Friday, October 27, 2017

The Slippery Slope of Ice Cream

Conspiracy theories are nothing new, but the Alex-Jones-post-Sandy-Hook era is beyond demoralizing. (The 2016 New York magazine article on Sandy Hook truthers is one of the most depressing things I've ever read... and that's saying a lot.) I hope you don't know what Pizzagate is, but suffice it to say it's an incredibly stupid conspiracy theory that almost led to real-world violence.

The November-December issue of Skeptical Inquirer contains an article called “Pizzagate and beyond: Using social research to understand conspiracy legends.” SI's content-posting lags its publication by a month or more, which means I can't link to it for your reading pleasure, but it's worth checking out whenever they get around to it.

I did want to give you one paragraph that contains a fact I never knew, and that both shows conspiracy theories are not recent phenomena and are revealing of social power dynamics:

In a previous era, ice cream parlors evoked a similar fear in some Anglo-Americans. Distrustful of the foreign, Italian immigrants who frequently owned the parlors, legend had it that young women risked a morally and physically dangerous slippery slope into drugs and forced prostitution if they visited them. The parallels are striking and troubling. A legend such as Pizzagate can only spread if the regressive values it reflects — nativism, racism, and xenophobia — are alive and well and resonate with a sympathetic audience. 
Watch out for that ice cream, you hear me?

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