Misinformation isn’t ignorance.
It’s not about what the people in charge understand, but about what they can get away with by playing on their supporters’ fears & hatreds & lack of previous knowledge & distrusts.
The point of a claim like “Obamacare is in a death spiral because it makes healthy people subsidize the sick” is not to be true, it’s to link up Scary Black “Liberals” with (healthy people’s) fear of losing money with the *presupposition* that it’s failing in scary ways.
It’s fear, fear, fear. Same feeling evoked in each part of the statement. That’s how POETRY works, frens, not communication of information, that’s the level this is working on. Deep, strong, convincing, because the connections it makes are not conscious ones. Note that humans are primarily pattern matchers/makers, especially in fight or fight situations, and also will follow/trust authorities more when scared.
If an authority says something that’s scary enough, and is confident enough that they can make it safe again, people will doubt themselves rather than the authority. This is how human brains work: we convince ourselves we always agreed, and retcon our own thoughts to match. And that’s how you radicalize a population.
Now consider that a big part of the Republican strategy for like 30 years has been talk about wars on everything, and specifically about being under attack and persecuted. To make their base terrified of so-called Libruls & their war on Christmas, Marriage, Life, The American Way, etc. Of anything foreign, anything UnAmerican.
Oh and keep quietly shifting the boundary of Librul further right, too slow to notice at any given moment. Anyone who responds with scorn is an enemy agent.
Putting in the “scariest” of the “alternative facts” as a presupposition is fucking genius; presuppositions are extra hard to challenge because they’re presented as so universally known they don’t even need to be separately stated. So the person who didn’t know it before is even more scared because they were previously ignorant of the scary thing everyone else obviously knew already. Scared = further trust of the authority that did know.
“Which is why [falsehood]” is always phrasing to watch for; it’s super dangerous.
This is not ignorance. It’s reality-optional power brokering. And very very good at saying the words that get the effects they want from the people they want, over *decades* while we run off in the wrong direction entirely trying to fix their ignorance with facts that’ll just read as further evidence of persecution.
I mean yes fact-checks and pointing out lies are important but they’re so, so far from sufficient. It’s not going to stop “Well I didn’t vote for them but at least they’re doing things!” and it’s not going to stop that position from turning into lockstep over a few years. (what is memory who knows why the previous lot didn’t get stuff done surely it wasn’t people like Paul Ryan who caused that I mean look he’s getting stuff done it’s only Libruls who are divisive)
And I am no good at all at figuring out how to counter this sort of thing, and I’m terrified, but I *can* at least analyze it so yeah have a 3:30am tumblrpost from yr friendly cognitive linguist/semanticist.