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Repetition and runaway selection: pro-Kremlin disinformation this week

Repetition and runaway selection: pro-Kremlin disinformation this week

The disinformation ventilation of last week continues with some defensive pro-Kremlin strategies regarding the Navalny poisoning and protests in Belarus.

Navalny, the story continues, literally

The flooding of the information space with conspiracy theories related to the poisoning of prominent Russian dissident Navalny does not abate. Just like two weeks ago, this brings back some flashbacks from Salisbury.

Let us point at just a few striking similarities.

The narrative “The Germans invented the bottle with Novichok” mirrors “London destroyed evidence in the Skripal case” and echoes “London killed Skripal”. Further, we see recurring confusing messages claiming Navalny was not poisoned, or that he was, but it could not be proved Novichok was the instrument. The variety of narratives resonate with many surrounding the Skripal case. Another familiar ring – the West would have invented “Navalny” just to put up additional sanctions against Russia.

Still, last week wasn’t only about flashbacks from the past. We also saw fresh and ‘creative’ stuff, such as “the US forced Angela Merkel to lie about Navalny” and “Navalny himself does not believe the story of Russian authorities’ responsibility for his poisoning.

Belarus protests, staged by the West, again

There is continuity of narratives concerning the Belarus protests. In their different variants, the idea is advanced that the protests are engineered by an external agency (the West, the US, and who else if not nonagenarian George Soros (happy belated anniversary!))

For example, “the Americans are running the protest from a center near Warsaw through telegram channels”. In a similar vein; “the US and the EU want to tear Minsk away from Moscow, using the Ukrainian strategy”, or the power over the protests is “shared by Poland, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Lithuania, and the United States”. Furthermore, “Polish special services intervened in the destabilizing of Belarus”, “the same way they did in Ukraine”. New, however, was the narrative “the crowds protesting in Belarus are computer-generated imagery.” What a time to be alive!

Zoophilia as runaway selection

Denmark has a worldwide reputation for sleek design, colorful houses, and camping football teams, but pro-Kremlin disinformation tries hard to rebrand this Nordic country. It hopes the world sees the Danes as zoophilians.

Aleksey Zhuravlyov, a member of the Duma, stated that facilities for zoophiles have been opened in Denmark, where one can come and “rape a turtle.” This resonates with earlier narratives, in which the Danes were portrayed as zoophiles, all part of a larger moral decline of the West.

Image: 60 Minut, Rossiya 1

The spread of the “Denmark’s zoophilia” narrative relates to peacock feathers.

Really.

For some time, biologists struggled to explain this phenomenon. How to reconcile these long extravagant tails, embellished with ornaments, with the harsh process of natural selection? They resolved this with the concept of “runaway selection”: the evolution of exaggerated male ornamentation by persistent, directional female choice.

“Zoophilia” is a beautiful example of this process in the world of disinformation. A colorful, extravagant story, which seems too unfounded to survive media selection. Nevertheless, sometimes it just runs away. It starts with something small, such as the claim that a Danish zoo was collecting unwanted house pets as food for carnivores, and then, a story for story, it’s extravagantly blown out of proportion.

And there are more examples of runaway selection of disinformation. What should one make of “the time Russian TV claimed gay couples could buy an actual baby at a fair in Brussels?”, or when it was “claimed that the Council of Europe was trying to divide men and women of the Russian delegation into 6 sexes”?

There is no limit to how far pro-Kremlin disinformation is willing to run away from reality.

 

The spread of the “Denmark’s zoophilia” narrative relates to peacock feathers.

Really.

For some time, biologists struggled to explain this phenomenon. How to reconcile these long extravagant tails, embellished with ornaments, with the harsh process of natural selection? They resolved this with the concept of “runaway selection”: the evolution of exaggerated male ornamentation by persistent, directional female choice.

“Zoophilia” is a beautiful example of this process in the world of disinformation. A colorful, extravagant story, which seems too unfounded to survive media selection. Nevertheless, sometimes it just runs away. It starts with something small, such as the claim that a Danish zoo was collecting unwanted house pets as food for carnivores, and then, story for story, it’s extravagantly blown out of proportion.

And there are more examples of runaway selection of disinformation. What should one make of “the time Russian TV claimed gay couples could buy an actual baby at a fair in Brussels?”, or when it was “claimed that the Council of Europe was trying to divide men and women of the Russian delegation into 6 sexes”?

There is no limit to how far pro-Kremlin disinformation is willing to run away from reality.

 

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