The scene is coming Spotlight: The car drives along winding mountain roads at night. Suddenly, the headlights flickered and then gradually turned black. The car stopped. The only thing left for our heroine is moonlight, the call of owls and the ominous music playing vaguely in the background.
You know that things are going south, because as TVTropes.com pointed out, “When you are on a road trip in a horror movie, only three things happen”, and they all involve horror. When our heroine gets out of the car, you might be tempted to shout “Don’t enter the woods! “Because there is no benefit in entering the woods at night. But of course she knows. There, she found an abandoned cabin. You can write the rest of the story yourself.
Over time, this analogy becomes very predictable. Their predictability is used for many purposes. Just as storytellers in movies, songs, and TV use metaphors to make stories more understandable and relevant and ultimately please us, disinformation providers use these same metaphors to make their arguments more understandable or relevant, and ultimately manipulate us . Knowing this, we may be able to keep more people out of the predicament.
You may have seen many metaphors in online memes and stories about Covid-19. For more than a century, the anti-vaccine movement has relied on the same plot design to make baseless claims sound familiar and compelling.
In 2012, McMaster University economist Anna Kata wrote a paper track In the online anti-vaccine conversation, no matter what the vaccine is, how does the same analogy reappear. For example, consider the broad claim that “vaccines are unnatural.” Then, a sub-statement: “They will turn you into a chimera.” In the 1800s, those who were vaccinated with vaccinia-derived smallpox vaccine heard that they would become human-bovine hybrids. (They didn’t.) Today, influencers on social media spread stories about mRNA vaccines “changing our DNA!!!”. (They are not.) The details have been changed to suit the current pandemic, but the basic metaphor for 2021 is the same as for 1801.
This “unnatural” metaphor is an essential part of the larger, misleading narrative that “vaccines are dangerous.” As a scholar of American University and Harvard School of Public Health, and a co-author here, Recently recordedThe anti-vaccine misinformation narrative about Covid-19 also consists of familiar metaphors recovered from past vaccines. Some are conspiracies. For example, in the first few months of a pandemic, The “biochemical weapon” metaphor All the rage. Anti-vaccine propagandists often make these claims when new diseases (Ebola, SARS, etc.) emerge because they cause fear. The metaphor of “disease as a biological weapon” is popular because it requires an unknown-the origin of the disease-and provides a neat explanation with the seeds of truth: the biological weapons program does exist…and we have all seen that. Movies.
These cornerstones-metaphors-also enable conspiracy theory narratives to be transferred across themes. For example, before the pandemic, the anti-vaccine movement’s core narrative about the various harms caused by vaccines and the government’s cover-up of these harms have been included in the QAnon movement, which has absorbed and reconstructed the narrative from the Protocol. The Elders of Zion, the chemical trace conspiracy, and the theory of the New World Order.These metaphors are easy to transfer because there is a Common framework for conspiracy theories. One of the reasons why people who believe in one conspiracy theory often believe in other conspiracy theories may be that multiple theories share the same metaphor: believing Man behind curtain Easier to buy Man is also obscuring the chemtrails plan. Therefore, when Jigsaw (a department within Google) explore Threats to an open society, 70 conspiracy theorists were interviewed, and everyone blamed multiple conspiracy theories.
If you have ever seen a metaphor, you will be more likely to recognize it next time. This familiarity helps shorten the critical thinking we usually use to evaluate new information. Complicating this issue is that metaphors are well suited to oversimplify complex issues, such as the origin of vaccines or the reasons for protest.Mike Caulfield as a media literacy expert notes, An analogy of flattening the scene to its basic parts, stripping away the details to force us to draw conclusions without all the facts at hand (the heroine will get out of the car!).
But the fact that these manipulative metaphors are so common and recurring may also be their destruction. If we can predict what metaphors will be used to construct conspiracy narratives in the future, we may be able to seize the opportunity.Instead of resolving and fact checking specific claims Reactively, What would happen if we talked about their basis instead Preemptive?