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tv   Anna Merlan Republic of Lies  CSPAN  August 16, 2019 11:06pm-11:51pm EDT

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>> hello everyone and welcome to this session of the san antonio book festival of the foundation thanks to the central library for hosting us on this amazing day we encourage all of you who following us on social media so at the end of the session there will be a book signing at the barnes & noble tent
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talk to the author and get it signed into the end of this exchange you can ask at the end of the program. also c-span book tv is presenting this as well. the book is republic of lies. this book has come out at the right time and i wonder what's behind that. but talk about conspiracy theories to dismiss them as a joke or make fun of them or hold them up to ridicule. it is a reasonable response to
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events that are complex and people try to make sense of the world that we live in. so why do we have conspiracy theories are we in that golden age and how do they impact the real world that we live in of policies that impact our lives? i'll introduce our author. [applause] so that me respond are we in a golden age of conspiracy theories? >> i write we have golden age of conspiracies with social unrest so we have monetization people are making money off of them and we have those in the white house using those to
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consolidate power and to identify a common enemy. so we see this moment when they can get you elected and guide the discourse for people in and out of power. >> what are those conspiracy theories today still there are people that will tell you barack obama was born in kenya. of the oldest and stable the idea that the government hides what they know about alien technology, visitation we could talk about that the whole time if we don't want to get depressed. [laughter] that the government tries to take your guidance.
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that we are not told the whole truth about the jfk assassination has persisted and has even gotten stronger over the decades. what you believe is dependent on your social position and political beliefs, background and level of privilege and i believe what we believe. >> but theories do impact daily lives. those who believe vaccinations are plot to weaken the population there is a connection with autism which is totally not true i don't when to give that currency but there is no connection between vaccination and autism yet that persist but yet we see a public health crisis and pockets of the united states simply because of the li lie. >> we are seeing several measles outbreaks including upstate new york that has led to a temporary quarantine of nonvaccinated minors parents
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are being asked to keep them at home for 30 days which is now spend that unvaccinated people are locked in their houses as a takeover. there is a long history that they are dangerous to public health that i don't think others are andrew wakefield who is the original author saying the mmr vaccine came from england shortly after he lost his medical license and made a fortune here. >> so as i conspiracy people look for the mastermind who is the puppetmaster of the conspiracy versus something that is organically existing with the groupthink of the
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population. so when we talk about the anti- vax or conspiracy theory so the first person to promote this was andrew wakefield but since then people believe vaccines cause autism or that they contain pesticides has spread on the right and the left as it makes it so durable and they don't necessarily trust the fda others don't trust the federal government that they work in an interesting way and also tie into concerns for our children
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because what could be more important? especially in the eighties when we saw a big rise of non- vaccination it was because people tried to make the best choice that they could for their kids and that's what they came up with and that's a hard thing to get away from for their kids and that's what they came up with and that's a hard thing to get away from the arise there is puppetmaster and conspiring do they say these things intentionally? mia conspiracy theorist to think that? >> what i find that we talk about the truth community or the research community but what i find everybody believes the opponents are paid they don't just organically believe
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but they are paid off i have been told i am in the cia which i don't think they would have me honestly. [laughter] i have been told i work for big pharma. i have been told because of that i don't know what i'm talking about and i'm getting a script. that if you don't believe what i believe then somebody is telling you what to say that's what we hear on every side. >> do we need conspiracy theories as a society? is that something every society will generate these to explain these complex systems that we have in my monumental things happen and we cannot figure out why that is? >> not every society. we see those tend to thrive in more repressed places where people don't feel they have
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access to power or it's opaque and that's one of the reasons why we see so many in the united states to have a profound frustration with the way things are set up with the idea of social mobility isn't true we have a health care system it's hard to understand the financial system that doesn't work for most of us. but it is a natural outgrowth of the experience for a lot of people. >> that what they try to create a sense of the world and they will connect the dots that don't normally come together. if they really wanted and why would they use the chem
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trails? >> the preferred way is the epa with plastics and water bottles they turn everybody gave. one - - gay. [laughter] but yes. we are signing these motivations to events that happen. >> social psychologist will tell you the reason we believe in conspiracy theories is psychological but historians will say for historical reasons one reason we believe is our brains are naturally programmed to make and see patterns and think big events have big causes by the jfk assassination just makes people crazy the idea that one person could change the course of history and kill the
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president doesn't make sense to us. to create a narrative even when there isn't one. >> but we also have confirmation bias if you look - - if you're a hammer you only see nails then you look at the landscape and only things that will confirm that. >> and we know that because it has to do with social and political backgrounds. that ties into confirmation bias so you will see evidence in the world and we all do that. >> of people were trained or better educated about their own bias is that a way to help them deal and recognize the conspiracy theory to pop up?
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>> i am very pessimistic about this. i think we always have conspiracy theories you can identify sources of information that is it's more of a symptom than a disease if we had a more equitable society it would not get rid of them but make them are a fringe part of society versus what it is right now so that issue today.that there are conspiracy theories but now they have moved from the fringe not just mainstream but into the oval office. >> they sure have so the
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president will say something wind turbines cause cancer. >> that man has a thing about wind left and it is odd. >> there is a book i have been rebecca mann - - recommending the way intellectual and political leaders use conspiracy theories to consolidate power to create cohesion so what we see is a very stupid version a hand fisted job here is the enemy please dislike this person or this group of people they are the cause of your problems
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which is very effective for a lot of politician and proven effective among his base. but because of the awkward rollout of his ideas he's not getting as far as he would like to. >> there is a way to recognize and people have done that? >> definitely. i think one thing that we see a lot of there are two sides politically which is the russia gate conspiracy theory that donald trump is an agent of russia and everybody in his cabinet that the deep state employed by the administration and supporters that they are
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working against him within the government those are both vast oversimplification but we see them trying to weaponize against each other. >> republic of lies is the book so you talk about republic of lies is about powers or how we govern or people who have the power buying into the lies, they are liars. >> all of the above. [laughter] we see a time when people in politics identify the way to weaponize conspiracy theories i wrote about that in the book there's even small examples
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like a politician who blames the deep state he got in trouble because he was using his hunting license not in season one of the trumpet visors has said the deep state poison him with polonium which is extremely poisonous it's amazing he's still kicking around most people die. [laughter] they don't show up on tv talking about their impending indictments. [laughter] >> it's a way to consolidate power and exercise power to rally a base to delegitimize those spin head is where the enemy of the people come in with a generalist and the
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reason why the trumpet administration wants to create because if this is the enemy of the people then you don't have to listen to what they have to say it doesn't create doubt about him but who is trustworthy and what we can trust in the world. so to claim fake news for everything is a way to inoculate yourself against criticism particularly coming from a legitimate venue from reporters that have the facts or reality then to dismiss that all is fake news that is conspiracy theory two.zero like an upgrade to isolate yourself it allows people to
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give the name to media that they don't know how to articulate that doesn't mean every source is equally good and that we don't make mistakes but to consolidate this idea that everybody lies to you and in the end to figure out is not even a good use of your time. those that who buy into the conspiracy theories are more likely to be prone to inaction with those specific areas you want to reduce your carbon footprint if you think the elections are rigged you're less likely to vote so they make ordinary people feel like there's nothing i can do or no one to trust and it's not true
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so i should not bother and that is very effective for those who want to remain in power. >> everybody heard the pizza gate theory but to hear about those things like climate change is a hoax or this. >> that makes you feel powerless so that those are for losers? >> those who are two professors from florida who have written the best books about what we know who believes in what conspiracy theories. so the fact you are socially
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disadvantaged you're more likely to believe in a conspiracy theory. so those among black americans are very specific and reasonable because they are tied into historical outrages committed against black americans like the word losers but the idea is that if you are for someone they have not worked very well if you have a sense of pessimism about your own future and your family's future very much were likely to engage in conspiracy thinking. >> saying they are for losers we don't put that spin but to talk about the people at the bottom end of the spectrum where there is a lot of
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theories with communities of color so why are they connected to ferguson and why are they dying clicks is there a secret society who ride around in white clothing it sounds crazy but it is true. every conspiracy theory in america is extremely based on historical events there have been six deaths of ferguson people felt there was something behind them. another superstrong that because of the tuskegee experiment that people were
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not told for decades in their children were not told syphilis could be treated after they figured out these veterans were allowed to continue to have syphilis to track the course of the disease. it is a form of trauma that has aftereffects for decades. >> also a population with generation after generation they had to depend on the stories over the kitchen table to figure out what's happening in my worl world. >> it is a survival mechanism. so moving forward on conspiracy theories and then
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to go through the internal algorithm to digest this. if this is legitimate or not or reject out of hand and use that as the pejorative that's not worthy of my consideration. >> i can understand what they have for people what is this doing for you and the number one question people ask me my dad watches a lot of fox news and thinks there will be a death panel that comes to my house to take grandma and so you have to ask if they turn to the esoteric explanations
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so talk about the republic the antiauthoritarian and how we break away so have that vulnerability baked into the dna. >> absolutely to have such a strong distrust of power and question that so persistently in the sixties and seventies the federal government the fbi and cia and military were engaged in human rights abuses the fbi tried to destroy the civil rights movement the military was engaged in radiation testing on wards of the state. these are outrageous things we would not believe to be true but they were it isn't just to
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trust the government to assume they're doing their best because often they are not. >> so some solution is to have that police mechanism what is real and not real what is the theory to be tossed aside and who will make that call is the other way to deal with that. >> i always thought writing and talking about conspiracy theories to recognize the source and the pipeline whatever financial motivation to promote a conspiracy theory like a promoter of all wild things and has a wildly successful line of vitamins so
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to tell you the government is literally poising you to sell vitamins so we can say this is the motivation somebody may have and to go from there but in an overtime is most profitably spent i just don't know how far we will go with that. >> that we see this impact voting patterns so it's not a phenomenon some of this will dissipate on its own they have to be addressed more directly it depends on the conspiracy theory chem trails not know they hurt us or do anything i find them frustrating but they have a different effect than
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anti- vaccine theories. >> please wait for the microphone for glazier hand. - - raise your hand. talk about curtailing free-speech we need to talk about these more often and need more transparency as people are critical of the media that would be to open the doors to let people see exactly what we are doing how we come up with the stories and decisions so we try to appeal to the majority of americans to help them
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understand the news they are receiving is real by outside forces is that a possibility? >> some people never believe that that to show your work would be work. >> in terms of the new york times are very interested in your take on the stars of what came out back talking about aliens that what came out in december? >> in december 2017 there was
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a story revealing a secret department of defense program doing research on alien technologies through a contractor called bigelow aerospace who had a facility in nevada they claim to have alien ally one - - aloe ways that are not of this earth they are doing studies and test on that they believe impact human beings in ways previously unexplained. one of the reasons why that came to light because the ufo research organization has a partnership i would say i am extremely skeptical of the claims. i think the most interesting thing of the story to have a multimillion dollar contract that nobody knew about.
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it was questionable government spending more than anything. i have read their documents and they are claiming to do work the disability travel i would like to know what is up with that if they have any more basis for that also tom delong specifically believed their hostile alien forces the government is protecting us from i've been trying to interview him for years i would love to know where he got that but i don't think the idea there is technology the government knows about is crazy i think there's plenty of evidence military pilots have seen stuff that is unexplained. >> earth files.com she has
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done some work on that also grant you ran out of canada investigated a lot of this there are two generations of ufo whistleblowers talking about unidentified technologies and in the second generation are people who are making claims that they have been directly involved in there is a guy who is going to bars with barack obama. [laughter] >> it gets really blended. >> with the ufo subculture a lot has been infiltrated by the government it is a fascinating area but i appreciate the question. >> what role do you think
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facebook and the tech companies and social media platforms have to limit the spread of these conspiracy theories? >> no question they have spread misinformation even pinterest making allowing natural health claims about false cures for cancer had been engaged to spread these false ideas because everything on the platform is flattened and looks the same but the idea now that facebook will regulate speech makes me nervous because i don't trust them so i am watching the rollout of facebook and youtube to flag information they are doing a terrible job. i don't know what will happen
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ultimately they created a system so big and hard to control they will have trouble making it solely a pipeline for clean water and not sewage and not everybody's definition of information versus misinformation is the same as i think we will have this argument for years. >> i'm not clear are you saying conspiracy theories suppress the vote for that they don't? >> people who believe in conspiracy theories about the government and they think it is rigged are less likely to vote or engage in democracy they don't feel there's a point because there was a resignation about it. >> i have a question about the anti- baxter's - - vaccination
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but i get those that are anti- teeten they want to spread out that they are not the staunch teeten but there is suspicion and facebook tries to remove that information it makes it look even more autonomous that sneaky is going on with the government. we've had the point we have not accepted patients that don't take vaccines into the practice but how do you speak to those but they have suspicions? >> it's important to point out that there's a bunch of doctors that don't want to be promoted as teeten but an alternative schedule like delayed or don't vaccinate for
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measles until well after they would need it until not five years old which is not a good idea. i was just talking to my doctor about this but if you build trust in the medical system with your doctor you are less likely to listen to these internet sources but as a result there are a bunch of good sites where we have so many vaccinations early in life. but what i have heard the delayed schedule seems like a good idea but in fact functionally it is no different than not vaccinating them at all but now a bunch of parents don't want to give their kids vitamin k shot that birth which prevents hemorrhaging but because it's a needle now it is subject to
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suspicion it is concerning. >> so just us talking about the problems of the teeten that there is no proof to anything that they believe that helps the cause even if we hold them in contempt. >> yes pickle i just did a story of a anti- vaccine charity they said i really wish you wouldn't do this because every time you write about this it makes it seems like there is a debate that there isn't. >> first of all are you available for family reunions? [laughter] but actually started to answer the question how do you recommend without getting into pointless arguments with
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friends or family but you love them but they have these conspiracy theories? >> it depends what they are i have trouble theoretically because them on tv members of my family that there is a point i can discuss it in a point i have to stop. but try to identify the vulnerability in their life that makes them susceptible and address that whether it's a sense of insecurity if they are super isolated and wet watching questionable news with older people a lot of it is down to isolation and not getting enough sources of information so what i think is great to introduce more news into your family members ecosystem with more social
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interaction for less time for sean hannity to scream into their brains. >> can we identify markers for people that if you blame things on george soros that should automatically tell you that's not true. >> there are so many that are rooted in anti- semitism and george soros is one of them. it's amazing how far that it has spread and it's hard. actually there is an amazing buzz feed story that shows two political consultants used him as the bogeyman with the phylicia - - political initiative in hungary and the effect is to make him into our worldwide global bogeyman so we do know how that one spread which is helpful. >> can we tell people this is
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not true or who he is? >> you can tell them that and the studies we have seen if somebody is a recently relative convert they are more receptive the summary has been talking about george soros for years shaking that belief will be pretty low. >> first of all thank you and historically thinking of conspiracies i think of witchcraft persecu over centuries and i know a lot of major persecutions took part outside of the city centers historically. now we have such a large country do you find the city demographics are as isolated
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with their conspiracy theories that are popping up our reforming outside of the metropolitan city areas? like the coastal elites? >> it's much more about your access to education and relative privilege they had where you live is more about demographics which is interesting the conspiracy theory that you are promoted where you live is different than when i go to other places but in general about half of americans believe in conspiracy theories. it isn't urban versus rural. that's a good question. >> a couple years ago people were making fun of chem trails so are some of these global?
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are they as pervasive in other countries a lot are global more and repressive countries and regimes including the middle east directed at israel promoting israel as a source of sinister doings in 2010 the egyptian official said the israeli intelligence agency was directing shark attacks. [laughter] but it is a global phenomenon that people feel they don't have a truly representative system of government and that is one thing we know. >> you think shows like the
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x-files are good or bad? >> it is great. obviously. [laughter] the x-files specifically came about at a time with this trust was picking up again pop culture is a direct result that they don't create it it comes out of it but yes as a historical document that is fascinating. >> is this your first book was the process overwhelming? >> it is my first book i would say if i had done everything in the book back to back i would have gone crazy but i had breaks in between. but it was a very intense couple of years. >> we have to wrap it up but
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first the last question trying to protect the election system what do we know about conspiracy theories? >> we have to vote and not believe in the idea the system is already rigged even though it might be a little bit we have to try to get out there and participate in believe that participation matters people are trying to tell us that they can't be trusted and the truth is out there. republic of lies. and is the author and will be signing books at the book tent this is the san antonio book festival. thank you for coming. [applause]
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>> i'm reading a book from an english author called appeasement.

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