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“Shortly before killing 50 people at two New Zealand mosques, the man arrested for the Christchurch massacre posted an online manifesto that alluded to the “Great Replacement” — a racist demographic theory that stokes fears of white people becoming, effectively, extinct. Within hours of the shootings, this act of terrorism inspired by a conspiracy theory had already gone on to birth conspiracy theories about itself. Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh speculated that the shooter was a secret leftist hoping to use the attack to smear the reputation of the political right.
That a single tragedy could be so tangled in conspiracy mongering should be no surprise at this point. We’ve all watched conspiracies grow from myriad soils: the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, the political passions of George Soros, vaccines, climate change, even the football secrets of the New England Patriots. Conspiracy theories appear to have become a major part of how we, as a society, process the news. It might be harder to think of an emotionally tinged event that didn’t provoke a conspiracy theory than it is to rattle off a list of the ones that did.
The ubiquity — and risks — of all these conspiracies has caught the attention of scientists. For years, the potentially dangerous consequences of conspiracy led many researchers to approach belief in conspiracies as a pathology in need of a cure. But that train of thought tended to awkwardly clash against some of the facts. The more we learn about conspiracy beliefs, the more normal they look — and the more some scientists worry that trying to prevent them could present its own dangers.”
JJ Editor's Picks
"Blackface. I’ve been writing about, and researching – and opposing – racism for more than thirty years. And make no mistake: blackface isn’t funny. It’s racist. Ask Megyn Kelly. A year ago, the former Fox News star was filming a segment about..."
"Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s “selfie line” may be a “political phenomenon,” according to CNN, but it’s also a misnomer, twice over: The photos that supporters end up with aren’t technically selfies—campaign aides snap them—and no one waits in a line..."
"In the archives of the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York, there is an old postcard from the city aquarium of a large sea turtle with four boys straddling its back. The turtle lies flattened upon a pathway in front of a fence. At the feet..."
"As we celebrated my granddaughter’s third birthday this summer, I made the following rough calculation: I’d trekked from my home in New Jersey to her Brooklyn apartment roughly 150 times to provide once-a-week day care, plus other times as needed."
"That seems to be the emerging bipartisan consensus. “On the evidence we have, the meritocratic ideal ends up being just as undemocratic as the old emphasis on inheritance and tradition,” writes New York Times columnist Ross Douthat. “Our..."
"It was the 2019 Pet Sematary that finally broke me. Was this really necessary? I seethed in a theater earlier this year, at a loss for why anyone would green light a self-serious update to a 30-year-old so-bad-it's-good movie. "Update," even, was.."
"Tuesday was election day in Israel. But no winner has yet been declared. As of this writing, it appears that the parties committed to supporting Benjamin Netanyahu for prime minister will not win a majority in Knesset. At the same time, the..."
"The last time Netflix asked me “Are you still watching?” I had to think really hard about it. Was I still watching? Or at least enough to make my $16-a-month payment worth it? The subscription economy can be a wonderful thing. We don’t have to..."