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Stephen Colbert (Reed Saxon)
Stephen Colbert (Reed Saxon)

Is truthiness stranger than fiction? Add to ...

A group of researchers at Ohio State University have discovered that conservatives are more likely to believe that Stephen Colbert, host of the wildly popular comedy show The Colbert Report, actually means what he says when he slams liberals on air.

Researchers collected an on-line survey from 332 participants enrolled in undergraduate communication courses at "a large mid-western university." The respondents were aged 18 to 40 and the majority described themselves as politically independent, rather than Democrat or Republican.

Respondents were shown a three-minute clip of Mr. Colbert interviewing Amy Goodman, a radio host with Democracy Now!, which, according to the host, airs just before Anarchy Later! In the segment, Mr. Colbert blasts Ms. Goodman for being a "super-liberal lefty," and gets into an argument with her over the merits of embedding journalists with the military. Mr. Colbert points out that he underwent embedding training at the U.S. military facility in Fort Dix, N.J., and that the sub-zero temperatures prepared him well for embedding in Iraq.

Participants were asked to rate themselves on a scale ranging from "very liberal" to "very conservative." They were also asked whether they believed Mr. Colbert was using satire or whether he was only pretending to be joking, and actually meant what he said. The researchers found that political conservatism was a strong indicator that the respondent would believe that Mr. Colbert actually meant what he said. In addition, conservatives were more likely to believe that Mr. Colbert himself was also conservative.

"This set of results supports the idea that conservatives not only processed the messages as targeting liberals, but also processed the source as being conservative, Republican, and disliking liberals," the researchers wrote.

"By contrast, liberals perceived Colbert as just kidding and did not perceive the source as conservative, Republican, or disliking liberals," the researchers went on to say.

Disappointingly, however, the study offers no indication whether any conservatives have tried "Formula 401" - Mr. Colbert's "premium man seed," which he markets on the show for women looking to conceive.

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