Conspiracy Deathmatch: Birthers vs Truthers

31 July 2009

Blimey. A new poll asks: "Do you believe that Barack Obama was born in the United States of America or not?"

Just 42% of Republican respondents answer "Yes". 28% say "No" and 30% "Aren’t Sure".

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As Dave Weigel points out, this is the GOP equivalent of an infamous poll in 2007 which reported that 35% of Democrats suspected that George W Bush knew about the 9/11 attacks in advance.

Enquiring minds want to know, mind you, how many people think Obama was born in Kenya/Indonesia/Wherever and think Dick Cheney blew up the World Trade Center?

I really don’t know how one deals with this sort of nuttiness. But I suspect ignoring them may prove more profitable than wasting time denunking the nonsense spouted by people who won’t be satisfied, regardless of the absurdity of their claims. As Julian Sanchez argues:

Mainstream outlets may want to reconsider the point at which it’s worth taking up and debunking these sorts of fringe ideas, even at the risk of giving them undeserved exposure. The pattern we’re seeing in the new media environment is that these conspiracy theories end up getting pretty wide exposure anyway, but only taken up by real journalists once there’s a core group who can’t be disabused of their false beliefs without fairly serious threat to their self images, which is the worst of both worlds. The kooky ideas don’t end up being contained by major media’s refusal to take note of them, and the debunking is less effective when they do.

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Show comments
  • Verity

    For a more comprehensive and somewhat calmer look at Obama’s provenance, read The writer thinks there’s no question about his birth in Hawaii, but points to other murky facts and downright lies propagated by Obama’s people and Obama himself and strange evasions. And what on earth was he doing in Pakistan meeting senior ministers when he was just a state senator? The writer is a Senior Fellow of the National Review.

    Lots of suprising facts.

  • David

    There is a scheme-his birth certificate, which is fine. There’s no real contraversy at all, and in fact there was a bigger issue over McCain who was born out side of the US on an army base. Even that was’t much of an issue since legally
    US army bases are US sovereign territory.

    It’s just a group of nutters.

  • THX1138

    Of course the birthers are right, America always employs an illegal alien to clear up the s**t after the party :)

  • ndm

    dearieme writes:

    — It’s rather odd that the US Constitution requires a President to be a natural born citizen (not, note, that he was born in the US) but sets up no scheme for verifying it.

    That the US Constution is a compilation of many words with no means of understanding actual intent has kept the Supreme Court in business for a couple of hundred terms. It is also why the “original intent” ideology of the right-wing members of the Court is utterly and completely bogus – and no more than an excuse for them to apply their ideology to any decision they make.

  • dearieme

    It’s rather odd that the US Constitution requires a President to be a natural born citizen (not, note, that he was born in the US) but sets up no scheme for verifying it.

  • ndm

    I suspect a good number of the birthers are too stupid to know that Hawaii is in the United States.

  • ben

    To say that Bush had advance knowledge that something 9/11ish was likely to happen is not necessarily to give any credence to the Troofer nonsense.

    “During the spring and summer of 2001, U.S. intelligence agencies received a stream of warnings about an attack al Qaeda planned, as one report puts it “something very, very, very big.” Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet told us “the system was blinking red.””

  • David

    Blimey. What a bunch of morons.

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