1. Take a complicated issue that people don't understand (e.g. presidential citizenship reqirements and Hawaiian birth records or the complex health care reform bills pending in Congress).Most recently we've seen this pattern with the right quoting the cost of the Waxman-Markey bill as being several thousand dollars a year for the average family, even though most studies, including the ones cited by the GOP, say that the costs will be far more modest, or even negative.
2. Advance a disturbing hypothesis about the issue that will appeal to your side of the aisle (e.g. Obama isn't a legitimate president; the health bill will take away your freedom).
3. Misconstrue available evidence to construct arguments supporting your point.
4. Promote these myths widely. If you are successful enough in doing so, the media will feel obligated to report on them. Coverage will then frequently be presented in an artificially balanced "he said," "she said" format, giving further credence to your claims.
5. When your arguments are debunked, claim that the media is trying to silence you to prevent the truth from being revealed.
6. Repeat steps 3-5 until various elites (e.g. John Boehner on health, Lou Dobbs on Obama's birth certificate) start claiming you have raised legitimate questions about the issue of interest.
August 7, 2009
How a Fact Becomes a Myth
Because I can't leave this issue alone, check out this post by Brendan Nyhan detailing the similarities between the Birthers and the advocates against health care reform. Notice, if you will, how the standard climate denier arguments also fit this pattern: