American Conspiracy Theories
Oxford University Press, Aug 5, 2014 - Political Science - 240 pages
We are living in an age of conspiracy theories, whether it's enduring, widely held beliefs such as government involvement in the Kennedy assassination or alien activity at Roswell, fears of a powerful infiltrating group such as the Illuminati, Jews, Catholics, or communists, or modern fringe movements of varying popularity such as birtherism and trutherism. What is it in American culture that makes conspiracy theories proliferate? Who is targeted, and why? Are we in the heyday of the conspiracy theory, or is it in decline? Though there is significant scholarly literature on the topic in psychology, sociology, philosophy, and more, American Conspiracy Theories is the first to use broad, long-term empirical data to analyze this popular American tendency. Joseph E. Uscinski and Joseph M. Parent draw on three sources of original data: 120,000 letters to the editor of the New York Times and Chicago Tribune from between 1890 and 2010; a two-wave survey from before and after the 2012 presidential election; and discussions of conspiracy theories culled from online news sources, blogs, and other Web sites, also from before and after the election. Through these sources, they are able to address crucial questions, such as similarities and differences in the nature of conspiracy theories over time, the role of the Internet and communications technologies in spreading modern conspiracy theories, and whether politics, economics, media, war, or other factors are most important in popularizing conspiratorial beliefs. Ultimately, they conclude that power asymmetries, both foreign and domestic, are the main drivers behind conspiracy theories, and that those at the bottom of power hierarchies have a strategic interest in blaming those at the top-in other words, "conspiracy theories are for losers." But these "losers" can end up having tremendous influence on the course of history, and American Conspiracy Theories is an unprecedented examination of one of the defining features of American political life.
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
Other editions - View all
9/11 conspiracy theories accusations actors Adrian Vermeule African Americans age of conspiracy American Political Barack Obama behavior Belief in Conspiracy Berinsky Birther Brendan Nyhan chapter Chicago claim coders conspiracy dimension Conspiracy Mentality conspiracy talk conspiracy theories conspiratorial beliefs Conspiratorial Predispositions conspiratorial thinking conspiring Culture Democracy Democrats Disagree domestic economic editor election elites evidence explanations foreign Frontiers in Psychology Glenn Beck groups Huffington Post ideology information environment Internet John Stossel John Zaller left and communists less letters level of conspiracy Libertarian logic measure Niccolò Machiavelli online appendix Paranoid Style partisan partisanship party people’s percent plot Political Science polls predisposed President provided in online reason Regression model provided Republicans response right and capitalists right-wing Ruby Ridge Rumor sample Social spiracy theories Steve Clarke suggest theo theorists threat tion truth U.S. government United University Press Uscinski villains violence voter York YouGov