Conspiracy and Kooky thinking

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JasonL
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Conspiracy and Kooky thinking

Post by JasonL »

On a recent 5th Column pod, Kmele and Moynihan were talking about the prevalence of conspiracy theory these days. They theorize a bit about whether it is more prevalent or if it's just louder or what.

I do have a sense if nothing else, especially in the trump era, that it's just more okay to say kooky things. The social pressure to express grounded views is lessened and now you have NBA players coming out as flat earthers and all kinds of stuff.

Is this what post factual america looks like? Are more people nutty? Is it all ideologically driven?
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Highway
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Re: Conspiracy and Kooky thinking

Post by Highway »

I think it's mostly just the signal boosting effect of the internet. But that signal boosting has the secondary effect of having the kook message reach more people, which through a wider pool of possible listeners ends up finding a larger number of receptive people.

I think people also like to grab on to "secret" knowledge because it makes them feel special.
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Painboy
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Re: Conspiracy and Kooky thinking

Post by Painboy »

It's been around in some form forever. I think part of the problem now is before the internet there might be the odd kooky book, TV program, or quack medical practitioner, but it took a lot of work to find and commiserate with other like minded people. It actually shares a lot with geek/nerd culture. Once unacceptable to talk about things like D&D in public without expecting derision or disapproval, people positively brag about it nowadays with little concern what others think. Geeks did this by rallying around each other helping legitimize their place in society. So conspiracy nuts have done much the same in their own way.

In addition there was only so much information one could get about whatever it was the person believed about a conspiracy to fuel their chosen narrative. Now there is a limitless river of info they can reference to justify really anything. That in turn helps "legitimize" certain theories or people as they can assemble a mountain of "evidence" that looks impressive to someone not accustomed to parsing that much info, or who just aren't wise to the various tactics they use to discredit anything that would mess with hat theory.

The whole "you can't judge me" attitude these days I'm sure contributes to this. Shame likely kept lots of weird things people believed in their head so as not to be ridiculed or ostracized.
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Hugh Akston
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Re: Conspiracy and Kooky thinking

Post by Hugh Akston »

I wish they would have Jesse Walker on the 5C to talk about this. He frequently points out how far and deep into history conspiratorial thinking goes, but it's hard to tell whether the internet has made it worse or just louder.
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JD
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Re: Conspiracy and Kooky thinking

Post by JD »

I think the internet has definitely made things worse. In the old days, if you believed that, say, your clothing detergent emitted magic rays that rotted your teeth, who were you going to tell? Your neighbors? Maybe you'd write a letter to a newspaper editor that would get crumpled up and thrown in the trash? But now the internet has enabled you to find someone else on the other side of the nation who also thinks that the magic detergent rays are rotting his teeth, so it must be real! And then someone else who hadn't previously considered it runs across your online support group for Detergent Teeth Sufferers, so they become a believer too, and so on and so forth.
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thoreau
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Re: Conspiracy and Kooky thinking

Post by thoreau »

I'm pretty sure it's just the internet making conspiratorial thinking louder.

A good buddy of mine is a historian, and one of his favorite anecdotes is Revolution-era Americans theorizing that the British acquisition of Quebec was part of a plot to foist "Popery" (Catholicism) on them. Why the Anglican Brits would want to make their subjects into Catholics was never really explained, but that didn't stop people from railing against it.

Had the Brits conquered Kenya in the 18th century I'm sure somebody would have been happy to explain that it was part of a plan to install a Kenyan Muslim as the Crown's Governor in an American colony.
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Aresen
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Re: Conspiracy and Kooky thinking

Post by Aresen »

JD wrote:I think the internet has definitely made things worse. In the old days, if you believed that, say, your clothing detergent emitted magic rays that rotted your teeth, who were you going to tell? Your neighbors? Maybe you'd write a letter to a newspaper editor that would get crumpled up and thrown in the trash? But now the internet has enabled you to find someone else on the other side of the nation who also thinks that the magic detergent rays are rotting his teeth, so it must be real! And then someone else who hadn't previously considered it runs across your online support group for Detergent Teeth Sufferers, so they become a believer too, and so on and so forth.
I am sure Chuck Schumer would be glad to put a bill before congress implementing a magic ray ban for detergent.
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Sandy
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Re: Conspiracy and Kooky thinking

Post by Sandy »

thoreau wrote:Had the Brits conquered Kenya in the 18th century I'm sure somebody would have been happy to explain that it was part of a plan to install a Kenyan Muslim as the Crown's Governor in an American colony.
That would never happen.

Clearly all these actions by the British Crown are trying to discredit conspiracy theories in order to dismiss challenges to their globe-ist agenda and prevent people from learning the reality of the flatness of the earth.
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Re: Conspiracy and Kooky thinking

Post by fyodor »

JasonL wrote:On a recent 5th Column pod, Kmele and Moynihan were talking about the prevalence of conspiracy theory these days. They theorize a bit about whether it is more prevalent or if it's just louder or what.

I do have a sense if nothing else, especially in the trump era, that it's just more okay to say kooky things. The social pressure to express grounded views is lessened and now you have NBA players coming out as flat earthers and all kinds of stuff.

Is this what post factual america looks like? Are more people nutty? Is it all ideologically driven?
Are you really just asking where are we going and what are we doing in this handbasket?
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Eric the .5b
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Re: Conspiracy and Kooky thinking

Post by Eric the .5b »

Is it really any louder now than in the early Thoreauic Age, when stuff about alien abductions and Roswell and whatnot were all over the old media, even before the X-Files?

I suspect conspiracy theories just sound more obviously crazy, now, because thanks to the internet, you can hear them straight from the nutball, anti-semitic, etc. sources instead of it being filtered and cleaned-up by popularizers.
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Warren
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Re: Conspiracy and Kooky thinking

Post by Warren »

This reminds me of how every election is the nastiest election and campaigns use to be gracious affairs conducted by statesmen.
Wackadoodlery is neither more prevalent nor louder than in past ages, it just lives in a new medium is all.
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fyodor
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Re: Conspiracy and Kooky thinking

Post by fyodor »

Eric the .5b wrote:Is it really any louder now than in the early Thoreauic Age, when stuff about alien abductions and Roswell and whatnot were all over the old media, even before the X-Files?
I wonder if the X-Files killed a lot of that by turning it into an entertainment cliché.
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Eric the .5b
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Re: Conspiracy and Kooky thinking

Post by Eric the .5b »

fyodor wrote:
Eric the .5b wrote:Is it really any louder now than in the early Thoreauic Age, when stuff about alien abductions and Roswell and whatnot were all over the old media, even before the X-Files?
I wonder if the X-Files killed a lot of that by turning it into an entertainment cliché.
Entirely possible. All the straight-faced mainstream stuff on What Happened at Roswell(tm) and whatnot came out prior to that.
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thoreau
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Re: Conspiracy and Kooky thinking

Post by thoreau »

Alien abduction kookery was killed off by 2 things:

1) 9/11 gave people bigger things to worry about.
2) Shortly thereafter everyone got pocket video cameras that can upload footage to the internet. Anyone who claimed to have seen an alien would immediately be asked for footage.

FWIW, ghosts also seem to have mostly gone away.
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Re: Conspiracy and Kooky thinking

Post by dhex »

the eschaton is, like, kinda post a lotta stuff.
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Aresen
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Re: Conspiracy and Kooky thinking

Post by Aresen »

thoreau wrote:Alien abduction kookery was killed off by 2 things:

1) 9/11 gave people bigger things to worry about.
2) Shortly thereafter everyone got pocket video cameras that can upload footage to the internet. Anyone who claimed to have seen an alien would immediately be asked for footage.

FWIW, ghosts also seem to have mostly gone away.
Last time I looked, there were still lots of "Visiting Haunted Houses" programs, but they are all about 'psychics' getting 'vibrations'. Ectoplasm does not seem to video well.
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Eric the .5b
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Re: Conspiracy and Kooky thinking

Post by Eric the .5b »

thoreau wrote:Alien abduction kookery was killed off by 2 things:

1) 9/11 gave people bigger things to worry about.
2) Shortly thereafter everyone got pocket video cameras that can upload footage to the internet. Anyone who claimed to have seen an alien would immediately be asked for footage.
Eh, it was already heavily waning before that point, though those were definitely a factor. What #2 added was zillions of photos and clips of random blurs and whatnot that people loudly insisted were totally ghosts/sasquatches/aliens.

For that matter, ghosts and ghosthunting having been pretty big for the last decade.
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Mo
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Re: Conspiracy and Kooky thinking

Post by Mo »

I think it's because we have a conspiracy theorist president. Before this election, Alex Jones and Infowars were a weird internet joke, like the Timecube guy. Now he's relatively well known in the mainstream.
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JasonL
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Re: Conspiracy and Kooky thinking

Post by JasonL »

That's the sort of thing that seems so loud right now. For a minute when dude from Blink182 quit doing music so he could tell the government all about alien abductions, I thought "is that a cabinet post now?"
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thoreau
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Re: Conspiracy and Kooky thinking

Post by thoreau »

JasonL wrote:That's the sort of thing that seems so loud right now. For a minute when dude from Blink182 quit doing music so he could tell the government all about alien abductions, I thought "is that a cabinet post now?"
Um, is it? I mean, I don't think so, but you never know for sure.

How long before Alex Jones is put on the National Security Council?
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fyodor
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Re: Conspiracy and Kooky thinking

Post by fyodor »

All seriousness aside, our alien security probably is lacking....
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Re: Conspiracy and Kooky thinking

Post by Taktix® »

Mo wrote:I think it's because we have a conspiracy theorist president. Before this election, Alex Jones and Infowars were a weird internet joke, like the Timecube guy. Now he's relatively well known in the mainstream.
This.

Also, I think the administration encourages conspiracy nuttery because it provides cover for some of the nefarious things they're actually doing. Kinda like how the government discredited-not-discredited the Area 51/UFO business. It's way easier to test a stealth bomber when everyone's looking for flying saucers and green men...
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Highway
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Re: Conspiracy and Kooky thinking

Post by Highway »

So Taktix® is the first one to make a conspiracy theory about conspiracy theories...
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Re: Conspiracy and Kooky thinking

Post by Taktix® »

Highway wrote:So Taktix® is the first one to make a conspiracy theory about conspiracy theories...
This is why I® trademark...
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Re: Conspiracy and Kooky thinking

Post by Aresen »

Highway wrote:So Taktix® is the first one to make a conspiracy theory about conspiracy theories...
We're piling up turtles here, folks.
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