Deeply held beliefs make it easy to accept the absurd

From Scientific American:


Once, while visiting Brooklyn, I got a call from a fellow Bronxite, back on the mainland. When I revealed my location, he said, “Brooklyn?! What time is it there?” Despite the interborough bafflement, Brooklyn has been a genuine part of the land of the free since day one, that is, July 4, 1776. So when Lena Horne was born there in 1917, she automatically became a U.S. citizen. About 25 years later Horne was asked to give two concerts at Camp Robinson in Alabama, one to white servicemen, the second to black GIs. But she refused to do the second one when she saw that black Americans were sent to the back of the theater. Who got the good seats up front? German prisoners of war. Journalist Nat Brandt’s book Harlem at War: The Black Experience during World War II quotes Horne as summing up the situation thusly: “Screw this.”

Today, of course, the commander in chief of the U.S. military is black, and President Barack Obama gets the best seats in the house. A black president, however, causes great cognitive dissonance in some. But members of the “birther” movement have found a clever solution: Obama isn’t really president! Because he wasn’t really born in the USA!

More here.