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Conspiracy Theory Expert Talks Birth Certificate Hoax
In an interview with Inverse Dr. Rob Brotherton addresses the Obama birth certificate controversy.
Interview excerpt via Inverse:
If you take the JFK assassination and contrast that with the conspiracy theory that Obama’s birth certificate is a hoax, maybe that’s on the scale of a history-changing events, but it certainly isn’t as wide-reaching. Why might people be drawn to that type of conspiracy?
The birth certificate hoax is a good example of a conspiracy theory that’s very highly politicized. With the Kennedy assassination, people both on the left and the right of the political spectrum can believe it, though there are different variations. Whereas the Obama conspiracy theories are widely believed among Republican theorists, on the right of the political spectrum, and almost nobody on the left. It’s an example of how the beliefs we’re attracted to already resonate with what we believe in the world. For people who think that Democrats or liberals are trying to destroy society — that they’re bad, they’re evil — the conspiracy theories around Obama are going to resonate. For supporters of Obama, of course there’s no need to believe that. It appears implausible. This is confirmation bias, which we’re all kind of set up to find evidence to support a pre-existing belief, to find something more compelling and plausible than evidence that goes against that belief.
Anything that contradicts what we believe, we submit to more scrutiny, whereas anything that supports what we believe gets a free pass.
Do you think that the Obama birth certificate hoax and other politicized theories have the same sort of half-life that the JFK theory has — will we still be talking about it 50 years from now? Or do these things have a tendency to fade away?
That’s getting at the limit of research that’s been done so far. There really hasn’t been that much research looking into specific conspiracy theories and why they endure over time. I don’t really know, to be honest. One of the reasons for the popularity of the Kennedy conspiracy theories is it was such a big event and it’s still culturally significant. For Obama, the question of his birth certificate was a really big deal at the time when he was first running for office and then for reelection. But, you know, in 30 or 50 years maybe he’s not going to be that culturally relevant anymore so there’s a better chance of conspiracy theories fading away. But like I said we don’t really know. [...] Inverse.
Almost nobody on the left? That's rubbish! Various polls show it is not just Republicans that doubt Obama's narrative.