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The Persistence of Birtherism

By Matthew Yglesias on April 15, 2010 at 11:28 am

"The Persistence of Birtherism"

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I sometimes wonder about the volume of press attention given to “birthers.” But then I see via Brendan Nyhan, that CBS News’ Stephanie Condon has a report on the incredible persistence of this belief among a swathe of the public so large as to hardly constitute a fringe:

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The sad reality is that as Nyhan and Jason Reifler have documented (PDF) it’s extremely difficult to get political misinformation out of people’s heads once it’s been kicking around. I think you can see that in the incredibly large “don’t know” numbers here. Many people are clearly aware that there’s some kind of controversy about this, and the existence of background noise political chatter about birthers (this post included) probably does more to simply re-enforce the idea that there’s some kind of dispute about it than it does to re-enforce the idea that Obama was clearly born in Hawaii.

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