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Birth of a conspiracy theory

October 26, 2016

The pseudonymous Tyler Durden writing at Zero Hedge is part of the right-wing media. A media that makes its readers think they are better informed than the rest of us. Some of my Facebook acquaintances post articles by him. Recently, he horribly misread one of Podesta’s emails posted by Wikileaks. The email was about how to get more information from internal polling. Durden turned it into nefarious twisting of publicly released polls. I give Durden the benefit of the doubt, that it was accidental misreading rather than intentional deceit to rile the Wutbürgers.

Yes, conspiracy theories circulate on the left, also. I was in a recent conversation with a Sanders supporter who was convinced that the DNC suppressed the vote for Sanders by manipulating party affiliation in official voter registration lists. He would not hear the simple fact that those databases are maintained by county and state government, not by the parties. Even though the very articles he cited as evidence of his claim made that clear. Misreading from confirmation bias lies somewhere between accidental misreading and intentional deceit.

One of the purposes of mainstream media and elite pundits and establishment advisers is precisely to filter out such crap. What distinguishes the right wing today is that they have lost that filter, and deride the very groups who serve that role. In thinking that outlets like Zero Hedge and Breitbart and Daily Caller give them an information edge over everyone else, they have made themselves more stupid. Bernie Sanders would never repeat the conspiracy theory noted just above, even though it favors him. He knows better. And even if he doesn’t know better, he at least is more careful in his sources. Trump, on the other hand, ran with the conspiracy theory manufactured by Zero Hedge. To anyone who can read and who has a modicum of understanding how polls work, it is utter nonsense. Even if Trump doesn’t know that, shouldn’t he have advisers who do? And if nothing else, shouldn’t he be suspicious of anything from an outlet like Zero Hedge? Anyone who lacks the acumen and social filters to identify crap like this is a danger in high office.

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