Saturday, May 14, 2016

Donald Trump, the Anti-Skeptic

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that last week Donald J. Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee for president of the United States.

In this post I'm going to leave aside his racism, his sexism, his violent and fascist rhetoric, his endless lies, and even his complete lack of relevant knowledge or qualifications. Instead, I want to highlight the fact that he is a raving conspiracy nut and a gullible fool.

Climate Change Denier
Trump believes climate change is a deliberate hoax, and uses cold local weather as evidence.
  • "Snowing in Texas and Louisiana, record setting freezing temperatures throughout the country and beyond. Global warming is an expensive hoax!" Source
  • "NBC News just called it the great freeze - coldest weather in years. Is our country still spending money on the GLOBAL WARMING HOAX?" Source
  • "This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps,and our GW scientists are stuck in ice" Source
  • "Any and all weather events are used by the GLOBAL WARMING HOAXSTERS to justify higher taxes to save our planet! They don't believe it $$$$!" Source
Trump called global warming a conspiracy created by China and perpetrated by scientists.
  • "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive." Source
  • Trump later claimed he was "being sarcastic" but also "a little bit serious." Source
  • "It's a hoax. I think the scientists are having a lot of fun." Source
Trump believes that "massive vaccinations" cause autism and there’s a conspiracy to cover it up.
  • "I am being proven right about massive vaccinations—the doctors lied. Save our children & their future." Source
  • "I'm not against vaccinations for your children, I'm against them in 1 massive dose. Spread them out over a period of time & autism will drop!" Source
  • "No more massive injections. Tiny children are not horses—one vaccine at a time, over time." Source
Ebola Truther
Trump alleged a CDC conspiracy to minimize the danger of Ebola.
  • "Ebola is much easier to transmit than the CDC and government representatives are admitting. Spreading all over Africa-and fast. Stop flights" Source
  • (Just 6 of Africa’s 54 countries had even a single Ebola case during the outbreak.) Source
Birther Movement Leader
Trump was a leader in the Obama "birther" conspiracy theorist movement.
  • Trump repeatedly suggested Obama was born in Kenya and pushed him to release his birth certificate: "Well I've been told very recently, Anderson, that the birth certificate is missing. I've been told that it's not there or it doesn't exist." Source
  • He claimed to have sent investigators to Hawaii to look into his past. "I have people that have been studying it and they cannot believe what they're finding." Nothing came of the alleged investigation. Source
  • He falsely suggested that Obama didn’t go to the schools he claimed to: "Our current president came out of nowhere. Came out of nowhere. In fact, I'll go a step further: The people that went to school with him, they never saw him, they don't know who he is. It's crazy." Source
  • He falsely stated that Obama’s grandmother said he was born in Kenya: "His grandmother in Kenya said he was born in Kenya and she was there and witnessed the birth, okay?" Source
  • Once Obama released his birth certificate, Trump claimed it was a forgery: "An 'extremely credible source' has called my office and told me that @BarackObama's birth certificate is a fraud." Source
  • Asked in 2015 if Obama was born in the U.S., he responded: "No. I don't know. I really don't know. I mean, I don't know why he wouldn't release his records." Source
Trump has repeatedly implied that Obama is secretly a Muslim.
  • "He doesn't have a birth certificate. He may have one, but there's something on that, maybe religion, maybe it says he is a Muslim. I don't know. Maybe he doesn't want that." Source
  • On multiple occasions, he has not corrected supporters who claimed he is a Muslim. Source 1, Source 2
  • When asked about a possible Muslim president, Trump said: "Some people have said it already happened, frankly. Of course, you wouldn’t agree with that." Source
Trump implied the Obama administration assassinated the woman who verified his birth certificate: 
  • "How amazing, the State Health Director who verified copies of Obama’s 'birth certificate' died in plane crash today. All others lived." Source
JFK Conspiracist
Trump bought into a National Enquirer story linking Ted Cruz's father to Lee Harvey Oswald and the Kennedy assassination.
  • "[Cruz’s] father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald being, you know, shot. I mean the whole thing is ridiculous. What is this, right, prior to his being shot? And nobody even brings it up. What was he doing—what was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death? Before the shooting? It’s horrible." Source
Conspiracies aside, Trump believes just about any ridiculous thing that supports his views.
  • Trump retweeted an obvious hoax that spouted racist homicide statistics. Most egregiously, it claimed that 81% of homicides against whites are committed by blacks. (The true number is 15%.) Source
  • Trump tweeted a hoax video tying a protester to ISIS. When it was pointed out to him as a hoax, he doubled down: “He was dragging a flag along the ground and he was playing a certain type of music. And supposedly, there was chatter about ISIS. Now, I don't know. What do I know about it? All I know is what's on the internet.” Source
I think all of this makes it clear that Trump is no friend of the skeptical movement. In fact, he's nearly as far from a skeptic as it's possible to be.

As president of the United States, Trump would have to make difficult, critical judgments based on complex information from a variety of sources. Sometimes the trustworthiness of those sources can be difficult to discern. Based on Trump's many credulous statements, he absolutely be entrusted with this crucial task.

For this and countless other reasons, Donald Trump has no business getting anywhere close to the office of the presidency.

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