How right-wing conspiracy theories are hatched, and aren't actually conspiracy theories (1 Viewer)

superchuck500

tiny changes
VIP Subscribing Member
VIP Contributor
Diamond VIP Contributor
Joined
Aug 9, 2004
Messages
44,483
Reaction score
57,891
Location
Mt. Pleasant, SC
Online
There is a tendency for "normies", particularly those often sympathetic to conspiracy theories or at least naturally skeptical, to view conspiracy theories as the logical response to inconsistencies or other peculiarities associated with incidents/events that cause skeptical people to question the mainstream narrative . . . and with some sleuthing, piece together a package that is, on its face, something reasonable people should consider before fully accepting that mainstream narrative.

After all, by the very name, a "conspiracy theory" is a theory to explain an event that relies on interested persons manipulating information to give the appearance of some event or occurrence that didn't actually "happen" the way it is perceived but, instead, the result of this manipulation.

As this piece in today's Washington Post reveals, that isn't how it works in the modern political sphere (aided by dark, anonymous internet sites) - and these so-called conspiracy theories are actually the conspiracies themselves. Rather than originating in skeptical observers saying "Hey, wait a minute . . .", these (mostly right-wing/alt-right) "theories" are not theories at all, but propaganda campaigns conceived just moments after events occur. The alt-narrative becomes a conspiracy theory by searching for material that could conceivably support (through proper spin) the alt-narrative. Whereas a true conspiracy theory takes suspect evidence and forms a theory of an alternate result, the alt-narrative campaign begins with the alternate result and forms "evidence" to support it.

As a result, there are three kinds of people within the landscape of these alt-narratives. (1) Those who conceive them or support them knowingly for the purpose of achieving propaganda to undermine the meaning of the actual event, (2) those who are drawn in to believing that there may have actually been a conspiracy and becoming suspect of what is otherwise factual information and personal experiences, and (3) those who recognize that the alt-narratives are untrue or unreasonable and reject them.

This behavior, a conspiracy of individuals to manipulate how the public understands factual events, is insidious in a free society. The victims of this activity most disgustingly include those who experienced the actual event, often horrible experiences like being a shooting victim or losing a loved one in a tragedy. As we have seen with the Sandy Hook "false flag" alt-narrative, survivors and parents of dead children have to endure death threats and defamation of character for years after the event. This is repeating now with Parkland students and parents who lost children being threatened and otherwise disparaged.

But the victims also include those in the second group - who are unwittingly participating in propaganda under the mistaken belief that they are being naturally skeptical. They are the unwitting participants in a conspiracy against the truth, and that is something that no reasonable person should ever accept. I don't mean to suggest that every individual can always know the difference between a true conspiracy theory that bears consideration in reasonably skeptical minds, and a propaganda campaign designed to manipulate public understanding of events - there are indeed times when things turn to be different than the original "facts" suggested.

But we all must earnestly try to stay on the side of the good.


Forty-seven minutes after news broke of a high school shooting in Parkland, Fla., the posters on the anonymous chat board 8chan had devised a plan to bend the public narrative to their own designs: “Start looking for [Jewish] numerology and crisis actors.”

The voices from this dark corner of the Internet quickly coalesced around a plan of attack: Use details gleaned from news reports and other sources to push false information about one of America’s deadliest school shootings. They began crafting false explanations about the massacre, including that actors were posing as students, in hopes of blunting what they correctly guessed would be a revived interest in gun control.

The success of this effort would soon illustrate how lies that thrive on raucous online platforms increasingly shape public understanding of major events. As much of the nation mourned, the story concocted on anonymous chat rooms soon burst onto YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, where the theories surged in popularity.

Amid corporate efforts to beat back the falsehoods, the episode became the latest cautionary tale about how the Internet itself had become a potent tool of deception wielded by political extremists, disinformation warriors and conspiracy theorists.
. . .
There was little sign on the chat boards of any unease about singling out Parkland survivors and their families for personal attacks. Instead the mood seemed jubilant, with posters celebrating that the campaign had reached a broader audience of “normies,” meaning people who typically keep their distance from racist, anti-Semitic and far-right extremist conversation.

“Just wanted to say thanks for all your digging and research,” one poster wrote on 8chan. “Extra thanks if you’re spreading info or memes about this kid. It’s already breaking through the normie-sphere. KEEP PUSHING!”

More about how the "crisis actor" alt-narrative was hatched and proliferated in this detailed story: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/we-studied-thousands-of-anonymous-posts-about-the-parkland-attack---and-found-a-conspiracy-in-the-making/2018/02/27/04a856be-1b20-11e8-b2d9-08e748f892c0_story.html?utm_term=.824fe1c432d0
 

hockey2112

All-Pro
Joined
Oct 25, 2009
Messages
1,148
Reaction score
1,027
Offline
It is truly sickening and has become something of a litmus test that helps me identify the intelligence level of people I thought I knew.
 

RetroMcBananaFace

AKA: retrobanana
Joined
Feb 1, 2015
Messages
10,066
Reaction score
20,848
Location
Henderson, Kentucky
Offline
I read a piece several days ago, I wish I could remember where, that showed how these conspiracy "think tanks" are increasingly targeting retirees and empty nesters, a group that A) is already overwhelmingly conservative; B) are one of the fastest growing demographics on social media; C) are least likely to be able to differentiate between legitimate news sources and non-legitimate ones, especially when viewed through the same portal (ie Facebook)

I would also speculate that since older people are the least likely to be willing to change their thoughts/beliefs that providing them with a narrative gives them an "out".
 

RetroMcBananaFace

AKA: retrobanana
Joined
Feb 1, 2015
Messages
10,066
Reaction score
20,848
Location
Henderson, Kentucky
Offline
The mistake would be in thinking that these disinformation sites are click bait. It's the opposite actually. They thrive on getting a headline and some promo chatter out there and getting people to "share" it. People will read the headline and the chatter but typically only about 10 to 15% will actually click the link and read the story. These sites understand that and count on it. So a headline that would fall apart under closer inspection gets more play than it should because people in general are intellectually lazy in their use of social media.
 

coldseat

Super Forum Fanatic
VIP Contributor
Joined
Jan 10, 2007
Messages
8,418
Reaction score
13,818
Age
43
Online
It's a sickness in our society, but I don't know how you cure it other than exposing it.

I wish people would be smarter, but so many people seem intent on keeping their ignorance.
 
OP
OP
superchuck500

superchuck500

tiny changes
VIP Subscribing Member
VIP Contributor
Diamond VIP Contributor
Joined
Aug 9, 2004
Messages
44,483
Reaction score
57,891
Location
Mt. Pleasant, SC
Online
It's a sickness in our society, but I don't know how you cure it other than exposing it.

I wish people would be smarter, but so many people seem intent on keeping their ignorance.

My Aunt is a perfect example. She is in her 70s, she's a white christian southerner with an associate degree and retired from a career in administrative support. She has always been in that segment of the right that is distrusting of government as a whole, but willing to support demagogues and talk-radio hosts with devotion. She abhorred the Obamas and is gleeful over a person like Trump becoming president. But I have always enjoyed having discussions with her and she's always willing to engage. Despite our vastly different perspectives, I try to have discussions with her without being dismissive or disrespectful to her.

But she has been posting "crisis actor" stories from these alternate truth sites and I finally asked her the other day "Do you really believe that the shooting was a hoax and these students and parents are actors??" She didn't respond (and she always responds). I take that to mean that she does believe the stories, or at least thinks it is a distinct possibility - but she doesn't want to engage any further, she wants to be free to think that, and that's it.

I don't think she's in the camp that willfully proliferates a false story to achieve some propaganda interest - so she's in that second group of people who have allowed their sentiment to become weaponized by false propaganda. There may even be an awareness of that, and an acceptance in that name of staying on the team she has identified with - I really don't know, but it is disappointing to say the least.
 

egautr1

ALL-MADDEN TEAM
Joined
Jan 8, 2007
Messages
2,444
Reaction score
1,977
Location
Madisonville, LA
Offline
It is truly sickening and has become something of a litmus test that helps me identify the intelligence level of people I thought I knew.
Yeah you are right.

One of my best friends who I have known since 4th grade and lived with in college is a big Trump supporter and believes in a lot of these so-called 'conspiracy theories'.
He fully believes in a deep state and that Hilary and Obama have teamed up to do nefarious things. He listens to Alex Jones and others like him and buys it all up. Now he is a college educated man with a wife and kids and is still one of my best friends but I do look at him a little differently now.

Like, "Dude really?"
 

RetroMcBananaFace

AKA: retrobanana
Joined
Feb 1, 2015
Messages
10,066
Reaction score
20,848
Location
Henderson, Kentucky
Offline
But she has been posting "crisis actor" stories from these alternate truth sites and I finally asked her the other day "Do you really believe that the shooting was a hoax and these students and parents are actors??" She didn't respond (and she always responds). I take that to mean that she does believe the stories, or at least thinks it is a distinct possibility - but she doesn't want to engage any further, she wants to be free to think that, and that's it.
I don't know your aunt, but I don't take it to mean that she believes the conspiracy. I think she WANTS to believe, but deep down knows it's a bunch of crap. Her lack of response is not wanting to defend what is basically a losing argument.

The people that spread this stuff even though they have to know it's false are the people who really scare me.
 

mt15

Subscribing Member
Staff member
Super Moderator
VIP Subscribing Member
Platinum VIP Contributor
Joined
Mar 14, 2006
Messages
12,332
Reaction score
16,336
Offline
I’ve thought that once I retire I would like to be of service in some way trying to combat this dark, alt right nonsense. Whether it would be volunteering to fact check, or monitoring alt right websites, or something else, I don’t know.

I’m just concerned about the way this stuff is seeming more organized and being pushed into the mainstream lately. It’s scary stuff.
 
OP
OP
superchuck500

superchuck500

tiny changes
VIP Subscribing Member
VIP Contributor
Diamond VIP Contributor
Joined
Aug 9, 2004
Messages
44,483
Reaction score
57,891
Location
Mt. Pleasant, SC
Online
Latest conspiracy theory from QAnon/4Chan conspiracy theory: Ruth Bader Ginsburg is dead. The material professing her death has been circulating for a few weeks now.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/01/11/searching-news-rbg-youtube-offered-conspiracy-theories-about-supreme-court-justice-instead/?utm_term=.dac7e068e947

She's not dead and was at a performance recently. But that's not stopping the conspiracy advocates (the line is that liberals are somehow perpetuating her after her death so that she won't be replaced under after the 2020 election).
 

coldseat

Super Forum Fanatic
VIP Contributor
Joined
Jan 10, 2007
Messages
8,418
Reaction score
13,818
Age
43
Online
Latest conspiracy theory from QAnon/4Chan conspiracy theory: Ruth Bader Ginsburg is dead. The material professing her death has been circulating for a few weeks now.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/01/11/searching-news-rbg-youtube-offered-conspiracy-theories-about-supreme-court-justice-instead/?utm_term=.dac7e068e947

She's not dead and was at a performance recently. But that's not stopping the conspiracy advocates (the line is that liberals are somehow perpetuating her after her death so that she won't be replaced under after the 2020 election).
If she did die before 2020, I would totally support a "Weekend at Bernie's" approach. Prop her up and do you what needs to be done. I'm totally on board with this conspiracy and willing to do whatever I could to support. With all the tech we have today, it would be easy to keep her alive virtually.
 
Joined
Jul 19, 2001
Messages
21,008
Reaction score
50,403
Location
GBTR
Online
Latest conspiracy theory from QAnon/4Chan conspiracy theory: Ruth Bader Ginsburg is dead. The material professing her death has been circulating for a few weeks now.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/01/11/searching-news-rbg-youtube-offered-conspiracy-theories-about-supreme-court-justice-instead/?utm_term=.dac7e068e947

She's not dead and was at a performance recently. But that's not stopping the conspiracy advocates (the line is that liberals are somehow perpetuating her after her death so that she won't be replaced under after the 2020 election).
Thought I'd need to make this meme, but it's already out there...

 

farfromsilent

Rookie
Joined
Feb 22, 2014
Messages
800
Reaction score
383
Online
If she did die before 2020, I would totally support a "Weekend at Bernie's" approach. Prop her up and do you what needs to be done. I'm totally on board with this conspiracy and willing to do whatever I could to support. With all the tech we have today, it would be easy to keep her alive virtually.
This is why that kind of conspiracy theory gets legs. Even if you are just joking.
 

coldseat

Super Forum Fanatic
VIP Contributor
Joined
Jan 10, 2007
Messages
8,418
Reaction score
13,818
Age
43
Online
This is why that kind of conspiracy theory gets legs. Even if you are just joking.
If somebody takes that seriously and thinks I would have the means to make such a thing happen, I can't really help them.
 

guidomerkinsrules

W H A T E V I R
VIP Contributor
Joined
Apr 30, 2007
Messages
48,519
Reaction score
73,503
Location
by the cemeteries
Offline
a bit tangential
in november, Fresh Air had an episode discussing how long russian propaganda has been filtering these types of stories into world and then US media

A new video series by New York Times reporter Adam Ellick explores Russia's role in spreading fake news, dating back to the '80s conspiracy theory that the AIDS virus was created by the U.S. military.

 

Create an account or login to comment

You must be a member in order to leave a comment

Create account

Create an account on our community. It's easy!

Log in

Already have an account? Log in here.

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 1)

Similar threads




Saints Headlines (The Advocate)

Headlines

Top Bottom