Responding To Conspiracy Theory Questions

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OPEN UNIVERSITY SEPTEMBER 7, 2006

Responding To Conspiracy Theory Questions

by Eric RauchwayHere are some responses to direct questions in the comments to my earlier post on McLemee, Hofstadter and conspiracy theory.

To andersonblog and purcellneil, no, I'm not trying to defend conspiracy theorists; I am trying to say it's maybe not helpful to call them crazy. When one person believes something of this nature, maybe he's crazy; when a hundred people believe it, maybe they're a cult; when a few thousand believe it--when they have their own journals and organizations and bumper stickers--we're to the level of, if not culture, then subculture maybe. At the very least we might better understand what we're looking at if we drop the psychoanalytical terms and pick up some sociological or anthropological ones.

(I guess I should point out I wrote a book that's at least partly about the political uses of calling certain beliefs crazy.)

And as for src's question, I wrote an essay about Hofstadter and what he said about the Populists not too long ago; you can find it here. And as long as I'm at it, I offer my own version on what it maybe was and wasn't reasonable for populists to believe in this book.

(Since this is a new blog, maybe one might wonder, will I always respond to questions? Time and energy permitting; I think it's a good idea.)

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