Was excited last night to find Cory Doctorow’s blog entitled Pluralistic. And even moreso this article with some intelligent points about conspiracy theory culture. I find it fairly rare to see anybody saying anything terribly new or worthwhile on these topics, so here are some good bits:
“I was taken by Ming 1’s discussion of the role that “enchantment” plays in conspiratorialism – the feeling of being in a magical and wondrous (if also anxious and terrible) place. He says this is why “debunkers” fail – they’re like people who spoil a magic trick.
Ming 1 and the hosts talk about replacing the enchantment of conspiratorialism with a counter-enchantment, grounded not in the conspiratorialist’s oversimplification and essentialism, but in the wonder of reality.
Ming 1 analogizes his “counter-enchantment” to the “double-wow” method of Penn and Teller: first they blow you away with a trick, and then they blow you away with the cleverness by which it was accomplished.”
I’m not so sure that once people go down the rabbit hole of conspiracy that they necessarily will be “wowed” by the “wonder of reality,” but I do tend to agree with this idea of counter-enchantment. And that debunking fails in large part because it doesn’t speak the underlying mythological language which draws people into conspiracy thinking in the first place. There are real needs – and as he says, material conditions – which drive people into conspiracy stuff in the first place. And recognizing that the “magic” in all of it is part of the draw is an important first step in unraveling the whole ball of yarn in the first place.