The vulnerabilities of our time
To the editor:
The prevalent tendency toward buying into conspiracies, I think, is the greatest weakness in mankind right now. This tendency is a failure of discrimination and, I think, a weakness in mental health.
Last weeks' testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee by experts Carter Watts, Eugene Rumor and Roy Godson ramps up my concern.
The testimony was that Putin had up to 1,000 fulltime people attacking individuals in the Clinton campaign – as well as attacking Trump's rivals in the primary. Putin's minions trolled them all, created and spread fake news and propaganda.
Those with psychological weaknesses, I fear, could be lead like lemmings anywhere bad actors care to lead them. This is just the potential at the present time.
Going forward, artificial intelligence continues to gain strength. AI's application to the internet, with bad intent, along with the complete loss of internet privacy and a prevalence of psychological weaknesses, heightens my concerns.
It seems to be a requirement in the ConspiraSphere to take some kind of contrarian view. This used to give conspiracies a sort of parasitic dependency on Main Stream Media – Main Stream Media being the only source of something to be contrary to. These days mass communication has shattered into a multitude of unvetted sources of “news.” Now those in the ConspiraSphere can find a source that they like to buy into directly.
To me, the most common weaknesses in conspiracy theories is that they require a level of micromanagement that humans are just not capable of. Same thing with the impossible level of secrecy required.
The third thing, most common in conspiracies, is that those in charge behind the scenes, are always utterly ruthless and murderous to anyone at any time, even on a global scale.
Common ConspiraSpheric elements tell us more about the inner psychology of the believers than any actual correlation with activities going on in the real world.
Testimony in the Senate Intel Committee hearing was that the first forays by Putin to engineer our thinking were noticed in 2014, and that this effort has continued to grow stronger and stronger since then. Putin's cyber-warfare is like a series of viruses injected into an organism.
We survived the strains of Putin 14, 15, and 16, but who knows if we have an immune system strong enough to survive future attacks.
How can we inoculate ourselves against Putin 17 and beyond? Could it be that the first organ system to fail will be the US democracy? I hope not.
If Trump is found to be complicit with Putin, then the first and best measure of intervention should be taken: the impeachment of Trump.
There is nothing more damaging to the progress and effectiveness of our government than rigid, tribal, paralyzing, polarized, partisan politics.
If treason means doing something that seriously damages our country then fervent partisanship qualifies as treason. I hope our politicians put the wellbeing of our country before party and work together at all times to find those good ideas that we all need.
– Lewis Wilson, Fairfield