Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Explaining polls on Obama's religion

Political scientist Brendan Nyhan tries to explain why Americans increasingly say that Pres. Obama is a Moslem. His research paper says:
This study applies psychological research on the ineffectiveness of negations to the misperception that Barack Obama is a Muslim. We test two approaches to correcting the misperception -- a misperception negation ("I am not and never have been of the Muslim faith") and a corrective affirmation ("I am a Christian"). Our experiment has several innovative features, including a focus on the effectiveness of a candidateAs attempts to correct a misperception (rather than a neutral source) and the use of video-based corrections as experimental manipulations. ... Overall, the realistic nature of our experiment makes an important contribution to the study of misperceptions and attempts to correct them.
His basic premises are that people are stupid, Obama is a Christian, and that people should blindly accept statements from authority.

A flat denial by Obama has to combined with his numerous statements in support of Islam, and his support for building a mosque near the 9-11 WTC site.

Conspicuously absent from his research is the possibility of Obama affirming Christian beliefs. With Americans doubting his Christianity, it would be very easy for him to explain his Christian beliefs, if he has any.

There is no more reason to believe a bald self-serving denial from Obama as there is to accept one on Rod Blagojevich. If people find Obama's explanations confusing and insincere, then that is a sign of their intelligence, not their stupidity.

Update: There is also a poll showing that many people doubt Obama's birth:
The president celebrates his 49th birthday Wednesday. On the same day, a new national poll indicates some Americans continue to doubt the president was born in the United States. According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, more than a quarter of the public have doubts about Obama's citizenship, with 11 percent saying Obama was definitely not born in the United States and another 16 percent saying the president was probably not born in the country.

Forty-two percent of those questioned say they have absolutely no doubts that the president was born in the U.S., while 29-percent say he "probably" was.
Maybe some of the people are just expressing a belief that Obama does not share traditional American values.

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