By Peter Knight
Conspiracy Theories in American background: An Encyclopedia is the 1st entire, research-based, scholarly examine of the pervasiveness of our deeply ingrained tradition of conspiracy. From the Puritan witch trials to the Masons, from the crimson Scare to Watergate, Whitewater, and the warfare on Terror, this encyclopedia covers conspiracy theories around the breadth of U.S. background, analyzing the members, businesses, and ideas at the back of them. Its over three hundred alphabetical entries conceal either the documented documents of tangible conspiracies and the cultural and political importance of particular conspiracy speculations.
Neither selling nor pushing aside any thought, the entries stream past the standard biased rhetoric to supply a clear-sighted, dispassionate examine every one conspiracy (real or imagined). Readers will come to appreciate the political and social contexts during which those theories arose, the mindsets and motivations of the folk selling them, the genuine effect of society's reactions to conspiracy fears, warranted or no longer, and the decision (when verifiable) that historical past has handed on each one case.
"The editors of this advantageous reference rightfully assert that 'conspiracy theories have performed an essential function in shaping the process American history.' … the 1st to hide the topic comprehensively, this paintings bargains a dispassionate examine conspiracy theories, from the Boston Tea social gathering to September eleven, 2001, putting each one within the context of its time."
"This is an interesting reference … an outstanding addition to educational and massive public libraries."
"The encyclopedia admirably accomplishes its objectives … Articles are ordinarily enticing and primary fee of their scholarship. … specified in either layout and content material, it is a severe and precious attempt, and may definitely develop into one of many extra renowned reference titles in lots of library collections."
American Reference Books Annual
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Extra resources for Conspiracy Theories in American History: An Encyclopedia, Volumes 1-2
A further development of this theory puts forward the idea that sometimes people at the very center of power might create (or perhaps just cynically promote) a popular outburst of demonology in order to further their own political schemes. This view is sometimes known as the elitist theory of moral panics, because it suggests that the elite deliberately fuel moral panics in order to legitimate repressive measures that would otherwise be unacceptable. Like the scapegoating theory, this position has the advantage of not relying on unprovable assertions about the psychological makeup of those inclined to believe in conspiracy theories, and at its best it can offer compelling and historically nuanced accounts of the vested political and economic interests that are really being served by the promotion of conspiracy beliefs.
107–132. Camp, Gregory S. 1997. Selling Fear: Conspiracy Theories and End-Times Paranoia. Grand Rapids: Baker. 24 Crews, Frederick. 1998. ” New York Review of Books 45 (25 June 1998): 14–19. , and Thomas M. Brown, eds. 1972. Conspiracy: The Fear of Subversion in American History. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. Davis, David Brion, ed. 1971. The Fear of Conspiracy: Images of Un-American Subversion from the Revolution to the Present. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Dean, Jodi. 1998. Aliens in America: Conspiracy Cultures from Outerspace to Cyberspace.
An important component of this theory is its suggestion that conspiracy theories about blameless victims are often whipped up quite cynically as part of a larger campaign of popular hatred. In this respect the psychology of belief envisaged by this theory is very different from that proposed by the “paranoid style” school. In that model, the believers in conspiracy theory can’t help themselves and are in a sense victims of a style of thought that clouds their judgment, along the lines of succumbing to an epidemic mass hysteria.