First I’ll say that Mike Volin honored his representations about my appearance on his Blog Talk Radio Show, Where’s Obama’s Birth Certificate? Overall, I got to say what I wanted to say without interruption, and Mike and his callers got to say what they wanted to say. Today, the day after, I want to say a few things about the experience.
The show was billed this way:
Kevin Davidson AKA Doctor Conspiracy will appear as the guest. Mr. Davidson operates the controversial website obamaconspiracy.org which opposes the investigation and allegations surrounding the mysterious past of Obama. Further details to be released at show time. Crowd control security to be provided by volunteers.
I’m not sure that I agree with the phrase “opposes the investigation.” I do reject the truthfulness of many of these allegations, and in that sense I “oppose” those allegations, but I support anyone’s right to research, and for any jurisdiction to investigation suspicious they have. I would also take issue with describing Obama’s past as “mysterious” given the fact that numerous books, including an autobiographical one, and documentaries that have been made on Obama. Indeed, I know more about Obama’s past than that of any president in history.
At Birther Report, they characterize it a little differently, in their article titled, “Full Audio: Obot Kevin Davidson AKA Doctor CONspiracy Defends Obama’s Article II Ineligibility.” If my appearance on the Volin Show and my web site is “defending” Obama’s eligibility, then by the same token, one might characterize Volin’s show as attacking Obama’s eligibility. Volin, however, would not put it that way. All he’s asking for is an investigation into the anomalies.
“Anomalies” was the central theme from the birther side on the program. The argument is, look at all these anomalies—there are too many to be just chance—the odds are just too great.
The problem with that argument is twofold. First, many of the anomalies aren’t really anomalies. I was frankly surprised that Mike Volin brought up the travel advisory to Pakistan in 1981 when Obama went there as an anomaly. To Volin’s credit, he didn’t say “travel ban” like some birthers, but he did say that the government was advising Americans not to travel to Pakistan, and cited a travel advisory. Volin apparently didn’t know what was in the travel advisory (it’s a caution about not overstaying a 30-day visa). So there is absolutely nothing to the so-called anomaly of Obama traveling to Pakistan based on any travel advice from the government. So part of Volin’s list of improbably anomalies is a fiction. What that item shows is that some birther was willing to lie about the travel advisory, and even today after that lie should have been put to rest, it still enters into birther calculations.
There were other statements made about anomalies that were pure fantasy—specifically that “African” never appeared on any US birth certificate, and that there was never an unreadable century on a US post office state cancellation.
Another issue with anomalies is that birthers make the jump from anomaly to fraud, even when that is a very unlikely explanation. One good example is the incomplete date impression on the Obama selective service registration image. Is it likely that the Bush Administration (in office when the document was released via FOIA) would cover for Obama? Obviously not. I have spent 7 years looking at these so-called anomalies, and generally they fall apart, or they are within the normal range of stuff that happens in messy real life.
The second problem with anomalies is the assignment of probability after the fact. What is the chance that I am where I am today? More coincidences than I could begin to count have come together to make my present situation in life. The probability of each one multiplied together gives a figure that’s more than astronomically small. That kind of calculation is simply not a valid statistical argument. In fact, I am where I am, however improbable. I doubt that most people know how to make a valid statistical argument (I have a master’s degree in mathematics), but the birthers try anyway.
Volin repeatedly raised the frequently-heard argument: wouldn’t all this be put to rest by a forensic examination of the long-form birth certificate? Volin says that he’s asked the White House for a look see, and received no answer. My experience so far is that nothing satisfies the conspiracy theorist. I mentioned to Volin already-made demands to carbon date microfilm copies of the Obama certificate. I think that I have good reason to believe that nothing in the way of examination of anything would resolve the issue in the minds of hard-core birthers.
As others have said in comments before me, none of the participants changed their minds as the result of the Volin show last night, but there is always the possibility that there is still someone on the fence who might have learned something. I sent Mike Volin a copy of that 1981 travel advisory and possibly he might not bring that up again.
Hope springs eternal.