On Tuesday, writing for The Daily Beast, columnist David Rothkopf outlined how American culture, and in particular religion, primed Trump supporters from birth to embrace the former president's "big lie" that the election was stolen from them.
"One of the key reasons we buy into so many small lies is that we have been force fed so many big ones. I mean really big ones. I mean ones that make the current Big Lie look like one of those low-calorie snacks that is actually a high-calorie treat shrunk to a smaller size and repackaged," wrote Rothkopf. "Many of these lies were created out of necessity. Life is finite. (OK, I'm sorry. It is. Take a deep breath if you need to and then continue reading.) ... According to a 2011 poll from the Associated Press, nearly eight out of 10 Americans believe in the existence of angels and a 2015 poll showed 72 percent of Americans believe in Heaven and 58 percent believe in the existence of Hell."
Large swathes of the population appear to be abandoning organized religion, but it remains a highly influential force in American politics. At this point, even faith leaders are having a hard time trying to properly educate their congregants against falsehoods like QAnon and anti-vaccine propaganda.
Making the problem worse, noted Rothkopf, is that lies both religious and secular are enforced by social structures that make it difficult to push back on them.
"All these lies are aided and abetted by the fact that simply believing in what you are told to believe is much easier than actually figuring out the truth," wrote Rothkopf. "What is more, if your family and friends believe in a lie, challenging that lie might make you an outcast, might alienate those with whom you have or wish to have a bond. With the advent of social media, where like-minded friends become 'editors' and select the news their followers see, lies spread among audiences inclined to believe and thereby endorse them. We live in an age of media 'echo-systems', ecosystems that reinforce disinformation spreading it from dubious sources like QAnon to Facebook to TV propaganda networks to you."
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