I was told in all seriousness yesterday that 1) Barack Obama was born in Indonesia, 2) that he is not a citizen of the United States, 3) that he has refused to tender his birth certificate to the proper authorities to prove he's a US citizen, 4) that he is fighting 20 lawsuits to make him show his birth certificate. There were some more, including the charge that he's a chain smoker.
My reply, since I'd never heard any of these charges, was that we first have to determine that the items under discussion were factual. My motto, which I sometimes even follow, is "Let's answer questions of fact before we discuss questions of value."
When I got home after the discussion, I went to my trusted friend Google, and typed in Obama and birth certificate. Just those three words. Up came all the answers to my questions, which were: 1) Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, as I had thought, 2) he is most definitely a citizen of the United States (He had a dual citizenship but gave up the other in 1982), 3) his birth certificate is readily available -- and in fact there were several images of it, and 4) who cares? I couldn't find anything on the lawsuits but then I didn't look too hard.
What bothers me is not that people are believing things that are not true but even ridiculous (Do you honestly think that the Democratic National Committee would have let Obama run had he not had and presented a birth certificate?), but (where was I?) that people don't even check when it's the easiest thing in the world. In a world glutted with information, people still prefer ignorance over knowing.