"Interesting Times" the four horsemen of panic. "Misinformation, Rumour, Gossip and Denial". And Boy! does this remind me of politics, common and the more toxic. -- Knitnan
This is the way the world ends, T. S. Elliot wrote, Not with a bang, but a whimper. How sad, how tragic, that it almost came true. For the Horsemen to ride, it wasn't necessary to have War, Famine, Pestilence and Death in force. No, they started much, much smaller. After all, it is from little things that big things grow. Little things like Misinformation, Rumour, Gossip and Denial. The other four came anyway, of course they did. It was the other four that blazed the trail.
Misinformation whispered in ears, of pseudoscience and ancient wisdom and of how many chemicals were in everything headed for children's bodies. Of how evolution would make children stronger if they fought disease naturally. Of course everything natural was better. Of course essential oils were the cure. That was why they were called 'essential'.
Rumour tickled assorted earlobes with tales of how those types were small criminals escaping the brutal justice of their more criminal overlords. How they were sleeper cell members out to collapse society. How they were a drain on the economy by having too many babies. People heard about their ridiculous, unpronounceable names whilst on their way to pick up little Maqeyleigheigh and KVIIItlyn from Yoga For Tots.
Gossip just had to hang around and say things like, there's been an awful lot of missing pets, lately, or, maybe it's a good thing that you can't taste what the meat is. The already extant racism and xenophobia did the rest. They were essentially phoning it in.
It was Denial that excelled. Thanks to the invention of Sealioning, all they really had to do was use the phrase, but how do you know... with various intonations and inflections to sew the seeds of doubt everywhere they went. There was also, are you sure they're a reliable source? as a reserve, but the first one did most of the heavy lifting. Those already willing to believe in the malevolence of big business, big government, or big pharma were easily swayed, and subsequent prey for Misinformation.
The biggest trick the Devil played was to convince the world he didn't exist.
People stepped away from science in droves. They turned their backs on the truth whilst building altars to lies. Where vegans shut down cattle farms, Famine followed, because cattle land was never good for growing anything more nutritious than grass. Where anti-vaxxers gathered, so too did Pestilence. Where Gossip and Rumour worked together, War grew strong.
Belief is not inherently bad. One person can believe that the world is flat with all their heart. They won't harm anyone. However, when large masses of people believe in it, then trouble begins. Things that depend on the truth have to go, because their mere existence proves the truth. In the need to support belief rather than truth, science, knowledge, learning, all forms of advancement... die. In extreme cases, so too do the Believers.
It's almost happened, so many times. As a civilisation collapses, as the elites become more corrupt, the peasantry becomes more ignorant. Knowledge is lost because faith is more important than the truth. Rage kills reason. The people back-slide into barbarism. Yet there are always a few who cling to knowledge, who pass on science and learning despite the pressure to adhere to pleasant lies.
If you must worry about the fate of humanity, worry when there are no inquisitive minds left to ask even the simplest of questions. Fear not the huge conspiracy to hide the truth, it exists in every conspiracy theory that you may read. Fear, instead, the profit motive of everyone willing to sell you a solution. Ask questions, do research, learn, and especially teach.
The truth will remain without belief. We will not remain without knowing the truth. Seek proof. Absolute proof is that which can not be disproved. Employ the scientific method at every turn.
The true enemy is not the devil. It is the willingness to be ignorant.
 Pronounced 'Katelyn' because sticking a roman numeral in the middle of your kids' name makes things oh-so-clear. And yes, I have seen this as an actual name for an actual child.
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