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Monday, March 17, 2014

Conspiracy Theory in America (University of Texas Press), by Lance deHaven-Smith

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The term “conspiracy theory” has become shorthand for ideas deemed crazy. While it’s true that many such theories are the hobbyhorses of fanatics, conspiracies really do occur. Can we always be certain conspiracies aren’t being hatched at the highest levels? That’s the salutary message of Florida State University political science professor Lance deHaven-Smith. His plea against being too quick to dismiss unconventional ideas or overlook patterns of “coincidence” is well taken, yet deHaven-Smith weakens his argument by appearing to entertain some way-out theories. The World Trade Center imploded from explosive devices? George H.W. Bush was in on the attempted Reagan assassination? The latter would prove that even well laid conspiracies can be thwarted by apparently random responses.