Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Death Of Expertise

Since the Corona outbreak, Dutch journalists and their tech crews need security escorts to protect themselves from opponents of mainstream media. Reporters even started driving around in anonymous vans so they wouldn’t get driven off the road.

Where does this anger come from?

According to the Dutch counter-terrorist unit: Corona conspiracy theorists. People who came in touch with alternative views via social media and got suckered into believing conventional news outlets are serving a hidden and harmful agenda.

Occasionally disagreeing with mainstream media is perfectly fine. In fact, it sometimes leads to truth. But writing mass media off as an unreliable source is dangerous because you’re disregarding experts who are trained to separate fact from fiction.

Which is acceptable if you’re replacing one expert with another.

But conspiracy theorists often don’t turn to elite fact-finders for credible information. They turn to amateurs, who don’t have fact-checkers, references, or any kind of quality control.

So what’s the appeal?

Clickbait. 

That people like to watch and read wacky stories that teeter on the edge of believability is nothing new. Sensationalism has been outselling plain facts since the invention of the tabloid. 

But what’s new since the advent of the tabloid is the internet and its ability to show you what you like. 

If you click a video called “The Coronavirus is fake,” you’ll probably be recommended a video about Bill Gates’ involvement in the creation of the virus rather than a video called, “We know little of the virus, but it’s unfortunately real as explained by a socially awkward professor in three hours.”

By acting like an echo chamber, the internet shows you a slice of the internet free of opposing views. So if your research method of choice is clicking on whatever Google and YouTube hands you, you’re likely moving away from reality and going towards a radical Narnia. Making proper discussion impossible.

Instead of basing our arguments on a shared pool of facts, we’re all drawing ‘facts’ from our own internet bubble of crazy. Which leads to beliefs about mind control, 9/11 being an inside job, or how Hillary Clinton was running a child sex-trafficking ring in the basement of a pizzeria called Comet Ping Pong.

Theories that sound hilarious, but do have scary consequences. One man actually traveled to the Ping Pong pizzeria to free the kids while toting an assault rifle.

And that’s the issue.

Although most conspiracy theorists have their hearts in the right place, they can no longer see they’re as nutty as a fruitcake. And are doing more harm than good.

The best way to pull conspiracy theorists back into the real world is to inject them with a dose of skepticism. Which will be difficult if they believe vaccines cause autism. An easier way to reach our goal is to execute plan B:

Remove recommended videos so that nobody gets tucked away in a corner of reality. Then we can all go back to arguing about things that matter, like taxes, inequality, or what side the toilet paper roll should face (THE FRONT!).

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach