This also happens to be a good rule of thumb in life. Imagine if you judged all people of a certain race, sex or occupation based upon the strangest anecdote you have about someone who fits a particular category. Not every male in the Sunshine State is like "Florida Man."
Which brings us to another Florida Man,
Epstein used his money and connections to get a sweetheart deal in
By definition, this is a hard case to generalize from. Most rich people don't live this way, never mind die this way.
In response to the news of Epstein's death, conspiracy theories exploded across social media on Saturday. The hashtags "TrumpBodyCount" and "ClintonBodyCount" trended nationally, the former in no small part because
And while it was deeply irresponsible of the president to do that (and for
Barr made the right call, but this story could not come at a worse time.
America has always had a bipartisan taste for conspiracy theories, because humans are wired to selectively connect dots that fit a preconceived narrative. Every society has its own pet notions of secret cabals and mysterious plots. If anything,
That's why in the
What makes this moment so different -- and dangerous -- is that elites who presumably know better, or should know better, have become increasingly paranoid as well.
It's normal for the party out of power to dabble in conspiratorial thinking. Partisanship and perceived powerlessness fuel the desire to see your opponents in the worst light.
The "Clinton body count" stuff started on the right under
But the trend has metastasized recently. No doubt there are many causes. Cratering faith in institutions, especially the media, is kindling for the fires of paranoia. Social media prioritize the sensational over the factual and give outsized voice to those who claim to know what's "really" going on. The growth of bureaucratic and unaccountable government and the rent-seeking of the financially powerful -- at home and internationally -- have turned "globalists" into the malefactors of 21st century know-nothingism.
Then there's Trump. He rose to political prominence on the back of a conspiracy theory and exploited several others to rally his troops. His detractors resort to other conspiracy theories (mass voter suppression,
That's what's so awful about the Epstein story, however the facts pan out. It lends validation -- perhaps not factual, but certainly psychological -- to the craziest voices and will make it harder, for years to come, to argue against the new paranoia.
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