What validates the new conspiracism is not evidence but repetition. When Trump tweeted the accusation that President Barack Obama had ordered the FBI to tap his phones in October before the 2016 election, no evidence of the charge was forthcoming. What mattered was not evidence but the number of retweets the president’s post would enjoy: the more retweets, the more credible the charge. Forwarding, reposting, retweeting, and “liking”: these are how doubts are instilled and accusations are validated in the new media. The new conspiracism—all accusation, no evidence—substitutes social validation for scientific validation: if a lot of people are saying it, to use Trump’s signature phrase, then it is true enough.

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