His last chapter is a solution of sorts, clever on the one hand, but nothing new. He quotes the Bible. Many of them are about repeating rumors, don’t be a hater, knowledge is power, don’t lie, stuff like that. Then he gives an example of an experience with fact checking a conspiracy theorist.
I had a similar experience. It was a mild mannered, guitar playing guy who had some thoughts on astrology and whatever, but was mostly harmless. Then he heard that we might not have gone to the moon. I said that was dumb, which was a really bad place to start, and we never recovered. He’s now a full blown, “there are no facts”, theorist.
His response to my facts was that “he hadn’t heard that”, but he wouldn’t follow them, instead he would return to the celebrity whose kid had autism or whatever and ask me why I thought I should question that person. At first, he would say things like, “I just thought it was interesting”, or, “I just liked an article, it doesn’t mean I believe it.” But, it didn’t take long before he believed dangerous things, like school shootings were faked, and he defended the people who were presenting their lies about them. He distanced himself from Alex Jones, but that’s where the amateur YouTubers get their playbook.
He had lost his trust in facts. Facts came from authorities, and the mainstream authorities could no longer be trusted, so he had adopted this new set of people with 10,000 followers on YouTube. In the middle of one argument, he literally said, “but this is all over the internet, we should listen to it.” As Grace Slick said, “When logic and proportion Have fallen sloppy dead And the White Knight is talking backwards… And the Red Queen’s off with her head”
Shane, the author, is not wrong, the book is a primer. If you use it to gain understanding, it can be useful. If you read it, think you know how to diagnose someone, and tell them how they are wrong and sick and brainwashed, then you missed the point.
I don’t have an alternative, but I know there are better people working on it. It gets very difficult when reason is employed in an unreasonable conclusion. There can be a lot of facts and logic with just a small flaw that tips the scales to something useless. Listen to a “progressive” sermon and you’ll hear a bunch of great stuff, then at the end, “we need more jesus.”
There are great reasons to distrust our government, the news, teachers, your boss, your mother, whatever. My parents taught me to think for myself, then hung on for a few years while I did that and almost killed myself. Luckily, I didn’t, and found Plato and Nietzsche, and worked my way to a semi-moral existence. Not everyone has the privileges I have so they can do that.