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  • Conspiracy Theories and Distrust

    I heard an article on the BBC Radio today that there are large crowds in Atlanta Georgia beginning to support the idea that there are issues of fraud plaguing the American election and that this somehow ties to wanting Trump out because he is trying to expose the corruption in the system that hides a satanic pedophile ring!?! I remember a similar thing being thrown around connecting Hillary Clinton to a pedophile ring too. I'm just genuinely really surprised that these conspiracies get any air time. Nothing I've heard appears to be presenting them as remotely having any foundation in facts. It just seems a pretty transparent attempt to sow distrust and generate heightened emotions around a topic that is designed to distress people.

    I just wondered if this was very typical of behaviour around political elections in America and/or other countries? Who do you believe starts such rumours? Do you think they actually believe them? Or is it just for the sake of sowing seeds of dissent and distrust?

  • #2
    Pretty sure that it's QAnon, a conspiracy theory that has more and more followers. Since a few months there are people attacking our members of parlement because they believe that the politicians rape children and want to chip us all. An odd blend of old theories combined with some new ones based on 5G and COVID. I don't think this happened before 2020. It's very disturbing.

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    • #3
      Yes, there was the pizza conspiracy theory that involved Hillary Clinton as a member of a pedophile child trafficking ring and there was also the theory about Obama drinking children's blood. I am not really sure if those two theories are related.

      The issue behind it is really complex, I think. First of all, there have been conspiracy theories around for centuries. Especially the drinking of children's blood has been part of antisemitic tales for ages in Germany. Long before the Nazis and the Holocaust.

      There are tales that are more harmless. I remember about twenty or thirty years ago many urban myths went around. Spiders in exotic plants and babysitters who put the baby in the oven and stuff like that. It was a combination of half believing it and half laughing about it.

      Nowadays the internet makes it so much faster and quicker and easier to spread myths, falseness, and lies. And you can get them to so many more people. Literally to everyone. That's one part of the problem.

      Part of the issue probably is also the effect the pandemic has on us. Let's face it, we are all more isolated than we have been a year ago. Mental illnesses are more common than we usually think. But what's even more common are people who might be vulnerable to a mental illness or are leaning towards it but have been stable before the pandemic because of the structure they had in their life and the support they had by their network, no matter if that consists of family, friends, colleagues or therapists. But now the structure is lacking. Many of us work in home office now and miss their colleagues and the small talk at work. We can't meet our friends or if we do we can't be close to them, can't hug them, can't go out and have a beer at a bar with them. It might be the straw that breaks the camel's neck for some people. And yes, they might be willing to believe something as monstrous as the pizza conspiracy theory because in their minds the world is such a monstrous place. People like that are easy prey to people who spread conspiracy theories. I believe those theories quickly escalate on their own once the seed has been planted. I don't know if there is always someone behind it who has a nefarious scheme. I think it is possible but I also think it is possible that this is a scheme without a schemer.

      During the election campaigns, there was a lot of talk about evangelicals in the US and how they might decide the result. I looked them up on Wikipedia and I was absolutely baffled by the fact that about a quarter of the US population identifies as evangelicals. Mind you, I am Christian and a Protestant myself, and I am all for religious freedom and whatnot. But evangelicals are people who believe Satan is walking this earth in person to drag people down to the very literal hell. Pitchfork and all. At the risk of getting blamed for religious discrimination, I must say that I do believe that if your world views include angels, devils, hellfires, and demons you might be more likely to also believe in a delivery service delivering children to your doorstep on the code word cheese pizza. Of course, this isn't a general rule. There are probably many evangelicals who see conspiracy theories for what they are. And many of the believers of conspiracy theories are not remotely involved with any religion. But to be honest, the YouTube vid with Paula White who almost maniacally screamed for angels from South America to come here and do whatever angels do in her imagination kinda opened my eyes. There are people who believe her every word. Not just a few, but many. And the current president of the United States is one of them or at least so he claims.

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      • #4
        I feel Canadians, and their elections are very boring compared to the US. But in a good way.


        “I like who I am when I’m with him. I like who we are together.”

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        • #5
          I think the rise is conspiracy theories is due to a combination of poor education, social media and the internet.

          Conspiracy theorists used to be fringe lunatics. But with the rise in the internet, and in particular social media, misinformation is being spread far more easily and algorithms are designed to send us down peronsalised rabbit holes. A lot of people actually go to places like Facebook now for "news." I think poor education is also playing a significant part because more and more people are lacking the ability to decipher truth from fiction.

          Of course it also doesn't help when you had a President who shared and encouraged conspiracy theories to his followers and who made his mission statement to convince all news against him is "fake news."

          It's a dangerous combination and it's probably only going to get worse.

          ~ Banner by Nina ~

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          • #6
            I love conspiracy theories. The most interesting thing about conspiracy theories is that they often point out an existing real-life issue but the causes they attribute to that issue and the conclusions they derive from it are completely irrational. Example time, moon landing hoax, the classic. The real-life issue is that Americans pissed away, like, several percent of the their country's total budget on a space program led by an actual Nazi war criminal and achieved very little. It was a mostly pointless penis measuring contest with the Soviet Union. The issue isn't moon aliens or deadly radiation belts or a movie studio in area 51. The issue is that this very expensive effort didn't actually benefit the public in any measurable way, it might as well not have happened.

            The Q-anon thing is amazing because it's essentially a culture shock. You have all those utterly brain-dead 40+ tourists interacting with a culture of digital native trolls. And grifters, so many grifters - from small time dorks making youtube videos to online stores selling Q-anon merchandise, from InfoWars-style enterprises to the biggest tech companies on the planet, from local politicians to the President of the United States (for goodness' sake!) The grifters are important - you can't have a conspiracy theory without grifters, they're an integral part, OK? If nobody's trying to sell anything it's not a conspiracy theory. So another example. Missing 411 - my favorite recent conspiracy theory. Basically a number of people go missing/die in American national parks every year. The theory proposes that those people are being hunted by unknown entities - big foot, aliens, cryptids, demons, land octopuses (seriously) government agents etc that's our irrational component. The real-life issue is that the parks are poorly managed, underfunded bureaucratic fiefdoms and that the wilderness can be plain dangerous for an increasingly urban population. And of course there's a grifter. Missing 411 is somewhat unique in that it was actually created from the ground up by a grifter - one ghoul decided to quote-unquote investigate the mysterious disappearances in the parks and then build a small media empire out of it, selling books, movies, merchandise etc.

            Conspiracy theorists used to be fringe lunatics.
            That's not true. Nazism, the entire belief system of the Third Reich was a conspiracy theory. It was based on The Protocols of the Elders of Zion - actual fake news written by an anonymous author and I really wish all those Q-anon parallels weren't so evident right now. Turns out, in a civilization build on shared fiction stories hold actual power.

            Last edited by a thing of evil; 21-11-20, 12:53 AM.

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            • #7
              It might be that it bridges a psychological need. Or that it stems from a response to a real world issue. I can see those points and I agree that there is a lot to be said about poor education and the ease and anonymity of social media for how these things build. The fact that people can come to believe in something that is often extreme and irrational is deeply fascinating, but worrying too. It's the way in which these things don't just stay as stories but inform people's actions that is so concerning. I mean Nina has mentioned people are actually getting attacked because of the belief some hold in this QAnon theory.

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              • #8
                There's a theory that people with authoritarian personalities are especially susceptible to conspiracy theories as they like to believe that there's a fundamental order to the world and that somebody is in control, be it government, deep state, Jews, Rothschild, lizard people etc In reality nobody truly controls anything. I mean, farmers with AKs and RPG7s defeated the most powerful armies in human history - what more proof do you need?
                Last edited by a thing of evil; 22-11-20, 11:06 AM.

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