Conspiracy Theories: A Critical Introduction

Byford, Jovan (2011). Conspiracy Theories: A Critical Introduction. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.



No event of any significance in the world today – be it an unexpected election result, a terrorist attack, the death of a public figure, a meteorological anomaly, or the flu pandemic – takes place without generating at least a flutter of conspiracy speculations.

Conspiracy Theories: A Critical Introduction offers a well informed, highly accessible, and thoroughly engaging introduction to conspiracy theories, discussing their nature and history, causes and consequences. Through a series of specific questions that cut to the core of conspiracism as a global social and cultural phenomenon, the book deconstructs the logic and rhetoric of conspiracy theories and analyses the broader social and psychological factors that contribute to their persistence in modern society.

• What are the defining characteristics of conspiracy theories and how do they differ from legitimate inquiries into actual conspiracies?
• How long have conspiracy theories been around and to what extent are contemporary versions similar to those of yesteryear?
• Why do conspiracy theories all sound alike and what ensures their persistence in modern society?
• What psychological benefits do conspiracy theories bring to those who subscribe to them?
• Why are conspiracy theories so often mobilized by political forces whose agenda is antithetical to democratic politics?

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