Conspiracy theories spread into mainstream America

Barkun, MichaelProfessor Emeritus of Political Science Michael Barkun has written a revised and expanded edition of his authoritative 2001 book, Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America.  In this second edition, Barkun looks at how American society has changed since his book was first published, adding new chapters on 9/11 conspiracy theories; conspiracy theories that deal with President Obama, including the “birther” claims;  theories centered on militias and “lone wolves”; and apocalyptic fears focused on the year 2012 and the Mayan calendar.   

Barkun also looks at how the conspiracy landscape has changed with the rise of the Internet and other new media.  He shows how the web of urban legends has spread among subcultures on the Internet and through mass media, how a new style of conspiracy thinking has arisen, and how this phenomenon relates to larger changes in American culture.  Building on substantial evidence from his first edition, Barkun concludes that America is in the throes of an unrivaled period of conspiracy theory activity and explains why this phenomenon is permeating segments of mainstream American culture.