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Unconscious racism

Today is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and Birther Report has an article just up titled, “University of Virginia Psychologist: Birthers Racially Tinged Conspiracy Theories Paint Obama As A Usurper.” They take great umbrage at what they see as an attempt to label all birthers racist. Their incredulity at that outrageous claim can be seen in this comment:

Guest: There is nothing mysterious or racist about BHO identity questions. Why? EVERYWHERE you look you find fraud of one type or another. This isn’t rocket science guys. You have to be brain dead or an obot not to know that he’s operating under a fake name, fake BC, fake SS#, fake Sel. Serv. card. The list is endless.

I tried to make a response to that, but I have no hope that the commenter will grok what I was trying to say:

You don’t get it.

To most people there is no “fake name, fake BC, fake SS#, fake Sel. Serv. card”. They look at that stuff and see nobodies on the Internet pretending to be experts and spinning wildly implausible theories requiring up a conspiracy of massive proportions (including the administration, the Congress, the news media, the courts and the State of Hawaii), a conspiracy orders of magnitude bigger than any real conspiracy in history. If they bother to look into the details (and few do) they find a tissue of suspicions that falls apart under scrutiny. They see theories held almost exclusively by ideological opponents of Obama and his party. They see folks using terms like DemoRat and Libtard. They see nothing credible.

When they see a group maligning the President, and see no justification for it, they wonder why it’s happening. Racism is part of it; hatred of progressives is part of it; general tendencies to see conspiracies in clouds is part of it, smear peddling for monetary gain is part of it.

You think that with all the facts, no one can fault the birthers for their beliefs. Others think that there is something fundamentally wrong with the birthers for misreading the evidence.

But I didn’t write this article to display my ineffectual attempt at creating an “aha” moment in a birther. What I want to do is to call attention to the Mother Jones article that got the birthers so upset. It’s title, “Black Lives Matter” Aspires to Reclaim the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.,” doesn’t give the reader a hint about that I found most interesting in the story. It’s not so much about the police shootings of black men, or Dr. King. What is interesting is unconscious racism.

BR picked out the same quote that I did from the lengthy article, although I will copy here just the last part of it:

There “doesn’t need to be intent, doesn’t need to be desire; there could even be desire in the opposite direction,” explains University of Virginia psychologist Brian Nosek. […] “But biased results can still occur.”

Birthers don’t realize that it is their biases (conscious or otherwise) that cause them to look at claims of Obama misdeeds with less than adequate scrutiny and to close their eyes to the obvious objections that could be raised against them.

Operation American Spring v. Lymanfest

Blogger predicts small-town festival will out-draw national protest

imageI’ve lived in Lyman, South Carolina, for 6 years now but so far I’ve not actually made it to Lymanfest, the annual town celebration. I tried to go one year, but I couldn’t find it (they never mention on the web site exactly where it is), and I’ll miss it again this year because I’ll be attending the Obot meetup in Philadelphia that weekend.

I feel pretty confident that Lymanfest will significantly out-draw the Obot meetup, but Operation American Spring I’m not sure about. I give Lymanfest the edge. All three events are scheduled at the same time.

Neither Operation American Spring nor Lymanfest is getting much media coverage beyond niche Internet sites and social networking. On Facebook, Lymanfest is trailing OAS by a considerable margin. The official OAS Facebook page has 5,611 “likes” as of this writing compared to 65 for Lymanfest. There are OAS splinter group pages (here and here) that are doing better.

imageI am trying to get estimates on Lymanfest attendance. The original claims from OAS organizer Col. Harry Riley (US Army ret.) said that there “1.8 million definite militia members” coming (reported Mother Jones back on January); however, that number has been called into question since it exceeds by several orders of magnitude the total number of militia members in the United States. The Vocativ web site published an informative article on OAS yesterday titled, “A Former Colonel Plans to Overthrow the U.S. Government on May 16,” subtitled, “The founder Of Operation American Spring is planning a million-man march on D.C. But will anyone show up?”

Unlike Lymanfest, which is a single-day event, Operation American Spring envisions persons camping out in the Capitol until President Obama, Eric Holder, and the Congressional leadership resigns. President Obama will leave office January 20, 2017.

My personal prediction is that Lymanfest will be the attendance winner. I don’t think that many Americans want to turn the United States into Egypt.

No room on the fence

Here’s the headline at Mother Jones: “Birther John Philip Sousa IV Wants a Tea Party Darling to Run for President.” Mr. Sousa is, it seems, a disciple of Donald Trump, saying in an interview with Tim Murphy,

I mean, can you unequivocally say that Obama was born in the United States? I can’t. … I don’t trust [the documentation]. I don’t distrust it. I don’t know.

The Obama Conspiracy Theories Glossary defines “birther” as “someone who believes Barack Obama is not eligible to be President of the United States by reason of the facts of his birth.” Sousa doesn’t make himself a birther by that definition, but the way such statements are usually understood, his meaning is probably closer to “I don’t think Obama’s eligible to be President, but I’m not willing to commit myself on the record (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more).”

So I am not going to criticize Andy Kroll’s characterization of Sousa as a birther, any more than I would criticize someone who called Donald Trump a birther.

Georgia lawmakers briefed on Obama mind control plot

One of the goofier Obama conspiracies that I have covered in the past 4 years involves a story that Obama is using mind-control techniques to make people vote for him. One of my earliest articles was “Barack Obama Won the Presidency THROUGH HYPNOSIS.”

GOP lawmakers in Georgia, reports Mother Jones magazine, had a closed-door meeting of their caucus to view a video on Agenda 21, a non-binding UN resolution on sustainable development that some nut cases think is a plot to implement one-world government, and according to presenters, Barack Obama is using a Cold War mind-control technique called Delphi to depopulate the cities to achieve something akin to the Chinese Cultural Revolution under Mao Zedong.

Anyhow, take a gander at the Mother Jones including a 50-minute video of what lawmakers saw and a healthy serving of some of the crème de la crazy that’s out there.

Circular reporting

According to the Wikipedia:

In source criticism, circular reporting or false confirmation is a situation where a piece of information appears to come from multiple independent sources, but in fact is coming from only one source. In most cases, the problem happens mistakenly through sloppy intelligence gathering practices, but in a few cases, the situation was believed to have been intentionally caused by the original source.

Chart showing circular reporting or divergent and convergent reporting

An attorney, who comments here occasionally, remarked that the recent article in Mother Jones that linked to me was an example of “circular reporting.”

Here’s a circle: I wrote an article titled, “Mother Jones: The Obama Conspiracy-o-rama.” It, of course, references Mother Jones; the article is “Chart: Almost Every Obama Conspiracy Theory Ever” that has a link to my own page, “The Debunker’s Guide to Obama Conspiracy Theories.” One of the items in “The Debunker’s Guide” is a link to an article of mine titled “Obama’s legal fees” and one of the sources for that article was Mother Jones.1

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Mother Jones: The Obama Conspiracy-o-rama

Mother Jones Conspiracy ChartMother Jones has done an impressive chart of many of the conspiracy theories about Barack Obama, and this puts into perspective how little of the total nuttery about Obama that I actually cover on this blog.

Following the chart is a list of what’s on the chart, with explanation and follow-up hyperlinks. Somebody did a lot of work. You’ll have to visit Mother Jones to see the full-sized chart, but I will include just this one item from among many:

Obama was born in Kenya: In early 2008, fringe theorists began a push to prove Obama was born on foreign soil and was therefore ineligible to live in the White House. The theory gained national attention thanks to the efforts of perennial GOP candidate Alan Keyes, "birther queen" Orly Taitz, and Corsi. Related: Obama’s birth certificate is a fake, he killed his grandmother in Hawaii because she knew the truth, sealed access to his birth certificate and other damning documents, and did pretty much everything horrible you could possibly do for the sake of a phony birth certificate.

I was already familiar with the chart, but one of the commenters here tipped me off about something I didn’t know, that the first and last hyperlinks in that section point to my own Debunker’s Guide to Obama Conspiracy Theories. That was nice!