1min Read: Opinion: Conspiracy and War on Sensemaking
You would be amiss to have not noticed there is a war on our ability to make sense of the world going on right now. The information wars are raging in the western world. The war on reality, the war on facts and the idea of fake news and “alternative facts” has become prevalent.
Trump is the most obvious and outspoken spokesperson for this, but he is not working alone, and it is not only the far right that that is adding to and causing confusion. We could be forgiven for thinking that the world is going crazy because that is how it feels most of the time.
I would argue that ever since 2015 and the Brexit vote in the UK, swiftly followed by the election of Trump in 2016, we have seen a constant onslaught on our sensemaking abilities primarily through social media.
Say what you like about Trump and Brexit, and I have said plenty, but they knew how to use social media and behavioural targeting to sway elections. By a mixture of traditional advert targeting, data science, real-time ad automation and behavioural psychology, with the aid of unscrupulous actors such as Cambridge Analytica and of course the Russian interference, courted or not.
The idea that there is such a thing as an “alternative fact” and that “fake news” is all mainstream media that didn’t support Trump was bad enough. But we also then saw a rise in “alternative media” that used this same rhetoric to try and establish itself as the “true voice” and “truth seekers” of the world. And yes, I know this site could fall into that category somewhat, I am not unaware of how some would frame this site.
This idea of the “alternative fact” has led way for conspiracy theories to rise to the mainstream in such a way that it seems all too prevalent. Theories that only a few years ago would be laughed at in the main are now replacing “fact” or common-sense media and are on the rise. And with-it people are being framed as “ill-informed” or having “not done the research” by social media supporters and those sharing, liking and being led by these views.
Now I am all for a good conspiracy theory when there is some “real” evidence behind it and anyone who thinks conspiracies are not a real thing is not living in the real world. But we need to use our critical thinking and sensemaking abilities to weed out the chaff from the wheat. We need to find what looks true and then dig a little deeper to uncover the sources of the stories and test out their legitimacy. Think twice and check three times before posting. Know your sources and decide who to trust and who not to, but even then, those you trust need checking and critical analysis of each new story to ensure that they do not get carried away by the narratives.
I do believe there are conspiracies but the greatest conspiracy of them all, in my mind, is the one to gaslight the public and get them thinking that all the conspiracies are true, all are valid, and all should be pushed over the mainstream media narratives. This is dangerous because, as we have seen with this global pandemic, it allows for advice that would save lives to be ignored, even dismissed as part of the “coverup and conspiracy.”
My worry is what is really going on behind the closed doors of governments whilst the very leaders of the most powerful countries in the world promote conspiracy theories over fact. What is the agenda behind that, because it certainly isn’t one of truth? Trump is not a truthteller, he is a known selfish liar and Bojo with him, so anyone who thinks that he is promoting conspiracy theories because he wants the people to know what is truly going on is being the ultimate victim of a conspiracy, a conspiracy of the war on sensemaking.
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