Why are Americans so gullible?

BW will be back sometime this weekend, but let’s see if we can get in a few more good discussions before her return.  The last few days I’ve been bothered by how gullible the American public is.  Usually, when I think about gullibility I think of truthers, or Code Pink ladies or leftist who honestly believe that if we are just nicer to the jihadists they’ll be nice to us.  But conservatives, whom I tend to think of as more thoughtful and rational are, at least at times, just as bad.

What sent me down this road was an e-mail I got from my Dad the other day.  It was one of those on-line petitions that was all in a panic.  It lamented that the Senate had passed a bill to give Social Security to illegal aliens who had never contributed to the system.  It urgently pleaded with the readers to sign their name to the petition and pass it on to everyone they knew.  The 1,000th person to sign was suppose to e-mail it on to the White House. 

Of course, the truth was that the Senate had passed a bill that would allow illegals who became legal to get credit for amounts they had contributedwhile working here illegally.  What bothered me was that the petition had been circulating for two years and had 873 signatures.  That’s 873 people, almost all conservatives, I’m sure, given the subject matter, who had signed their name to a public document without bothering to check and see if the underlying claim was even true.  It sounded to them like something a Democrat Senate would do, so they gullibly believe it without any further thought.  873 conservatives!  Ouch!

Just yesterday I got one quoting a fictitious column by Maureen Dowd as calling for an investigation into Obama’s Internet fundraising.  Now such an investigation might be warranted, but you know full well Maureen Dowd would never write such a column.  I get these all the time.  The flat majority of them are untrue and snopes.com has articles saying so in most cases.  Yet they continue to  circulate.  Among conservatives.  It makes me wonder if there is something too trusting and gullible general in the American psyche. 

Maybe I’m too gullible myself, but I’ve always thought of Americans as hard-headed realists.  Part of our success came, I thought, from our ability to think and act rationally and objectively — maybe even skeptically.  It seems we are losing that capacity.  And I can’t imagine that bodes well for America’s future.