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The allure of conspiracy theories

William Gibson on the allure of conspiracy theories:

Conspiracy theories are popular because no matter what they posit, they are all actually comforting, because they all are models of radical simplicity. I think they appeal to the infantile part of us that likes to know what’s going on.

1 Comment

  1. Nothing to do with conspiracy theories, but I liked another bit form that:

    “One of the things that I’ve found through whatever loosey goosey reading of human history I’ve managed through my life, is that very little is really new. You know, the Internet, for the first 25 years of its existence, has been almost exclusively text based. And so [people] are writing with frequency unseen since the Victorian heyday of the British Empire, when there were three mail deliveries a day, and people wrote and communicated constantly. We went back to it. It wasn’t new. Very few things in the last 45 years have caused me to go ‘Whoa! That’s new!'”

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, about how the internet encourages written communication, which is a much higher-bandwidth form than speech. I can type a thought much faster than I can say it, but much more importantly I can read ten or twenty sentences in the time it takes me to listen to one spoken out loud.

    With that and the peer-to-peer aspects (hi!), and of course the instant publishing and instant mail delivery, and the immediate availability of reference sources in Google and Wikipedia, we have this incredibly dense, hyper-literate, high-speed interperson communication that I don’t think we’ve ever seen before.

    Frankly I think it’s going to make us much smarter. I think it already is, in fact.

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