Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Are Birthers Vicitms Of "Implicit Social Cognition"?

I read this article in Scientific American titled "Birth of a Notion: Implicit Social Cognition and the 'Birther' Movement." As you can imagine the comments got heated but not too crazy since nobody broke Godwin's Law and called anyone a Nazi. Oh wait, the writer did mention Nazis in the article so maybe that's a good strategy: mention Nazis in the blog post so no crazies start calling others Nazis.

Read the SA post and then come back to read my response.

The reasoning people in the comments section have expressed against the Lipinski/Kwan example is really flawed. One commenter said that if you rooted against Kwan you were labeled a conservative racist but that's not what the writer implied. The example showed how Kwan was label by a supposedly edited and vetted media outlet as not and American. What could have led to this assumption when the facts are easy to look up? (Watch the Olympics and the flag next to the contestant's name easily shows which country they represent.) The point was that a person named Lipinski vs. a person named Kwan made someone in the news organization assume that Kwan was not an American, thus the headline “American Beats Out Kwan” It did not say if you rooted for Lipinski you hated Asians or if you rooted for Kwan you hated the Polish. It simple showed how this assumption was made. It did not in any way make a judgment in that example as to whether the writer of the headline, fact checker or editor was Republican or racist.

In the end this article was about "Implicit Social Cognition" of people who believe the birther argument. Most people don't believe it and if you can argue that it's NOT mostly Southern, White, Conservatives who perpetrate this rumor and believe in it, then I'd like to see that evidence. So while, the opinion piece does draw some strong conclusions about racism using some questionable anecdotal examples, it is hard for any reasonable person to dispute that many if not most or all of the birthers are in fact racist. Otherwise they'd just say, I don't agree with the president of the United States, not question the entire legitimacy of his election based on thin rumors.

I definitely don't agree with the people who say that if you replace "birthers" with "truthers" you get the same logical results since the whole point of the piece is that a minority of people still cling to a belief that seems like an absurdity to a majority of people. I also defer to the fact that this minority is very vocal and gets lots of attention (squeaky wheel theory applies here.)

I think that there is scientific merit to this piece and because it addresses issues that are contentious (especially now with the news of how people are acting in town hall meetings and in sessions of Congress) it brings up intense debate.

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