Wednesday, September 9, 2009

An Experiment: Birther Website Moderation

During my travels across the internet this morning, I came across this:

Certified COPY of Obama Kenyan Birth Certificate

The gist of this is that a certain Lucas Smith traveled to Kenya (at great personal risk and expense), visited the hospital where Obama was born, and obtained a copy of his birth certificate. He is now submitting it in court to invalidate Barack Obama's Presidency. Representing him is, naturally, this crazy skank.

I have no serious objection to people wanting to come up with crazy theories as to why Obama is not a natural citizen. Maybe he was born in Africa. Or maybe he was born on the long-dead planet Krypton, sent here in a rocket ship by his father, Jor-El. Or perhaps he was never born at all, and his entire existence has been an elaborate trolling of America by, which is currently petitioning to have pedobear voted Miley Cyrus's #1 fan.

Whatever the case, I decided to put this website through a test. All comments require moderation, therefore I posted 2 comments up under 2 different names. One was sent in as "The Truth," the other as "Mudkipz."

As "The Truth," I pointed out the following problems with the Birth Certificate:

1) Lucas Smith has been convicted several times, once on multiple counts of forgery.

2) The document claims to be from "The British Protectorate of Kenya," date 1961. Mombasa was not part of Kenya in 1961, and would not become so until 1963. If it were real it would read "The British Protectorate of Zanzibar."

3) The units of measurement would be metric, not standard (not totally sure this is true actually - Kenya didn't adopt the metric system until 1967, but again - Mombasa was not part of Kenya).

4) I know they all like to think they're much smarter and more clever than the entire Republican party, but if there were even a 1% chance this were true, it would have been brought up to invalidate Obama during the election.

Then, as "Mudkipz," I submitted the following:

Damn straight i hope this clears up the whoel ilegal presidency now and we gt that terorist oreo rite back where he belongs - PRISON! he is a FRAUD who is sukcing our tax dollars into a socialist agenda so he can innoculate our kids after he LIED and LIED about being an American citizen. That is all his peopel do is LIE and STEAL, just like he is STEALING AMERICA.

I only thank GOD and JESUS who is the light and the way for delivering us from BEELEZBAMA and hope we see this great country back in the hands of JESUS where it belongs. GOD BLESS

My comments as "The Truth" were never acknowledged. My comment as "Mudkipz" passed and were put up on the boards within 10 minutes.

Without getting into what the other commentators have to say, regarding vast left-wing cover-ups, socialist conspiracies, and theories that Obama is actually the antichrist, I have to say that my post was fairly ignorant, and borderline racist. Yet that made it through their filters, as well as a follow-up post. I tried putting up a third comment basically stating "this will be the second time negroes start a Civil War" but by then someone had gotten wise and took away my posts (I'm going to try under a new name but I was probably just IP banned).

So let's not make this about birthers. I just want to instead toss out there the inherent danger of this sort of thinking in general. Here is what it basically breaks down to:

- This is America. Therefore I am entitled to my own opinion and the right to state it.
- I will create a site dedicated to like-minded individuals.
- If you do not agree with what we say, you may not state it.

How many other people choose to completely insulate themselves from debate? Not just themselves, but in this case an entire community? Can you really be acting in the best interest of proving your point if you shut down any debate coming your way with the internet equivalent of "lalala, I'm not listening?"

It was the same with Barack Obama's speech to the students beginning their school year. The speech was the subject of intense objection from the right (let's not accuse them of anything new though; when George H.W. Bush gave a similar speech 1n 1991 and also encouraged students to stay off drugs, Democrats accused him of using it as a political commercial for his D.A.R.E. program) before anyone even knew what was in it. People, and I don't just mean the type of people posting on this birthers site, I mean elected officials like Jean Schmidt and Jim Greer actually believed, or espoused to believe, that Barack Obama is a socialist, and his message would be to indoctrinate children into his evil machinations. Not only believed it, but went on the news and argued it. When it turned out that it was just a harmless pep talk designed to do exactly what the White House statement said it would do, the people who were opposing it claimed that their objections had obviously forced Obama to change the speech. Does it really satisfy people to completely stymie all challenge to their immediate beliefs and wade through life in a sea of ignorance? Is it REALLY bliss?

I think the least American thing you can do (besides renouncing your citizenship and declaring allegiance to the United Kingdom and the Crown) is be willfully ignorant. In a country where our system of government depends on the people being informed enough to make a smart decision, nothing is more detrimental than refusing to engage in debate and view the research of others. That's how we end up with a frightening number of people who don't believe in evolution.

Also, on that topic - there's no such thing as "micro" and "macro" evolution. Evolution is evolution. Stop using creationist terms. One species can become another given enough time and reason. Birds evolved from dinosaurs. Man did not evolve from monkeys, but we do share a common ancestor in the gene pool. They just discovered some jungle in Papau New Guinea where kangaroos live in trees and frogs have fangs. Stop trying to deny science, dammit.

Anyway, back to the point at hand. If you're not willing to defend your point, don't make it. Or at least don't try to keep the people who argue with you from speaking. Walking through life in a bubble isn't going to benefit you, and the worst that can happen if you open yourself up is that you might learn something.

In closing, giant pandas refuse to mate because they're saving themselves for Chuck Norris.


Jstone said...

There is micro-evolution. The finches in the Galapagos being the most famous example. Essentially the same species with one different characteristic, growing and shrinking in population based on the wet and dry periods. If it's observable inside a human life span, it's micro-evolution.

In regards to the rest of the post... yes.

Damo said...

Fantastical! Well done! A tour de force! The argument of "insulation from debate" is at the very heart of the current problem. Pick your team, run the plays, nothing but victory matters. That is the political dynamic that is dividing people into rabid factions and tearing the world apart.

David Pratt said...

Micro-evolution exists in the way you're using the phrase, but it's still essentially a layman's term.

Dialectric said...

Ummm... David, I think you should look up "layman."


Microevolution is the occurrence of small-scale changes in allele frequencies in a population, over a few generations, also known as "change below the species level"[1].

These changes may be due to several processes: mutation, natural selection, artificial selection, gene flow and genetic drift...

The term was first used by Harvard-educated botanist Robert Greenleaf Leavitt in the journal Botanical Gazette in 1909, addressing what he called the "mystery" of how formlessness gives rise to form.[2]...

However, Leavitt was using the term to describe what we would now call developmental biology, it was not until Russian Entomologist Yuri Filipchenko used the terms "macroevolution" and "microevolution" in 1927 in his German language work, "Variabilit├Ąt und Variation", that it attained its modern usage. The term was later brought into the English-speaking world by Theodosius Dobzhansky in his book Genetics and the Origin of Species (1937)[1].


[edit] Misuse
Main article: Speciation
The term 'microevolution' has recently become popular among the anti-evolution movement, and in particular among young Earth creationists. The claim that microevolution is qualitatively different from macroevolution is fallacious, as the main difference between the two processes is that one occurs within a few generations, whilst the other takes place over thousands of years (i.e. a quantitative difference).[3] Essentially they describe the same process.

David Pratt said...

That's just what I'm getting at. Yes, the process exists, and can be defined as "micro" evolution, but it isn't a term widely used in science communities anymore because anti-evolution movements have adopted it to look as if it means something different than regular evolution.

Dennis said...

I recently read Mein Kampf. I have a special place in my heart for propaganda, and I figured this would be the cream of the crop. I was wrong. Boring, jumbled, poorly written, completely devoid of even made up facts. It was a chore to make it through the whole thing.

That being said, there were a few sections of the book that I found interesting, one being Hitler's description (politically) of the populace. He broke people down into three sections:

The overly cynical(5%): These people will never trust the government or media. They read newspapers/hear speeches and don't believe anything. They believe that all people with power (including the media) have an agenda, and are just there to use that power to push their agenda. Not unintelligent, just not willing to trust other humans with power. They are useless to a politician, as they will never support anything.

The enlightened citizen(5%): These citizens read and judge based on facts. They keep themselves well-informed, and will cross political lines if an idea is great. They are flexible, intelligent, and they look at every problem from all angles. While valuable, they are ultimately irrelevant to a politician, as there are so few of them they have no real power.
(You, Mr. Pratt)

The willfully ignorant(90%): These people are uninformed. They act on passion instead of facts. They are either too busy, too stupid, or too apathetic to care about politics. They pick a side, and stick to it, regardless of what information is thrown at them. These people are where politicians get their power. The people who succeed in politics are the ones who learn how best to manipulate them.

Hitler's own theory was simply to pick a few words and a symbol to represent you, and cram them into this groups head. Repeat the words/symbol over and over and over and over again. Put them everywhere, posters, cars, newspapers, blimps, lunchboxes, buttons, signs. If you repeat them enough, the third group will be won over(see "Death Panels" and "Hope/Change"). On an amusing side note, Hitler considered himself to be of the second group. lol

The point of all of this is that the majority of people always were and always will be willfully ignorant. Information will always be suppressed. Lies will always be used in politics.


"Anyway, back to the point at hand. If you're not willing to defend your point, don't make it. Or at least don't try to keep the people who argue with you from speaking. Walking through life in a bubble isn't going to benefit you, and the worst that can happen if you open yourself up is that you might learn something."

You don't have to be able to defend your point. The past 2-5 years of American politics has proven that. You just have to be louder than your opponent. While I agree with you, people should be more willing to admit they are wrong, I don't think your request is realistic or achievable.

Also, as a conservative, I do not understand the "birther" movement at all. Yes, there are some facts behind it, there always are with these conspiracy theories. What is the ultimate goal of the movement though? To kick Obama out of office so we can have a Biden/Pelosi administration? Really? Why not take all of this energy, and do something useful with it?