Stanford professor James Fishkin is a luminary in the civic engagement field. He is the developer and chief proponent of something called “deliberative polling” and he heads Stanford’s Center for Deliberative Democracy. He recently posted and article to his blog at the San Francisco Examiner in which he complains that our “political system is struggling under the threat of WMD.” This sounds worrisome, until he finishes his sentence by telling us that WMD means weapons of mass distraction. Important debates, he says, are being side tracked by trivia. As examples he points to the so-called “death panels” in Obamacare, the “birther” conspiracy theories and, to give balance the idea that persists to this day that somehow 9/11 can be blamed on the Bush administration. All of these are untrue rumors that are circulating and distracting people from really talking about what is at issue. Here’s my take.