I was today years old when I read (thanks, Gideon Rachman!) about a favored strategy of Putin called “firehouse of lies” (Chapter 7 of The Age of the Strongman)
According to Rachman, a “firehose of falsehoods” is a “fundamental political tool. The idea is to throw out so many different conspiracy theories and ‘alternative facts’ (to use the phrase of Trump’s aide, Kellyanne Conway) that the truth simply becomes one version of events among many. For strongman leaders, a ‘firehose of falsehoods’ can serve important purposes. Importantly, it makes it easier to evade responsibility. All the evidence might suggest that Covid-19 originated in China or that Russian missiles shut down flight MH17, but Chinese and Russian spokesmen will spin out a variety of alternative theories to obscure the reality of what actually happened . . . There will always be takers for these theories among loyalists who want badly to believe the best of their leader or their country. This is a phenomenon that psychologists call ‘motivated reasoning’: a form of biased thinking that leads people to the conclusions they find most emotionally satisfying, rather than those that are justified by the evidence.”
In other words: Gaslighting DOES work!
I am so glad I decided to read this book!