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Occam’s birther

I suppose the most straightforward explanation of what birthers do is that they do it because they are birthers, rather than for some other more complicated reason.

So does Mike Zullo really believe his own evidence? The most straightforward answer is yes, and that his continued delays reflect a belief that eventually his investigation will come together and that he will someday get somewhere. Saying that Zullo believes his own theories does not make Zullo a good and virtuous person, it doesn’t mean that he responsibly uses the money the Cold Case Posse receives and it doesn’t mean that he is always truthful.

By the same token, the most straightforward view of Douglas Vogt’s appeal to the US Supreme Court is that he believes that the law requires a judge to give him access to a grand jury and that his forensic foray is sound research. He may hope to benefit from the publicity in book sales, but that’s not the primary motivation.

And finally the most straightforward view of Birther Report’s recent fundraising effort for a new server is really based on a real belief that they could be shut down at the whim of the Obama Administration and that owning their own server prevents that. The delay in implementing the new server comes from the difficulty in getting someone to configure it, or that they haven’t come up with enough money to pay for the services—and not because the whole thing was a scam.

Of course, the most straightforward explanation is not always right.

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27 Responses to Occam’s birther

  1. avatar
    The Magic M March 22, 2014 at 1:24 pm #

    A typical misconception about Occam’s Razor is that it says “the most straightforward/simplest explanation is likely right”. This leaves out the “among equally probable explanations, …” part that is very important.

    Is it probable that Zullo believes he’s doing an honest investigation while only looking at birther sources? (Apart from assuming he’s mentally ill and “honestly” believes it based on his condition.)

    My personal opinion is that those who are financially benefitting (Zullo, Corsi via WND ad sales etc.) – i.e. the “takers” – are likely grifters while those who are spending their own money (like Vogt) are “true believers” (who may be subconsciously guided by debatable motives like racism but aren’t subjectively dishonest).
    In fact, there is a very low number of birthers who have publically espoused views like “I don’t care if it’s true as long as it removes (the President / the usurper / the n***er)”.
    While birthers are quick to claim Obots know better and just pretend to believe Obama is eligible, I think the opposite is also true – most of them believe what they say, but Zullo is not one of them, I believe (unless he’s somehow deranged and has deluded himself he’s some kind of hero detective who will deliver the world from Marxist evil, that’s still a possibility).

    OK, end of rant; summing up I would not bet much money on either possibility because I could be wrong no matter what.

  2. avatar
    Daniel March 22, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

    Scam artist or sincerely deluded… I’m not sure which one is more pathetic…

  3. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy March 22, 2014 at 3:09 pm #

    That presumes that Zullo isn’t putting in his own money in addition to what others contribute to the Posse or sacrificing income because of the time he spends birthering. I’m not ready to say that Zullo is doing the CCP investigation for the purpose of making money. That is certainly one possibility but I can’t make the case for it.

    The Magic M: My personal opinion is that those who are financially benefitting (Zullo, Corsi via WND ad sales etc.) – i.e. the “takers” – are likely grifters while those who are spending their own money (like Vogt) are “true believers” (who may be subconsciously guided by debatable motives like racism but aren’t subjectively dishonest).

  4. avatar
    bovril March 22, 2014 at 3:22 pm #

    I posted this almost exactly 2 years ago however I feel it still equates to the classes or clades of Birfooons including Zooflaps as a combo category 3 + 4


    A viable democratic state (yes Birfoons I know the US is a republic. it’s still one of the forms of democracy) needs to have dissent and opposing views

    Unfortunately the freedoms of a democracy mean that the mad and the bad still get to play and piss in the pool

    I break the Birfoons into roughly 4 buckets

    1. Fellow travellers, or “birther curious”

    These are the folks who for whatever reasons feel that there must be SOMETHING at the bottom of all the loud and insane hoopla but don’t actually feel it is a critical issue. They are basically Republican and Independents but will vote their pocket books come a presidential election. The whole Birther thing makes them a little MORE suspicious of Obama but would recoil in horror from the Danae/BZ mob. May have read bits of Corsi’s books

    2. The PBI (Poor Bloody Infantry)

    These are the hard core birthers, the foot soldiers and ALL CAPS posters. The idea of Obama as an illegitimate candidate and Usurper falls straight in with their general hate for the Other, the Marxist//Commie/Socialist/DemonCrat

    Bigots by nature, racist by inclination at the very least and will latch onto any idea, no matter how insincere and inconsistent that support their world view. Never voted Democrat, proud of it, never will vote Democrat and calling someone a “Progressive” is (in their minds) a deadly insult

    These are the ones that think Orly and Dean and Mario are patriotic hero’s’ but there is major schisms between the varying faiths only bound by hate for uppity black Democrat in OUR WHITE HOSUE !!Q!@!!!R$^

    These are the “No Nonsense Nancy”, Lakinista’s, RaceJim, Red Steels of Internet fame

    Main drivers are hate and fear

    3. The Mad

    Well, Orly, BZ, Dr K(H)ate epitomise this clade of the Birfer Bunch. They not only latch onto every single new (and old) meme or piece of BS that floats, frothy to the surface like ripe Santorum, they MAKE the memes, the wholly believe the memes and it infests and infects all parts of their real lives

    These people may not only be one of narcissists, delusional, sociopathic, racist, self harming, isolationist and generally barking mad, they usually are most if not all of them

    They have a well documented pattern of estrangement from family and friends, self destructive behaviour, OCD like activity in support of their views, packrat hoarding of irrelevant data minutiae along with a magpies desire for the shiny-shiny. They are consumed by their hate and activities and there is a strong self absorbed ME ME ME need for attention and validation. Cannot accept criticism of any part, no matter how small, of their data set and mind state. Paranoid and delusional, convinced that they are a major player and self appointed guardian of what is RIGHT (politically as well as morally). Convinced rules are for others and any requirement that they have to adhere to these rational norms is a direct attack…Cult like behaviour (see Virtual Cult passim).

    4. The Bad…The Carpet-Baggers

    The cynical war mongers and opportunistic scavengers epitomised by the Birfer Bux Carpet- Baggers like Dean, Corsi, Farah, Arpaio, Trump et-al

    Most of them see this as a way to exploit the gullible and stupid for gain, be it for The Precious PayPal, for attention to feed an overweening ego, for political purposes or some or all of the above

    They see the Birthers as sheep or a cash cow to be harvested and fleeced to feed their personal and political needs

    This is also tied into a plain and obvious hate and envy for someone who is demonstrably more important, successful and relevant than they can ever be and there is a substantial amount of bigotry and political hate bound into their own perceived self worth

    In some ways these are the most detestable of the 4 Klans, pure bottom feeding vermin with neither principles or morals and a taste for carrion.

  5. avatar
    Publius March 22, 2014 at 3:28 pm #

    Let’s review the possibilities.

    Any given birther can be:

    1. Ignorant and deluded. This is the most “charitable” birther condition. Birthers in this category simply don’t know what they’re talking about, although they may imagine they do. One way to get here is to read only birther web sites, believe whatever you read, and not do any real fact-checking. Another way of getting here is “social proof” (so-and-so says it, or other people I know believe it, therefore it must be true). Another way of getting here is by wanting birtherism to be true so much that you filter out the evidence to the contrary.

    2. A complete idiot.

    3. Insane.

    4. Dishonest.

    5. More than one of the above.

  6. avatar
    Jim March 22, 2014 at 5:35 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    That presumes that Zullo isn’t putting in his own money in addition to what others contribute to the Posse or sacrificing income because of the time he spends birthering. I’m not ready to say that Zullo is doing the CCP investigation for the purpose of making money. That is certainly one possibility but I can’t make the case for it.

    Probably takes a cut of the Bar Bouncing gigs he gets the CCP volunteers to do.

  7. avatar
    Slartibartfast March 22, 2014 at 5:46 pm #

    I have trouble classifying Mario Apuzzo in this taxonomy. He may or may not be getting paid some sort of retainer (he claimed to have done Kerchner’s case pro bono), but is certainly not trying to hoover up the birther bux like Orly or Latrine Marshall Zullo. On the other hand, his only recent foray into the courts (the SCOTUS appeal of the Vermont Supreme Court ruling) seems to be pure birther theater. It makes Mario the counsel of record of a case on the SCOTUS docket and since it will be denied cert without comment, he can press one of his favorite memes and say that the SCOTUS didn’t refute his reasoning while running no chance of being called on his frivolous crap like he was in New Jersey. To me, this shows that he is aware of where he would or wouldn’t potentially face sanctions—something “The Mad” generally can’t comprehend (witness Orly). In addition, he buries his logical fallacies in a way that makes me think that he can understand where the weaknesses in his arguments are. On the other hand, rather than using whatever attention he garners for some political or financial end, he doesn’t do much more than hold court on St. Vattel with his lickspittles (and court jester h2ooflife—Doc, I’m not sure if it is appropriate to use his real name here, even though he includes it on all of his posts) in the comments section of a post from 9 months ago railing against the satire of departed blogger Squeeky Fromm. Not the kind of behavior generally seen from “The Bad”. He’s certainly more than just “Birther Curious” and his status as the High Priest of St. Vattel (the Paraclete having gone into voluntary exile from birtherstan) surely makes him more than just a foot soldier in the PBI.

    I’m thinking that there may need to be a category for “True Believers” such as Mr. Paige, David “Out of Breath” Farrar, or (prior to his epiphany) Mr. Reilly. Even then, I think Mario is a melange of several clades that, at least to me, is difficult to pin down.

    bovril:
    I posted this almost exactly 2 years ago however I feel it still equates to the classes or clades of Birfooons including Zooflaps as a combo category 3 + 4

    1. Fellow travellers, or “birther curious”

    2. The PBI (Poor Bloody Infantry)

    3. The Mad

    4. The Bad…The Carpet-Baggers

  8. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy March 22, 2014 at 6:16 pm #

    RamboIke, who’s banned here made a comment in response to Magic M’s post over at Birther Report. He said:

    I just read The Magic M’s (*Obot with a serious mental condition) comments explaining the principle of Occam’s Razor on your propaganda blog.

    The Razor Principle could be used as an example for how to deal with the 5+ year scam the anti-Birther Obot Cesspool has perpetrated on the American people. Basing it on what started out as one simple hypothesis (belief), without any other assumptions to complicate it, has proven itself to be correct: The Cesspool has not provided any conclusive documented proof to back up their hearsay evidence. They do claim a couple notices, a data file, and a copy of a record alleged to be on file, but common sense tells ya that all of them IF LEGIT were a product of another document/record that is being kept hidden from the American people.

    I have tried a number of times to get the Obots to provide a list of original records the American people have requested Obama to release. I always get alot of excuses but never have they ever listed any, not even 1.

    I don’t understand the question. The “American people” as a whole haven’t asked for anything. The people of Arizona and Kansas through their elected secretaries of state have asked for a verification of the information on Obama’s birth certificate from the State of Hawaii.

    Individual Americans have asked for all sorts of documents and a number of lists exist, including this one from WorldNetDaily in 2009:

    http://www.wnd.com/2009/06/100613/

    The Magic M: A typical misconception about Occam’s Razor is that it says “the most straightforward/simplest explanation is likely right”. This leaves out the “among equally probable explanations, …” part that is very important.

  9. avatar
    JPotter March 22, 2014 at 9:09 pm #

    The Magic M: A typical misconception about Occam’s Razor is that it says “the most straightforward/simplest explanation is likely right”. This leaves out the “among equally probable explanations, …” part that is very important.

    The most common point tripping up amateur razor artists is a failure to understand the meaning of ‘simple’ in relation to formal logic.*

    It’s not the simplest in terms of expression, simplest to explain, simplest to believe. It’s simplest in regards to the assumptions that must be made in order to accept a given explanation.

    It is very ‘simple’ for a wingnut/conspiracist to believe and say that something is the result of a conspiracy. But the required assumptions necessitated by conspiracy explanation quickly multiply. Thus, conspiracies, generally speaking, are not simple explanations.

    The ‘simplicity’ must be independent of the person wielding the razor.

    In other words, objectivity is required.

    Hmmm.

    Alright, the two most common failings are a lack of objectivity, and a failure to appreciate the meaning of simple in relation to formal logic … ;)

    _________

    * That nutters have no appreciation for formal logic goes w/o saying.

  10. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy March 22, 2014 at 9:10 pm #

    And in one of those coincidences between the blog and real life, I just watched Episode 4 Season 1 of Numb3rs, “Structural Corruption,” which concludes with a discussion of Occam’s Razor. Don explains it, “the simplest explanation is usually right,” corrected by Charlie the mathematician who said, “you shouldn’t make more assumptions than are needed.” It appears that the TV version is closest to what Occam actually wrote, as translated in the Wikipedia as:

    “Plurality must never be posited without necessity” and elsewhere, “It is futile to do with more things that which can be done with fewer.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam's_razor

  11. avatar
    Rickey March 22, 2014 at 10:00 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    It appears that the TV version is closest to what Occam actually wrote, as translated in the Wikipedia as:

    “Plurality must never be posited without necessity” and elsewhere, “It is futile to do with more things that which can be done with fewer.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam's_razor

    “Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations” (16th Edition) has it as “Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily.” A footnote credits that translation to John Ponce of Cork in the 17th century.

  12. avatar
    Paper March 22, 2014 at 11:11 pm #

    Hmmm…I think the Birther Report may want to raise even more money, because even if they have their own server, they are going to need to build their own internet, lay their own cables and install their own nodes throughout the land. I mean, the government might just shut down their access to the internet, anywhere outside of their server facility, in which case they’ll have a server sitting there doing nothing. And just think if they were to get hacked with some kind of birther stuxnet. They’re going to need to hire the best programers and security experts. They’re going to need a lot of money.

  13. avatar
    RanTalbott March 22, 2014 at 11:31 pm #

    Paper: And just think if they were to get hacked with some kind of birther stuxnet.

    Would that be a worm that makes their heads spin faster and faster, until they explode?

    Given the ever-increasing complexity of the alleged conspiracy, the infection may already have happened…

    And an interesting case could be made that birtherism is a “kind of stuxnet”.

  14. avatar
    Arthur March 23, 2014 at 1:26 am #

    RanTalbott: Given the ever-increasing complexity of the alleged conspiracy, the infection may already have happened…

    I imagine that in time, some birthers will claim that Obama’s original birth certificate was on that missing Malaysian jet.

  15. avatar
    JPotter March 23, 2014 at 3:26 am #

    Arthur: I imagine that in time, some birthers will claim that Obama’s original birth certificate was on that missing Malaysian jet.

    … along with Fuddy’s ‘real’ killer.

  16. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy March 23, 2014 at 7:50 am #

    Three, the three most common failings …

    No one expects the Spanish Inquisition.

    JPotter: Alright, the two most common failings are a lack of objectivity, and a failure to appreciate the meaning of simple in relation to formal logic

  17. avatar
    Arthur March 23, 2014 at 10:47 am #

    JPotter: … along with Fuddy’s ‘real’ killer.

    Wasn’t he the pilot?

  18. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy March 23, 2014 at 12:36 pm #

    Our exiled commenter RamboIke wrote at BR:

    Dr. Con’s recent comment at WorldNetDaily: “The Obama birth controversy is not about race or the Constitution…..”

    Dr. Con 11 months ago to many of us on a neutral site: “You can say that the argument is not about race, …….It’s mostly about race (both because Obama is black………”

    If you read his recent article “Occam’s birther” his flock disagrees with him. It’s been the theme of his site for over 5 years. What Obot bovril spewed is typical of the mindset that dominates that site. There is something else that is deeper, darker, and more sinister in bovril’s post that is going unnoticed, and it too has also been a constant for the site. Can anyone figure it out?

    RamboIke lacks the subtlety to recognize two different contexts. In the first instance, my WND comment says:

    The Obama birth controversy is not about race or the Constitution. It’s about science, critical thinking, and fact-based decision making. It’s a fight to keep the crazies (in this case the birthers) from doing any real damage.

    In this statement I am talking about the high-level meaning of the controversy, its significance, and my own motivation for engaging in the controversy.

    In the second, I am talking about the motivation of the birthers.

    One of the reasons I don’t welcome RamboIke on the site is these inane objections that are essentially unfair, but demand people waste time responding to (as I just did).

  19. avatar
    Majority Wil March 23, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:

    One of the reasons I don’t welcome RamboIke on the site is these inane objections that are essentially unfair, and demand people waste time responding to (as I just did).

    Some birther’s mental elevator never leaves the lobby level.

  20. avatar
    Arthur March 23, 2014 at 1:20 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy: RamboIke lacks the subtlety to recognize two different contexts.

    Birthers confuse someone telling a joke about Obama’s birth certificate as an endorsement of birtherism. Can we really expect them to make distinctions regarding context?

  21. avatar
    Whatever4 March 23, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

    RamboIke: If you read his recent article “Occam’s birther” his flock disagrees with him. It’s been the theme of his site for over 5 years. What Obot bovril spewed is typical of the mindset that dominates that site. There is something else that is deeper, darker, and more sinister in bovril’s post that is going unnoticed, and it too has also been a constant for the site. Can anyone figure it out?

    Say what?

  22. avatar
    JPotter March 23, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

    Majority Wil: Some birther’s mental elevator never leaves the lobby level.

    … or failed to passed inspection … or were never installed in the first place ….

  23. avatar
    Jim March 23, 2014 at 5:04 pm #

    Majority Wil: Some birther’s mental elevator never leaves the lobby level.

    Rambo’s isn’t an elevator…just a down escalator. He’s now down to the 8th sub-basement – nothing but ignorance.

  24. avatar
    Upgradedd March 23, 2014 at 6:29 pm #

    It’s what they’re good at… going out of context, twisting meanings and intentions. assigning meanings and nefarious motivation of the written and spoken word
    “You didn’t build this”, “what difference does it make?” The Demorats are the party of the KKK… they’re good at slogans and like visuals like Youtube for information…

    Motivation? You’re right.. for too many it is about race and is the reason Rambo insists he is not a “birther” even though he holds the belief that Obama’s BC’s are forgeries and promotes imaginations of Vattel… Isn’t that exactly what a Birfer is?

    It’s an out of body ability to deny the the obvious… I’m sure it’s genetic.

    …. the motivation of the birthers.

    One of the reasons I don’t welcome RamboIke on the site is these inane objections that are essentially unfair, but demand people waste time responding to (as I just did).

  25. avatar
    bovril March 23, 2014 at 6:33 pm #

    Hes’s BimboIke, who knows what wanders through what passes for its sad little mind?

  26. avatar
    The Magic M March 24, 2014 at 5:25 am #

    JPotter: It’s not the simplest in terms of expression, simplest to explain, simplest to believe. It’s simplest in regards to the assumptions that must be made in order to accept a given explanation.

    Exactly. Which is why “God did it” may be the simplest explanation in terms of superficial complexity of the answer (three words, reference to one entity – much simpler than e.g. the scientific explanation for thunder and lightning) but implicitly makes a highly non-trivial assumption (that a supernatural omnipotent being exists) of unratable probability.

    And why I always cringe when I see wingnuts invoke Occam’s Razor.
    I shudder if I think what they’d make of the Sherlock Holmes quote
    When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth

  27. avatar
    Paper March 24, 2014 at 10:13 am #

    “Don’t chase imaginary butterflies into something highly illegal.”

    A TV commercial as antidote?