Conspiracy theories are inevitable in complex human societies. And while they have always been with us, their ubiquity in our political discourse is nearly unprecedented. Their salience has increased for a variety of reasons including the increasing access to information among ordinary people, a pervasive sense of powerlessness among those same people, and a widespread distrust of elites. Working in combination, these factors and many other factors are now propelling conspiracy theories into our public sphere on a vast scale. In recent years, scholars have begun to study this genuinely important phenomenon in a concerted way. In Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe Them, Joseph E. Uscinski has gathered forty top researchers on the topic to provide both the foundational tools and the evidence to better understand conspiracy theories in the United States and around the world. Each chapter is informed by three core questions: Why do so many people believe in conspiracy theories? What are the effects of such theories when they take hold in the public? What can or should be done about the phenomenon? Combining systematic analysis and cutting-edge empirical research, this volume will help us better understand an extremely important, yet relatively neglected, phenomenon.
About the Author
Joseph E. Uscinski is an associate professor of Political Science in the University of Miami College of Arts & Sciences, where he teaches courses on American politics. He is coauthor of American Conspiracy Theories (Oxford, 2014) and author of The People's News: Media, Politics, and the Demands of Capitalism (New York University Press, 2014). He received his Ph.D. in American Politics from University of Arizona, his M.A. from University of New Hampshire, and his B.A. from Plymouth State College.