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Byron Shire
February 25, 2021

Rabbit holes distract from truth seeking

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David Lovejoy, Echo co-founder

There I was last week, reading the latest Echo, nodding in agreement with Phillip Frazer, smiling at Mandy’s column, shaking my head over the weird Trump equals Julius Caesar article, when I was suddenly brought to a halt by page 10.

WTF? Some poor person down a rabbit hole and, instead of helping, the newspaper is publishing a long account of this predicament? And this week, Politics in the Pub, which had a long history of presenting respected academics and thinkers with credibility, has apparently been replaced by conspiracy theorists.

It must be the local terrain. Some people dig themselves into rabbit holes, aka conspiracy theories, and they don’t want to get out because their tunnelling has revealed the sinister framework that exists behind the world’s apparent randomness. Any evidence to the contrary is itself proof of the grand conspiracy.

Of course we are lied to by media, by corporations and by governments, but they are not coordinated, cohesive, all-encompassing lies.

Believing that the forces of darkness are so powerful that they control every facet of society, except for the brave individuals ‘doing their own research’ on the net, is a kind of victim mentality.

We have every reason to be suspicious of the motives of tax-evading corporations, of the reckless adoption by police and banks of facial recognition and other AI devices, of governments’ obsession with ‘security’ over freedom, of dozens of developments that need the attention of involved citizens.

But seeing all these problems as links in one giant plot leads to trumped-up fables of good and bad. It becomes easier to deal in black and white rather than the messy, grey-shaded, many-levelled, complicated reality that constitutes the world.

Last year was rich in new conspiracy theories.

Who needs chemtrails, or 9/11 when the novel coronavirus was created in a lab financed by Bill Gates, whose vaccine will contain a microchip to take over your mind?

Better still, the spurious ‘plandemic’ is part of the baby-sacrificing lizard people’s attack on us, which will ultimately be revealed and repelled by Donald J Trump.

America may be the cradle of most conspiracy theories, but closer to home two federal government MPs, George Christensen and Craig Kelly, have posted many inflammatory falsehoods about the US election and COVID-19.

The prime minister, when asked why he allows them to propagate dangerous disinformation, answered that it is a matter of free speech. The obvious rejoinder is that any responsible prime minister would use his own free speech to point out that Messrs Christensen and Kelly are full of shit.

Sometimes the accumulation of evidence to disprove a conspiracy theory is not enough. We need an overview of the mechanisms that cause such theories to take hold, and people need help to get free of them.

Escaping the Rabbit Hole: How to Debunk Conspiracy Theories by Mick West is an excellent resource, as is his website www.metabunk.org. For quick checking of stories that sound either dubious or too good to be true, try www.snopes.com.

It’s hard to find the balance between a rational distrust of people and organisations with their own agenda and falling down the rabbit hole of total paranoia, but it is what the times seem to demand of us.


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15 COMMENTS

    • I agree. The Trumpophiles are lost souls that cannot handle the often harsh realities. But they have criminal mindsets. Good too see some of them begging The Don for a pardon. Perhaps they will see he was just a madman using them.

      We just need corporate America to financially trounce cowardly opportunists like Ted Jordan, Josh Hawley and Ted (bugger the environment) Cruz.

  1. Fantastic rational article once gain….Must say I sooo respect Mick West I receive his posts online. Now He is a credible, hard core investigative journo, form the Ol school.By that I mean when journos spent months , sometimes years, researching a particular issue with the patience of a forensic scientist. I find it is galling when Scomo talks about FREE SPEECH & no one (not even the ABC) take him to task on this furphy. You’ve gotta be kidding Scomo BUT I know you’re not….how come you won’t apply your Free Speech motto to Julian Assange (Wow! that would be a great start) not to mention Witness K & Colleary, who revealed the disgusting bugging of the East Timor Presidential office in order to get a advantage over this small nation & steal more oil from them? Ummnnn you’ve been deadly silent in relation to these courageous whistleblowers that have the audacity to reveal what your Govt wants hidden. Scomo you don’t even have the decency to challenge George Christiansen & other LNP nutters who applaud the “Proud Boys” / Natzi & other related white extremist groups too numerous to mention.However, our PM is first cab off the rank to condemn & bang on about those dangerous environmentalists/animal welfare groups/ refugee groups/ Indigenous activists/Union reps etc etc

  2. The rabbit hole is deep and I can see why some people are in denial over this stuff you write aboiut. The level of betrayal it brings up is so great, most people can’t go there. The media is a mind control weapon…if you shut off the “programming” you’ll eventually see it for yourself

  3. Last year the only thing more prolific to the SARS-CoV-2 Virus was people joining Rabbit Warrens.

    As stated the biggest problem is the more you try to debunk, the more they dig other tunnels in said warrens.

    Many of the theories are from QAnon and many AntiVaxxers are revelling in the $4!t being shovelled from these Bunny Holes.

    But when we are up against deregistered, disqualified, and failed doctors sprouting this tripe, standing there trying to gain purchase, the warrens are becoming more Black Holes of disinformation, with 50% of the population not being so clever and easily lead, and 50% of the so-called clever people believing the garbage being spouted, trying to find the truth in the midden is not an easy task.

    Common sense, science, and rational reasoning are becoming a hard thing to find.

    Bu getting rid of the world Clown in Chief running US of A is a good start, now we need to weed out the Riff-Raff Rogues.

  4. Scummo doesn’t do free speech, his speech is quite expensive and fully funded by the fossil fuel industry.
    It’s becoming increasingly obvious that the single most important issue for our species is whether or not we can transition to an environmentally sustainable future. This is not an issue for fundamentalist christians like Scummo as they have their ‘sustainable future’ all mapped out. In the end of days they will be taken up to heaven in the rapture whilst the rest of us burn in hell, leaving this ‘righteous’ man free to be an environmental vandal for money.
    Spoilers for those believing him, heaven and hell are ficticious.

  5. David in his new role has joined the gatekeepers, protectors of the faith .. there will rewards of advertising …….might even get a medal.

  6. What appears to be missing in the ‘free speech’ discussion is that every ‘right’ – to free speech for example – carries with it some level of responsibility. Using Covid as an example, ‘Karen’ and other no maskers may think they have a right not to wear a mask, but they have a responsibility then not to go out in public where masks are required when there are other people at risk. Or another example; we have a right to drive our cars to where ever we want to go, but we have a responsibility to drive safely on the left side of the road. So it is with the right to free speech – we can say what we believe, but we have a responsibility not to lie, incite violence, abuse or scam others, etc.
    Opinions are hard to ‘censor’ – and people have a right to express their ‘opinions’, but they can;t spread lies – anti factual information, especially when the vast mass of scientists and other experts have pointed out the risk if such misinformation is believed.
    yes, we readers/listeners have a responsibility to explore any suspicious information, but we have a preference to look up info that supports our own point of view – the echo chamber effect. That is the most important factor in making free speech a useful factor – but only if we ignore what is shown to be rubbish. Censorship should allow the ‘censor’ to add a statement to suspicious info ‘that this info is not verifiable and should be treated with care’ (if not contempt)

  7. Thank-you David, and your editorial stands as a stark contrast to the articles elsewhere in this weeks paper which reminded me of Trumps video during the riot “Go home, but we love you”, it sounded like the paper was pretending to be in favor of telling the truth, but twas going to give as much space as possible to anti-vaxx info (such as listing the shareholders of the vaccine companies) and to other conspiracy rubbish – such as the ridiculous sentence describing last week’s failed coup as a “staged storming of the capitol”.

  8. The thing is with conspiracy theories is that when they are no longer theories they are just plain conspiracies . It’s just to easy isn’t it for the comfortably numb or apologetically apathetic living in their suburban blissfulness to label and tarnish everything and everyone conspiracy theories and conspiracy nut jobs . What a fantastic excuse to consider nothing and swallow the spoon feed propaganda the the masses of sheeples seem to feed off generation after generation . Down thru the ages first the pagan believes , then the one god , one bible , one prophet fairy tales , thru the deluded nonsense we are all equal communist rhetoric , the undying patriotic land of milk and honey capitalist dribble humans have swallowed it all up. Always content to be believers while ragging on anyone who doesn’t tow the religious , political or social norms justifying their very e ustence rather than ever examining it objectively in a thought out and educated manner . No thanks to the very finest of those who like the writer and those of this ilk , supposed professionals in observing investigating and reporting in a balanced and fair amount while to whole time nothing more being as biased , bigoted and one sided as those they attempt to berate.

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