Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Welcome to Conspiracy Theory Watch

We live in interesting times. I haven't seen as many conspiracy theories mainstreamed in the past year as I have in all the years before that I've been keeping track of politics. We have the Obama birthers, the 9/11 truthers, the death panelers, FEMA campers, or any other of the multitude of bizarre theories supposedly secretly being foisted upon by some dangerous cabal. In one sense of course what we're seeing right now is not unique. History is replete with various conspiracy theories purporting to explain the seemingly unexplainable. And it should also be said that there are actual conspiracies that are real. History has its fair share of groups who have conspired to effect the ends they desire, either through covert manipulation or through violent action. The important task before us here is to distinguish between these two types of conspiracy theories.

The main focus of this site will be to address the false conspiracy theories being mainstreamed by extremists, because this kind of conspiratorial thinking has dangerous consequences in terms of public policy. Recent European history is enough reason to be wary of Conspiracy Entrepreneurs who are able to galvanize masses of people to commit atrocities that as individuals they wouldn't have the inclination or power to ever do.

We'll be looking at the more popular conspiracy theories out there such as the ones mentioned above, but we'll also look back at some of the older ones from years ago that still inform the thinking of many fringe groups and isolated extremists.We'll also look into some of the more arcane theories that don't make the front page, but do shed light on the thinking processes of those who hold to them. By the way, even though I mentioned only political conspiracy theories above, we'll also be addressing religious/spiritual, scientific, and historical conspiracy theories. These different types of conspiracy theories do often dovetail and overlap with each other, so the distinctions will necessarily be blurry.

I'll also share some of the better material out there that analyzes conspiracy theories, some from an academic perspective, but also some popular web sites and other sources that either propound or expose various conspiracy theories. So in the days and weeks ahead I look forward to exploring the not so wonderful world of crazy conspiracy theories. Be sure to bring your Dramamine, the ride may get bumpy!

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