"I duz know Pizzagate be real cuz I research it! Oh, and Justin did give us a signal with he hat!"
'PIZZAGATE CONSPIRACY' THRIVES ANEW IN TIK TOK ERA'
So screamed the header in yesterday's Denver Post (p. 4A), catching my attention, especially as I had thought the vile Pizza Gate conspiracy bunkum was long since dead and buried. So I was not prepared to read this lead- in paragraph:
"Four minutes into a video that was posted on Instagram last month, Justin Bieber leaned into the camera and adjusted the front of his black knit beanie. For some of his 130 million followers it was a signal."
Who would have believed the idiotic conspiracy nonsense known as "PizzaGate" would surface again in this election cycle? And from a purported "signal" by Justin Bieber, or so millions of his followers construed it. (To quote Janice: "Those kids need to get a life away from the stupid screens!")
For those who don't remember PizzaGate was born in 2016 in online forums like 4chan and Reddit, where right-wing supporters of Donald J. Trump pored over hacked emails from John D. Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s senior campaign adviser, looking for evidence of wrongdoing. Some emails referring to Mr. Podesta’s dinner plans mentioned pizza. A 4chan participant then connected the phrase “cheese pizza” to pedophiles, who on chat boards use the initials “c.p.” to denote child pornography.
A huge pusher was Michael Flynn, the recently released (thanks to Bill Barr's interventions) co-conspirator with Trump in the Russian 2016 interference, who had tweeted at the time:
"Until Pizzagate proven to be false, it'll remain a story."
The dimwit clearly not grasping that there is no logical basis to prove a negative. One proves positive claims or propositions (see e.g. my posts on symbolic logic) not negative claims. But this is par for the course in Trump land. Flynn even went on to write:
"U decide. NYPD Blows Whistle on New Hillary Emails. Money Laundering. Sex Crimes w. Children etc."
In fact, the NYPD blew no such whistle, and indeed the FBI admitted they had nothing, i.e. on trying to tie Anthony Weiner's emails to any suspect and nefarious misdeeds. Never mind, the thing was humped right up to the election, even as articles came out pointing to the transparent rubbish, e.g. as one writer from the UK Guardian put it:
"In any other year a story like 'Pizzagate' would get you laughed out of a room. The conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton was part of a sex-trafficking ring run out of a pizza shop is bizarre and disturbing from start to finish. But in 2016, a year when nothing makes any sense any more, it can be cited as a motive for a crime".
Never mind, the hijacked brains invested in this bullshit were 100 percent convinced they were really global citizens conducting a "worldwide citizen investigation" to rout the "evil motherfuckers and elites" behind it.
The nature of the whole fiasco, when I considered it in retrospect, was that it had much more in common with a mind virus, packaged as a conspiracy ideation, than a "theory". Indeed the latter is absolutely the worst term to use. When one speaks of a theory he at least means something with a residue of rationality, a degree of empirical evidence and consistent explication and sense, even if later proven wrong.
The mind virus is radically different, but must be understood if we are to parse the latest Pizzagate mutation. This evidently started with a documentary: “Out of Shadows,” made by a former Hollywood stuntman,. This offal was released on YouTube in April and passed around the QAnon community. See e.g. the nature of QAnon in this earlier post:
Let's Get This Straight: QAnon Are Conspiracy Cra...
Recall that the three primary attributes of a mind virus (as originally set out by Jacques Monod, in his Chance and Necessity) are:
1) performance value,
2) propagation value and
3) infectious value.
Performance value incorporates the particular vehicle (or medium) that produced the most immediate and pronounced changes in the brain exposed to it. There is little doubt this was the mockumentary 'Out of the Shadows' which had all the earmarks of a psychotic ideation ripe for dispersal to the uninformed, ignorant and gullible.
Propagation value indicates how far and wide the particular mind virus is spread, and what means were employed to achieve this. Again, not hard to discern: In May, teenagers on TikTok - with too much free time on their hands- began promoting both the mockumentary and codswallop about Justin Bieber touching his beanie as a signal he was a Pizzagate victim. as reported earlier by The Daily Beast.
Specifically, someone with little more than air between the ears had posted a comment asking Bieber to touch his hat if he had been a victim of a child-trafficking ring known as PizzaGate. Thousands of comments then flooded in, but there was no evidence that Bieber had seen that message. However, his innocuous gesture set off a flurry of online activity, which highlighted the resurgence of the mind virus. As with all such viruses, any unrelated gesture, word, or wink is instantly transmuted into something sinister. Add in some confirmation bias and Voila! the "conspiracy" is alive and well.
Infectious value embodies the ease with which other brains can be infected. And we now know that most of Bieber's followers - since he did touch that hat- became convulsed with hysteria as the apparent confirmation appeared. Viewers quickly uploaded hundreds of videos online analyzing Bieber’s action. Of one thing we may be sure: None of those videos had any remote resemblance to the Zapruder or Nix films of the JFK assassination. That was hard, cold brutal fact with a head exploding and brains erupting. As opposed to superimposed brain burps on mental flatulence.
But this is how infectious value takes hold and so the videos were translated into Spanish, Portuguese and other languages, amassing millions of views. Fans then left thousands of comments on Bieber’s social media posts asking him if he was safe. Within days, searches for “Justin and PizzaGate” soared on Google, and the hashtag #savebieber started trending. All now translating into powerful confirmation of a mind virus at work in millions of infected brains.
Now, fast forward: A week ago (as reported in the NY Times), Rachel McNear, 20, watched “Out of Shadows,” which has now garnered 15 million views on YouTube. She then turned to Twitter, where she came across Mr. Bieber’s supposed association with PizzaGate. After reading more on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook, she created a one-minute description of her "research" on the topic and posted it to TikTok on Monday.
Okay, here's a newsflash: NO serious research of any sort is "posted" to a medium like Twitter or Tik Tok - which I refer to as cartoon media. If you wish to post serious research you do so in a blog post, or better a paper that has a chance of publication in a magazine or journal. So what Ms. McNear produced was not "research" but a verbal cartoon begotten from a mind virus she absorbed after being exposed to the original source of infection, 'Out of the Shadows'. One can only express sympathy for her, as with the other infected, and hope that in future they inoculate their brains with critical thinking. (Which, alas, is no longer imparted in our educational system - even a university level.)
More worrisome, PizzaGate is now reaching a level that nearly exceeds its 2016 fever pitch, according to an analysis by The New York Times. TikTok posts with the #PizzaGate hashtag have been viewed more than 82 million times in recent months. Google searches for PizzaGate have skyrocketed. All this again points to the infectious value as well as propagation value of the original meme. This is especially given it soon appeared in bogus publications like The Vigilant Citizen and The New Nationalist on Facebook and Instagram. On Twitter and YouTube, other users amplified the content.
According to the Times analysis:
"In the first week of June, comments, likes and shares of PizzaGate also spiked to more than 800,000 on Facebook and nearly 600,000 on Instagram, according to data from CrowdTangle, a Facebook-owned tool for analyzing social interactions. That compares with 512,000 interactions on Facebook and 93,000 on Instagram during the first week of December 2016. From the start of 2017 through January this year, the average number of weekly PizzaGate mentions, likes and shares on Facebook and Instagram was under 20,000."
Let's again note this is not a joke, and while the temptation is to howl with laughter at the kids' gullibility - it can lead to tragedy. Weeks after the November 2016 election, Edgar M. Welch, 32, a North Carolina resident, drove six hours to Comet Ping Pong to free what he believed were enslaved children. He shot several rounds from a military-style assault rifle into a locked closet door of the pizzeria and eventually surrendered to the police. In 2017, he was sentenced to four years in prison.
According to Alice Marwick, a disinformation expert at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, quoted in The NY Times:
“PizzaGate never went away because it encompasses very potent forces, including children’s safety and the power of elites. But now there is so much scaffolding from people who have researched it, it wasn’t hard for others to pick up from there.”
Which, of course, doesn't explain why the sordid bunkum is tied to stalwarts in the Democratic Party and its leaders, Why not the Repukes who are, after all, the corporate party who have given trillions to the wealthiest and now want to rip away health care in the midst of a pandemic? It doesn't add up. Logic would dictate that the GOP and Trump be the presumed instruments for such foul deeds, but that isn't the case, it's Hillary, Podesta and other Dems for god's sake.
Pat Banister the Bajan psychiatrist who I've cited in previous posts, in connection with her theory of mind to do with conspiracy ideations, had to deal with similar hysteria back in 1973. At that time Barbados was rife with rumors of children being taken for Obeah purposes. (Obeah is a kind of primitive Bajan practice analogous to the Haitian voodoo). Kids around the island - 166 square miles so rumors spread fast- became convinced the "Baccoo man" was out hunting for them to use in an Obeah ritual. The unfounded rumors spread after it was (mistakenly) reported some kids had "vanished". (They'd actually been sent away to relatives in the states, mainly Brooklyn, a prime Bajan destination.) This then led to several cases of hysteria that Dr.Banister had to deal with. The only solution at that time was for the teens to be committed to the Psychiatric Hospital where they'd usually be administered ECT and given largactyl.
One would hope the teens and others infected by this latest PizzaGate mind virus would not also need similar therapy to secure their mental release from the "demons" of batshit crazy bunkum now infesting their brains. As the Guardian author concluded his piece:
"Pizzagate is a lie but what it says about our society is real"
What it says about our society - much of it - is that it has lost the ability to reason. A nation capable of reason in a critical thinking context would never fall for transparent twaddle like PizzaGate.
TikTok teens and K-pop fans took over anti-Black Lives Matter hashtags such as #WhiteLivesMatter and drowned out the anti-Black Lives Matter messages with GIFs and memes. When people on social media platforms look for these hashtags, they’re met with seemingly unending images and fan videos of popular K-pop groups such as Twice and EXO. This, in turn, leads algorithms on social media platforms to classify such trending hashtags as K-pop trends rather than political trends, thwarting the anti-Black Lives Matter activists who tried to use the hashtags to promote their messages.