HOW NOT TO LOOK LIKE AN IDIOT, Lesson 5: "Credulity"

Republibot 3.0
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These are trying times for Republicans. Not only did we lose the election, we got pantsed. Control of both houses and the presidency have been lost. We’re involved in two unpopular wars, we‘re bordering on a third, the government is deeply in debt, the international economy is in the crapper, and whether wrong or right, the strong public consensus is that it’s entirely our fault. Whether you’re a die-hard Bush supporter, or a moderate who feels mistakes were made, I think it’s pretty obvious that the party and its members are having a bit of an image problem right now.

To that end, I humbly submit this guide on how we can change our reputation and not be perceived as paranoid racists and raving religious fanatics, at least on a one-to-one basis.

LESSON 5: Credulity

Recently I spoke about the perils of conspiracy theories http://www.republibot.com/content/how-not-look-idiot-lesson-3-%E2%80%9Cc... and the dangers of putting forward the delusions of the mentally ill as if it were fact. This is a peril on the internet, where there is little or no fact checking, and people's normal bias towards "If they're saying it, it must be true."

Random crap is put on the web by crazy people, or simply liars, and it gets passed around, and the next thing you know, it becomes a meme, with people saying it's real, no matter how many times it's debunked. This has always existed, but the Internet has made it much more pervasive. Twenty years ago, no one believed that "We never went to the moon" crap, nowadays a frightening lot of peole do. There's a science teacher 20 miles south of me who teaches it in a public school to impressionable kids, and no one complains. It's shameful.

What *WE* have to do is to be skeptical. Someone tells you something, you *NEED* to look it up before you pass it on, and you *NEED* to inform the people you got it from that it isn't true if it turns out that it isn't. It doesn't matter if it's to our advantage to pass false information along or not, we *Can Not* lie. Any success based on lies falls apart as soon as the truth comes out, and the truth always comes out.

And of course it always makes us look like idiots, too. Case in point:

or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oM3WRQljSsk

Upon seeing this, did I pass it on to my friends and say "The UN is going to kill us all?" I did not. Did I instantly believe it was true because there were pictures? I did not. (In fact, I initally thought it was photoshopped, but it turned out not to be). What I *DID* do was call a friend in Jacksonville. He said he didn't know, so he drove out to the airport (It's an airport, not an Air Force Base, though some USAF aircraft were stored there for a while), and asked around.

Turns out Kia had been using the facility as a cheap way to store surplus unsold cars. There's nothing UN-related about it at all, nothing insidious, unless you've got something against South Korean Capitalism. Hunting around online after my friend called me back, I found this

http://www.autoblog.com/2010/06/15/conspiracy-theorists-mistake-kia-stor...

which says basically the same thing my friend verified with his own eyes.

Of course this isn't just a Republican problem, but as I've always said: If we're going to win, we need to be better than our opponents, not just more popular. If you get something in your in-basket that seems to verify all your wildest fears about the other side, it's probably not true, it's probably a pious forgery by some well-meaning doofus trying to garner support.

You many not have a friend in the area that can check it out on foot, but you *Can* root around the internet for more information that explains whatever it is you got. "Snopes.Com" is always a great place to start, and work your way outwards from there.

Because if you don't, we all end up looking like idiots.

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