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Birtherism as “make believe”

Over the years, I have attempted to find models to help me understand birthers. There are learned papers on the subject of conspiracy theory from the disciplines of history, psychology and political science. (Some of those are linked in my bookmarks, and some of the books are listed among the recommended one on the sidebar.)

Today as I was replying a comment at Gerbil Report™ about anti-birthers (Obots) who they say are now working with Mike Zullo and providing him with valuable information, I felt a sense of déjà vu. This was the comment from FatherTime (grammar errors in the original):

I’ve been watching this all day and I find it funny how Dr. C comes out first to challenge that no Obot has flip. Of all the Obots it was Dr. C.

I didn’t know but I have heard our good Dr. C was the one who flip but I’m sure he don’t want his follower Obots to know this. He also protest too much if he had not flip with his Challenged.

I may not have known before but now I’m sure Dr. C is the one who flip. Now I want to know who the other Obot is?

Upon reflection, the sense of familiarity comes from my early childhood, from fantasy games we played. They were so very much like the comments at Birther Report (albeit BR is much nastier than any kids I ever knew). These games consisted of some kind of fantasy scenario (army men, cowboys and Indians, Zorro) where we made up the story as we went along. In these stories we would sometimes dispute things, things completely contained within our completely made-up scenario. Sometimes we could get very angry in these disputes.  Birthers play games like army men, Perry Mason and CSI. We didn’t call them “role playing games” back then; our term was “make believe.”

The test of a model is whether it is predictive and whether actually provides value. I have a feeling that I’m going to have more peace of mind dealing with birthers at BR if I view them as adult children playing make believe.

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31 Responses to Birtherism as “make believe”

  1. avatar
    Dave September 16, 2014 at 9:10 am #

    This is similar to your earlier comment noting a similarity between birtherism and playing video games.

    I have been thinking, along similar lines, that the way people experience fiction that appeals to them is closely related to the experience of reality. You know it’s not real, but you react to it and think about it as if it were. And then there’s fan-fiction, where fans make up new stories about the characters.

    There are web communities where these things go on. I’m pretty sure those communities do not welcome people who show up to remind them that what they are saying is a bunch of BS.

    So, is this a good model for birthers? The real question is, do they really believe it, or do they just like pretending? On the one hand, I’m pretty sure Twilight fans don’t go around filing lawsuits for vampire rights. At least some birthers aren’t pretending, they are really deluded. But I suspect that, for most of them, conspiracy theories are just a fiction they enjoy spinning.

  2. avatar
    Andrew Vrba, PmG September 16, 2014 at 9:29 am #

    I was blessed, in that I got to grow up watching Mister Rogers, and I think he would agree that the birthers are doing make believe all wrong!

  3. avatar
    Curious George September 16, 2014 at 9:52 am #

    I’m beginning to feel sorry for some of the people over at BR who have an OCD with gerbils. It’s getting so bad that the good Sheriff Joe and his animal cruelty unit should be called in to protect all of the gerbils. It’s only a matter of time before one of those little furry guys gets hurt.

  4. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy September 16, 2014 at 10:11 am #

    If anything proves they are play acting, the gerbil thing is it.

    Curious George: I’m beginning to feel sorry for some of the people over at BR who have an OCD with gerbils.

  5. avatar
    Arthur September 16, 2014 at 10:22 am #

    Dr. Conspiracy: If anything proves they are play acting, the gerbil thing is it.

    Once a trope takes root in a community, repeating it becomes obligatory, even if you don’t believe in it or think it’s ridiculous. It’s like a secret handshake or a password–it allows you into the fold, and marks you as part of the group.

  6. avatar
    Curious George September 16, 2014 at 11:07 am #

    Dr. C
    “If anything proves they are play acting, the gerbil thing is it.”

    The make believe gerbils and the make believe costumes go right along with the make believe patriotism at BR. The prognosis is not favorable.

  7. avatar
    3Fiddy6 September 16, 2014 at 11:20 am #

    I”ve been banned from commenting at BR.. Considering the nastiness of the regulars, I’m a little offended by it. I didn’t even curse.

    I think my solution to get around the moderator would be to create a proxy IP..
    Any suggestions?

  8. avatar
    Dave September 16, 2014 at 11:41 am #

    Why would you want to get around the moderator?

    3Fiddy6:

    I think my solution to get around the moderator would be to create a proxy IP..
    Any suggestions?

  9. avatar
    bovril September 16, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

    Dave:
    Why would you want to get around the moderator?

    Why not..?

    Lets see,

    Poking fun at Birfoons…. CHECK

    Holding up the hypocrisy of Bob Nelson who swore blind he doesn’t censor posts…CHECK

    Countering the outright lies…..CHECK

    Trying to shame the racist feckwits…..A WORTHY GOAL

    Not allowing the lie unchallenged to become the “truth”….CHECK

    Identifying the next inmates of Camp …..NOT TRUE BUT THEY BELIEVE IT

  10. avatar
    Rickey September 16, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

    I’m trying to figure out what information the birthers believe that we have which we could have “flipped” to Zullo. Do they believe that we have Obama’s real birth certificate?

  11. avatar
    Benji Franklin September 16, 2014 at 2:53 pm #

    Rickey: I’m trying to figure out what information the birthers believe that we have which we could have “flipped” to Zullo.

    They don’t believe any Obot “flipped” anything to Zullo.
    Look what the Birthers have going for them.
    Look what is in their ‘win’ column.
    Look what they legitimately have to look forward to with their stinking ‘movement’.
    It’s a bowel movement.
    They are awash in a sea of their own Birther crap.
    Listen to their winged Bird-boy grandiosely flapping his mouth every day with more predictions of a Obama ruining outcome, which like the other thousand and one Obama-dooming Birther predictions produced daily, is free to be devastatingly complete and Birther-vindicating since such plans will never escape the bounds of prospectivity to be evaluated in reality.
    Look what they’ve got, those Birthers.
    They’ve got NOTHING!
    NOTHING!
    Saying that an Obot, ‘flipped’, in their collective mind, is SOMETHING.
    Imagine how empty it must feel to be a Birther.

  12. avatar
    3Fiddy6 September 16, 2014 at 3:25 pm #

    I’ve been wondering how many “regulars” are commenting on the BR site. I keep seeing the same names… I’d guess maybe a couple dozen. Of course, that’s just the ones commenting.

  13. avatar
    Janny September 16, 2014 at 6:04 pm #

    I’m trying to imagine what the birther’s lives will be like when Obama is out of office. If Hillary should become the next president, would they then become murfers, investigating all the murders they attribute to the Clintons?

  14. avatar
    RanTalbott September 16, 2014 at 7:11 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy: If anything proves they are play acting, the gerbil thing is it.

    I think what it proves is that they’re emotionally about 10 years old, but with access to PCs that let them circulate crude digital decoupages, instead of the crude hand-drawn caricatures and “Danny is a foo-foo head” graffiti kids did when we were ten.

    They even incorporate the same sort of tales-behind-the-barn myths about sex that children use.

    Perhaps I’m mistaken, but I see that stuff as the expression of profound hatred, lashing out in the strongest terms their tiny minds can come up with.

  15. avatar
    RanTalbott September 16, 2014 at 7:33 pm #

    3Fiddy6: I think my solution to get around the moderator would be to create a proxy IP..
    Any suggestions?

    My experience was that, when I used a different machine to post because I thought the failure on my home system was just a site software glitch, the new IPA was banned within a day or so.

    I suspect the site owner is watching for new posts from banned IDs, and using those reports to block their new IPAs.

    I haven’t looked into workarounds, because the denizens’ demonstrated imperviousness to facts and logic means attempts at serious discussion would be pretty much the same as trolling, morally speaking.

  16. avatar
    Arthur September 16, 2014 at 7:53 pm #

    RanTalbott: I haven’t looked into workarounds, because the denizens’ demonstrated imperviousness to facts and logic means attempts at serious discussion would be pretty much the same as trolling, morally speaking.

    Yup, there’s not much to be accomplished trying to discuss Obama eligibility with a birther. Even the most concrete, incontrovertible, objective evidence is dismissed, usually with a homophobic slur.

  17. avatar
    Northland10 September 16, 2014 at 9:12 pm #

    Benji Franklin: They don’t believe any Obot “flipped” anything to Zullo.

    Well, I think there was one, but it was just Stern flipping Zullo the bird.

  18. avatar
    John Reilly September 17, 2014 at 12:21 am #

    My sense is that most of the folks on Birther Report are 17 years old and unable to get a date like normal 17 year olds. So they stay in Mom’s basement and fail to connect that their odd world view prevents them from, well, hooking up. They have a short-circuit in their thinking process which affects whatever they do.

  19. avatar
    Andrew Vrba, PmG September 17, 2014 at 1:07 am #

    John Reilly:
    My sense is that most of the folks on Birther Report are 17 years old and unable to get a date like normal 17 year olds.So they stay in Mom’s basement and fail to connect that their odd world view prevents them from, well, hooking up.They have a short-circuit in their thinking process which affects whatever they do.

    I dunno. Some of them give off a “Dishonorably discharged ex-military” sort of vibe. Others sound all too much like the aging bigot, who can’t stand that time, and our country, have moved on without them. Some of them even seem damned upset that women can vote.

  20. avatar
    John Reilly September 17, 2014 at 2:49 am #

    I know a fair number of ex-military, and while the majority did not vote for Pres. Obama, they would not post treason to blogs, even anonymously. And the seniors who resent the signs in Spanish in Walmart write, proudly, under their own names, to the local paper. Fascination with gerbils and things homosexual sounds like the 17 year old football players at the local high school, each trying to out-do each other in their supposed manliness.

  21. avatar
    The Magic M (not logged in) September 17, 2014 at 4:40 am #

    Janny: If Hillary should become the next president, would they then become murfers, investigating all the murders they attribute to the Clintons?

    So we read the word here first. 😉

    No, I think it would be slightly different. Their Obama fixation was always about undoing the “first black President” thingy – not just removing him for being a “traitor” but deleting his presidency in its entirety (the “null and void” stuff).

    With Clinton, we’re gonna be back to ordinary conspiracy theories as the one you mentioned, but those have existed before and won’t be restricted to the specific small group of birthers.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw some sexers though, i.e. people like Jedi Pauly who believe wimmin can’t be President because Heterosexual Male Jesus “Al” Christ said so and we were all taught that in school but nobody thought about it because all previous Presidents were male, so the ebil Demo-Cats suppressed the knowledge and wisdom of the divinely misogynist Founders.

  22. avatar
    Dave B. September 17, 2014 at 10:33 am #

    That may not be entirely true.

    Benji Franklin: They don’t believe any Obot “flipped” anything to Zullo.

  23. avatar
    bovril September 17, 2014 at 11:06 am #

    I don’t remember seeing this little gem before, from Gerbil Report via the Pest and Fail

    http://www.birtherreport.com/2014/09/report-sheriff-arpaios-lead.html

    Following Sellin’s interview, The Post & Email spoke with Zullo, who told us that “there are going to be some findings that ‘birthers’ may find disturbing,” referring to those who specifically doubt that Obama was born in Hawaii, as he claims. The term “birthers” has also been applied to anyone raising doubts about Obama’s life story, which contains conflicting statements made by both Obama and his wife.

    So……Obama was born in Hawai’i after all…… 😎

  24. avatar
    gorefan September 17, 2014 at 11:18 am #

    bovril:

    So……Obama was born in Hawai’i after all……

    That’s how I would read it.

    It was also interesting that there appears to be some bad blood between Gallups and Boyles. Zullo clearly takes Carl’s side.

    And Zullo takes Birthers to task for speculating about evidence. Says it hurts the cause.

    Well he’s right about that.

    It’s a little confusing but he also seems to put down the Sellin claim of a whistleblower.

  25. avatar
    Curious George September 17, 2014 at 11:20 am #

    Well file this under more “make believe” from the pretend law enforcement official, Zullo.

    In a 9/17 BR report, “Press Conference to Contain Completely New Information,” Sharon Rondeau quotes Mike Zullo (excerpt):

    “The public doesn’t understand the type of evidence required in a law enforcement investigation. The word “evidence” is often used. to describe information that cannot be supported by its own weight. Evidence that cannot be supported or corroborated is in fact not evidence at all but often personal opinion or just mere speculation.”

    This appears to be an admission, two years after the fact, that the evidence that was used to develop probable cause regarding the PDF copy of the president’s birth certificate, was in fact only speculation as stated by Maricopa County Attorney William Montgomery back in 2012. The “evidence” developed by the public for the Cold Case Posse was worthless. It’s taken Corporal Zullo over two years to figure this out?

    As has been stated many times before, Zullo is a make believe cop that has been operating a make believe investigation, and now we have confirmation that the “evidence” he accumulated was “speculation” and couldn’t stand on its own weight. That’s why “new information” is being developed.

    Basically, Zullo’s admission is a slap in the face to all Birthers who have supported Zullo’s misguided adventure. Let’s see if Birthers will forgive Zullo and turn the other cheek.

  26. avatar
    Dave B. September 17, 2014 at 11:26 am #

    Now there’s a “Quote of the Day” candidate.

    Curious George: “The public doesn’t understand the type of evidence required in a law enforcement investigation. The word “evidence” is often used. to describe information that cannot be supported by its own weight. Evidence that cannot be supported or corroborated is in fact not evidence at all but often personal opinion or just mere speculation.”

  27. avatar
    Curious George September 17, 2014 at 11:31 am #

    Dave B.
    September 17, 2014
    Now there’s a “Quote of the Day” candidate.

    Curious George: “The public doesn’t understand the type of evidence required in a law enforcement investigation. The word “evidence” is often used. to describe information that cannot be supported by its own weight. Evidence that cannot be supported or corroborated is in fact not evidence at all but often personal opinion or just mere speculation.”

    Zullo : Open mouth, insert foot.

  28. avatar
    Andrew Vrba, PmG September 17, 2014 at 11:38 am #

    Benji Franklin: They don’t believe any Obot “flipped” anything to Zullo.

    Oh, they’ll believe that its not butter, if they think it will help them get Obama out of office before his second term is over.

  29. avatar
    Bonsall Obot September 17, 2014 at 11:58 am #

    Andrew Vrba, PmG:
    Oh, they’ll believe that its not butter, if they think it will help them get Obama out of office before his second term is over.

    But can they believe they ate the whooole thing?

  30. avatar
    Curious George September 17, 2014 at 1:03 pm #

    Why would the make believe investigation continue ?

    http://www.youtube.com/embed/PIAXG_QcQNU?autoplay=1

  31. avatar
    JPotter September 17, 2014 at 1:39 pm #

    I’ve been re-reading Fantastic Four, from #1 on, in my spare time.(As an adult, the ads and letters that chronicle the growth of the nascent, published Marvel universe are more interesting than the stories!). I have the whole run from 1961 to 2007 on an SD card in a tablet. Miracles of miracles.

    Relevance to birfers as make believe? I am struck again and again as I read of the similarities between the communal storytelling birfer engage in, and the fly by the seat of the pants nature of fantasy stroytelling.

    … and in the similarities of birfer linguistic patterns and strategies to the monologues of early Dr. Doom and the Mole Man! 😀