I was updating this site’s list of recommended books from what was on my bookshelf, and I came across the book, Conspiracy Nation: The Politics of Paranoia in Postwar America (2002). It’s a collection of essays, edited by conspiracy historian Peter Knight. Somehow I hadn’t read it, and I am correcting that oversight now.
For those of us interesting in conspiracy theories, I think that the book is rather valuable in that it challenges a number of popular notions, not the least of which is that conspiracy theorists are a just bunch of crazies, a fringe aberration in an otherwise normal population.
Another challenged notion is that there are just two alternatives to explaining world events: a malevolent hand or a bunch of screw-ups. The idea came to me that writing off conspiracy theorists as crazies is rather like debunking a conspiracy theory by invoking screw-ups and accidents. Neither is particularly rigorous, and neither explains much of anything.
I’m finding the book thought provoking. I am spending more time thinking about what I am reading than I am reading.