The global travails of COVID-19 have afflicted millions and killed hundreds of thousands while concurrently ripping gaping holes in national and global economies, creating displacements and hardships scarcely known outside of world war or similar catastrophes, while laying bare the illusions thus far engendered there. Regrettably, there is yet another pandemic now contaminating humanity in viral outbreaks which portends even more calamitous outcomes for humankind – Malignant Dubiety. The vector most responsible for the spread of this deadly disease is the amalgamated global network of social media which achieves never-before-seen accelerations of the transmission of untruths which range from the preposterous to the grotesque.
It is our profound affliction that we find ourselves exposed to this merciless contamination which afflicts the human brain just when five global maelstroms (overpopulation, global warming, resource exhaustion, environmental ruin and violent extremism) are coming together in a perfect storm, rapidly outgrowing human intervention. In a finger-snap of relative time, the speed of communication between, say, Sacramento and Amsterdam has increased from several months to several nano-seconds, and, more importantly, the volume of material has increased from a few important words to trillions upon trillions of words (and symbols/photographs) while the cost has dropped to a near nullity. This environment is the historical dream of the propagandist, the humbug, the creative liar, and the ideological P.T. Barnums of today.
In this mournful preserve, a vast malaise of dubiety oozes its poison into the human brain by overwhelming it with uncertainty – the stock in trade of the ubiquitous weavers of spells, necromancers and tellers of false tales. The result is a crippling conviction among the global polity that nothing can be trusted, which leads to an attitude of nihilism and political apathy on the one hand and extremism on the other – a ideological swamp with a volcano on one end and an iceberg on the other.
Onto this doleful killing-ground of Wagnerian ambit steps one authoritarian strong man after another who create personality cults and massive edifices of falsehoods and half-truths, while seizing control of all the processes of government and strangling all opposition and democratic norms in order to entrench their power. The attention-grabbing cataclysm of COVID-19 provides the dark shadows where the hollowing out of professionalism, science and democracy from our government takes place. We are fools indeed if we succumb to this blight without a fight. Malignant Dubiety is spreading rapidly. We had better undertake to stamp it out and quarantine the spreaders of the infection in our governments, or we will all go down together.