Diplomatique.Expert recommends : “A booming market for charlatans” – El Pais

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Excerpts From : A booming market for charlatans – Moisés Naím.

Lately, the market for quackery – especially in politics – has reached new heights. The demand for (and supply of) simple solutions to complex problems has skyrocketed. Demand is being driven by one crisis after another, while social networks are boosting the quacks’ ability to supply simplistic solutions to large audiences.

The current plethora of global crises is the result of powerful forces: technology, globalization, crime, corruption, bad governments, racism, xenophobia, economic instability, and inequality among others. The result is the proliferation of societies where many people feel rightly aggrieved, frustrated, and fearful of the future. They make up an irresistible market for charlatans who offer simple, instant, and painless solutions.

it would be a mistake to assume that digital charlatans are only meddling with elections in the United States. Some 27 countries have likely been victims of political interference orchestrated by the Kremlin. Both in the crisis of Spain’s Catalonia region and with Brexit, intense bot activity and other forms of digital manipulation were detected, and the evidence shows they were controlled or influenced by the Russian government. The Kremlin has set out to sow chaos and confusion and to sharpen social conflicts in pursuit of a broader goal: to weaken its Western rivals.

In fact, one of the most revealing facts about the impact of the modern charlatans was the Google searches after Brexit. That is, after the United Kingdom decided – by a margin of only 4% – to get a divorce from the rest of Europe. “What is Brexit?” was one of the most frequently searched-for questions after the referendum was decided. Keep in mind that many of the claims and data used by the pro-Brexit campaign were known to be false. It didn’t matter: just like the townsfolk in the 1950s television series, “the people were ready to believe.”

The same goes for Donald Trump’s mendacity. According to The Washington Post, Trump made a staggering 7,645 false or misleading claims in 710 days as president, about 11 a day. Last October, speaking at a rally in Johnson City, Tennessee, the president made a whopping 84 false statements. This fact-checking by what he calls the mainstream media doesn’t seem to bother the president, as he knows that, like his old television namesake, “the people are ready to believe him.”

All this points to a regrettable reality: the people who get taken in by charlatans are just as guilty or even more guilty than the charlatans themselves when they allow their society to support bad ideas, choose bad rulers or believe their lies. Often the followers are irresponsibly uninformed, lackadaisical, and willing to believe in any proposition that seduces them, however preposterous.

Above all, we must develop the ability to differentiate between well-meaning, decent leaders and the charlatans who are out to con us

Appeared on El Pais

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