Why do smart people believe dumb things?

Birthers are nothing new.  In fact, they are only one small stone in a long road of people who were/are convinced of some Voodoo History. 

http://www.salon.com/books/history/index.html?story=/books/feature/2010/02/03/david_aaronovitch_conspiracy_theories

24 Comments

Filed under birthers, Conspiracies, Wingnuts!

24 responses to “Why do smart people believe dumb things?

  1. fnord

    It takes a real special kind of person to be a ‘birther,’ and we all hope their guardians keep them well supervised.

  2. itolduso

    The same with “truthers”

    • fnord

      Who are “truthers,” and what do they stand for, believe…? I’ve never heard this term so don’t know how to phrase the question.

  3. wicked

    When it comes to 9/11, when it comes to JFK’s assasination, it isn’t difficult to start to believe in conspiracy theories. Somehow that very term is scary to some, but basically what it means is that there is a theory the two or more people conspired to do something.

    Was it nothing more than a conspiracy theory to think that an end to the Iran Crisis back in 1980 (i think that’s the right date) wasn’t held off until Reagan won the election? The arms deal didn’t happen until then, and I’m not convinced Carter would have made the deal. Was it theory or fact?

    All the information wasn’t released by the Warren Commission about JFK. They put a 75 year hold on it, although some of it has been released. Is it a theory that the CIA (or another government group) was somehow involved? Or is it theory that Oswald was the lone shooter, because that’s what the Warren Commission told us?

    Is George Bush (and his former staff in the WH) really dumb enough to ignore warnings while playing cowboy on his ranch? Remember, nearly all of the people in this country fell for the lies about the reason for invading Iraq. Each and every one of the changing lies. It does make one wonder. I’ll admit that I still have questions. Why was Norad down on 9/11? We’ve been told it’s never down. I’m not saying those connected to that administration planned and executed 9/11, but they sure as heck took advantage of the situation and the non-questioning public to get us into a trumped up war. What lengths would and did they go to? I don’t have the answers, only questions, and I’m sure they’ll never be answered.

    • I am right there with you Wicked. I used to laugh at “conspiracy theorys” and feel superior to people who believed them. But if you really search for all the facts, you will see that there is, indeed, a seed and sometimes many seeds of truth. Combine this with the FACTS that our government lies to us and conceals facts from us and that the history we learn in school is distorted and incomplete and it really isn’t that much of a stretch to realize that Americans naively believe a lot of things that aren’t wholly true.

      Who am I to patronize anyone that has put long man hours and thought into possibilities that others completely refuse to consider? I will never forget the look on Bush’s face when he was passed the note by Secret Service. He sure as shit didn’t look surprised. And who am I to argue with architects and engineers that have spent hours analyzing the way the towers went down and believe they know a controlled demolition when they see one? And just why does anyone believe that a government that we have documented evidence has performed scientific experiments on unknowing and unwilling populations of people would not stoop to demolishing a couple of buildings in order to accomplish some hidden agenda? How is that crazy?

      Anyone want to call them names and look down their nose at them, that is your prerogative. But I am not doing that anymore because the more I see, the less I “know.”

      The thing about the “birthers” is that their issue is irrelevant. Obama is president, so even if he wasn’t American, it’s too late to do anything about it now. If we can’t impeach Bush for torture, fraud, perjury, and murder for the blood on his hands–we’ll never impeach Obama over a little thing like a birth certificate.

  4. wicked

    There is always a grain of truth (the size of a mustard seed, sometimes), in those theories. What made me sit up and take notice was when I read the Operation Northwoods document. It shows just how far some would go to reach their goal. Since then, I don’t trust anyone.

    Click to access northwoods.pdf

  5. Montana

    We won the election and now these sore losers will continue to spew your hate with lies. The way our courts work is that you get a competent lawyer, verifiable facts and present them to a judge, if the facts are real and not half baked lies, then, and only then, you proceed to trial. The Birthers seem to be having a problem with their so called facts that they present. Let’s face it no one will go along with you until you guys win a case, but until then, you will continue to appear dumb, crazy or racist, or maybe all three. Keep plucking that chicken.

  6. fnord

    Hi Montana, welcome to PP&Ps.

    Yes, to this point the ‘birthers’ seem to be real shy of facts and long on hate.

  7. David B

    And razors stay sharp and fruit will not rot in a pyramid.

    WHAHHAHAHAH

  8. David B

    The author of “Case Closed” suggests Kennedy conspiracies have legs because it is hard for us to believe such a huge event could be caused by such a small action by such a small man.

  9. tosmarttobegop

    David just touched on something I was going to say about Conspiracy theories.
    I read in regards to 9-11 and the Kennedy conspiracy, people have a hard time accepting the minor cause.
    When it comes to larger events, hard to accept that a lone crazy with a mail order rifle could kill the most beloved and powerful man in the world.

    Likewise it is hard to accept that 19 individuals with box knifes and very little real training could destroy buildings and kill several thousand people.

    It is easier to accept it was all some large and extensive conspiracy.
    The terrorists simply used our own society and practices against us.
    They used the standard operating procedure in place, if highjacked do not resist and follow the orders of the highjackers.

    What they did and how they accomplished it really did not take a lot of planning.

    But it was such a grand accomplishment that it just could not be that simple.
    The terrorists are dead and someone had to have help them.
    Our Government is there to protect us and failed so the Government must have something to do with it.

    Conspiracies come out of having questions and the answers do not explain to the acceptable level.

    LOL that is how I ended up with the invasion, I had questions and the answers that were given did not satisfy the questions.

    What I finally concluded after a years ranks up there with many conspiracy theories.
    So much so that no one can accept my conclusions or are willing to go on that journey.
    “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!”

  10. lillacluvr

    Maybe the reason some people believe in conspiracies is the same reason some people believe in Fox News.

    It’s what they want to believe?

    I have questions about 9/11 and the JFK assassination – but I don’t expect to ever find out the truth about either one.

    As for Reagan and the Iran Hostage crisis…..I can believe the man made a deal with the Iranians. Hell, Reagan gave them weapons – didn’t he?

    And this from an old man that proudly boasted that he would never negotiate with terrorists.

    • Maybe you are right there, Lillac about what people want to believe.

      But maybe some people just aren’t willing to accept what others easily swallow as “facts” when we all know that those providing the “facts” have lied–over and over and over and over and over, ad infinitum.

      Their are many good books about the Iran/Contra issue. There is documentation that GHW Bush was in Paris in the same hotel with leaders from Iran during the campaign. And let’s not forget that he was a former head of the CIA.

      Shall we simply ignore that he was there and that he had the contacts to get a meeting with the right people and make a deal for the release of hostages, all the while Ronnie was back home talking big? And it was because Iran was shaking in their shoes the day after Ronnie was elected that the hostages were freed. Right. Yeah. That’s totally believable. Because he was going to be in charge of the same military that just botched the rescue effort ordered by Carter, but Ronnie was so much tougher than Carter, that the mullahs just caved.

      Most of America swallowed that–and I am the crazy one.

      • lillacluvr

        Exactly.

        Just like Reagan’s famous ‘tear down that wall’ speech. Does anyone with half a working brain cell actually believe that Gorbachev tore down the Berlin wall simply because Reagan told him to do it?

        Or could it be due to Russia’s economy was crumbling and the shit was about to hit the fan?

        Let’s not forget – Reagan was a trained Hollywood actor. He knew how to memorize lines very well.

        The term ‘silver-tongued devil’ comes to mind.

  11. wicked

    I’m simply suspicious by nature. I admit it. That doesn’t mean I believe in all the conspiracy theories, but until I have solid, concrete answers, I don’t believe in the crap I’ve been told, either.

  12. Zippy

    Absolutely great book, which deals with it in fair degree of detail—“Why people believe weird things,” by Michael Shermer:

    http://www.borders.com/online/store/TitleDetail?sku=0805070893

    One thing Shermer’s friend, magician James Randi, points out is that physicists—generally very intelligent, imaginative people–tend to be sucked into hucksterism than one might think, because the things they study tend to already push the bounds of ordinary reality.

    A magician, on the other hand, knows all about the art of conning suckers.

    The lesson being that, as Shermer puts it, a lot of people who believe weird things are just normal people whose thinking has gone wrong in some critical way.

    In short, anyone is susceptible (yes, including me), and in today’s dumbed-down tabloid culture, where critical thinking is shouted down, and the educational system has been nearly destroyed, it’s gotten worse.

    Shermer’s book–circa 1997–is, in my opinion, required reading for anyone wanting not just to dissect nutbar conspiracy theories, but their own irrational biases.

  13. Zippy

    P.S. Even paranoids can have enemies and there are, of course, real conspiracies, but–another Shermer gem–“extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

    I believe there is ample evidence, e.g., that the Bush administration allowed 9-11 to happen, though I certainly don’t believe they knew the time, date etc., let alone made it happen. It was too convenient.

    But I could be wrong.

  14. Zippy

    P.S. There is also too much evidence–including Bush’s own statements–that indicate the parody was true–he was kept in the dark about a great deal, and his natural incuriousity allowed this.

  15. Zippy

    But I could be wrong. 🙂

  16. lillacluvr

    I am not usually a suspicious person by nature, but I am cautious and don’t believe everything I’m told.

    That’s why I left the Evangelical Christians and, specifically, the Fundamental Baptist church. After going through a hellish nightmare simply because I married a Southern Baptist preacher, I started questioning alot of their so-called truths.

    I think that is the way I approach all these conspiracy theories – with an open mind but cautious to not get caught up in what may or may not be the truth.

  17. The book pictured at the beginning of this thread was released yesterday. I heard the author on NPR and had put the book on my “to get” list.

  18. lillacluvr

    Conspiracies are like gossip – there is always a kernel of truth in there and then it spreads like a wild fire taking all kinds of twists and turns.

    But that kernel of truth is still in there – it is now harder to discern what the truth is because of all the ‘added stuff’ that gets thrown in as it is being told and retold.