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Studying the birthers

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A new report. “Echoes of a Conspiracy: Birthers, Truthers, and the Cultivation of Extremism.” has been published in the January-March edition of the journal Communication Quarterly by university researchers Benjamin R. Warner and Ryan Neville-Shepard studying the effects of the media on belief in conspiracy theories. Two theory types were selected for the study: birthers and truthers (9/11 conspiracy theorists).

In the study, carried out separately for truther beliefs and birther beliefs, subjects were exposed only to the conspiracy theory or the conspiracy theory plus debunking material or just unrelated stuff. Their level of belief was measured before and after. The study tested what we often call the “echo chamber” in comparison to more open competition of ideas. Media included magazine/newspaper reports, videos and blog comments (alas not from here).

The results were, to say the least, surprising.

First, among birther material, debunking was markedly effective in reducing belief, unlike the truther results where belief increased even when debunked. In the real world birthers tend to be conservative and truthers liberal, but in this study belief change proved unrelated to party affiliation, suggesting partisan filtering was less a factor.

I was interested in the criteria for measuring birther belief. They used three statements that mirror definition of a birther:

  • President Barack Obama was born inside the United States (Reversed);
  • Obama’s birth records were faked to cover up his Kenyan birth;
  • Obama is not constitutionally eligible to be president because of his birth status.

There were 147 participants in the birther study, aged 17-30, were recruited from universities (in Missouri and Indiana). It would be interesting to see of the results held for the older, less educated individuals who make up a disproportionate share of actual birthers.

The Science 2.0 web site has an article about the study, and I left the following comment there (the only one so far):

Birthers on average are less educated and older than the persons selected for the study here. It certainly would be interesting to see how folks of another generation and outside universities respond.

Probably the most interesting result to me was that political affiliation didn’t affect the results, suggesting that partisan filtering was not a factor; however, in order to hear the debunking message, one has to be exposed to it, and the folks who frequent Alex Jones or Atlas Shrugs 2000 are not going to be listening to CNN.

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65 Responses to Studying the birthers

  1. avatar
    Arthur March 20, 2014 at 12:04 pm #

    It’s interesting that truthers tend to be liberal, because I’ve seen many truther comments at BirtherReport, together with equally bizarre assertions that school shootings and the Boston Marathon bombing were government “false-flag” operations using so-called “crisis actors.” BirtherReport seems to attract people who have never met a conspiracy theory they didn’t like. And, of course, we are all familiar with their willingness to embrace contradictory claims: Obama is weak/Obama is a dictator, Obama is an ardent Muslim/Obama is an ardent Communist; Obama was born in Kenya/Obama was born in Indonesia; Obama’s father was Frank Marshall Davis/Obama’s father was Malcolm X, and so on.

  2. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy March 20, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

    Those are just averages, and there are certainly conservative 9/11 truthers. The study here didn’t conclude that there was no difference in belief in one theory or another based on politics, but only that change in belief after exposure to biased or unbiased sources wasn’t political.

    It may well be that birtherism largely follows the sources that conservatives and liberals frequent.

    Arthur: It’s interesting that truthers tend to be liberal, because I’ve seen many truther comments at BirtherReport, together with equally bizarre assertions that school shootings and the Boston Marathon bombing were government “false-flag” operations using so-called “crisis actors.

  3. avatar
    Lupin March 20, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

    My experience here with respect to trying to teach Vattel to birthers has been a rather resounding failure, so anecdotally I would disagree with the conclusions of the article.

  4. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy March 20, 2014 at 12:54 pm #

    Note: this article introduces a new blog category: “Birther Science.”

  5. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy March 20, 2014 at 12:55 pm #

    You were dealing with intrenched belief rather than the new belief studied here.

    Lupin: My experience here with respect to trying to teach Vattel to birthers has been a rather resounding failure, so anecdotally I would disagree with the conclusions of the article.

  6. avatar
    Bonsall Obot March 20, 2014 at 12:58 pm #

    I often see the trope repeated that truthers tend to be liberals, yet have never seen any evidence of this, either empirical or anecdotal. Can you point me to any studies that deal with this?

  7. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy March 20, 2014 at 1:21 pm #

    Sure. Here’s a chart from this article.

    Bonsall Obot: I often see the trope repeated that truthers tend to be liberals, yet have never seen any evidence of this, either empirical or anecdotal. Can you point me to any studies that deal with this?

  8. avatar
    bovril March 20, 2014 at 1:37 pm #

    @Arthur

    I hold a belief (which of course could be refuted by empirical evidence….) that those who ardently believe in one bizarre conspiracy are inclined to a general belief in CT’s.

    In the case of Birfoons, their beliefs tend to be reinforced by their general feelings of powerlessness against the inevitable changes in society that they fear and hate.

  9. avatar
    Upgradedd March 20, 2014 at 1:38 pm #

    Take into account which group is more likely to self identify the opposite affiliation in order to skew the results and make it appear that that group is wackier than the one to which they truly belong…. I wager a dollar to a doughnut which group is more likely to do so…

    Can anyone link a liberal site that is full of “truthers”?

  10. avatar
    Arthur March 20, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

    bovril: I hold a belief (which of course could be refuted by empirical evidence….) that those who ardently believe in one bizarre conspiracy are inclined to a general belief in CT’s.

    I agree. From what I’ve seen at BR and other sites of it’s type, the typically birther is committed to many conspiracy theories

  11. avatar
    Arthur March 20, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy: Sure. Here’s a chart from this article

    Is that chart a composite of data taken from surveys taken four years apart? If so, does that represent standard practice?

  12. avatar
    CarlOrcas March 20, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

    Arthur: I agree. From what I’ve seen at BR and other sites of it’s type, the typically birther is committed to many conspiracy theories

    If not committed at least very amenable.

  13. avatar
    Bonsall Obot March 20, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

    While I’m sure you meant well with that chart, Doc, and it is helpful as far as it goes, it still says nothing about liberals… only about Democrats and Republicans, neither of which group represents liberals.

  14. avatar
    Thomas Brown March 20, 2014 at 3:05 pm #

    Arthur: I agree. From what I’ve seen at BR and other sites of it’s type, the typically birther is committed to many conspiracy theories

    The typical Birther should be committed.

  15. avatar
    Dave March 20, 2014 at 3:09 pm #

    I think the most problematic thing about this study is that the subjects were from universities. Less than half of Americans attend four year colleges. Doc has already made the point that the subjects don’t fit the mold of most birthers — but also these results aren’t going to be representative of the general population.

  16. avatar
    Yoda March 20, 2014 at 3:53 pm #

    I believe that years from now there will be classes taught in colleges and universities about birther theories and conduct.

  17. avatar
    The Magic M (not logged in) March 20, 2014 at 4:14 pm #

    Arthur: together with equally bizarre assertions that school shootings and the Boston Marathon bombing were government “false-flag” operations using so-called “crisis actors.”

    An interesting observation is that while the general consensus is that conspiracy theories thrive where people are looking for simple answers to complex questions, loons like the Sandy Hookers seem to take the opposite approach.

    A “simple” conspiracy theory would’ve been “the shooter was a government agent” or “the shooter was mind-controlled by the government”. Instead they opt for “hundreds of people chose to lie and fake funerals were held” and so on.

    Puzzling, I think.

    (And slightly OT, sorry ’bout that.)

  18. avatar
    Thinker March 20, 2014 at 4:30 pm #

    The “truther” statistic in this poll caught my eye. If almost half of Democrats are truthers, it’s strange that I don’t know any of them. The Scripps Howard study used in that graphic says that 9/11 conspiracy believers are people who “believe that US government officials either assisted in the 9/11 attacks or took no action to stop the attacks because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East.”

    Taking no action is quite different than actively taking part in the attack. I don’t believe the government deliberately overlooked evidence of the impending attack, but it’s been pretty well documented that the Bush Administration was negligent in not putting the pieces together in the months preceding the 9/11 attacks. There is also a lot of evidence about how they actively twisted intelligence information post-9/11 to justify the Iraq invasion.

    Both of these things are very, very different than asserting that the Bush Administration was actually involved in the attacks. I don’t think that people who believe the government was actively involved in 9/11 should be lumped in with people who believe the government deliberately ignored the evidence of the impending attack. I don’t agree with either proposition, but they are very different things, IMO.

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    Sure. Here’s a chart from this article.

  19. avatar
    Rickey March 20, 2014 at 4:32 pm #

    My concern about the polling on 9/11 is that, as I recall, some of the polls which asked the question “Did the government know in advance about the 9/11 plot?” interpreted the responses as belief or disbelief that the government was complicit in the hijackings. Democrats were inclined to believe that the Bush Administration did know, at least in part because of “Bin Laden determined to attack inside the U.S.” memo which Bush and Rice shrugged off in August. Republicans of course mostly rejected any suggestion that the Bush Administration had any fault in the attacks.

    The 9/11 poll numbers might well be reversed if Al Gore had been President on 9/11.

  20. avatar
    Crustacean March 20, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

    Arthur: the typically birther is committed to many conspiracy theories

    And I assume that the typical anti-birther also enjoys debunking other conspiracy theories, as well. And yet, I’m curious:

    Are there any anti-birthers here who put any credence at all in any conspiracies or myths? Of course, there have been real conspiracies throughout history, but I’m talking about the “controversial” ones that have a significant number of adherents.

    Y’know, like the USS Liberty incident, JFK assassination, fluoride, etc. Or myths like Bigfoot, Loch Nessie, et al.

    I still get a little excited when I hear someone has photographed Sasquatch, even though the rational part of my brain knows darned well it’ll just turn out to be another doofus with an ape suit and a camera.

  21. avatar
    Thinker March 20, 2014 at 5:59 pm #

    There are at least a couple Fogbowers with strong ties to the US Navy who believe the USS Liberty incident was a deliberate attack on the US ship by Isreal rather than a mistake as Isreal has claimed. And at least one person who’s a Trig Truther. I don’t have an opinion about the Liberty incident, but believing the Trig Palin nonsense requires quite a bit of flawed thinking that looks a lot like birtherism.

    Crustacean: Are there any anti-birthers here who put any credence at all in any conspiracies or myths?Of course, there have been real conspiracies throughout history, but I’m talking about the “controversial” ones that have a significant number of adherents.

    Y’know, like the USS Liberty incident, JFK assassination, fluoride, etc.Or myths like Bigfoot, Loch Nessie, et al.

  22. avatar
    Slartibartfast March 20, 2014 at 6:24 pm #

    Since neither truthers nor birthers, in my experience, think of themselves as “wacky”, I don’t really credit the idea that they would misidentify themselves to make the opposition look bad—to them, nothing makes the opposition look worse than their refusal to believe in the conspiracy.

    As for a liberal site full of truthers, I don’t think you’ll find any after more than a decade, but I would point out that since truthers were making much more heinous allegations against President Bush and Dick the war criminal than those the birthers make against President Obama, I would expect that the early truthers skewed heavily towards Bush’s political opponents. By now any political opportunists have long since moved on leaving only those who embrace conspiratorial thinking (in other words, what Bovril said).

    Upgradedd:
    Take into account which group is more likely to self identify the opposite affiliation in order to skew the results and make it appear that that group is wackier than the one to which they truly belong…. I wager a dollar to a doughnut which group is more likely to do so…

    Can anyone link a liberal site that is full of “truthers”?

  23. avatar
    Slartibartfast March 20, 2014 at 6:42 pm #

    Thinker,

    The truthers are divided into two groups: MIHOP and LIHOP (Made or Let It Happen On Purpose). The LIHOP truthers believe that the Bush administration actually knew about the attacks beforehand and allowed them to occur. People who merely think that the Bush administration was negligent or incompetent before and/or after the attacks (I’m one of them) shouldn’t be lumped in with truthers at all, but even the LIHOPers are making a heinous accusation that they cannot support with evidence.

    As for the Trig birthers, I’ve always thought that it was better to portray Sarah Palin’s actions in the official story (i.e. flying from Texas to Alaska after her water broke) as irresponsible than to make any kind of conspiratorial allegation without extremely persuasive evidence.

    Thinker: Both of these things are very, very different than asserting that the Bush Administration was actually involved in the attacks. I don’t think that people who believe the government was actively involved in 9/11 should be lumped in with people who believe the government deliberately ignored the evidence of the impending attack. I don’t agree with either proposition, but they are very different things, IMO.

  24. avatar
    Crustacean March 20, 2014 at 6:57 pm #

    Oh brother, I need to get out more. I’d never even heard of Trig Truthers before today. I don’t blame Palin for flying to Alaska after her water broke, though. Who would want their kid to be a natural-born Texan?

    [Note to my friends from Texas: that was just a joke. Calm down, relax. Put down that Bowie knife]

    Slartibartfast: As for the Trig birthers, I’ve always thought that it was better to portray Sarah Palin’s actions in the official story (i.e. flying from Texas to Alaska after her water broke) as irresponsible than to make any kind of conspiratorial allegation without extremely persuasive evidence.

  25. avatar
    Keith March 20, 2014 at 7:42 pm #

    Crustacean:
    Oh brother, I need to get out more.I’d never even heard of Trig Truthers before today.I don’t blame Palin for flying to Alaska after her water broke, though.Who would want their kid to be a natural-born Texan?

    [Note to my friends from Texas: that was just a joke.Calm down, relax.Put down that Bowie knife]

    Well there may be a scintilla of truth to your ‘joke’. Since the Palin family are notorious Alaskan Separatists, they would surely want to make sure their kids would be Natural Born Alaskans to ensure that when the great day of Alaskan Independence came they would be eligible for the Autocracy.

  26. avatar
    Arthur March 20, 2014 at 8:50 pm #

    Crustacean: And I assume that the typical anti-birther also enjoys debunking other conspiracy theories, as well.

    I have an interest in WWII in general, and the Pacific War in particular, and I sometimes engage YouTubers who promote the conspiracy theory that Roosevelt knew Japan was going to attack Pearl Harbor but kept that information secret. Why? Because Jews.

    But that’s just an irregular hobby. Birtherism is the only conspiracy I follow regularly.

  27. avatar
    Bonsall Obot March 20, 2014 at 9:34 pm #

    Following up on what I said and what’s been said since:

    Slarti comes closest to my take on the whole situation. While I believed that the Cheney/Bush cabal was incompetent and malevolent, as was later proved to be the case, I’ve never believed they MIHOP. I don’t have any reason to believe they LIHOP… but I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if evidence indicating such ever comes to light. Their ignoring the warnings in the PDB was the result of hubris and incompetence, not complicity. Those accusing them, and accusing the government or anyone but al Qaeda, using manufactured evidence and deliberate obfuscation of the real science, are as contemptible as Birfers. Anti-Bush partisans may have seized on Trooferism as a cudgel against the man who stole the presidency in 2000, but all they did was damage their own credibility.

    Similarly, Trig Truthers have no evidence and their accusations are contemptible. Not even the vile Sarah Palin deserves their unfounded speculations.

    As for the sundry other conspiracy theories: I believe the ones with actual evidence to support them. Which is to say, none of them.

  28. avatar
    Lupin March 21, 2014 at 3:23 am #

    Dr. Conspiracy: You were dealing with intrenched belief rather than the new belief studied here.

    What do you mean? Birthers didn’t know zilch about Vattel until very recently when Donofrio and/or Apuzzo told them what to think.

    I would characterize this as a “new belief”, one which in fact they acquired late in the Obama-hating process.

  29. avatar
    The Magic M March 21, 2014 at 5:43 am #

    Arthur: I sometimes engage YouTubers who promote the conspiracy theory that Roosevelt knew Japan was going to attack Pearl Harbor but kept that information secret

    If it exists, there’s a conspiracy theory about it.

    Back when I was still reading German right-wing websites, I always enjoyed the infighting between two factions:
    One glorified Hitler, the other was convinced he was a Jewish agent who lost WW2 on purpose to destroy Germany.
    The only thing that surprised me was how these factions co-existed under the same roof of “Aryans Über Alles”. After all, it wasn’t like birtherism where people simply believe several mutually exclusive theories.

  30. avatar
    Notorial Dissent March 21, 2014 at 7:17 am #

    Fantasy Land is a wonderful place, where you can believe three impossible things before you’ve even had your first cup of coffee and breakfast.

  31. avatar
    RanTalbott March 21, 2014 at 7:58 am #

    Crustacean: Are there any anti-birthers here who put any credence at all in any conspiracies or myths?

    Yes. I think it’s a credible possibility, with a probability > 25%, that Flight 93 was shot down on 9/11, and it’s being covered up because it came out after the fact that the passengers were trying to retake the plane, so it might not have been necessary.

    Unlike all the loony stuff like controlled demolition of WTC buildings, the cover-up would only require the participation of a very small group of people (a pilot or two, a radio operator or two, and few people very high up in the chain of command). Those people would be highly motivated by remorse for a tragic mistake to keep the secret (as distinct from a guilty conscience from committing a crime, which would probably make some participants _more_ likely to blab). And the only physical evidence would be a fighter returning to base short a missile or a few dozen round of machine gun ammo. So it’s a lot less likely to unravel than the other ones that were posited, that would require implausible circumstances like dozens of people smuggling explosives into public buildings, or hundreds of passengers being taken off planes so they could be crashed into buildings under remote control. There’s essentially zero chance that a conspiracy that large could hold up, so one almost doesn’t need to look at the contrary evidence.

    Now, unlike a hard-core conspiracy theorist, I’m not convinced that my theory is true. I’m not even certain that it’s more likely than the “official” explanation. But I do consider it a “(reasonable) doubt about the government story’. So, ironically, I was (by some standards) being counted as a “truther”, even though I was slagging them left and right online, like a kid who’d gotten his first game console and a copy of Grand Theft Auto for Christmas ;-)

  32. avatar
    Woodrowfan March 21, 2014 at 9:18 am #

    Another version of LIHOP is that the Bush admin let it happen because they blew off the warnings, and then did what they could to deny the strength of the warnings they received. A good example of that is Rice’s saying the PDB was just historical background. “Historic Background” does not make the PDB,The PDB is for “here is what is happening today that you have to know!:

  33. avatar
    Yoda March 21, 2014 at 9:20 am #

    I believe more in cover-ups than I do in conspiracies. I believe that there is intelligent life in the Universe that could be far more advanced than we are. Because of that I believe that it is possible that the government is covering up or withholding evidence of this.

    I believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone but that it is still possible that he did not shot the “kill shot”. Logically, the first shot would be the most accurate of the three shots, but it was the third shot that killed Kennedy according to the Warren commission. It is conceivably possible that a Secret Service agent accidentally shot the President when he returned fire. It is as at least possible. I am not saying that it happened, just that it is possible. If true, this is being covered up.

    There are others, but I guess I can be called more of skeptic than anything else.

  34. avatar
    The Magic M (not logged in) March 21, 2014 at 9:27 am #

    RanTalbott: that Flight 93 was shot down on 9/11, and it’s being covered up because it came out after the fact that the passengers were trying to retake the plane, so it might not have been necessary

    The first time I hear this; then again I never considered truthers entertaining so I never bothered to read beyond the “controlled demolition” stuff.

    (I read about the theory that the plane was shot down, but only in some “nefarious” context, not connected to an actual mistake as you describe.)

    My personal pet theory is still that the entire 9/11 was a big distraction from Flight 93 (which had to be taken down without people wondering about it too much). It doesn’t even need remote controlled planes; I think “The Event” showed how a pilot could be extorted to deliberately crash his plane as an attack weapon.

    But of course I don’t seriously mean that, I’ve just always thought it would make one hell of a novel (which I never had the time to write).

  35. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy March 21, 2014 at 9:50 am #

    At one time I thought that the mutation of Simian HIV to human HIV was the result of Drug company use of live simian hosts in the development of a polio vaccine that was field-tested in Africa.

    Live vaccine creation involved forced mutation of the polio virus, and technology at the time wouldn’t not have been able to detect a retrovirus piggybacked in the samples. They did use monkeys to incubate polio virus. Vaccine trials were held in Africa, and that could have explained both the mutation and the spread of HIV. To add to the suspicion, all the records were destroyed (in a fire IIRC). The conspiracy theory is that drug companies know all this and are hiding it because of the incredible liability. There was a very convincing book written about all of this.

    The reason I no longer believe this true is because of a later genetic study that placed the timing of the mutation before the vaccine development.

    Crustacean: Are there any anti-birthers here who put any credence at all in any conspiracies or myths?

  36. avatar
    Bonsall Obot March 21, 2014 at 10:12 am #

    Exactly so, Doc; in the 1980s, I believed HIV was, or at least was likely to have been, engineered by the CIA, under Nixon’s directive, to devestate the gay and black populations. I believed this because I know the CIA to be malevolent, I know Nixon to be malevolent, and these segments of the population were hardest hit. This is not evidence. When shown actual evidence, I changed my opinion. I would make a poor Birfer.

  37. avatar
    Yoda March 21, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

    There is a conspiracy theory that I do believe in, but maybe it is because it is my own theory. I contend that that there has been a concerted effort by Hollywood. to prepare and condition to people to accept the idea of a President who not a white male.

    As early as 1972 there was a movie made, called “The Man”, starring James Earl Jones who ascended to the Presidency through the rules of succession. Morgan Freeman has played the President in a movie, Dennis Haysbert, played the President in 24. Even the movie “Idiocracy” depicted an African American President. The Matt Santos character in the West Wing, played by Jimmy Smits was based on Barack Obama.

    In 1964, Kisses for My President came out, with Polly Bergen as the first female President with Fred MacMurray as the first husband. In “Air Force One”, Glenn Close was a signature away from taking over the Presidency, even if for a short period of time. There are other actresses who have played a President going back as far as 1953.

  38. avatar
    Daniel March 21, 2014 at 5:20 pm #

    Actually you’ve got a few things wrong

    The question of the birth never came up in the previous elections of the President, because they were white.

    Republicans aren’t siding with the birthers. Mostly we are ignoring them, because they are an embarrassment.

    The media has not delved into the “problem” because there is no problem. No problem, no news. There is no evidence on the birther side, none, and the anti-birther side has the only evidence necessary, the State of Hawaii

    cavitekid:
    The birth situation appears more interesting, as the question of the birth never came up in the previous elections of the President
    then when it did come up there were, apparently, attempts to fail to provide the information, which lead to more research on the questions.

    Which raised more questions, which began to be hotly debated, with the reps saying no, generally, and the dems, saying yes, generally.

    Sides were taken and the dispute became political with little belief in either sides.

    Attempts to bring to the courts were rejected , for various good reasons, which split the sides even more.

    apparent failure of media to delve into the problems brought more outrage by one side ,and support for the other.

    None of which seem to make any difference to the voting public which supported the election of the Candidate by a substancial margin.

    But, the problem still exists as all evidence is denied by either side, with no result in reaching a absolute agreement on the matter.

    It is just like the JFK killng.

  39. avatar
    CarlOrcas March 21, 2014 at 5:43 pm #

    cavitekid: The birth situation appears more interesting, as the question of the birth never came up in the previous elections of the President……………..

    Why do you think that is?

    cavitekid: apparent failure of media to delve into the problems brought more outrage by one side ,and support for the other.

    My recollection is that the media did look into it early on. That’s why the White House provided copies of the President’s birth certificates and why the discussion of it, from almost three years ago, is still on the White House website:

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/04/27/president-obamas-long-form-birth-certificate

    Did you miss it in 2011?

    cavitekid: It is just like the JFK killng.

    Really? How so?

  40. avatar
    Daniel March 21, 2014 at 5:54 pm #

    cavitekid: Was Obama running for President in 2006, or had he declared for President?

    McCain’s bc was questioned before the election wasn’t he?

    Not by any birther, Not by the public. And after it was declared a non-issue, nobody cared

  41. avatar
    Whatever4 March 21, 2014 at 6:20 pm #

    cavitekid: Was Obama running for President in 2006, or had he declared for President?

    McCain’s bc was questioned before the election wasn’t he?

    Obama announced he was running for President on Feb. 10, 2007. McCain announced March 1, 2007.

    Articles saying McCain wasn’t eligible started appearing online in February 2008.

    Hollander v. McCain filed in NH Federal District Court, March 14, 2008.

  42. avatar
    J.D. Sue March 21, 2014 at 6:31 pm #

    Bonsall Obot: I believed this because I know the CIA to be malevolent, I know Nixon to be malevolent, and these segments of the population were hardest hit. This is not evidence. When shown actual evidence, I changed my opinion. I would make a poor Birfer.

    —-
    The fact is, there are real conspiracies. For example, Nixon and his crew did engage in a conspiracy to break into, and cover up the breaking into, the Democratic headquarters at the Watergate Hotel. As another example, I think the Bush II administration stole Ohio in 2004, and have seen systems documentation of the Diebolt voting machine interfaces (not to mention the Diebolt machines themselves) which made my techie expert cry out loud for our country. I think people would be fools not to consider the possibility of conspiracy when stuff happens.

    So, I am not anti-conspiracy-theorists as a general principle. Of course, having lost a friend because she “discovered” the wisdom of Alex Jones and became intolerable…. And of course, being Jewish and having been accused of being part of a cabal intent on making/keeping the world our puppet and spreading capitalism-communism throughout the world…. I am wary of people who put too much stock in alleged conspiracies…

  43. avatar
    Whatever4 March 21, 2014 at 6:31 pm #

    cavitekid:
    “There were 147 participants in the birther study, aged 17-30, were recruited from universities (in Missouri and Indiana”

    I had not even heard of a question about the birth in 2006 and yet 10% of fhe Dems thought he wasn’t born in the USA

    No one is saying anything about birthers in 2006. The chart Thinker posted has 2 dates of polls. The 2006 was ONLY for 9/11 Truthers, the 2010 poll was only for Birthers.

    but it might have not come to the attention of the people outside of Illinois and that area.

    As to the validity of the survey it is as valid as any survey of college students.

    As far as I know , which I admits is less than necessary, college students do not generally give a damn aboutSenatorial races, unless they are Poly Sci students.

    Again, no one is talking about birthers in 2006, and not for any Senate races.

    But,again, the Dems might have seen the information in the book or booklet where it stated he was born in Kenya, and that not not been negated at that time by the publisher

    No, the booklet was only for the publishing industry, and no one is talking about 2006.

  44. avatar
    Whatever4 March 21, 2014 at 6:39 pm #

    cavitekid: “Duckworth is happy to point out that she and Hawai’i-raised Punahou graduate Obama have “a kama’aina connection.”

    That’s a pretty obscure quote, from the Honolulu Advertiser on Jan 8 2006. It was corrected the next week. http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2006/Jan/08/ln/FP601080334.html

    Why do you keep referring to 2006?

  45. avatar
    CarlOrcas March 21, 2014 at 6:50 pm #

    cavitekid: I have found it!

    And you apparently stopped looking when you found what you liked.

    A week later the paper ran a correction – http://www.scribd.com/doc/19226529/GETTING-IT-STRAIGHT-The-Honolulu-Advertiser-Archives?secret_password=2lir5luwvsoh7yucm01z

    Click on the download button and then pick your format:

    GETTING IT STRAIGHT
    Honolulu Advertiser – Honolulu, Hawaii
    Date: Jan 15, 2006
    Start Page: A.4
    Section: Main
    Text Word Count: 52
    Document Text
    Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., was born in Honolulu on Aug. 4, 1961. A Page One story last Sunday contained incorrect
    information about his birthplace.
    If you have a question or concern about the accuracy, fairness or thoroughness of an item in The Honolulu Advertiser,
    please call reader representative Anne Harpham at 525-8033.

    Does that satisfy you?

  46. avatar
    Slartibartfast March 21, 2014 at 6:51 pm #

    I find it interesting that you can give such a cogent, well thought out response on this topic while your comments regarding the birthers are riddled with misconceptions.

    I think that it is fair to say that no one ever raised the issue of President Obama’s birthplace (or parentage) with respect to presidential eligibility until after the Obama campaign had released what we now know to be incontrovertible proof that he was a natural born citizen (the COLB). Would you agree?

    cavitekid: Not at all likely, as it would be darn hard to cover up!
    All of the ground crew of the airforce pilots would know when the plane came back wthout munitions, the armory would know as the ammunition and munitions have to be accounted for, the radio operaters through out the airforce would know as the radios are not en-crypted and there are one hell of a lot of people who listen to the air radios in cases like this.

    it is not easy to hide the firing of weapons from the ground crew.

    A missle would damage the plane sufficiently to have it come apart in the air, the passengers and crew would be scattered all over the area, and the plane would not hit the ground at that speed due to the change in aerodynamics from missile damage.

    But, yes, it is a possiblitiy!

  47. avatar
    CarlOrcas March 21, 2014 at 6:52 pm #

    cavitekid: So, it was mentioned at least once.

    But it was wrong….as Whatever4 and I showed you.

    Why didn’t you find what we did? It only took me a minute or so to find it.

  48. avatar
    Rickey March 21, 2014 at 7:02 pm #

    cavitekid:
    Because it must have been a problem as that story was altered after publicatiion

    It might have been wrong, it might have been right, but it was out there, and someone objected to it.

    If someone published an erroneous story about you, wouldn’t you object to it?

    There is nothing unusual about that.

  49. avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater March 21, 2014 at 7:03 pm #

    cavitekid:
    To those who think newspaper articles are not subject to modification I suggest this

    http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/birthers/ap.asp

    Now here Snopes suggests, proves, and states that someone added something not true to the article in the paper.
    Snopes must be right, as it is snopes, is it not?

    the newspaper publshed something not true!

    But we have to believe what the newspapers publish if it supports our position!

    This old canard? The AP denied adding the born in Kenya part to the article and the original article didn’t have it. So no the original article wasn’t modified.

    Jack aren’t you getting tired of making new aliases?

  50. avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater March 21, 2014 at 7:04 pm #

    cavitekid:
    Because it must have been a problem as that story was altered after publicatiion

    It might have been wrong, it might have been right, but it was out there, and someone objected to it.

    You already lost on this bad troll reasoning when you were traderjack and helen.

  51. avatar
    Slartibartfast March 21, 2014 at 7:11 pm #

    This is a particularly idiotic straw man. You need to learn to evaluate the credibility of any source in the context of the plausibility of a conspiracy theory. There is no birther theory that is any more credible that the WTC controlled demolition theory (which has no credibility at all).

    Ockham’s razor suggests that Rep Duckworth misspoke and the newspaper corrected the mistake when they noticed it. It may have happened differently, but there is no plausible conspiracy theory here.

    cavitekid: But we have to believe what the newspapers publish if it supports our position!

  52. avatar
    CarlOrcas March 21, 2014 at 7:29 pm #

    cavitekid: Because it must have been a problem as that story was altered after publicatiion

    It might have been wrong, it might have been right, but it was out there, and someone objected to it.

    You don’t run corrections on stories that aren’t published.

    It was wrong. The newspaper says it was wrong.

  53. avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater March 21, 2014 at 8:49 pm #

    I see jack/helen is back under a new alias.

  54. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy March 21, 2014 at 10:06 pm #

    cavitekid is the banned “helen” and all their comments have been deleted.

    CarlOrcas: If you would use the quote function it would be easier to figure out who you are responding to.

  55. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy March 21, 2014 at 10:12 pm #

    Snopes, like this blog, is not a source, but a compilation of sources.

    When a reasonable person selects what to believe, they ask certain questions. Two important ones for me are:

    1) Does the source stand by their statement? (a retracted statement is discarded)
    2) Does the source have a way to know the truth of what they are saying? (a source with no basis for knowledge is discarded)

    It is foolish to claim that all sources are of equal value, or to argue that it is impossible to distinguish between good stuff and garbage. Someone who makes such an argument is probably not serious, and not worth attention.

    cavitekid: You won’t believe the Kenyan writer, and you want to believe Snopes.

  56. avatar
    CarlOrcas March 21, 2014 at 10:18 pm #

    cavitekid: Yes, it is possible that the information was added and could be wrong, but it is also possible that it was not added and reflected the information that the writer was privy to.

    AP says the original story did not contain the information that appeared in the Kenyan paper. It was apparently “added” in Kenya. Do you doubt that?

    As Snopes noted: Likewise, archived versions of U.S. newspapers that published the same AP wire story (such as the San Diego Union-Tribune and the Seattle Times) do not include lead-ins identifying Barack Obama as “Kenyan-born.”

    Are they also lying?

    Here’s the story in the San Diego U-T: http://legacy.utsandiego.com/news/politics/20040625-1644-illinoissenate.html

    cavitekid: You won’t believe the Kenyan writer, and you want to believe Snopes.

    Notice the dateline on the U-T story: Chicago. Notice the reporter’s name: Maura Kelly Lannan. She covered Illinois government and politics for the AP for a number of years.The story was written in the U.S.

    Her original story doesn’t say anything about Obama being born in Kenya. None of the stories published at the time and archived in other American newspapers say anything about Kenya.

    So…..what’s your explanation? Someone changed all of them…..except the story in the Sunday Standard? Is that really your story?

  57. avatar
    John Reilly March 21, 2014 at 10:19 pm #

    cavitekid: there is no such thing as incontrovertible proof of natural born citizenship.
    Everything is challengeable in court, everything, except when it comes to the Presidient.
    But no-one want to believe that the government can not verify the facts of the records of the President as he has to authorize the release of everything.

    Whether or not a president meets the constitutional requirements is up to Congress. Twice, not a single member–out of 435–raised any question. Chief Justice Roberts had no question and swore in Pres. Obama 4 times. You might wonder why none of the people assigned this task have raised any question.

  58. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy March 21, 2014 at 10:20 pm #

    Very astute observation. Congratulations.

    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater: You already lost on this bad troll reasoning when you were traderjack and helen.

  59. avatar
    bgansel9 March 21, 2014 at 10:24 pm #

    CarlOrcas: Why didn’t you find what we did? It only took me a minute or so to find it.

    Because he didn’t want to find it, Carl.

    cavitekid is aptly named, his reasoning is full of holes.

  60. avatar
    CarlOrcas March 21, 2014 at 10:27 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    cavitekid is the banned “helen” and all their comments have been deleted.

    That’ll teach you to go to dinner!

  61. avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater March 21, 2014 at 10:31 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    Very astute observation. Congratulations.

    Hes not very good at hiding his identity. You can tell by the same circular nonsense arguments.

  62. avatar
    Rickey March 21, 2014 at 10:33 pm #

    bgansel9: Because he didn’t want to find it, Carl.

    cavitekid is aptly named, his reasoning is full of holes.

    I thought the name referred to Cavite, a province in the Philippines, but maybe the troll just can’t spell “cavity.”

  63. avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater March 21, 2014 at 10:36 pm #

    Rickey: I thought the name referred to Cavite, a province in the Philippines, but maybe the troll just can’t spell “cavity.”

    It’s possible Rickey. On Amazon “Jack/Helen” says he was born in the phillipines.

  64. avatar
    The Magic M (not logged in) March 22, 2014 at 5:13 am #

    Slartibartfast: and the newspaper corrected the mistake when they noticed it. It may have happened differently, but there is no plausible conspiracy theory here

    It’s simply impossible for all news sources to be correct, all of the time.

    Conflicting information, either based on errors or incomplete information, is the standard, not the exception.

    The unwillingness to accept that is what’s breeding conspiracy theories today. Sandy Hook, Boston marathon, MH370 – of course news outlets rushing to present a story will not be infallible. E.g. if ten witnesses say they saw and heard one shooter, the news will report that. If they find ten more witnesses who saw and heard a second shooter a few hours later, they will correct the story.
    Conspiracy believers, however, see “changing the story” as some nefarious thing proving “false flag” or whatever.

    That’s the crazy thing.

  65. avatar
    RanTalbott March 22, 2014 at 5:19 am #

    The Magic M (not logged in): Conspiracy believers, however, see “changing the story” as some nefarious thing proving “false flag” or whatever.

    Conspiracy theorists see every story as “proof”: if it agrees with them, it’s “proof of the crime”. If it contradicts, it’s “proof of the cover-up”.

    They especially like “changing the story”, because it gives ‘em a two-fer.