What's wrong with the birthers' argument?

There is a lot wrong with the birthers, and all I can say about them as a whole is that, in the future, “Birthers” will be just an interesting sidebar in a history textbook (or the e-edition of the textbook).

But more can be said about the birthers’ argument. This gets a little meta-

Forget about the politics. Forget about psychological theories behind the birthers’ “movement”. Look at the logic. Listen to what they’re actually saying. In short, consider the argument. Of course, birthers are crazy. They are uneducated; they don’t understand what words like counterfactual, ad-libbing, paraphrasing mean. They are jerks, bullies, inconsiderate… They are so stupid that they don’t even know you are mocking them for their utter stupidity! So they aren’t fun to argue with, and aren’t worth arguing with. But - and this is where it gets meta- - their arguments are worth arguing about. Birthers don’t understand concepts like counterfactual; however, if you could, as it were, argue the argument, birthers and non-birthers would reach the same conclusion.

Indeed, this argument, followed through, leads to the conclusion that:
The President of the United States was born in the United States.

PSA: I don’t think you guys have any idea how childish you appear to the rest of the world.

Why are you still talking about this non-issue? Give it a break, get on with your lives.

I am not a birther. No member of the SDMB is a birther. Given these two facts, how can we convince (or trick them into thinking) birthers that Obama was born in the United States USING. THEIR. OWN. ARGUMENT.

People who believe in conspiracy theories, by their nature, do not lend themselves to convincing. You know you’ve gone down the looking glass about the same time you start to hear bizarre explanations for any conceivable assault on their position.

In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, many relatively reasonable people probably had lots of serious, expected questions about what might have happened. It isn’t totally insane to have suspected it may not have been what it first appeared to be.

Almost one decade later, when you have a dedicated group of people that are obsessed with any minutiae they can latch on to, while refusing to accept the totality of the situation, you know you’re dealing with conspiracy theorists. That’s probably the single, easiest to identify hallmark. Die hard conspiracy theorists have minds that work like this:

“I believe in some crazy thing. You’ve proven beyond any reasonable doubt that several aspects of my crazy belief are totally impossible. However, several aspects of my crazy belief are still technically possible and have not been fully debunked, therefore the failure to debunk the entirety of my argument, even small parts of it that are immaterial to the whole, proves that my theory is true.”

Of course with the birthers it’s probably easier to just tell them it doesn’t matter where Obama was born. Obama could get on TV tomorrow and say “Yeah, I was born in Kenya.” But he’d still be President.

Once the 50 states have set their ballots, the question of an individual candidate’s legitimacy becomes very difficult to challenge. Once the election has happened, the real election (meaning the votes of the electoral college have been read and certified) it’s all over but the crying. There is no constitutional mechanism to “go back” once that has happened.

Of course if Obama did come out and say “Yeah, I was born in Kenya” it would probably bar him from running for re-election, in a odd quirk of the legal system.

[ Moderating ]

Everyone please note that the discussion centers on something other than the “truth” of the Birther claims. If you would like to debate whether President Obama is a U.S. citizen, please go to the other thread on the topic. In this thread, please stick to the (admittedly murky) issue of the OP.

[ /Moderating ]

No-one who has ever lived is dim enough to believe a single word of it. And they don’t, there’s a gold star in saying something anti-Obama, especially when you know it not to be true. 'Remember what they did to GeeDubya?"

But someone is wrong on the Internet.

Duty calls.

What did they do to GeeDubya? I think I remember them during the 2010 election. I think I started to notice them during the 2008 election. Where were they during the 2004 election? Where were they when the Iraq war started? Where were they after 9/11? Where were they during the 2000 election?

I don’t know, I think some people do really believe it. I mean I could make a list of all the unimaginably stupid things people who seem relatively normal would believe, but that shouldn’t be necessary to make my point. Check out all the urban legends that have been debunked on snopes.com, a decent chunk of those, even the craziest and stupidest of them, I’ve heard people state to me as absolute fact.

Not to mention all the people who truly believe the 9/11 Truth stuff which is just as far fetched as anything the birthers say.

I actually think in this instance the idea that the birthers are crafty political operatives who are pretending to believe in some ridiculous craziness to harm the President’s reputation is giving them too much credit.

Apologies, I was unclear there. Rendering a wisp of birther thought into direct speech. In truth there looks to be more, but, uninteresting variety in the birther position.

Let’s be clear though, many have done the research and are adamant he’s NBC, then delight in saying o/wise. There’s some though who carry a swag of ancient grievances, such as the muddy reputation of the last GOP President, and are in consequence, indifferent to the truth or falsity of the claims about Mr Obama. Anything, if it gives a target to swing at.

Could be, I also think there’s some too heavily invested in the ConTheo, who can’t back out now with any dignity.

The more it gets brought up, the more it looks like something that is in doubt. It’s very like the notion that Bush said Iraq was involved in 9/11 - keep mentioning “Obama” and “Kenya” in the same paragraph and some people will assume and stick to it.
[ul][li]Obama was born in Kenya[/li][li]A conspiracy killed JFK[/li][li]Reagan conspired to have the hostages held until his inauguration[/li][li]AIDS was invented by the CIA[/li][li]Bush knew about 9/11 ahead of time[/li][li]there was election fraud in Ohio in 2004[/li][li]Vaccines cause autism[/ul]Some things are established by sheer repetition.[/li]

Here’s Rush’s take on it, if you want to discuss the crux of the birther argument (without discussing their IQ, avg number of missing teeth, % of sibling marriage, etc).

No hospital-generated birth cert = wtf. Hawaii’s gov says he’ll show the other proof he has, then says no way… so Rush has something to get them stirred up about.

I think Snopes’ treatment is the best rebuttal, personally.

Finally, Kozmik, when you refer to what they did to W, I assume you mean the rumors of drug use during his early/wild days? He was frequently asked to prove they weren’t true; his response was, how do I dis-prove a negative? and so he didn’t go there.

Hate speech laws are what you’re looking for. To stop the propaganda and misinformation that is rife in America, where there are always, it seems, people stupid enough to believe.

Hate speech laws focus the attention on the facts, is it true? Once it’s established it’s not true, and anyone continues to spread it around, for political gain, that becomes fomenting hate.

Oh but ‘free speech’ should never be regulated, they say. Yet yelling ‘fire’ in a crowed theatre will land you in jail. Why? The greater good outweighs your ‘right’ to say anything, any time, any where.

Mostly though, you can’t reason people out of a position they didn’t use reason to take up. They believe it because they want/need to. Think about it, if where he was physically born was the hill they wanted to die on why would they back John McCain, who was born in Panama? If it were the other way around they’d still be birthers, just as upset because 'he was born in Panama, not America", regardless of any inconvenient details, like facts.

Not sure exactly what the OP is looking for, but I think that a Birther needs to be treated exactly like a 9/11 Truther or any other CTer…namely, they need to be smacked down hard with facts and heaped with as much scorn and ridicule as it’s humanly possible to heap. And they need to have this done every time, in every thread and in every other forum where they poke their snouts out out from under their personal rock.

I think the best treatment for a CT is to shine bright light on it and send the frother advocating it back under his or her rock, with their tail between their legs and a mountain of scorn blistering their bottoms…


Presumably, if it were to be discovered that Obama was not actually a native-born citizen, he could then be impeached for holding the office of President under false pretenses.

That said – yes, the electors and the Congress that certifies their votes are the de facto judges of whether or not a given candidate is, in fact, legally eligible to be elected President.

I think that some of them know better, but are cynically pandering to the nut jobs.

You might want to avoid using a metaphor that originated with a textbook example of a bullshit “public good” argument being invoked to gloss over a tyrannical suppression of dissent.

No matter what you use to disprove the birthers claims they will cast doubt on that also. The type font on the birth certificate is wrong. The paper it’s printed is not of that period. The person who supplied the original worked on Obamas campaign so it should be questioned.

They will always find some way to deny the truth.

Exactly. It’s that truthiness thing…“even if it’s not technically true, it resonates with me so it must be right”. Also the fear thing…“If the people that told me this turn out to be wrong, then they could be wrong about some other things. Musn’t be allowed to happen.”