I almost used a Stephen Colbert-style title for the story: I’m sane, and so can you!
I cannot help but observe with some bemusement the claims and counter claims that birthers and their detractors level at each other. As an exercise, I listed some of those claims, attempting to arrange them as mirror images of each other:
|Birthers say||Anti-birthers say|
|Obots are evil||Birthers are crazy|
|Obots are trying to cover up the truth about the 2008 election||Birthers are in denial about the 2008 election|
|Obots won’t admit the truth||Birthers are deluded|
|Obots are unwilling to face facts||Birthers are immune to facts|
|Obots suffer from confirmation bias||Birthers suffer from confirmation bias|
|Obots are racially motivated||Birthers are racially motivated|
|Obots are socialists||Birthers are racists|
|Birthers exhibit the Dunning-Kruger effect|
|Birthers are crackpots|
|Obots don’t understand the law||Birthers don’t understand the law|
|Obots are liars||Birthers are liars|
|Obots are afraid of what will happen once the truth gets out||Birthers are afraid of events they can’t control|
|Obots are slick propagandists||Birthers are fooled by slick propagandists|
|Official sources of information are hopelessly corrupt and unreliable||Birthers ignore consensus information from official sources|
|If the birthers are not heeded, apocalyptic chaos and doom will result||Birthers pose a threat to society because of their anti-intellectual stance|
Having completed my little exercise I realize that the claims are not mirror images of each other; there is a fundamental difference between birthers and anti-birthers. Anti-birthers believe the birthers are crazy (not clinically insane, but thinking irrationally); birthers on the other hand do not believe that anti-birthers are crazy but that they know the truth and are covering it up.
This morning, I went back to a March 2009 article of mine: Is Obama Citizenship Denial a delusion? That article drew a number of comments from several birthers (or a single birther using multiple sock puppets) including this one:
Got a question for the “Doc”: do you now or have you ever been in the employ of the US gov’t? Who pays for this website?
Over the years, a number of birthers have raised this theme, being unable to believe that someone would put a lot of effort into opposing them unless they were paid to do it. What’s interesting is that the anti-birthers believe that most birthers are “for real” but the birthers think their opponents don’t really believe what they say. It is this lack of comprehension of legitimate disagreement that is, in my mind, a solid mark against the rationality of the birthers.
I’ll repeat what I said in 2009, that birthers are not clinically delusional because they operate within a subculture where their beliefs are considered normal; however, they sure act crazy.