by the Great Depression and WWII, and I believe that you’re about to enter America 4.0.

    In the past, such changes have never come easy, and I see no reason why it should be different this time, especially taking account the fact that global warming & peak oil are going to play havoc with food production, transportation, the infrastructure, and the economy in general.

    (Multiply gasoline price by 4, food prices x 2, introduce water rationing and have roving black outs that will limit air conditioning, have the average standard of living drop by 5%, and tell me how your population is going to react?)

    I’m not going to bore you ad nauseam with all the measures our governments in Europe are taking to deal with these two phenomena (global warming, peak oil) and help our societies to transition, but they are doing a lot already. I see it every day in my region. America should be doing the same (and more), but sadly, it doesn’t seem that it is.

    The reasons why are certainly many and complex: for one, your military spending is out of control. But there are other systemic factors such as the fact that your democratic system is deadlocked, voting participation is under 50% (we had 82% at the last presidential election), and your Congress is only respected by something like 10% of your population, which mistrust their own government.

    Add to this the increasing lack of education, the deterioration of health, and the somewhat delusional notion that Green Lantern energy will fix your problems, compare it to the intractability of the enormous problems we face, and that is not a recipe for a smooth transition.

    Bill Maher put it better than I could last week:

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2012/08/25/maher_on_akin_no_coincidence_that_party_of_fundamentalism_is_also_the_party_of_fantasy.html

    I think this is felt in the zeitgeist, too, when I see all the sci-fi and fantasy books on amazon dealing with post-apocalyptic, broken down societies, etc.

    So maybe Robert Heinlein (whom no one could accuse of being unAmerican) or Philip K Dick will be proven right in the end, and the US will evolve into some kind of dystopic regime, or fragment like the old USSR in order to cope with these future shocks?

  17. avatar
    G August 26, 2012 at 3:43 am #

    Well, nothing is static and change is inevitable, both here and throughout the rest of the world, regardless.

    I would argue that the history of America has many more significant evolutionary shifts than just the four you chose…and will continue to do so. Some of these things are simply a product of generational differences. Some of technological innovation. Some stem from various geographical, demographical and cultural/spiritual changes. Some are shaped by wars and some are shaped by large scale natural events.

    Even the political parties here are never really static. The current main two may have held that position in name for the past century-and-a-half, but their platforms and composition are drastically different from what they were several decades ago, let alone more than a century ago. Such things naturally shift over generations as well.

    So yes, I do agree with the part of your point that there is definitely a sense of major change in progress here. I think our politics are still struggling to find and redefine themselves for the early 21st century and that we are in the midst of a long-term realignment playing out to determine that.

    I too cannot confidently predict what will happen or where this will go, but there are certainly major challenges ahead and a legacy of existing problems that have been kicked down the road for a long time, which cannot be avoided for ever.

    My attitude is to remain vigilent and determined, yet retain both a pragmatic view and an optimistic hope for the future.

    Lupin: If America 1.0 was that of the founding fathers, America 2.0 was created by the Civil War, America 3.0 by the Great Depression and WWII, and I believe that you’re about to enter America 4.0.

  18. avatar
    Lupin August 26, 2012 at 6:24 am #

    G: My attitude is to remain vigilant and determined, yet retain both a pragmatic view and an optimistic hope for the future.

    I’m actually optimistic for the long-term, but a bit fearful about the short-term.

    Think about being in England in 1912 — remember UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS or DOWNTON ABBEY?

    No one would argue that England (and indeed the world) wasn’t better off fifty years later in, say, 1962.

    But to the people of 1912, the collapse of the Empire, the social upheaval, the Great Depression (and not to mention two world wars) would have been unthinkably awful.

    I don’t think we’ll have the World Wars anymore, but we certainly face the same challenges: the end of the American Empire (which can no longer sustain itself) and social & ethnic upheaval in the US itself.

    Add to this the eco factors I mentioned above and you’re looking at a painful transition, especially if the people are unprepared and divided.

  19. avatar
    Keith August 26, 2012 at 6:30 am #

    Lupin: No one would argue that England (and indeed the world) wasn’t better off fifty years later in, say, 1962.

    The Scots might though. Heavy industry collapsed after “The Great War”, the great plan for rebuilding Scotland was put on hold for WWII, and by the 60’s the second “clearance” was taking place as the jobless and hopeless Scots emigrated to Canada and Australia by the hundreds of thousands.

  20. avatar
    G August 26, 2012 at 2:52 pm #

    Don’t be so quick to count us out or try to fit our internal problems into some oversimplified comparitive box to past empires fates.

    In terms of our internal struggles, there will always be a time when issues of ideology as well as maintenance neglect in policy come to a head. I still think our framework and structure are quite sound and flexible and still strong enough to allow these inevitable clashes and realignments to resolve themselves in a way that a new stability re-emerges in the end. So yeah, we are at an intense cross-roads, both politically and in terms of priorties which have been neglected and kicked down the road too long, due to the distraction and obsfucation of these larger ideological and robber baron agendas vying for control. But I still think we can come out of all of it, without some larger systemic collapse or massive uprising.

    So while I am certainly concerned about areas in which we are slipping and dangerously neglecting, I don’t see us at any tipping point, leading to permanent decline.

    A lot of these larger 21st century problems (environmental, economical and sociopolitical) are issues of global scale and every nation will have its own unique challenges towards dealing with them. So I really don’t see any area out there in the rest of the world that is currently setup to replace America’s current roles or position on the world stage either.

    You can say that America is currently weakened from its peak, sure. But the EU is struggling right now too. Russia is in no position to become USSR v2.0 either. As to China and India – they may have experienced a lot of rapid economic and technological growth over the past few decades, but also are creating a lot of their own long-term problems that are percolating under the surface, in the process. They are in no position to truly step up and replace America on the world stage and the weight of their own internal burgeoning populations’ needs will cause them immense difficulty over the coming decades.

    So I will continue to take all this talk of the “end of the American Empire” with a grain of salt. I’ve been hearing claims of that my entire life. It was premature pessimistic specualtion back then and I consider it to still be such, even now.

    Lupin: I don’t think we’ll have the World Wars anymore, but we certainly face the same challenges: the end of the American Empire (which can no longer sustain itself) and social & ethnic upheaval in the US itself.

  21. avatar
    The Magic M August 27, 2012 at 8:19 am #

    G: So I will continue to take all this talk of the “end of the American Empire” with a grain of salt. I’ve been hearing claims of that my entire life.

    It reminds me of the religious loons who claim “we are living in the end times” (yeah right, people have believed this for at least a thousand years now…).

    And if history teaches us something, it’s that great empires (in the widest sense) usually wither when they have nothing to conquer anymore. (Just watched a documentary on the Roman Empire last night.) As far as that goes, I think the US still have a long way to go. 😉

    I don’t see the US taking any of the routes that have been the destruction of other countries – neither economic breakdown (no matter how bad it may seem, you all realize that going back to the standards of 1980 would still mean going back to a level where you still were a superpower) nor polarization (as many loons you may have, this will never result in a split into “Liberal States of America” and “Biblestan”) nor dictatorship.

    I’m not saying it’s not possible or that such tendencies do not need to be fought, but it’s just highly unlikely.

  22. avatar
    Lupin August 27, 2012 at 9:24 am #

    Respectfully, I disagree with you gentlemen.

    First, let me get one point out of the way right off the bat: this is not a Europe vs the US-type of things. I’ll gladly concede that Europe, or subsets of it like Germany or France, have plenty of (different & same) problems and many challenges ahead as well. I could write pages on the subject, but that would be even more OT than we already are.

    However, everyone already know what Europe’s weaknesses are and even if things get worse, it’s already been factored in; in other words, the future of the planet does not hinge on what happens to us.

    But it does hinge on what happens to you.

    I tried earlier in this thread to get away from my own sweeping generalizations and get down to specifics we can nail down such as price of gas, global warming defenses, food prices, etc. but it quickly becomes a thicket of statistics.

    My thesis is not simply that the US will be “collapsing” in the near future; it is that it is already “collapsing” right around you now, but like the proverbial frog in the saucepan of slow boiling water you are not noticing it. (I also very much don’t like the term “collapse” when what we really are talking about is “transforming”.)

    It is a vast and complex subject where even those who may agree about some aspects of the issue disagree about others; it is also something much discussed (with concern, I might add, not at all glee) amongst foreigners such as Germans, French, Russian and Chinese businessmen and scientists.

    As far as I can recall, the topic mutated from crazy blogger talk to serious stuff worthy of discussion around 2005 or 2006; I’d say that it became a topic of concern in 2009. If I had to make a guess, I’d say that Katrina, not the Iraq War, was the major incident that made a lot of people question their former assumptions about the US.

    As I said: this is complex; there’s plenty of room for disagreements on specific sub-issues, time frames, etc. Forecasting is an uncertain science, and I don’t think this is the forum to dump tons of links and stories and names to push the argument forward.

    But, if we leave this topic rest here, you should at least remember one thing: that the “collapse” (as I said, I don’t like that term; I’m a “transformationist” myself) of the US is a major topic of discussion amongst many serious people today.

  23. avatar
    TBanks August 30, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

    What is disturbing is that the concept that Obama may have been a dual citizen, either US+British or US+Indonesian is completely dismissed. That disqualifies him as a presidential candidate. Why not investigate the claims that he received scholarship money as a foreign student from Indonesia at Occidental College? Why not eliminate the question?

    No one has ever explained why or how Obama got into Pakistan to vist “relatives” in 1981 when travel for US citizens was banned then. He could not have used a US passport.

    At no time has a physical long form birth certificate from Hawaii been presented to the public nor has it been matched to the electronic copy provided by the White House. This can be easily done and refuted.

    These questions raise much suspicion about the validity of Obama’s eligibility for president.

    Any factually verifiable insight would be welcome.

  24. avatar
    Scientist August 30, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    TBanks: What is disturbing is that the concept that Obama may have been a dual citizen, either US+British

    Obama was a dual US/British citizen at birth and became a dual US/Kenyan citizen when Kenya gained its independence. However, his Kenyan citizenship lapsed when he turned 23 and he is a US citizen only at present. Under Indonesian law, he never was an Indonesian citiizen.

    Mitt Romney was born a dual US/Mexican citizen and is still one today. If he was born in Canada (a distinct possibility) he is also a Canadian citizen.

    So, will you vote for the guy who was a dual citiizen in the past (Obama) or the one who is one today (Romney)?

    TBanks: Any factually verifiable insight would be welcome.

    The facts are as above. None of those facts disqualify either Obama or Romney. But how do YOU plan to vote? Only YOU can answer that…

  25. avatar
    Thomas Brown August 30, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

    TBanks:
    What is disturbing is that the concept that Obama may have been a dual citizen, either US+British or US+Indonesian is completely dismissed.That disqualifies him as a presidential candidate.Why not investigate the claims that he received scholarship money as a foreign student from Indonesia at Occidental College?Why not eliminate the question?

    No one has ever explained why or how Obama got into Pakistan to vist “relatives” in 1981 when travel for US citizens was banned then.He could not have used a US passport.

    At no time has a physical long form birth certificate from Hawaii been presented to the public nor has it been matched to the electronic copy provided by the White House.This can be easily done and refuted.

    These questions raise much suspicion about the validity of Obama’s eligibility for president.

    Any factually verifiable insight would be welcome.

    You’re new at this, aren’t ya?

    1) Dual citizenship has never disqualified a candidate, and a dozen or so Presidents had them. And the President does not now even HAVE dual citizenship; he would have to have acted to secure it on reaching the age of majority. His one and only current citizenship is American.

    2) That started as an April Fools joke, and the Birthers latched onto it anyway, even after noting the article came out on 4/1. He was never registered as a foreign student. There is no need to investigate lunatics’ assertions. (This is one of my favorites, as it shows just how dumb and gullible Birthers are.)

    3) Pakistan travel was not banned. That was one of the first lines of Birther “argument,” and one of the easiest to disprove. Next?

    4) The physical sealed and signed long form was seen, photographed, and touched by members of the press and many other people. Hawaii has verified to a Federal Court in Mississippi that the information contained in the .pdf matches the information on file in Hawaii. And the photo images of the paper document do match the optimized .pdf image. Not that it matters, because as a Judge just ruled, the Constitution requires a candidate to be born a citizen, not to have a birth certificate. When it was written, there were no birth certificates. And no proof has ever been found that he was born anywhere else.

    There is not a shred of credible evidence that would lead a reasonable, non-biased person to have “suspicion about the validity of Obama’s eligibility for president.” None. Birthers have now lost 145 cases. They will lose them all, because they are just plain and simply wrong.

    You have been listening to liars. Lying liars who lie and lie, enough to make baby Jesus cry.

    Hope I cleared that up for ya.

  26. avatar
    gorefan August 30, 2012 at 3:55 pm #

    TBanks:
    What is disturbing is that the concept that Obama may have been a dual citizen, either US+British or US+Indonesian is completely dismissed.That disqualifies him as a presidential candidate.Why not investigate the claims that he received scholarship money as a foreign student from Indonesia at Occidental College?Why not eliminate the question?

    No one has ever explained why or how Obama got into Pakistan to vist “relatives” in 1981 when travel for US citizens was banned then.He could not have used a US passport.

    At no time has a physical long form birth certificate from Hawaii been presented to the public nor has it been matched to the electronic copy provided by the White House.This can be easily done and refuted.

    These questions raise much suspicion about the validity of Obama’s eligibility for president.

    Any factually verifiable insight would be welcome.

    Easy – Under Indonesia law he could not be a citizen – period. He lost his Kenya Citizenship in 1984 when he did not renounce his US citizenship.

    There was no travel ban to Pakistan. Just the opposite, the US Government was encouraging Americans to visit Pakistan.

    The State of Hawaii verifified that the whitehouse pdf matches the original BC in their files.

    As a US citizen, President Obama could not get foreign aid to attend college.

  27. avatar
    misha August 30, 2012 at 4:06 pm #

    TBanks: These questions raise much suspicion about the validity of Obama’s eligibility for president. Any factually verifiable insight would be welcome.

    I know exactly what you are concerned about – I am too. I found a Kenya BC that will cause trouble!!

    Thanks for visiting.

  28. avatar
    Sudoku August 30, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

    There was no travel ban. There was even an article in the NYT encouraging travel.

    http://www.factcheck.org/2009/06/more-birther-nonsense-obamas-1981-pakistan-trip/

    TBanks: No one has ever explained why or how Obama got into Pakistan to vist “relatives” in 1981 when travel for US citizens was banned then. He could not have used a US passport.

    At no time has a physical long form birth certificate from Hawaii been presented to the public nor has it been matched to the electronic copy provided by the White House. This can be easily done and refuted.

    Hawaii has verified the long form BC posted by the Whitehouse. They even link to it. They have also provided a Verification that has been filed with a US District Court in MS.

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/96221269/HI-DOH-Official-Verification-of-President-Obama-s-Hawaiian-Birth

  29. avatar
    Rickey August 30, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

    TBanks:

    No one has ever explained why or how Obama got into Pakistan to vist “relatives” in 1981 when travel for US citizens was banned then.He could not have used a US passport.

    Any factually verifiable insight would be welcome.

    Here is some factually verifiable insight for you.

    There was no ban on Americans traveling to Pakistan in 1981. Quite the contrary, as others have pointed out. The State Department issued a travel advisory (not a warning, an advisory) on August 17, 1981 giving particulars on what was needed in the way of visas, how long American tourists could stay in Pakistan, etc.

    http://dosfan.lib.uic.edu/ERC/travel/cis/southasia/TA_Pakistan1981.pdf

    That should make you feel a bit silly about buying into the Pakistan travel ban meme without independently verifying it yourself. Please let everyone who told you about the supposed travel ban know that it is just a figment of a birther’s imagination.

  30. avatar
    LW August 31, 2012 at 12:41 am #

    Thomas Brown: That started as an April Fools joke, and the Birthers latched onto it anyway, even after noting the article came out on 4/1.

    My favorite part of this one: the alleged story, published on April 1st, 2009, said that “AMFOI” had already released the transcripts. It was a self-disproving joke.

    Yet here we are.

  31. avatar
    Keith August 31, 2012 at 3:28 am #

    TBanks: These questions raise much suspicion about the validity of Obama’s eligibility for president.

    These questions raise much suspicion about the validity of your eligibility for polite discussion.

    Over the last several years, these lies have been proven false, repeated again, proved false again, repeated again, proved false again, repeated again, proved false again, repeated again, proved false again, repeated again, proved false again, repeated again, proved false again, repeated again, proved false again, repeated again, proved false again, repeated again, proved false again, repeated again, proved false again, repeated again, proved false again, repeated again, proved false again, repeated again, proved false again, repeated again, proved false again, repeated again, proved false again, repeated again, proved false again, repeated again, proved false again, repeated again, proved false again, repeated again, proved false again, repeated again, proved false again, repeated again, proved false again…

  32. avatar
    The Magic M August 31, 2012 at 4:09 am #

    LW: It was a self-disproving joke.

    Not for a conspiracist. They convince themselves they’ve read/seen something (or that something that has been announced to exist by somebody else) and when they can’t find it (anymore), it “has been scrubbed”.

    The other day I read on one of my local crank sites the account of one crank who claimed he watched one of our 24 hours news programs on TV and at about 5 a.m. one of our politicians said that our state does not exist anymore (a typical German crank theme). Of course this could not be confirmed, but the guy is convinced that the copy of the stream on the website was edited and that everyone who also saw the interview is lying.

    This is very typical.

  33. avatar
    G August 31, 2012 at 4:41 am #

    And a clear sign of insanity…

    The Magic M: This is very typical.

  34. avatar
    The Magic M August 31, 2012 at 9:20 am #

    G: And a clear sign of insanity

    Maybe not. Maybe just a symptom of heavy wishful thinking. I once dreamt something and a couple weeks later it had become part of my memory as if it had actually happened. But I consider myself far from insane. 😉

    The insanity comes from believing in crazy conspiracy theories, the wishful thinking part just ties in with it.

  35. avatar
    G August 31, 2012 at 10:18 am #

    Good points. From this whole expeience of watching the Birthers over the years, I’m quickly becoming convinced that too much of an reliance on wishful thinking over reason/reality does cause actual insanity to manifest…

    As Richcares would so wisely often suggest, hate causes brain damage. I’ve become convinced of that now.

    The Magic M: The insanity comes from believing in crazy conspiracy theories, the wishful thinking part just ties in with it.

  36. avatar
    Thrifty August 31, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    Hi TBanks and welcome. I’m hoping that you have been simply misinformed and are honestly seeking the truth. You’ll find a lot of hostility from the regulars. This happens because we have all seen time and time again, people we call “concern trolls”, who come under the guise of asking questions, but are really just tossing out old Birther talking points and are not actually interested in the answers. As I said, I hope this is not the case with you and that you are truly, honestly, interested in the answers.

    Our gracious host Doctor Conspiracy compiled The Debunker’s Guide to Obama Conspiracy Theories. You will find that your questions are answered in that well organized and thoroughly documented resource.

    If you wish to discuss issues further after reading Doc’s guide, please visit the most recent open thread.

    Bear in mind that you’re gonna encounter some hostility. Try not to be discouraged by it. Act humbly (say something like “guys, I read this article on your site but something seems insufficient, sorry if this sounds like a stupid question”) instead of arrogant and combative (“I read this article and it is Obot garbage”). Do this and I think you’ll find that some of our more patient members will come around. We don’t mind when people ask questions; we DO mind when people ask questions but clearly aren’t interested in the answers.

    TBanks: What is disturbing is that the concept that Obama may have been a dual citizen, either US+British or US+Indonesian is completely dismissed. That disqualifies him as a presidential candidate. Why not investigate the claims that he received scholarship money as a foreign student from Indonesia at Occidental College? Why not eliminate the question?

  37. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy August 31, 2012 at 11:17 am #

    “Dismissed” is an interesting choice of words, because a lawsuit alleging that Barack Obama is ineligible because of “dual citizenship” was literally dismissed by a New Jersey judge in the case of Purpura v. Obama, who wrote:

    Nor has the fact that Obama had, or may have had, dual citizenship at the time of his birth and thereafter been held to deny him the status of natural born.

    There are 2,339 articles published on this web site, and you might use the search box provided before you make statements about things being not covered or ignored.

    TBanks: What is disturbing is that the concept that Obama may have been a dual citizen, either US+British or US+Indonesian is completely dismissed. That disqualifies him as a presidential candidate. Why not investigate the claims that he received scholarship money as a foreign student from Indonesia at Occidental College? Why not eliminate the question?

  38. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy August 31, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    That 2009 APRIL FOOL JOKE about Obama being a foreign student was debunked AT THE TIME here and at FactCheck.org.

    How do you eliminate a question when people are too lazy to look up the answer?

    TBanks: Why not investigate the claims that he received scholarship money as a foreign student from Indonesia at Occidental College? Why not eliminate the question?

  39. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy August 31, 2012 at 11:41 am #

    If this issue really interests you, I would recommend this book:

    The Post-American World: Release 2.0 by Fareed Zakaria.

    Lupin: My thesis is not simply that the US will be “collapsing” in the near future; it is that it is already “collapsing” right around you now, but like the proverbial frog in the saucepan of slow boiling water you are not noticing it. (I also very much don’t like the term “collapse” when what we really are talking about is “transforming”.)

  40. avatar
    Rickey August 31, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

    Thomas Brown:
    That started as an April Fools joke, and the Birthers latched onto it anyway, even after noting the article came out on 4/1.He was never registered as a foreign student.There is no need to investigate lunatics’ assertions.(This is one of my favorites, as it shows just how dumb and gullible Birthers are.)

    Yes indeed. And even if there were a shred of truth to it, there would be no way to investigate it. From the L.A. Times:

    Like all institutions, the school’s disclosures about students are tightly governed by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Those who inquire of Occidental about the record of the president will learn that Barack Obama attended Occidental from the fall of 1979 to the spring of 1981 before transferring to Columbia, and did not declare a major. And that’s about it.

    I always knew the school transcripts are confidential, but this is the first reference I have seen to the actual statute. Yes, birthers, everybody’s school records are “sealed.”

  41. avatar
    G August 31, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

    Well, here is a disturbing story that shows the real true danger and dark side of confirmation bias and the propaganda that pushes it…

    A Lake Park man “obsessed with Fox News and the Republican party” is in jail today after he allegedly said that he felt he was going to have to kill his girlfriend because she was a “liberal.”

    http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/crime-law/lake-park-man-obsessed-with-fox-news-and-the-repub/nRPgF/

  42. avatar
    The Magic M August 31, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    G: From this whole expeience of watching the Birthers over the years, I’m quickly becoming convinced that too much of an reliance on wishful thinking over reason/reality does cause actual insanity to manifest

    Pretty much the same way a pathological liar tends to believe his own lies from some point on. (Which, if done on purpose, is a good way to defeat any polygraph test, BTW.)

  43. avatar
    misha August 31, 2012 at 1:31 pm #

    G: the propaganda that pushes it…

    http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/crime-law/lake-park-man-obsessed-with-fox-news-and-the-repub/nRPgF/

    I read it. Just your average Fox and Glenn Beck viewer.

  44. avatar
    G August 31, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

    Yes. Good analogy. I consider that to be just a specific manifestation of that same broader form of systematic brainwashing. The only difference is this specific form is that the brainwasher and the victim are one and the same.

    The Magic M: Pretty much the same way a pathological liar tends to believe his own lies from some point on. (Which, if done on purpose, is a good way to defeat any polygraph test, BTW.)

  45. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy August 31, 2012 at 3:32 pm #

    I would say “confidential” not “sealed.” Sealing is something a court does in a specific case, such as an adoption or a offense committed by a minor.

    Rickey: Yes, birthers, everybody’s school records are “sealed.”

  46. avatar
    Rickey August 31, 2012 at 6:32 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    I would say “confidential” not “sealed.” Sealing is something a court does in a specific case, such as an adoption or a offense committed by a minor.

    Ageed – that’s why I put it in quotation marks.