“Birther’s Digest:” A List of Obama Ineligibility Claims — With Their Status

It's a Wrap! This "Special Edition" Post Brings This Blog to a Close.

For people who haven’t really evaluated the claims that the current President (Barack Obama) is ineligible to his office, this page should serve as a handy quick guide to the major claims that have been made by birthers, and the status of each.

The list below should come close to representing all the major claims made by birthers. There are more than 100 of them.

All major claims have been investigated and evaluated for their value as evidence. These include:

  • Claims that Barack Obama Was Born Somewhere Other Than Hawaii
  • Claims that Barack Obama’s Birth Certificate Is a Forgery
  • Claims that It Takes Two Citizen Parents for a Person to Be a Natural Born Citizen
  • Claims that Obama Is Ineligible for Other Reasons
  • Miscellaneous Claims

The following evaluation is from a non-partisan point of view.

I have given reasons and references elsewhere for the conclusion regarding each and every claim in the list (generally, either on this site or in the book authored last year by myself). If you would like more information on a specific claim, please search this site, and/ or refer to the book.

Current approximate count of major claims: 118. It depends of course on how you count them. I’m sure this list is not exhaustive. There are often multiple sub-claims made under a particular point, so a truly exhaustive list of claims that have been made by birthers would probably run into the hundreds.

Out of these 118 or so major claims, the way that I have counted them, we have:

  • 115 claims that are invalid, not decent evidence at all, true but irrelevant, false, or (in at least a few instance) known and documented to be outright lies.
    • At least 85 claims in this category have been shown to be outright False.
    • 17 more are Unsubstantiated, which means they are just accusations without sufficient evidence to back them up. Anybody can accuse anybody of anything.
    • 2 are Invalid, which pretty much means they don’t even make sense.
    • 11 are True But Irrelevant.
  • 3 claims that are True but Insufficient.

Finally, we have:

  • 0 claims that have been found, after investigation, to provide any good evidence that the current President is not legally and Constitutionally eligible to his office.

This tells you what kind of track record the birthers have. In short: The entire birther movement is a great big huge pile of nonsense.

And yes, it’s true: I personally have investigated at least 118 claims of “evidence” or “proof” that the current President is ineligible. And I found not one single one that — in my carefully-considered, willing-to-be-persuaded judgment — could actually stand up to scrutiny.

I’m sorry if that upsets some readers. But please note that your difficulties in coping with reality are not anybody’s problem except your own. If you want to know the specific reasons I found not one single significant birther claim that could stand up to scrutiny as being any good evidence of the birther claims, the details are contained in two sources: The book I authored on the forgery theories, and this blog. Read the book, which has 221 pages and 175 references. Read the blog, which contains even more content than the book, and which covers the issues not covered in the book.

Statuses: True and Valid, False, Invalid, Unsubstantiated, True But Irrelevant.

I have assigned a status to each claim of True and Valid, False, Invalid, Unsubstantiated, True But Irrelevant, or True But Insufficient.

“Unsubstantiated” sounds a lot weaker than “False,” and I suppose it is. “False” means something that is known to be false. “Unsubstantiated” means no real evidence exists that it is true.

However, “unsubstantiated” is still, in most instances, pretty strong. Here’s an example:

Claim: George W Bush is secretly married to Britney Spears.
Status: Unsubstantiated.

See how that works?

“True But Irrelevant” means that the claim may indeed be true, but a conclusion that Obama’s birth certificate is a “forgery” or that it takes two citizen parents to make a natural born citizen does not logically follow.

Now: I’m not going to get into the details of any one of these claims in this post. This is just a summary, with my understanding of the current status of the claim.

Claims of Evidence Barack Obama Was Born Somewhere Other Than Hawaii

1. Birth certificate supplied by Lucas Smith is Obama’s.
Status: False. It’s a fake.

2. Birth certificate with faint Dutch printing in background is Obama’s.
Status: False. It’s a fake.

3. Obama’s mother flew to Kenya and back.
Status: Unsubstantiated. At best. And just not remotely plausible. In fact the United States government recorded a grand total of ZERO US citizens who arrived in the United States from Kenya by air for the entire YEAR ending June 30, 1962. It thus appears the ONLY way this could even remotely have happened would have been for Obama’s mother to deboard in London, stay a night or two, reboard, and then be recorded as an arrival from the UK. But flight itineraries seem to have been pretty tight and definite, so this again is extremely implausible.

And that’s just ONE aspect of the extreme implausibility of the claim.

4. There is evidence in the British archives that Obama Sr. had a child born in Kenya in 1961.
Status: Entirely Unsubstantiated.

5. Obama’s mother took a ship from Africa to England.
Status: Entirely Unsubstantiated.

Claims of Evidence that Barack Obama’s Birth Certificate Is a Forgery

1. It has layers. This means it’s a fake.
Status: False.

2. There are too few layers for them to have been created in an optimization process.
Status: False. The number of layers is right in line with what we might expect.

3. The text shows clear signs of editing.
Status: False. See book.

4. The form area is slightly blurred.
Status: True But Irrelevant.

5. There’s no “chromatic aberration” (made by Karl Denninger).
Status: Apparently False. At the very best, Unsubstantiated.

6. The white halo is reasonable evidence of forgery.
Status: False.

7. Duplicate letters mean that it’s a hand-created forgery.
Status: False. They’re a sign of optimization.

8. “Different sized pixels” in the background are a sign of forgery.
Status: False. They’re a sign of optimization.

9. The images seem rotated.
Status: True But Irrelevant.

10. There is variation in the colors in the stamps.
Status: True But Irrelevant. It’s a sign of optimization.

11. The font sizes are different in the rubber stamps (Douglas Vogt).
Status: False.

12. White dots are evidence of forgery (Tom Harrison).
Status: False.

13. “Obots” have failed to exactly duplicate the PDF using automated software. This means it’s a fake.
Status: The first part is True But Irrelevant, for reasons detailed in my last post. The latter part is False.

14. Two different versions of the PDF were posted on the White House web site.
Status: False.

15. “Kerning” is “absolute proof” the birth certificate is a forgery (Denninger).
Status: False. There is no “kerning.”

16. Marks on the birth certificate align with those on a known forgery (WorldNetDaily).
Status: False.

17. A lack of text curvature means it’s a fraud (Denninger).
Status: False. The text curvature exists.

18. The lack of tab stops means it’s a fake (Denninger).
Status: False. Same lack of tab stops on Nordyke certificate. Even if true, it would be True But Irrelevant, as the conclusion does not necessarily follow.

19. There’s no seal in the PDF.
Status: False.

20. The seal is the wrong size.
Status: False. Same size as on other certificates.

21. The seal doesn’t distort the lines or type on the form. This means the birth certificate is a fake.
Status: Invalid. Or Unsubstantiated. There’s simply no way anyone can tell this.

22. “Hidden text” reveals a different birth certificate number (WND).
Status: False. This article by Jerome Corsi touted the inaccurate reading of OCR run on the image as “hidden text.” I can’t tell you how bogus this is.

23. Dr. Chiyome Fukino described a different document.
Status: False.

24. a. The birth certificate number is out of sequence (Jerome Corsi/ WND).
Status: False. It’s in partially-alphabetized sequence, same as other known certificates.

b. Charles Bennett’s 1955 article tells us that birth certificates were numbered sequentially by date order (Jerome Corsi/ WND).
Status: False to the max.

c. Stig Waidelich’s birth certificate number is a fraud.
Status: Unsubstantiated. There’s no evidence for this.

d. Obama’s birth certificate number was “stolen” from an infant baby girl who died the week she was born.
Status: Unsubstantiated. There’s no evidence for this.

e. “Hawaii Girl’s” birth certificate doesn’t refute this claim.
Status: False. The number on this certificate, accidentally leaked by Corsi/ WorldNetDaily, killed any plausibility of their own theory. Oops.

25. The birth certificate says “Certificate of Live Birth,” not “Birth Certificate.”
Status: True But Irrelevant. That’s exactly what it should say.

26. There are different typefaces used in Obama’s birth certificate, proving it’s a fake (Paul Irey/ WND).
Status: Unsubstantiated. Paul Irey stretches out all the stops to reach this conclusion. I personally spent many days on this one, and you just can’t get there.

27. The registrar’s stamp has a misspelling in it.
Status: False.

28. There’s a “smiley face” left in the certificate by the forger (Corsi/ WND).
Status: False. Or at the very best, WAY Unsubstantiated.

29. The birth certificate is encoded with the initials of a forger (Corsi/ WND).
Status: Way Unsubstantiated.

30. The hospital name is wrong.
Status: False.

31. A different doctor was reported earlier.
Status: True But Irrelevant.

32. Two different hospital names have been given.
Status: Probably True, But Irrelevant.

33. There are no hospital records for Stanley Ann Dunham Obama (Corsi and others).
Status: Unsubstantiated. It’s a crime for anybody to release any. Privacy laws.

34. Barack Obama, Sr.’s race indicates fraud.
Status: False.

35. Barack Obama, Sr.’s age is incorrect.
Status: True But Irrelevant.

36. The wrong name was used for Kenya.
Status: False.

37. The registrar’s name is a “joke.”
Status: False.

38. Barack Obama paid more than $2 million on lawyers in order to avoid releasing his long form birth certificate.
Status: Way Unsubstantiated. Almost certainly False.

39. An official from Hawaii testified that there was no birth certificate (Tim Adams/ Corsi/ WND).
Status: True But Irrelevant. He was in no position to know, quoting others who were in no position to know.

40. Some customs records of airline flights into Honolulu, Hawaii from the summer of 1961 are missing (Corsi/ Arapaio Posse).
Status: Apparently True, But Irrelevant. Anyone flying in from Kenya would’ve passed Customs in New York.

41. The Governor of the State of Hawaii stated that there was no birth certificate (Corsi/ WND).
Status: False.

42. The Democratic Party refused to certify that Obama was Constitutionally eligible.
Status: Invalid. They simply used the same language they’ve used for many years for all of their Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates. And as I recall, there was in at least one state an actual certification that Obama was, in fact, Constitutionally eligible.

43. The spacing indicates that Obama’s birth certificate is a forgery.
Status: False.

44. a. The penciled codes on Obama’s certificate are federal statistics markings, and show a conflict that is good evidence of forgery (Corsi/ Arpaio Posse/ publicized by Mark Gillar).
Status: Oh, gosh. False. A well-documented fraud on the part of Arpaio’s birther Posse.

b. The 1961 Vital Statistics Instruction Manual says “9” means “not reported” or “not stated” (Corsi/ Arpaio Posse/ publicized by Mark Gillar).
Status: False. Part of the fraud.

c. An image shown in the Arpaio posse’s July 2012 official video gives the 1961 federal codes (Corsi/ Posse/ Gillar).
Status: False. Part of the fraud.

d. A second image shown in the Arpaio posse’s July 2012 official video gives the 1961 federal codes (Corsi/ Posse/ Gillar).
Status: False. Part of the fraud.

e. “9” in the Hawaii statistical codes means “not reported” or “not stated” (Corsi/ Posse/ Gillar).
Status: Completely unsubstantiated.

45. Obama’s lawyer admitted the birth certificate was a forgery (Dan Crosby/ Daily Pen).
Status: False.

46. Mara Zebest is a credible expert on whether Obama’s birth certificate is a forgery.
Status: False, for reasons detailed in articles in this blog. Look ’em up.

47. Garrett Papit is a credible expert on whether Obama’s birth certificate is a forgery.
Status: False, for reasons detailed in articles in this blog. Look ’em up.

48. MRC (“Mixed Raster Content”) optimization never produces more than one “1-bit” “text layer” (Papit).
Status: False.

49. With MRC compression, there will always be color variation in the “text layer,” never a single color value throughout (Papit).
Status: False.

50. MRC compression always requires a foreground layer, rather than having an entire bitmask specified as a single color (Papit).
Status: Invalid. It’s all a matter of semantics. Doesn’t really matter anyway. Irrelevant. There’s no limit on the number of text layers.

51. If the file were optimized, then the lines from the form would certainly have been transferred to a “text layer” along with (some of) the letters.
Status: False.

52. Obama’s short-form birth certificate is a forgery.
Status: Unsubstantiated. At very best.

Claims that It Takes Two Citizen Parents for a Person to Be a Natural Born Citizen

Now these are fun.

1. Minor v. Happersett established a “binding precedent” that it takes two citizen parents to make a natural born citizen (Leo Donofrio, Mario Apuzzo, and others).
Status: False.

2. US v. Wong Kim Ark confirmed this precedent (Donofrio/ Apuzzo/ etc.)
Status: False.

3. Minor v. Happersett gave a complete definition of “natural born citizen” (Donofrio/ Apuzzo/ etc.)
Status: False.

4. US v. Wong Kim Ark stopped short of declaring Wong a natural born citizen (Donofrio/ Apuzzo/ etc.)
Status: Not really. The Court made clear that Wong was both “natural born” AND a “citizen.” Birthers exploit the technicality that they didn’t put it all into a single phrase to claim they “stopped short of” declaring Wong a natural born citizen. Overall, the claim is really, by any reasonable measure, False.

Incidentally, the minority — whom the birthers agree with — complained that the ruling made Wong eligible for the Presidency. Only natural born citizens are eligible for the Presidency. So it’s clear that even the minority understood the implications of the ruling in the case.

5. The Framers of the Constitution were referring to Emer de Vattel’s concept when they wrote “natural born citizen” (Donofrio/ Apuzzo/ etc.)
Status: Unsubstantiated, in a big way. Not a shred of evidence to support the claim.

6. “Natural born citizen” refers to natural law, which means “born of two citizen parents.”
Status: False. “Natural born citizen” refers to the natural law, derived from the writings of St. Paul, which stated that one should obey the authorities God has set in place. The theory was that if one was born into a Kingdom, then one had a “natural” allegiance to that Kingdom and that King, and the King in turn had a “natural” and God-given duty to protect his subjects and provide good governance.

7. “Natural born citizen” has roots in the writings of an ancient Roman writer named Quintilian (Apuzzo).
Status: Totally unsubstantiated, in a this-is-really-bogus kind of way.

8. “Natural born citizen” in early America meant “born on US soil of two citizen parents.”
Status: False. There is no real evidence to support the claim, and tons of real evidence against it.

9. Early American laws implied one had to have two citizen parents to be a natural born citizen.
Status: False.

10. People born in America to non-citizen parents were regarded as aliens, and were naturalized.
Status: False.

11. “Natural born citizen” comes from the “Law of Nations” (Donofrio/ Apuzzo/ etc.)
Status: False.

12. Thomas Jefferson wrote a law for the Commonwealth of Virginia which provided for naturalization for children born in Virginia to non-citizen parents (Apuzzo, etc.)
Status: False. Jefferson wrote a law in which everyone born in Virginia was a citizen.

13. A 1781 proposed treaty between the US and France showed that the Founding Fathers and Framers of the Constitution were referring to Emer de Vattel’s writings.
Status: False.

14. The Framers of the Constitution “rejected” Alexander Hamilton’s proposal that the President should be “born a citizen” in favor of a stronger suggestion by John Jay that the President should be a “natural born citizen.”
Status: False. Hamilton never presented the language to the Convention.

15. A 1789 treatise by David Ramsay indicates the Founding Fathers wanted a person to have two citizen parents to be a natural born citizen (Apuzzo, etc.)
Status: False. Ramsay’s views were solely his own.

16. The 1797 translation of Vattel’s “Law of Nations” used “natural born citizens” because the translator knew Vattel’s concept was what the American Founding Fathers meant in the Constitution (Apuzzo, etc.)
Status: False. Waaaay bogus on this one.

17. The Naturalization Acts of 1790, 1795, 1802, and 1855 addressed the citizenship status of children born in the US to non-citizen parents (Apuzzo).
Status: False.

b. These laws “abrogated” American rules on the citizenship status of children born on US soil to non-citizen parents (Apuzzo).
Status: False. A law doesn’t “abrogate” a matter it doesn’t address.

18. Zephaniah Swift, in his 1795 treatise, was referring to Connecticut citizenship, and not citizenship of the US as a whole.
Status: True But Irrelevant. Swift’s treatise certainly isn’t conclusive for the entire country, but it did influence key individuals in all States, and it does provide some evidence regarding what “natural born” meant in early America.

19. St. George Tucker indicated one had to have two citizen parents in order to be a natural born citizen (Apuzzo).
Status: False.

b. Tucker’s footnote only means that the American laws agree with each other (Apuzzo).
Status: False. This is one of the most bogus claims I’ve ever seen. Mario Apuzzo made it.

c. The footnote actually refers to the sentence following the one it footnotes, and not the sentence that it is a footnote to (Apuzzo).
Status: False. This is DEFINITELY one of the most bogus claims I’ve ever seen.

20. The 1811 James McClure citizenship case shows you have to have two citizen parents (Apuzzo, etc.).
Status: False.

b. “Publius” was James Madison (Apuzzo, etc.).
Status: Unsubstantiated and unlikely.

c. The Madison Administration found that James McClure was a naturalized “Citizen of the United States” under the Naturalization Act of 1802.
Status: False.

21. The 1814 Supreme Court case of “The Venus” defines the meaning of “natural born citizen” as requiring two citizen parents (“John Charlton,” Apuzzo, etc.).
Status: False.

22. William Rawle’s definition of “natural born citizen” is not reflective of what the Founding Fathers meant.
Status: False. His definition is in accordance with everything we know of written by Founding Fathers and individuals close to them. Rawle himself was also a personal friend of prominent Founder Benjamin Franklin.

23. The 1830 Supreme Court case Shanks v. Dupont supports the birther claim (Apuzzo, etc.).
Status: False.

24. The 1830 Supreme Court case Inglis v. Sailor’s Snug Harbor supports the birther claim (Apuzzo, etc.).
Status: False.

25. “American common law” (including common law derived from the Law of Nations) supports the birther claim (see Lynch v Clarke, 1844) (Apuzzo, etc.).
Status: False. It’s the exact opposite.

26. Horace Binney’s quote supports the two-citizen-parent claim (Apuzzo, etc.).
Status: False. Binney refutes birthers.

27. Scott v. Sandford (1857) supports the two-citizen-parent claim.
Status: False.

28. The wording of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 supports the two-citizen-parent claim.
Status: False.

29. The wording of the Fourteenth Amendment supports the two-citizen-parent claim.
Status: False.

30. Senator Jacob Howard supported the two-citizen-parent claim.
Status: False.

31. Senator Lyman Trumbull supported the two-citizen-parent claim.
Status: False.

32. Representative John Bingham supported the two-citizen-parent claim.
Status: False.

33. The Slaughterhouse Cases (1872) supports the two-citizen-parent claim (Apuzzo, etc.).
False. As analyzed by the Supreme Court in US v Wong Kim Ark, the statement was dicta, and erroneous dicta at that. The Court did not intend to issue any authoritative prohibition on natural born citizenship for children of non-citizen immigrants.

34. Alexander Porter Morse supported the two-citizen-parent claim.
Status: True But Way Insufficient. Morse isn’t much of an authority.

35. Chester A. Arthur was the “original usurper.” (Donofrio, Tracy Fair).
Status: False.

36. Chester A. Arthur, in asking for a “uniform rule of naturalization,” was calling for Congress to clarify the status of children born to immigrants (Fair).
Status: False.

37. Elk v. Wilkins supports the two-citizen-parent claim.
Status: False.

38. US State Department policy in the late 1800s supports the two-citizen-parent claim.
Status: True But Way Insufficient. This was the brief “birther era” of US foreign policy, and it was overruled and ended forever in 1898 by US v Wong Kim Ark.

39. Breckinridge Long’s paper about Charles Evans Hughes supports the two-citizen-parent claim.
Status: True But Way Insufficient. Long was a partisan propagandist against Charles Evans Hughes, and isn’t much of an authority.

40. US naturalizaton regulations in the 20th century support the two-citizen-parent claim (Apuzzo, etc.).
Status: False.

41. Legally, being a “natural born citizen” has always required citizen parents (Apuzzo, etc.).
Status: False.

42. Historically, being a “natural born citizen” has always required citizen parents (Apuzzo, etc.).
Status: False.

43. Calvin’s Case (1607) ruled that aliens were subjects. Therefore, one has to have citizen parents to be “natural born.” (“Michael N,” etc.)
Status: False. Aliens in England were “subjects” only in the sense that they were “subject” to the King. Just as aliens in the United States are “subject to the jurisdiction of” the United States.

44. The 2011 Congressional Research Service report on Presidential eligibility was “propaganda” (Donofrio).
Status: False.

Claims that Obama Is Ineligible for Other Reasons

1. Barack Obama was born a dual citizen of the US and the UK.
Status: True But Irrelevant.

2. Barack Obama was adopted in Indonesia.
Status: Unsubstantiated, and would be Irrelevant if true. An adoption would not have affected his status as a natural-born American citizen.

Other Claims

1. Obama’s Selective Service registration postmark is evidence of forgery.
Status: False. Probably the best discussion of this is at ObamaConspiracy.org.

2. Those who debunk birther claims are all a bunch of “Obots.”
Status: False.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: If you don’t want Obama to be President, then vote him out. Vote for Romney and Ryan, as I will (as of this date) shortly be doing myself. Or, if that doesn’t work, look forward to a major change in 2016, because by then it will happen.

But don’t twist the Constitution, mislead the American public — conservatives in particular — and try to poison American politics (eventually, for conservatives as well as for everyone else) by promoting claims that just simply aren’t true.

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162 Responses to “Birther’s Digest:” A List of Obama Ineligibility Claims — With Their Status

  1. John Woodman says:

    Okay, that’s it.

    That wraps up this blog. Um… again.

    This is intended to be a kind of “final legacy” of my involvement in this issue: a list of known birther claim (as of this date) and their status.

    If anyone has a significant birther claim to add that I’ve missed, let me know. And (for a limited time) I’ll add it.

    Yes, I know birthers are going to come out with new claims. Whatever new claims they want to produce beyond this date, I won’t be participating.

    I will be trying to bring things to a conclusion, closing threads and archiving the site. Thanks to all for participating here. I will frankly miss some of the interaction and some of the friendships. Maybe I will meet a few of my investigative friends in person some day. If not: I wish you all the best. And to anyone who henceforth happens across the site…

    Enjoy! Get really informed! Please donate! 😉

  2. Slartibartfast says:


    What I’ve said before. A couple of times. Again. 😉

    Regarding Indonesian adoption/citizenship you can find 3 articles on Indonesian citizenship and one on adoption at the link.

    A synopsis of the birther claims and my understanding of US and Indonesian law:

    Birthers claim that President Obama was adopted by Lolo Soetoro on the basis of the school registration under that name. It also lists his citizenship as Indonesian (likely a lie by his stepfather as Indonesian citizens were guaranteed an education, but I have no evidence of that), his religion as Muslim (which I believe was the religion of both his father and stepfather), and his place of birth as Hawai’i (which is apparently—according to birthers—the only information on the record which is not unquestionably accurate). This is the basis for the birthers referring to President Obama by his stepfather’s (and half-sister’s) last name—even though, in the Islamic culture, it would be a grave dishonor to the father and his family for an adopted child to change his last name. The birthers also claim that as a result of this adoption, President Obama received Indonesian citizenship—which would have required an Indonesian official visiting Lolo and little Barack in Lolo’s home before President Obama’s 5th birthday… which he celebrated before leaving Hawai’i. They further claim that this Indonesian citizenship invalidated his US citizenship—an argument that is in direct contradiction of Perkins v. Elg (You’ve probably mentioned this here as it confirms the holding in Wong, but I don’t recall it…).

    Just thought you might want to add a little more detail to the Indonesia claims…

  3. John Woodman says:

    By the way, I think the main revelation of this article is the birther claims “casualty count.” Of course there are all kinds of ways you could tally birther claims. But this particular count came up with 118 of them.

    So the birthers have come along, and made well over 100 claims to have significant evidence, or “proof,” that the current President, Barack Obama, is ineligible to be in that office.

    And so an average person might look at that and say… “Holy smokes!! Wow. Well… ‘Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.’ Some of those claims must be true, in any event.”

    Only it’s all bogus. It’s all one great, big, huge pile of:

    a) Outright falsehoods (this is almost 3/4th of it).
    b) Accusations with nothing substantial to back them up (another 15%).
    c) Literal nonsense.
    d) Points that are simply irrelevant.
    e) Opinions.

    One hundred and eighteen accusations and claims of “evidence” and “proof,” not a single one of which passes muster.

    What a load of stuff.

  4. John Woodman says:

    Well, except for any remaining chatter on the final 4 posts, I have finished this blog.

    There is simply nothing left to do. It’s done.

    My next project, aside from refocusing on my tech support business, is to learn about real estate.

  5. John

    First, I wish you the best of luck with the new chapter of your life. I still remember when Foggy posted links to your video’s how impressed I was with your analysis of the bogus claims about the LFBC. I was even more impressed when I found you were not a supporter of the President but still were interested enough in the truth that you would take the time to analyze the claims and put your name on the debunking. You have been called the O-word and worse for your efforts.

    I encourage anyone reading this who has not yet purchased your book to do so. I am very disappointed that the media has not paid more attention to what you have done. It seems liars like Zullo and Corsi can get national attention for uttering bald face lies while the truth remains mostly hidden except to the few of us who do this as a hobby. Corsi is even riding on Romney’s campaign airplane now.

    Your timing is good because one way or another we will enter a new phase in less than a month. If President Obama is re-elected I think the Birth movement will be effectively over (not that it isn’t already). The election is the only thing keeping it alive because questions about Obama’s origin and eligibility are tools in the kit of smear merchants like Corsi and Arpaio. If Romney wins (God have mercy on us all) then there will be no incentive to even talk about it. I admit nuts like Taitz may spend the rest of their natural lives claiming Obama was never eligible so any law like the ACA should be voided. Such nonsense will be ignored. The patience of the courts will eventually run out too.

    So I give you a toast with my RC Radio coffee mug and wish you the best. Thanks again for the book and the excellent blog articles. The blog will remain a great resource.

    • Thomas Brown says:


      John’s book is superb, and anyone REALLY interested in the facts should buy it. John’s conclusions could perhaps be argued with, but I am certain they cannot be actually refuted.

      • John Woodman says:

        Thanks very much, Thomas. Thanks for your participation here. I’ve enjoyed it, and learned from you.

    • John Woodman says:

      Thanks, RC.

      Corsi is even riding on Romney’s campaign airplane now.

      Son of a gun. 😆

      Well, here’s my take: It’s the price we pay for having a truly free press. I would rather have someone like Jerome Corsi able to ride on a Presidential candidate’s airplane, than North Korea.

      Actually… in North Korea, every newspaper is WorldNetDaily. So… our system is far better.

      Thanks for the well wishes. And thanks for having me on the show.

      I hope in the end it will have been worth it for folks like us to make the investment to put forth the truth.

      I woke up this morning thinking, “This is the first day of the post-birtherism era.”

  6. 3. Obama’s mother flew to Kenya and back
    Status: Unsubstantiated. At best. And just not remotely plausible.

    Cannot this one be changed to “false”. Doctor Conspiracy looked at the immigration records and they showed that zero US citizens embarked from Kenya for travel by air and re-entered the US in the entire year from June 1961 to June 1962.


    • John Woodman says:

      Good point. I actually don’t consider it absolutely proven to be false, because any flight from Kenya would’ve most likely gone through London, and it seems to me at least possible that someone could have traveled Kenya to London, cleared customs at London, spent a night or so in London, reboarded, and then been recorded as arriving in the United States as a traveler from England rather than a traveler from Kenya.

      Very doubtful, I know. Yet I’m still willing to allow for the possibility.

      But yes, it is very remote. And I will change the reference to reflect that.

  7. Suranis says:

    its been an honour and a pleasure John. Good luck with the real estate. 🙂

  8. John Woodman says:

    Was going over finances and current bills with my wife.

    At this point, I frankly wish I had never become involved in this issue. And while in one sense I’m glad that I made the decision to see it through and to do as good a job with it as I could, in another sense I should’ve simply abandoned the issue long ago.

    I estimate that following through with this issue has cost me and my family at least between $20,000 and $25,000 versus where we would be if I had dedicated my time instead to simply bringing in income. And that’s not a $20,000+ of income that we could afford not to have. It’s $20,000+ that we need.

    I would love to be able to find 20 people who would be willing to contribute $1000 each, or 40 people who would be willing to contribute $500, to help us offset the cost of the last year and a half. Or even a fraction of that. If anyone has a good idea of how I might do that, it would be appreciated.

  9. gsgs says:

    but you said you were not doing it for the money
    and you should have asked in advance
    and now it’s going to end anyway

    • John Woodman says:

      The fact that I was not doing it “for the money” does not change our financial situation, Guenter.

    • John Woodman says:

      As well, there’s a significant difference between profiteering an issue and not having the wherewithal to finance it.

      If I had wanted to profiteer the issue — and didn’t care about the truth — I would’ve written a book titled something like “The Obama Fraud.” I would’ve compiled all the “evidence” that the birth certificate was a “fake.” I would’ve cut a book deal with WorldNetDaily, had them market the book to their substantial audience, and split the profits. I would’ve been the darling of Mark Gillar’s radio show, and David Manning’s, and even Peter Boyles’ up in Denver. I would’ve been presented to the world by Sheriff Joe Arpaio as a great “expert.”

      Instead, I chose to invest something more than $20,000 worth of my time and effort into providing my fellow Americans with the truth. Unfortunately, at the end of it all, that is not an investment that I could afford to make. If I had it to do all over again, I would sadly have to decline. At the end of it all, I regret that I ever made the first video, or chose to go ahead and write the book, or became involved in the issue at all.

      And that is not because of any lack of desire whatsoever on my part to serve my country by providing good information. It is because taking my time, effort and energies to bring forward the truth has simply been far, far too costly.

  10. John Woodman says:

    I would like to thank Reality Check for the Reality Check Radio mug, which I received a few minutes ago. It literally did not leave my hands before being filled with tea, and is in use at this very moment.

    I like the mug, RC. In fact, it is my new favorite. Thanks! 😉

  11. John Woodman says:

    I’ve thought of adding the recent fake “Kenyan birth video” as debunked claim #119, but since birthers don’t seem to be falling for it and claiming it’s genuine (so far, although some undoubtedly will later on) I’m going to hold off on that.

  12. John Woodman says:

    For the record, while I was initially reluctant to support Mitt Romney — just as I voted last election cycle for Sarah Palin and her running mate, I was considering voting this time around for Paul Ryan and his running mate — Mr. Romney has pretty well won me over.

    I am therefore officially supporting Mitt Romney for President of the United States.

    Yes, I know some of my Democratic friends will be disappointed in me. But don’t worry. While we may disagree in our political philosophies, I have no doubt there are many matters on which we might find common ground. Not even counting the most obvious, of course — that the birther stuff is all nonsense.

    And I think one thing we can agree on is that this election is certainly going to be interesting. I have followed a LOT of the punditry and odds-calling, and I am now prepared to give readers of this blog the INSIDE SCOOP.

    Are you ready for this?

    Here it is.

    After a LOT of study of the matter… I HAVE FIRMLY CONCLUDED…


    I quite frankly DON’T KNOW who’s going to win.

    If Romney holds Florida, North Carolina and Virginia, and takes either Ohio or Pennsylvania, he’s probably going to come out on top. Still, he’s going to need at least one other swing state either way, even if it’s only New Hampshire. But if he can get Ohio or Pennsylvania, he’s probably going to pull another one of the remaining states as well.

    On the other hand, if Obama takes BOTH Pennsylvania and Ohio, then Romney’s goose is probably going to be cooked. He would need to pretty much run the table in that event in order to pull out a victory. Not impossible, but nearly so.

    Finally, do you want an electoral college tie? And a plausible one, at that?

    Romney takes Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia. All very plausible. Obama takes New Hampshire and Ohio in close races, and hangs on to Pennsylvania. Romney takes Iowa, Colorado and Nevada, and hangs on to all other red-leaning states.

    269 to 269.

    At that point Romney wins the Presidency in the House of Representatives, but what about the Vice-Presidency? It is not inconceivable that we could end up with President Romney, Vice-President Biden. In the event of a 50-50 split in the Senate vote, we could even have Biden cast the tie-breaking vote to make himself the next Vice-President of the United States.

    Likely? No. Plausible? Yes.

    3 days to go. We’ll see what happens. 😉

    • Slartibartfast says:


      I would be interested to hear your opinion of the predictions of Nate Silver at 538 and Sam Wang of the Princeton Electoral Consortium who give President Obama an 83.7% and 98% chance of winning respectively.

      Regarding your scenarios, I would note that I don’t believe (back by the analyses of the two men above) that Pennsylvania is even close to being in play—the most plausible reasons I have seen for the Romney campaign spending money there are: (a) as a strategic ploy to get the Obama campaign to use resources there; (b) to try and effect downticket races; and (c) because they have more money than they can spend effectively elsewhere. Despite Republican voter suppression efforts (which were admittedly addressing a non-existant problem—in person voter fraud—in an attempt to help Governor Romney win the state by suppressing the vote in demographics that skew Democratic*) I can’t imagine the Romney campaign being able to close the 5.4 +/- 3.0% gap (according to 538) if the polling is anywhere near accurate.

      Just to put some numbers in your scenario, 538 gives the odds of a tie (of which the one you suggest is, I believe, the only one that’s even remotely plausible) as 0.2%. Breaking down their odds for the groupings you gave (assuming independent probabilities):

      PA + OH blue: 81%
      FL + NC + VA red: 15%
      IA+CO+NV red + NH blue: 0.5%

      Which, as you said, is unlikely but possible (91.6% chance that the Democrats would control the Senate, so Vice President Biden would probably be Vice President in this scenario, but it is very unlikely that he would need to cast the decisive vote for himself.

      Finally, I would point out that, historically speaking, we’ve done better under Democratic presidents than Republicans since World War II. To illustrate that point: about twice as many jobs have been created under Democratic presidents and the deficit has gone down every year during Democratic presidencies and skyrocketed during every Republican administration since 1980.

      * The Republican officials arguing for the law in court admitted that they could not find any cases of in-person voter fraud being prosecuted or investigated in the state and a Republican lawmaker (a member of the Pennsylvania legislature) said that the law would help Mitt Romney win Pennsylvania.

      • John Woodman says:

        Okay, Kevin.

        There are a number of things in your post that I might find exception to and consider merely opinion from the blue side of the aisle. I’m going to pretty much skip over all but the essence.

        First of all, both Nate Silver and Sam Wang have made some good predictions in the past. So they certainly have to be taken seriously.

        However, there is also a reasonably credible opposite view, which has Romney winning by as much as almost the same as Wang’s prediction.

        Michael Barone, who has a reputation for knowing what’s going on across the country at a local level, predicts 315-223 Romney. Do I give as much credibility to Barone’s prediction as Wang’s? Probably not. Still…

        There’s also Karl Rove, who predicted Obama 338, McCain 200 in 2008. That did turn out to be optimistic for McCain. Rove has Romney getting at least 279.

        Dan McLaughlin at RedState has done a detailed and in my view credible analysis of Nate Silver’s analysis; he also concludes (without giving an exact electoral count) that “Obama is toast.”

        I think a very great deal hinges on Ohio. If Romney takes Florida, North Carolina (likely in my view) and Virginia, and also takes Ohio, and all the other red-leaning states fall as I see them likely then Romney is only one swing state — any state — away from victory. That state could be New Hampshire with its 4 electoral votes. It could be Iowa, or Colorado, or Nevada. And if Romney takes Ohio it seems likely to me he will take one or another of the aforementioned states.

        There are people in Pennsylvania who believe that state is genuinely in play. I don’t know. We’ll have to see.

        There is also evidence to suggest a significant enthusiasm gap between Romney supporters and Obama supporters. Obama’s recent appearance at an Ohio venue pulled an audience of 4,000. His 2008 appearance at the same venue drew 80,000. So that’s 1/20th of the audience he had there 4 years ago. Will the 19 out of 20 still vote for him? Undoubtedly quite a few will. But quite a few may not, as well.

        Again, there is enough variance of opinion out there that I won’t claim to know what’s going to happen. Obviously one side will turn out to be correct, and the other incorrect. We’ll just have to see what happens.

        • Slartibartfast says:


          Regarding my, shall we say, provocative comments, I would be happy to back up any statement you would like—and admit it should you show my claims to be false… 😉 —but mostly I just wanted the response you gave. As a professional modeler and data scientist, I’m very interested in quantitative predictions about the election and their accuracy, and, given the past reliability of both sources, my opinion is that unless there is some sort of structural bias in the polling (which may be possible, but I don’t think is likely), then they will be in the same ballpark accuracy-wise this time (i.e. a random variation, most likely within their confidence interval). While both Nate and Sam support President Obama, I think they do a good job of keeping their partisan options out of their analysis (not surprising as they have compelling professional reasons not to do so).

          That being said, Mr. McLaughlin is claiming that the polls are statistically biased (which, as Nate said in a recent article, is, at this point, pretty much the only reason for his predictions to be wrong). Nate, based on the historical deviations between polls and results, estimates this probability at 14.9%. Sam gives his “meta-margin” as 2.98%—meaning that there would have to be a bias of that amount in the polling to move the race to even. While Mr. McL raises the only credible objection that could account for Nate and Sam’s results and a Romney win (aside from dishonesty on the part of Nate and Sam—something I think you would agree is unlikely), I would note that he doesn’t explain why the polling models are off. He objects that the internals can’t be right (mostly, it seems, on his own or other’s anecdotal evidence rather than on quantitative measures or alternate models), but he doesn’t propose any mechanism that would result in this error. If the likely voter screens (or the polls in general) are skewing Democratic this year, then there is a reason and in the absence of a plausible one, I’m skeptical. On the other hand, we know that many of the polls are skewed by being land-line only polls, which is generally considered to bias results in the other direction. In the end, I agree that the efficacy of poll-based modeling is at question here and should ultimately be judged on the results, but right now I think the data favors the hypothesis that the aggregation of polls (by various methods) produces accurate results. If the results should falsify this hypothesis, then I think it will beg the same question I had for Mr. McLaughlin—why?

          As for the anecdotal enthusiasm gap—I’ve noticed that several of my online friends that are in battleground states have “gone dark” recently. Presumably they don’t have time to blog anymore because they are spending all of their free time working on the Obama campaign (in several instances I know this to be the case) and I’ve seen it suggested that the enthusiasm gap is much lower in battleground states (and that the organizational gap favors President Obama—something I have no trouble believing having been a volunteer in 2008).

          Finally, the numbers I’ve heard regarding early voting (all from partisan sources) simply don’t add up. One—or both—sides are doing some extremely heavy spinning if not outright lying. Either way, I think it bears looking at after the election to see how both sides were coming up with their numbers (the obvious thing to do would be to include numbers from non-battleground states—it doesn’t really matter how big a lead Obama has in CA or Romney has in TX, but if President Obama is ahead by 300,000 in NC** that’s a Biden*).

          Anyway, thanks for answering my question and making me think—that’s always worthwhile!


          * In other words, “A Big Effing Deal” 😉

          ** As Jim Messina said in a video.

          • John Woodman says:

            As you intimated, someone here is either badly mistaken or possibly outright lying. Until and unless I know more, though, I’m going to assume it’s a matter of mistaken optimism. Whichever side the lack of reality turns out to be on.

            As we’ve seen with the birther movement, the desire to believe is a powerful thing. And anyone with a dog in the fight naturally wants to believe his or her side is winning.

            Would I like to believe Romney and Ryan are winning? Sure. But I tend to try to let the facts dictate what I believe, over my personal preferences.

            And I’ve gone back and forth, based on whatever my latest tally of information is.

            Anyway, we’ll know much more 72 hours from now.

            • Thomas Brown says:

              The last rally attendance figures I saw: Romney had one @4500 and another at 6200. The same day saw Mr. Obama draw 17,000 in one venue, 24,000 in another, and the same day 11,000 people showed up in NH, the largest draw at a political rally of any kind in the entire history of the State.

              So… I’m not sure you’ve got a 100% bead on the enthusiasm situation.

            • John Woodman says:

              I’m sure Obama’s drawn some good crowds as well.

              I must say, however, that I do not entirely trust the media figures for Obama rally attendance. And this comes from personal experience more than anything.

              I was personally at an event, some years ago, where there were both conservative and liberal demonstrators. The conservative crowd numbered around 700, and the liberal crowd around 30 or 40. So conservatives outnumbered liberals approximately 20 to 1.

              An article in a major newspaper covered the event. They quite explicitly described it as a liberal demonstration with “a few” conservative counter-protestors. I’m not sure those are the exact words they used, but that is the exact sense.

              I read this week of an Obama rally that supposedly — according to the media article — drew 20,000. But apparently, the arena in which it took place was only capable of holding fewer than 13,000. I went to verify this arena information for myself, and that certainly appeared to be the case.

              In the end, I do think this is going to be a close election.

    • John Woodman says:

      Okay, goin’ out on a limb here.

      I predict the final electoral college total vote count for Obama / Biden will be somewhere between 191 and 347.

      I further predict that Romney / Ryan will get a minimum of 191 electoral votes, but will get no more than 347.

      And I will put this prediction up against anyone’s. I truly believe I have a very high probability of being proven correct.

      Anyone has any questions, just let me know. 😉

  13. John Woodman says:

    Both Gallup and Rasmussen both now show Romney up, 49 to 48.

    Word is — I don’t know whether it’s accurate or not — but word is that Romney internals have him tied in Pennsylvania and up by 1 in Ohio.

    Romney appears to be peaking, with stunning precision, right at Election Day.

    • John Woodman says:

      I am now prepared to make my prediction.

      I predict that Mitt Romney will tomorrow be elected the 45th President of the United States.

      • Northland10 says:

        Your prediction could still be partially correct even if Obama wins tomorrow (or in Constitutional strictness, in January). Romney could run again in 2016 and end up still being the 45th President.

        I guess I could also nitpick and say, nobody is being elected President tomorrow. 😉

    • Slartibartfast says:


      The data disagrees with you on this one—Romney gained sharply in the polls after the first debate, but President Obama has been steadily improving ever since the vice-presidential debate (an expected reversion to the mean). You shouldn’t rely on single polls in any case—the polling median (an indicator that has been reliable in the past) paints a much different story… Every quantitative analysis of the polling data suggests that President Obama will probably win—if I were in your position that would make me extremely nervous…


    • There must have been at least 30 polls of swing states released in the last three days. Obama has lead in at least 90% of them except Romney has lead in Florida and NC in a few and that lead has gone down instead of up. These Romney leaked “internal polls” are worthless without data to back up how they got the numbers such as sample size and how they determined likely voters. Leaking “internal polls” on election eve is the kind of things losers do to keep the election in play.

      Intrade is edging up tonight with Obama up 5% to 68-70%. The offshore betting sites have Obama priced much higher.

      The most significant national poll I have seen is a Pew Research poll that had a sample size of almost 2500 that had Obama up 50-47. That is a large sample and the statistical MOE was 1.5%. I believe Obama’s margin will be about 4% in the popular vote and somewhere around 310-330 electoral votes for Obama. Although the final Gallup had Romney at +1 they also had Obama at 52-47% on job approval. He is higher than George Bush was in 2004 at election time. Gallup seems to be the outlier this time for whatever reason.

      RCP has moved towards Obama almost every day for the past week and Obama is ahead by a full point now. I think the results still include the Gallup poll that had Romney +6 before Hurricane Sandy that I doubt even Romney’s folks believed.

      For those reasons I think Obama is a solid favorite and will win reelection for another term.

    • John Woodman says:

      Well, we’ll see. It’s going to be an interesting election tomorrow, whichever way it goes. 😉

    • Suranis says:

      Should be interesting to watch, even from over here.

    • John Woodman says:

      Romney does not sound like a guy who’s going to lose tomorrow.

      He sounds like a guy who is driving in the final nail.

      • Slartibartfast says:


        Do you really think he would sound any different if his internals were telling him the same thing that Nate and Sam’s models are telling us? If things were the other way around, I’d be bracing myself for bad news tomorrow—Nate and Sam might be wrong, but they are accurately reporting what the data says.

    • Slartibartfast says:

      Um… MSNBC bills this as President Obama in his final campaign event in Des Moines tonight and the photo from Breitbart doesn’t seem to have certain things one might like to see in it… like the President of the United States. Just sayin’ 😛

      • John Woodman says:

        Wow. Impressive photo.

        Obviously both sides are drawing enthusiastic crowds.

        We’ll see what happens tomorrow.

      • Suranis says:

        Nice crowd. The Romney photo looks like a very big crowd too. Nice to see people willing to come out to support their candidates on both sides in these chilly nights.

    • Slartibartfast says:


      As a scientist (and I am a data scientist), the polling evidence (which even if it is off regarding the state of the race would be accurate about the changes in the race) says that Romney had momentum from the first debate to the Vice Presidential debate after which any momentum has been in the direction of President Obama. Recently, President Obama has perhaps gotten a 1% bounce from Sandy (anecdotally, I don’t think that having a major disaster hit right before an election when you are on the record as saying that spending money on federal disaster relief is “immoral” plays very well in Florida…). I think you’re looking with partisan eyes—and the science says you are wrong.

      • John Woodman says:

        I may be. Hope not. But we’ll see tomorrow!

        • Slartibartfast says:


          While I may be wrong about tomorrow (along with Sam and Nate), I’m right about what the science says. Everyone who is putting their scientific credibility on the line (which anyone does when using a quantitative model to make a prediction) agrees that this race doesn’t look “razor tight”*, but instead looks to be going President Obama’s way by a couple of points (and about 300-330 electoral votes—mostly depending on which way Florida swings, I think…). Personally, I think these are much more likely to have predictive power than crowd shots, candidate statements, or anything said by a pundit on either side (it would be interesting to see how pundit’s predictions would change if anyone who was wrong about the outcome was waterboarded… or we could just waterboard all of the pundits on both sides 😛 ).

          * a repeated phrase that Stephen Colbert lifted from Fox News coverage…

      • Suranis says:

        Sandy at least showed 2 political opponents, Gov Christie and President Obama, working together to help their countrymen. Good to see.

      • Isn’t posting links to Breitbart akin to posting links to OrlyTaitzEsq.com?

  14. Slartibartfast says:


    The early returns from FL seem to be consistent with Nate and Sam saying that the state was a dead heat—not good news for Romney…

  15. John Woodman says:

    To those who predicted an Obama victory:

    You were right.

    My own prediction was plausible — and wrong.

    I congratulate Mr. Obama on his reelection.

    I suppose that’s about it.

    • Slartibartfast says:


      I didn’t predict anything—I just repeated what the people looking at the data said. If you pay more attention to what Nate and Sam are saying than any of the punditocracy or individual pollsters four years from now, you’ll know just like I did—and I’ll have accomplished what I intended (which was not to gloat about President Obama winning, but to point out what the science said—the one thing that you have clearly proven to everyone with this blog (except the birthers—who really don’t matter at all any more except to those of us who find them amusing 😉 ) is that you prefer an unpleasant truth to a convenient lie.

      I hope you watched the speeches tonight—I thought that Governor Romney’s was gracious, honest, and heartfelt and that President Obama’s was the best he’s given since his 2004 convention speech. It is my hope that conservatives will realize that they need to take the hand that President Obama has stretched across the asile and work with him. What we need more than anything else in this country is for Republicans in Congress to reject the blind partisanship of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell and return to being the “loyal opposition”. The challenges ahead of us require working together or failing separately.

      Had things gone differently, I would have (admittedly unhappily) expressed the following from John Wayne (upon the occasion of President Kennedy’s election): “I didn’t vote for him but he’s my president, and I hope he does a good job.” You’ve demonstrated a similar sentiment in your posts on this blog. I know you probably don’t believe that President Obama will do a good job (I wouldn’t have believed that Governor Romney would have done a good job, even though I would have hoped differently), but I truly believe that this outcome was better for me, better for you and your family, and better for the American people and I hope one day you will come to see that.

      • Thomas Brown says:

        Allow me to second your praise for Romney’s concession speech: it was kind, clean, mature, professional… the best I’ve ever watched. If that guy had run for President and ignored the party handlers, he might just have won.

    • Suranis says:

      Romney’s failures are not your failures, John.

    • Thanks John. That was very gracious. I have been in your position when “my guy” lost and it is not easy to be gracious. I hope you will continue to comment at my blog and other places around the Internet from time to time. I am working on a blog post around the theme that the Birthers should really be thanking us today. We were obviously the only ones who have paid any attention to them at all. None of those who voted did.

      • John Woodman says:

        😆 You’re welcome. And yes, it’s not necessarily that easy to be gracious. The post originally included a couple of additional lines of commentary about the fact that I was disappointed with the result, feel it’s continuing in the wrong direction, blah, blah, blah. But who cares? The bottom line is, Mr. Obama fought a strongly-contested and very well-run campaign against a challenger who turned out to be stronger than quite a few people expected; and a lot of people believe in this President and rallied behind him, and in the end he and his supporters ran a great campaign and got out and voted, and you guys won.

        You — and he — are to be congratulated.

        The one absolute certainty going into Election Day was that very shortly 1/2 of Americans would be pleased, and 1/2 of Americans would be disappointed. That was going to be the inevitable result. And do you know what? I accept the half of America that is pleased today as being my fellow Americans. We are in this together.

        I also know that elections in America tend to be cyclical. Each of us — no matter who we back — are likely to see our shares of thrills and disappointments. I was generally pleased with the Reagan / Bush years, not terribly happy with the Clinton years, and generally pleased with the Bush years. Well… it’s your turn. Not mine.

        And I’ll tell you this, for certain: I rejoice that we have a two-party system in this country, where you and I and everybody else in the country can take sides in the grand battle of opposing ideas and philosophies, and battle it out with words and with ballots instead of with fists and guns. I rejoice that we have neither the anarchy and violence and the rule-by-force of some places in the world, nor the dictatorial one-party control of many other places. I rejoice that we live in a country where my guy stood before the microphones last night and congratulated the winner of the election.

        In that sense, we are all winners today. Even those of us, like myself, who happen to be on today’s disappointed side.

        So — congratulations. I hope and pray that Mr. Obama governs for the next four years in a way that will turn out to be beneficial for you, me and everyone else in the country. In that sense, even though I obviously do not hope he prevails in certain areas in which I disagree with his polices, I do still wish President Obama success. I particularly wish him success in getting this country back on course economically. As either succeeding candidate would, he faces some big challenges there. And I hope he, you, I, and the country are all successful in working together to build a better future for all Americans.

      • John Woodman says:

        And do you know what else? I know and will tell anyone that Mr. Obama is the duly-elected and legitimate President of the United States.

        As John Wayne said of JFK: “I didn’t vote for him, but he’s my President, and I hope he does a good job.”

        • Slartibartfast says:

          As I said above, I’m glad I didn’t have to use that John Wayne quote myself, but had things gone differently I would have said the same thing. (and Romney birthers probably wouldn’t have annoyed me any less… I spent quite a bit of time telling truthers that while there were—in my opinion—any number of reasons to consider President Bush terrible, complicity in 9/11 wasn’t one of them…)

          • John Woodman says:

            Thank you for doing so.

            The last conversation I had at last night’s Election Night Party was with a guy who quite matter of factly said something about Obama having been born in Kenya.

            We talked for a fair while, and as far as I can tell, when he left he was no longer in the thrall of the birthers.

            As an aside… kudos to the Greene County Republican Party and the Oasis for the catering — the free food was really great and there was plenty to go around. 😉

    • Suranis says:

      Well look on the bright side for the Birthers. In 4 more years, Barack Obama will actually be ineligible for the presidency! SUCCESS!!

      • John Woodman says:

        Well… the birthers are still in business, and have an additional 4 years to peddle their nonsense.

        So I suppose that counts as a “win”?

        • Slartibartfast says:

          Except… they have become totally and completely irrelevant and I doubt anyone will feel the need to even pretend to pander to them any more. They can’t even attempt to hurt President Obama by smearing him since he never has to run for office again (I think they were a very small net plus to his campaign in any case).

          • John Woodman says:

            Yeah. I think at this point their relevancy is indeed gone. Some of them will undoubtedly struggle to regain it, but I think they’ve passed their sell-by date.

            • Slartibartfast says:

              Oh, I’m sure they’ll try, but even their sliver of the zeitgeist is gone and their competence never existed.

              Sun Tzu said: “Strategy without tactics is the slowest path to victory and tactics without strategy is the sound before defeat” After watching the birthers for 4 years we know that sound—“LET ME FEEENISH!”

    • Scientist says:

      John, I am pleased by and accept as 100% sincere your best wishes for President Obama’s success, since the country, and in fact the world, have a stake in that success.

      However, I must admit some disappointment in reading your posts from a few days ago where you, like many on the Romney side, were placing your faith in anecdotes that told you what you wanted to hear (size of crowds, demeanor of the candidates, lawn signs) rather than in the very scientific methods that you used to analyze the long form pdf. The simple fact is that those, like Nate Silver of the NY Times and Sam Wang of Princeton, who developed valid statistical models to analyze the polls were dead-on correct in their predictions. Nate called all 51 states + DC correctly and Sam missed only Florida (assuming Florida does go to Obama, as seems likely). Moreover, Nate got all the Senate races correct, except for North Dakota. I also note, that although they are both liberal Democrats, when their models tell them that the other side is winning (as in 2010) they go with the models.

      All the great work you did on the eligibility issue thoroughly debunked the “I wish Obama weren’t President so he must have been born in Kenya or you must need 2 citizen parents” viewpoint. You ought to similarly accept that the reality-based work of Siver and Wang et al ought to debunk the “I like candidate X, so he must be winning” viewpoint.

      I would add that our trust in good models, where such exist, ought to trump (no pun intended) our gut feelings, which are very error prone. I recommend the book, “Thinking Fast and Slow”, by the Nobel-winning behavioral economist Daniel Khaneman for a great treatment on how our instincts can very easily mislead us. As a further example, I give you Hurricane Sandy, which behaved unlike any storm within the experience of anyone alive today, yet was forecast with superb accuracy by the various hurricane models once they all converged on the same scenario. No matter how much one might wish for that storm not to demolish one’s house, we are best off knowing the truth.

      • John Woodman says:

        I don’t know why you would be disappointed.

        Nate Silver’s predictions turned out to be great, but you must understand that I was looking at things not from where we are today, but from where we were then.

        I did what I usually do — looked at as much information as I could find, and evaluated it the best I could — knowing that the information I was dealing with was nothing like as deterministic as being able to get my hands on a PDF file and test for myself whether claims made about it were true.

        First of all, even Nate Silver acknowledged that his predictions were only as good as the underlying data. And that, I didn’t have my hands on.

        Second, some significant unknowns had been introduced into polling by the recent trend of people to abandon land lines for cell-phone-only phone usage. Not everyone is reachable. Who are the unreachables? Are they mostly Obama voters, or Romney voters? I didn’t know.

        Third, some of the data I saw were rather conflicting, to say the least. I saw polls that consistently reached a larger number of Democrats than Republicans. I also saw information that there are now more people claiming to be Republicans than there are claiming to be Democrats. What to do with that? That implied a Romney victory.

        Fourth, I’ve seen evidence in recent history of election results that turned out to be completely different from what “everyone” was predicting.

        Fifth, Nate Silver is now a highly credible voice with me. But until this election, I’d never heard of him. Without some of the kind of evidence he has now provided that has gained my confidence, I’m not particularly impressed just because someone has a PhD from Harvard, or serves as Sheriff in a metropolitan area that has around 4 million people, or has a law degree cum laude from Harvard and has served as a Professor of Law.

        Nor, if you’ve followed birtherism, should you be. If you’ve followed birtherism close enough, you will know that those descriptions above are real descriptions of real people — whose claims have been clearly and consistently shown to be absolutely wrong. Again and again.

        Sixth, just because someone is smart doesn’t necessarily mean they’re telling you the truth. If you’ve followed birtherism long enough, I’m sure you’ve seen some examples of smart people saying things that were completely untrue. In fact, I’m sure you’ve seen some examples of outright lying and fraud on the part of some birthers. I know I have.

        Seventh, by historic measures, I think there are some good reasons as to why President Obama should not have been reelected. For one thing, a great portion of the country still does not like his health care law. For another, under his watch our national debt has skyrocketing, bringing us to the brink of a generational catastrophe from which there now appears to be no turning back. For another, as noted in a news article today, no President has been reelected with this high an unemployment rate since Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

        Eighth, as referenced above, I personally have no doubt that liberal bias in the media is real. I personally attended an event in which conservatives outnumbered liberals 20 to 1, and I personally read the reporting of the event — which was portrayed exactly as if the precise opposite had been true. It really wasn’t bias, it was outright falsehood. And the article appeared in a major newspaper. I don’t remember precisely which one. But I most certainly remember reading it.

        I read predictions ranging from an Obama landslide to a Romney landslide — many of them from people with far more known track record than Nate Silver (whom, again, I had never heard of) and with reputations for being experts. Karl Rove predicted a narrow Romney win. Dick Morris predicted a Romney landslide. I did not for one minute buy into the Dick Morris scenario.

        So I did no worse than Karl Rove, and far better than Dick Morris.

        All of that being the case, I don’t really know why you should be disappointed. I took Nate Silver into account, but I took a lot of other things into account as well. All things considered, I was operating in much more of a fog in making an electoral prediction than in my past evaluations of birther claims. And I knew that.

        Based on the information I had, and my evaluation of the value of that information — which again was a judgment call based on other information that I did and did not have — I stated the way I believed the race was going to go. I was wrong.

        I don’t feel I have anything to regret either from making a prediction, or from being wrong. I would only have something to regret if — like the birthers — I continued to insist that my prediction had been correct all along, and that the election had been stolen through massive fraud.

        • Scientist says:

          All right, let’s look at your points one by one:

          1. Yes, any analysis is only as good as the underlying data. But the underlying data on one side was aggregates of polls designed to cancel out errors and bias by the various individual pollsters and on the other side, the underlying data was crowd #s, lawn signs and “feelings”. The fact is that the Obama people put their efforts into one-on-one contacts to get people to the polls and de-emphasized crowds and lawn signs. Seems like that was very smart.

          2. Actually we do know about cell phone only users. They are disproportionately Democratic (due to younger people being over-represented). Polls that sample only land lines tend to overstate Republicans by 2-3% vs polls that sample land lines + cell phones. This was known from 2008 and 2010 and also was true this year.

          3. The exit polls which sampled actual voters showed that the partisan breakdown of those who actually voted was almost identical to that in pre-election polls. Keep in mind that party identification in polls is a variable, unlike gender or age. It is different from registration, which is more fixed since you have to do paperwork to change your registration. Someone who plans to vote for Obama might well identify as D this time even if they are registered as I or even R.

          4. Actually, in recent times, the aggregates of polls have been extremely accurate, though individual pollsters are less so. In the famous “Dewey beats Truman” polling was in its infancy and they stopped polling about a month before the election. Also, when one candidate leads from start to finish, the polls tend to be even more accurate than in a volatile race. The truth is that Obama led all year in the national poll aggregates other than for a brief time following the first debate. And Romney NEVER led in the aggrgates in Ohio, not even once. Nor in Iowa, Nevada, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania or New Hampshire. He led in Florida at some points and Virginia was tied. The betting sites never had Obama much below 60% and never below 50% in 2012. They tend to do very well because people bet real money.

          5. Silver predicted all 50 states in 2008. He was also very close in Senate races in 2008 and 2010 and for the House in 2010. That information was easily available.

          6. See #5. In 2010, when the numbers were bad for Dems, Silver gave them straight. No comparison with birthers who cherry pick when they don’t outright lie.

          7. I am glad that we agree that Obama is a lot like FDR!!!

          8. I can’t comment on some news story in some unnamed paper regarding some story I know nothing about.

          As for Morris and Rove, Morris does have a very long track record of predictions. And he sucks at them. As for Rove, if you want partisan bias, he is the all time king. Nate may be sympathetic to Obama, but Rove is the #1 FUNDRAISER AND GURU FOR REPUBLICANS. They don’t come more biased and partisan than Rove. By the way, his meltdown on Fox at 11:15 on election night was priceless. And how did Ohio turn out?

          I am not asking you to regret your prediction. I am simply pointing out that you ought to apply the same rigorous standard you correctly applied to the pdf to other situations. Do complete and thorough research and let the chips fall where they may.

          • John Woodman says:

            Look, I did the best research I could do. I made the most accurate prediction I could have made based on the information I had. I have even explained my reasons for making the prediction I did.

            If you don’t like the prediction I came up with — which was closer than a lot of other predictions out there, on both sides — well, sorry. That’s what other web sites are for.

  16. Slartibartfast says:


    I don’t mean to pile on, but I think that Scientist’s point is important—and what my pre-election posts were trying to get at. You didn’t know about Nate Silver (or Sam Wang) and that’s fine. Buy by now I would think that you do know something about my credibility and I tried to make it clear that I was speaking as a scientist (in my area of expertise) rather than a partisan. Yet you seemed unwilling to accept my statements about what the data said—even though you didn’t have any evidence that anything I said was untrue (unlike the mountain of evidence that you developed against pretty much every birther “expert”). Now, we all get blinded by our own confirmation biases from time to time, but you’ve shown a remarkable integrity in regard to your investigations of the birther issue and, while the issues certainly aren’t as clear cut, I believe that many of your political beliefs are unable to withstand that level of scrutiny. For instance (and I don’t know if you share this belief, but it is central to Republican economic policy) the idea that cutting taxes on upper income earners encourages job creation and stimulates the economy (or vice versa). it doesn’t. Speaker Boehner, before the election, said that house Republicans would reject any effort to raise taxes on the highest earners. Boenher, who received the CRS report I linked (which Congressional Republicans demanded to be withdrawn in an effort to suppress it) is making arguments that are at odds with the facts. This isn’t an isolated incident in my opinion—in science, you design your experiment and then report what the data tells you. I think that many Republican leaders are unwilling to accept the efficacy of science or objective studies because they can’t guarantee that the results will support their position (in fact, I believe that the facts are against them on many issues like global warming, supply-side economics, de-regulation of industries, tax policy, and many, many others). If you judge your leaders by the same scientific standards that you have applied to the birthers, I don’t believe that you will like what you see. I strongly believe that principled conservatives (like yourself) need to reject your leaders who ignore empiricism and embrace blind partisan obstructionism. This country would be much stronger with a “loyal opposition” that was willing to actively negotiate (which includes compromise on both sides) instead of people like John Boehner and Mitch McConnell who have made it perfectly clear that they will put their political fortunes above the good of the country in an effort to make the president fail.

    • Scientist says:

      Yeah, Slarty, let’s look at the correlation between top tax rates and economic growth

      1950s-very high tax rates (90%)-good GDP growtth
      1960s- Kennedy cuts rates to 70%-good GDP growth
      1970s- Still 70%-lousy GDP growth
      1980s-Reagan cuts rates (eventually to 28%)-good GDP growth
      1990s-Bush I and Clinton raise rates (eventually to 39.5%)-really good GDP growth
      2000s- Bush II cuts rates-lousy GDP growth

      So what is the correlation? Looks like r is pretty close to 0 there.

      Certainly, having owned a business and been in management in others, I would never have based a decision to expand and hire people on what my personal tax rate was. Businesses hire when they have orders they can’t fill with current staff. Period.

      But the real point is that intuition is not usually a good guide for public policy. Much of modern physics is counter-intuitive, yet it is indisputably true. Sometimes there will be no data, so we will have to go on intuition. But when data exists, we should be guided by it, not our gut.

      Also, on the unemployment rate that John mentioned above. The guiding assumption implicit in Romney’s arguments was that this recovery should be the same as other post-war recoveries and since it isn’t, that’s Obama’s fault. But what caused this Great Recession was very different from what caused other post-war recessions. They were caused by the economy overheating and the Fed raising interest rates to cool things off. So, they were easily fixed. The Fed cuts interest rates and-bingo-recovery. That, much more than tax cuts, was what happened under Reagan.

      But what happened in 2007-2008 was very different. It was a financial crisis caused by massive amounts of bad loans spread all over the globe. Different disease. Interest rates have been at 0% for years.

      The truth is that there is data on financial crises. In fact, there is data on the last 800 years of financial crises. It was studied by 2 economists-Carmen Rinehart and Kenneth Rogoff who wrote a book a couple of years ago called “This Time is Different”. What did they find? That it takes, on average, 10 years (yes, 10 years) to work off thebad debt and recover from such crises. We are only 5 years in. So 8% unemployment is actually pretty good. That’s right, 8% is about what you would expect.

      As the late Senator Daniel Moynihan said, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own set of facts.” John, you are entitled to your opinions and they certainly don’t have to be the same as mine or Slarty’s. But shouldn’t they be based on facts?

      • John Woodman says:

        In instances in which the facts are clear and indisputable to everyone involved, there is little room for legitimate debate. That’s the situation of birtherism.

        In instances in which the facts are less known or less clear, then varying interpretations of the map come into play.

        I evaluated the facts as best I could, based on the facts I obtained and my understanding of them. That’s all that anybody can reasonably do. You two seem to demand that I should be omniscient. I am not omniscient, and am not likely to become so any time in the foreseeable future.

        If my prediction had turned out to be correct, would you like to be grilled by me? Would you like for me to demand that you ought to have reached a different conclusion?

        I’m sure your response would be the same as mine: I examined the facts as I understood them, and I reached a conclusion based on that. I still don’t have any idea exactly what either of you expect that I ought to have done differently.

        • Scientist says:

          John-In your defense, the Romney people apparently were drinking the same tea as you were (well, being Mormon, it was decaf) http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-250_162-57547239/adviser-romney-shellshocked-by-loss/?pageNum=2&tag=page

          Now, personally, I find that shocking. This guy spent years doing billion $ deals. Presumably, they weren’t done on wishful thinking, but on hard-nosed analyisis. I wouldn’t think that Bain would buy a company based on rosy projections of the market for their products. All ideology aside, I would sooner have as President the guy that put together one of the best campaign organizations ever assembled, as opposed to the guy whose organization couldn’t even make a valid appraisal of how things stood on election day.

          • Northland10 says:

            This touches upon leadership styles that I had been watching curiously during the campaign. I found that Romney’s style with his team tended to be aloof and without attention to details. This reminded me of something I once read in The Pentagon and the Presidency: Civil-Military Relations from FDR to George W. Bush :

            George W. Bush was the first MBA corporate executive to become president and he let “it be known that he favors a corporate model of political leadership.” Not wanted to become involved in details, he instead intended to rely on his subordinates to deal with problems and provide answers to his questions. In a sense, he was the opposite of Jimmy Carter, who loved to delve into the minutia of national security policy.

            Romney, also being a Harvard MBA and with substantial corporate leadership experience some of the same style during the campaign, in my opinion. I see Obama having a greater interest in minutia which does make him more like Carter (save for the obvious 2nd term thing).

            As for allowing rosy predictions in Bain, there were many financial organization who based their decisions on rosy predictions that did not pan out by 2007-2008.

          • John Woodman says:

            Thanks for sharing that link, Scientist. Some relevant quotes:

            After Ohio went for Mr. Obama, it was over, but senior advisers say no one could process it.

            “We went into the evening confident we had a good path to victory,” said one senior adviser. “I don’t think there was one person who saw this coming.”

            Romney was stoic as he talked to the president, an aide said, but his wife Ann cried. Running mate Paul Ryan seemed genuinely shocked, the adviser said. Ryan’s wife Janna also was shaken and cried softly.

            “There’s nothing worse than when you think you’re going to win, and you don’t,” said another adviser. “It was like a sucker punch.”

            Again, I think you are making an assumption — on the basis of the fact that a prediction turned out to be incorrect — that the prediction was necessarily incompetently done, or “non-scientific,” or irresponsible, or less reasonable than the prediction that turned out to be correct.

            Which is more plausible here — that Mitt Romney’s entire team made a prediction that was simply based on “wishful thinking,” or that Romney — who undoubtedly has a track record of hard-nosed analysis — asked his team for hard-nosed analysis?

            It seems clear from the article that not only Romney but his entire team of advisors and analysts genuinely believed that they had a pathway to victory.

            And IF that conclusion was based on any degree of wishful thinking, then where is the evidence that the Obama side did not engage in the same amount of wishful thinking?

            It simply happens that one side turned out to be right.

            Or is it only conservatives who engage in any degree of wishful thinking? Do you really believe that?

            • Scientist says:

              I would argue that whether we are speaking of a President, a corporate CEO, an investment advisor, a baseball manager or whatever, we pay them not just to do their best, but to be RIGHT. I am not one of those who believes Bush deliberately lied about Iraq and WMDs-I think he thought they had them. But he was WRONG. And that is very serious in my book. And yes, the British and the French thought so too. Well, they were WRONG too. At least the French didn’t go to war over their error.

              We won’t have the opportunity to judge Romney’s decisions as President, but the fact that his billion-dollar team was wrong and Obama’s billion-dollar team was right over something as basic as the electoral math convinces me that the voters chose wisely.

            • John Woodman says:

              There are too many gaps in the chain for me to reach the same conclusion.

              First, it may be that Obama’s team did a more competent job of predicting the outcome than Romney’s, but I don’t know that for certain. It may have just been a situation where both teams were equally competent in predicting the results, both teams came up with a prediction that favored their candidate, and one team simply won the toss of the coin.

              Secondly, if Obama’s team was markedly better than Romney’s, that doesn’t necessarily imply that Mr. Obama was more skilled than Mr. Romney in selecting his team.

              Romney has been very successful in business. You don’t get where Romney’s gotten without being able to pick and put together a great team. So I really don’t have any big concerns about that.

              Third, even if Obama did exercise more skill in picking an election-forecasting team, that doesn’t necessarily imply that he will be better at managing national affairs. It doesn’t imply his philosophy is necessarily better. It doesn’t imply his plans for the country are necessarily better. It doesn’t imply his ability to work with legislators is necessarily better. And so on.

              I could pick this apart further, but you get the idea.

            • gsgs says:

              > I am not one of those who believes
              > Bush deliberately lied about Iraq
              > and WMDs-I think he thought
              > they had them.

              no. They deliberately created
              the evidence. It was
              a structure of propaganda, not
              investigation. If this had been an investigation then why all the talk about
              Hussein’s other (unrelated) bad things ?

            • Slartibartfast says:


              If you (or any Republican) wants to believe that President Obama’s team was just more competent at predicting results I think that’s great. President Obama’s team is a new paradigm for US campaigns and (assuming he keeps the data infrastructure together) could be a structural advantage for the Democrats for years to come.

              Here’s a prediction for you: History will show that George Bush was the last Reagan Republican. There wont be another Republican elected president until the right gives up the Reagan myth of supply-side economics, tax-cuts for the rich, and deregulation. Truth is that President Reagan could not pass the right’s ideological test these days.

            • Slartibartfast says:


              How do you know that President Bush created evidence (or had evidence created)? I don’t think we know whether his team was wrong or his team lied to him or he and his team lied to the country and the world—just that any of those options reflect poorly on President Bush.

            • John

              I must again apologize for misrepresenting your prediction on the electoral vote. I don’t think you were drinking any Koolade. I think your prediction may have been affected by your desire for Romney to win but was not unreasonable as you could find paths for him to win if a few close states all broke in one direction. As you said people who were controlling Romney’s campaign and who had access to a lot of information were also very wrong.

              I was very confident Obama would win based on my knowledge with Nate Silver, Sam Wang, and the direction of the polls the final two weeks of the campaign. Nate Silver went so far as to say that for Romney to win that there would have to be a fundamental flaw in the methodology used by multiple polling firms. As it turned out a few polls were fundamental flawed, namely Gallup, Rasmussen, and apparently Romney’s own polls.

              I think there is a “conservative media bubble” however. A lot of people exclusively get there news from sources like Fox News, Hannity, NewsMax, Limbaugh, and other right wing sources. Those folks believed Benghazi was as big a scandal as Watergate, that Obama never called it a terrorist attack, that Obama does not believe in traditional American values, and that Romney was going to win a huge victory. Of these and more only the Romney loss pierced that bubble for even a brief moment. Some are now rationalizing even that shocking bit of reality by saying the election was stolen.

            • John Woodman says:

              Don’t worry about thinking I had predicted differently than I had. Not a problem.

              I would have to agree with your belief in a “conservative media bubble.” But I do think it’s not necessarily just conservatives. I think there are folks on any side of an issue who tend to tune in to preferred media outlets.

              I’ll say this, though. I’ve been kind of disappointed at the number of people simply taking the word of outlets like WND.

        • Slartibartfast says:

          John said:

          In instances in which the facts are clear and indisputable to everyone involved, there is little room for legitimate debate. That’s the situation of birtherism.

          Yes, but there are other issues where the evidence is nearly as strong (if nowhere near as obvious).

          In instances in which the facts are less known or less clear, then varying interpretations of the map come into play.

          The other thing that comes into play is propaganda—which is something that is best countered by honest inquiry, in my opinion.

          I evaluated the facts as best I could, based on the facts I obtained and my understanding of them. That’s all that anybody can reasonably do. You two seem to demand that I should be omniscient. I am not omniscient, and am not likely to become so any time in the foreseeable future.

          We don’t demand that you should have been omniscient, but, speaking for myself, I would like to know why you think your analysis failed. Objectively speaking, you made a mistake. Why? (this is an honest question—I have no intention or desire to berate you nor do I want to “count coup” as birthers like TJ try to do—I’d like to know what caused your error in the hopes that it will give me insight on how to convince people who are making similar errors (given your demonstrated integrity, I have no doubt that you would accept any insight you gained as well).

          If my prediction had turned out to be correct, would you like to be grilled by me?

          Absolutely—I’m a professional modeler and I gave my expert opinion that Nate and Sam were accurately representing the data. A scientist is always putting his or her credibility on the line when they do that. I strongly believe that everyone should be challenged to defend their beliefs and opinions when the evidence contradicts them. The reason that I have been a regular on this site is because this whole time you have discussed everything in good faith (including this conversation) which is my overarching concern (beyond the issue of birtherism). I would encourage you to attack any idea that I have put forward on its merits and I will show nothing less. I feel that my personal beliefs, predictions, and opinions must be subjected to critical scrutiny and mercilessly compared to the empirical facts. I know that most other people feel differently but, quite frankly, I don’t really understand.

          Would you like for me to demand that you ought to have reached a different conclusion?

          I would welcome a demand to either defend my reasoning or admit how it was flawed so that the next time I’m in the situation I reach a more accurate conclusion.

          I’m sure your response would be the same as mine: I examined the facts as I understood them, and I reached a conclusion based on that.

          I would, but, in addition, I would want to know why I reached the wrong conclusion—was I using incorrect facts? was my reasoning fallacious? was I guilty of confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance?

          I still don’t have any idea exactly what either of you expect that I ought to have done differently.

          Let me turn that around on you—what might you have done differently that would have led to a more accurate assessment of the situation? I don’t expect you to have done anything differently—I find this sort of conversation fascinating in its own right. I would feel the same if we were dissecting my mistake instead of yours.

          You say that both sides are dishonest, and I would agree that my side is hardly pure (I don’t, however, think that there is parity in this regard), but I don’t think that “they did the same thing” is a valid excuse and I think that lies should be denounced no matter who they come from. I would also point out the classic Karl Rove technique of trying to paint your opponent with your own sin (something many birthers have tried to use on you). Most recently would be his attempts to blame the Republican loss on Democratic voter suppression—something for which he has no evidence whatsoever (as opposed to Republican voter suppression attempts that have been well documented in PA, OH, and FL (six hour lines to vote in America? Rick Scott—and John Husted—should be ashamed of themselves).

  17. Slartibartfast says:

    A discussion of the effort to suppress the CRS study which includes a comment by former CRS legislative attorney Vince Treacy.

    Do you approve of these sort of attempts at suppressing the facts by Congressional Republicans?

    • John Woodman says:

      I don’t support suppression of facts, or twisting of facts, by anybody — and I am quite aware that it happens on both sides of the aisle.

      That said, it’s not entirely clear to me that the situation in this particular case is exactly as you describe it:

      Don Stewart, a spokesman for the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said Mr. McConnell and other senators “raised concerns about the methodology and other flaws.” Mr. Stewart added that people outside of Congress had also criticized the study and that officials at the research service “decided, on their own, to pull the study pending further review.”

      But I don’t really want to get into a discussion about tax policy here, as that’s not something that I have the time to go and do a long research project on. It’s one area, of many, in which I withhold a lot of my judgment for some future time at which I may understand the entire arena better.

      As far as your statements regarding the data on the election: I spent some time digging into the data myself, with the results indicated above. Your voice was one of probably a hundred that I listened to. If you don’t think I paid enough attention to you, that’s fine. From my perspective, I did about as much research and about as much consideration as anybody could reasonably have expected me to do. Frankly, I spent more time on the issue than I should have. And I expressed my opinion as to which direction I thought the election was going to go, based on the information I had. I’m not sure what else you expect of me.

      • Thomas Brown says:

        Why is it that the CRS, the CBO, the bureau of labor statistics etc. are correct when they agree with Republicans, but suspect when they support a Democratic party idea?

        • John Woodman says:

          I never said they weren’t correct. On the contrary, I find any government agency that can be verified as having a strong nonpartisan dynamic and good track record of accurate research and conclusions to be very highly credible.

          In this particular instance, I am of two minds. I am quite frankly inclined to believe the conclusion that there is no apparent influence of upper-level tax rates on economic growth. It is a conclusion that makes sense to me personally, as I don’t imagine personal tax rates to be primary drivers of behavior.

          On the other hand, it seems to me that leaders at the CRS are sufficiently willing to entertain the idea that the criticisms regarding their methodology might be valid that they are taking a second look.

          In other words, by their own actions, they have indicated that my proper response is to wait and see what their final conclusions are. If they conclude that the criticisms regarding their methodology were invalid, they will undoubtedly explain why and “republish” the study, and in that event I will consider their conclusions to have been well-defended.

          You ask:

          Why is it that the CRS, the CBO, the bureau of labor statistics etc. are correct when they agree with Republicans, but suspect when they support a Democratic party idea?

          In this, Thomas, you are basically accusing me of only accepting what I want to hear. That is a bit surprising to me, since for the past year and a half I have publicly affirmed conclusions that (on the surface, at least) did not support my own political agenda.

          There are two answers to your question:

          1) Unlike a lot of people, I try to evaluate the accuracy of information without regard to whether it supports my current view, or not.

          In other words, I pretty well do my best to allow my perception of facts to be shaped by reality. I try to avoid attempting to shape reality according to my perception.

          So the charge or accusation doesn’t even really make sense to me.

          2) I try to be skeptical of everything.

          If I weren’t, I would have uncritically accepted all the “expert” birther opinions. I would have just believed the guy with the Harvard PhD, because — well, he’s got a PhD from Harvard and he’s saying stuff that sounds good. I would’ve believed the lawyer from New Jersey because, well, he’s a lawyer. And what (in the beginning of all this, not now) do I know? I would’ve believed the Sheriff in a county of 4 million people because, well, he’s got this entire team of professional investigators and they have “expert” after “expert”who agrees with them. I would’ve believed the guy with the law degree from Harvard who’s served as a Professor of Law, who says it takes two citizen parents to make a natural born citizen.

          Regarding skepticism: I should ask here: I really have not seen any evidence here — to this point — that all of you who now question me were as skeptical about your own guys, as I have been about mine. Where’s the evidence of that?

          It also seems to me that a few people are now promoting an idea that I don’t find valid. The idea is this:

          “If a ‘scientific research study’ concludes it, then it must necessarily be true.”

          Some years ago, I spent a great deal of my time trying to sort out the effects of concealed-carry laws. Quite naturally (for me, at least) I looked at all of the academic research studies I could find, on both sides of the question. I found that there were two different “camps,” and they had entirely different views — BOTH of which were based on extensive and carefully-done research.

          The fact is, in quite a few areas of life, if you examine 30 different academic research studies, you may very well find that 15 of them reach one conclusion, and 15 of them reach a very different conclusion.

          And it’s not always due to the fact that some of the studies were funded by organizations with vested interests — although that factor does come into play.

          Sometimes it’s simply that multiple factors were in play, and it’s not always easy to sort out reality. You see this a lot in studies in the field of health and nutrition. You see it in fields like economics, too.

          Figuring out the exact effects of Compound X can be a lot like trying to discern a conversation on the other side of a crowded room. Did he say, “She showed him?” Or did he say, “She shot him?”

          It seems to me that a couple of people here have made the following assumptions:

          “Because my guy turned out to be correct, his was the only ‘scientific’ or ‘valid’ approach to the question.”

          “Because my guy turned out to be correct, those who reached different conclusions before the election did so in an irresponsible or biased or careless way, or reached their conclusions simply by way of wishful thinking.”

          On the contrary — as I’ve stated before now, several times — I did my best to come up with a decent prediction based on the information available — all the while knowing that that information would only be validated (or not) by the actual election. I made a specific effort — as I always do — to filter out my own wishful thinking. I wasn’t the only one who reached it. I reached a particular conclusion. That particular conclusion turned out to be wrong.

          In fact, from the entire tone of the recent posts here, it appears to me that some put their faith in Nate Silver, and whoever they were listening to, as being the “only scientific sources of real information.”

          In other words, it appears to me that some others may have been less skeptical about their favored sources of information than I was about all the sources of information.

          In that instance, I don’t see myself as being the person who is drinking Kool-Aid.

          • Slartibartfast says:

            You said:

            It seems to me that a couple of people here have made the following assumptions:

            “Because my guy turned out to be correct, his was the only ‘scientific’ or ‘valid’ approach to the question.”

            No, I said that Nate and Sam have taken valid scientific approaches and that they (and other who took valid scientific approaches) came to the same conclusion.

            “Because my guy turned out to be correct, those who reached different conclusions before the election did so in an irresponsible or biased or careless way, or reached their conclusions simply by way of wishful thinking.”

            Nope—I was saying that everyone with a valid scientific methodology reached the same conclusion and that I find scientific consensus very persuasive.

            On the contrary — as I’ve stated before now, several times — I did my best to come up with a decent prediction based on the information available — all the while knowing that that information would only be validated (or not) by the actual election.

            I was trying to tell you that I was confident that you were wrong before the election and that such was my professional opinion. You get to decide if you will treat that like it came from Martha Zebest or Professor de Queiroz (or somewhere in between).

            In fact, from the entire tone of the recent posts here, it appears to me that some put their faith in Nate Silver, and whoever they were listening to, as being the “only scientific sources of real information.” In other words, it appears to me that some others may have been less skeptical about their favored sources of information than I was about all the sources of information.

            Emphatically not—I put my faith in Nate and Sam being scientific sources and expressed skepticism regarding all non-scientific sources. I did so for a reason and I made the point for a reason. I believe in the validity of what Nate and Sam do as well as their methodologies. I believe that because it is a part of the same discipline which I practice.

            In that instance, I don’t see myself as being the person who is drinking Kool-Aid.

            I don’t believe that you can fairly accuse me of “drinking the kool-aid” here—I presented what I believed was scientific predictions which I felt were very likely to be accurate and they turned out to be very accurate. I wasn’t guessing—I was giving a professional opinion based on my understanding of the topic and the empirical evidence.

          • Scientist says:

            I second Slarty’s post. This is not a case where 15 scientific studies showed X and 15 showed Y. This is a case where 30 scientific studies showed X and sheep entrails showed Y. So my faith and Slarty’s is not in Nate and Sam, but in their methodology. Just as in the birther stuff my faith is not in you (as wonderful as you are) so much as in your methodology.

          • Thomas Brown says:

            I should have added that I didn’t have you in mind at all. I was (unclearly) asking you to explain why Fix News and other right-wing talkers accept “non-partisan” sources when they agree with them, but the same sources are “biased” when they favor Democrats.

            • John Woodman says:

              I think it’s because there’s a pretty significant perception by conservatives that the “main-stream” media is biased.

              We could of course get into a big discussion about whether that’s actually the csse, or whether it’s just perception. A 2005 study said 18 of 20 major media outlets showed evidence of being left-leaning. A later meta-study said things cancel themselves out. Other research has said that people in the “main stream” media are far, far more likely to donate to the Democratic Party than to the Republican Party. John Lott had a study on the coverage of economic news: “Controlling for the economic data being released, the authors find that there are between 9.6 and 14.7 percent fewer positive stories when the incumbent President is a Republican.

              Whatever the bottom line, undoubtedly, most conservatives haven’t studied the studies. (Most liberals haven’t, either.)

              But most conservatives have certainly heard that the media is biased against them. And once people decide that there is likely bias against them, they may believe it exists even in some instances in which it may not in fact be present.

            • Scientist says:

              It’s funny because I know many people on the left who consider the media-which is owned by large corporations who ultimately hold the power, whatever the opinions of individual reporters-to be biased in favor of corporate interests. My own personal opinion is that they are biased in favor of sensationalism and whatever stories are easiest to cover and sensationalize as opposed to those that require real hard investigative work.

              I particularly regret the virtual disappearance of foreign news as compared to what was on the air in the Cronkite era. This is indisputable, as news organizations have cut back drastically on overseas bureaus. I believe, John, that you lived in Britain and I am sure you would agree that the BBC probably does a better job of covering the world than all the US networks combined (as does the CBC in Canada). For most Americans these days the world seems to end at the shores of the US.

              I was saddened that the presidential foreign policy debate spoke almost exclusively of the Middle East and even there largely about Iran and Israel and both candidates scurried back to try to score points on the US economy. One question on China. Nothing on the crisis in Europe, nothing on the global climate on which our lives depend. Zippo on Latin America, Africa, India, etc.

            • John Woodman says:

              I believe, John, that you lived in Britain and I am sure you would agree that the BBC probably does a better job of covering the world than all the US networks combined (as does the CBC in Canada). For most Americans these days the world seems to end at the shores of the US.

              Oh, yeah. Europe. Latin America. Africa. Asia. I remember those places now. I’d almost forgotten about those guys.

              I really haven’t heard that much from them since we moved back to the States a dozen or so years ago. Must be that not much has happened in those places since then. 😆

            • Thomas Brown says:

              Boy, I guess cumulative fatigue has taken its toll.

              I didn’t have any media source in mind when I asked the original question. I was pointing out that the less rational right-wing talkers (which would obviously not include you) accept what have traditionally been seen as truly non-partisan analytical organs (rejecting any given media source as being truly unbiased) such as the Congressional Research Service, the CBO, the bureau of labor statistics, etc. When they have bad news for Obama, they’re golden, utterly reliable wisdom… But when they dispel a major tenet of right-wing thought (like tax breaks for the wealthy spur economic prosperity for all), they’re ‘in the tank’ for Obama.

              You, John, have shown no tendency to think like this; the point being that the Republican Party would be better off if they took your approach, and cut themselves free from the kind of “thinking” that Trump, Limbaugh, Hannity, Palin, Bachmann, etc. are famous for.

              An example: how wonderful if the right wing could quit the Global Warming is a Hoax mode, and admit it is occurring… Then truly mature conversations could be had about what to do about it. No doubt we’d disagree, but at least Bigfoot, the Easter Bunny and Trump’s Toupee wouldn’t be at the discussion table.

            • John Woodman says:

              Interestingly enough (you probably know this) I understand that one of the people who used to promote the birther claims (Ed Hale, “Plains Radio Network”) also previously claimed to have shot and killed two Bigfoots.

              We’re always going to have cranks on both sides of the political spectrum.

              Earlier this week I was thinking it might be nice to put together a radio show where people talk about various issues from a sane point of view, and try to sort through things on which there is some widespread confusion or disagreement. I’m not likely to attempt such a thing at this point, but it was interesting to think about.

            • Thomas Brown says:

              A splendid idea. I would be happy to participate if I were to be invited to do so. I have conversations like that routinely, with my brother and a few Republican business owners who are good friends.

              We can talk for an hour and, oddly, words like “socialist” and “maggot” never seem to get used.

  18. John Woodman says:

    The bottom line here is that I looked at the data, and I saw one thing. Actually, I felt that the best guess on the election results was that it was going to be very close. But I felt that in the end, Romney would take all of the various states that were reported by Real Clear Politics as leaning in his direction — including Virginia and Colorado, which ended up going the other way — and would squeak it out in Ohio and take one or two other states. I was never, even remotely, one of the guys claiming that it would be a total landslide either for Romney or Obama (and it wasn’t a total landslide for Obama, either. It was a close election.)

    The prediction I made turned out to be wrong. It doesn’t mean I was an idiot for making it. It is obvious from information leaking out that the Romney camp believed exactly the same thing. They believed that they had a pathway to victory — to the extent that they based some of their decisions on where to campaign based on that projection.

    And we’re talking about a team here that undoubtedly had access to some of the best election prognosticators in the business. If anyone really believes that Romney or any member of his team intended for one moment to engage in wishful thinking, or did not do the best job they could in coming up with accurate projections to base their campaign strategy on, then I think it is that person who is not in touch with reality.

    These people had a BILLION dollars in funding, access to the very best prognosticators in the nation, and a lot of incentive to get their predictions as correct as they could possibly get them. Because they were making decisions on exactly how to run a major campaign on those analyses and predictions.

    I had zero dollars in funding, a laptop computer and only whatever information was publicly available. And in an election in which some who were widely touted as being experts were WAY off in their forecasts, I came up with pretty much the same prediction that the billion-dollar team did. If anything, it seems that I may have been a bit less optimistic, and therefore perhaps a bit closer to the way things actually turned out.

    I don’t think I did so badly.

    • Slartibartfast says:


      That billion-dollar team got skunked by what anyone could get for free from a Princeton professor and a baseball stats geek on the web. I think they did a truly crappy job and if I were Sheldon Adelson or the Koch brothers I’d be pretty pissed. You didn’t have their resources, but you did have me—someone who’s credibility you have had a chance to evaluate—as one of your sources (and I showed my work by linking to Nate and Sam’s sites). I put my faith in the science and it paid off—just like it did in 2010 (when I was able to prepare myself for the unpleasant reality on election day because Nate told me what was going to happen—although even he underestimated it a little).

      • John Woodman says:

        Okay. So you’ve just admitted that Nate Silver got 2010 sort of right, but not entirely right.

        Look, I made the best prediction I could, based on my evaluation of the information that I had. I don’t really have anything to add to that.

        • Scientist says:

          In defense of Nate and Sam in 2010, the House is extraordinarily difficult to call with precision because there are 438 districts most of which are fairly lightly polled. I don’t know of anyone who has ever called all 438 correctly. They did both call very large R gains resulting in control of the House; they only missed the exact margin.

          Here’s an interesting note on the House. It seems that the votes were split roughly 50:50 between the 2 parties this year, with a slight edge to the Ds (this edge is likely to grow, since the majority of still uncounted votes are in D states, especially on the West Coast). So let’s say 51:49 D. Yet, the Rs will have a roughly 240-200 edge in seats. Why is that? The answer is gerrymandering. Check out a map in most states for the absurdly shaped districts. They don’t follow any obvious natural features or even city/county boundaries. And yes, both parties do it, but the current Rs have done it to an unprecedented degree.

          Isn’t it time that the districts were drawn by commissions of non-partisan experts in each state so that the actual will of the people is reflected? If the people vote for Rs, then by all means the Rs should control the House. But when they vote 50:50, then neither party should have a 40 seat advantage.

          • I saw an article that said that if the House Districts had been drawn along pre-2010 lines the Democrats would have taken control of the House during this election. I do not vouch for that claim but if true it shows how important being able to draw the boundaries is.

            • John Woodman says:

              I’ve certainly no problem with creating even-handed improvements to the way things work, or to even-handedly creating a fairer system for all.

              In the meantime, whatever possibilities exist to game the system are almost certainly going to continue to be exploited by both sides.

          • Slartibartfast says:


            You are correct, but you forget the other very significant factor: incumbency. Sam Wang calculated that redistricting + incumbency resulted in an R+2.5% structural margin this cycle—which is right in line with a D+2.0% vote and Republican control.


            Really? Are you suggesting that if predictive models can’t do the impossible then they are worthless? The data said big Republican gains in 2010 and modest Democratic gains in 2012 and they were right both times. As Scientist pointed out, the data on House races is sparse, so those are very good predictions—for the Senate and the Presidency we have much better data and get much more reliable results.

  19. gsgs says:

    how could you think you were better at predicting than all those experts who spend
    millions on it and bet their real money

    • John Woodman says:

      I never claimed to be better or worse at predicting than anybody — although it turns out that I came closer than a number of people, including some who were widely touted as experts.

      In fact, I never claimed to be an expert in prognostication. I simply stated who I thought was going to win the election.

    • Slartibartfast says:


      The empirical data is that it didn’t take millions of dollars or hard work for me to do a better job predicting things than all of the pundits.

      All I had to do was listen to what the algorithms of Nate Silver and Sam Wang said about the (publicly available) data. I understand the methodologies utilized by both of them and I am capable of approximately reproducing the work of either if I so chose (Sam’s exactly). I wasn’t guessing, I was giving my scientific opinion regarding the field that I work in (mathematical modeling).

      In other words, John chose to listen to the likes of Pappit, Zebest, “Polarik”, and Monckton over people like Professor de Queiroz (I mean Nate and Sam are like him—not myself). The most important skill, in my professional opinion, to successfully navigate the information age is to identify the quality of information. Another way of saying that is to separate the signal from the noise*. John failed to do so. I claim that I did not.

      * By the way, the title of Nate’s book is The Signal and the Noise: Why most predictions fail, but some don’t. You should read it—it might help you to improve in an area where you are very weak (sorting information by credibility).

  20. John Woodman says:

    It seems to me as if I’m being roundly criticized for having made a prediction as to who I thought was likely to win the election.

    Is this not a free country? Do I not have the right to free speech? Or do I only have the right to free speech if I say what you guys agree with and want to hear?

    • Scientist says:

      John -That is the silliest thing I have ever seen you say. Free speech is not freedom from having your speech criticized. Must I refrain from criticizing the speech of a birther or a KKK or a Nazi? You certainly have criticized birthers far more harshly than anyone here has criticized you for your erroneous prediction-and I salute you for that. I salute you for calling Zullo and Arpaio frauds. You are not violating their rights to free speech when you do so. Not even close.

    • John Woodman says:

      I just wonder why it seems like suddenly everybody feels the need to criticize me, simply because I made a prediction of which way I thought the election was going to go.

    • John Woodman says:

      I mean, isn’t it enough that the candidate I preferred lost?

      If Romney had won, I certainly would not have come on here and criticized those who had predicted an Obama victory. I probably would’ve said something like, “Well, looks like that is the end of birtherism, because the claims are all moot now. My condolences to those who were hoping for a second Obama term. I do feel like we the American people gave Mr. Obama and his policies a chance. I hope Mr. Romney will do a good job as President. We’ll see. I wish you and our country the best of success.”

      I don’t question that people with whom I have always enjoyed cordial relations have a “right of free speech” to come to my blog and criticize me for so trivial a thing as my having made a prediction as to which direction I thought the election was going to go. I am simply a little bit surprised at the behavior.

      Not much, because I understand human behavior fairly well. But still, a bit.

      • Scientist says:

        John, I’m really not critical of you. You are not a professional in polling or running campaigns and are free to predict however you like. No problem, bro.

        I remain quite critical of people like Rove and Morris, who claim to be professionals, yet showed their essential hackdom (is that a word?) . No one should ever quote them or pay them attention ever again. I am also critical of the Romney folks, whose job it was to have a realistic sense of where they stood. I continue to maintain that their failure in that regard speaks poorly of them.

        For the record, I predicted on the record when Obama was inaugurated in 2009 that on election day 2012 unemployment would be below 8% and that if it was, Obama would be re-elected. So, I am awaiting lucrative offers from various networks, newspapers, etc. in 3, 2, 1….

    • JRC says:

      John, you made a prediction. I don’t know why people are overly critical. I play fantasy football, and try to predict how players will do. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose. I’m in second place this year, and have won my league the past few years. So you made a prediction. The results are the results. You never claimed that you were better than everyone out there. I just don’t get it. I like everyone here for the most part, but those that are Democrats won. Don’t be sore winners. For you guys, John has been more than the voice of reason with birther issues. Yes, you have a right to criticize, but why. He never claimed he was better than Silver or anyone else. He didn’t ask anyone for money to analyze the data. He just made a prediction, like people do on many different things. Don’t let the political ideologies ruin things. We need more people like John, and have no clue why anyone would criticize him for making a political prediction, unless you think people are so weak minded that they are just going to vote for people that other people predict will win. I don’t know. I really don’t get it. Maybe it’s me, and I’m wrong. Yes, science is a good thing, but some science is more of an art. It takes more than a couple accurate elections to confirm the methodology in my opinion.

      • Slartibartfast says:

        JRC said:

        “Maybe it’s me, and I’m wrong. Yes, science is a good thing, but some science is more of an art. It takes more than a couple accurate elections to confirm the methodology in my opinion.”

        Yes, you are wrong. There is an enormous amount of art in all science—at least when it’s done correctly. A well done model or experiment will always be a work of art, but it is also something more: scientific. Quite frankly, your naive opinion regarding the methodology is irrelevant. What is relevant is the opinion of people who know what that methodology is and understand it (like myself). You don’t trust your “gut” or what the pundits say regarding the validity of science—you trust what other scientists say. I understand the science behind Nate and Sam’s models (they are using differing methodologies) because I build models professionally. Quantitative models made many highly precise statements regarding the election which, if you understand the language of statistics, were completely true (and have repeatedly proved very accurate as well). Those on the right chose to ignore the science—and they were wrong. Kind of like birthers choose to ignore the law (and the science)—and they are wrong. Some on the left choose to ignore the science and they were right—this time. Chances are that they wont keep up their winning streak but Nate and Sam will—which means so will I.

        • JRC says:

          Slartibartfast, I understand models, and statistics. I’m saying that Silver has been correct. Hard science is not an art. We calculate the rate of reaction in chemistry, we calculate gravitational force on a body of mass. What I am saying is that up to this point the methodology does not prove a certainty. Some may have calculated that the minority vote would decrease because of a lag in excitement in the base from previous elections (without taking into account minorities, just based on a general assumption). I may be a libertarian, but I believe that global warming is occurring cause mainly by man. It’s not because I want to, but because I understand the data, and statistics. Are all sciences an art? I suppose so if you base it on math without knowing the basis for the math. The Moncktons out there are good at twisting numbers to fit a preconceived notion. (And even he can’t do the math right to begin with) I’m just saying that just like climate science, two years or two elections do not make the methodology correct. If I said we would have two years of cooling and was found to be correct would that mean the world is cooling. Of course not.

        • JRC says:

          But you ignore my main point. Why attack John because he made a wrong prediction? John is intelligent enough to know that. If you are wrong about anything, I’m sure you would realize it without John, me, or anyone else throwing it back in your face. I had a different prediction, but I was wrong, but right in who would win. I could claim victory, but I was wrong because it was outside my error bars, so I was wrong. When reasonable and intelligent people are wrong, they go back and reassess. I was wrong about the margin of victory, but so what. The results are the results. But I never claimed to be an expert, and neither did John. I’ll reassess what I did right and wrong, and I’m sure John will as well without people attacking him. It’s what reasonable and intelligent people do. I very seriously doubt John would be throwing it back at you guys if the tables were turned.

          • Slartibartfast says:

            JRC said,

            Slartibartfast, I understand models, and statistics.

            I build models for a living (here’s an example—it’s trivially simple compared to what I’m doing now, but that paper just got returned for minor changes from the reviewer, so it’s not in press yet) and have a PhD in math—I’ve taken many graduate level probability and statistics courses, so maybe I understand modeling and statistics, too.

            I’m saying that Silver has been correct.

            That’s really not the issue.

            Hard science is not an art.

            Read what I said—every hard science involves a great deal of art—it is a fundamentally creative activity. Experimental physicists are engineers (a type of artist—an artist who works in the medium of science) when they design and build experimental apparatus (like the device I built to use RF sputtering to make nanoparticles of high-TC superconductors when I was a freshman in physics) just to give one example. Designing an experiment or building a model is just as much an art as sculpture or architecture. Science is a very special kind of art, but it is art. Can you understand the work of Charles Darwin or Richard Feynman and not be awed by its beauty?

            We calculate the rate of reaction in chemistry, we calculate gravitational force on a body of mass.

            Personally, I make mathematical models of the protein-protein interactions that comprise cellular subsystems and it seems like there is a lot of art in modeling those chemical reactions to me…

            What I am saying is that up to this point the methodology does not prove a certainty.

            The methodology proves that it is science—validation provides evidence of accuracy. Nothing in science is certain or proven. If you run straight into a wall, there is a non-zero chance that every particle in your body will quantum tunnel through the wall and you will appear unscathed on the other side. Newton’s laws are demonstrably wrong. Even evolution would collapse due to the existence of a true chimera.

            Some may have calculated that the minority vote would decrease because of a lag in excitement in the base from previous elections (without taking into account minorities, just based on a general assumption).

            Which is to what Nate Silver and Sam Wang do like your kindergarden finger paintings are to the works of Van Gogh.

            I may be a libertarian, but I believe that global warming is occurring cause mainly by man.

            Good for you. I, on the other hand, know that the scientific consensus is that climate change is occurring and that man has a significant effect on our environment. I believe in science as the best tool to understand the universe (I’ve got some empirical evidence to back that up as well, but it is still a belief).

            It’s not because I want to, but because I understand the data, and statistics.

            Which is good.

            Are all sciences an art?

            I think I answered that above, but it really comes down to how you define science and art. I would probably define it in such a way that science is a form of art (which I convinced myself of while writing this comment), but as a mathematician, I’m happy with any semantics as long as they are well defined.

            I suppose so if you base it on math without knowing the basis for the math.

            Math is definitely an art. The universe is the territory, science is the map, and math is the language the map is written in.

            The Moncktons out there are good at twisting numbers to fit a preconceived notion. (And even he can’t do the math right to begin with)

            You’ve got that right—I can’t tell you how much that asshat pisses me off.

            I’m just saying that just like climate science, two years or two elections do not make the methodology correct.

            No, two elections (now three—at least 4 for Sam Wang) are a solid validation set. I’m appealing to authority—my own—to say that the methodology is correct. Feel free to voir dire me as to the basis of my expertise.

            If I said we would have two years of cooling and was found to be correct would that mean the world is cooling. Of course not.

            If that was a scientific prediction then it would be corroboration of your hypothesis.

            But you ignore my main point. Why attack John because he made a wrong prediction?

            I wasn’t—I was questioning why he didn’t accept my authority. He knows me—and has at least some information as to my professional qualifications (I honestly don’t know what all I’ve said here). I told him what the science said and he chose to disregard it. That’s his right, but I’d like to hear his reasoning. It seems different than his approach to the birth certificate.

            John is intelligent enough to know that. If you are wrong about anything, I’m sure you would realize it without John, me, or anyone else throwing it back in your face.

            That is not what I’ve been doing—I’ve been asking a very specific question: why ignore the science? I think John’s answer to this would be insightful. It’s his choice if he wants to tell us or not, but asking the question isn’t berating him.

            I had a different prediction, but I was wrong, but right in who would win. I could claim victory, but I was wrong because it was outside my error bars, so I was wrong.

            But did you have a scientific prediction? Because I did (although I borrowed it from Nate and Sam).

            When reasonable and intelligent people are wrong, they go back and reassess.

            Yes, which is what I’m trying to do.

            I was wrong about the margin of victory, but so what. The results are the results. But I never claimed to be an expert, and neither did John.

            I do claim to be an expert (it is up to you whether or not to accept that claim, but I certainly believe it). I don’t care about your prediction at all—why should I? Next time I believe you will be more accurate if you just listen to Nate and Sam.

            I’ll reassess what I did right and wrong, and I’m sure John will as well without people attacking him. It’s what reasonable and intelligent people do. I very seriously doubt John would be throwing it back at you guys if the tables were turned.

            Since that’s not what I’m doing, I’ll just ignore this—my only question is why John discounted what I said was good science. If I had discounted what he said was good science I think he would have every right to ask me why as well.

          • John Woodman says:

            I wasn’t—I was questioning why he didn’t accept my authority. He knows me—and has at least some information as to my professional qualifications (I honestly don’t know what all I’ve said here). I told him what the science said and he chose to disregard it. That’s his right, but I’d like to hear his reasoning. It seems different than his approach to the birth certificate.

            Indeed, to be frank, it seems that mostly what this whole big brouhaha has been all about is that Kevin was hacked off that I didn’t simply regard him as the local expert on election prognostication and accept his opinion on what the outcome of the election was going to be.

            Kevin, I am familiar with you to some degree, but I’m not intimately familiar with your background. I didn’t necessarily recognize you as a big expert on election forecasting. And in any event, I don’t necessarily just accept something because some “authority” tells me that’s the way it is. I make up my own mind. It’s as simple as that.

            If that were not the case — as alluded to above — I would simply have accepted the “authority” of certain birthers on the basis of one having a PhD from Harvard University, another running a Sheriff’s Department in a city of 4 million, or another having a Harvard law degree and having served as a Professor of Law.

            You rightly applaud me for not just taking the word of those people based on their authority, and then repeatedly criticize me for not just taking your word based on your authority.

            I can’t win.

            Sorry if I offended you by not recognizing you as an expert that I should listen to on this particular topic. At the same time, I can tell you that I have found it rather offensive in turn that you should — my perception — come on here in the last, final, closing days of the blog, repeatedly take me to task for what I regard as a rather innocent failure to pay great attention to your opinion in the matter, and essentially portray me as if I am little better in my decision-making than the birthers.

            My projection that Romney was likely to win was not based merely on wishful thinking. It was based on my understanding of the facts. Did I have an entirely accurate map? Obviously not. But I believed at the time that the map I had was about the most accurate that I was likely to be able to come up with, at least without a great deal more study of the issue that I didn’t have time for.

            Was it a crime that my conclusion turned out to be not as accurate as your conclusion? I don’t think so.

          • John Woodman says:

            And does it make me an unscientific idiot that I didn’t just “accept your authority” and say, “Oh, well, Slartibartfast says this is how the election is going to be, so that must be how it’s going to be?”

            Again, I don’t think so. But that seems to be your conclusion. And I suppose you’re welcome to it. But I can tell you this: One instance of repeatedly portraying somebody as a dummy just because they didn’t recognize your brilliance can quite negatively color a pretty long history of previous cordial relationship.

            • Slartibartfast says:


              I was never hacked off at you—I was just curious. I never thought you were (or tried to portray you) as an unscientific idiot—on the contrary, I believe now, as I always have, that you have extraordinary integrity, which is why I was interested in your answer to this question (and I am satisfied with the reasonable answer you gave).

              I’m sorry that you feel that I’m so petty as to want to quibble about who’s “gut” prediction was better or worse or be upset that you didn’t pay more credence to my claim that Nate and Sam’s predictions were based on science (interesting in your reasoning—yes, but not upset that you did the same thing virtually everyone else did).

              You said that arguments should be evaluated on their merits, not claims of authority—but that’s exactly what I did here: I said that quantitative predictive models were scientifically valid and gave two examples which you (or anyone else) could check out and evaluate for themselves. What would have happened on this site had I linked two new legal arguments regarding eligibility. You, and others here, would have followed the links and evaluated the arguments on their merits. That’s what I expected would happen—I wanted your evaluation of the merits of my sources. I have expertise that allows me to evaluate the methodology and I’m biased by my belief in the efficacy of predictive modeling—I wanted the opinion of someone with a scientific mindset who has amply proven his preference for unpleasant truths over useful lies.

              As you point out, this site is almost done and I would argue that the birthers are done as well (except for the sanctions and the laughter), so I raised an issue that I wished to discuss on the merits (and have a professional interest in). You certainly were under no obligation to care, but I expected the kind of response I’ve seen time and again from you (or no interest at all) and was curious as to why I didn’t get it.

              I think this is an interesting and important issue (which contributed to Romney’s loss, in my opinion) and would be happy to discuss it further, but if that’s not something you are interested in then I will just thank you once again for the wonderful job you did with this site (and arranging for it to remain an archive until long after it will be needed) and apologize that my poor communication skills caused offense and assure you that such was never my intent.

            • John Woodman says:

              Thanks, Kevin.

              I would argue that the birthers are done as well (except for the sanctions and the laughter)

              I’m sure that some of them will continue their Quixotic crusade.

              Factually, they are more than done. As noted in this article, literally all of their dozens upon dozens of claims are known to be without merit.

              In the courtroom, they are done. They may continue bringing lawsuits, but they are never going to get very far. What are up to now, 0 for 175 or so? I don’t even know.

              In the court of public opinion, they are largely done. Yes, they still have their true believers who will go to their graves thinking that Mr. Obama was ineligible to be President. But anyone who really looks into the matter objectively is going to conclude they are the crackpots they are.

              In terms of any practical impact, they would also seem to be pretty much done. Hopefully. I say “hopefully” because they could still theoretically create problems for future Presidential or Vice-Presidential candidates who had one or more non-citizen parents at birth, like Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, etc.

              I understand their concerns about “foreign influence.” But if the Founders and Framers had intended that Presidents and Vice-Presidents must have citizen parents, they would have said that. They would not have said only that they needed to be “natural born citizens,” as having citizen parents was never a requirement for that.

              Anyway, I’m sure some of the birthers will press on. But I agree that whatever relevance they might have ever had only fades and fades from here on out.

            • John Woodman says:

              Actually, I think they may simply become dubious general bastions of anti-Obamaism. I just popped over to birtherreport.com to see what was up there. Not so much on “ineligibility” right now. More general anti-Obama stuff. Claims that Obama stole the election through fraud. A call to release his medical records to the public. A call to impeach him.

              I’m not sure what other “birther” claims they can really even make at this point. It seems to me like both the “born in Kenya / PDF’s a ‘forgery'” and “two citizen parents” lines of nonsense have been pretty well exhausted.

            • Slartibartfast says:


              You said: “In the courtroom, they are done. They may continue bringing lawsuits, but they are never going to get very far. What are up to now, 0 for 175 [I know it’s above 170] or so? I don’t even know.”

              I think you’re wrong here—they’re just getting started in the courtroom (the fun part, anyway… 😉 ). The first day of the rest of the birther’s lives starts in a Mississippi courtroom on Friday. I don’t think they’re going to like it. I’ll bet we start seeing some cases get all the way to judgement—with significant sanctions. 😀

              And don’t worry about Rubio and Jindal—if a bunch of moonbats go birfoon on them, we’ll stomp them down too…

              You know, it’s really sad because the stories of Barack Obama, Bobby Jindal and Marco Rubio are all great American stories—they wouldn’t have been possible in any other nation in the history of the planet.

  21. John

    I find your defensiveness about your prediction while understandable a bit telling. When you predicted Romney would take 330 electoral votes I have to admit I chuckled out loud. It was obvious you were talking from your heart and not your head. If you look at Nate Silver’s electoral vote distribution graph the odds of that happening were probably less than 0.5%. The odds of Obama receiving 332 electoral votes were 20%. Obviously there was no prize for being right nor penalty for being wrong on our predictions.

    I seriously contemplated getting an Intrade account because I thought Obama shares were consistently undervalued especially late in the game. When Nate Silver and Sam Wang from the PEC were showing Obama’s odds of winning were over 90% Obama shares were still selling for under $7.00 (less than 70%). The off shore betting sites also had Obama much higher. It was obviously the market was out of kilter either because there was intentional manipulation or the Romney supporters believed Fox News and other biased sources like Unskewed Polls. I am convinced it was the latter.

    The question I have to ask is that if Fox News and all of their pundits were so wrong on the election why would one believe them on other issues like Benghazi?

    • John Woodman says:

      I find your defensiveness about your prediction while understandable a bit telling. When you predicted Romney would take 330 electoral votes I have to admit I chuckled out loud.

      For the record, my prediction was simply that I thought Romney was going to win. I didn’t even make that prediction until the afternoon before the election.

      You must have gotten me confused with someone else, as I never stated anything remotely resembling such a margin. On my private Facebook account, I said,

      “I’d say final EV Romney likely between 270 and 290.”

      I made that post about an hour after saying here that I thought Romney was likely to win.

      And that was really my prediction: that the most likely scenario seemed to me to be a narrow Romney win.

      I told someone else, the day of the election, that I thought Romney would probably get around 285. That would have been only 15 electoral votes above the 270 needed to beat Mr. Obama.

      • John

        I see now I was incorrect and that I was confusing your satirical prediction with the real one and your quoting of Michael Barone who had Romney at 315. I had only skimmed back quickly through a large number of comments since I had not read many the last week. I think your point is well taken that a reasonable person could conclude that Romney had a legitimate path to win. However, I still believe that a careful weighing of the final polls and analyses like Nate Silver’s probability by election eve being around 10% was accurate. Since we only have one data point this election alone can never settle the question absolutely. The laws of statistics apply. However, now that Silver has correctly picked the outcome 101 of 102 state and DC contests over two election cycles you can see why those of us who followed Nate closely in 2008 would tend to give credence to his analysis over such variables as perceived enthusiasm, some cherry picked polls and crowd photos, and predictions like those of Karl Rove and Michael Barone who did not reveal the details of their analyses.

        This election was in some ways more historic than 2008. If President Obama had lost people would have said he only won because he beat a weak candidate the first time. Now that he has beaten the person who probably had the best shot at winning in 2008 and 2012 his place in history is secure. He will not be seen as a fluke or an aberration. He won against more money and in less than ideal economic conditions.

        I think we should put this to bed. The main point is that if the Birthers are no longer relevant even if they ever were. Donald Trump, the only person who had the media clout to possibly help them has pretty much trashed his reputation by embracing Birtherism. No one who counts will go there again. No judge, no politician and no commentator would ever give them the time of day now.

        • John Woodman says:

          At this point, obviously, I recognize Nate Silver as having a track record of very, very impressive accuracy.

          Prior to the election, he was (for me) one prognosticator among a great many, with the difference being — as opposed to a number of the others — that I had never heard of him before.

  22. JRC says:

    RC, Fox News is a joke in my opinion. Unskewed poll was another joke. I don’t know what that has to do with John. Maybe I’ve missed something here and how it’s relevant to John and his opinions.

    • I think my point was that media like Fox News, unskewed polls, and the normal media tendency to promote a horse race tended to push the general perception in the overall media that Romney had more of a chance than he really ever had. I believe this could have led bettors on Intrade to place money on Romney in amounts unwarranted by the facts. It could have also factored in John’s prediction but I have no way of knowing that. Predicting something with a 10% chance of happening will happen is reasonable when there is nothing on the line but bragging rights and there is only one election this year.

      I had an uncle who never bought into probability theory. He said that as far as he was concerned everything in life was 50/50 – either you do or you don’t. Maybe I should have listened to Uncle Bill.

      • John Woodman says:

        I know who you’re talking about now when you refer to “unskewed polls,” although I must confess it went a bit past me at first.

        In fact, “Unskewed Polls” was among a bunch of sources that I looked at. However, I quickly rejected that particular site as a source of reliable information. They made such small impression on me that at first it didn’t click who JRC was referring to.

        I don’t remember any specific information from Fox News, although I’m sure I saw some at their site as well. But there was nothing specific at Fox that I can think of that made a huge impression either.

        I spent quite a bit of time at Real Clear Politics, and branching off from there to various sources referenced by them.

        • John this is not directed at you but your mention of RCP as a source got me to look at the details at RCP for the first time. I checked RCP and the final no toss-up map had Obama 303 Romney 235. The only state that they missed was Florida (which Romney has now conceded but has not been called officially). To win Romney would have to have flipped Ohio, Virginia, and one other state.

          I just was not going to happen though. On RCP Romney never led in Ohio. He got within 0.8 points after the first debate but Obama steadily opened up his lead to a final RCP margin of +2.9. Romney over performed RCP slightly and finished -1.9.

          Virginia was Romney’s best opportunity. The final RCP average was Obama +0.3. This would lead you to believe it was easily within his grasp but Obama won by +3. If you look at the final RCP polling data of the last 10 polls Obama led in 5, Romney led in 3 and 2 were tied. However, what stands out is one low sample size poll by Roanoke College that had Romney +5 . Without this poll Obama’s RCP average would have been +1.3. Still close but probably near the upper end of the margin of error.

          Finally, Colorado was certainly a state that looked within Romney’s grasp. The final RCP average was Obama +1.5 and he actually won by +4.7. Romney was tied as late as October 30th on RCP but the movement was definitely in Obama’s favor the final week. Of the final six polls Obama led in 4 and Romney in 2. The polls with the larger sample size favored Obama.

          My conclusion is that if you looked at only RCP on November 5th you would have to concluded that Obama was not only the favorite but a solid favorite. I think Nate Silver’s, Sam Wang’s, and other modelers are better sources than RCP because they weight polls by past performance and sample size rather than a simple average like RCP. However, it was clear even on RCP which candidate had the edge.

          I think one poll that gave Romney supporters the most hope was Gallup’s national poll. 2012 may go down as the year that Gallup’s long run as king of the pollsters ended. Gallup’s daily tracking poll in mid October had Romney leading consistently and up as many as +7. Nate Silver even mused about Gallup in a column back then and finally he concluded that in view of all the state polls Gallup was an outlier this year. He was correct. Gallup scored near the bottom along with Rasmussen.

          • I meant to add and ran out of edit time:

            Is this all Monday morning quarterbacking with the benefit of knowing how the game ends? Yes, of course. We are all engaging in that a bit and probably in a way that has been unfair to John for just expressing his opinion. I am guilty of that too. If John wishes to close this post-election discussion I will be happy to abide by that.

          • Suranis says:

            The biggest problem Gallup had was its “likely voter” model. Its actual fallibility model had Romney and Obama within 3 points all the time in the last month and a half or so (though it had Romney almost always leading) but everyone talked about the likely voter model which was obviously way off and pulled the averages of the places like RCP off with it.

            This is also the first year that Rasmussen did not significantly correct his model in the last week to keep pretending he was trhe universes most accurate pollster.

            Speaking of Intrade, a lot of people lost a LOT of money on Romney. Most of them vanished but one guy, Miggy, sat there wondering what the hell happened and how come all the sites he visited were so wrong. SOMETHING was way out of line in this election and it fooled a lot of people. There are reports that even Romney himself was 100% confident of a win based on the polls, and certainly if he did lose he was not expecting the blowout that happened.

          • John Woodman says:

            I looked at the data and concluded — as you said — that Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and Colorado were within Romney’s grasp, IF the turnout was favorable to Romney.

            I assumed that some of the polls included people who expressed a preference but who might not actually show up on election day. I tried to get an idea of which camp had the momentum of enthusiasm which might lead to a little bit more turnout on the day.

            I remembered that typically, the late-breaking undecideds tend to break for the challenger.

            I took into account the fact that many of the polls showed that the pollsters reached more Democrats than Republicans, but that we had one major pollster stating that there were now more Republicans than Democrats.

            All of that being the case, I thought it likely that Romney would carry those states: Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, and Colorado. In that event, it all came down to Ohio. I felt that Ohio would be close but that Romney would probably prevail there as well.

            So I had a reasonable basis for making my prediction. I never predicted a Romney landslide. I predicted Romney would win with between 270 and 290 electoral votes. I didn’t think then, and I don’t think now, that the prediction was unreasonable given the information that I had, and my understanding of it. If I had had different information, or had found a different interpretation of it more reasonable, I would have made a different prediction.

            My only crime seems to have been not to have just taken Slartibartfast’s word for who was going to win.

            I can tell you this, though — I am tired of having to explain and defend what was intended to be simply a reasonable and personal, “Hey, I think Romney’s going to win.” All the fun of having made a prediction — if there was any of that left after my preferred candidate lost — is long gone.

      • JRC says:

        RC…..well I think we all know that the 50/50 theory isn’t quite valid. If you flip a coin is it 50/50 heads and tails? lol Or is it 50/50 it will land on neither? I know you aren’t being serious with that but if you have 3 choices then how can it be 50/50. Heads, tails, or landing on the edge? Still 50/50? lol

        • JRC says:

          If you are really still into the 50/50 theory, which I know you aren’t. We can get a standard deck of 52 cards, and I’ll be willing to bet any amount of money as long as we go through the whole deck. I’ll bet against an ace showing up and we bet even up on every card. I’ll have to verify that we have deuce through ace of every suit though beforehand. It has to be a standard deck. You’ll have a 50/50 chance of winning money. 😉 Sorry, just playing now. It’s late here.

          • Obviously my Uncle Bill was never a gambler or his theory on probabilities would have quickly left him walking around in a barrel and nothing else. 😆

            • John Woodman says:

              Sounds like it might have been fun and profitable for somebody to introduce Uncle Bill to games of chance. 😆

            • As you might imagine he had limited education but seemed to get along all right. He was actually pretty lucky at cards and the 50/50 thing was a joke that he used to tell us as children when my older brothers came home from college with their heads filled with mathematics like calculus and statistics. He knew how to pinch a penny so I imagine when money was on the line he would have had a sudden awakening to probability theory.

  23. Slartibartfast says:

    Too indented.

    John said:

    Actually, I think they may simply become dubious general bastions of anti-Obamaism. I just popped over to birtherreport.com to see what was up there. Not so much on “ineligibility” right now. More general anti-Obama stuff.

    I think you’re probably right. Mario’s made some pitiful comments on the Amazon thread for convicted felon Lakin’s book and there have been some brief birther sightings over at Doc C’s, but I think they’ve all lost their hearts… It couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch of bigots.

    Claims that Obama stole the election through fraud. A call to release his medical records to the public. A call to impeach him.

    It must really bother them that, compared to other recent administrations (I don’t know the numbers, but I bet that the combined number of resignations from the Clinton and Bush administrations is something like an order of magnitude higher…), the Obama administration has been squeaky clean. I wonder if they’ll ever have the revelation that the American thing to do if you don’t like the president is to work to elect someone you do like.

    I’m not sure what other “birther” claims they can really even make at this point. It seems to me like both the “born in Kenya / PDF’s a ‘forgery’” and “two citizen parents” lines of nonsense have been pretty well exhausted.

    There might be some desperate last stands as we go through the Electoral College vote and some final pleas to Congress before they certify the election (by the way, do you know the last time that the Constitutional process to question a presidential election was used?), but I think you’re right—the birthers have exhausted whatever sliver of the zeitgeist they once had and all we’re likely to see now is some reflexive twitching as they slowly bleed out. I guess if we’re lucky we might get a “dead cat bounce”…

    • Scientist says:

      The constitutional process to question a presidential election was used in 2004, when a Representative from Ohio and Senator Boxer from California challenged the counting of the Ohio votes for Bush. The members of each house retired to executive session to “discuss” and came out after an hour or so. Given that President Kerry is now completing his second term, obviously the challenge was successful.

      A couple of weeks ago when it seemed possible that Obama might win the electoral votes but lose the popular, I thought it possible that some Republicans might make a challenge. Now I would say that is highly unlikely. But, I would encourage the Republican Congresscritters to embarrass themselves with a futile challenge if they feel the urge (not gonna happen).

      • Slartibartfast says:

        I knew it was 2004, but didn’t know the details—thanks! I have no doubt that the Republicans in Congress have always been aware of this provision of the Constitution and intentionally choose not to avail themselves of it in 2008 (and wont exercise it in 2012 either).

  24. Slartibartfast says:

    John said:

    “I would have to agree with your belief in a “conservative media bubble.” But I do think it’s not necessarily just conservatives. I think there are folks on any side of an issue who tend to tune in to preferred media outlets.”

    I would argue that this is much more pervasive on the conservative side of the asile. I could suggest several comments you have made that I believe indicate a false belief on you part. As you have amply demonstrated that you are not willfully ignorant, this would suggest that some of your ideas come from inside the bubble. Since I don’t want to start another dog pile on you, I’m not going to bring any of these up (unless you ask), but I’d like you to point out a false fact or meme that you believe arises from the liberal media bubble (it can be either something that I’ve alluded to or just something that progressives typically espouse—i.e. the equivalent of “cutting taxes on high earners creates jobs and stimulates growth”). Please give me a chance to prove the same kind of good faith that you’ve repeatedly demonstrated.

    • Northland10 says:

      I would say, if there were a prominent “blind spot” on the liberal side, it would be in the rural areas. Over the years, I have seen an arrogance toward some of the rural population, not just in the political liberal world but even the liberal/progressive wing of my own denomination. Given increasing urbanization of the nation, this does not hurt as much on national elections but it a part of a reason why the left wing has had more difficulty in achieving their previous success in Congressional elections. This attitude tends to push the rural segment away, even if they might find some agreement in policy issues.

      Historically, at least in the north and west, the strength of the Democratic party has been in the urban areas. Unfortunately, in my opinion, this has evolved into a dismissive attitude toward the needs and concerns of the small business owners and farmers in the non-urban areas.

  25. Scientist says:

    Slarty-I am sure there are liberals who read only the Daily Kos and Huff Po (I almost never read either). But while those sources slant left, they have journalistic standards. They distinguish between news and opinion and don’t publish the kind of blatant falsehoods that WND publishes. The NY Times, Washington Post et al will generally have editorials that run to the liberal side, but they have regular op-eds by conservatives. Where are the liberal viewpoints in conservative organs? Also, their news coverage will often have stories that reflect poorly on the Obama administration. My impression is that right wing news sources rarely criticize Republicans, unless they go truly around the bend, like Todd Akin.

    As for accurate views of where the horse race stood, let’s compare 2004 and 2012, since the actual margin was quite similar and the incumbent won in both cases (as incumbents tend to). As far as I know Kerry thought he had a chance to win, but was not shocked that he lost. Romney, if the stories are correct, was almost certain he was going to win and was absolutely shocked to lose. So it seems one was much more in the bubble than the other.

    • Slartibartfast says:


      I share your opinion, but I have to allow for the possibility that we are inside a bubble which John does not share. If John can find a credible example of this then I will admit he’s right and thank him for it—I don’t imagine that you would do any less.

      • Thomas Brown says:

        I don’t see it, stipulating that I’m talking about this moment in history. The right-wing delusionality IS worse than on the left, but they have been comparable in the past, and I am old enough to remember when the left was indeed loonier.
        One major factor is the Murdoch-Limbaugh liberal vilification scheme, and their very conscious innoculation of right-wing viewers and listeners against the Liberal Media, meaning ecery other news source except them.

        Studies have shown that moderates and liberals tend to get gheir information from numerous sources, while many right-wing folks reported ONLY watching Fox News and listening to Limbaugh. They have been told that ALL other sources are suspect; worse, they are part of a huge, world-wide, pervasive conspiracy to spread left-wing lies. So whenever something they’ve heard from Beck or Hannity is contended, that only reinforces the appearance of a nefarious plot against the “good God-loving patriots” at Fox.

        The other thing that’s changed is that a few decades ago, if Liberals were vilified, they were talking about the POLITICIANS. The idea of condemning and attacking fellow CITIZENS as “enemies of America” was rarely heard. But the idea has only grown, and now the illness has produced an alternate reality that justifies calling Obama voters “maggots chewing on the corpae of America.”

        Even the most hard-boiled wingnuts I know I still consider my countrymen. I know and say that they love their country and are loyal Americans.

        Someone has told these same men that America would be better off if I and my college professor wife were dead. We are parasites, traitors, who hate America and “real Americans.”

        There will be no speaking of an equivalence or reciprocity around me. I have seen too much and I know better. I don’t hate anyone, but I guarantee you in some circles I am hated. For the treasonous disgrace of being a Democrat.

      • Thomas Brown says:

        Case in point:

        “…start looking at the people around you. start with your family like i did the day is coming when some of those people will have to be cut loose… those people are 5th columnists and quislings. they will blindly accept whatever garbage the fascist regime feeds them and vomit it forth like a plague. they will do whatever they are told and most of them can’t be reached anymore, their hearts have heardened like the pharaoh. at the end of days those same people, your brothers and sisters and cousins and nieces and nephews will be there to cheer when Christians are being led out to the chopping block for not taking the mark. including you nd the only way you will avoid this is to be come JUST LIKE THEM. and you will be lost. just like them. so if you value your soul your life and your family start cutting these people off from you now start cutting all ties with them. start avoiding them. stay away from them. don’t speak to them. don’t associate with them. if they ask you can be up front with them but you must be strong. these people are no longer your family or friends a choice must be made. and they already made theirs…”

        Now all you have to do is find anything written by a liberal citizen, about conservative citizens, that even comes close. Then maybe I’ll consider the proposition that “both sides are just as bad.”

    • John Woodman says:

      Are you saying WND doesn’t have standards? Surely they do!

      “Can we make money off of this? Can we get traffic to our web site off of this?” 😆

      Hey, I can’t think of any left-leaning sites that I know of offhand that are currently as nutty as WND and the various birther sites. I do recall of course the 9/11 conspiracy theories that alleged that 9/11 was an “inside job,” President Bush was in on it, etc. Of course those weren’t mainstream sites, but I don’t know that WND is that much better. Unfortunately we have some wacky sites that are dressing themselves up and pretending to be credible. Post & Email. Apuzzo’s site. WND, at least in regard to anything birther. Not that I would trust anything else at their site. And so on.

      Some of the lunacy may be cyclical, inspired by whichever party is currently in the White House.

      • Slartibartfast says:


        I think there are plenty of moonbats and wingnuts and opposing administrations tend to bring them out, but in recent years the left has been much more diligent about stamping down moonbats than the right has been about wingnuts (the last big purge was when the Birchers were kicked out—its long past due). Certainly it seemed like there were many more liberals (who seriously disliked President Bush) amongst the truther debunkers than there were conservatives like you amongst us Ob*ts… er… anti-birthers. 😛

        Can you name the last time moonbats got uppity and weren’t put down by other liberals? It’s much easier to stamp down those on your own side and you guys (not, of course, meaning you personally John) haven’t been doing your fair share of late. In my opinion it hurts your party and it hurts the country as a whole.

        Do you know what I think will turn out to be the enduring legacy of the Tea Party? The continued tenure of Harry Reid as Senate Majority Leader—The Tea Party has cost the Republicans at least 5 Senate seats in the last two cycles.

      • Scientist says:

        John, I’m glad you mentioned the 9/11 truthers. So let’s compare them and the response to them with the birthers and the response to them.

        The truthers are truly a fringe movement that has not received support or comfort from the Democratic Party (and many truthers are actually on the right, including a great many, possibly most Ron Paul supporters). I can think of only one elected Democrat, former Rep Cynthia McKinney of Georgia, who was a 9/11 truther. As a result of her truthing, the Democrats basically cut her off, with officials supporting her primary challenger. When she later returned to Congress, the leadership stripped her of her seniority and denied her committee assignments. She eventually left the party and joined the Greens.

        Now let’s look at birthers among the Republicans. I don’t think I could even count the number of Congresscritters, elected state officials like the SoS of Arizona and the elected state reps who have made birther statements and acted on them. Has even one been denied a committee assignment or the support of the GOP in an election campaign? And look at your nominee (whom you suppported). He was very happy to appear with the Birther-Clown-in-Chief, Donald Trump, at fundraisers. Show me where Obama (or Kerry) ever appeared at a fundraiser where a 9/11 truther was the headliner.

        I’m sorry, but this is a totally false equivalence. The Democratic Party has given the cold shoulder to 9/11 truthers. The Republican Party has played footsie with birthers.

        • John Woodman says:

          I must confess I have been disappointed with the weak response to birthers from my fellow conservatives. Although some others have issued statements as well, in one form or another, I have often felt rather alone on my side of the aisle.

          I think there are a variety of dynamics that give some reason as to why conservatives have not responded more forcefully — but I agree that conservatives ought to have done a lot more.

          One of these dynamics has been the endless well of complex allegations on the part of the birthers. It seems to me that slapping down the 9/11 Truthers was a lot easier: All you had to do was say, “Where’s your evidence that the government knew about this attack? You don’t have any? That’s what I thought. You’re a nutter.”

          With birtherism, anyone who asked, “Where’s your evidence Obama’s birth certificate is a forgery?” immediately got a stream of 2 or 3 dozen different claims, many of them technical, and virtually all of which appeared plausible — if not utterly convincing — to the naive. And if they ever successfully answered that side of birtherism, there was another side waiting in the wings. It consisted of dozens of additional claims and arguments from the likes of Mario Apuzzo that even if he was born in Hawaii, he still wasn’t eligible.

          I think that fact caused many who might’ve otherwise been willing to take the issue on directly to choose instead a strategy of, “Maybe if we just ignore these loons they will go away.”

          And do you know what? I hate to say it, but from the point of view of any kind of self-interest and self-preservation, all signs are that they picked the correct strategy.

          I initially embarked on my pathway in this because I thought, “There are some technical misconceptions here. I could help people out by helping them understand what’s going on technically, and also publicly demonstrate some technical expertise at the same time. Who knows? It might be good for business.”

          I continued because I saw the opportunity to clarify an important issue that millions of people were asking about, and to become an author at the same time. And then I continued beyond that for a number of reasons: to promote the truth above widespread falsehood. To stand up against the twisting of the Constitution, against charlatans and con-men, against the misleading of my fellow conservatives and my fellow Americans, and against the poisoning of our political system. To help give conservatives a good name by standing up to the lunatics on my side of the aisle. And to finish the project well, having embarked upon it.

          But do you know what? Given the cost in terms of time, effort, lost income, and the heat I’ve taken from so-called fellow conservatives for standing up for principle, it’s been far from worth it for myself and my family. Financially alone, the time and effort I’ve put into this over the past year and a half has set us back probably $25,000. If I could find some wealthy or corporate donor who would take up the financial aspect of it, or even most of the financial aspect of it, then I would feel that, in the end, it had been worth it.

          Apart from that, I can only conclude, sadly, that my fellow conservatives made the correct decision in simply ignoring the issue. I greatly prefer that conservatives should have taken the birthers on. I suspect there are others who would have willingly taken them on, except for the cost of doing so.

          If I personally had it to do over again, at this point, I myself would never embark on the journey in the first place. I would do as most other conservatives have done, and just ignore the nonsense.

          Not because that’s the way I wanted things to be. And not because I didn’t care. But because it has simply cost too much.

          • Scientist says:

            John, we all appreciate your fantastic efforts, but you are letting the leaders of the Republican Party off way too easily. They didn’t have to go to elaborate lengths to debunk birther arguments-all they had to do was ignore them, as leaders of both parties have done with the 9/11 truthers.

            Arizona SoS Bennett did not HAVE to make that charade with the verification from Hawaii. He could have simply put Obama on the ballot like 49 other SoS’s did and as Arizona did with all the other candidates. If asked, he could have simply responded. “If you don’t like him, don’t vote for him”. Romney didn’t HAVE to attend a fundraiser with Donald Trump. He could have simply said, “Sorry, Donald, I have Red Sox tickets.” It’s not like Trump’s endorsement helped him (it probably hurt) nor that the money really made a difference in a billion dollar campaign. But even if he needed the money desperately, there is something called character, which he lacks.

            So, given Romney’s flirtation with Trump and in view of the vile behavior of that pompous windbag, I was quite disappointed that you came out in support of Romney. Not that you had to support Obama (not that there would have been anything wrong with saying the enemy of my enemy is my friend), but it is OK to say “They are both bums and neither deserves to be President”. If you felt you needed a dog in the fight, there was always Gary Johnson, with whom you might agree on many things and who never, to my knowledge, cozied up to birthers.

            But, in my opinion, in view of the fact that you, more than almost anyone, know that everything Trump spouted was a filthy lie, you should have withheld your support from anyone who stood on a stage with him and accepted his endorsement and cash.

            • John Woodman says:

              Yes, I agree that leaders of the Republican Party should have ignored the birthers. I think most of them have. But not all. Those who haven’t, should have. Or said, “We don’t agree with these people.”

              And again, some Republican leaders have done just that. A few haven’t, to their shame.

            • Slartibartfast says:


              I will remind you that in the early days of the Obama administration top Republicans (people like Speaker Boehner, if I remember correctly) would routinely say things like “I don’t know where he was born” or other ambiguous statements rather than declaring President Obama to be eligible. It was “dog whistle” politics that obviously (to those of us paying attention at the time) emboldened the birthers. The birthers as an electoral albatross (inasmuch as they were effective in shaping the election) was entirely a self-inflicted wound on the part of the Republicans. They were the ones with the power to nip it in the bud.

            • John Woodman says:

              If they didn’t know, then they should have found out. And having found out, they should have told people.

            • John Woodman says:

              By the way, I had the opportunity to speak on election night with a Republican Missouri state politician whom I know reasonably well. It has been quite a while since I last talked to him — since before April of last year — and I kind of brought him up to date on birtherism.

              I’m afraid that politicians are not necessarily gifted with a great deal of either time or expertise to sort a lot of things like these out, especially where someone brings forth a whole long string of “experts” who make claims. So you have people like Mara Zebest attempting to “educate” them with falsehood. Does the politician know enough to label Mara Zebest or Garrett Papit as a pseudo-expert rather than a real one? Maybe. But maybe not.

              In any event, I don’t know that there’s that much more that you or I can do.

            • Slartibartfast says:


              That’s far more than most do—well done. I would also point out that there are people (like Scott Tepper) who have worked to put themselves in a position to have a significant impact on birtherism.

  26. Slartibartfast says:

    John said:

    One of these dynamics has been the endless well of complex allegations on the part of the birthers. It seems to me that slapping down the 9/11 Truthers was a lot easier: All you had to do was say, “Where’s your evidence that the government knew about this attack? You don’t have any? That’s what I thought. You’re a nutter.”


    Okay—this does hack me off a little (I’m not mad at you—we’re all ignorant about a great many things, but I think you’re dead wrong on this).

    Check out JONES (the Journal of 9/11 Studies). Did you have to demonstrate that all of the empirical evidence from lower Manhattan is consistent with the effects of airliners hitting buildings and their aftermath? Did you make mathematical models of the collapse of two 110-story buildings? Did you calculate the energy required to compromise the structural integrity of a floor of the WTC? (keep in mind that the structural steel becomes smaller as you go up, so each floor is different) The energy to pulverize the concrete and expand the dust cloud? The energy that went into the sound wave and the seismic event? Can you explain why eutectic mixtures could cause steel to be molten far below its normal melting temperature? Can you debunk an inappropriate use of the equivalent airspeed equation? Did you have to debunk actual scientific papers in peer-reviewed (or apparently peer-reviewed) journals? What about real live experts in demolition who’s statements were being used by duplicitous truthers? Can you explain molten metal pouring out of the WTC before the collapse? What the visible bowing of the facade before the collapse implies about the weakening of the structure? Can you discuss the properties of “nano-thermite” and why the idea that thermite painted onto structural steel as a demolition technique is idiotic?

    You did a great job with debunking pseudo-technical claims by idiots, morons, and liars that were nonsensical on their face (which needed to be done, no doubt), but it pales in comparison to the work done by the truther debunking movement.

    This thread has over 1,500 posts—over 800 by ME. Take a look at some of them and ask yourself if you’re really sure that you invested more time and effort on the birthers than I did on the truthers—then take a look at the other two threads on Professor Turley’s site hijacked by the 9/11 discussion, both of which are over 500 posts long (again, many of them mine).

    You think it is frustrating to have someone refuse to accept the clear language of Minor or Wong Kim Ark? I had an extended debate with a truther who wouldn’t accept the ramifications of James Joule’s 150-year old paper On the mechanical equivalent of heat.

    As someone who can fluently debunk both birthers and truthers, I can honestly say that, in my opinion, birther debunking is much easier…

    • John Woodman says:

      Well, I certainly do appreciate your debunking of the “truthers,” and if you say that they’ve been much more difficult to debunk than the birthers, I accept your judgment on the matter.

      I honestly don’t know a great deal about the 9/11 truther theories, and don’t care to.

      I personally never gave any real credence to the 9/11 truthers. Maybe it’s just because it was a Republican administration they were largely targeting. But it always seemed to me that:

      1) We knew al-Qaeda hated us and were wanting to hurt us. In fact, when 9/11 happened I was actually anticipating a major terrorist attack by America’s enemies.

      2) Everyone could see the planes flying into the buildings.

      3) We knew who the people involved were, and al-Qaeda actually claimed responsibility.

      So to me, the obvious surface evidence was in accord with the conclusion.

      On the birth certificate thing, it seemed a bit different to me. There were some anomalies in the PDF — largely the layers, I suppose — that to the casual observer suggested a Photoshopped document.

      To a lesser degree, on the other side, the true claim that the Founding Fathers desired to protect us from some degree of “foreign influence” (if you ignored a bunch of other factors) seemed suggestive of the two-citizen-parent theory.

      But maybe that’s just my perspective, and maybe it’s just because 9/11 mostly attacked a Republican administration and the birthers mostly attacked a Democratic one.

      • Scientist says:

        A little perspective here. If the truthers were right, that would be truly of earth shattering importance. It would be a monstrous act that resulted in thousands of deaths and it would implicate not only one party and Adminstration, but the entire US government in deliberate mass murder. It would be a watershed event in world history, whose consequences would likely be enormous and long-lasting. Fortunately, the truthers are wrong.

        If the birthers were correct, it would mean that one particular office holder might be in violation of a technical provision of eligibility. I say might, because I am not totally convinced that Obama would be ineligible if born outside the US for a number of reasons. But even if he were, NO ONE DIED AS A RESULT. In fact, his entire presidency would be exactly the same wherever he was born. And the natural born citizen clause is considered by most scholars to be an anachronism that doesn’t serve any useful purpose. Yes, it’s in the Constitution-so are the age limits on Senators and Representatives. Should those be respected? Sure. However, I note that Henry Clay, considered one of the greatest Senators ever was seated while not yet 30, and this occurred while most of the Framers were alive and a few were in Congress and no one cared. Most countries in the world have no such restriction and have never missed it.

        So, quite honestly, the comparison between birthers and truthers is strained. Both are dead wrong, but the truthers are at least expending their efforts on something that, if they were correct, would matter enormously.

        • Slartibartfast says:

          John said:

          I honestly don’t know a great deal about the 9/11 truther theories, and don’t care to.

          A wise decision—you are learning… 😛

          I personally never gave any real credence to the 9/11 truthers.

          Duh. You’re sane and rational.

          Maybe it’s just because it was a Republican administration they were largely targeting.

          You’ve more than earned the credibility to judge that for yourself.

          But it always seemed to me that:

          Me too—although it always seemed to me that anyone born in the US (enemy, official, yada yada yada…) could grow up to be president

          1) We knew al-Qaeda hated us and were wanting to hurt us. In fact, when 9/11 happened I was actually anticipating a major terrorist attack by America’s enemies.

          You’re not thinking four-dimensionally… er… like a complete whackjob. I would also point out that while you were anticipating a major attack, President Bush was not—even though he had been warned about Osama bin Laden’s determination to attack the US.

          2) Everyone could see the planes flying into the buildings.

          They were holograms, don’t you know? (that is really one of the truther theories) Aren’t you glad you don’t need to know the energy required to crush the aluminum hull of a jetliner?

          3) We knew who the people involved were, and al-Qaeda actually claimed responsibility.

          They could have been CIA sleepers executing a false flag operation (one of the main salients of the MIHOP* truthers). As for al-Qaeda, Bin Laden was supported by the CIA—once a CIA tool, always a CIA tool. This fits in nicely with the “Bin Laden was on ice for 10 years until Obama thawed him out to distract from Trump’s birfing” meme (something that was actually discussed at drk(H)ate’s and other birther sites).

          * The Made It Happen On Purpose truthers as opposed to the LIHOP or Let It Happen On Purpose truthers

  27. Slartibartfast says:

    John said: “If they didn’t know, then they should have found out. And having found out, they should have told people.”

    It speaks well of you that you admit that, but it speaks poorly of them until they do.

  28. John Woodman says:

    Comments are now closed, and my involvement with this issue is officially, 100% at an end.

    This blog is now an archive of information. Together with the book I wrote and published on the Obama birth certificate forgery theories, titled Is Barack Obama’s Birth Certificate a Fraud? A Computer Guy Examines the Evidence for Forgery, it represents one of the largest and most accessible guides available to the claims of the birther movement.

    Together, these two sources include an honest evaluation of, as far as I am aware, every significant birther claim made up to the present date (November 2012), with the possible exception of pre-2011 claims that Obama’s original short-form birth certificate, produced before the long-form birth certificate, is a fake as well. (For those who wish to know, I actually looked into those allegations as well and found them entirely unconvincing.)

    This site will remain for quite a while as a source of reference information. The domain is paid up until the summer of 2019.

    The book contains a thorough and detailed investigation of the birth certificate “forgery” claims. This site contains some material that supplements the book, including some responses to subsequent “forgery” claims (particularly by Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s “posse” and persons claimed by them to be experts), as well as evidence that clearly shows that Arpaio’s posse and birther activist Jerome Corsi presented fraudulent information to the public, and an evaluation of the PDF by genuine computer file compression expert Professor Ricardo de Queiroz.

    In addition, this site contains a very thorough investigation and evaluation of the Constitutional, legal and historical claims that it takes two citizen parents as well as birth on US soil for a person to be a natural born citizen and eligible to the Presidency. I have estimated this material as being extensive enough to constitute a second, roughly 300-page book if I should ever decide to publish it in a printed format.

    The bottom line is that there is tons and tons of “evidence” (in quotes) that either the President wasn’t born in Hawaii as claimed, or that his birth certificate is “forged,” or that even if he was born in Hawaii, he’s ineligible because he’s not a natural born citizen as required by the Constitution.

    And every single bit of it — every single bit — is either invalid, insufficient, a misapprehension of the facts, a twisting of history or law, or simply flat-out false.

    Every single bit.

    Contributions to offset the cost of an enormous amount of research over a year and a half are still needed and greatly appreciated. If and when that becomes no longer the case, I will update the site to say that contributions are no longer needed. In the meantime, would you please make a contribution if you can? Your contribution does not go to some organization. It goes quite specifically to our individual family.

    For more information, please see the “contribution” links at the top and bottom of this page.

    From the point of view of facts, evidence and reality, birtherism has failed. Actually, I think that’s true from every point of view, except that they did persuade an unusually large number of people to believe what turned out to be a surprisingly enormous pile of nonsense.

    Thanks again to all who have contributed to knowledge on the issues, and helped make this web site the resource it is. I wish you all the best.

    John Woodman

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