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Everyone likes a good story

August 22, 2018

People especially like stories that weave in with the other stories they believe. Stories have morals and characters with motives. So it’s not too surprising that those who prefer a creation myth to evolution also are more prone to believing conspiracies. (Cite.) That kind of research is interesting, but not much incisive. People are complex. There are many ways to frame that data, and it undoubtedly would tell a different story had different questions been asked.

An interesting question about those who push conspiracy theories is how they move between believing a story or not, and how that affects whether they propagate it or not. I’ve had right-wingers tell me that they don’t believe everything Alex Jones says. Even some who pushed Pizzagate. And now there is QAnon, Pizzagate 2.0. One of the stories that is important to them is that they are more discerning than the average person, and that even though their sources are better, they don’t believe everything from those sources.

Krugman’s latest editorial is on something I have posted about years earlier, on the particular affinity between right-wing media and the direct marketing snake-oil vendors. Ben Shapiro is now pushing dietary supplements. Overnight, he has turned his deep economic acumen into equally deep health knowledge. I can’t wait for him to share the stage with Gwyneth Paltrow. She can teach him the tricks of the trade. One of which is to say “just kidding” when facing any legal consequence to the nonsense she spouts. In that, she follows Alex Jones, whose attorneys argue in court for the second time that no reasonable person would take him seriously.

Yesterday, Duncan Hunter and his wife were indicted on spending campaign funds for personal purpose. That news was easy to overlook between the major stories on witch convictions. Hunter was the second congressman to endorse Trump. I wonder what stories the Hunters told themselves? That every politician in their position does the same? That it was for a larger cause?

Liberals need to be careful not to fall into similar narrative traps. Karma does not exist. Franco and Pinochet both won, and both died from natural causes, never facing an ounce of justice. Trump has the upper hand now, holding the presidency, with a political base who love him and a political party that caters to him. Both campaign law and espionage law are technical matters; we might see no more indictments from Mueller. Even if we do, Trump retains the power to pardon and already has shown he will use it for his own benefit. Trump did not create the political movement he rode to power. That’s good in a way — had he done that, he would have done more by now to solidify power.

Our nation’s political problems are larger than Trump. It’s easy to cheer when frauds and conmen are convicted. The liberal’s long game is defeating America’s neo-fascists. There is no guarantee we will. What gives me more hope than Manafort’s or Cohen’s convictions is that it is a group long in tooth. And that they take their health advice from Ben Shapiro.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Laura permalink
    August 22, 2018 9:18 am

    Do you know who else will die of natural causes? Kissinger, Bush W, Cheney. Not only that, they will be treated like honorable men. Even Dan Mitrione was honored by Nixon after his murder in Montevideo.
    Together with Franco and Pinochet, all share something: their fondness for torture, as a tool for peace ?#$!!

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