This all-in-one resource provides a comprehensive and accessible overview of conspiracy theories past and present, in all their many forms. Taking an evenhanded, scholarly approach, the book outlines the longer history of conspiracy theories, starting with Ancient Greece and Rome and continuing the story up to the present day, including analysis of 9/11, anti-vaccine, COVID, and QAnon theories. It surveys an array of current books and articles to try to understand why people believe in and act on outlandish and evidence-free conspiracy theories.
Notably, this resource also outlines the problems created by untrue conspiracy theories in terms of their negative impact on public debate, trust in others, and efforts to nurture an informed and educated citizenry. Instead, many conspiracy claims have become sources of misinformation, cynicism, and polarization. This book will benefit anyone who seeks a pathway through our current “epistemic crisis” in which the lines between fact and fiction—and between truth and falsehood—have become blurred.
- Includes graphs, charts, and primary documents offering different contextual vantage points for understanding the origins, attraction, and impact of conspiracy theories
- Offers a suite of insightful personal and scholarly perspectives on conspiracy theories
- Profiles influential individuals and organizations known for developing and advancing—or debunking—widely known conspiracy theories
- Identifies and explains key events, controversies, and other social and political contributors to conspiracy theories