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Although conspiracies have always existed among humans, I wonder if the penchant for Americans to embrace them in a modern world of easily found facts is notable. For all their belief in individual freedom, many Americans latch onto one orthodoxy or another. The authoritarian Christian denominations on the right seem to create adherents that are geared towards believing in shadowy conspiracies of string-pulling demons. Add to this the popular cultural phenomenon of the past 70+ years of red-scares, flying saucers, JFK, CIA experiments, etc., and you have a population not only ready to believe conspiracies but eager to do it via their need for entertainment.

These are just the thoughts of the moment. My thesis paper on the above is non-existent.

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author

interesting idea!

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founding

I also think being a fundamentalist can make you more susceptible to belief in irrational ideas but there are plenty of non-religious people who also fall for these ideas. I have some good friends from the former Eastern European communist bloc and they say it is at least as bad there and that many people also believe in a lot of superstitions. For example the Czech Republic has had a terrible time with covid due in large part to vaccine conspiracies. Religious affiliation is not nearly as common there as it is here.

There is also a lot more acceptance of homeopathic quackery in Europe than there is here. Some countries like Germany even cover the costs of homeopathic treatments despite the fact that the “treatments” are basically flavored water or sugar cubes with no active ingredients and that there is absolutely no proof it works — surprise, surprise!

https://undark.org/2020/03/16/homeopathy-globuli-germany/

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author

yea, def agree

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All orthodoxies are not religious, but they seem to mimic religiosity in their need for obedience.

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founding

That was definitely true of communism and fascism. Ideologies that demand the spread of their beliefs are as big a threat as as extreme fundamentalism.

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Mar 16, 2022·edited Mar 16, 2022

Here we have chiropractors, people who give medical advice and treatment despite not being MD's. Health insurance plans even cover them. I went to one for years, for my spinal problems. He kept telling me it was a pinched nerve. Who was I to argue, he was a hotshot who treated the Buffalo Bills football team. I went to the middle east for almost 6 years, no problems until 2014 when I suddenly lost the use of my left hand and had weakness down the left side of my body. I finally saw a neurologist and neurosurgeon, after many years of being told it was all in my head and my spine needed "adjustments." Even the medical doctors I'd seen had deferred to the chiropractor. He finally wised up and sent my daughter to a neurologist when she had the same symptoms. She just had her third surgery, and she still sees the chiropractor because she just can't believe the guy is a charlatan.

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Well, I hope you both are doing better despite the witch-doctoring. I'm about to see someone about my TMJ related tinnitus. I'm fully expecting the answer to be, "Live with it."

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Even when I went to my doctor, I got a prescription for oxycodone. Doctors held that chiropractor in awe. While I was living in Egypt, my spine crumbled and the loss of my left hand's usefulness turned out to be caused by spinal cord damage. I can't walk without a cane because the weakness in my left leg causes me to lose my balance. I was so young to have this happen to me. Don't let any doctor tell you that you have to "live with it." They're already telling my daughter that, and I'm calling bullshit. How the hell did chiropractors ever gain legitimacy? The whole "wellness" movement is bullshit. Herbs, turmeric, coconut oil, hemp oil, it's all snake oil.

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Mar 16, 2022·edited Mar 17, 2022

You can also add the unregulated multi-vitamin supplements with no actual scientific or medical proof that they're actually effective.

My mother actually believes in them more than actual medical science.

She only got her first jab of life-saving vaccine against Covid-19 yesterday (Sinovac from China).

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My granddaughter too. She was always amazingly intelligent, studied equine science and with her 3.80 average, she was accepted into Cornell and was going to be studying to become a veterinarian specializing in horses. Instead, she met a hippie guy and dropped her studies. She became a hippie like him. Everything must be organic, and no vaccines ever. She believes nature will cure covid and that all those chemicals are bad. Because she works with animals, she managed to not become infected with covid until last fall.

Good on your mom, although Sinovac isn't as effective as the others.

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Just take a look at the right wing Pulpit Pimps profiled at rightwingwatch.org and see how they spread Republican propaganda. They are STILL saying that The Big G will remove Biden and put Trump back on the throne.

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I'm an atheist so every sort of dogma looks like a cult to me - right and left. For my taste, the proper person is flexible in their thinking and allows newly learned things to change their mind.

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I think you're right Paul. I think the wilder the conspiracy the more it gets embraced for its entertainment value. People log into this mentality for the same reasons the "gamers" go ape-shit over the latest violent reality bending video game. Trump was able to turn our reality into a video game where he was pushing an alternative reality that gives his followers justification for acting like complete idiots. Truth and Lies are pulled into the muck as Eric points out. We're swimming in bullshit, and Putin has been shoveling it for years. It's what the KGB does. Trump was the easiest to play for an experienced KGB officer like Putin, who is an expert at exploiting the weakness of others. Trumps weakness is something that he marinates in and then puts on display for the whole world to see and collectively puke over how psychotic it is. It's his epoch narcissism. This is a guy that demands attention and must make everything about him. He must be not just rich, but disgustingly rich in multi-billions.

(Just ask him) and then feels compelled to tell everyone how great he is. That's something a master like Putin can use. Just flatter Trump and you've got him. Tell him he's a great genius and the American media hates him, but Putin knows what a great leader he is. Boing. Trump is now owned, and so was America.

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For all his guile, Putin made the same mistake as all despots and failed businessmen - he surrounded himself with yes-men and flatterers. The trouble with Putin and Trump is that eventually you make that one mistake that the people around you can't clean up.

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We've talked about this many times before. The elite stenographers in the Beltway Press corps, especially the pundits, are not going to do anything to disrupt their access to Republicans, Republican donors and the parties they throw. They would much rather simply repeat the talking points of the day than actually do journalism. And so we are not seeing the stories that we need to see, not just about the Fox/Putin axis, but of the total Putinification of so many members of the Senate and the House. The Republicans are totally owned and operated by and for oligarchs of all stripes and nationalities, and that is very dangerous for our country.

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author

the Putinification indeed!

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While my heart goes out to the brave Ukrainians fighting every day to protect their land, I'm more consumed with the direction that our own country is heading. While I'm glad that the vast majority of Americans are against Putin, many of those same folks don't see that the right wing in this country is attempting to build the same fog of unknowing that Russia has built. Much of the Republican Party admires Putin. They are out of touch with what the majority of Americans want. Instead of modifying their ideas (I know, what ideas?), they've decided to lie and create confusion and put fear in their followers, especially white people. In many states, they have passed laws allowing our votes to not count, to take rights away from women, and now are even attempting to pass a law in Texas to give a women the death penalty if she were to get an abortion. These are the kinds of things Russia has been doing for decades. The fact that Republicans embrace this sick twisted platform is the most frightening thing I see today with Ukraine a close second.

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author

for me it’s better a very upsetting combo, assault on Ukraine the where our country is heading

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It's not like the Trump team was being subtle. Recall how quickly Kellyanne Conway coined "alternative facts" to excuse, if not justify, shameless and persistent gaslighting. Even non-astute media members could see what was going on, and instead of kicking professional liars like Conway and Jason Miller to the curb, gave them a platform to spin and spread Trump's BS. Interesting how the media will eagerly jump on Putin's disinformation while happily ignoring the blatant bullshitting by the GOP.

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author

yea, as always Trump told us exactly who he was

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And the DC Press Corpse endlessly played that down.

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Mar 16, 2022·edited Mar 16, 2022

When TFG was elected, I believed the Rs in Congress valued the same things Americans of all stripes value, ie the Constitution, life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, the American dream. I was certain members of both parties would raise hell when TFG started implementing his hateful policies eg the Muslim ban, separating families at the border, but no, that isn’t what happened. After each outlandish ranting of TFG, I and millions of others figured, ‘now is the time…’ the red line of outrage has been met and the good citizens of our country would rise up screaming bloody murder. It took me awhile to wake up and smell the roses, that these Rs DON’T value these American tenets, but instead, truly desire an autocracy where they think their power will increase and put them in autocratic charge, an oxymoron for sure. So, to my utter dismay, here we are, where up is down, America is bad, Putin is good. ‘Love it or leave it,’ guys. The terrible thing about their wishes is that they are compromising everything Americans cherish for their own narrow, distorted ends and FOX and some Rs lead the parade. How fragile we are. I never imagined it would be so.

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Was I naive enough to trust Republicans after they illegally installed Dumbya who lied us into a war that killed my son?

Nope.

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They are studying how to gain and hold power - for good :/ So it makes sense … it’s the lack of outrage abt it that baffles me…

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Bannon's "strategy": flood the zone with bullshit. The press has been aware since 2016 at least. At this rate we may soon find ourselves with a state run and controlled press and nothing else. The msm will have given away the store.

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I just read your comment right after I posted mine. I agree.

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It's the craft of the lethal question. The late night hosts have been on top of it. The so-called pursuit of truth (ie journalism): not so much.

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founding

Several hosts on MSNBC have been all over the story about Tucker Carlson being used for propaganda in Russia and contrasting it with the story about the TV producer in Russian who held up the “no war” sign during a Russian news broadcast and made a video statement saying the Russian people had been lied to by the Russian media, including by her.

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I agree. Chris Hayes has been especially relentless.

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Actually seems worried about what the future will be like for his kids..! A normal person… 😟?!

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It’s true; they’re not trying to win over converts. They’re talking to themselves and giving themselves excuses for what they want to do next: the destruction of democracy, aided by and/or followed by street violence.

After their first outburst of support for Putin, they backed off for a few days and pretended they hadn’t done that. Remarkably, now that Putin’s atrocities have become more blatant, they’ve gone back to his side. I guess an email went out, someone found a way around the financial sanctions, or they just felt they needed a few days to fool Chuck Todd.

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And the MSM is completely complicit. They seek out comments from many of the same GOP members who just voted against that big aid package and retweet their “support for Ukraine” and their criticisms of Biden KNOWING how they voted. Reporters have also joined their voices and validate GOP idiot takes (we need to ask these questions. Gee thanks, Jake Sherman).

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It's frustrating how the Republicans have gamed the system so badly that reporters can't ask tough questions for fear of losing access.

Aside from corporate ownership &/or profit-minded boards/shareholders, the spinelessness & inability of the American mainstream media to confront the GOP's shift from a center-right political party to an authoritarian hate group is damaging your country's democracy.

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Mar 16, 2022·edited Mar 16, 2022

IMO, Steve Bannon has the most accurate description of the process, what he calls "flooding the zone with shit". It's one of the classic abusive and manipulative strategies of a Malignant Narcissist and it can be very effective against people who don't understand what they're up against or how to deal with it. https://dplymyer.medium.com/if-you-dont-understand-malignant-narcissism-you-don-t-understand-vladimir-putin-any-better-than-8db3f97b3aec

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It's Bannon, an admitted Leninist that expressed his desire to “to destroy the state” in an interview from 2013. His desire is to tear down every government institution (like social security, the EPA, and all social programs)...

So there's that. Looks like his ambitious dream is now fomenting as planned.

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Both Putin and Trump were abused children who became powerful bullies as adults and have also been identified as grandiose Malignant Narcissists by multiple highly-esteemed Mental Health professionals. Psychiatrist Justin Frank, in his book "Trump on the Couch" initially assessed Trump as having somewhat of an internal psychological conflict between his view of himself as a "builder" and his psychopathic compulsion to be destructive. Recently, he updated his assessment and stated that after his humiliating loss to Biden in 2020, Trump completely gave himself over to his destructive side. From what I have read, it seems like the same thing has been going on with Putin. Here is a recent interview with Dr Frank ... https://www.salon.com/2022/03/07/dr-justin-frank-sees-putin-as-a-superhero-loves-the-power-of-his-paranoid-thinking/

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Yes. It's showing its ugly head in a very dangerous trend towards autocracy.

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I like the way you subtly implied that main stream media is too dumb to tell when they are being had. Maybe THAT will help. To date, just calling them out for joining in has not worked. I don’t care how glittery and fun and informative the access to and parties thrown by the GQP are, educated people don’t like it when someone suggests they are just being fooled. The standard defense is to show that you have facts on your side. In this case, it won’t work. Now these journalists have to choose the actual truth over shadowing the lies if they want to be considered competent. Well played, sir!

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When she started writing her daily journal, Heather Richardson made that point: That the chaos was intentional, to keep us diverted. Granting that I can see the point, I also think that republicans are so incompetent that chaos isn't so much desired as unavoidable. Seriously. Name a republican who competently does government work.

It's even harder to name one who's loyal to the U.S. Or one the DC political media brothel doesn't treat like a wealthy client.

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This "dense fog of unknowability" - nice term, btw - is also what keeps climate change denial going, too. The Right finds some credentialed person, usually on a payroll funded by an energy extraction company, to object. So 99.999% of scientists agree, and one doesn’t and therefore no one knows, for sure.

It’s maddening that it works, but we’ve seen it before, we see it now, and we will see it again because it works on the rubes. It justifies what they already want to believe, and that’s pretty hard to fight.

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How much can anyone do about Fox News and Tucker Carlson? In this case, he's an embarrassment to our country, but you also say Vladimir Putin has only 4% approval here.

My question is, who's watching him these days? That 4% indicates not many people are tuning him in.

And yes, I remember Trump's big "arms deal." Why the hell the truth was never trumpeted at the top of the media's collective lungs has always been a question unanswered. To this day, I have run across Trump culties who still think that fake deal really happened.

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It's not that the DC Press Corpse didn't adjust to Trump’s lies and contradictions.

It's that the DC Press Corpse was COMPLICIT!

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Apropos the Putin/Republican similarities, too much resonates here:

https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2018/03/16/ivan-ilyin-putins-philosopher-of-russian-fascism/

So sure, the former embracing the latter should be no surprise, more so in this neoliberal order where borders are less important than deals, where no country is to vile to do business with.

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