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  Why conspiracy theories are getting more absurd and harder to refute
Posted by: pbrower2a - 04-14-2019, 06:04 AM - Forum: General Political Discussion - Replies (10)

Democracy requires a minimum amount of mutual trust among citizens, and conspiracism destroys it.

By Sean Illing@seanillingsean.illing@vox.com Apr 11, 2019, 8:10am EDT

Are we living in a golden age of conspiracy theories?

That’s the argument Harvard politics professor Nancy L. Rosenblum makes in her new book, A Lot of People Are Saying. And it’s not merely that conspiracy theories are thriving — they’re also getting more absurd, less substantive, and harder to refute.

In fact, what we’re seeing now, according to Rosenblum and her co-author Russell Muirhead, is more “conspiracism” and less theory. Which is to say, the purpose of conspiracy theories is no longer to explain reality or offer some account of the world; instead, the point is to erode trust in public figures or institutions.

She points to the recent Pizzagate conspiracy as a perfect example. This was a fake news story alleging that Hillary Clinton and her former campaign chair, John Podesta, ran a child sex ring in the basement of a pizzeria in Washington, DC. It was totally fabricated, but it proliferated enough online that a man eventually showed up at the restaurant with an assault rifle and fired at least one shot.

Rosenblum believes this new form of conspiracism amounts to a direct attack on the foundations of liberal democracy and what she calls “knowledge-producing institutions.” As conspiracism takes root in our politics, she says, we lose our capacity to deliberate about the direction of the country. And ultimately, democracy itself becomes impossible.
I spoke to Rosenblum about the nature of modern conspiracy theories and how they’ve evolved into an existential threat for democratic societies. A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows.

Sean Illing
Why write a book about conspiracy theories now?

Nancy Rosenblum
Charges of conspiracy have in the last two years become a malignant element in public life, and I think it’s been really corrosive to our politics. But what struck me and my co-author was this intrusion of conspiracism, which we think is fundamentally different from conventional conspiracy theories.

Not a day passes without some sort of conspiracist claim about rigged elections or fake news or something absurd like Pizzagate. And the cast of characters that are engaged in conspiracy charges now ranges from a compulsively conspiracist president to public officials — elected representatives who either endorse these conspiracist claims or acquiesce to remain silent — to conspiracy entrepreneurs and their followers.
So it’s a not-insignificant part of our population, and it’s a common element now in public life.

Sean Illing
And how do you define a conspiracy theory?

Nancy Rosenblum
A conspiracy theory is an explanation of an event — an event that seems otherwise unintelligible or improbable. And the explanation is that underneath what seems unintelligible is actually some sort of conspiracy or secret plot. Sometimes conspiracy theories are true, sometimes they’re false. It’s often hard to tell the difference, but in all cases, it’s an attempt at some reasoned explanation for a complicated event.

Sean Illing
So a conspiracy isn’t wrong by virtue of being a conspiracy theory, but it’s more likely to be wrong because it’s an attempt to take a complicated event and fit it into a broader narrative framework?

Nancy Rosenblum
That’s right, and I’m so glad you said that, because Wikipedia actually defines a conspiracy theory as a false threat of a conspiracy, and that’s not true. There are both progressive conspiracy theories that are not only true but have advanced American democracy, and there are total fabulations that are pure inventions.

Sean Illing
Can you give me an example of an accurate conspiracy theory and one that was totally fabricated?

Nancy Rosenblum
Examples of sheer fabulation would be the “faked moon landing” (Stanley Kubrick actually filmed it in a studio) or that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is dead (the Democrats found a body double to deny her death in order to prevent President Trump from filling her seat on the Supreme Court). Or, more to the point, perhaps, the recent Pizzagate conspiracy.

As far as useful progressive conspiracy theories go, a good example is the work by academics like Naomi Oreskes documenting conspiracies by the tobacco and fossil fuel industries to cast doubt on climate science, which actually refutes the climate hoax conspiracy that says global scientists are bribed to produce reports of catastrophic human-caused global warming.

Or the Progressive movement in the early 20th century that cast corporate boardrooms and smoke-filled rooms of political bosses as potential roadblocks to democracy; the result of what they called “muckraking” reporting on this corruption was democratic reforms that are still with us, like direct democracy and referenda, etc.


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  Global Trumpism Lecture explaining the Turnings
Posted by: Snowflake1996 - 04-10-2019, 12:30 AM - Forum: Turnings - Replies (19)

Brown University Political Economist Mark Blyth shortly after the 2016 US Presidential Election released a lecture explaining macroeconomic regimes from the New Deal to Supply Side Economics to today's Populist uprisings and how they are all interrelated. I believe that his theory ties heavily into both the 4th/1st Turnings of the 1930s-50s along with the Great Awakening and Unraveling leading to today's Fourth Turning.

Here is a link to his lecture. I encourage everyone to watch it in its entirety if they can spare an hour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bkm2Vfj42FY

His thesis statement is this: The New Deal and post-Great Depression era coupled with the emerging threat of Communism led to our institutions focusing on Full Employment first and foremost to provide higher wages and strong unions. Eventually, the hyper-focus on this sole macroeconomic variable caused rifts in our economy that led to the high inflation of the late 1970s which crippled creditors. As a result, we switched course starting in the late 1970s and accelerating in the 1980s with folks like Reagan and Thatcher by targeting inflation. By targeting solely inflation for about the same time period we targeted full employment, we have now created a new set of problems in our society and that that led to the system blowing up in 2008. Since the system wasn't properly reformed we have spurred both right and left wing populists revolts throughout the first world (And possibly in developing economies looking at Brazil, Turkey, the Philippines, etc). 

As a result of the 4th and 1st Turning Civic GI's flexing their collectivist teamwork agenda onto society due to their upbringing in the Great Depression, our economy eventually looked like this in the late 1970s:

1. Targeting full employment at all costs
2. Labor share of national income at an all-time high
3. Corporate profits at an all-time low
4. Strong Unions
5. Low inequality
6. National Markets
7. Finance and Central banks are both weak
8. Legislative bodies are strong
9. Great economy for debtors
10. An economy focused on the collective

Then, as a result of the 2nd and 3rd Turning Prophet Boomers rebelled against collectivist society and with the 1970's stagflation began exerting their individualist agenda which focused on itemizing society, After about 30-40 years we now have this:

1. Targeting inflation at all costs
2. Labor share of national income at an all-time low
3. Corporate profits at an all-time high
4. Weak Unions
5. High inequality
6. Global Markets
7. Finance and Central banks are both powerful
8. Legislative bodies are weak
9. Great economy for creditors
10. An economy focused on the individual

While the global financial crisis is generally considered to be the start of the Fourth Turning, there wasn't a system reset. Look at all 10 bullet points above and you'll see that our current economic system in 2019 is almost identical to the one in 2007. Populist movements of the Left and Right have sprung up across the western world as a rebellion against the current system.

It's worth noting that according to Howe we aren't even halfway through this turning. It's also worth noting that if the current conomic expansion reaches to summer 2019, it'll officially be the longest documented economic expansion in American history. Could that spell another major bubble and crash? We'll see how everything falls between now and 2030.

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  How did people live through the 4Ts without becoming misanthropic?
Posted by: AspieMillennial - 04-07-2019, 06:56 AM - Forum: Turnings - Replies (11)

In the 4T you see the worst nature of humanity and you see them at their worst. How can you go through a 4T without thinking people are evil by nature and not wanting to fit in with them at all after seeing the nature of human beings?

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  Finding the 6 Turnings pattern elsewhere.
Posted by: Jessquo - 04-02-2019, 07:48 AM - Forum: Theories Of History - No Replies

I completed my politics PhD thesis in December last year and am now wanting to undertake a Postdoc concerning the political sociology of Anglo-American historical and generational cycles: scrutinising, modifying and expanding upon Strauss and Howe's generational theory. [See attached] I have identified a similar, though significantly different cycle that appears to have begun in the late 14th century and which came undone during the Stuart dynasty in Britain but remained strong in the US. The pattern re-emerged in the UK. It's been present since at least the Great Depression. There is also some evidence that the pattern has been present in German history for a number of centuries, perhaps since the 30 Years War. I'm wondering whether there is some connection between the pattern and the values associated with Protestantism (rather than Catholicism or High Church Anglicanism). The emergence of the pattern coincided with the beginnings of lollardy. Can anyone here familiar with Strauss and Howe take the cycle back further than the Great Depression in Britain? Is it at all present in Canadian or New Zealand history? I can see it present in Australian history since at least the Depression, but perhaps it goes back further.

Attached Files
.docx   6 Turnings Notes - Copy.docx (Size: 36.67 KB / Downloads: 2)
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  As ...................................
Posted by: AspieMillennial - 04-02-2019, 07:41 AM - Forum: The Millennial Generation - Replies (1)


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  Summarize world history without help
Posted by: Bill the Piper - 03-31-2019, 06:17 AM - Forum: History Forum - Replies (6)

A challenge from Personality Cafe. I'd be glad to see how you'd do it Smile 

My attempt:

History on the Earth begun about 100 000 BC, when humans first achieved the status of basic sophont. Humans originated in Africa, but soon they spread throughout the planet, assimilating related hominid species. For tens of thousands of years, people lived in bands of 50-150 individuals. Life in this era was mostly about satisfying basic survival needs. Art existed in a rudimentary form, the prevalent form of religion was worship of nature spirit and ancestors. There was a lot of violence, though it was disorganised, without states there was no possibility of orderly warfare. This is the lifestyle the human species is biologically adopted to, there are still people who retained the Paleolithic lifestyle in Africa and South America.

Eventually, about 10 000 BC in the Middle East humans learned to purposefully cultivate certain plants and domesticated species of animals like dogs, horses, cows and pigs. Agriculture was born. This guaranteed better supplies of food, although hunger remained a menace for a long time. Still, for the first time a few people could devote most of their time to something else than survival. Division of labour appeared. The result was development of more complex arts, as well as further progress in practical abilities. This progress was however very slow. People still lived in small tribal communities, though perhaps they were slightly better organised than during the hunter-gatherer period.

Only about 3000 BC human beings started to create larger and more integrated communities known as states. First states appeared in Egypt and Iraq, then about 2000 BC the same thing happened in China and India. Since that time, political organisation started dominating Eurasia and northern coasts of Africa, while the rest of the world was stuck on tribal level. This form of organization made life more peaceful, since tribal warfare was no longer possible. It was good for culture. However the early states had an important drawback. They were autocratic. They tyrants and their acolytes guaranteed themselves a relatively high standard of living compared to their subjects. To prevent the subjects from rebelling, the tyrants had to use brutal physical punishments. They also claimed descent from gods, necessitating a more sophisticated theology, although the basis of religion remained nature worship. But religion did not stay this way for ever. About 1500 BC, two monotheistic religions appeared, venerating a single God as the creator of all reality and supreme lawmaker: Echnaton's in Egypt and Abraham's in Israel. Echnaton's system died off within a generation, while Abraham's one remained confined to one small ethnic group, the Jews. An important practical achievement of the era of early states was metallurgy, at first working on bronze, and later iron.

From 500 BC to 0 AD civilized humans' relationship with the universe was revolutionized. In Greece, India and China philosophy was invented, more or less at the same time. Its beginnings were naive but eventually it developed into more reasonable systems of thought. Plato's philosophy in Greece, Gautama Buddha's doctrine in India and Confucius' one in China were among the most influential schools of philosophy, and stayed relevant for many centuries. In Israel, Jesus enriched Abraham's monotheistic religion, teaching that God represents not only creative power and justice but also universal love. For His teachings, Jesus was sentenced to death by crucifixion, but the new faith could not be erased. He started to be regarded as God Incarnate and originated the most successful religion in human history. Greek medicine, science, mathematics, poetry and sculpture of this era also achieved heights unknown to any earlier human civilization. The Greeks, as well as Romans who imitated their civilization, were the first to conceive a democratic political system, though it did not last very long.

In the meanwhile, the most successful political structures: the Chinese Empire in the Far East and the Roman Empire in the Mediterranean have dominated very large areas and achieved levels of prosperity unknown before. The spiritual revolution was complete when Roman emperor Constantine converted to Christianity and declared it state religion, resulting in development of hierarchical Catholic Church. Eventually both empires faced barbarian invasions. The Romans were defeated completely, while the Chinese responded to the invasions by developing an isolationist attitude. It should however be noted that China continued to progress and remained for many centuries the most cultured nation on the planet.

Cultural achievements of Greece and Rome were preserved by the Catholic Church, which has by the time of the invasions assimilated them. Despite this fact, Europe suffered a period of cultural regression known as the Dark Ages, which lasted for several centuries. During the era of eclipse, a militaristic and theologically simplified form of Abraham's monotheism, known as Islam, inspired a nomadic nation known as the Arabs to invade large parts of northern Africa and southwestern Asia. The nomad's way of life was considered the only one approved by God. For a long time, this Islam remained a threat to more developed peoples, although its adherents sometimes adopted a more civilized way of life derived from Christianity and Greek philosophy.

About 1500 AD, another revolution happened. European scholars rediscovered Greek science, leaving to an intellectual movement known as Renaissance. The Catholic Church, who had at this time wielded political power, tried to suppress it, but these persecutions were not brutal enough to stop it. Scientists of the Renaissance defined basic laws of physical reality and humans' place in the Cosmos. Copernicus discovered that Earth revolves around the Sun. Newton described fundamental principles of mechanics. Columbus crossed the Atlantic Ocean and discovered America. This resulted in a wave of colonization. Soon European states governed almost the whole globe. Europeans spread their cultural and technological achievements, but they also committed many acts of violence and injustice. They caused the native population of America to die off by introducing new diseases to the continent. In Africa, they started kidnapping the natives and forcing them to work as slaves on new plantations in America.

After 1700, a new intellectual movement appeared, known as Liberalism. It called for rational thinking and rejected the authority of tyrants and the Church, which has by this time fragmented into three major branches. These authorities were to be replaced by democracy. In America, British settlers rebelled against the rule of Britain and set up a new nation known as the United States of America, whose laws were based on Liberal principles. This new nation attracted settlers from the whole world. In Europe, the process of democratisation was longer and only after a few generations tyrants were removed completely. During this period, science continued to unravel the mysteries of the Cosmos. Darwin explained the development of life including the origin of humans. Einstein described relativistic phenomena. Progress of astronomy enabled human civilization to realize the immense size of the observable universe.

During the same era, Feminist movement, one of the offshots of Liberalism, demanded treating women as equal to men. Women's position in society indeed improved, though the process was quite slow.

There was also a dark side to Liberalism. It rejected Jesus' ethos of universal love and put in its place the idea of rational but innately selfish individual. This resulted in growth of economic competition between wealthy men, which made technological progress speed up, but left the working masses in miserable conditions. Democratic states tried to mitigate the effects by introducing systems of state charity, but many workers thought they were doing too little.

New political movements started to appear, promising the workers a more equal distribution of material goods by means of total government control of all economic activity. After 1900, these movements succeeded in two countries: in Russia there were the Bolsheviks and in Germany the Nazis. The Bolsheviks tried to undermine the power of Liberal governments and businessmen by inciting workers of the world to violent uprisings. The Nazis, whose ideology was more militaristic and tribalistic, attempted a worldwide military expansion, causing the greatest war in the planet's history. They also murdered millions of Jews, accusing them of being worse exploiters of the German working class. The Nazis were eventually defeated by combined effort of Bolshevik Russia and democratic states led by America, but the war was so brutal that its traumatic effects were visible in human culture for many decades. The generation born after the war was especially prone to selfish hedonism and naive mysticism.

Science however continued to develop, the two greatest achievements of the post-war period were invention of computers, which revolutionized both communication and entertainment, and a manned expedition to the Moon. Development of effective contraceptions made it possible for humans to enjoy real sexual freedom. In the same period European powers abandoned their colonies in Africa and the Middle East, creating a power vacuum soon filled by tyrannies inspired by either native traditions or Bolshevism. Some of these states supported terrorist attacks against America and its European allies. Before 2000, Bolshevik Russia collapsed under the weight of its own economic incompetence, making America the dominant political power in the world, although its position is contested by China. Culturally and economically the planet is heading toward full unity, although the process is disturbed by some tribalistic movements.

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  Socializing in the Digital Age
Posted by: beechnut79 - 03-30-2019, 10:06 AM - Forum: Society and Culture - Replies (1)

There are many, myself among them, who severely question whether the advent of the digital age, where smartphone seem to be even more ubiquitous that even cars and televisions, has played havoc with the socialization of the culture. There is even an ad now on TV which says something like "remember the way we used to socialize, complete with the entire 70s look and a corded landline telephone.

I get a free magazine that comes out once a month and it lists thoughts for each day, and today's happened to read that you find connection by socializing with different groups and organizations. And went on to say that sharing ideas, possibly even teaching what you know to others will feel very satisfying. I know that I have complained many times that it is no longer easy to, for example, strike up a conversation with someone at, say, a restaurant or coffee shop because most seem to be very glued to their phones. I imagine that someday one of these institutions will come up with a "check your phone at the door" policy to encourage conversation, kinda like the way you now check your coats at the door. Or at least a placard encouraging folks to use their phones only in an emergency.

One of the best ways to socialize in this age is through the Meetup.com groups, and I have over time been to a few of them myself. But I haven't been on their lists for several years because I was getting bombarded by emails for every group under the sun, many of which I was in no way qualified for.

So, what do you all think? Do you feel that we might one day see a time when a considerable portion of the population develops a case of "smartphone burnout", along with a desire to return to more face-to-face communication?

While we're at it, I am enclosing an article on this very subject I found during a random search, focusing primarily on the Meetup groups but I'm sure could be useful in other situations as well.


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  Was there the equivalent of NEETs by choice in the GI Generation?
Posted by: AspieMillennial - 03-28-2019, 04:08 PM - Forum: The Millennial Generation - Replies (2)

The Millennials who don't fit in with our peers often decide to be NEETs or antisocial. Normie is an insult to us and so is mainstream. Many of us learn from different sources, listen to different music, or even watch different programs than the mainstream society. What was the equivalent in the GI Generation? I'm Millennial but can't relate to the values of my peers at all, think my elders are clueless about how things are , and think society is a joke that should be dropped out of. I know there were technical NEETs because of the Great Depression but I mean people who dropped out of society by choice because they couldn't take how conformist it was becoming? For individualistic Millennials we think there's no point to trying to integrate or make friends with most people because then our every behavior is policed. It's easier to just do whatever you want as the outcast. My theory is everyone is easily offended or weirded out so there's no point in trying to kill yourself for people that will be total flakes on you anyways. Better to just be brash and unapologetic about being yourself. If other people don't like it, they have to deal with it. Did anyone else develop this sort of attitude?

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  So...the Mueller report
Posted by: gabrielle - 03-27-2019, 09:49 PM - Forum: General Political Discussion - Replies (2)

What are your thoughts? 

Will the public ever see it?  The president has been crowing "complete and total exoneration," which we know even from the little Attorney General Barr shared with us is not really true: “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”  34 people and three companies have been indicted or have pled guilty from this investigation, even if Trump himself may not have been implicated.   All of Robert Mueller’s indictments and plea deals in the Russia investigation 

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  Our No-Vacation Nation
Posted by: beechnut79 - 03-27-2019, 06:52 PM - Forum: General Discussion - Replies (13)

Prime vacation season may still be a couple of months off, but some of you may be starting to think about this year's plans. Schools around me are out on spring break this year which may have slowed down food delivery sales this week even though this time usually doesn't affect much else outside of the schools. You may just feel like you need a break, you know there are things you could do but you don't have the energy to do them. Many of us not only can't afford the expense involved in taking a regular vacation of a week or more, we have been more or less brainwashed to believe that time not doing something productive is wasted time. Delivery of food has become popular as it seems as if for whatever reason so many choose not to even take a long enough time out to enjoy a sit down meal in a restaurant or perhaps even at home. Thoughts of "that's okay, tomorrow is another day, for now be kind to yourself and relax", has nearly become sinful in many folks' minds. Some of this may very well fall into the "we have met the enemy and it is us" category. I personally resisted the trend for many years but now when I think of perhaps going out, say, on a regular date, I question whether I can afford not only the monetary expense but the time expense as well. This whole "I don't have time" syndrome is, as I have often pointed out, is quite the opposite of what many pundits expected would happen with the advent of modern technology. Said technology has served to ratchet up expectations as opposed to actually saving people time. I recently had some unexpected disruptions in my own life, and that is why I have been a stranger to this site and a few others.

It was once said that nearly half of all US workers fail to use all of the vacation leave time they are entitled to, in many cases out of fear that they will be considered highly expendable if they do so. European workers, by contrast, have a much stronger culture of vacationing. Even traditionally workaholic Japan has surpassed us in the amount of vacation time taken. The outlook is no doubt made worse by the advent of the gig economy where you're independent contractors and not allotted any real vacation, sick leave, or other benefits. I recently talked with the owner or manager of a restaurant I sometimes pick up at, and he told me that, like it or not, the gig economy is going to be the wave of the future and that there will be fewer and fewer traditional jobs with full pay and benefits. This already began with the trend toward companies using more and more temporary workers out of staffing agencies.

So, are you planning to take any true vacations this year, or are you in the category that just can't afford to? In the spirit of full disclosure I tend to fall into the latter camp, although I may try to squeeze a couple of days away if I am lucky. While we're at it I may also seek out opinions as to whether we ever will become that society of increased leisure we were once all but promised.

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