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Why facts are irrelevant to "believers."

By now, everyone in the world knows that the Obama administration - in a misguided attempt to appease the birther-loons - got Hawaii to release our Prez's full birth certificate this morning. The Trump has been trumpeting the trumped-up nonsense that the birther-loons have been quacking, in an effort to be in the spotlight. You win, Trumpenator! You've earned your full-monty Loon Medal! And Republican party? You asked for this.

Will this release stop the noise? Of course not. What the Obama administration did was nothing more than feed the trolls, and we all know where that gets us.

Let's take a look at these folks. They honestly believe that Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior is going to initiate the rapture of the chosen few on May 21, 2011, and that Almighty God His Father will destroy this world on October 21, 2011. If only, except for that pesky "destroying the world" part.

The world has been promised destruction pretty much as long as we've had religions. Remember that famous case when aliens were going to wipe us out on December 21, 1954? And of course Scientologists are pretty certain that the Alien Overlords are coming to destroy/free/probe us.

Despite facts to the contrary, people believe any number of insane things. The Roman Empire will last for all time! (Came close, relatively speaking.) The United States will always be a superpower full of rich folks! (Sorry, Americans.) Global warming is a myth! (Keep on believing that, Sparky.) You name it. I won't even get into religion, because, well, lots of folks get some kind of comfort from that, when they're not destroying infidels, "saving" people from their own culture's belief systems, or compelling people to behave strangely in nonsensical rituals.

What is wrong with people?

This article nails it on the head:

"A man with a conviction is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point.' So wrote the celebrated Stanford University psychologist Leon Festinger, in a passage that might have been referring to climate change denial - the persistent rejection, on the part of so many Americans today, of what we know about global warming and its human causes. But it was too early for that—this was the 1950s - and Festinger was actually describing a famous case study in psychology.

Festinger and several of his colleagues had infiltrated the Seekers, a small Chicago-area cult whose members thought they were communicating with aliens - including one, "Sananda," who they believed was the astral incarnation of Jesus Christ. The group was led by Dorothy Martin, a Dianetics devotee who transcribed the interstellar messages through automatic writing.

Through her, the aliens had given the precise date of an Earth-rending cataclysm: December 21, 1954. Some of Martin's followers quit their jobs and sold their property, expecting to be rescued by a flying saucer when the continent split asunder and a new sea swallowed much of the United States. The disciples even went so far as to remove brassieres and rip zippers out of their trousers - the metal, they believed, would pose a danger on the spacecraft.

Festinger and his team were with the cult when the prophecy failed. First, the "boys upstairs" (as the aliens were sometimes called) did not show up and rescue the Seekers. Then December 21 arrived without incident. It was the moment Festinger had been waiting for: How would people so emotionally invested in a belief system react, now that it had been soundly refuted?

At first, the group struggled for an explanation. But then rationalization set in. A new message arrived, announcing that they'd all been spared at the last minute. Festinger summarized the extraterrestrials' new pronouncement: "The little group, sitting all night long, had spread so much light that God had saved the world from destruction." Their willingness to believe in the prophecy had saved Earth from the prophecy!
(Click here to read the rest.)

Did you know that 25% of Americans still don't believe that Obama was born in the USA? Nothing will change their minds... in fact, trying to change their minds will only reinforce their beliefs. Last year, according to the Gallup Poll, 48% of Americans said that global warming's effects had been exaggerated. How about the whole "Aztec 2012 ZOMG!" craziness? And need I say more than the phrase, "Sarah Palin"?

I believe that humans are inherently good. I believe that seeking understanding, being open to change, and growing ourselves and our culture are our loftiest goals. I believe that, together, we can solve any problem, and that one day we will reach the stars.

Or is that only more proof of our infallibility regarding belief systems? Is it merely my own personal delusion?



( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 27th, 2011 10:04 pm (UTC)
Maybe there's method in the Obama camp's madness -- at least, I hope so. The birther loons will not give up, even as you say, but that may drive the more temperate middle to support the Dems in the next election.
Apr. 27th, 2011 10:08 pm (UTC)
We can hope!
Apr. 28th, 2011 03:11 am (UTC)
My earlier post was eaten by the Internetz, but that's what I was thinking. He shows the birth certificate, and it pulls all the media attention to birthers, and that just makes his opponents looks ridiculous.

Orly Taitz has already started calling it a fake. Trump's moved the goal posts and wants to see Obama's grades. Yeah, I'm betting they were awful, which is why he transferred to his safety school, Harvard.

Edited at 2011-04-28 03:12 am (UTC)
Apr. 28th, 2011 04:35 am (UTC)
Just finished reading this brilliant piece about how White America has lost its mind. Yeah, I don't think revealing the birth certificate is going to make one iota of difference.
Apr. 27th, 2011 10:04 pm (UTC)
Personally, I was hoping that Obama would put off releasing his birth certificate until after the GOP picked a birther as their candidate so they could embarress him/her.
Apr. 27th, 2011 10:08 pm (UTC)
That would have been awesome. Fortunately, the birthers won't stop with this.
Apr. 29th, 2011 10:45 pm (UTC)
Turns out you were right. They've raised new doubts about other stuff.

The Washington Post article was so cool I wanted to say "Amen Brother!" Its as if Karl Rove is an evil villain whose plans (in this case, to make America dumb enough to swallow his snake oil) have turned against him.
Apr. 30th, 2011 04:02 am (UTC)
It's not just "as if" Karl Rove is evil....
Apr. 27th, 2011 10:31 pm (UTC)
As expected, some interesting comments about the birth certificate.

In regards to "the return of Christ"--Are these people expecting Jesus Christ to be reborn on that day? As an INFANT?!? (Maybe by inducing labor for the virgin mother, they might be able to guarantee that the child is born that exact day and time.) That would be a tough way for a kid to grow up, too. It's not like people would have any high expectations on you for the rest of your life...

Or--Perhaps they are expecting Jesus to descend from the Heavens, as a 33 year old man, as he appeared when he died on the cross. Even so, I wonder if people would be ready to accept that Jesus was very likely a dark-skinned, big-nosed Jew, rather than a pale-skinned, nearly blond-haired American, ready to spout forth the ideals of the red, white and blue to rest of the heathen world.

Perhaps it isn't Jesus Christ that they are referring to. Maybe it's Bob Christ, the guy that went on vacation in Europe for a month, who is coming back to the U.S. on May 21st, 2011.

Please pardon my cynicism. All of this is stated in respect to humor. (Hear that God? I'm just joking, just in case the Rapture really IS happening on May 21st...)
Apr. 27th, 2011 11:06 pm (UTC)
Ha! Yeah, I think that if we get a new God-Jesus Event, it'll not be as a human but in its true form, whatever that be. I'm guessing multidimensional alien life-form that can control energies suitable for creating stars and such.
Apr. 27th, 2011 11:10 pm (UTC)
In either form, human or otherwise, do you think the public will be clamoring to see HIS birth certificate, too?

Apr. 27th, 2011 11:17 pm (UTC)
I think it'll take some pretty awesome demonstrations of power to get believers this time around! Heck, even prison inmates can turn water to wine these days.
Apr. 28th, 2011 04:28 am (UTC)
A sufficiently advanced alien is indistinguishable from God. (with apologies to Sir Arthur.)
Apr. 28th, 2011 04:36 am (UTC)
Ha! True, that.
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 28th, 2011 04:37 am (UTC)
Great Sky Gandalf

Oh, I so very much want to believe in this one.
Apr. 28th, 2011 12:39 am (UTC)
initiate the rapture of the chosen few on May 21, 2011, and that Almighty God His Father will destroy this world on October 21, 2011

Now wait just a minute! The world better not end the day before my birthday. I got plans!
Apr. 28th, 2011 04:39 am (UTC)
And what would become of ConQuesT?

Apr. 28th, 2011 12:49 am (UTC)

Xenu's gonna git you!
Apr. 28th, 2011 04:43 am (UTC)
Nah, he's just going to purge my little thetans. It'll be the RAPTURE!

Oh, wait, mixing my mythologies here...
Apr. 28th, 2011 12:11 pm (UTC)
One of my favorite movies is 'Agora', based on the life of Hypatia. It's a moving and grim illustration of the timeless struggle between systems of faith and systems of science. If you haven't seen it yet, you should. (I think you would especially like Hypatia's love of the heavens and her determined efforts to understand the movement of the planets and the sun.)

Back when I was in Catholic school, our 7th grade religion teacher once told us her interpretation of the Second Coming. She believed Christ would not return to earth until we, as humans, established the Kingdom of Heaven (i.e., a society characterized by brotherly love and social justice) on earth. That was the day I understood Jesus was never coming back.

Apr. 28th, 2011 04:35 pm (UTC)
That sounds like an interesting film - I'll see if I can find it.

What a sad thing to learn in junior high, but important. That's a religious teacher who was actively trying to make the world a better place... or spread hopelessness ;-)
May. 1st, 2011 12:40 am (UTC)
Yes, she was one of those modern-day Catholic nuns, heavy into social justice. She really thought it was our responsibility to fulfill Christ's mission by making this world a better place. Wish there were more like her.

You should definitely check out Agora -- the more I think about it, the more I think you would really like that film. It's fairly recent -- 2009 -- but it's one of those that would probably have only played a week in the Tivoli, if it made it to KC at all. I found it at Blockbuster; I'm sure netflix would have it.
Apr. 28th, 2011 12:54 pm (UTC)
You have to understand. In order to believe that Obama was born in the US, you have to first understand that Hawaii is a state. And *then* you have to know it was already a state when he was born. And a territory before that,so still a US... oh, never mind. They're way too dumb.
Apr. 30th, 2011 04:02 am (UTC)
So true!
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )

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