As an independent fact-checking site we fact-check a range of touchy subjects… and sometimes people get upset with us for not validating their conspiracy theories.
For example, we fact-checked the idea that the United States is a Corporation and, after research, found that this was a Myth (i.e., not true based on our research, but as all things, open to debate and counterpoint).
I, the author of that page, had run across the claim online, and thought it was enticing. As I dug into the evidence presented by the websites and posts discussing the theory, I realized that the whole thing was based on a misinterpretation of some key documents (for example, “the Act of 1871” that incorporated Washington D.C. into the United States).
Given my findings, I presented the research and called it a day.
Little did I know that this one point was the lynchpin of a giant conspiracy theory about international bankers taking over America and the world.
In other words, there was a giant web of theories of conspiracy that relied on this one point being true.
Thus, by accidentally refuting this premise, I was indirectly attacking this whole complex narrative that had become an ideology.
And let me tell you, many commenters on that page were not happy about this (many have been civil, but few have been happy).
Very few commenters seem to accept that I could be right or that they could be wrong.
For example, zero comments so far have said “I had heard this too, but after reading your work I want to dig deeper to better understand the truth, maybe this could be wrong, or maybe we could be missing something.”
Instead, comments either: 1. ask me questions, 2. try to explain to me why I’m wrong (sometimes with counterpoints), or 3. angrily call me a shill for the New World Order.
Here is the deal, maybe I am wrong. I don’t have to be right. Likewise, maybe the actual proof that foreign bankers own the United States by way of it being a corporation is true, but we aren’t looking at the right documents. I don’t know for sure.
I do know however that:
- The New World Order has yet to pay me for my services.
- The few documents everyone is citing, the ones I’ve checked at least, do not turn the United States into a corporation as far as I can tell.
The takeaway for me here is the realization that people (or maybe just people of a certain type) can get an intense amount of commitment bias when it comes to theories of conspiracy.
Once people of a certain type get an idea in their head, like “bankers control the world and that is why things are the way they are” it seems they start accepting bits of information that connect to that worldview… especially if it is by sources that also tout the other things they already believe and especially if that thinking connects them to a broader group.
Like, if I believe the earth is flat, and then a flat earth internet person tells me America is a corporation, then I’m more likely to believe that second point (I think this is what I’m noticing here).
Then, once all that is imbedded in the individual (once they are indoctrinated with this web of points that may or may not be wholly true), it seems to be difficult for them to reject any part of what they believe.
Clearly then, this can lead to a person who mainly believes what would I would consider to be a web of nonsense and lies that is not meant to inform them, but is meant to at best sway them toward an ideology (or at worst, is just clickbait and others having “fun” at their expense AKA trolling).
If the ends of all the lies is a conclusion (implied or explicit) like: “therefore hate bankers”…. then really, the whole thing is really just a complicated form of “anti-banker” propaganda (TIP: replace “banker” with another demographic and the logic is the same).
I don’t exactly understand every bit of psychology happening here, but I can see how this form of commitment bias, mashed up with other biases, mashed up with propaganda in the digital age, mashed up with what I would call “digital tribalism,” leads normal people to reject facts and to defend lies and liars.
If it reinforces a worldview, if it is for their home team and against the away team, then from the frame described above it is true by that nature alone… regardless of the actual truth.
I can’t exactly put it all into words, but fact-checking some touchy subjects and watching reactions has clearly resulted in me stumbling somewhere around the roots of a great problem of our modern age. That problem being, tribalism and propaganda in the digital age, how it affects our politics, how it affects our neurology, how mainstream and alternative media play a role, and how hard it is to combat lies and half-truths in this environment.
All that said, part of me wants to find evidence of the United States being a corporation… because I feel like I would be getting less threats from the other camp. Honestly, and maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t feel like if I had a page about how the U.S. actually was a corporation that I would get angry people yelling at me telling me it wasn’t… I think I would get the same exact commenters, but this time congratulating me and realizing how evil “bankers” are.
In sum, it looks like chicken, tastes like chicken, and I am pretty sure this is chicken, and thus part of me can’t believe I’m risking my life trying to tell people on the internet it is not fish… but on the plus side, I also learned something interesting about tribalism in the digital age and the futility of fact-checking when it comes to un-indoctrinating someone with commitment bias when they are committed to a world view that connects them to their tribe. Gonna put that sticker on my fridge.