- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (September 4, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780199351817
- ISBN-13: 978-0199351817
- ASIN: 0199351813
- Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 0.7 x 6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 16 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #692,992 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
American Conspiracy Theories 1st Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
"There are plenty of myths and misapprehensions about conspiracy theories and the damage they do. In this path-breaking book, Parent and Uscinski sift fact from fiction to set the record straight about who believes in conspiracy theories, when, why, and with what political consequences. Their answers will surprise you." --David Runciman, University of Cambridge
"This fascinating book tackles some of the thorniest questions about conspiracy theories: who believes them, why do they believe them, and how have these beliefs changed over time? The authors' extensive research shows that Americans are actually less prone to conspiratorial thinking than they were just a few decades ago. Their findings are surprising and sure to provoke debate on this timely and important topic." --Kathy Olmsted, University of California, Davis
"Uscinski and Parent provide the most comprehensive social scientific explanation to date for why conspiratorial beliefs are so prevalent in the United States. Drawing on an eclectic array of original data sources, which remarkably include more than 100,000 letters to the editors of two major newspapers from 1890 to 2010, the authors convincingly identify the features uniting over a century of conspiratorial beliefs. This books is therefore a must read for anyone interested in political misinformation in general, and American conspiracy theories in particular." --Michael Tesler, University of California, Irvine
About the Author
Joseph E. Uscinski is Assistant Professor of Political Science at University of Miami.
Joseph M. Parent is Assistant Professor of Political Science at University of Miami.
Try the Kindle edition and experience these great reading features:
Showing 1-8 of 16 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The research question basically asks why people in the US believe conspiracy theories, with the key term defined as "an explanation of historical, ongoing, or future events that cites as a main causal factor a small group of powerful persons, the conspirators, acting in secret for their own benefit against the common good". Importantly, that does not label conspiracy theories as true or false--they can be either one. Some laborious data collection and analysis allows them to rule out a number of oft-cited factors as influencing the overall prevalence of conspiracy theories, including economic performance, the size of the government, social change, technological advancement, and political polarization (these all sound rather nebulous but are defined more precisely in the book and evaluated with specific measures typical to the research on those topics).
In addition to their arguments against conventional wisdom, they have a few key findings of their own. The big one is that the data suggest that political ideology and partisanship are not good predictors of whether people will hold and express belief in conspiracy theories. As they put it in a recent post for The Monkey Cage, a blog at the Washington Post, "Conspiracy theories aren’t just for conservatives." They tie this to a broader argument about power distributions. When one party is in power, partisans on the opposite side are more likely to espouse conspiratorial beliefs.
There's more to it, and it's well worth the quick read. Although the broader literature on conspiracy theories is not one with which I am terribly familiar and the conclusions are somewhat circumscribed by the available data, this is an interesting book that would seem to add some analytical rigor and theoretical parsimony to the study of conspiracy theories. Better yet, it's one of those rare academic works that is also highly readable.
Fortunately, low-brow American entertainment had endowed us with Dale Gribble (King of the Hill), the perfect manifestation of the internet-age conspiracy theorist. Gribble, either the smartest-sounding dumb guy or the dumbest-sounding smart guy in the history of American animated sitcoms, had a bushel basket-full of conspiracy theories and shared them, unsolicited, with Hank Hill and the boys, as they guzzled beers while standing guard over the neighborhood trash cans.
Initially, the analyzing of 121 years-worth of Letters to the Editor at the New York Times to gauge the long-term staying power of conspiracy theories, sounded like a perfectly legitimate and reliable method; upon further reading, three questions emerged. If, as Uscinski and Parent assert, “Conspiracy Theories are for Losers, ‘speaking descriptively, not pejoratively,’” why would Not-in-the-Mainstream conspiracy theorists share their views via The New York Times, viewed by librarians and historians as the Newspaper of Record, and arguably the most mainstream of US media? What percentage of letters received at the NYT, as opposed to letters printed, are conspiracy theory-based? And are the letters that make it to print an accurate ideological reflection of all conspiracy-based letters received?
American Conspiracy Theories did not fully meet my expectations, but that is certainly not the fault of Uscinski and Parent. I remain extremely skeptical of all conspiracy theories, regardless of source or composition of the group peddling their various narratives.
Mr. Gribble was unavailable for comment.