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Alien Anthropology

The Psychological Physics of Fakes

Fakes fly faster and further than facts for pretty much the same reasons that it is easier to break stuff than to make it: entropy. It’s not a long stretch of the intellect, imagination or of verifiable observational experience to perceive that, given a platform and a digital device, any wingnut with an axe to grind can drop pebbles in the social media pond and gleefully watch as the ripples and cascading effects disseminate. Because they can, they do and because they do, they feel emboldened to continue doing so; every drop is a needle-in-a-haystack for those seeking to interdict, but for the perpetrator is potentially the wings of a butterfly (which leads to inordinately-amplified effects) when dropped in the right place, at the right time in the right way and with the right words, regardless of the rank simplicity of the message. (Note: the smarter Machiavellian actors of the world have alreadt all but perfected this dark art.)

The friction and dissonance they generate provides not merely the content of their compound recombinatory assertions, but primes the medium of transmission for more. Emotional and adversarial claims carry more information entropy; semantics and narrative are (both, together) the strength and the weakness here.

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