While it has been severe since Trump began campaigning for president, recently mainstream news has picked up on the scope of the problem of rampant belief in bogus conspiracy theories that involve politicians with nefarious plots. Ironically, the politicians with the truly nefarious plots are the ones who support and encourage the spread of these heinous stories, which are precisely and intentionally designed to target mentally-vulnerable people. While the conspiracy theory crowd—who predominantly support Donald Trump and crackpot allies like Alex Jones and the shadowy Q—may appear to just be an odd quirk of modern society, the truth is that many of them suffer from psychological illnesses that involve paranoia and delusions, such as schizophrenia, or are prone to them, like those with schizotypy personalities.
Schizotypy refers to a thinking style that puts one at risk for developing schizophrenia-spectrum disorders and involves cognitive and socio-emotional deficits along with severe behavioral problems. For these people, the terrifying conspiracies fuel their delusions, and it is likely that such ideas have pushed many individuals with sub-threshold levels of mental illness over the edge into full-blown clinical territory.
The link between schizotypy and belief in conspiracy theories is well-established, but a recent study published in the journal Psychiatry Research has demonstrated that it is still very prevalent in the population. The researchers found that those who were more likely to believe in outlandish conspiracy theories, such as the idea that the U.S. government created the AIDs epidemic, consistently scored high on measures of “odd beliefs and magical thinking.” One feature of magical thinking is a tendency to make connections between things that are actually unrelated in reality.
While it is estimated that over one percent of the United States population has clinical schizophrenia, many times that have schizotypy or similar psychological profiles that involve difficulty distinguishing between delusion and reality. To further complicate things, there is a thriving subculture that has emerged on the Internet in recent years composed of people calling themselves “Targeted Individuals,” who believe they are the targets of a complex harassment campaign by people who want to ruin their lives and drive them insane.
It is such a large and active community that they’ve been featured in articles and videos by publications including Wired, The New York Times, and Vice. These people, and other similar online subcultures, often believe that they are also the victims of mind control and mental attacks from secret government technologies. The truth is, almost all of these technologies cannot work in reality given the scientific knowledge we have today. In pop culture, they are commonly depicted as people who wear tinfoil hats to block attacks from “directed energy weapons,” and some actually do. While this might sound amusing on the surface to some, we must not forget that these people are struggling with nightmarish delusions and intense paranoia, and need our compassion and care. They certainly do not need to be strategically manipulated with propaganda that further deteriorates their mental health.
This kind of targeting is exactly what Steve Bannon and the Trump campaign did when they used data from Cambridge Analytica, which the company had gotten from Facebook, to create psychographic profiles of vulnerable voters. And all one has to do is visit alt-right media outlets and discussion boards to see that such manipulation is still going on and is worse than ever.
But the effects of this psychological manipulation are not only limited to people who have delusional disorders or are prone to them. Certain they have uncovered powerful and shockingly devious conspiracies, these troubled individuals become online evangelists for their cause, putting great effort into converting psychologically-normal others into conspiracy theorists. To them, it’s a battle between good and evil, and they believe Trump is the former and his political opponents the latter, who are all involved in insidious affairs like pedophilia rings and the “deep state.” These people have essentially become “radicalized,” and will spend much of their time spreading the gospel of Trump and Q to anyone in cyberspace who will pay attention.
One reason this is much more effective than one might guess is that the signs of their mental illness are largely hidden from view. Average Internet users do not see their off-kilter appearance or behavior—they only see their message, which is loud and confident. For those who lack sufficient education in subjects like politics and world affairs, the ideas of these sick individuals can often sound like informed, well-researched opinions.
Mental health is already a major problem in America without politicians and their media allies stirring up the paranoid delusions of those who are mentally at risk. This is not just playing politics, it is damaging psychological abuse that is harming literally millions of people, and it shouldn’t be ignored any longer.
Bobby Azarian is a neuroscientist affiliated with George Mason University and a freelance journalist. His research has been published in journals such as Cognition & Emotion and Human Brain Mapping, and he has written for The New York Times, The Atlantic, Psychology Today, and Scientific American. Follow him @BobbyAzarian.
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‘Suck-Up’ Mike Pence Hammered by CNN Panel for ‘Delusional’ Defense of Capitol Insurrection
A CNN panel slammed former vice president Mike Pence on Tuesday for downplaying the Jan. 6 insurrection in a Fox News interview on Monday night.
“From gallows to gaslight,” CNN host John Berman said at the start of a 10-minute segment about Pence that kicked off the network’s “New Day” program.
Berman pointed to calls from Capitol insurrectionists for Pence’s hanging, adding that in a “remarkable contortion,” the former vice president is now “redirecting blame.”
On Monday, Pence told Fox News host Sean Hannity: “I know the media wants to distract from the Biden administration’s failed agenda by focusing on one day in January. They want to use that one day to try to demean character and intentions of 74 million Americans who believe we could be strong again and prosperous again.”
Berman accused Pence of “telling it like it isn’t.”
“The media wasn’t chanting, ‘Hang Mike Pence,'” Berman said. “The insurrectionists were.”
“Pence makes it seem like this is some matter for Architectural Digest,” Berman added of the insurrection, referencing the vice president’s comment in the Hannity interview that, “It was a problem for the Capitol building on Jan. 6.”
CNN also played a clip from Pence’s interview in which he said he has a “strong relationship” with Trump and that they “parted amicably.”
Political commentator S.E. Cupp called the former vice president’s comments “grating.”
“The whole thing sounds a little delusional, not just the way he talks about Jan. 6, but also ‘parting amicably’ with the president,” Cupp said. “The president has been trashing him. He might be saying we’re in a good place, but per usual the loyalty flows one way. Trump is not returning the favor.”
“So you have to wonder … what is this for?” Cupp added. “Does he still want to raise money? Does he want influence? Does he think he’s to running for president someday? There are no natural Mike Pence voters. He lost Republicans like me who felt betrayed by Mike Pence for not being a stop-gap. And I think the Trump loyalists will never trust Mike Pence. Who is left? Who is clamoring for more Mike Pence? So this strategy, if you can call it one, makes very little sense to me.”
Host Brianna Keilar responded that by appearing on Hannity’s show, Pence was obviously attempting to court Trump loyalists.
“In a logical world, what would happen is, Trump would apologize to Pence,” Keilar said. “Instead, it’s Mike Pence — as so may Republicans who decided to break with Donald Trump a little bit around the insurrection — he’s now sucking up. He’s on full suck-up mode.”
Watch it below.
Tucker Carlson and Naomi Wolf Blasted for Claiming No One ‘Moralized’ Against HIV/AIDS Patients in the ’80s
Fox News host Tucker Carlson and former-feminist-turned-conspiracy-theorist Naomi Wolf are under fire after comparing the early years of the HIV/AIDS crisis to the condemnation anti-vaxxers are now seeing during the coronavirus pandemic. On Monday they falsely claimed people who contracted HIV/AIDS in the 1980’s were not subjected to “moralizing,” despite the founder of the Moral Majority in 1983 declaring AIDS was “God’s punishment for homosexuals.”
“Sometimes there are medical crises – typhus, cholera, you know, AIDS, polio – but we don’t moralize it, we just get through it,” Wolf, an anti-vaxxer, said on the Fox Nation show “Tucker Carlson Today.”
“We should be going back to American values in which we are responsible for ourselves,” Wolf declared. And she lamented, “now it’s all about, like, ‘What are the infection rates? Who’s to blame? Are the red states to blame or the bikers to blame?'”
Before she was banned from Twitter, Wolf infamously “tweeted that a new technology allowed the delivery of ‘vaccines w nanopatticles that let you travel back in time’; that the Moderna vaccine is a ‘software platform’ that allows ‘uploads’; and that due to face masks, children now lack ‘the human reflex that they when you smile at them they smile back’ and have ‘dark circles under [their] eyes from low oxygen,'” according to Media Matters.
Carlson then began talking about the early ’80’s, when HIV/AIDS was first identified and President Ronald Reagan refused to address or even acknowledge the crisis – much less mobilize – the federal government to combat the disease, while most Americans shunned and discarded people with HIV/AIDS.
Carlson falsely claimed that in the ’80s no one was “blaming people who are dying,” calling it, “like, the ugliest thing you could do,” and then asked: “Why now?”
Wolf replied, “if you don’t moralize it, you can’t gain control over an entire free society,” suggesting that’s why those who have been vaccinated are so outraged at those who refuse to protect themselves and others and are causing the pandemic to rage on.
“I think the AIDS crisis, HIV crisis, is a perfect model of how different the expectations are now,” Wolf claimed, “because I remember that time.”
oh yeah the HIV epidemic was famously recognized as an apolitical, nonjudgmental, morality-policing-free medical crisis, totally, absolutely no revisionism here. pic.twitter.com/DYB4H4pGJO
— nikki mccann ramírez (@NikkiMcR) September 27, 2021
Many are expressing outrage:
— Charlotte Clymer 🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) September 28, 2021
Ronald Reagan and his administration laughed and called it god’s judgement as my grandfather and many like him suffered and died of a disease Reagan wouldn’t even say the name of.
— Crowpotkin 🏴 (@AnarchoCorvidae) September 28, 2021
“The poor homosexuals — they have declared war upon nature, and now nature is exacting an awful retribution”
— Pat Buchanan https://t.co/AOLnJBk9aw
— Breathtaking Inanity (@breathtkinan) September 28, 2021
Yep, totally apolitical, nonjudgmental yada yada pic.twitter.com/eIwsYvxyGw
— 614ortyNiner (@CAlipinOH) September 28, 2021
Tucker and Naomi are being absurd. Televangelists were constantly preaching to their “moral majority” that AIDS was GOD’s punishment for homosexuality. It was a constant stream of bigoted condemnation of sick and dying human beings. And the message resonated. Hate sells.
— pissedboomer (@pissedboomer) September 28, 2021
That rumbling you just heard was Rock Hudson turning over in his grave to spit in the direction of Ronald Reagan.
— Raymond J. Mollica (@RaymondMollica) September 27, 2021
Is this an alternative universe thing? I mean, why is Tucker in, like, a lodge or something? What is this? It can’t be about our universe. https://t.co/1VUOdUwN1f
— Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) September 28, 2021
those two lived through an imaginary AIDS epidemic. The real one has things like funeral homes refusing to take away bodies of dead AIDS people. There are literally hundreds of other things that were done to AIDS patients.
— The Cheese. (@EileenB10257709) September 28, 2021
The phrase “IF I DIE OF AIDS—FORGET BURIAL—JUST DROP MY BODY ON THE STEPS OF THE FDA” springs to mind https://t.co/36rhZUzcfC
— joshua caleb weibley (@fake_living) September 27, 2021
When I see things like Naomi Wolf and Tucker Carlson saying there was no moralizing during the early years of the AIDS pandemic… they know better, and are spreading this disinformation to provoke different rages in target audiences, with conservatives and liberals.
— Alexander Chee (@alexanderchee) September 28, 2021
They so clearly conspired before this broadcast to incite the people who lived through it. Their complacency is the tell. I mean I was in Ireland in the 80’s, far from the first epicenters, and yet the first thing I recall adults saying is that AIDS was gods judgement on gays. https://t.co/lttigC01W5
— Cahir O’Doherty (@randomirish) September 28, 2021
Gay men still cannot donate blood. https://t.co/ZIh7bi3TbJ
— Ken Sweet (@kensweet) September 28, 2021
This revisionism makes me fucking nauseated. I’m old enough to remember how this fucking went, and this ain’t how things went. https://t.co/cuZSBjrUqm
— ᗪᗩᑎI ᔕTEᗯᗩᖇT (@d_stew) September 28, 2021
I was a 16 year old closeted gay teenager when a THERAPIST told me that she didn’t think there would ever be a cure for HIV/AIDS because it was God’s punishment for gay men. https://t.co/R7PfBmd5M6
— Shaun (@shaun_gains) September 28, 2021
this is absolutely insane https://t.co/tesL1tQBcr
— Service Industry Destroyer (@FrycookHandjob) September 28, 2021
— 𝗦𝗸𝗶𝗽𝗽𝗲𝗿 “𝗦𝗮𝗳𝗮𝗿𝗶” 𝗦𝗵𝗮𝗻𝗲 (@safarishane) September 27, 2021
‘See What Happens’: White House Refuses to Guarantee Trump Will Accept Election Results – Then Offers Reason He Won’t
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany refused to guarantee President Donald Trump will accept the election results, instead saying he would “see what happens,” and then “make a determination” what to do.
“The president has always said he’ll see what happens, and make a determination in the aftermath,” McEnany told a reporter Wednesday afternoon.
Claiming he “wants a free election, a fair election,” McEnany said Trump wants “confidence in the results of the election.” Trump has been doing exactly the opposite: working to ensure the election is not free or fair, ad that the results will be questioned – especially if he loses.
But then McEnany tried to sow doubt on trusting the election results.
“You have states like Nevada doing mass mail out-voting, to their voting rolls, and when they tried this in the primary it was a massive failure, ballots were piled up in trash cans, ballots were pinned to apartment dart boards. And with that being the system the president wants to take a hard look at this and make sure that these are fair election results and not subject to fraud.”
NCRM could find no reports of ballots being “pinned to apartment dart boards.” Fox News had one story about Nevada’s Republican former Attorney General claiming ballots were found in trash cans.
Two weeks ago the Trump campaign sued Nevada over its decision to try to expand mail-in voting.
REPORTER: Is the president saying if he doesn’t win this election, that he will not accept the results unless he wins?
MCENANY: The president has always said he’ll see what happens and make a determination in the aftermath. pic.twitter.com/gkqa6OXFeH
— JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) August 19, 2020
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