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How dystopian narratives can incite real-world radicalism

The increase of dystopian fiction

The increase of dystopian fiction

Dystopian fiction keeps growing in popularity. According to Goodreads.com, the share of dystopian books in 2012 was the highest for more than 50 years.

The boom seems to have begun after the terrorist attacks on the US on 22 September 2001. After the Hunger Games novels (2008-10) about a totalitarian society, the share of dystopian stories skyrocketed.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

How dystopian narratives can incite real-world radicalism

How dystopian narratives can incite real-world radicalism

https://bigthink.com/politics-current-affairs/dystopian-narratives

bigthink.com

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Key Ideas

The increase of dystopian fiction

Dystopian fiction keeps growing in popularity. According to Goodreads.com, the share of dystopian books in 2012 was the highest for more than 50 years.

The boom seems to have begun after the terrorist attacks on the US on 22 September 2001. After the Hunger Games novels (2008-10) about a totalitarian society, the share of dystopian stories skyrocketed.

Influenced by fiction

It seems unlikely that fiction can be capable of influencing people's real-world outlooks. However, a growing body of research shows people subconsciously incorporate lessons from fictional stories into their beliefs, attitudes, and value judgments.

Dystopian fiction is likely to be very powerful because it is inherently political.

Changing the moral compass

The totalitarian-dystopian genre portrays a disturbing alternative world where powerful entities act to oppress and control citizens, violating fundamental values as part of the rule.

The dystopian narratives affect those who watch it in a profound way by changing their moral values. Studies show that those who watch dystopian stories are more likely to say that radical acts such as violent protests and armed rebellion could be justifiable. They agree that violence is sometimes necessary to achieve justice.

The lens of dystopian fiction

Research shows that people are more willing to draw 'political life lessons' from a narrative about an imaginary political world than from fact-based reporting about the real world.

These narratives may have a positive effect on nourishing society's 'watchdog' role in a variety of contexts, ranging from climate change and artificial intelligence to authoritarian resurgences worldwide. However, the narratives may also encourage radical perspectives that oversimplify complex sources of political disagreement.

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Authority's failure to respond

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Joker’s commentary on society

Joker’s commentary on society

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A dangerous movie

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Society and Mass Violence

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The illusory truth effect

The illusory truth effect

It's our tendency to believe false information to be correct after repeated exposure to it.

The illusory truth effect is the reason why advertising and propaganda works.

Why repetition reinforces a belief

The typical explanation is that our brains take shortcuts to save energy:

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    Carl Sagan

    Carl Sagan

    “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. ”

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