Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't really after you.

Washington Post: The three reasons conspiracy theories are more dangerous than ever.

When people despair, they often seek solace either in mainstream religion or in less organized, more extreme faiths. Conspiracy theories always flourish in a time of troubles. These are attempts to suggest that inexplicable and random events, terrible in their import, are the product of hidden human forces — and therefore are controllable, or at least understandable, to the initiates who know what’s really going on...

The impulse to “conspiracize” is as old as the human race. Often that means blaming despised minorities for larger ills.

As the country and the world anxiously wait for a vaccine, conspiracy theories abound on the Internet. The best, most convincing ones always contain a thread of truth, just enough demonstrable fact to lend credibility, enough that moderately reasonable people have something to cling to when things go off the rails. Another successful method for pushing out conspiracy theories is projection – accusing rivals of doing exactly what you are doing – believable precisely because you know it is being done and you know how, so you can speak pretty convincingly about it. Given this, the theories surrounding Bill Gates and vaccines are both predictable and depressing. Since all scandals are “gates” these days, we shall dub this Billgate because it’s perfect. The theory is that vaccines promoted by Gates are in fact a program to inject trackers into the population. I have been thinking about this for a while and I just can’t figure out for the life of me why Bill would have even the slightest interest in tracking Americans binge watching Fox News and traveling back and forth between fridge and couch, but ok. Part of the plan is to get people so incensed about something that they fail to ask one critical question… why?

It doesn’t much matter if someone thinks that UFOs landed at Roswell, N.M., or that Elvis is still alive — but it matters greatly if someone thinks that the coronavirus isn’t real or that a vaccine may be more dangerous than the disease. Such beliefs, if they become widespread, pose a danger to public health. Indeed, anti-vaccine activists are already a menace.

The paranoia of the suspicious is warranted – though it’s not Billgate, vaccines and tiny tracking devices, it’s the Trump campaign and your cell phone. The campaign’s big data operation is tracking people and delivering extremely targeted messages designed to get people to do what they want them to do. So maybe conspiracy theorists are on to something with regard to tracking and mind control, but as is always good practice, they really need to check their sources.

This first article is a "Phun" combination of conspiracy theory and corruption. Two things this era will be most known for.

CBS News: Phunware, a data firm for Trump campaign, got millions in coronavirus small business help

A digital technology company that specializes in the mass collection of smartphone location data and is working for President Donald Trump's re-election campaign received millions from the federal coronavirus relief fund for small businesses.

The company, Phunware, which now has about 60 employees, was eligible for the low-interest loan through the Paycheck Protection Program, which is aimed at businesses with less than 500 workers. There is no allegation of illegality associated with its loan.

But the size of the loan — $2.85 million — is nearly 14 times the current PPP average of $206,000. Meantime, hundreds of thousands of smaller businesses got nothing, because the nearly $350 billion loan program ran out of money in just two weeks. (Congress is allocating another $310 billion to the PPP loan fund this week.)

The Guardian: ‘We want to know who you are,’ Trump’s campaign manager reveals his 2020 plan.

“The campaign is all about data collection,” Parscale said in a phone interview with the Guardian. “Every aspect of this campaign. Everything we do, if you go to a coalition event, you sign up for a thing, you touch it.

“If we touch you digitally, we want to know who you are and how you think and get you into our databases so that we can model off it and relearn and understand what’s happening.”

The New York Times: How Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook Data of Millions

Mr. Nix, a brash salesman, led the small elections division at SCL Group, a political and defense contractor. He had spent much of the year trying to break into the lucrative new world of political data, recruiting Mr. Wylie, then a 24-year-old political operative with ties to veterans of President Obama’s campaigns. Mr. Wylie was interested in using inherent psychological traits to affect voters’ behavior and had assembled a team of psychologists and data scientists, some of them affiliated with Cambridge University.

The group experimented abroad, including in the Caribbean and Africa, where privacy rules were lax or nonexistent and politicians employing SCL were happy to provide government-held data, former employees said.

So back to our original thought... just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't really after you. People take comfort from conspiracy for any number of reasons - it gives them a sense of control, or alternatively an excuse for having none and a scapegoat to blame that on. But life is almost never as simple or as complex as people like to make it. There might be a giant foot trying to squash you*, but just don't forget to ask why and make sure to check your sources. More often than not, the person who is trying to convince you of a conspiracy is the one who will benefit most from your buy in. It's rarely going to be as sexy or sci-fi as an implanted chip, it will most likely be as mundane and routine as the theft of your Facebook data sliced, diced, analyzed and used against you to get you to work against your own best interests.

 

* The giant foot is a reference to the strange and kind of delightful movie Bowfinger with Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy. It's from a conversation Murphy's character has with a cult leader from the group MindHead.

Terry Stricter, MindHead Honcho : Happy premise #1.

Kit : Happy premise #1: There are no aliens.

Terry Stricter, MindHead Honcho : Happy premise #2.

Kit : Happy premise #2: There is no giant foot trying to squash me.

Terry Stricter, MindHead Honcho : Happy premise #3.

Kit : Happy premise #3: Even though I feel like I might ignite, I probably won't.

 

 

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