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A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary by Michael Barkun

By Michael Barkun

What do flying saucers believers, Christian millennialists, and right-wing conspiracy theorists have in universal? in line with Michael Barkun during this attention-grabbing but worrying booklet, rather a lot. it truly is renowned that a few americans are passionate about conspiracies. The Kennedy assassination, the Oklahoma urban bombing, and the 2001 terrorist assaults have all generated tricky tales of hidden plots. what's a long way much less recognized is the level to which conspiracist worldviews have lately turn into associated in unusual and unpredictable methods with different "fringe" notions resembling a trust in UFOs, Nostradamus, and the Illuminati. Unraveling the intense genealogies and diversifications of those more and more common rules, Barkun indicates how this net of city legends has unfold between subcultures on the net and during mass media, how a brand new form of conspiracy considering has lately arisen, and the way this phenomenon pertains to greater alterations in American tradition. This booklet, written by way of a number one professional at the topic, is the main finished and authoritative exam of up to date American conspiracism thus far.
Barkun discusses more than a few material--involving inner-earth caves, executive black helicopters, alien abductions, mystery New global Order cabals, and lots more and plenty more--that few detect exists in our tradition. taking a look heavily on the manifestions of those principles in a variety of literature and resource fabric from spiritual and political literature, to New Age and unidentified flying object guides, to pop culture phenomena corresponding to The X-Files, and to web content, radio courses, and extra, Barkun reveals that the USA is within the throes of an unmatched interval of millennarian job. His publication underscores the significance of figuring out why this phenomenon is now spreading into extra mainstream segments of yankee tradition.

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Additional resources for A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America (Comparative Studies in Religion and Society)

Sample text

Both have flourished. Although it was once believed that forces for secularization would inevitably marginalize religion, the last three or four decades of the twentieth century demonstrated the vitality of many religious traditions. This is particularly evident in the growth of fundamentalisms—religious movements that seek to restore what believers consider a pristine, uncorrupted tradition. Such movements are characterized by their emphasis on the literal reading of sacred texts and the drive to remold society in conformity with religious norms.

First, the more a conspiracy theory seeks to explain, the larger its domain of evil; the conspiracy includes more and more malevolent agents. Second, the more inclusive the conspiracy theory, the less susceptible it is to disproof, for skeptics and their evidence are increasingly identified with the powers of evil. The result of these processes is that the villains who populate conspiracy theories tend to multiply rapidly. Conspiracists find it difficult to keep out new putative evildoers. As succeeding chapters will demonstrate, ufologists—the very subculture on which Dean focuses—began with conspiracy theories that had nothing to do with anti-Semitism, yet in some cases ended up testifying to the veracity of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Because the claims made by conspiracy theorists are usually nonfalsifiable, the multiplication of sources may leave the impres- G&S Typesetters PDF proof 02-C2713 6/13/03 12:46 PM Page 29 M I L L E N N I A L I S M A N D S T I G M AT I Z E D K N O W L E D G E 29 sion of validation without actually putting any propositions to the test of evidence. This pattern was noted almost thirty-five years ago by Richard Hofstadter in his examination of what he called the paranoid political style, discussed in more detail in chapter 1.

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