Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Birthers, Truthers now Deathers

Nice piece from Foreign Policy that predicts that birthers (believe that Obama was not born in the US), truthers (believe that 9/11 was not the act of terrorists in planes, there were explosives too, and no plane hit the pentagon) will be joined by deathers who will believe that Osama bin Laden was not killed in Pakistan.

These kinds of theorists make for an interesting breed. Their genuine scepticism should not be derided - there are plenty of real cases where Governments have lied.

But their stock in trade is based on a number of rhetorical techniques;
1. Work on a pre-existing distrust of Government ("They would say that wouldn't they")
2. Find inconsistencies between two accounts, and then always claim that the inconsistency is the consequence of fabrication and that the version that suits their own purposes must be the "truth"
3. Lots of use of "pseudo-science" and other forms of weak reasoning
4. Reliance on the "wisdom of crowds" by citing the number of online comments that support their view, without noticing that these are usually simply recycling the same narrow fact base

If Osama bin Laden is NOT dead, one would expect him to do one of his broadcast messages soon. Of course, the deathers will argue that he won't do such a video, because to do so would be to play into the Americans hands.

The theory will go that the reason for the Americans faking his death was to get bin Laden to reveal himself so they can locate him to really get him. We'll be told that bin Laden is too clever for such a ploy and hence has decided not to reveal himself. Soon after the story will go that bin Laden now can't reveal himself because he died of natural causes and there was no public funeral because the US would have attacked it.

Meanwhile, riddle me this batman, if you were going to fake his death, why would you chose a location so close to Islamabad? The deathers theory will be about putting pressure on the Pakistani government, as an attempt to embarrass them into further submission to the US.

Folks. Obama was born in the US, terrorists flying planes attacked the WTC and Pentagon, Osama bin Laden was killed by the US yesterday, man landed on the moon. As for JFK? Well, you know, it was either Lee Harvey Oswald or Frank Sinatra.

Novae Meridianae Demetae Dexter delenda est


Vic N said...

yeh, well, so you probably beilieve the earth is round too, instead of it being very obviously flat.....

Anonymous said...

It's bad enough how divided everyone becomes calling eachother dems libs left right prolifes pro choice and so on NOW your all going to start labelling people the birthers? the "deathers"??? Pathetic.

People who doubt are called deathers, but they weren't the ones celebrating death in the streets on the weekend.

David Havyatt said...

I'm not sure people become divided by being labelled, but that labels merely reflect divisions. There is no doubt however that people use labels to project views onto others that aren't necessarily held by them. So the label "right" correctly applied to a genuine conservative can be used to imply all sorts of elitism. Similarly the label "left" or "progressive" can be rightly attributed to someone advocating greater equality but used to imply a necessary belief in "statism".

The criticism of the specific choice of word "deathers" is perhaps appropriate given the very wrong behaviour of celebrating the assassination.

But people who "doubt" act as if they should be beyond reproach because applying doubt is somehow seen to be a higher moral position. It is only so if the doubt does something other than feed a groundless community distrust of the "they would say that wouldn't they".

"Death deniers" would be better - but it might seem like a claim for immortality.