« Twitter roundup | Main | CNN.com op-ed: Why conspiracy theories die hard »

April 25, 2011

Comments

I have a couple of objections to this ABC News/Washington Post question:

“On another subject, you may have heard about the idea that the world’s temperature may have been going up slowly over the past 100 years. What is your personal opinion on this – do you think this has probably been happening, or do you think it probably has not been happening?”

The question apparently asks about something that happened during the last 100 years, so it should be in the past tense. A clearer version would be:

"Did the world’s temperature go up slowly during the past 100 years?"

Asking whether the temperature has been going up seems to include whether the respondant believes that the temperature is still rising. (I think this may be the present perfect tense, which shows past action continuing into the present.) The words "may" and "probably" strenthen that impression. After all, we have accurate temperature measurements over the last 100 years. The past temperature is matter of fact; the future temperature is a matter of opinion and odds.

Another problem with the question is that the world's temperature didn't exactly go up slowly during the last 100 years. It went up rapidly from 1910 to 1945, went down from 1945 to 1965, went up rapidly from 1965 to 1998, and went down from 1998 to 2010. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Instrumental_Temperature_Record.svg

BTW the drop from 1945 to 1965 was severe enough that many alarmists warned us about the threat of global cooling.

Brendan wrote: Being an incumbent is tough-Obama expected to magically reduce price of gas

Brendan seesm to be defending Obama from the charge of being responsible for high gasoline prices. IMHO President Obama will get blamed for high gas prices, and deservedly so.

The Obama Administration has taken two actions that contributed to high gas prices: preventing some amount of offshore drilling and QE2 (i.e., printing money.) Even Sarah Palin knew that QE2 would lead to a weaker dollar and higher prices

IMHO that NY Times debate among experts* was less enlightening than the debate that occurred at this site. The Times panel made some valid points, such as motivated reasoning, the difficulty of changing peoples' beliefs, and the power of the internet. However, they left out (or mostly ignored) some significant factors that were brought up here, including:

1. There's nothing unusual about a myth being widespread. E.g., other widespread myths were the truther myth, the myth that Bush stole the 2000 election ("Selected, not elected"), and the myth that Bush is stupid (although one expert did identify the idea that Republicans are stupid as a myth.)

2. The birther myth serves the Dems. It allows them to defend Obama in a area where he's right and his critics are wildly wrong.

3. The birther myth makes Republicans look bad. e.g. Comment #1 in response to one of the Times essays says, "Republicans are all corrupt, just want wedge issues to make the country so angry and locked in hate that it will fail."

4. The Times experts point out correctly that birthers don't trust the main stream media. But, they ignore the fact that the main stream media haven't been totally trustworthy.

E.g., this very article begins with a half-truth: "[Obama's] Hawaiian birth certificate has long been made public." When Trump more accurately points out that Obama SFBC has indeed been made public, but his LFBC has not, that weakens the Times's credibility and strengthens Trump's.

5. The liberal media have blown up the birther myth much more than the other myths mentioned in #1 above. E.g., Donald Trump gets widespread media coverage of his birther nonsense, but much less coverage of his substantive critcisms of Obama's performance as President.

6. The media didn't continually remind us of all the flaws in myths held by liberals. E.g., there weren't innumerable articles repeatedly pointing out evidence that Bush isn't stupid, such as:
-- High SAT scores
-- Impressive educational achievements, (I would guess that mmost Ameicans are unaware of Bush's Harvard MBA degree.)
-- financial success running a baseball team,
-- political success against strong candidates Anne Richards, Al Gore, and John Kerry.

In fact, this very Times article can be seen as an example of the main stream media keeping the birther myth alive in a way that denigrates Republicans and avoids substantive criticsm of the President.

*What is an expert? An "ex" is a has-been and a "spurt" is a drip under pressure. :)

The President has now released a copy of his long form birth certificate. It shows nothing embarassing or incriminating or inconsistent with his SFBC. Although many birthers will no doubt remain unconvinced, I hope that this new document will at least torpedo Trump's candidacy.

Some Obama supporters had previously defended him by claiming that Hawaii didn't have a LFBC or that the LFBC couldn't be released to anyone. Will those who made such statements acknowledge that their prior stories were inaccurate?

Regrettably, David, the intrigue isn't quite over. The pdf released by the White House is composed of multiple elements, which appear as separate layers in Adobe Illustrator and as a group of separate objects in the open source program Inkscape. I downloaded the pdf from the White House site and checked it myself; the document is undeniably a composite of separate elements.

There's probably an innocent explanation. Maybe the White House tried to enhance the document and did so by enhancing portions separately, then recombined all the elements to produce the document they released. Some speculate that the White House intentionally released an obviously composited document to keep alive the birther speculation and thus be able to characterize opposition to Obama as deranged. That seems awfully Byzantine, but anything's possible.

I prefer a simpler explanation. The White House should have known better than to send Dan Rather to get the birth certificate.

The comments to this entry are closed.