A brief history of slime

Important Note: Palmer Report is moving to a reader-supported format with a significantly reduced number of ads so we can reach a broader audience at this crucial time for our democracy. Support us via PayPal and GoFundMe.
–––––

I have been a space science enthusiast since I was about seven years old. (No, not a “nerd,” I reject the connotation that an interest in anything scientific is a thing to be mocked or held up as unnatural.) My fascination remains unbroken from my eighth year to the present day. As such I have been able to track, in an informal, anecdotal sort of way, the geometric rise of space exploration detractors.

Five years ago, in articles about astronomy or space exploration on Facebook or other places where comments and emojis were allowed, the detractors were smaller in number. Today they comprise half the comment section and their laughing emojis are legion. Moreover, moon hoaxers and flat earthers have coalesced into an amorphous miasma of a single ugly stupidity, endlessly parroting their already-refuted claims.

But one thing struck me recently about all this, and I haven’t seen it mentioned anywhere before. Flat earthers depend on a massive conspiracy. The number of people who “lie” to them about “the true shape of the earth” necessarily must extend into the millions. That’s not the part I’m referring to here that puzzles me (though that also puzzles me enough.)

No, this is the part that puzzles me recently: in order to pull it off, the millions of people required to hide the “true appearance” of the pizza-shaped planet from the rest of us are of an unusual, possibly unique type. They are ethical enough to absolutely keep a secret without a single exception yet sufficiently criminally unethical to lie to us in the first place. They are a bizarre mix of hugely trustworthy and hugely dishonest.

Where does one find such people by themselves, let alone by the millions? How does one even begin to know where to look to recruit such people? The answer, of course, is you don’t. The answer is we really went to the moon and the earth is spherical, of course. And people who believe otherwise are either mentally delusional or merely stupid, of course.

I’ll tell you what a vast, evil conspiracy of large numbers of people who spread lies actually looks like. It’s sloppy. It’s disorganised. It’s full of defectors. It’s a mess of contradictions. It’s full of people who have been indicted and put in prison. It looks, come to think about it, exactly like the Republican Party.

There is no all-powerful entity keeping them in line. No Men in Black to erase their memories. No deep state to promote them. No brilliant, elusive assassins. They are not organised, they are in disarray, they fight among themselves. They ineptly give away the plot.

That’s what large numbers of Homo sapiens conspiring to do an evil thing look like in the real world. Remember that if you’re an adherent of a conspiracy theory. Remember the lesson that large groups of people don’t successfully pull off any fraud without lots and lots of leaks. Remember that large groups of people coming together to commit fraud are like the steam locomotives of yore: you can see them coming from a long way off.

We know that many Republicans in Congress and in the Senate hate Trump and MAGA with equal vigour. We also know that, unless they want to commit political suicide a la Liz Cheney, they keep their mouths shut about it. But even that leaks out. Everything human leaks. That’s why the MAGA ship is sinking. That’s why Donald Trump has been convicted on 34 felony counts. That’s why we’re going to win in November. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

Important Note: Palmer Report is moving to a reader-supported format with a significantly reduced number of ads so we can reach a broader audience at this crucial time for our democracy. Support us via PayPal and GoFundMe.