A Blog by Jonathan Low

 

Oct 18, 2020

Why We're All Conspiracy Theorists Now

Contrary to the statements of various politicians, social media specifically and the internet generally have now given people the idea that they are entitled to their own facts. And that is not a power they are willing to give up. JL

Kevin Roose reports in the New York Times:

The conspiracist’s creed — that the official narrative is always a lie, and that the truth is out there for those willing to dig for it themselves — has penetrated our national psyche. Some of what’s happening is related to the dynamics of social media platforms, which favor bold, engaging claims over dry and careful ones. Social media, and the internet more broadly, has eroded the authority of mass-media gatekeepers and replaced it with “vital communities” of digital insurgents united around shared interests. “Dissemination is validation.”

As President Trump convalesced at Walter Reed, I took a spin through social media to see the latest news on his health.

Instead, what I found were a bunch of paranoid partisans posting grainy, zoomed-in photos, analyzing video footage frame by frame, and people straining to connect the dots on far-fetched conspiracy theories involving a cabal of nefarious elites staging an elaborate cover-up.

No, I didn’t stumble into a room for QAnon, the pro-Trump conspiracy theory. In fact, many of the people sharing bogus and unverified claims on my feeds were die-hard Democrats. Some of them were speculating, with no evidence, that Mr. Trump was faking his bout with Covid-19 to engender sympathy and boost his re-election chances. Others claimed that Mr. Trump had died and been replaced by a body double (nope), that he had gotten a secret vaccine from Russia and was quarantining until it took effect (also nope) or that he had deliberately contracted the disease to distract the public from a New York Times article about his taxes (creative, but doubtful).

None of these theories passed the smell test, but they were retweeted and shared thousands of times anyway. Zignal Labs, a firm that tracks online misinformation, said that the theory that Mr. Trump had faked his illness had been mentioned more than 85,000 times on social media, and that the hashtag #TrumpCovidHoax, which trended on Twitter in the United States, had been mentioned more than 75,000 times.

To be clear, none of the rumormongering I saw from the left was comparable to a dangerous extremist movement like QAnon, which alleges that the world is controlled by a cabal of satanic pedophiles led by prominent Democrats. And it’s understandable that people would question the official narrative of Mr. Trump’s illness. Presidents have a long history of hiding their health problems from the public, and the barrage of conflicting, confusing and dishonest information emanating from Mr. Trump and his medical team this week has made it hard to take their claims at face value.

But it is notable how easily the conspiracist’s creed — that the official narrative is always a lie, and that the truth is out there for those willing to dig for it themselves — has penetrated our national psyche. After Mr. Trump tested positive for Covid-19 last week, social media sleuths raced to dissect every statement, tweet and photograph that might reveal clues about his real condition. (Is that lump in his jacket a hidden oxygen tank? Was that video edited to remove a telltale cough?) Unsatisfied with the official explanations given by Mr. Trump’s doctors, they sought out their own sources, like the TikTok account of Claudia Conway, the 15-year-old daughter of the former presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway, who offered a grimmer prognosis.

And when the president did emerge from Walter Reed, armchair pulmonologists pored over his homecoming video as if it were a modern-day Zapruder film, looking for evidence that he was still in dire shape.

Mr. Trump’s hospitalization — a high-stakes medical drama starring a president who is known to exaggerate his own health — made for perfect conspiracy theory fodder. And according to several experts I talked to, the lack of reliable information from Trump administration officials made speculation about a cover-up inevitable.

“Conspiracy theorists love a vacuum,” said Kathryn Olmsted, a professor of history at the University of California, Davis, who has studied the history of conspiracy theories. “If they’re not getting answers, they’re going to come up with their own.”

Some of what’s happening is related to the dynamics of social media platforms, which favor bold, engaging claims over dry and careful ones. But there seems to be something else happening, too — a force that is pulling us all toward conspiracy theories these days, no matter our political persuasion.

On Tuesday, Facebook officially barred the QAnon movement from its services, labeling it a “militarized social movement.” The purge was good news for those of us who have watched QAnon morph from a fringe message board stunt to a dangerous quasi-religion that organizes mass harassment campaigns, spreads life-threatening misinformation and threatens its enemies with violence.

But while QAnon may be a singularly dangerous movement, the reflexive paranoia and rejection of authority it represents are not an isolated phenomenon, or one that is limited to far-right extremists.

On Monday, as I watched a video clip of the president standing on a White House balcony, I was struck by the realization that virtually no one was simply accepting the scene at face value. Democrats were theorizing about what secret maladies he was trying to cover up. Republicans were speculating about what signals he was trying to send to his political opponents. Everyone was “doing their own research,” and looking behind the curtain for the real story. There was no text, only subtext.

I thought of Martin Gurri, a media theorist whose work I find provocative, even if I disagree with some of his conclusions. In his book “The Revolt of the Public,” Mr. Gurri writes that social media, and the internet more broadly, has eroded the authority of longstanding mass-media gatekeepers — like the newspaper you’re reading right now — and replaced it with “vital communities” of digital insurgents who are united around shared interests.

These groups, Mr. Gurri writes, develop their own sources of authority. For one group, a phalanx of white-coated doctors standing outside Walter Reed might seem authoritative. For another group, a teenage girl’s TikTok feed or a QAnon believer’s YouTube channel might hold more sway. Every group creates its own evidentiary standards, and processes information in its own way. There is no “consensus reality” they can all agree on because the idea of a single, shared reality was an artifact of the 20th century, when most people got information from a handful of big mainstream sources.

I called Mr. Gurri, who told me that he wasn’t surprised that people were turning to conspiracy theories about Mr. Trump’s illness. Uncertainty always breeds distrust, and in the age of social media, he said, authority is held by people who can effectively get their message out — even if those messages are false or misleading.

“Dissemination is validation,” he said. “If you can concoct something that travels on the web, then you’re on the same plane as any expert in the world.”

Mr. Gurri, a former C.I.A. analyst, is skeptical that we will ever return to accepting information handed to us by elites at face value. There’s simply too much information now, traveling over too many channels, for people on any side to be satisfied with a single, straightforward answer to any question — whether it’s about the president’s blood oxygen levels, an imaginary pedophile cabal or something else entirely.

I don’t think, as some of Mr. Gurri’s fans in Silicon Valley do, that authority and expertise are relics of a bygone age, and I don’t think we should let social media platforms off the hook for amplifying lies and propaganda. But as I look around my feeds this week, it’s hard not to wonder if he’s right that the internet — and the erosion of authority it has enabled — has made conspiracy theorists of us all.

“This is not Trump,” Mr. Gurri said. “This is structural, and even if Trump loses in November, it’s going to continue.”

1 comments:

Clarkson Coleman said...

HAVE YOU LOST YOUR HARD EARNED FUNDS TO THE WRONG HANDS?
MEET THE PROFESSIONAL HACKERS FOR HIRE TODAY.
[⏱️ 2min Read]
�� Hiring a professional hacker has been one of the world's most technical valued navigating information.
Regarding:
•RECOVERY OF LOST FUNDS,
•MOBILE PHONE HACKS.(Catching A Cheating Spouse).
•CREDIT SCORE UPGRADE,
•PENETRATION OF WEBSITES AND DATABASE.
VARIOUS HACKTIVITIES via
leroysteckler@gmail.com
High prolific information and Priviledges comes rare as it has been understood that what people do not see, they will never know. The affirmative ability to convey a profitable information Systematically is the majoy factor to success.
Welcome to the Global KOS hacking agency where every request on hacking related issues are fixed within a short period of time.
When you wonder “which hacking company should I hire, the first aspect that should concern you is Sincerity. Secondly, Rapid response. Clearly, you want to embark for services that povides swift response. With our astonishing Hackers, you will be glad to find out that our services Implies precision and action.
This post is definitely for those who are willing to turn their lives around for the better, either financial-wise, relationship-wise or businesses.
The manual Operation of this hackers is to potentially deploy a distinguished hacking techniques to penetrating computers.
If your shoe fits in any of the services below, you will be assigned to a designated professional hacker who is systematically known for operating on a dark web V-link protocol.
Providing value added services to clients as a hacker has been our sustaining goal.
Are you faced with cyber challenges like
��Recovery of lost funds:✅(BITCOIN INVESTMENTS, BINARY OPTIONS, LOAN AND TRADING FOREX WITH FORGERY BROKERS.) ��️I would try my possible best to shortly explain this in particular.
This shocking study points to one harsh reality we all face today. It saddens our mind when client expresses annoyance or dissatisfaction of unethical behaviours of scammers. We have striven to make tenacious efforts to help those who are victims of this flees get off their traumatic feeling of loss. The cyber security technique used to retrieving back the victims stolen funds is the application of a diverse intercall XX breacher software enables you track the data location of a scammer. Extracting every informations on the con database. Every information required by the Global KOS would be used to tracking every transaction, time and location of the scammer. This is acheived using the systematic courier tracking base method•
However, there are secret cyber infiltrators called brokers and doom. The particular system used by this scammers permeates them to manupulate targets digital trading system or monetary fund based accounts. Strictly using a dark web rob to diverting successful trades into a negative outcome. This process bends to thier advantage while investors results to losing massive amount of money. An act of gaining access to an organization or databased system to cause damages. We have worked so hard to ensure our services gives you a 100% trading success to recover all your losses•
�� HACKING A MOBILE PHONE:.✅ Do you think you are being cheated on? Curious to know what your lover is up to online? This type of hack helps you track every movement of your cheater as we are bent on helping you gain full remote access into the cheater's mobile phone using a Trojan breach cracking system to penetrate their social media platforms like Facebook, whatsapp, snapchat etc.
The company is large enough to provide comprehensive range of services such as•
• EMAIL HACKS��
• HACKING A FRAUDULENT WEBSITE.��
• UBER FREE PAYMENT LICENCE.��
Our strength is based on the ability to help fix cyber problems by bringing together active cyber hacking professionals in the GlobalkOS to work with.
Contact:
✉️Email: theglobalkos@gmail.com
Leroysteckler@gmail.com
®Global KOS™
2020.

Post a Comment