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Can You Convince A Birther That He's Wrong?

Okay. So President Obama recently released his long-form birth certificate to quell the Birthers' speculation that he's not a natural-born citizen of the United States. But that's not the topic of this post (indeed, I'm sure you've seen it elsewhere around the Web ad nauseam).

The topic of this post is this: even after the release of the very document they demanded, the most hardcore Birthers are still unconvinced. In fact, proving them wrong only served to strengthen their initial belief (what social psychologists call "cognitive dissonance.")

So, can you make a skeptic believe? Yes, according to Dan Kahan of Yale Cognition Project: all you need is a little justification to save the skeptic's ego.

Gregory Ferenstein of Fast Company explains:

The techniques boil down to allowing partisans to maintain their political philosophy in the midst of accepting new facts. For instance, for "small government" conservatives, or what the YCC calls "individualists," it's strategically important to highlight the power of competition and the ineptitude of government. Namely, "Obama's rightful fear of losing in the 2012 election forced him to come clean with his birth certificate, though this is just another illustration that government can't do things in the timely manner."

Regardless of your political beliefs, it's a fascinating read. And please mention bananas in the comment: Link


I resent that skeptics are lumped in with these people. Birthers are all too credulous and I am sure it is safe to assume many of them believe in some supernatural thing. A pure skeptic is one who witholds judgement on a claim until evidence is provided, sometimes the evidence is immediate, sometimes claims require invesitgation. If they are true there is evidence to back it up. These birthers had no evidence to back up their claim that Barack Obama was not a US citizen, so they resorted to what many very unskeptical people resort to, attacking the evidence that refutes their claim, rather than actually seek evidence to support it (Creationists do this all the tiem). Pure skeptics will change their mind when evidence is presented, creduloids whose beliefs appeal to some innate prejudice in their personality will not.
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I'm pretty sure this is just called "Denial".

Cognitive Dissonance is a state of holding two conflicting view-points, such that a tension exists between the two.

For example; I would like chocolate cake, but I would like vanilla cake just as much, I can't decide!

And I think this differs from "Cognitive Dissonance Reduction" strategies.

Suppose I believe that Obama was not born in the USA. Then this document comes out, now my mind may be in a state of dissonance; my belief in Obama's origins is at variance with the evidence of his birth certificate. To reduce or resolve this dissonance I rationalize (using reason to justify a presupposition // making excuses) that it must be fake.
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All that sort of thing definitely revolves around egotism though. There would be no dissonance or need for reduction strategies in this event if "birthers" hadn't attached themselves so strongly to the viewpoint within the social domain. If I secretely believed Obama was a fake, I could change my mind now and no one would be any wiser. But if I had made it a public image, I would find it harder to let go of my conviction, and feel the need to defend my-self.
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Within MINUTES of the release of the birth certificate, I had a couple posts come across my Facebook news feed, insisting that they were not convinced. As if I needed any more proof that they were just NOT going to change their mind. Ugh.
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These "birthers" are NOT skeptics, they're more akin to "true believers". They're not open to rational argumentation anymore. Cognitive dissonance sums it up nicely I think.
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I'm not a birther. Let me get that out of the way. But I have been following this with some interest and some dismay at the absolute seething rage directed at those who'd even ask the question.

On one site, someone that I guess you would call an anti-birther was claiming that the President waited so long to release the BC because he knew it would drive his critics crazy. This was being presented as a good thing, and the anti-birther wrote in clear admiration of how the birthers had been "played."

Question is, do we want a President who wants to mess with us?
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We believe what we want to believe, and getting someone to change their beliefs is about as difficult as stealing bananas from a monkey.
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Look, Trump is a buffoon. But the only reason he was able to engage the Prez was because the Prez kept the issue alive by not releasing the long form birth certificate. This whole charade could have been ended years ago by Obama simply releasing the proper long form document earlier.

Obama didn't release the document. Why?

Because he's smart. There was a calculating decision to keep the birther issue alive for political gain. By holding back, he and his administration was able to play the game and roll their eyes every time the BC issue came up. It was good press!!! Those wacky birthers/republicans are at it again. Yuk Yuk Yuk. Obama just did this while on Oprah too.

The only reason why he finally released it was that it was quickly becoming a political liability instead of a gain. That is the ONLY reason. It's all driven by polls and public perception. Obama was all too glad to keep this issue festering just as long as he was able to get something out of it.

So, yeah, Trump is a jerk, but when you play such political games as Obama did, well, you're going to attract these kind of jerks.
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Points could be made that this is a live birth document, which if applying for a passport would be unacceptable as there was a bunch of fraud in the 60's with live birth documents.

Points could also be made that this document states the NEW name of the hospital he was born in(Hospital changed their name in 1979, well after Obama's birth).

I find it a riot that Obama lovers always pull the race card when someone questions Obama.

For the record, we'll never know if Obama was really born in America. The only person who knows for sure is his mother.
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They shouldn't bother giving those conspiracy theorists more attention. They are just as moronic as those nut cases saying 9/11 was in inside job.

"That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence."

— Christopher Hitchens

Even if they were given proof which sated their delusions, they would probably demand to see the placenta Obama was born in to prove he's not the anti-christ terminator from the future.
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I am not a birther but the released long form is far too sketchy for me. The long form is a fake. If it was a real copy of the long form then you should not be able to dismantle it into layers like you can.
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@ Staggerlee - I assume you use the word "skeptic" in the CSICOP trademarked sense, no? These birthers are, in fact, skeptics. Just not the kind that Prometheus Press blathers about. You're not being lumped in with anybody. Relax.
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I love it! As if this super-imposed, altered, missing signatures, mis-matching font, fonts having multiple graphic resolutions, super-imposed over some other background with matching watermark-covering information, missing authenticity seal...2 years to release...had already said the previous document released was "The Long Form" ...you know, the one Matthews held up and waved in front of everyone, as if it was the map to the holy grail! LOL! Yet still, again, and again, and again, even though his grandmother in Kenya swears to this day he was born in the very hospital that has a statue of him on the front lawn, in Kenya, the mainstream, all the establishment loving, boot licking bloggers, the sheeple, and everyone else that was waiting for some evidence that he was actually born in Hawaii...where ANYONE could have filed for a "Certificate of Live Birth" during the first couple years after becoming the 50th state in the union! LMAO!
When I first heard the news that he was having a fake birth certificate release party, (just like all the fake campaign speeches in the run for '08) the first thing I thought of was blogs like this one, and all the stumbling, bumbling, fumbling sheeple out there that were going to grovel over the "news" that would finally shut the horrible "truthers" up! LOL (as if asking questions, or demanding real answers is some sort of huge problem or big deal! LOL) Oh, we're sooooooo sorry for demanding accountability and truth from our elected representatives! EXCUUUUUUSE US! LOL
You brainwashed debunked-mainstream a$$-kissing sheeple nut-jobs really take the cake! Your foolishness and immaturity shows and grows more and more, each time a new Popular Science-Debunking the 9/11 Myths article, or fake campaign promise or red-handed media lie believed again, and again, and again...as if you love to be lied to and deceived, just so you can continue to live the lie for as long as you can possibly get away with it! LMAO! Good luck with that...your time is growing shorter and shorter...thanks to articles like this and the stupid sheeple that fall prey to it!
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One does not have to be absolutely skeptical about everything to be a skeptic on one subject, in other words.

This whole charade is just hilarious. It's the establishment's way of telling you not to pay attention to the man behind the curtain.

It seems awfully late in the game to be attacking the man's credentials. One has to wonder why the distraction is happening.
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I was confused until recently that the birther thing was about his father.

That the president was an American citizen, but could not be natural born because his father was not an American citizen. That you needed to have parents that both owed allegiance to the US and be born in the US or on US property/holding to be a Natural Born. Since his father was Kenyan, I thought it made the president just an American citizen, but not natural born.

I think I was giving the birthers too much credit and looking at the more subtle aspects of it.
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Look, Trump is a reality TV star. But the only reason he was able to engage the President was because the President kept the issue alive by not releasing the long form birth certificate. This whole charade could have been ended years ago by Obama simply releasing the proper long form document earlier.

Obama didn't release the document. Why?

Because he's smart. There was a calculating decision to keep the birther issue alive for political gain. By holding back, he and his administration was able to play the game and roll their eyes every time the BC issue came up. It was good press!!! Those wacky birthers/republicans are at it again. Ha Ha Ha. Obama just said this while on Oprah too.

The only reason why he finally released it was that it was quickly becoming a political liability instead of a gain. That is the ONLY reason. It's all driven by polls and public perception. Obama was all too glad to keep this issue festering just as long as he was able to get something out of it.

So, yeah, Trump is acting like a showman, but when you play such political games as Obama did, well, you're going to attract this kind of ilk.
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According to Merriam-Webster.com, cognitive dissonance is "psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously." That's not the same thing as gaining a firmer hold on your beliefs in the face of contradictory information.
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*snort*...#20 i was an arch conservative growing up till i...grew up...and realized there are in fact other people in my world...
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Given the current 'issues' our friends have with something as decisive as a simple birth certificate, then is it a good time to limit guns in case people start to confirm their own trith?
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Before you throw the baby out with the bath water, take a moment to download the pdf of the certificate from the White House (http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/04/27/president-obamas-long-form-birth-certificate), enlarge it and look at the fonts. If you then still believe that all of the data is original then go ahead and call them crazy.

Go ahead quit believing what you are told to believe.
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@ John I've seen that. I work in a drafting company and the only stuff we see in multiple layers are documents that were edited in a program and not a single scan.

@ Gauldar That's what Obama wants us to say.

And everyone else. I'm not a birther. I just don't believe anything that Obama says after he personally made healthcare a taxable fine when he said he wouldn't and insurance a requirement when he said he wouldn't.
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If you look at the online PDF version of the document you can test the fakeness of the document by zooming in and out really fast.

You'll see the text dissapear for a second and not the rest of the document.

What does that mean? Text was added to the form later.

WHAT CAN THAT MEAN?!!

Fugehdaboudit, at least he showed us something. I'm happy..
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"...all you need is a little justification to save the skeptic's ego."

More proof that the Right cares more about it's ego than anything else on the planet.
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Providing his BC now simply shows that BHO is a man without a shred of decency or honor.
He is the President of all Americans, and regardless of how BHO felt about it, allowing Col. Terry Lakin to throw away his career, and his freedom when all that would have been necessary is to show the BC earlier,yet he waited to serve his OWN purpose.
BHO is slime, a man without honor.
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All democratic leaders are slime. Because honest people cannot be elected.

How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don't think.
- Adolf Hitler
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I agree with others above who have stated that a belief in conspiracy theories is quite the opposite of skepticism. To be skeptical is to aknowledge all the evidence before coming to a conclusion. A central characteristic of skepticism is the ability to change your mind if new evidence is presented that is in contrary to your beliefs, which these apologists are clearly not capable of doing.

I also agree with Ryan S who correctly pointed out that this is not an example of cognitive dissonance (a term which is frequently misused on this site). Confirmation bias is a more appropriate cognitive bias to explain such behaviour.
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It is extremely difficult to change belief in a conspiracy theory as any evidence to the contrary is only interpreted to be part of the conspiracy. This is confirmation bias at its most extreme - evidence to support the conspiracy is acknowledged while evidence to the contrary is dismissed as part of the conspiracy or ignored entirely.
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@Persephone #37

The same can be said for the number of closed-minded left-wing nut-jobs on this site. The fact remain, back during his campaign, he lied and lied and lied. Count the number of things that he promised the Democrats and count the number of things the Republicans told you he would do. Seems the Republicans knew this guy was nothing but a huge liar from the get go.
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