miscalibration or misinformation?
explaining the sudden surge in wild conspiracy theories (and how to respond)
2020-22 was the uncontested heyday of conspiracy theorizing. that poorly chosen epithet was used to try to discredit so many people opposing public health and public control/propaganda narratives that the term flat out jumped the shark and being accused of “conspiracy theory” became a high probability marker of “on the right track for things that would get proven in a couple of months.”
it was an odd and (at least in my lifetime) unprecedented inversion driven by just how wild and blatant the misinformational flow from the public sector and the mediasphere that carries water for it became. (or perhaps just how its surge in intrusiveness woke everyone up to the nature of this beast)
never had so many demanded such uncritical acceptance of so much ill conceived twaddle with so little foundational basis.
and the overton window shifted. bigly.
many who used to “trust the experts” found themselves on an entirely different path.
and some actually, no fooling around conspiracies were unearthed and continue to be.
and this is a good thing.
but it’s also double edged because like many pendulums, it can both go too far and become harmful and it can be hijacked and turned into a wrecking ball.
so let’s talk a bit about that and how to live in such a world.
perhaps this is just confirmation bias, but it seems to me that we have been seeing a huge surge in weird and outlandish conspiracy theories lately. many others to whom i have spoken are experiencing something similar.
and it seems to be passing the point of “helpful investigation” and veering into “damaging” and this is the point where, if we want to stay on the side of evidence, science, and accuracy, we need to begin to police ourselves.
presuming i am correct about this surge, i see two basic causal vectors:
1. the "conspiracy is everywhere gang" who have always been with us but mostly quiet or ignored got a few right by chance during covid and is now emboldened to share all their other crazy ideas. media are willing to publish it because it’s sensational, garners clicks, and who knows, it might wind up being right! (and it’s not like the media has evidenced any discernment whatsoever here of late. they are just throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks). i’m going to describe this form of conspiracy overshoot as “mis-calibration.”
2. the media/info police/propogandist agents and agencies have moved to a proactive stance of putting out obvious idiocy comingled with ideas they want to suppress to try to discredit the whole. (this is a very effective technique and one they have discussed openly) it’s a specific and potent form of misinformation that does an excellent job of discrediting true facts by linking them associatively with flagrant and unpopular falsehoods. when used widely it rapidly generates a bewildering “tinsel” effect that leaves people disoriented and having no idea what to believe. the KGB loved this stuff. now it’s a menu offering at PR and “crisis management” firms. it’s especially potent as pre-prep where you try to get in front of an idea that is emerging and hijack it before it can gain currency by linking the info you fear to a bunch of easily disproven twaddle and/or unpopular/hate speech so that it has to fight this baggage when trying to make a first impression. i will call this form of misinformational manipulation “mis-association.”
which you are dealing with winds up mattering less than one might expect because both have the same general effect: they take some bits of what is correct, co-mingle them with lots of things that are not, and serve, for the vast majority of people who consume such information as a reason to stop reading and ignore the issue or develop a prior that “this is one of those kook issues.”
the whole point of mis-association is that it’s impossible for a casual observer to discern from mis-calibration.
most people consume information cursorily. you sort of skim it, see some markers you view as signs of crackpottery or general mis-calibration or ill founded zealotry and decide that the whole is something you should probably ignore.
and this is why having this be widespread is so potent: because it ups the likelihood that it’s what you run into first on any new issue and that it colors and frames all your later thinking.
the best way to convince people to disbelieve the theory of evolution is not with facts and direct argument, it’s to make sure that the first time they hear about it is from a guy in tinfoil trench coat describing “natural selection” as a eugenics program by which the lizard people who secretly rule us have been breeding humanity to make us a yummier food source.
planting ideas like that around the infosphere as pre-emptive landmines is a propaganda classic. it works even better when you can intermingle it with the sorts of real conspiracy and informational miscalibration that is currently going on.
and as more and more “conspiracy nutters” get rug-pulled it discredits those who investigate actual conspiracy as well and ultimately provides a form of steganographic cover. the best place to hide a genuine conspiracy is right in the middle of 20 made up ones.
this makes for difficult times. the golden age of the conspiracy revelator can easily flip to the golden age of propaganda.
and so we land in the middle of what’s going on now and this is a moment to become more, not less critical, a moment to assess more deeply and not succumb to confirmation bias just because your side is winning because that’s how you torpedo yourself, squander hard won credibility, and fall prey to the misinformational maestros using mis-association to render you mis-calibrated (or at least misperceived as so being.)
josh does great work here talking about the new “documentary” called “died suddenly.”
we can argue about whether it’s accidental or deliberate, but the fact is that some of the real potential issues raised in the film get clowned by adjacency to ideas seemingly selected to be off-putting to the middle.
honestly, it appears designed to be easy to refute or dismiss. it’s full of bad claims (like a basketball player dropping on court in a video that predates vaccines) and missed opportunities.
this is what asking the real questions looks like: (and kudos to josh for doing it)
The long, white fibrous material they have been finding in dead people's arteries and veins after the vaccine rollout is truly horrifying. It isn't new, but it's presented all in one place in a highly compelling way, especially the scene where you see it being removed from a dead body during an embalming session.
The movie would have been far more effective if it had just focused mainly on that and dug deeper. For example, there is still a question as to whether the clots are what are causing people to die, or if they form post mortem. It would have been valuable to show what they’re made of and to prove that they are distinct from another type of post mortem clotting. There are other things that could have been done to make a much stronger case about the clots.
and it’s important that we stay at this.
because this stuff is suddenly all over the place.
this apparently went out to a set of elementary school parents. or maybe it didn’t and is getting passed around as a hoax. people seem to be fighting about that. i have no idea who’s right.
but look what it links to “satanism.”
it’s basically taking the values of intellectual endeavor, independence, and the enlightenment and making them mephistophelean.
critical thinking = satanic values? really?
seems a deeply odd choice if it were in any way sincere.
and all manner of ideas like this are getting passed around and diverting attention from what seem to be some more legitimate issues.
and this is how whole movements get made to look non-credible.
and the PR firms and crisis counselors hired by big companies and big government alike know just how to frame it to discredit and discombobulate viewpoints and to make disagreeing with them look like miscalibration by using false analogy and mis-association.
and many are paying up for the service.
this is a strong framing. everyone knows some ill informed “keyboard warrior” who argues interminably about some topic they only just heard of 6 minutes ago. we’ve all had the experience of dealing with it. it make pfizer look like the victim. unless you are really certain, it undermines your confidence. “wait, am i THAT guy?”
this is profound and weaponized woo woo.
of course, at a certain point, it starts to backfire, especially if you block responses.
pfizer is getting dragged in the quote tweets for this. and they deserve to.
“what could be a more perfect allegory for 2022 than experts who have been wrong about everything for 3 years demanding that no one fact check them and then silencing responses?”
but even so, this still works. it plants in your mind the idea that “people on the internet who argue with scientists are those same people who google “economics” once and think they are milton friedman. and it has a certain “don’t think of an elephant” effect.
and this is the infosphere we’re going to have to navigate.
some of it is micalibration and some misinformational mis-association, but they come together in a confluence of confidence eroding consciousness corrosive.
it’s a bad trend and a nasty psyop.
it’s easy to get caught up.
and so now, just as many ideas we fought hard to push into mainstream conception are winning out, it falls on us to be extra careful.
it’s a short hop from going to far on “klaus schwab eats live puppies when no one is looking” to “oh, those WEF critics are a bunch of loons, don’t listen to a word they say.”
so let’s not go there.
we are the keepers of our own reputations and they can be lost if we do not tend to them and call out that which is wrong, especially when it comes from those who agree with us on other matters.
we need to call our own fouls.
and we also need to not get blinded or enraged by ideological purity war where you feel like you must agree if they are “on your side” or excoriate if someone on your side differs from you on something.
science, economics, politics, free thought, it’s all supposed to be discerning, not monolithic.
fun fact: did you know that you can agree with people on some things and disagree on others and still be friends and have fruitful dialogues?
one might even go so far as to call that the literal basis of the enlightenment
hey, it worked once.
might be worth another try…
Problem is, they are talking about vaccine passports and endless vaccinations in order to be employed, move about freely, and receive medical care.
NY and California are eliminating gas vehicles in a decade.
Autos manufactured after 2025 will have a "kill switch" to stop them dead in their tracks.
Despite absolutely no evidence to support the claim, the government claims that "white supremacism/nationalism" is the biggest threat we face. (Funny how that happens to be the middle class which will be crushed in globalization.)
We just had two very, very sketchy elections. The party that prevailed was all on board with vaccines, after denigrating them when Orange man was in charge.
(So many more...gotta hurry...off to work.)
All of that points to a move towards a nascent Biomedical Security State.https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09ZJXPYSG/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0 Dr. Kheriaty was head of Medical Ethics at U Cal Irvine Health.
Questions, el gato, if you stalk this thread:
--If money is the driving force, why care if anyone rolls up their sleeve for some mRNA? The check cleared into Pfizer and Moderna's bank accounts, why the rush to vaccinate everyone? Especially with something that, a few months into the rollout, proved to be mildly effective at best.
--Why, not only hide side effects, but viciously attack and deplatform anyone who brought them out into the light of day?
--When have you ever seen the media (controlled by just a few corporations) speak with one voice, and governments (controlled by those same corporations) worldwide move in such lockstep, chucking aside pandemic plans to implement the agenda?
(I am thinking of adding a tinfoil suit to go along with my tinfoil chapeau...)
I think I'm broken now.
I look forward to reading what a cat thinks, who am I to say there are no lizard people?