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Conspiracy Theories Shaping Election—and Shaking the Foundation of American Democracy

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  • Conspiracy Theories Shaping Election—and Shaking the Foundation of American Democracy




    How Conspiracy Theories Are Shaping the 2020 Election—and Shaking the Foundation of American Democracy

    Kelly Ferro is a busy mom on her way to the post office: leather mini-backpack, brunet topknot, turquoise pedicure with a matching ombré manicure. A hairdresser from Kenosha, Wis., Ferro didn’t vote in 2016 but has since become a strong supporter of Donald Trump. “Why does the news hate the President so much?” she says. “I went down the rabbit hole. I started doing a lot of research.”

    When I ask what she means by research, something shifts. Her voice has the same honey tone as before, and her face is as friendly as ever. But there’s an uncanny flash as she says, “This is where I don’t know what I can say, because what’s integrated into our system, it stems deep. And it has to do with really corrupt, evil, dark things that have been hidden from the public. Child sex trafficking is one of them.”

    Ferro may not have even realized it, but she was parroting elements of the QAnon conspiracy theory, a pro-Trump viral delusion that began in 2017 and has spread widely over recent months, migrating from far-right corners of the Internet to infect ordinary voters in the suburbs. Its followers believe President Trump is a hero safeguarding the world from a “deep state” cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles, Democratic politicians and Hollywood celebrities who run a global sex-trafficking ring, harvesting the blood of children for life-sustaining chemicals.

    None of this is even remotely true. But an alarming number of Americans have been exposed to these wild ideas. There are thousands of QAnon groups and pages on Facebook, with millions of members, according to an internal company document reviewed by NBC News. Dozens of QAnon-friendly candidates have run for Congress, and at least three have won GOP primaries. Trump has called its adherents “people that love our country.”

    In more than seven dozen interviews conducted in Wisconsin in early September, from the suburbs around Milwaukee to the scarred streets of Kenosha in the aftermath of the Jacob Blake shooting, about 1 in 5 voters volunteered ideas that veered into the realm of conspiracy theory, ranging from QAnon to the notion that COVID-19 is a hoax. Two women in Ozaukee County calmly informed me that an evil cabal operates tunnels under the U.S. in order to rape and torture children and drink their blood. A Joe Biden supporter near a Kenosha church told me votes don’t matter, because “the elites” will decide the outcome of the election anyway. A woman on a Kenosha street corner explained that Democrats were planning to bring in U.N. troops before the election to prevent a Trump win.

    It’s hard to know exactly why people believe what they believe. Some had clearly been exposed to QAnon conspiracy theorists online. Others seemed to be repeating false ideas espoused in Plandemic, a pair of conspiracy videos featuring a discredited former medical researcher that went viral, spreading the notion that COVID-19 is a hoax across social media. (COVID-19 is not a hoax.) When asked where they found their information, almost all these voters were cryptic: “Go online,” one woman said. “Dig deep,” added another. They seemed to share a collective disdain for the mainstream media–a skepticism that has only gotten stronger and deeper since 2016. The truth wasn’t reported, they said, and what was reported wasn’t true.

    This matters not just because of what these voters believe but also because of what they don’t. The facts that should anchor a sense of shared reality are meaningless to them; the news developments that might ordinarily inform their vote fall on deaf ears. They will not be swayed by data on coronavirus deaths, they won’t be persuaded by job losses or stock market gains, and they won’t care if Trump called America’s fallen soldiers “losers” or “suckers,” as the Atlantic reported, because they won’t believe it. They are impervious to messaging, advertising or data. They aren’t just infected with conspiracy; they appear to be inoculated against reality.

    Democracy relies on an informed and engaged public responding in rational ways to the real-life facts and challenges before us. But a growing number of Americans are untethered from that. “They’re not on the same epistemological grounding, they’re not living in the same worlds,” says Whitney Phillips, a professor at Syracuse who studies online disinformation. “You cannot have a functioning democracy when people are not at the very least occupying the same solar system.”

    . . . .

    Experts who follow disinformation say nothing will change until Facebook and YouTube shift their business model away from the algorithms that reward conspiracies. “We are not anywhere near peak crazy,” says Mele. Phillips, the professor from Syracuse, agrees that things will get weirder. “We’re in trouble,” she adds. “Words sort of fail to capture what a nightmare scenario this is.”

    But to voters like Kelly Ferro, the mass delusion seems more like a mass awakening. Trump “is revealing these things,” she says serenely, gesturing with her turquoise-tipped fingernails. Americans’ “eyes are being opened to the darkness that was once hidden.”

    After yoga in the morning, Ferro says, she often spends hours watching videos, immersing herself in a world she believes is bringing her ever closer to the truth. “You can’t stop, because it’s so addicting to have this knowledge of what kind of world we’re living in,” she says. “We’re living in an alternate reality.”






    Tried and waited then got tired, that's about it

  • #2
    Originally posted by annabenedetti View Post



    How Conspiracy Theories Are Shaping the 2020 Election—and Shaking the Foundation of American Democracy

    Kelly Ferro is a busy mom on her way to the post office: leather mini-backpack, brunet topknot, turquoise pedicure with a matching ombré manicure. A hairdresser from Kenosha, Wis., Ferro didn’t vote in 2016 but has since become a strong supporter of Donald Trump. “Why does the news hate the President so much?” she says. “I went down the rabbit hole. I started doing a lot of research.”

    When I ask what she means by research, something shifts. Her voice has the same honey tone as before, and her face is as friendly as ever. But there’s an uncanny flash as she says, “This is where I don’t know what I can say, because what’s integrated into our system, it stems deep. And it has to do with really corrupt, evil, dark things that have been hidden from the public. Child sex trafficking is one of them.”

    Ferro may not have even realized it, but she was parroting elements of the QAnon conspiracy theory, a pro-Trump viral delusion that began in 2017 and has spread widely over recent months, migrating from far-right corners of the Internet to infect ordinary voters in the suburbs. Its followers believe President Trump is a hero safeguarding the world from a “deep state” cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles, Democratic politicians and Hollywood celebrities who run a global sex-trafficking ring, harvesting the blood of children for life-sustaining chemicals.

    None of this is even remotely true. But an alarming number of Americans have been exposed to these wild ideas. There are thousands of QAnon groups and pages on Facebook, with millions of members, according to an internal company document reviewed by NBC News. Dozens of QAnon-friendly candidates have run for Congress, and at least three have won GOP primaries. Trump has called its adherents “people that love our country.”

    In more than seven dozen interviews conducted in Wisconsin in early September, from the suburbs around Milwaukee to the scarred streets of Kenosha in the aftermath of the Jacob Blake shooting, about 1 in 5 voters volunteered ideas that veered into the realm of conspiracy theory, ranging from QAnon to the notion that COVID-19 is a hoax. Two women in Ozaukee County calmly informed me that an evil cabal operates tunnels under the U.S. in order to rape and torture children and drink their blood. A Joe Biden supporter near a Kenosha church told me votes don’t matter, because “the elites” will decide the outcome of the election anyway. A woman on a Kenosha street corner explained that Democrats were planning to bring in U.N. troops before the election to prevent a Trump win.

    It’s hard to know exactly why people believe what they believe. Some had clearly been exposed to QAnon conspiracy theorists online. Others seemed to be repeating false ideas espoused in Plandemic, a pair of conspiracy videos featuring a discredited former medical researcher that went viral, spreading the notion that COVID-19 is a hoax across social media. (COVID-19 is not a hoax.) When asked where they found their information, almost all these voters were cryptic: “Go online,” one woman said. “Dig deep,” added another. They seemed to share a collective disdain for the mainstream media–a skepticism that has only gotten stronger and deeper since 2016. The truth wasn’t reported, they said, and what was reported wasn’t true.

    This matters not just because of what these voters believe but also because of what they don’t. The facts that should anchor a sense of shared reality are meaningless to them; the news developments that might ordinarily inform their vote fall on deaf ears. They will not be swayed by data on coronavirus deaths, they won’t be persuaded by job losses or stock market gains, and they won’t care if Trump called America’s fallen soldiers “losers” or “suckers,” as the Atlantic reported, because they won’t believe it. They are impervious to messaging, advertising or data. They aren’t just infected with conspiracy; they appear to be inoculated against reality.

    Democracy relies on an informed and engaged public responding in rational ways to the real-life facts and challenges before us. But a growing number of Americans are untethered from that. “They’re not on the same epistemological grounding, they’re not living in the same worlds,” says Whitney Phillips, a professor at Syracuse who studies online disinformation. “You cannot have a functioning democracy when people are not at the very least occupying the same solar system.”

    . . . .

    Experts who follow disinformation say nothing will change until Facebook and YouTube shift their business model away from the algorithms that reward conspiracies. “We are not anywhere near peak crazy,” says Mele. Phillips, the professor from Syracuse, agrees that things will get weirder. “We’re in trouble,” she adds. “Words sort of fail to capture what a nightmare scenario this is.”

    But to voters like Kelly Ferro, the mass delusion seems more like a mass awakening. Trump “is revealing these things,” she says serenely, gesturing with her turquoise-tipped fingernails. Americans’ “eyes are being opened to the darkness that was once hidden.”

    After yoga in the morning, Ferro says, she often spends hours watching videos, immersing herself in a world she believes is bringing her ever closer to the truth. “You can’t stop, because it’s so addicting to have this knowledge of what kind of world we’re living in,” she says. “We’re living in an alternate reality.”




    It's just baffling that anyone can take the absolute lunacy of Q-Anon seriously. It's just beyond bat crazy...
    Well this is fun isn't it?

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Arthur Brain View Post

      It's just baffling that anyone can take the absolute lunacy of Q-Anon seriously. It's just beyond bat crazy...
      And yet here we are watching it happen right in front of us.

      Tried and waited then got tired, that's about it

      Comment


      • #4
        Conspiracy Theories Shaping Election—and Shaking the Foundation of American Democracy

        The election of Donald Trump provided the necessary cover for the nation's "lunatic fringe" to emerge and attempt to establish itself as a part of mainstream America!

        Given that America's institutions have been under constant attack for the last 4 years, the public's confidence has been eroded as witnessed by millions of families currently facing both food and shelter issues in the middle of a Pandemic that their President would have them believe is miraculously disappearing!



        Last edited by jgarden; September 12, 2020, 06:02 PM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by annabenedetti View Post

          And yet here we are watching it happen right in front of us.
          It's like Zombieland...
          Well this is fun isn't it?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Arthur Brain View Post

            It's like Zombieland...

            Tried and waited then got tired, that's about it

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by annabenedetti View Post

              Just insane...
              Well this is fun isn't it?

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by annabenedetti View Post
                Democracy relies on an informed and engaged public responding in rational ways to the real-life facts and challenges before us.
                Only the delusional think that BLM and Antifa are responding in rational ways!



                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Arthur Brain View Post

                  It's like Zombieland...
                  Yep. I hear the paranoid delusions everyday...from people I generally respect. It's scary how gullible and suggestible some people are.

                  Makes you realize how nazi propoganda became so entrenched within German society.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by quip View Post

                    Yep. I hear the paranoid delusions everyday...from people I generally respect. It's scary how gullible and suggestible some people are.

                    Makes you realize how nazi propoganda became so entrenched within German society.
                    Which came first, the Nazi chicken or the QAnon egg?

                    QAnon echos Nazi tropes and ancient conspiracies, is repackaged with an American twist and exported to Neo-Nazi Germany...

                    Tried and waited then got tired, that's about it

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Now QAnon is amplifying fake news that antifa is behind wildfires in the west:

                      As wildfires rage, false antifa rumors spur pleas from police
                      At least six groups have issued warnings about the false rumors, including some asking the public to stop sharing the misinformation.


                      Police and local officials on the West Coast are battling multiple raging fires. They're also fighting a wave of misinformation from false rumors spread in neighborhood Facebook groups and on far-right websites that antifa activists were setting the blazes.

                      At least six groups have issued warnings about the false rumors, including some pleading with the public to stop sharing the misinformation.

                      “Rumors spread just like wildfire and now our 9-1-1 dispatchers and professional staff are being overrun with requests for information and inquiries on an UNTRUE rumor that 6 Antifa members have been arrested for setting fires in DOUGLAS COUNTY, OREGON,” the Douglas County Sheriff's Office wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday.

                      The false claims also became fodder for the now-sizable online QAnon community, which began amplifying various false reports earlier in the week.


                      The sheriffs in Jackson County, Oregon, and Mason County, Washington, posted similar warnings, begging locals to stop spreading unsubstantiated claims.

                      A firefighters union in Washington state called Facebook “an absolute cesspool of misinformation right now,” in a post that sought to quell more rumors about the fires’ origins.

                      On Friday afternoon, the FBI's Portland field office tweeted that reports about "extremists" setting wildfires were untrue.

                      Tried and waited then got tired, that's about it

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by annabenedetti View Post
                        Which came first, the Nazi chicken or the QAnon egg?
                        In case you don't know who is rioting in the streets then let me give you a clue. It is those who support Joe Biden from the far left.

                        Madonna said that she dreams of blowing up the White House and Johnny Depp considered if another actor might assassinate another President. Maxine Waters tells her followers from the Democrat party to get in the face of Trump supporters. Kamala Harris raises money to bail out the rioters so that they can return to their rioting as soon as possible. Those same people demand that the Police Department in the cities be de-funded despite the fact that hurts those in the minority communities the most. The Democrat Convention lasted for four days and during that time not one thing was said about the riots and that lawlessness.

                        The leaders in the Democrat party are so dumb that they didn't realize that these riots were going to blow up in their face. It has backfired and now any chance of them winning the Presidency has disappeared. The Democrat party is so bankrupt that the best they could do in picking their candidate for the Presidency is this old fool:

                        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIB4V0FAB-U

                        The Democrat Party has the mainstream press on their side and they can't even win this years election!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          There are nuts on both extremes- and the extremes are alarmingly popular.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by chair View Post
                            There are nuts on both extremes- and the extremes are alarmingly popular.
                            That may be true, but the fence-sitters aren't helping either.

                            Tried and waited then got tired, that's about it

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Jerry Shugart View Post

                              In case you don't know who is rioting in the streets then let me give you a clue. It is those who support Joe Biden from the far left.
                              The far left doesn't support Joe Biden. They consider him establishment.

                              Tried and waited then got tired, that's about it

                              Comment

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