127 thoughts on “Today’s Question Involving Venn Diagrams

  1. The overlap is huge. Anything they can do, whether they really believe or not, to make trouble for the Democrats, they will agree with, instead of trying to work on the real problems this country, the world, faces.

  2. Right. Well, 68% of self-described Republicans and conservatives are creationists, and I’d assume that approximately all of the birthers would describe themselves as conservatives. So, if the two beliefs are orthogonal (ie there’s no correlation between them), the overlap would be 68%.

  3. Could be similar I guess. I was wondering something similar, though I was thinking about the overlap between “birthers” and the 9/11 conspiracy “truthers”.

    (Then you could take that overlap, and overlap it with Ron Paul supporters…)

  4. I respect ajay’s methodology, but I can’t help thinking that birthers are a special case among Republican conservatives, with an inherent tendency to believe fringe-theories, difficulty with critical thinking, and immunity to reason- my guess is that the number of birthers who are also creationists is significantly more than 68%. I think we might need to commission a Gallup poll.

  5. I’d guess that birthers are a subset of creationists, and that people to pander to birthers are a subset of people who pander to creationists.

    This postulate may be undermined by Lou Dobbs, as I am unsure as to whether he’s a creationist or not. (I am quite confident that he’s an idiot, but I didn’t need to wait for this birther nonsense to determine that.)

  6. I think the sizes of the groups are different (more creationists than birthers) but I suspect that among ‘birthers’:
    1)90%+ are creationists of some stripe
    2)75% are deniers of human caused global warming
    3) a bunch deny that HIV causes AIDS
    4) a bunch deny the Holocaust ever happend (or that it was exaggerated by politicians/media)
    5) there is a significant overlap between these folks and those that believe that men never went to the Moon
    6) near unity (100%):
    a) regularly watch Fox news (and believe what they see/hear)
    b) regularly watch/listen to/read Rush Limbaugh and/or Ann Coulter (and believe what they see/hear)
    c) will buy/read Sarah Palin’s book when released (and accept what she says as ‘true’)
    d) oppose gay marriage
    e) own guns
    f) intentify themselves as either Republican or Libertarian

    I try to be a tolerant person, but the extreme right wingnut stance of some people just somehow gets under my skin -

  7. Then there’s the guy I worked with for a while earlier this year, who insisted that Obama’s grandmother said he was born in Kenya. Of course, grandma is conveniently dead now and unavailable for comment.

    I wonder how much overlap there is between the birthers and the unreconstructed racists who can’t yet conceive of a nonwhite president.

  8. Another Venn diagram I’d find interesting: the overlap between “Birthers” and Moon Landing Hoaxers. I mean, it’s pretty much a given that the far-right conservative crowd is a.) solid in the Creationism camp, and b.) really, really grasping at straws regarding Obama…but I know folks from both left and right who are deeply convinced that Apollo 11 came to you Live From New Mexico.

    Whatever the ratio, the mindset is the same, and not likely to be moved by evidence.

    “Obama wasn’t born in the US!”

    “Photoshop!”

    “We never went to the moon!”

    “Photoshop!”

    Some men you just can’t reach…

  9. (Note to self: don’t put action items in brackets that the WordPress comment engine will try to parse as tagged, and then discard as invalid.)

    That’s “Obama campaign produces birth certificate; posts it on Internet” before the first “Photoshop!”, and “LRO takes shots of Apollo 11 landing site” before the second one.

  10. My guess is that the ratio is similar to that of “Truthers” to radical lefties — quite low, but very vocal and VERY annoying.

    When you’ve got multiple right-of-center websites speaking out on the idiocy of “Birthers” it puts the concept out of the mainstream, even for righties, and puts it into the realm of LaRouchies, Paul-ists, and other small-but-large fringe groups.

  11. Kevin R @3:
    They are all the same people. The amount of cross-talk between conspiracy theories is massive, so for the most part if you believe one, you accept all of them. The key difference is that most truthers have a particular pet theory that is their favorite that they spend all their time on.

    Spend a week listening to the Alex Jones radio show. I bet Dollars to donuts that when you’re done laughing/crying the list you’ve made of theories that he’s mentioned will be nearly every major conspiracy theory out there.

    And he’ll have interviewed Ron Paul at least twice…

  12. My favorite are still the “teabaggers.”

    Yes, they definitely have an important, albeit inferior, place in any graph made of circles.

  13. For what it’s worth… I am a creationist, and a Republican, and I would just like to say that both birthers AND truthers are absolute idiots.

    As for the original question, my take is that it’s more like the far left and far right wrap around and meet each other in an overlap of craziness. Sadly, both sides seem to have expanded their reach farther towards the center as time goes on.

  14. “I wonder how much overlap there is between the birthers and the unreconstructed racists who can’t yet conceive of a nonwhite president.”

    Close to 100%. The entire freaking argument REEKS of racism. It makes me furious.

  15. What’s the definition of “birther” include for these purposes?

    o Only those who believe it very likely that Barack Obama was born somewhere besides Hawaii

    o The above, plus those who think it plausible that Barack Obama was born somewhere besides Hawaii, in the absence of additional documentation (what was it — an original birth certificate? I can’t remember)

    o The above, plus anyone who figures Barack Obama probably was born in Hawaii like he says, but thinks the president should produce the aforementioned documentation anyway to settle it once and for all

    I’m just asking, because there are different degrees of conspiracy-theorist thinking. Also pointing out that insisting on physical proof of things before you’ll believe them is not necessarily characteristic of the creationist mindset.

  16. @JSS #8

    The grandma who they claim says Obama was born in Kenya is his paternal grandmother, not his maternal grandmother who died just before the election. So it can be checked.

    I read something about it the other day, and it went something like this: the person who called asked the questions in English (including “Was Obama born in Kenya?”), which were then translated into Swahili by the person on the other end of the phone, and then into Luo (the language grandma Obama actually speaks) by someone else. Plenty of room for translation error, especially as no one involved was a professional translator. Most likely what she was asked in the end was something like “Is Obama Kenyan?”, which Kenyans would agree to. I’m also pretty sure someone asked her later where Obama was born and she unreservedly said “Hawaii”.

  17. Once your worldview admits of believing a blatant counterfactual against all available evidence and rationality, it’s trivial to add other blatant counterfactuals. That is just a simple habit-of-thought.

  18. I’d also be interested in the intersection between “birthers” and “Schwartzenegger for President” supporters!

  19. @17, Schizohedron

    You’re not the only one.

    @Scalzi

    I’m thinking it’s pretty high as many conservatives are also some form of Protestant Christian.

  20. Fred Clark of “Slacktivist” has a really excellent essay called False Witness about his years sending out the dossier proving that Procter & Gamble was NOT in fact run by a Satanic cult.

    He initially assumed that the people repeating the rumor were doing so in good faith; that they would consider the information showing that they were wrong; and that they would be relieved that the bad thing they’d believed (a satanic cult running a major company!) was not in fact true.

    He was depressed to discover that in fact the people repeating the rumor didn’t believe it; they were passing it along with the deliberate intent to misinform others; they didn’t care about the facts; and being told the truth made them furiously angry.

    Anyway, it’s an excellent essay. I am baffled by the birthers; it is clear that there is absolutely no evidence that they will accept. You can read the transcript of the interview with the step-grandmother; she’s very clear that Obama was born in Hawaii. There are newspaper articles announcing Obama’s birth. He has a birth certificate that looks exactly like any other Hawiian’s birth certificate. Clearly, facts do not matter to these people. I think I’d be more upset by them if I were a Republican, because they are loud and persistent and determined to make the rest of their party look as insane as they are.

  21. Some more circles for the diagram, courtesy of “Crazy Eileen”: alien visitation to earth, angels, and Obama as the antichrist. Counterfactual is an understatement.

    I don’t think that creationism has a lot of predictive power for birtherism, because there are a lot of creationists and only a few birthers. I haven’t seen any indication that birthers are a strict subset of creationists. Strict subset of racists, I think is very likely. It’s like there’s an immune system that rejects the idea of President Not-Like-Me, even more dramatically than in other recent cycles.

    Birthers are a subset of the approximately 27% of the population that’s crazy.

  22. The biggest difference between birthers and truthers is that birthers include a large number of influential elected officials. The crackpot fringe exists on the right and the left. But the right is more willing to put its crackpots (or those who pander to them) in office.

    This YouTube shows a guy trying to get Republicans to say if they think Obama’s a natural born citizen. It’s kinda funny how scared many were of that question

    More Venn fun: What’s the overlap between the birthers and the “Clinton murdered Vince Foster” gang?

  23. Also, I heard on NPR yesterday a woman who I would probably not count as a “birther” because I think she admitted the possibility that he was born in Hawaii, but she claimed that “Natural Born Citizen” required BOTH parents to be citizens, in addition to born in the US (Or, evidently, US occupied regions, as McCain is obviously ok, even though he was born in Panama)

  24. @ #7

    i’ll concur with all of your points except (e). some of us that own guns are firmly on the left and possess working brains=P

  25. @30 I think @7 was only claiming the other direction, that all birthers own guns… but yes, I know liberal gun owners with brains.

  26. Brian @29,

    is that woman ever super-double-wrong, since in reality and under present law, none of the parents have to be U.S. citizens, as long as the child is born on U.S. soil.

  27. What bothers me is the news (any of the news) giving any credence to this. Over the years it seems that the news has embraced the philosophy that all ideas are valid and will talk about anything that gets ratings. If they had integrity they would either ignore the birthers outright, or treat them and their ideas as absurd, since they are.

  28. @ #31

    that’s possible but i always get a little irritated about that particular stereotype so i might be a little oversensitive;)

  29. I’m really not seeing any cause for the “plague on both your houses”/”both sides do it” equivalency being made between birthers and the more odious conspiracy theorists of the Left, for one simple reason: The “Truthers” and other nutjobs of the Left don’t have major media giving them regular serious non-dismissive coverage (in the name of ‘balance’, of course), much less major media adherents (Lou Dobbs, anyone?) — and I’ve never seen their positions given voice and support by Senators (Inhofe).

    So it strikes me as yet another case of false equivalency. The “Birthers” seem a helluva lot more mainstream, given the fact that they’re being treated seriously by mainstream Republicans.

  30. @19: Thanks for the clarification. I didn’t need it, and unfortunately I don’t know how to get ahold of the nut at work who does need it. But it’s nice to have, in case I run across anyone else like that. As far as I am concerned, if the state of Hawaii says he was born there, then he was.

  31. Perhaps the birthers are a secret Democrat fifth column buried deep in the Republican party.

    With this tin foil hat pulled on tight, I can hear the ocean.

  32. Brian @29,

    McCain wasn’t born in Panama, he was born on a US military base, which is US soil. Yes the military base was surrounded by Panama.

    Obama was most likely born in Hawaii, but honestly, how hard is it to provided the appropriate documentation and lay this to rest?

  33. With regard to the Truthers. I don’t think the analogy of Truther is to Left Wing like Birther is to Right Wing is very accurate. Because lots of Truthers were far right wing as opposed to far left wing. There seems to be a place on the far side of radicalism where the Far Left meets the Far Right. That is where the Truthers live, as well as the anti-semetics (“blame the Jews!”), and far too many of Ron Paul’s supporters. That is the group that gives Libertarian’s a bad name (I am sure the Volokh and Cato people just despise them).

    The Birthers, on the other hand, just seem to be mostly Republican sore-losers. Obama won, and they are looking for a way to undo that victory. I think a better analogy is with some of the sore-losers when Bush beat Gore in the contested election. Now before you go nuts, I am not saying a conservative Supreme Court handing Bush the victory was in any way fair. But there were segments of Gore supporters going way out into the fringe with their theories about how Bush stole the election beyond disputes about what to do with hanging chads. That seems closer to the Birthers. People who aren’t normally insane, but have been driven nuts by the wrong guy becoming president.

  34. I’m not so sure the percentage of birthers who are conservatives approaches 100 percent as much as people would like to believe. The birther movement began with PUMAs: the faction of Hillary supporters who refused to accept that their inevitable president could be beaten by an inadequate black man. Philip J. Berg, who filed the original brither lawsuit… Democrat. The blog Texas Darlin, a PUMA circle jerk, was among the first to feature “document experts” who claimed the president’s COLB was a fake.

    While I’m sure the birther rollcall list features a wingnut majority, it’s probably wrong to say it’s populated only by conservatives.

  35. @40, Mark Horning

    They have. Many many times.

    Please understand this one simple thing – It doesn’t matter that FactCheck.org has all but caressed their faces with the original and lovingly held it up while standing on a cliff to proclaim to the world that it does infact exist, not unlike the scene where Simba is shown to the entire savanah ala Lion King, or that there are newspaper announcements for his birth on file, these people are crazy and such things like reality do not factor into their opinions whatsoever. You could fly that woman to Hawaii in a plane made of angels, drive her to the recorder’s office in a chariot of gold pulled by Aslan himself, have Jesus escort her to the office and show her the birth certificate and she would still think that it is a fake.

    Why?

    Because these people are, in all likelihood, delusional. Their worldview is so wrapped up in their unrealistic ideas that they will resist believing anything other than that Obama is an illegitimate President due to his birth because it would bring down their reality, not unlike schizophrenics; you can’t argue with them. The only thing you can do is show how incredibly crazy they are so that other, more rational individuals don’t get suckered by them.

  36. @31,31,35

    definately “gun owners” is a much larger group than “birthers” – just that Sarah Palin and other rabble rousers use “those liberals will take away your guns” as ammo (if you’ll pardon the pun)

    I suspect – “birthers’ BELIEVE her – even if Sarah Palin et. al. – don’t actually believe what they are saying…

  37. Dang, but it’s fun to stereoytpe and categorize folks you like to denigrate……oooh….don’t forget “bigots”….that’s a good category too…..

  38. Mark @40:

    In 2001, the state of Hawaii Health Department went paperless. **ALL paper documents were discarded.** The official record of Obama’s birth is now an official ELECTRONIC record — which *has* been confirmed by Hawaii, per Janice Okubo, spokeswoman for the Health Department, in the Honolulu Star Bulletin.

    So, to answer your question: “appropriate documentation” has already been provided — which, of course, doesn’t answer the question as to WHY every nutjob fringe demand NEEDS to be responded to, as if it deserved merit….

  39. Like Bill Quick, I don’t really know if there’s anything to the whole “birther” controversy. However, like Bill Quick, I think Obama should produce the birth certificate.

    Why? Because he doesn’t seem to WANT to do that.

    He could have defused the controversy long ago by just offering up the damn document. Even if the original was shredded long ago, he could have just come into a court of law and said that. And yet…he stonewalls.

    He stonewalls on a lot of other things, too, such as his college records. Hell, it’s well-nigh impossible to get a copy of his wife’s thesis.

    What’s the fundamental issue here? Politicians should not be permitted to have secrets from us. We elect them into positions where they have power over us; in Obama’s case, it amounts to pretty much life-or-death power over every American. Why should he be permitted to hide from us?

    If he wanted privacy, he should have damn well stayed in the private sector.

    And that should apply to all politicians, no matter what party or what office.

    (No, I won’t show you my birth certificate or college records. But then again, I’m not running for office, and I’m not asking you to put me in a position of power over you.)

  40. Muleface @ 45:

    I don’t know if I’d call it “fun”, but whatever floats your boat.

    Were you disagreeing with the categorization? If so, it might be helpful to actually…you know…disagree. And if you want to *really* go crazy, you might provide a shred of evidence or argumentation to support your point.

  41. I’d also be interested in the intersection between “birthers” and “Schwartzenegger for President” supporters!

    I suspect it would be pretty high, as Arnie is mighty white (and the son of a Nazi, which is just a bonus to the birther crowd). Nevermind that one argument contradicts the other, that’s just how powerful, in the mind of a birther, being white is.

  42. Erbo, if you really were interested in the truth, you’d know that Obama has provided it, repeatedly.

    Try going here: http://fightthesmears.com/articles/5/birthcertificate

    Or checking out the link above to the Hawaii’s repeated assurances that it’s legit.

    Politicians shouldn’t have any secrets? Eh, maybe.

    Politicians should jump through a series of hoops to prove to me that they don’t have any secrets…because I’m too lazy to look for myself? No sale.

  43. Interesting story which resurfaced last week during the lunar landing 40 year anniversary stories: Buzz Aldrin was confronted by Bart Sibrel, a moon landing hoax proponent in 2002. Sibrel called Aldrin a “Thief, liar and coward”. Aldrin, then 72, punched him in the face. The police and city prosecutor declined to file charges after witnesses confirmed Sibrel had initiated physical contact. (yes, this is from Wikipedia). I don’t know which i like better, that Aldrin punched him in the face (at 72!), or that charges were not filed.

    I betcha Sibrel is a birther, truther and creationist, I betcha.

  44. Hell, Jon, my only point was to point out what’s going on here – the evidence is before you. Have fun.

  45. This is a true story, and it makes me ashamed.

    Last November, my sister and I were “discussing” the birther issue. She was/is a birther and I was trying to dissuade her. One of my tactics was to point out that McCain, being born in the Panama Canal Zone, had even less a claim to being a native American than Obama did.

    (Did I learn that here or on 538.com? Not sure.)

    Anyway, my sister responded with the following –

    “But McCain LOOKS like an American.”

    She had no idea what she was saying.

    ** Sigh. **

    And yes, she’s a creationist, too.

  46. @52 the key word in the title of that article? “again” people have requested the birth certificate, it’s been provided several times, and people keep claiming that it hasn’t been provided, and so Obama must be hiding something.

    @48 Policitians can, and should, and MUST be able to hide things from us. They must be able to keep government secrets. They have privacy rights just like the rest of us…

    Saying that Politicians should be able to keep secrets like who they are talking to in the Oil industry, or what they are saying to the Koreans, but must reveal all of their sexual proclivities seems a bit… odd.

  47. What I don’t understand is this: regardless of *where* he was born, he was born to an American citizen. His mother was born in Kansas, and I’m pretty sure that isn’t in dispute. Doesn’t your mother being a citizen (and a natual-born citizen at that, for those who care) automatically make you a natual-born citizen? Unless I’m mistaken, Obama could have been born on Mars and he would still have been a native citizen of the US because Stanley Ann Dunham was the one who gave brith to him.

    Am I wrong here? If *that* isn’t enough to get the birthers to shut up and go home, nothing will.

  48. You’ve got to remember that these are just simple people. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new America. You know… morons.

  49. @59 this actually seems to be an article of disagreement… Birthers seem to have a concept of “Natural Born citizen”, “Citizen from Birth”, and “Naturalized citizen”, or something. No one denies (AFAIK) that Obama has been a US Citizen since birth. it’s the wacky phrasing of “Natural Born Citizen” that has people freaking out.

    I want to know what happen when we develop uterine replicators and we have actual “unnatural births” but yeah, that may just be me.

  50. Doesn’t your mother being a citizen (and a natual-born citizen at that, for those who care) automatically make you a natual-born citizen?

    Doesn’t matter. For many of the birthers, the mother’s citizenship is irrelevant; it’s the father’s that they’re concentrating on (and, yes, that’s flat out sexist). For others, they’re trying to weasel it by saying she wasn’t old enough when she gave birth to have lived five years in the country above the age of 14; while being possibly technically correct, it’s not likely to be supported in court since that would disenfranchise considerable numbers of US citizens with young mothers when that was not the intent of law makers.

  51. The birthers are proving to be extremely useful – not only because they promulgate an absolute disregard for law and facts (even those as elementary as easily-verifiable vital statistics) but because they’ve been allowed to stake out a substantial portion of media attention and headspace. This legitimizes the concept of ignoring factual evidence and established law in order to continue to believe what you want to believe.

    I should say, *further* legitimizes. FSM knows, critical thinking is in critical condition – not only in that swamp-brained 30%, but in all mainstream media outlets. I don’t think it’s being taught in schools, either, any more than basic civics is.

    Anyway, what with so many chickens coming home to roost, and so many of our fellow citizens defiantly embracing bunkum as a life’s philosophy, the age of US as a leading first-world nation is over. A nation, a culture, can’t be a leader in anything if nearly half its population has kissed off factual analysis in favor of comforting propaganda.

  52. I would expect 100% of the birthers to be creationists. To be a birther means to steadfastly ignore loads of documentary evidence and the guarantee of the entire government of Hawaii. If you already ignore the enormous amount of physical evidence that forms a scientific cornerstone of biology, medicine, chemistry, astronomy, physics, geology, etc., then a little birther disbelief is no big deal and probably makes a lot of sense to them.

    As for the politicians, only about 20% and dropping. Initially, much of the conservative media and the politicians tried to give it a go, but then realized A) the birthers simply didn’t form a large enough or influential enough voting block; B) the birthers are going to eventually lose all their nuisance lawsuits; and C) the fact that the majority of the population thinks they are crazy makes those supporting them look crazy, and not crazy in a good, conservative, score points with the Southeners and fundamentalists sort of way. And for the media, it allows other media a wedge to point out that they ignore actual facts and claim that they are fringe, not mainstream. Blatantly ignoring facts is not a problem for conservative media, but being seen as people wearing tin foil hats is a bit these days. So they’re backtracking rapidly.

  53. As for the original question, my take is that it’s more like the far left and far right wrap around and meet each other in an overlap of craziness.

    With a nod to the above poster who noted that PUMAs (including a friend…sigh…) are heavily involved in this?

    Yep.

    (One of the key overlap points? “Natural” childbirth and breastfeeding until the kids are in kindergarten. Both the uberhippie woo-woo crowd and Quiverfull sorts hammer on this stuff like crazy because they’re convinced this is the natural purpose of woman. It’s bizarre.)

  54. Kayjayoh – Nothing will make the birthers shut up. That’s the point. They’re much like the 9/11 “truth” assholes. Except possibly less offensive.

    I’m constantly amazed that the 9/11 truth jackasses don’t simply get the crap beaten out of themselves every time they set foot in NYC. I know plenty of people who lost family and friends who’re driven into a rage by them.

  55. Gareth @ 37: At this rate. “mainstream Republican” is going to become an oxymoron. Emphasis on the ‘moron’.

  56. The GOP is the Natural Governing Party. When the GOP is in power, everything is right. When it is not, things are wrong. Anything that aids the GOP getting back to its predestined position is right and unfalsifiable. Evidence to the contrary doesn’t exist.

    It’s that simple. And they have a large following of people (hmm, where did the terms “dittoheads” and “clones” come from?) who play the old Doonesbury cartoon, but from the Mouths of the Party:

    “Wisdom. Wisdom.”
    “Wisdom received.”
    “Wisdom received.”

    Doesn’t work in academics, doesn’t work in real life, but it’s easier than what does. Unfortunately, the Democrats still expect people to think (though they’re coming over to the easy side). Also unfortunately, people who think have different opinions, and have to be herded, not driven.

  57. Um, what Obama provided was a digital image of a short-form Hawaii birth certificate. Do I have to drag out the legions of Photoshoppers from FARK.com, 4chan, Worth1000, etc., to make the point that digital images can be altered?

    For that matter, even paper documents aren’t always trustworthy. Ask the folks who faked those documents casting doubt on Bush’s National Guard service, and were stupid enough to do so with Microsoft Word. It managed to fool Dan Rather, at least…which is part of why he’s not anchoring the CBS Evening News anymore.

    Brian@58: “Saying that Politicians should be able to keep secrets like who they are talking to in the Oil industry, or what they are saying to the Koreans, but must reveal all of their sexual proclivities seems a bit… odd.”

    And who says they should be able to keep that secret, either? Unless it’s a clear-cut matter of national security, it should be out in the open. Period. And what they call “matters of national security” ought to have outside oversight so that someone can blow the whistle if it turns out that too much is being placed under wraps.

    But that would mean that at least part of our government had to make sense, now wouldn’t it?

  58. Another Venn Diagram that I suspect would be a single circle would be Birthers vs Palin Supporters.

    They had a huge homecoming for her worthless ass here in Wasilla this last weekend – I’d be willing to bet that 100% of the crowd were birthers. They cheered her like she was some kind of hero, instead of the quitter and crazy fucking nutcase she actually is. But, hey, that’s Wasilla for you.

  59. Um, what Obama provided was a digital image of a short-form Hawaii birth certificate. Do I have to drag out the legions of Photoshoppers from FARK.com, 4chan, Worth1000, etc., to make the point that digital images can be altered?

    Do I have to drag out the entire state of Hawaii bureacracy to sit on your head?

    This is a moronic comment. It makes sense by itself; it’s nonsense in context.

  60. Tal @ 68, you raise an excellent point. Did Obama’s mother have a natural childbirth, or was Obama from his mother’s womb untimely ripped? Was there a videotape? If so, why haven’t we seen it? What do they have to hide?

  61. gwangung @ 63:

    “For others, they’re trying to weasel it by saying she wasn’t old enough when she gave birth to have lived five years in the country above the age of 14; while being possibly technically correct, it’s not likely to be supported in court since that would disenfranchise considerable numbers of US citizens with young mothers when that was not the intent of law makers.”

    No, no, a thousand times no. The birthers are conflating rules for naturalized citizens. Obama’s mother was a citizen, born in Kansas. Traveling to foreign countries does not require her to be “a naturalized citizen” in any way. There are no residency requirements for her. Full stop.

  62. Poor nutjobs, always looking for some new controversy. I personaly find the right’s fixation Obama using a TelePrompter hilarious. You know becuase Bush never used a teleprompter and you knwo he was so great at speaking extemporaneously.

  63. “Is this a birth certificate which I see before me,
    The document in my hand? Come, let me clutch thee;
    I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.
    Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
    To feeling as to sight? or art thou but
    A birth cert of the mind, a false creation,
    Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?”

    - Birthbeth, Act II, Scene i

  64. “Methought I heard a voice cry, Think no more!
    Macbeth does murder evidence, — the innocent evidence;
    Evidence, that knits up the ravell’d sleeve of reason,
    The death of senseless doubts, denier’s death,
    Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,
    Chief nourisher in life’s feast.”

    - Birthbeth, Act II, Scene i
    .
    .
    .

    OK, I’ll stop now.

  65. Calliope @ 77

    Thanks and exactly right.

    This is the problem with the conspiracy nut’s tendency to cherry pick – you have to read the entire law, not just the parts of it that support your viewpoint.

    Of course, this is also a problem with Creationists, and the religious right in general, they only read the parts of their own bible that don’t directly contradict what they already believe.

    My favorite part (which happened to me recently with a couple birther relatives who believe the President is the actual no foolin’ anti-christ) is when they admonish you to keep “an open mind.”

  66. @73 what has actually beenproduced is the state of Hawaii saying “Yes, he was born here.” several times. What more can anyone expect? Everything is fake-able as you say. Hawaii saying he was born there is about as close to definite as you’re going to get.

  67. Can we prove that he’s not a unicorn?

    And what’s all this about pandas and creationists? Did someone propose to make creationists look like pandas by punching them all in the eye?

  68. The picking and choosing evidence and laws to apply gets to me.

    “Barack Obama’s mother was born in the US and a US citizen” – Is all you need. Even if Hawaii was forging documents, Obama was a citizen if either parent was, from the moment Obama was born. End of story.

    Being born in Hawaii *also* would make him a citizen, regardless of his parentage, but he could have been born in Kenya, or Timbuktu, or Moscow and his mother’s citizenship would still make him a US citizen at birth.

    One can subscribe to a creationist viewpoint which is not at odds with physical science as known today, just somewhat unlikely (God created world not that long ago, with all the fossil and geological evidence created with older apparent ages). Few creationists believe that, but a few do. It’s both scientifically and logically consistent and does not require disbelieving science. I can respect that, even if I take the position that it’s much more likely that the world really is 4.2 billion years old and the universe 12-16 billion years old, depending on whose Hubble Constant you believe this year.

    Birthers are just plain nuts.

    It’s not that fair to go chasing Republican senators around and beating them up trying to get them on the record over this. That’s the moral equivalent to chasing Democratic senators around and trying to get them to go on the record on whether they actually think partial-birth abortions are good for America or not. (Lest anyone misinterpret – There’s a difference between “should be legal” and “are morally comfortable” – I won’t try and stop anyone, but they offend me). Neither fringe are rational, and playing either side against its fringe to try to make that side’s moderates look bad to the actual centerists is not reasonable.

  69. George William Herbert @ 88:

    Considering there was a vote on Congress on D&X, I’m not sure why you’re using that an an example of something unfair to ask politicians to take a position on.

    Moreover, this shouldn’t be any more controversial than asking Republicans to go on record as to whether the earth is flat. That the run in terror from the idiotically obvious question speaks volumes about the Republican base.

    And since Republican elected officials (including Reps and at least one Senator) have said they think this is a legitimate issue and have proposed legislatioin regarding it, it seems eminently fair to ask their positions on what Republican have made an issue of the day.

  70. @89
    I think that it is safe to conclude from previous posts on this site that John is defining ‘creationists’ as to include:

    1)those that run the Creation Museum in KY
    2)those that go to said museum and accept what they see there as representative as fact
    3) those that want beliefs approximately = to those held by groups 1 and/or 2 presented as fact in publicly funded schools
    4) sneaky bastards who are in groups 1,2 or 3 but re-label “creationism” as “scientific creationism”, “intelligent design” or “critical analysis of evolution” for the purpose of trying to get around court orders/ the constitution etc.

    I think it is also safe to conclude that John does not intend to include as “creationists”:
    people who have a religious belief that the world/universe/mankind was devinely created (somehow) but recognise that their religious belief is not scientific and not appropriate to be tought as ‘fact’ in a public school (i.e. perhaps most people, including the leaders of most religions)

  71. @76, Erbo

    Then what evidence do you want? If documents can be faked, images distorted, you’re going to need to go back in time and witness the event itself.

    @83, martinl

    Bravo, bravo.

  72. I think racism is the primary driving force behind birthers. They are so racist that they are unable to accept that a black man is POTUS. Therefore they have come up with a delusional structure that is internally consistent and externally unassailable, in which Obama is not, in fact, the POTUS.

    Nick from the O.C., I’m sorry that your sister is a racist. I have one who’s a born-again, and tried to convert my dad during his final illness. I assume your sister is an adult and/or you were not responsible for her moral upbringing; we aren’t responsible for their embracing repugnant belief systems (not that born-again is necessarily one; but “I should try to convert my dad when he’s a former Baptist who’s been agnostic for 50 years and is really really sick” is).

    Erbo, you’re a birther, and that’s a subtype of nutbar.

  73. @74 “Unfortunately, the Democrats still expect people to think ”

    Got to say that cracks me up. Republicans and Democrats are basically the same in most ways, including the reliance on emotions rather than any sort of critical thinking. In fact, your entire reply there could be copied and pasted on a right-leaning site with the party names reversed. I’ve seen it many times (not exact words, obviously, but the very same sentiment).

  74. @Xopher:

    An (atheist) entertainer once put it this way: If you believed that anybody who didn’t convert was doomed to hell, you’d have to hate someone a whole lot if you didn’t try to convert them.

  75. I just finished reading a book by Charles P. Pierce called Idiot America which explains this particular mentality.

    The First Great Premise: Any theory is valid if it sells books, soaks up ratings or otherwise moves units.

    The Second Great Premise: Anything can be true if someone says it loudly enough.

    The Third Great Premise: Fact is that which enough people believe. Truth is determined by how fervently they believe it.

    Check, check and check. This is the kind of thinking that landed us in the mess of the Iraq war, dragged out Terry Schiavo’s life and, indeed, has people still thinking that evolution is ‘debatable’. (Get yourself a copy of this book and read it. Seriously. It’s hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time.)

    So birthers and creationists probably have a pretty significant overlap, since they spring from that particular mindset.

  76. Xopher @ 97 –

    “Nick from the O.C., I’m sorry that your sister is a racist. I have one who’s a born-again, and tried to convert my dad during his final illness. I assume your sister is an adult and/or you were not responsible for her moral upbringing; we aren’t responsible for their embracing repugnant belief systems (not that born-again is necessarily one; but “I should try to convert my dad when he’s a former Baptist who’s been agnostic for 50 years and is really really sick” is).”

    Funny you should mention that. Yes, she is an adult in her mid-forties, born-again and a fervent Ron Paul supporter. My father was on his death bed last year and she called-in her pastor to “pray for him”. My father, who has been an atheist Jew for his entire adult life, was too far gone to know or care. (He got better, which is a different story.) So we’ve got that issue in common ….

    What blows my mind is the lack of self-awareness, the inabilty to question the source of beliefs and the inability to see herself as others see (and hear) her.

  77. This whole thread reminds me of a table full of high school kids who are all from the same clique, badmouthing everybody from a differing clique with every possible stereotype & exaggerated fault of the offending clique examined & distorted in minute detail. Highly amusing…and enlightening, in a rather unflattering way…

  78. MuleFace @ 102 and you remind me of the kid that just wants to belong to that clique so bad that you cry yourself to sleep each night – and during the day pretend that you hate those people and spend your time making little smug sniping comments so they’ll notice you.

    Grow the fuck up, would you? You’re irritating the rest of us.

  79. My favorite part is the two newspaper birth announcements from the 1960′s. Apparently, they forged the documents all the way back then in anticipation of Obama one day running for President.

    Dobbs at CNN is apparently still demanding that Obama produce a birth certificate to answer the birthers’ questions. Apparently, as a journalist, he’s unaware that a paper certificate no longer exists and about the policies of Hawaii. Nice to be a journalist who makes statements without research. It’s a total embarrassment for CNN.

  80. So, erbo (@76), is it your position that President Obama should have the state of Hawaii send each and every one of us a paper copy of his birth certificate, complete with all of the signatures and stamps that mark it as genuine? Just askin.

  81. Sheila @ 107 – oh trust me, I’m laughing. It’s amazing the passions that moronic conspracy theorists somehow manage to stir up in seemingly normal people.

  82. Matthew in Austinon @43: “I think a better analogy is with some of the sore-losers when Bush beat Gore in the contested election. …there were segments of Gore supporters going way out into the fringe with their theories about how Bush stole the election beyond disputes about what to do with hanging chads.”
    Er. Well.
    There’s a book called “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy,” by Greg Palast, that asserts that several thousand African-Americans in Florida were wrongfully blocked from voting, and backs it up with some pretty damning evidence. It goes something like this:
    1) Usually, the state-by-state list of who is eligible to vote is maintained by the government. In 2000 in Florida, that list was turned over to a private company known as Database Technologies (a subsidiary of ChoicePoint).
    2) ChoicePoint has several Republicans on its board.
    3) Through incompetence which may or may not have been deliberate, ChoicePoint removed several thousand people from the list of eligible voters. A high percentage of these were African-American. At least 300 of those excluded were “future criminals,” e.g. their date of conviction, in the year 2000, was 2007.

    Palast’s book can be found here:
    http://www.amazon.com/Best-Democracy-Money-Can-Buy/dp/0452285674/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1248850347&sr=1-1#reader

  83. The problem with the National Review article is they make this statement in that article: “We are used to seeing conspiracy theories from the Left, for instance among the one in three Democrats who believe that 9/11 was an inside job conducted with the foreknowledge of the Bush administration. ”

    This would indicate that facts in the National Review are just as trustworthy as anything in a Murdock newspaper. “No self respecting fish would want to be wrapped in a paper owned by Rupert Murdock” Mike Royko – respected Chicago Newspaper columnist.

  84. And a follow-up question: what percentage of ‘birthers’ and creationists will know what a Venn diagram actually is?

  85. Muleface: I’ve got no problem with people believing whacky ideas — that you can heal with crystals, that birds speak to you, that the Earth is flat, etc. You can believe what you want. The problem is when people with whacky beliefs start attacking us about them. The creationists have actively attacked the Constitution and tried to change laws protecting separation of church and state. They get themselves into state governments and on public school boards and try to deprive kids from families who don’t share their beliefs an education in science. They try to get science teachers, who may be perfectly religious themselves but don’t share creationist beliefs, fired from their jobs, and block scientists, who also may be religious but not share the creationist beliefs, from doing research.

    The birthers do the same, tying up courts with nuisance lawsuits, racking up government expenses dealing with them that could be going to something else, giving conservative media an excuse to make more racist remarks about having a black President, and spread confusion to perfectly normal folks who believe everything those opportunists say. That’s their right in our free country. But because they are not simply holding whacky beliefs but trying to force them on others, I also have the right in our free country to call them idiots and to mock them and to support those fighting against them. It’s not about cliques. It’s about survival. You can troll all you like; it’s not you I’m worried about.

    116: Darren: That made me laugh, thanks.

  86. Muleface @ 110:

    Wait, “moronic conspiracy theorists”? You started by getting all worked up because us meanies were stereotyping and denigrating birthers. But now you’re doing it too?

    Let me know when you decide whether we’re all fools because we denigrate birthers, or whether we’re all fools because we pay attention to them. No, on second thought, don’t bother.

  87. Shoot, Jon, I don’t have to consider the whole birth cert controversy to be sensible to not want to waste a lot of psychic energy on the adherents. But hey, whatever floats your boat. I’d rather obsess about the Detroit Tigers. Dang, but Verlander’s a stud….

  88. A great quote on conspiracy theories – this just popped up at the Hit & Run blog:

    Science fiction writer Damon Knight once claimed that the popularity of conspiracy theories could be explained by our “desire to believe that there is some group of folks who know what they’re doing.”

  89. Suddenly, Jim’s comment at 103 looks truer and truer…as the kid grousing about the clique being mean starts to join in, hoping to be included….

  90. Thomas Jefferson once said, “Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them…”

    Note that I didn’t come up with that on this topic, but I don’t recall for sure where I saw it. Maybe http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/

  91. i thought that quote came from the “9/11 conspiracy” episode of southpark?

    maybe i’m just not cultured enough…

  92. Tsk, tsk, Gareth….you obviously never understood my point…..ah well. The fault is mine, no doubt….

  93. To throw my two cents where no one is likely to see it…
    Given the common Creationist teaching that ‘Race’ has no biological grounds and that Evolutionary thinking leads to racism, I can’t see racism as a reason for Creationists to be Birthers. (Not that this excludes others from having that motivation, or Creationists from having other motivations.)

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