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Archive for the ‘Cultural politics’ Category

Of all the theories of what UFOs might be—optical illusions and misperceptions, hallucinations (solo and mass), hoaxes, et al—the one that raises the most epistemically troubling questions is not the Extraterrestrial Visitation Hypothesis (EVH) but the Inter-Dimensional Hypothesis (IDH), popularized by astronomer, computer scientist, and venture capitalist Jacques Vallée. Once you open up to the possibility that there are other dimensions that interpenetrate with ours, all epistemological hell breaks loose… Not only do all religious and folk beliefs become plausible, so do all manner of interaction between the imagined and the real: from human-experimenting reptilians and human-reptilian hybrids (like those Hollywood personalities and high-level Democrats that QAnons go on about) to time-traveling benevolent and malevolent forces, Pleiadians and other star people, and anything else that might pop out of anyone’s cognitive closet. All they need is the technology to “materialize” and “dematerialize” in and out of our reality. Lordy mama help us then.

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The following distills the essence of my responses to questions from a vaccine (and Covid) skeptical friend. I share it in case it’s useful for others (and because it updates a few things I’ve written before on the topic). I’m not an epidemiologist and the comments on the science of the pandemic are those of […]

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There’s a fairly straightforward narrative about media and cultural hegemony in the United States that most scholarly observers have come to largely agree on (with the usual spectrum of variations in emphasis), but that more of the public ought to be aware of. It accounts for how we got here, into this situation where media […]

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Two points of social media use call for more attention as we make sense of this week’s events at the U. S. Capitol. 1) Videos and selfies from Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rallies are circulating online and making it easier to identify those who participated in the attempted coup at the Capitol. Images created and […]

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Conspiracy movements like QAnon are a kind of cultural virus that spreads rapidly and widely in the new global media environment. Like invasive species, they spread into diverse cultural ecosystems, colonizing them even as they take on new forms that mimic each environment’s original inhabitants. To understand how they do this, we need to understand […]

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One of the things I study is spiritual practices – which I’ll define (for simplicity’s sake) as the things people do to enhance their capacity to live in accordance with chosen ideals. Those ideals can be defined in religious terms (for instance, as salvation, enlightenment, or unity with God) or in more secular and philosophical […]

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Last night’s presidential debate was, in many ways, superfluous: if a U.S. citizen had not already made up their mind who they will vote for (or not already voted), it’s because they haven’t been paying attention. But there is one factor pollsters and predictors of every stripe have not gotten good at accounting for, which […]

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As I’ve been preparing to cover QAnon in my media course (and trying to keep up with it, since it’s really been ramping up ahead of the election), I’ve seriously begun to think of it is a work of evil genius. Let me explain why. For starters, it’s worth reminding ourselves that QAnon was designated […]

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I’ve just begun teaching a media course, entitled Media Ecologies and Cultural Politics, which I designed several years ago but have revised this year to focus on the issues of our current moment: the upcoming election, the Covid-19 pandemic, the crisis of racial justice, and what some have called the “crisis of information.” Preparing for […]

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So, 150 or so fairly prominent individuals write/sign an open letter defending “justice and open debate.” (We can call them intellectuals, or literati, or academics, or even celebrities of a sort — maybe “intellectual celebrities” — but see point #1 below on generalizations.) In the letter, they single out Donald Trump and the “forces of […]

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Social media debates over the J. K. Rowling “transphobia” flare-up have encouraged me to formulate my own position on all of this. I’m still in the midst of that and would be happy for feedback (respectful, please). In general, I see this as an example of what happens when two social movements move forward in […]

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A social media conversation prompted me to dig up something I had written in my notebook years ago after reading Serhii Plokhy’s masterful book on “premodern identities” in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. Which in turn prompted me to realize that coronavirus provides an answer to the question I had just finished writing an article about […]

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