Monday, November 21, 2016

From Russia, With Love And Conspiracy

Masha Gessen is reminding me why I was so interested in the Cold War in the first place. Two worlds believing different realities. Much to explore in her writings. For the moment, I want to capture a comment she made in this piece on The New Politics of Conspiracy.
Perhaps more than any previous election in history, this year’s contest has been dominated by charges of lying and mistruths on both sides, from the primaries to the general election. Our allegiance to a fact-based reality has been constantly challenged. But conspiracy theories work on a different level than mere lies. They lodge themselves in the mind by showing that something could be true without proving that it is true. They are therefore impossible to disprove: they cannot be fact-checked because their central tenets are conjectures rather than facts. Debates spawned by conspiracy theories become fruitless arguments about beliefs, and merely by having them, we gradually elevate these theories from assertion to assumption.
While he doesn't use the word "conspiracy", this piece, The Right Way to Resist Trump, by US-based Italian economist, Luigi Zingales, also makes very good sense to me. I wish he'd written this three months ago.

The focus on conspiracy, as Gessen argued, demands a fight with added conspiracy. I think this is where he'd like to keep our attention. Treating Trump and his allies like normal people and holding them to account for their unacceptable views are where we need to put our energies.

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