The Fifth Ring: How Conspiracy Theories are Born


As we all know, there was a glitch in the Olympic opening ceremonies yesterday. But not everyone saw it:

Somehow it seemed fitting when a set of floating snowflakes suddenly transformed themselves into Olympic rings — but only four of them. The fifth snowflake never changed.

Russian television viewers, however, saw all five rings, as the show’s producer Konstantin Ernst recognized the malfunction shortly before it occurred and immediately ordered an image from rehearsals to be transmitted in its place. “It would be ridiculous to focus on the ring that would not open,” said Ernst later. “It would be silly.”

That’s quick thinking! But I suspect it’s going to give birth to a thousand conspiracy theories. After all, millions of Russians saw all five rings, so why are all the Americans and Europeans saying there were only four? It must be Photoshop trickery from Westerners designed to make Russia the butt of jokes. Right?

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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