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Conspiracy theory

A conspiracy theory is an explanatory hypothesis that accuses two or more persons, a group, or an organization of having caused or covered up, through secret planning and deliberate action, an event or situation which is typically taken to be illegal or harmful.

Some scholars suggest that people formulate conspiracy theories to explain, for example, power relations in social groups and the perceived existence of evil forces.[1][2][3][4] It has been suggested by some thinkers that conspiracy theories have chiefly psychological or socio-political origins. Proposed psychological origins include projection; the personal need to explain “a significant event [with] a significant cause;" and the product of various kinds and stages of thought disorder, such as paranoid disposition, ranging in severity to diagnosable mental illnesses. Some people prefer socio-political explanations over the insecurity of encountering random, unpredictable, or otherwise inexplicable events.[5][6][7][8][9][10] However, some thinkers, particularly philosophers, have argued that belief in conspiracy theories can be rational and that the skepticism of conspiracy theorising (the generation of conspiracy theories) is akin to a modern day superstition.[11][12][13]

The effects of a world view that places conspiracy theories centrally in the unfolding of history have been debated, with some saying that it has become “the dominant paradigm of political action in the public mind." Although the term "conspiracy theory" has acquired a derogatory meaning over time and is often used to dismiss or ridicule beliefs in conspiracies,[14] it has also continued to be used by some to refer to actual, proven conspiracies, such as U.S. President Richard Nixon and his aides conspiring to cover up Watergate.

File:Dollarnote siegel hq.jpg
The Eye of Providence, seen here on the US $1 bill, has been taken by some to be evidence of a conspiracy involving the founders of the United States.


Usage of the term


According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first use of the phrase "conspiracy theory" occurred in a 1909 article in The American Historical Review.[15][16]

Acquired derogatory meaning

Originally a neutral term, since the mid-1960s, in the aftermath of the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy, it has acquired a derogatory meaning, implying a paranoid tendency to see the influence of some malign covert agency in events.[17] The term is often used to dismiss claims that the critic deems ridiculous, misconceived, paranoid, unfounded, outlandish, or irrational.[18] A conspiracy theory that is proven to be correct, such as the notion that United States President Richard Nixon and his aides conspired to cover up Watergate, is usually referred to as something else, such as investigative journalism or historical analysis.[19] Despite conspiracy theorists often being dismissed as a "fringe group," evidence suggests that people from "a broad cross-section of Americans today—traversing ethnic, gender, education, occupation, and other divides" believe in a wide variety of conspiracy theories.[20] The term often implies that the proposed explanation of events is perceived as violating Occam's razor or the principle of falsifiability.

Term of ridicule

Assessing the prevalent use of the term to ridicule or dismiss, Professor Rebecca Moore observes, "The word 'conspiracy' works much the same way the word 'cult' does to discredit advocates of a certain view or persuasion. Historians do not use the word 'conspiracy' to describe accurate historical reports. On the contrary, they use it to indicate a lack of veracity and objectivity."[21]

As popular knowledge

Clare Birchall at King's College London describes conspiracy theory as a form of popular knowledge.[22] By acquiring the title 'knowledge', conspiracy theory is considered alongside more 'legitimate' modes of knowing.[23] The relationship between legitimate and illegitimate knowledge, Birchall claims, is far closer than common dismissals of conspiracy theory would have us believe.[24] Other popular knowledge might include alien abduction narratives, gossip, some new age philosophies, religious beliefs, and astrology.


Professor of political science and sociology John George notes that unlike conspiracy theories propagated by extremists, conspiracies prosecuted within the criminal justice system require a high standard of evidence, are usually small in scale and involve "a single event or issue".[25]

However, conspiracy has an integral role in many or most large-scale criminal enterprises, including those prosecuted under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) statute. A civil action for damages by victims of criminal enterprise, based on conspiracy, is prescribed in RICO.[26][27] A basic American police academy text by a former Homeland Security agent notes, "When a crime requires a large number of people, a conspiracy is formed."[28]

Examples of proven conspiracies

Conspiracy theories are sometimes proven correct. Examples include the theory that United States President Richard Nixon and his aides conspired to cover up Watergate,[19] the theory that aides of President Ronald Reagan's conspired to cover up the Iran-Contra affair,[29][30] and the theory that government mass surveillance was tracking a large percentage of the world's telephone and Internet traffic.

Katherine K. Young writes that "every real conspiracy has had at least four characteristic features: groups, not isolated individuals; illegal or sinister aims, not ones that would benefit society as a whole; orchestrated acts, not a series of spontaneous and haphazard ones; and secret planning, not public discussion" [31]

"Some historians have put forward the idea that more recently the United States has become the home of conspiracy theories because so many high-level prominent conspiracies have been undertaken and uncovered since the 1960s".[32] The existence of such real conspiracies helps feed the belief in conspiracy theories.[33][34][35]


Belief in conspiracy theories has become a topic of interest for sociologists, psychologists, and experts in folklore since at least the 1960s, when a number of conspiracy theories arose regarding the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. Sociologist Türkay Salim Nefes underlines the political nature of conspiracy theories and suggests that one of the most important characteristics of these accounts is their attempt to unveil the "real but hidden" power relations in social groups.[3][4]

To explain evil forces

The political scientist Michael Barkun, discussing the usage of this term in contemporary American culture, holds that a conspiracy theory is a belief which explains an event as the result of a secret plot by exceptionally powerful and cunning conspirators to achieve a malevolent end.[1][2] According to Barkun, the appeal of conspiracism is threefold:

  • First, conspiracy theories claim to explain what institutional analysis cannot. They appear to make sense out of a world that is otherwise confusing.
  • Second, they do so in an appealingly simple way, by dividing the world sharply between the forces of light, and the forces of darkness. They trace all evil back to a single source, the conspirators and their agents.
  • Third, conspiracy theories are often presented as special, secret knowledge unknown or unappreciated by others. For conspiracy theorists, the masses are a brainwashed herd, while the conspiracy theorists in the know can congratulate themselves on penetrating the plotters' deceptions.[2]

Lack of control

Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, a cognitive scientist at the University of Western Australia, asserts that strong supporters of conspiracy theories usually experience a feeling of lack of control. A theory can help a believer regain a sense of order explaining some extraordinary events. Knowing some facts can even bring the feeling of power. Lewandowsky states that belief in conspiracies can be a protective mechanism against the horror of possible disasters.

A lack of trust can also be regained by belief in a conspiracy theory. This also explains why such theories are more popular with members of the lower social classes: the members of the upper class feel more integrated into prominent social, political and economical structures and are more likely to trust the general information they receive.

Another explanation is that people are inclined to believe in ideas that they initially supported. This is called "motivated skepticism" or a "self-sealing nature of reasoning".[36]


Walker's five kinds

Jesse Walker (2013) has developed a historical typology of five basic kinds of conspiracy theories:

  • The first identifies an "Enemy Outside," with devilish figures mobilizing outside the community and scheming against the community.
  • The "Enemy Within" finds the conspirators lurking inside the nation, indistinguishable from ordinary citizens.
  • The "Enemy Above" involves powerful people manipulating the system for their own gain.
  • The "Enemy Below" features the lower classes ready to break through their constraints and overturn the social order.
  • Finally, there are the "Benevolent Conspiracies," where angelic forces work behind the scenes to improve the world and help people.[37]

Barkun's three types

Barkun (discussed above) has categorized, in ascending order of breadth, the types of conspiracy theories as follows:

  • Systemic conspiracy theories. The conspiracy is believed to have broad goals, usually conceived as securing control of a country, a region, or even the entire world. While the goals are sweeping, the conspiratorial machinery is generally simple: a single, evil organization implements a plan to infiltrate and subvert existing institutions. This is a common scenario in conspiracy theories that focus on the alleged machinations of Jews, Freemasons, or the Catholic Church, as well as theories centered on Communism or international capitalists.[1]
  • Superconspiracy theories. Conspiratorial constructs in which multiple conspiracies are believed to be linked together hierarchically. Event and systemic are joined in complex ways, so that conspiracies come to be nested together. At the summit of the conspiratorial hierarchy is a distant but powerful force manipulating lesser conspiratorial factors. Superconspiracy theories have enjoyed particular growth since the 1980s, in the work of authors such as David Icke, Alex Constantine and Milton William Cooper.[1]

Rothbard: shallow vs. deep

Characterized by Robert W. Welch, Jr. as "one of the few major scholars who openly endorses conspiracy theory", the economist Murray Rothbard has argued in favor of "deep" conspiracy theories versus "shallow" ones. According to Rothbard, a "shallow" theorist observes a questionable or potentially shady event and asks Cui bono? ("who benefits?"), jumping to the conclusion that a posited beneficiary is in fact responsible for covertly influencing events. In contrast, the "deep" conspiracy theorist begins with a suspicious hunch, but goes further by seeking out reputable and verifiable evidence. Rothbard described the scholarship of a deep conspiracy theorist as "essentially confirming your early paranoia through a deeper factual analysis".[38][39]

Conspiracism: a world view

Academic work in conspiracy theories and conspiracism (a world view that places conspiracy theories centrally in the unfolding of history) presents a range of hypotheses as a basis of studying the genre. According to Berlet and Lyons, "Conspiracism is a particular narrative form of scapegoating that frames demonized enemies as part of a vast insidious plot against the common good, while it valorizes the scapegoater as a hero for sounding the alarm".[40]

The historian Richard Hofstadter addressed the role of paranoia and conspiracism throughout American history in his essay The Paranoid Style in American Politics, published in 1964. Bernard Bailyn's classic The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (1967) notes that a similar phenomenon could be found in America during the time preceding the American Revolution. Conspiracism labels people's attitudes as well as the type of conspiracy theories that are more global and historical in proportion.[41]

The term "conspiracism" was further popularized by academic Frank P. Mintz in the 1980s. According to Mintz, conspiracism denotes "belief in the primacy of conspiracies in the unfolding of history":[42]
"Conspiracism serves the needs of diverse political and social groups in America and elsewhere. It identifies elites, blames them for economic and social catastrophes, and assumes that things will be better once popular action can remove them from positions of power. As such, conspiracy theories do not typify a particular epoch or ideology".[43]

Throughout human history, political and economic leaders genuinely have been the cause of enormous amounts of death and misery, and they sometimes have engaged in conspiracies while at the same time promoting conspiracy theories about their targets. Hitler and Stalin would be merely the 20th century's most prominent examples; there have been numerous others.[44] In some cases there have been claims dismissed as conspiracy theories that later proved to be true.[45][46] The idea that history itself is controlled by large long-standing conspiracies is rejected by historian Bruce Cumings:

"But if conspiracies exist, they rarely move history; they make a difference at the margins from time to time, but with the unforeseen consequences of a logic outside the control of their authors: and this is what is wrong with 'conspiracy theory.' History is moved by the broad forces and large structures of human collectivities."[47]

Justin Fox of Time Magazine gives a pragmatic justification of conspiracism. He says that Wall Street traders are among the most conspiracy-minded group of people, and ascribes this to the reality of some financial market conspiracies, and to the ability of conspiracy theories to provide necessary orientation in the market’s day-to-day movements. Most good investigative reporters are also conspiracy theorists, according to Fox; and some of their theories turn out to be at least partly true.[5]

Middle east

Conspiracy theories are a prevalent feature of Arab culture and politics. Prof. Matthew Gray writes they "are a common and popular phenomenon." "Conspiracism is an important phenomenon in understanding Arab Middle Eastern politics ..."[48] Variants include conspiracies involving colonialism, Zionism, superpowers, oil, and the war on terrorism, which may be referred to as a War against Islam.[48] Roger Cohen theorizes that the popularity of conspiracy theories in the Arab world is "the ultimate refuge of the powerless",[10] and Al-Mumin Said noted the danger of such theories in that they "keep us not only from the truth but also from confronting our faults and problems..."[49]


Some scholars argue that conspiracy theories once limited to fringe audiences have become commonplace in mass media, contributing to conspiracism emerging as a cultural phenomenon in the United States of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.[1][50][51][52] According to anthropologists Todd Sanders and Harry G. West, evidence suggests that a broad cross-section[quantify] of Americans today gives credence to at least some conspiracy theories.[53] Belief in conspiracy theories has therefore become a topic of interest for sociologists, psychologists and experts in folklore.

Psychological origins

According to some psychologists, a person who believes in one conspiracy theory tends to believe in others.[6]

Some psychologists believe that the search for meaning is common in conspiracism and the development of conspiracy theories, and may be powerful enough alone to lead to the first formulation of the idea. Once cognized, confirmation bias and avoidance of cognitive dissonance may reinforce the belief. In a context where a conspiracy theory has become popular within a social group, communal reinforcement may equally play a part. Some research carried out at the University of Kent, UK suggests people may be influenced by conspiracy theories without being aware that their attitudes have changed. After reading popular conspiracy theories about the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, participants in this study correctly estimated how much their peers' attitudes had changed, but significantly underestimated how much their own attitudes had changed to become more in favor of the conspiracy theories. The authors conclude that conspiracy theories may therefore have a 'hidden power' to influence people's beliefs.[7]

A study published in 2012 also found that conspiracy theorists frequently believe in multiple conspiracies, even when one conspiracy contradicts the other.[54] For example, the study found that people who believe Osama Bin Laden was captured alive by Americans are also likely to believe that Bin Laden was actually killed prior to the 2011 raid on his home in Abottabad, Pakistan.

In a 2013 article in Scientific American Mind, psychologist Sander van der Linden of the London School of Economics argues there is converging scientific evidence that (1) people who believe in one conspiracy are likely to espouse others (even when contradictory); (2) in some cases, conspiracy ideation has been associated with paranoia and schizotypy; (3) conspiracist worldviews tend to breed mistrust of well-established scientific principles, such as the association between smoking and cancer or global warming and CO2 emissions; and (4) conspiracy ideation often leads people to see patterns where none exist.[55]

Humanistic psychologists argue that even if the cabal behind the conspiracy is almost always perceived as hostile, there is often still an element of reassurance in it for conspiracy theorists. This is in part because it is more consoling to think that complications and upheavals in human affairs are created by human beings rather than factors beyond human control. Belief in such a cabal is a device for reassuring oneself that certain occurrences are not random, but ordered by a human intelligence. This renders such occurrences comprehensible and potentially controllable. If a cabal can be implicated in a sequence of events, there is always the hope, however tenuous, of being able to break the cabal's power – or joining it and exercising some of that power oneself. Finally, belief in the power of such a cabal is an implicit assertion of human dignity – an often unconscious but necessary affirmation that man is not totally helpless, but is responsible, at least in some measure, for his own destiny.[56]


Some historians have argued that there is an element of psychological projection in conspiracism. This projection, according to the argument, is manifested in the form of attribution of undesirable characteristics of the self to the conspirators. Historian Richard Hofstadter stated that: is hard to resist the conclusion that this enemy is on many counts the projection of the self; both the ideal and the unacceptable aspects of the self are attributed to him. The enemy may be the cosmopolitan intellectual, but the paranoid will outdo him in the apparatus of scholarship... the Ku Klux Klan imitated Catholicism to the point of donning priestly vestments, developing an elaborate ritual and an equally elaborate hierarchy. The John Birch Society emulates Communist cells and quasi-secret operation through "front" groups, and preaches a ruthless prosecution of the ideological war along lines very similar to those it finds in the Communist enemy. Spokesmen of the various fundamentalist anti-Communist "crusades" openly express their admiration for the dedication and discipline the Communist cause calls forth.[8]

Hofstadter also noted that "sexual freedom" is a vice frequently attributed to the conspiracist's target group, noting that "very often the fantasies of true believers reveal strong sadomasochistic outlets, vividly expressed, for example, in the delight of anti-Masons with the cruelty of Masonic punishments."[8]

A 2011 study found that highly Machiavellian people are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories, since they themselves would be more willing to engage in a conspiracy when placed in the same situation as the alleged conspirators.[57]

Epistemic bias

According to the British Psychological Society, it is possible that certain basic human epistemic biases are projected onto the material under scrutiny. One study cited by the group found that humans apply a rule of thumb by which we expect a significant event to have a significant cause.[58] The study offered subjects four versions of events, in which a foreign president was (a) successfully assassinated, (b) wounded but survived, (c) survived with wounds but died of a heart attack at a later date, and (d) was unharmed. Subjects were significantly more likely to suspect conspiracy in the case of the major events—in which the president died—than in the other cases, despite all other evidence available to them being equal. Connected with apophenia, the genetic tendency of human beings to find patterns in coincidence, this allows the discovery of conspiracy in any significant event.

Another epistemic "rule of thumb" that can be applied to a mystery involving other humans is cui bono? (who stands to gain?). This sensitivity to the hidden motives of other people may be an evolved and universal feature of human consciousness.[citation needed]

Clinical psychology

For some individuals, an obsessive compulsion to believe, prove, or re-tell a conspiracy theory may indicate one or a combination of well-understood psychological conditions, and other hypothetical ones: paranoia, denial, schizophrenia, mean world syndrome.[59]

Socio-political origins

Christopher Hitchens represents conspiracy theories as the "exhaust fumes of democracy",[9] the unavoidable result of a large amount of information circulating among a large number of people.

Conspiratorial accounts can be emotionally satisfying when they place events in a readily understandable moral context. The subscriber to the theory is able to assign moral responsibility for an emotionally troubling event or situation to a clearly conceived group of individuals. Crucially, that group does not include the believer. The believer may then feel excused of any moral or political responsibility for remedying whatever institutional or societal flaw might be the actual source of the dissonance.[60] Likewise, Roger Cohen, in an op-ed for the New York Times propounded that, "captive minds... resort to conspiracy theory because it is the ultimate refuge of the powerless. If you cannot change your own life, it must be that some greater force controls the world."[10]

Where responsible behavior is prevented by social conditions, or is simply beyond the ability of an individual, the conspiracy theory facilitates the emotional discharge or closure that such emotional challenges (after Erving Goffman)[citation needed] require. Like moral panics, conspiracy theories thus occur more frequently within communities that are experiencing social isolation or political dis-empowerment.

Sociological historian Holger Herwig found in studying German explanations for the origins of World War I, "Those events that are most important are hardest to understand, because they attract the greatest attention from myth makers and charlatans."[citation needed]

This normal process could be diverted by a number of influences. At the level of the individual, pressing psychological needs may influence the process, and certain of our universal mental tools may impose epistemic 'blind spots'. At the group or sociological level, historic factors may make the process of assigning satisfactory meanings more or less problematic.

Alternatively, conspiracy theories may arise when evidence available in the public record does not correspond with the common or official version of events. In this regard, conspiracy theories may sometimes serve to highlight 'blind spots' in the common or official interpretations of events.[45]

Influence of critical theory

French sociologist Bruno Latour[61] suggests that the widespread popularity of conspiracy theories in mass culture may be due, in part, to the pervasive presence of Marxist-inspired critical theory and similar ideas in academia since the 1970s.

Latour notes that about 90% of contemporary social criticism in academia displays one of two approaches which he terms “the fact position and the fairy position.” (p. 237) The fact position is anti-fetishist, arguing that “objects of belief” (e.g., religion, arts) are merely concepts onto which power is projected; Latour contends that those who use this approach show biases towards confirming their own dogmatic suspicions as most "scientifically supported." While the complete facts of the situation and correct methodology are ostensibly important to them, Latour proposes that the scientific process is instead laid on as a patina to one's pet theories to lend a sort of reputation high ground. The “fairy position” argues that individuals are dominated, often covertly and without their awareness, by external forces (e.g., economics, gender). (p. 238) Latour concludes that each of these two approaches in Academia has led to a polarized, inefficient atmosphere highlighted (in both approaches) by its causticness. “Do you see now why it feels so good to be a critical mind?” asks Latour: no matter which position you take, “You’re always right!” (pp. 238–239)

Latour notes that such social criticism has been appropriated by those he describes as conspiracy theorists, including global warming denialists and the 9/11 Truth movement: “Maybe I am taking conspiracy theories too seriously, but I am worried to detect, in those mad mixtures of knee-jerk disbelief, punctilious demands for proofs, and free use of powerful explanation from the social neverland, many of the weapons of social critique.” (p. 230)

Media tropes

Media commentators regularly note a tendency in news media and wider culture to understand events through the prism of individual agents, as opposed to more complex structural or institutional accounts.[62] If this is a true observation, it may be expected that the audience which both demands and consumes this emphasis itself is more receptive to personalized, dramatic accounts of social phenomena.

A second, perhaps related, media trope is the effort to allocate individual responsibility for negative events. The media have a tendency to start to seek culprits if an event occurs that is of such significance that it does not drop off the news agenda within a few days. Of this trend, it has been said that the concept of a pure accident is no longer permitted in a news item.[63]

Fusion paranoia

Michael Kelly, a Washington Post journalist and critic of anti-war movements on both the left and right, coined the term "fusion paranoia" to refer to a political convergence of left-wing and right-wing activists around anti-war issues and civil liberties, which he said were motivated by a shared belief in conspiracism or shared anti-government views.[citation needed]

Barkun has adopted this term to refer to how the synthesis of paranoid conspiracy theories, which were once limited to American fringe audiences, has given them mass appeal and enabled them to become commonplace in mass media,[64] thereby inaugurating an unrivaled period of people actively preparing for apocalyptic or millenarian scenarios in the United States of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.[65] Barkun notes the occurrence of lone wolf conflicts with law enforcement threatening the established political powers.[66]

Political use

In his book The Open Society and Its Enemies, Karl Popper used the term "conspiracy theory" to criticize the ideologies driving historicism.[68] Popper argued that totalitarianism was founded on "conspiracy theories" which drew on imaginary plots driven by paranoid scenarios predicated on tribalism, chauvinism, or racism. Popper did not argue against the existence of everyday conspiracies (as incorrectly suggested in much of the later literature). Popper even uses the term "conspiracy" to describe ordinary political activity in the classical Athens of Plato (who was the principal target of his attack in The Open Society and Its Enemies).

In his critique of the twentieth century totalitarians, Popper wrote, "I do not wish to imply that conspiracies never happen. On the contrary, they are typical social phenomena."[69] He reiterated his point, "Conspiracies occur, it must be admitted. But the striking fact which, in spite of their occurrence, disproved the conspiracy theory is that few of these conspiracies are ultimately successful. Conspirators rarely consummate their conspiracy."[69]

In a 2009 article, legal scholars Cass Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule considered appropriate government responses to conspiracy theories:

What can government do about conspiracy theories? Among the things it can do, what should it do? We can readily imagine a series of possible responses. (1) Government might ban conspiracy theorizing. (2) Government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories. (3) Government might itself engage in counterspeech, marshaling arguments to discredit conspiracy theories. (4) Government might formally hire credible private parties to engage in counterspeech. (5) Government might engage in informal communication with such parties, encouraging them to help. Each instrument has a distinctive set of potential effects, or costs and benefits, and each will have a place under imaginable conditions. However, our main policy idea is that government should engage in cognitive infiltration of the groups that produce conspiracy theories, which involves a mix of (3), (4) and (5).[70]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Barkun, Michael (2003). A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America. University of California Press; 1 edition. p. 3. ISBN 0-520-23805-2. a conspiracy belief is the belief that an organization made up of individuals or groups was or is acting covertly to achieve a malevolent end. 
  2. ^ a b c Berlet, Chip (September 2004). "Interview: Michael Barkun". Retrieved 1 October 2009. The issue of conspiracism versus rational criticism is a tough one, and some people (Jodi Dean, for example) argue that the former is simply a variety of the latter. I don't accept this, although I certainly acknowledge that there have been conspiracies. They simply don't have the attributes of almost superhuman power and cunning that conspiracists attribute to them. 
  3. ^ a b Link text, Türkay Salim Nefes (2013) The Sociological Review Volume 61, Issue 2, pages 247–264.
  4. ^ a b Link text, Türkay Salim Nefes (2012) Journal of Historical Sociology, Volume 25, Issue 3, pages 413–439, September 2012.
  5. ^ a b Justin Fox: Wall Streeters like conspiracy theories. Always have Time Magazine, October 1, 2009.
  6. ^ a b Goertzel (1994). "Belief in Conspiracy Theories". Political Psychology (Political Psychology, Vol. 15, No. 4) 15 (4): 1, 12, 13. JSTOR 3791630. doi:10.2307/3791630. Retrieved 7 August 2006. 
  7. ^ a b Douglas, Karen; Sutton, Robbie (2008). "The hidden impact of conspiracy theories: Perceived and actual influence of theories surrounding the death of Princess Diana". Journal of Social Psychology 148 (2): 210–222. doi:10.3200/SOCP.148.2.210-222. 
  8. ^ a b c Hofstadter, Richard (November 1964). "The Paranoid Style in American Politics". Harper's Magazine. pp. 77–86. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  9. ^ a b Hodapp, Christopher; Alice Von Kannon (2008). Conspiracy Theories & Secret Societies For Dummies. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9780470184080. 
  10. ^ a b c Cohen, Roger (December 20, 2010). "The Captive Arab Mind". The New York Times. 
  11. ^ Pigden, Charles (1995). "Popper Revisited, or What Is Wrong With Conspiracy Theories?". Philosophy of the Social Sciences 25 (1): 3–34. 
  12. ^ Coady, David (2012). "Chapter 5: Conspiracy Theories and Conspiracy Theorists". What to believe now : applying epistemology to contemporary issues. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell. 
  13. ^ Basham, Lee (2011). "Conspiracy Theory and Rationality". In Jensen, Carl; Harré, Rome. Beyond Rationality. Newcastle on Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 
  14. ^ "20th Century Words" (1999) John Ayto, Oxford University Press, p. 15.
  15. ^ "conspiracy", Oxford English Dictionary, Second edition, 1989; online version March 2012. <>. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  16. ^ "The Repeal of the Missouri Compromise: Its Origin and Authorship by P. Orman Ray", review by: Allen Johnson, The American Historical Review, vol.14 No. 4, p. 836
  17. ^ 20th Century Words (1999) John Ayto, Oxford University Press, p. 15.
  18. ^ Birchall, Clare (2006). Knowledge Goes Pop: From Conspiracy Theory to Gossip. Oxford: Berg. ISBN 1-84520-143-4. [page needed]
  19. ^ a b Knight, Peter (2003). Conspiracy Theories in American History: An Encyclopedia 1. ABC-CLIO. p. 16. ISBN 978-1-57607-812-9. 
  20. ^ Harry G. West; Todd Sanders (17 April 2003). Transparency and Conspiracy: Ethnographies of Suspicion in the New World Order. Duke University Press. pp. 4–. ISBN 0-8223-3024-5. 
  21. ^ Moore, Rebecca (2002). "Reconstructing Reality: Conspiracy Theories About Jonestown, Conspiracy Theories section, paragraph 2". Journal of Popular Culture 36, no. 2 (Fall 2002): 200–20. 
  22. ^ Birchall, Clare (2006). "Cultural studies on/as conspiracy theory". In Birchall, Clare. Knowledge goes pop from conspiracy theory to gossip. Oxford New York: Berg. p. 66. ISBN 9781845201432. ...we can appreciate conspiracy theory as a unique form of popular knowledge or interpretation, and address what this might mean for any knowledge we produce about it or how we interpret it  Preview.
  23. ^ Birchall, Clare (2006). "Cultural studies on/as conspiracy theory". In Birchall, Clare. Knowledge goes pop from conspiracy theory to gossip. Oxford New York: Berg. p. 72. ISBN 9781845201432. What we quickly discover ... is that it becomes impossible to map conspiracy theory and academic discourse onto a clear illegitimate/legitimate divide  Preview.
  24. ^ Birchall, Clare (2004). "Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they're not out to get you". Culture Machine, Deconstruction is/in Cultural Studies (Open Humanities Press) 6. 
  25. ^ George, John; Laird M. Wilcox (1996) American extremists: militias, supremacists, klansmen, communists & others Prometheus Books p. 267.
  26. ^ "Former Shipping Executive Indicted for Role in Price-Fixing Conspiracy Involving Coastal Freight Services Between the Continental United States and Puerto Rico". U.S. Department of Justice FBI Office of Public Affairs Jacksonville Division. March 21, 2013. Retrieved 11 July 2013. 
  27. ^ "Former Executive Convicted for Role in Price-Fixing Conspiracy Involving Coastal Freight Services Between the Continental United States and Puerto Rico". Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  28. ^ Flax, Mike (2005) Conspiracy Investigations, Law Tech Publishing, p. 24, ISBN 1-889315-57-5.
  29. ^ Shenon, Philip (1988-03-17). "North, Poindexter and 2 Others Indicted on Iran-Contra Fraud and Theft Charges". New York Times. Retrieved 7 June 2008. 
  30. ^ "The Iran-Contra Defendants". The Milwaukee Journal (Milwaukee, Wisconsin). Journal wire services. 17 September 1991. p. A6. Retrieved 14 January 2011. 
  31. ^ Katherine K. Young; Paul Nathanson (2010), Sanctifying Misandry: Goddess Ideology and the Fall of Man, McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP, pp. 275–, ISBN 978-0-7735-3615-9 
  32. ^ Knight, Peter (2003) Conspiracy theories in American history: an encyclopedia, Volume 1; ABC-CLIO; ISBN 978-1-57607-812-9 p. 18.
  33. ^ Jewett, Robert; John Shelton Lawrence (2004) Captain America and the crusade against evil: the dilemma of zealous nationalism Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing p. 206.
  34. ^ Olmsted, Kathryn S. (2011) Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11 Oxford University Press p. 8.
  35. ^ Whitfield, Stephen J. (2004) A companion to 20th-century America Wiley-Blackwell ISBN 978-0-631-21100-6 p. 136.
  36. ^ "Why Do We Believe Conspiracy Theories? The Science Revealed". 18 July 2014. 
  37. ^ Jesse Walker, The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory (2013) excerpt and text search
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Further reading

External links

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