The Situationist

New Yorker Cover of the Obamas and Source Amnesia

Posted by The Situationist Staff on July 14, 2008

We recently posted on an interesting op-ed in the New York Times, titled “Your Brain Lies to You” by Sam Wang and Sandra Aamodt. Their op-ed discussed “source amnesia,” which refers to our brains’ tendency to remember information but not its source. Put another way, we are surprisingly prone to remembering that which we initially perceive as incredible, including satire and lies, as true.

Wang and Aamodt discussed source amnesia in the context of lies about Senator Barack Obama that a surprising number of Americans believes, such as the lie that he is Muslim when in fact he is Christian.

Given source amnesia, we can understand the Obama camp’s stern rebuke of the upcoming cover of the New Yorker.

What do you think about the cover?

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5 Responses to “New Yorker Cover of the Obamas and Source Amnesia”

  1. adamdenker said

    I believe that it is an eloquent summary of the right’s bigotries as perpetuated by Fox News and Senator Obama’s opponents. Any fool can see it’s satire of the right. Unfortunately, you make a good point and there are going to be many fools who see it as confirmation of their deeply held prejudices.

  2. Jake said

    Car salesmen do it, and it is a well-documented and undeniable psychological trait of humans. The New Yorker oversteps the bounds of satire here and causes confusion and outrage instead. The problem is that people actually believe these supposed satires are facts, and voting rights (i.e. the ability to make an informed decision and vote for the candidate you really want to win the election and lead the country) are at risk.

  3. LSF said

    Saw the coverage of this and thought immediately of your earlier post.

    I think it’s particularly sad to see Michelle like that, while the Barack image is actually sort of forgettable, I think. Bin Laden and the burning flag are also sort of forgettable, but make me sort of sad.

    On the other hand, Barack and I are in a bit of a fight right now because he voted for the contemptible new FISA regulations. I don’t know how we’re going to resolve that one, actually…

  4. Maya, CVT said

    The whole country has gone insane. I think the fact that the cartoon is set in their living room is perfect, because that’s where American’s brains are – in people’s bedrooms and living rooms. We’re all obsessed with who’s cousin hired a prostitute for their 50th birthday or which celebrity is having sex with what other celebrity in which famous rehab center. That’s just freakin’ perfect.

    Forget about the fact that some Katrina residents are STILL homeless, poor people can’t afford medicine, oil spills are killing tens of thousands of pelagic birds and mammals…..oh, let’s fantasize about what’s going on in Barak Obama’s living room.

    Both of these jokers brought this on themselves, if you’re a presidential candidate, even if you have ZERO chance of winning, you have an obligation to heal this country with your words and inspiration by discussing the issues!! Was Martin Luther King a president? No, but he made a difference with his words!! Shame on both the candidates and the media for ignoring what really matters to the American people.

    I don’t give a rat’s behind if Obama is Muslim or a Scientologist!

  5. JP said

    When you do a satire such as this one, there is always the risk that people will misinterpret it. Especially those motivated to do so. I think emphasizing the way misinformation is being spread by right-wing critics would be more beneficial for Obama than flat out condemning the caricature. That way the misinformation is highlighted, and that’s really the point of the satire.

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