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A Culture of Conspiracy


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Table of Contents

Preface Preface to the First Edition 1. The Nature of Conspiracy Belief 2. Millennialism, Conspiracy, and Stigmatized Knowledge 3. New World Order Conspiracies I: The New World Order and the Illuminati 4. New World Order Conspiracies II: A World of Black Helicopters 5. UFO Conspiracy Theories, 1975--1990 6. UFOs Meet the New World Order: Jim Keith and David Icke 7. Armageddon Below 8. UFOs and the Search for Scapegoats I: Anti-Catholicism and Anti-Masonry 9. UFOs and the Search for Scapegoats II: Anti-Semitism among the Aliens 10. September 11 Conspiracies: The First Phase 11. September 11 Conspiracies: The Second Phase 12. Conspiracy Theories about Barack Obama 13. Conspiracists and Violence 14. Apocalyptic Expectations about the Year 2012 15. Conclusion Notes Bibliography Index

About the Author

Michael Barkun, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the Maxwell School, Syracuse University, is author of Religion and the Racist Right: The Origins of the Christian Identity Movement (revised edition 1997) and Disaster and the Millennium (1986), among other books.


"Scholarly but fluently written and free of excessive jargon, Barkun's exploration of the conspiratorial worldview combines sociological depth with a deadpan appreciation of pop culture and raises serious questions about the replacement of democracy by conspiracy as the dominant paradigm of political action in the public mind." * Publishers Weekly *
"If Michael Barkun had endeavored only to document and catalogue wild and untamed strands of American conspiracy beliefs, this book would have still been a massive and worthy undertaking. Yet Barkun structures the book not with his impressive and highly readable intellectual histories of various conspiracy beliefs and their relationships with one another, but with a basic epistemological challenge: How do we really know what is true? . . . Culture of Conspiracy is both a vivid history and wary explanation of why the strategy of obfuscating the facts of the world with unfalsifiable rhetoric and fearsome paranoia has always existed to some degree at both the fringes and the center of our nation's popular thought." * Terrorism & Political Violence *
"Like all good works of scholarship, A Culture of Conspiracy raises questions and invites further research. . . . Ideas, even bizarre and marginalized ideas, do have consequences, and we ignore them at our peril. Barkun's explorations, like the canary in the coal mine, warn us of what may lie ahead." * Christian Century *
"Barkun [is] astonishingly well-grounded in literary, oral, and media sources, offering many insights into contemporary social experience. . . . That the beliefs described . . . are bizarre ought not to imply that they are innocuous or unworthy of careful observation." * Western Folklore *

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