People were already writing articles about post-truth back in 2017, a year after Trump came into power in the United States. Now in 2021, the fact that so many around the world (but mostly North America) have decided it is OK to believe in nonsense and live in their own version of reality is really astonishing. The following cartoon is taken from the linked article.
There has always been the fringe element of society that believes in crazy things, but since Trump, the populist who normalized blatant and outrageous lying, it has become acceptable and even popular to do so. If you have ever spent any time perusing radical right-wing message boards like 4chan.org/pol/, then you will know how much nuttiness is circulating and how occasionally it makes it to the mainstream media. I remember watching as the finer points of the whole Pizzagate conspiracy were worked out over many threads on 4chan, eventually leading to become widely known and causing one man to enter the pizza joint with a gun demanding answers. If you do not know about the conspiracy, it basically stated that a child prostitution ring was being run out of the basement of Comet Ping Pong Pizza in Washington, DC by those evil liberals. This was all based on theories made up from the leaked email between John Podesta and Hillary Clinton. Vague references to types of pizza were made in one email, which lead to conspirators saying that it was coded language for child sex crimes. Over time, more and more silly and far-fetched "evidence" was found until it became "truth" for certain gullible groups. A lot of the various crazy conspiracies in the last few years are based on posts from an anonymous forum poster named Qanon. Many of these ideas have made it out to the right-wing mainstream media and picked up by Trump supporters, conspiracy lovers, and fundamentalist religious folk. It was particularly amusing to see a lot of these people claim that they never even heard of Qanon and it was made up by the liberal media. Ignorance of the sources of the conspiracies you believe in does not make the source fictitious. In fact, the liberal media were quite late to the game in reporting about Qanon. Not suprisingly, Qanon seems to have gone completely silent after Trump lost the 2020 election. This has not deterred the nutty masses from continuing on with the post-truth movement. Everything is becoming politicized.
Here is a short list of nonsense that conspiracy minded people currently like to believe:
* Trump won the 2020 election, but it was stolen from him
* Trump will be re-inaugurated any day now (just 2 more weeks, lol)
* Trump is secretly still the shadow president
* Covid is just the flu
* The covid vaccine has nanotech/5G, is magnetic, will change your DNA, will affect your fertility, or will kill you
* The earth is actually flat (seriously, this movement is growing)
Signs that someone is heading for conspiracy land and ignorant political thought if they are not there yet:
* Being suspicious of institutes of higher learning
* Being suspicious of scientists and statistics
* Using the word "liberal" as a slur
* Calling people who are human rights advocates "social justice warriors"
* Claiming there is no such thing as systemic racism
* Claiming that Jews secretly run everything (but yet are somehow inferior humans)
* Believing in the "deep state" (surprise, it really just means Jews)
* Masks do nothing to prevent Covid spread and are an assault on freedom
* Vaccination does nothing to prevent Covid spread is an assault on freedom
* Forced vaccination is like Nazi experimentation on Jews (equating these is extremely ignorant)
Many wonder how things have gotten to this point. I have my own theory on that. I think with the advent of easy and global access to information via the Internet over the last two decades, society is being exposed to other cultures and forms of thought. It is no longer that easy to cling to old religious beliefs and simple worldviews. Somehow, a significant portion of society is unable to handle this and is rebelling by being part of the current anti-science, post-truth movement. It lets them retain some sense of power and camaraderie in a world they secretly know is much more complicated than their worldview previously allowed. Religions teach individuals to "just have faith,” something that I personally previously thought was fairly harmless, but it could end up being our undoing. Change and progress are extremely difficult for some people, so they label it "evil" and act accordingly, no matter the reality. I do not think this is the only reason for our current situation, but certainly a significant one.
Now, the extreme societal divide is slowly leading us towards something... perhaps revolution, perhaps war? As Isaac Asimov famously said, "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent." This is why I am a huge advocate of free public education as well as the teaching of critical thinking skills and human empathy, which are sorely lacking in today's world. I can only hope our children can cast off this silly nonsense and steer humanity back to a stable course.