• Transcripters Are the New Birthers

    Despite Donald Trump's best efforts, the "birther" conspiracy has largely been relegated to the same status as the question of whether Mitt Romney is a unicorn. Get with the times, people! The college transcript is the new birth certificate.

    Last week, the conservative blog The Trenches offered a $20,000 bounty for Barack Obama's records from Occidental College, Columbia University and Harvard Law School. The L.A. Times even suggested a moniker for these truth finders…

    What do these "transcripters" (if we may coin a phrase) hope to prove?

    "We’re not convinced that Barack is as smart as you media elitists keep insisting he is," says The Trenches, the website that posted the reward…

    That rationale may strike some as a little flimsy, given that Obama was president of the Harvard Law Review, taught constitutional law, has two bestselling books to his credit and is, at the moment, leader of the free world.

    Yes, this rationale may strike some as flimsy, but I don't think the investigation is wide-ranging enough. Last week our own Lisa Beth Johnson reported on an important intellectual leap made by transcripters: If Obama's SAT scores matched the average of the transfer students entering Columbia in the fall of 1981, his score would be a meager 1100, necessitating a deeper look at this academic career.

    Certainly, this logic calls into question so much of what we "know" about the president. The model Columbia transfer student in 1981 was white. Could Barack Obama be our first Fake Black President? If the class was over 50% female, perhaps we need an investigation into the president's anatomy. We could call these activists "sexists" if that term didn't already apply to them for wholly different reasons.

    Using means and modes to make inferences about individuals methodologically fraught, but let's not ignore the potential. For example, if the median transcripter is Donald Trump, this hypothesis would suggest that roughly 100% of transcripters are assholes. Sounds plausible.

    Photo by Rich Sugg-Pool/Getty Images/Getty Images

    Tags: Barack Obama, Birthers, Conspiracies, Donald Trump, Education


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