Similarly, people read bullshit books about "The Bermuda Triangle" and believe there is some sort of mystical part of the world where ships disappear. Or they go on a 9/11 "Truther" website and convince themselves that the 9/11 attacks were "an inside job." Or people read book saying that the government is concealing Aliens in "Area-51" - and they believe it.
When you listen to one side of the story, you tend to believe just about anything. And this is how people believe that Mitt Romney was a "jobs creator" at Bain Capital (something that his own party debunked in the Primaries) or that Barack Obama was born in Kenya.
Many folks have little in the way of real-world experiences, and thus have no counterweight to fantastic or bizarre stories. The pyramids must have been built by aliens, they think, because the blocks are so huge, and only machinery can move big blocks of stone, right? Or the 9/11 attacks must have been a controlled demolition because "fire can't melt steel!" But as an Engineer, I can assure you that humans can move blocks of stone with simple rollers, ropes and levers. And fire can indeed anneal steel until it no longer has its design strength, at which point it will bend like a pretzel. And the reason why the government won't comment about what goes on in Area-51 has less to do with aliens and more to do with top-secret aircraft and spacecraft development.
I get nasty comments and e-mails from partisans like that, particularly during the election. "You are just a shill for Obama!" they say. And while I support the President, I am not a supporter of any policy he has that makes no sense. I look at both sides of the story and make a judgement.
So, for example, when Mitt Romney says "I know how to create jobs, as I did that in the private sector", I have to see proof of that. In the law, that is called a "conclusory statement" - it states a conclusion without any argument to support it. It would be like going into court and saying, "I'm innocent, your honor!" and expecting him to say "Oh, why didn't you say so earlier? Case dismissed!" That is a nice sentiment, but you have to prove it not just say it.
And in this instance, none other than Newt Gingrich and David Stockman (Reagan's Budget Director) beg to differ. They showed exactly how Bain Capital operated - and operates - and how it stripped companies down, repackaged them and resold them. No "jobs creation" whatsoever. In fact, people got laid off and their pensions destroyed. That is a pretty big whopper of a lie Romney told, and yet a lot of people believed it, because they didn't bother to investigate what really went on, but rather just listened to the conclusory statement.
So what was the Romney campaign's response to this? "Uh, well, I wasn't working there at the time." Working there - an interesting choice of words for someone who never took home a W-2 from Bain Capital, but was instead paid in Capital Gains. And sorry, when you own a company, it is hard to claim you didn't know what was going on. Oh, and the main thing - you didn't dispute the facts, just the timing. This is nit-picking, not a real argument.
Unfortunately, most folks don't think very much. They hear a story on the TeeVee and believe it. After all, the television never lies - ever, ever. That lease deal on a new Hyundai was so sweet! And that frequent flyer miles credit card was a real bargain. Right?
You have to look at both sides of the story. And when the other side is not presented, you have to ask yourself why. And you have to use your life-experiences and skepticism to fill in the blanks and think about what that other side could be.
Because when somethings sounds too-good-to-be-true, it likely is. Whether it is a Presidential Candidate, a death-row inmate, a new car lease, a credit card offer, or a story in the newspaper about some "outrage" that is going on, chances are there is another side to the story. And when you factor both sides in, things don't always seem so black-and-white.