In my latest podcast, I read my new Locus column: Fake News is an Oracle. For many years, I've been arguing that while science fiction can't predict the future, it can reveal important truths about the present: the stories writers tell reveal their hopes and fears about technology, while the stories that gain currency in our discourse and our media markets tell us about our latent societal aspirations and anxieties.
Fake news is another important barometer of our societal pressure: when we talk about conspiratorial thinking, we tend to do so ideologically, asking ourselves how it is that the same old conspiracy theories have become so much more convincing in recent years (anti-vax is as old as vaccination, after all), and treating the proponents of conspiracies as though they had acquired the ability to convince people by sharpening their arguments (possibly with the assistance of machine-learning systems).
But when you actually pay attention to the things that conspiracy-pushers say, there's no evidence that they're particularly convincing. Instead of ideological answers to the spread of conspiracies, we can look for material answers for the change in our public discourse.
Fake news, in this light, reveals important truth about what our material conditions have led us to fear (that the ship is sinking and their aren't enough life-boats for all of us) and hope (that we can get a seat in the lifeboat if we help the powerful and ruthless push other people out).
Ten years ago, if you came home from the doctor’s with a prescription for oxy, and advice that they were not to be feared for their addictive potential, and an admonition that pain was “the fourth vital sign,” and its under-treatment was a great societal cruelty, you might have met someone who said that this was all bullshit, that you were being set up to be murdered by a family of ruthless billionaires whose watchdog had switched sides.
You might have called that person an “opioid denier.”
Today, we worry that anti-vaxers represent the resurgence of long-dormant epidemic. Tomorrow, we may find that they presaged an epidemic of collapsed trust in our shared ability to determine the truth.
(Image: Todd Dailey, CC-BY-SA)
Police in New York City are hunting a pumpkin smasher who seems bent on ruining halloween for locals. Does anyone recognize this tough guy pumpkin smasher. This happened on 81st Street between 3rd and 4th Avenue #Brooklyn. If so please call 718-439-4220. The hat alone calls for a custodial sentence.
Only two children showed up to the birthday party of Remi, 5, a young girl with autism. So strangers filled the seats to make it a date to remember. “It all looked like it was going to go pear-shaped,” said [dad] PJ, 40. “When she asked her mum where all her friends were, it was […]
A spirited conversation between Hunter S. Thompson and John Wilcock. From John Wilcock, New York Years, by Ethan Persoff and Scott Marshall. Look for a holiday follow-up to this story in December, detailing “How the Freaks Almost Took the Town”. (See all Boing Boing installments)
As much as vaping has taken over the market during the last decade, there’s still a lot of questions about the technology, as well as health concerns that we’re just now finding out about. One thing you can say about smoking: You know exactly what you’re getting, especially when it comes to pipes that you […]
We can’t all go through life with just a pair of sneakers and flip-flops. Sometimes, you have to invest in a pair of high-quality dress shoes. However, you’ve probably discovered that high-end footwear almost always comes with eye-popping price tags. You’ve got to compromise on second-hand or just suck it up and take out a […]
We have a theory about those throw blankets that are barely big enough to cover your legs. The only people who seem to make them or use them are grandmothers, and the blankets are only that small because Nana got bored halfway through the sewing job. Look, we’re sure she means well. But if you […]