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Converting to “conspirationism” or the pseudo-legitimization of conspiracy theories

Gates
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Conspiracy theories seem to have gained fresh impetus these days, being often used as part of disinformation campaigns. Their latest champions representatives of the media, the political class and the Church, and this gives a credibility boost and false legitimacy to these theories.

The court that validated conspiracy theories

It may seem hard to believe, but it’s true nonetheless: conspiracy theories have been “confirmed” through a court ruling. “Por tanto, ningún gobierno mundial, personas naturales y jurídicas, ni la defensa del imputado, puede sostener que esta pandemia, tiene la calidad de “previsible”, salvo sus creadores del nuevo orden mundial como Bille Gate, Soros, Rockefeller, etc. que lo manejaron y siguen direccionando con un secretismo a ultranza dentro de sus entornos y corporaciones mundiales, con proyecciones al proyecto 2030”. This is the original text of a court ruling issued on December 21, 2020, by the three-judge panel of the Court of Appeal in Chincha and Pisco, a province in Peru. The ruling concerned a request to extent the arrest warrant for a person investigated on charges of rape, the reason invoked by the prosecution being the COVID-19 pandemic. “By way of consequence, no world government, natural or legal persons, nor the defendant’s defense can maintain that this pandemic can be ‘predictable’, with the exception of the creators of the new world order, such as Bill Gates, Soros, Rockefeller, etc., who managed it and continue to direct it in the greatest secrecy within their environment and global companies, with projections until 2030”, the Peruvian court ruled, confirming that the pandemic undoubtedly represents a “particular difficulty obstructing the investigation or criminal proceedings”. No matter how surreal and nonsensical this might sound, it is nevertheless a genuine court ruling, which has already been included in the arsenal of “evidence” used by conspiracy theory buffs who are extremely active on social media and beyond. The Peruvian authority regulating the judiciary is investigating this unprecedented case (which I hope will be the last), where judges motivate their ruling using conspiracy theories about “the new world order” and the “criminal elites who rule the world and want to get us chipped”. The three judges will probably be disciplined for their preposterous choice of words. Until then, the question remains: how was it possible for falsehoods to mislead even judges, who are (supposedly) operating with facts and evidence instead of speculation and hearsay?

Who are these imaginary conspiracy peddlers: populists, extremists and clerics

To better understand how things got to where they are now, we should look at the timeline of fake news and conspiracy theories that, slowly but surely, started being spread with respect to the pandemic and the new coronavirus by various social actors: politicians, populists, extremists of all sorts, propaganda media, men of the cloth, various so-called COVID denialist influencers, anti-vaxxers and others.

During the first and most dramatic phase of the COVID-19 pandemic (April-May, 2020), Italian deputy Sara Cunial, well-known for her staunch opposition to vaccines and vaccination, delivered a speech before the Italian Parliament, making allegations based on false claims and calling on the Prime Minister to hand billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates over to the International Criminal Court for “committing crimes against humanity”. The Italian MP said “for decades, Gates has been working on depopulation policy and dictatorial control plans on global politics”. Sara Cunial’s message was shared and widely distributed by Kremlin-linked propaganda media, first and foremost by Russia Today and Sputnik (the latter in a number of languages), as well as by a plethora of anti-vax and religious websites all over the world.

On May 19, 2020, the Synod of the Moldovan Orthodox Church (BOM), which is a canonical subpart of the Russian Patriarchy, submitted two letters to the authorities. The first expresses BOM’s disagreement with the restrictions adopted by the National Extraordinary Committee for Public Health in the Republic of Moldova regarding the celebration of mass. The second one concerns “the lawfulness of a possible mandatory vaccination as a result of the SARS-COVID-19 pandemic”, although no vaccine had been certified for use anywhere in the world at the time, and the Government had made no mention of any type of vaccination, optional or mandatory. Over a six-page spread, the Metropolitan Bishop of Chișinău and All Moldova and the seven bishops making up the Synod (including Marchel, the Bishop of Bălți and Fălești, who a month later got infected with COVID-19 himself) enumerated a number of false claims and conspiracy theories about the new coronavirus, 5G technology and vaccination chipping warranted by the “anti-Christ global system”, presenting them as arguments in favor of voluntary vaccination. The authorities, the Synod demanded, must observe people’s right “to prevent the introduction / implant of any foreign device/chip in their bodies”. BOM clerics recalled that “the Italian Parliament, through the voice of one of its MPs, officially called for the arrest of international criminal Bill Gates, who stands accused of crimes against humanity, having killed 500,000 children in India with his vaccine, and for supporting genocide as a means of curbing world population”. BOM clergymen also claim “Bill Gates is considered solely responsible for designing the technology used to microchip the population via a vaccine that introduces nanoparticles in the body that respond to 5G waves, thus allowing the system to control people remotely”.

The disinformation chain: pro-Kremlin media – Internet pages – social media

In the Russian federation, TV stations with particular impact and an audience of hundreds of millions of people broadcast “exclusive” reports of the alleged “conspiracy of the world government” against mankind, implying that Bill Gates is behind the pandemic (take, for instance, this excerpt from the report suggestively titled “The Trojan horse of the global pandemic”, broadcast in April, 2020 on the show “The Man and the Law” on Pervyi Canal, one of the most popular TV stations in Russia and the Kremlin’s loyal mouthpiece: “Even if this virus was of natural origin, it is instrumental to those who develop vaccines, who are making plans to vaccinate the entire population on the planet, and, course, one of them is Bill Gates”). These messages also reach those countries that rebroadcast Russian TV stations, where audiovisual authorities are not diligent enough to combat disinformation and propaganda, or are at the mercy of pro-Russian political forces, which is the case in the Republic of Moldova.

Pseudo-religious and anti-vax websites worldwide pick up false narratives, augment them using other misleading information and multiply them in hundreds of versions and different languages, often accompanied by hate- or violence-inciting language (Gates is called a “psychopath”, “a crook and a murderer, who deserves the electric chair”). Actively promoted on social media groups, these fake narratives reach dozens of millions of other people of all ages and from all walks of life, who don’t necessarily realize they are being “targeted”. Some of them are actually confident they cannot be manipulated.

 “A lie told a million times becomes a fact”

The recent presidential election in the United States, where Donald Trump aggressively and repeatedly made false allegations about election fraud and the Democrats’ conspiracies, without providing any plausible evidence to support his claims and totally ignoring the facts, is a clear example of what happens when disinformation is “legitimized” by people who have the power to influence others. As if we were all living in an alternative reality in some science-fiction movie, with a “shaman with a third open eye” who “sees various entities from other dimensions – pedophiles, criminals – who lurk in the shadows”, and other conspiracy buffs fighting “the Satan-worshipping global cult of pedophiles, led by American Democrats and exposed by Donald Trump”. This, apparently, is why the election was defrauded… No matter how absurd the theory might sound, repeating the same message again and again, wrapped in different words and using different “arguments”, depending on the type of audience, can have extremely unexpected effects and may seriously challenge any political or administrative system in the world.

“A lie told a thousand times remains a lie, but a lie told a million times becomes a fact”, Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s propaganda minister used to say, although others must have said it before him. Disinformation and conspiracy theories work like that: you keep repeating them millions of times in all languages of the world, you enrich and adjust them to the audience’s preferences, and they risk becoming a fact, or better said, risk being perceived as a fact. Some people whom others call influencers have “converted” to what we might call “conspirationism”, and they keep legitimizing it every day. And it’s not just politicians, but also well-established athletes, artists, journalists, opinion leaders at national and local level, priests, experts in various fields, and, as we’ve seen, judges more recently (maybe not just from Peru?). What, then, should an “ordinary man”, without higher studies or access to information, and more importantly, without critical thinking, unable to filter information, do? Who should he/she trust? You’ll say the approach is oversimplified and disregards certain aspects and key subtleties. Yes, it’s possible. But perhaps we should lose the academic tone, as Ioana Avădani cleverly puts it, and fight fake news using conspiracy mongers’ own “weapons” against them: a plain, conversational language, and use it to keep repeating, over and over, not lies and speculation, but fact-based truths.

 

Tags: Covid Conspiracy , 5G , Bill Gates , conspiracy theory , Marchel , Moldovan Metropolitan Church
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  • The conspiracy theories were "confirmed" by a court ruling issued on December 21, 2020, by the three-judge panel of the Court of Appeal in Chincha and Pisco, a province in Peru.
  • To better understand how things got to where they are now, we should look at the timeline of fake news and conspiracy theories that, slowly but surely, started being spread with respect to the pandemic and the new coronavirus by various social actors: politicians, populists, extremists of all sorts, propaganda media, men of the cloth, various so-called COVID denialist influencers, anti-vaxxers and others.
  • In the Russian federation, TV stations with particular impact and an audience of hundreds of millions of people broadcast “exclusive” reports of the alleged “conspiracy of the world government” against mankind, implying that Bill Gates is behind the pandemic
  • “A lie told a thousand times remains a lie, but a lie told a million times becomes a fact”, Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s propaganda minister used to say, although others must have said it before him. Disinformation and conspiracy theories work like that: you keep repeating them millions of times in all languages of the world, you enrich and adjust them to the audience’s preferences, and they risk becoming a fact, or better said, risk being perceived as a fact.
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