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阴谋论的教训





我们翻译这篇文章的理由


有关阴谋论的一切。

——糖消


👇


阴谋论的教训


作者: Zaria Gorvett

译者:刘   蕊

校对:叶永健

策划:宋一 & 糖消


What we can learn from conspiracy theories

阴谋论的教训


From political upheavals to anxieties about sex, technology and women, it turns outconspiracy theories can tell us a lot about what’s going on in our societies –and how to fix them.

从政治动荡到对性、技术和女性的焦虑,阴谋论可以告诉我们社会哪里出问题了,以及该如何解决这些问题。


In 331 BC, something was wrong with Rome. Across the city, swathes of eminent men were succumbing to sickness, and practically all of them were dying. The losses were as baffling as they were alarming.

公元前331年,罗马发生了一件奇怪的事情。城里大批大批的优秀男子都病倒了,甚至几乎所有病人都要死了。这对罗马来说是种巨大的损失,整件事令人既震惊又疑惑。


Then one day, a slave approached a curule aedile – a kind of magistrate – and hinted that she might know why. The girl led a team of investigators to various houses, where she claimed they would find an alliance of upper-class women secretly preparing poisons. They did.

直到某天,一名奴隶找到当地的治安官,表示她或许知道背后的原因。这位女孩带着一组调查人员挨家挨户地搜查,声称要找到一个由上流阶级女性组成的组织,这个组织在秘密地制备毒药。最后,他们确实找到了这个组织。


The accused were dragged to the central square, and asked to prove their innocence. Since they claimed their concoctions were medicinal, would they drink them?

组织成员被拽到了中央广场,要求当众证明自己的清白。既然他们说是在熬药,那他们愿意自己喝么?


Alas, two of the suspects obliged – and promptly dropped dead. Mass arrests followed, and a further 170 women were found to be involved. The incident was a huge scandal. In the aftermath, the people of Rome elected a dedicated official to perform a ritual banishment of evil, a tactic which had previously only been used as a last resort after extreme civil unrest.

最终,其中两名嫌疑犯认罪了,当场处死了。随后,罗马展开了大规模逮捕行动,并发现另有170名妇女参与其中。此次事件是一场大型丑闻。事后,罗马人民选出了一名专职官员执行驱邪仪式。在此之前,驱邪仪式一直是面对大规模暴乱无计可施才会采取的战术。


Or, at least, this is the version of events that was dutifully recorded by the respected historian Livy, who was born a few hundred years later. But he wasn’t convinced that the women were really responsible, and neither are modern-day experts. Instead, Livy pointed to a far more rational explanation: an epidemic.

至少,根据几百年后的历史学家李维的描述,故事确实是这样记载的。这位备受尊敬的历史学家忠实地记录下了整个过程。但是,无论是李维还是现代历史学家们,都不认为那些女性有罪。相反,李维提出了一种更为理智的解释:流行病。


At the time, the city was in the grip of an unknown plague – a common cause of death in the classical world. Mass poisonings, on the other hand, were unheard of. The case discussed by Livy was the first of its kind, and the whole affair had struck Roman citizens as distinctly odd.

当时,整座城市正遭受一场未知的瘟疫,造成大量死亡。传染病在古代是常见的致死原因,反倒是大规模下毒鲜少听闻,李维的这个事例是第一例,整件事让罗马市民感到非常奇怪,且深受打击。


In fact, the women probably really were preparing medicines – and the rest of the story was heavily embellished or entirely made up. The infamous poisonings of 331 BC are thought to be a conspiracy theory, to explain deaths that had an obvious cause all along.

事实上,那些女性可能真的是在制备药剂,整个故事其他的部分要么被添油加醋过,要么就是完全捏造的。这场公元前331年发生的臭名昭著的下毒事件被认为是一场阴谋论,用来解释当时的死亡现象,尽管造成死亡的真正原因再明显不过了。


Amid the current pandemic, this scenario is oddly familiar. Since the beginning of April, at least 77 phone masts and 40 engineers have been attacked in the UK, after some people bought into the erroneous idea that Covid-19 is somehow being spread by powerful forces in the global telecommunications industry. Now the rumour has spread to the US, where there are fears it may lead to further violence. Yet again, reason is being cast aside, in favour of a niche explanation that involves a convoluted secret plot. 

在近期的疫情期间,出现的场景相似得诡异。自四月初以来,英国至少有77座电话塔和40名工程师遭到了破坏和攻击,原因是人们错误地相信新冠肺炎是通过强大的全球电信行业进行传播的。现在,这一谣言已经传至美国,有人担心可能会导致暴力升级。而这一次,理性再次被抛在一边,取而代之的是一个涉及复杂阴谋秘密的封闭的解释。


The question is, why did these alternative stories catch on?

问题是,这些阴谋故事为什么会如此盛行呢?

 

From alien lizard rulers to shark attacks instigated by spies and elaborate multi-billion-dollar hoaxes, the menagerie of conspiracy theories in existence is so bizarre, the reasons some take off – and others vanish without a trace – may seem almost random. There’s even a conspiracy theory about how conspiracy theories were invented (in keeping with the standard conspiracy formula, the CIA were allegedly involved).

从外星蜥蜴统治者到间谍煽动的鲨鱼袭击,再到精心策划的数十亿美元骗局,无数的阴谋论千奇百怪,有的大受欢迎,有的昙花一现,其背后的原因几乎都是随机的。就连“阴谋论是如何出现的”这个话题背后都有阴谋论,并且根据老规矩,CIA依旧脱不了干系。


But there are patterns hidden in their strangeness. The latest thinking suggests that conspiracy theories are filtered by a kind of natural selection, which allows those that fit certain requirements to spread rapidly through our societies – while others are confined to the darkest corners of the internet.

不过,这些千奇百怪的背后却隐藏着某些规律。最新的观点认为,阴谋论会受到某种自然选择,因此有的阴谋论能满足一定要求,在社会中迅速传播,有的则被困在互联网最阴暗的角落里。


What makes a conspiracy appealing to the masses? And is there anything they can teach us about the problems we face – and how to fix them?

阴谋论受到大众欢迎的秘诀是什么?我们从中能学到什么,从而更好地解决我们所面临的这些问题?


Convincing culprits

令人信服的罪魁祸首


First up – successful conspiracies always have the right villain. Throughout history, many widely accepted conspiracy theories have conveniently placed the blame for distressing incidents or trends on the population’s favourite baddies. 

首先,成功的阴谋论总是有恰到好处的反面人物。历史上许多广泛传播的阴谋论都将不安的事件和趋势一劳永逸地归咎于人人都赞同的坏人身上。


According to an analysis by Victoria Pagan, a classical historian at the University of Chicago, the success of the Roman poisonings conspiracy is likely to be partly down to the way it portrayed upper-class women and slaves, who powerful male elites found threatening.

芝加哥大学古典历史学家维多利亚·帕根分析指出,罗马的下毒阴谋论之所以如此成功,部分原因在于它对上流社会女性和奴隶的刻画,男性权势精英认为这些人是具有威胁性的。


Though the civilisation relied heavily on the exploitation of both these groups, men were constantly worried that their subordinates would turn on them. High-status women were generally viewed with suspicion, and often portrayed as secretive and dangerous. Slaves, on the other hand, had been known to murder their masters from time to time – and there was a long-standing paranoia that they sometimes acted as spies, and so couldn’t be trusted. 

尽管这个文明严重依赖于对这两个群体的剥削,但同时,男性也经常担心这些低等人会站起来反抗自己。地位高的女性常常被怀疑,被描绘成神秘而又危险的形象。奴隶则常常被视作会谋杀自己的主人,长久以来还被视作间谍,因此不值得信任。


In short, a conspiracy involving a gang of murderous women being betrayed by their slaves was ideal – it was always going to be more appealing than the truth.

总而言之,狠毒的女性被她们的奴隶出卖,这样的阴谋论再理想不过了,远比事实有趣得多。


Collective anxieties

集体焦虑


Meanwhile, in the modern world, it’s no accident that popular conspiracies tend to concern themes such as alien life, religious minorities, powerful elites, rival nations, mysterious technologies and the destruction of the environment. “Across the world, people generally believe in theories that are related to the cultural and historical events that have happened in particular places,” says Karen Douglas, a social psychologist at the University of Kent.

与此同时,现代社会中,关于外星生命、宗教少数派、权势精英、敌对国家、神秘技术和环境破坏的阴谋论通常更为流行,这并非偶然。肯特大学社会心理学家卡伦·道格拉斯表示:“放眼世界,人们通常愿意相信那些在特定地点发生、与文化和历史事件相关的理论。” 


Each society has its own anxieties and obsessions – and successful conspiracy theories generally tap into them. Take Romania, where many women decline to have their daughters vaccinated against HPV, the virus responsible for 99% of cervical cancers.

每个社会都有自己焦虑和迷恋的点,成功的阴谋论通常会巧妙地抓住这些点。以罗马尼亚为例,许多罗马尼亚女性拒绝让自己的女儿接种HPV疫苗,而99%的宫颈癌都是由HPV病毒引起的。


In 2008 – the first year the vaccine was offered – just 2.5% of eligible Romanian women had it. The rates were so low, the school-based vaccination programme was eventually abandoned altogether. This is particularly surprising, when you consider that elsewhere in Europe, the HPV jab is extremely popular, with uptake at around 80% or higher, and that the nation has a long track record of having the highest fatality rates from cervical cancer on the continent.

2008年是罗马尼亚提供HPV疫苗接种的第一年,当时只有2.5%符合条件的罗马尼亚女性接种了该疫苗。接种率如此之低,使得基于学校的疫苗接种项目最终被完全搁置。考虑到欧洲其他国家HPV疫苗接种极为流行,比例高达80%以上,再考虑到罗马尼亚长期以来一直是欧洲大陆宫颈癌死亡率最高的国家,该国如此低的疫苗接种率着实令人惊讶。


There are several reasons for Romanian mothers’ suspicion of the vaccine, but research has shown that one is the abundance of conspiracy theories about the true motivations for providing it, including the idea that it’s an attempt to control the world’s population by making women infertile and that it’s a medical experiment by the pharmaceutical industry – though there is no evidence for either.

罗马尼亚的母亲们之所以会质疑HPV疫苗,其背后的的原因不少。但研究指出,其中一个原因便是该国提供疫苗背后真正的动机存在大量的阴谋论。有的认为疫苗会导致女性不孕不育,借此控制世界人口;有的则认为这是医药行业的一场医学实验。这两种说法均未得到证实。


These, in turn, may have been fed by the country’s history of meddling with women’s fertility, along with a general lack of trust in the healthcare system; it’s still common for patients to bribe medical staff for even basic care, and many of the women in the study reported suspicion about why the vaccination programme was free of charge. 

反过来想想,这或许和罗马尼亚的历史有关。该国过去常常干预女性生育问题,国民对医疗体系也普遍缺乏信任,病患甚至为获得基本护理不得不贿赂医护人员,这种现象至今十分常见。参与研究的不少女性都表示质疑,为什么疫苗项目是免费的。


In some cases, it’s thought that concerns like these remain dormant in our minds, until certain events – such as political change – activate them. This can lead them to fuel our collective belief in conspiracy theories.

在一般情况下,我们脑海中的这些担忧在某些情况下是处于休眠状态的,直到特定事件发生,例如政治变动,然后它们被激活,促使整个集体更加相信阴谋论。


Anti-Semitic theories – such as the idea that Jews are powerful and engaged in secret evil plots – have historically emerged during times of societal stress, such as periods of unemployment – possibly because they allow people to consolidate blame for what can be the result of a complex set of societal and economic circumstances instead on a single scape-goat. Research has shown that people who have a social identity centred around victimhood are more susceptible to conspiracy theories that villainise Jews, and this might also be true at a societal level. 

反犹太理论——即认为犹太人无比强大并从事着不可告人的邪恶事情——多出现在历史上社会压力较大的时期,例如失业率较高的时候,很可能是因为这么做能让人们把复杂的社会和经济环境造成的后果冠冕堂皇地归咎给某个替罪羊。研究表明,那些拥有受害者社会身份的人更容易受到阴谋论的影响,相信犹太人是邪恶的。从社会层面来看,这一点或许也是正确的。


Tribalism

部落性


This fits with another common ingredient in popular conspiracies – they make us feel good about our own social group, often while putting down those we see as our rivals. “That can be your national group, or your gender group or whatever,” says Douglas. “There’s some evidence that people are attracted to conspiracy theories that satisfy these prejudiced attitudes.”

这恰好也与流行阴谋论的另一常见特点相吻合——阴谋论让我们对自己的社会群体感觉良好,同时大家一起贬低共同的对手。“这个社会群体可以是国家群体、性别群体或者其它群体。”道格拉斯说道,“证据表明,人们更愿意相信那些满足自身偏见的阴谋论。”


By emphasising the distinctions between “ingroups” and “outgroups”, conspiracy theories may also lead to stronger social bonds – and provide a sense of protection against those people find threatening. Accordingly, conspiracy theories are often widespread in groups that are involved in mutual conflict.

通过强调“内部群体”和“外部群体”之间的差异,阴谋论也会加强社会联系,给人们带来保护感,共同抵御威胁。因此,阴谋论在相互冲突的群体中往往很普遍。

 

Uncertainty

不确定性


“There is some research to suggest people turn to conspiracy theories more when they’re confronted with crisis situations,” says Douglas.

“有研究表明,当人们面临危机的时候,他们更倾向于相信阴谋论。”道格拉斯指出。


The idea that 5G and other earlier mobile phone networks are somehow bad for our health has been around for years – ever since the technology entered widespread use around 30 years ago. To begin with, it was falsely accused of being responsible for causing autism, infertility and cancer, among other things – but generally confined to the most hardcore conspiracy theorists.

自移动技术得到广泛使用至今已有三十多年,这些年里,关于5G以及其他通信网络在某种程度上对我们健康有害的观点一直层出不穷。在一开始,人们就误以为使用通信网络会导致自闭症、不孕不育以及癌症等各类问题,当然,只有最铁杆的阴谋论者才相信这些说法。


The emergence of a mysterious new coronavirus in December 2019 set the stage for a new slant on this enduring idea. On the 22 January – when the virus still had infected just 314 people, leading to six fatalities, an article was published that changed everything. It was an interview with obscure family doctor in a Belgian newspaper, and titled “5G is life-threatening, and no one knows it”. Crucially, it linked the dangers of 5G to the new coronavirus even though there is no evidence to support the claim. And that was it.

2019年12月,神秘新冠病毒的出现,为这场经久不衰的阴谋论注入了新的偏见。截止至2020年1月22日,该病毒仅感染了314人,6人死亡,但是当天发表的一篇文章却改变了一切。这是比利时某家报纸对一位不知名的家庭医生的采访,文章标题为“不为人知的秘密——5G正威胁着我们的生命”。重要的是,这篇文章将5G的危害性与新冠病毒联系了起来,虽然没有任何证据支持这一说法。


“Conspiracy theories tend to emerge quite quickly when something important happens,“ says Douglas. “They come out of the blue when there’s some kind of crisis or conflict that people really want to explain and want to have answers for.” She points out that the recent bushfires in Australia also led to a number of trendy conspiracies.

“如果有重要事情发生,阴谋论就会以相当快的速度出现。”道格拉斯说道,“如果出现了某种危机或冲突,而人们又急需为此找到解释或答案,那么阴谋论就会突然现身。”她表示,最近澳大利亚的森林大火也导致了一些阴谋论的流行。

 

The 5G theory has been called a “conspiracy cocktail”, since it involves several of humanity’s greatest fears, shaken together in one deliciously appetising mixture. As well as the perennial fear of new or invisible technology, which seems to pervade many popular conspiracy theories, it also taps into an undercurrent of anxiety about the emergence of China as a global superpower.

5G理论又被称为是“阴谋鸡尾酒”,因为它掺杂着不少人类最大的恐惧,摇一摇,就调成了一杯美味可口的酒。5G阴谋论里不仅有人类长期以来对新兴或未知技术的恐惧——这种恐惧也出现在许多其他的流行阴谋论中,还包括对中国崛起成为全球超级大国的潜在焦虑。


Another reason the 5G conspiracy might be more appealing than the truth is that it’s a story. Fairy tales, legends, anecdotes and gossip are how our brains make sense of the world – they go back tens of thousands of years, and they’re arguably what makes us human. In times of crisis, it’s possible that we turn to conspiracies because we find them reassuring.

5G阴谋论远比真相有趣的另一个原因在于它是一个故事。童话、传说、奇闻轶事和八卦是我们大脑几万年来理解这个世界的方式,甚至可以说是我们人类的本质。危机时刻我们更愿意求助于阴谋论,阴谋论能够让我们感到心安。


Conspiracy theories have all the elements of a good story – terrifying villains, creative plots, and moral lessons. Because of this, a well-constructed conspiracy can have a powerful hold on the public imagination, in a way that a narrative about a “virus emerged entirely unpredictably and killed thousands for no reason” is unlikely to be able to rival.

阴谋论具备好故事的所有要素——令人害怕的恶人、新颖的情节和道德说教。正因如此,一场精心策划的阴谋论强有力地控制着公众的想象力,相较之下,“病毒毫无预测地出现,毫无理由地杀死了数千人”的说法则不太可能与之匹敌。


Some psychologists have compared conspiracy theories to religious beliefs, in the way that they help us to feel more in control, by taking unpredictable or random events and making them seem somehow predestined or shaped by human hands.

有的心理学家将阴谋论与宗教信仰相比较,把不可预测的或随机的事件处理成冥冥之中命中注定或者是人为干预,从而让我们更有掌控感。


Others have gone so far as to suggest that this is why they stick: in their content, storylines and purposes, they come uncannily close to the beliefs perpetuated by many organised religions. Some people believe in conspiracy theories to such an extent that they will even put their lives on the line, in their attempts to prove themselves right.

其他人甚至认为这就是阴谋论能够经久不衰的原因:无论是内容上,故事情节上,还是目的上,阴谋论都与许多宗教组织流传下来的信仰惊人地相似。有的人对阴谋论坚信不疑,甚至愿意冒着生命危险证明自己是对的。


Knowledge gaps 

信息差

     

Similarly, leading conspiracy theories often address some kind of ambiguity or mystery, from unexplained plane crashes to sudden celebrity deaths.

同样,那些流行的阴谋论也常常涉及一些模棱两可的或神秘的事或物,从不明不白的飞机失事到名人的突然死亡。


Where the authorities either can’t or won’t provide more information, these knowledge gaps combine with a general mistrust – driving the public straight into the arms of those who claim they have the answers. This is compounded by the fact that science, government inquiries and other legitimate forms of information-gathering can be painfully slow, in the meantime leaving a temporary void in which other sources can become established.

在当局不能或不愿提供更多信息的情况下,这些信息差加上普遍的不信任,直接将公众推向那些声称自己知道答案的人的怀抱当中。与此同时,科学、政府调查和其他合法形式的信息收集过程可能极其缓慢,留下了临时的空白区域,其他信息来源因此有机可乘。


After the disgraced scientist Andrew Wakefield falsely claimed that the MMR vaccine can lead to autism in the 1990s, it took decades of research to establish beyond reasonable doubt that this had absolutely no scientific basis – in which time, the conspiracy had time to do serious damage.  

上世纪90年代,科学家安德鲁·维克菲尔德错误地声称MMR疫苗会导致自闭症,他也因此名声扫地。尽管合理的质疑声此起彼伏,人们最终还是通过数十年的研究证明这一说法没有任何依据。也正是在这段时间里,阴谋论乘虚而入,为非作歹。


Eventually, conspiracy theories can become so popular that they enter a positive feedback loop, in which the more they’re discussed, the more legitimate they seem.

阴谋论最终会变得越来越流行,甚至进入一种积极的反馈循环,即越多的人讨论,他们看起来就越合理。


For example, a recent analysis of Tweets that mention 5G and Covid-19 found that just 34.8% included a suggestion that the two are linked, while the majority either denounced the theory or didn’t express an opinion. Unfortunately, whether the users were making fun of the idea or explaining why it’s false, they were still raising the profile of the idea.

例如,最近一项针对提到5G和新冠肺炎的推文分析发现,仅有34.8%的推文认为两者有关联,大多数推文要么谴责这一说法,要么保持沉默。但不幸的是,无论用户是在开玩笑,还是在辟谣,他们都在让这个观点为更多人所知。


Indeed, the advent of social media and the rise of new technologies have been big moments in the history of conspiracy theories. “Of course you will find more geographically localised conspiracies in certain countries that other people don’t even know about,” says Douglas. “But it is true that the way that we communicate with people now and the way we consume information is much more global than it was before, so some conspiracy theories are just very, very well-known across the world.”

的确,社交媒体的出现和新技术的崛起是阴谋论历史上的重要时刻。“当然,在某些国家,你会发现阴谋论存在地域局限性,其他国家的人对这些阴谋论甚至一无所知。”道格拉斯说道,“但是我们现在交流的方式和获取信息的方式的确比以前更加全球化,因此有的阴谋论在全球范围内都相当有名。”


Some conspiracy theories, such as those that involve exclusive groups of people secretly running the world, are now ubiquitous, she observes.

她还发现,有的阴谋论——像是某些特定群体暗中操控整个世界——就像是无处不在。


Ulterior motives 

别有用心


As our societies are changing, so are conspiracies – and Russell Muirhead, a political scientist at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, is concerned about the direction they’re taking.

随着社会的不断变化,阴谋论也在不断发展。来自新罕布什尔州达特茅斯学院的政治科学家拉塞尔·缪尔黑德对于阴谋论的发展方向十分感兴趣。


“Classically, conspiracy theories are propagated by people on the margins – they’re almost a weapon of the powerless, for holding the powerful to account,” he says. “But right now the new stuff is coming directly from the powerful, which is really quite extraordinary.”

“通常来说,阴谋论传播自边缘群体。阴谋论可以说是弱者的武器,用以对抗强者。”他指出,“但现在,新的阴谋论直接来自强者,这非同寻常。”


Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, numerous world leaders have announced their public support for related conspiracy theories, which often align remarkably well with their own agendas. For example, US President Donald Trump recently suggested he has seen evidence the coronavirus originated in a Chinese lab while his own intelligence agencies have said there is no evidence for this. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has also claimed it’s the other way around – the pandemic was caused by a bioweapon that was unleashed on China (but again there is no evidence for this).

自新冠肺炎大流行病开始以来,不少世界领导人纷纷公开宣布支持那些与自己的政治立场非常一致的阴谋论。例如,美国总统唐纳德·特朗普近日表示,他有证据证明新冠病毒源于中国实验室,然而他自己的情报部门则指出这一说法并无依据。委内瑞拉总统的说法则恰好相反——此次疫情是由针对中国释放的生物武器造成的(同样无依据)。


We are, Muirhead suggests, being manipulated by our own weapons. “There’s this effort by politicians to erase facts and evidence and remake the world into something more conducive to their goals.”

缪尔黑德认为,我们正在被自己的武器所操控。“政客们努力抹去事实和证据,改造世界,让其更有利于实现他们的目标。”


The whole scenario is also being exacerbated by the fact that many countries, such as the United States, are experiencing record levels of political polarisation at the moment. “That’s kind of motivated this new conspiratorial talk,” says Muirhead.

包括美国在内的许多国家现在正经历着前所未有的政治两极化,这也加剧了整个势态。“这在某种程度上激发了新的阴谋论。” 缪尔黑德说道。


He gives the example of “Pizzagate”, the entirely discredited and widely condemned conspiracy that linked former US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager to an alleged child abuse ring in the basement of a pizza restaurant. Despite being entirely made-up, it gained widespread support in 2016, culminating in a man firing an assault rifle inside the business. 

他举了“披萨门”的例子,这是个完全不可信并受到广泛谴责的阴谋论,将美国前总统候选人希拉里·克林顿的竞选经理与据称存在于某披萨店地下室的虐童团伙联系在了一起。尽管整个内容纯属虚构,却在2016年广为流传,甚至最终导致一名男子在店内拿着突击步枪开枪。


“This conspiracy doesn’t try to explain anything about the world,” says Muirhead. “What it does do is paint Hillary Clinton, not just as somebody who [in some people’s opinions] is, on balance, less desirable than her opponent, but as the sort of human being who is worse than a Nazi.”

“阴谋论并没有解释世界上的任何事情。” 缪尔黑德说道,“它所做的,不仅是把希拉里刻画成了一个总体来说不如竞选对手(在某些人看来)的人,更是把她刻画成了一个比纳粹还要糟糕的人。”


In the book “A Lot of People Are Saying”, which Muirhead co-authored with the political scientist Nancy Rosenblum from Harvard University, he introduces a second new trend in the conspiracy world: conspiracy without the theory.

在缪尔黑德和哈佛大学政治科学家南锡·罗森布鲁姆合著的《许多人都在说》一书中,缪尔黑德介绍了阴谋论世界里的第二个新趋势:阴谋论不存在论证。


“Not only were there no children being held captive at the pizza restaurant, there wasn’t even a basement,” says Muirhead. “What surprised us was the way this narrative was a complete fabrication, from beginning to end.”

缪尔黑德说:“这家披萨店不仅没有儿童被囚禁,甚至连地下室都没有。让我们感到惊讶的是,整个故事从头到尾都是捏造的。”


He explains that normally conspiracy theories would start with a kernel of truth – an event in the real world that’s easy to see and hard to understand, like an assassination or an attack – and build on it. But the latest generation of conspiracies skip this first step and seem to be successful regardless of how blindingly obvious it is that they’re false.

他解释道,通常来说,阴谋论会从某个真理核心开始——现实世界里容易看见却难以理解的事情,比如暗杀或袭击——然后在此基础上进一步发展。但是最新的阴谋论却跳过了第一步,无论错得多明显,这些阴谋论似乎都能大获成功。


“I’m worried that ordinary people trying to understand the world are going to become very disoriented as they try to navigate this kind of whiteout blizzard of conspiratorial fictions and lies,” says Muirhead.

“我很担心,普通人在尝试认识这个世界的时候,会不断地受到阴谋论和谎言的白色暴风干扰,他们很可能会因此迷失方向。”缪尔黑德说道。


So what should we do about it?

那么,我们该怎么办呢?


“We can’t just take on the conspiracy charges one by one by one,” says Muirhead. In his view, part of the problem is that people have gradually lost trust in experts, governments and powerful institutions. To fix the system, he suggests that we need to re-legitimise democracy – reform our governments and retrain our institutions. “In the United States that was done in the early decades of the 20th Century. It rehabilitated the government for new generations, and led to all sorts of progressive reforms, culminating in female suffrage.”

“我们不能阴谋论来一个再解决一个。”缪尔黑德指出。在他看来,部分问题在于人们渐渐对专家、政府和权威机构失去了信任。要想修复整个体系,我们需要重新用法律定义民主——政府改革,机构重新接受培训。“美国在二十世纪前几十年就做到了这一点,为了新一代,重整了政府,进而带来了各种各样的积极变革,最终让女性获得了选举权。”


Douglas, on the other hand, thinks more research is needed. “I think it is really, really important to understand where conspiracy theories come from and how they spread, because there’s strong evidence that believing them has significant consequences.”

同时,道格拉斯认为需有必要进行更多的研究。“我认为,了解阴谋论的来源和传播方式至关重要,因为证据有力地证明了,轻信阴谋论会带了重大的后果。”


In particular, she explains that there have been very few studies into why some have extraordinary longevity, such as the Flat Earth, Illuminati and Moon Landing conspiracies, while others die out relatively quickly – though this is something she is starting to look into.

她还解释道,特别是有的阴谋论经久不衰,但背后的原因却鲜有人研究,比如地平说、光明会和登月阴谋论;而其他的阴谋论相对很快就消失了。她正开始研究这个问题。


In fact, despite decades of research and an endlessly captivated public audience, there are still many unanswered questions in the field. “I think there’s a general consensus amongst researchers that we are in an age of conspiracy, but again, there’s no real evidence for that,” says Douglas.

事实上,尽管针对阴谋论的研究和公众对其无尽的迷恋已有数十年之久,这个领域仍有许多不解之谜。“我认为,研究人员普遍认同,我们生活在一个阴谋论时代,但是,强调一下,这种说法也是没有任何依据的。”道格拉斯表示。


Who knows, perhaps that could be the next conspiracy…

谁知道呢,或许这将成为下一个阴谋论。



  • 本文原载于 BBC Future

  • 原文链接:https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200522-what-we-can-learn-from-conspiracy-theories


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