For all our enlightenment in this information age, conspiracy theories permeate American life, especially politics. Some of us will embrace such theories because they conveniently rubber-stamp suspicions or biases we have, even when evidence is clearly lacking.

Latest example of this: the wild-eyed claim that the Bureau of Labor Statistics data reflecting a drop in the national unemployment rate was “cooked” to help President Barack Obama win re-election.

No less than retired General Electric CEO Jack Welch, once a sage in matters of business, accused “these Chicago guys” of altering numbers in the monthly jobs report to show the lowest unemployment rate since Obama took office.

Welch subsequently admitted he has no evidence the labor numbers are being doctored, yet refuses to withdraw his widely twittered comment. Others have jumped on the bandwagon, again without a shred of proof of some massive conspiracy in the U.S. Department of Labor to fix numbers.

Sadly, this election has seen more absurd conspiracy theories and unverified claims than we ought to see — no doubt a testament to the high feelings in both political camps in a nation almost evenly divided in presidential preferences.

We only hope undecided voters are discriminating enough to size up such claims for what they truly are: balderdash served up by desperate political hacks, public tricksters and publicity-seekers.

— Waco Tribune-Herald, Texas, Oct. 10

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