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July 30, 2012


Curious -- these are misconceptions that tend to show up on the right side of the political spectrum. Have you found similar ones on the left?

Hi Laura - see our New America report for a more extensive discussion: http://mediapolicy.newamerica.net/sites/newamerica.net/files/policydocs/Misinformation_and_Fact-checking.pdf

I pretty much agree with Brendan. Nevertheless, here are a couple of nits:

1. If the question asked what religion Obama claims to hold, then "Christian" would surely be the answer. However, if one interprets the actual question to ask whether he truly holds Christian beliefs, then it's less certain. He doesn't strike me as obviously motivated by Christianity the way, say, George Bush and Jimmy Carter are.

2. Although Obama's birth certificate is surely strong, documentary evidence, I wouldn't call it the "strongest and most concrete documentary evidence." The trouble is, documents can be faked, as we learned in the Dan Rather/Bush TANG record scandal.

One birther, Diana West, asserts that

the word "African," which appears in a box on the 1961 bc wasn't used by the US gov until 1989. Also, that same information box was marked with a "9," which the posse discovered to mean "information not stated." Well, it was stated, and it used a 1989 word.

I assume that West's statement isn't accurate. It should be easy to prove that her statement isn't accurate by finding other 1989 bc's that used the word "African." However, I've not seen anyone do this.

Perhaps one reason this false belief persists is that critics haven't engaged the birthers, e.g., by showing that West's excuse for denying the bc is invalid. The critics mostly just assert that the birthers are obviously wrong.

Unrelated. I've often wondered how many people would say they thought President Bush was a Muslim if asked. I'm sure it wouldn't be zero.

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