Conspiracy Theories

Talkin' Conspiracies with PJ Media

Ed Driscoll interviews Jesse Walker.


Last week Ed Driscoll of PJ Media interviewed me about The United States of Paranoia, a book I may have mentioned a time or two on this blog. He has now posted both a podcast and a transcript of our conversation. Here's an excerpt:

The book, by contrast, costs a few bucks.
Nina Paley

MR. DRISCOLL: Any hopes that The United States of Paranoia will put an end or at least reduce some of the conspiracy mongering?

MR. WALKER: Oh, no. I mean, I didn't write this as an attack on conspiracy theories, although I'm very open about it when I think something isn't true. And I didn't write it as a collection of conspiracy theories that I believe in.

It's just sort of me looking at the stories and at American history and culture through that lens. So I'm not even trying to stop it here. But it would be fruitless to try to stop it, because that's just the way people's minds work.

Like I said, we're always going to be seeing signals, seeing patterns, creating narratives, being suspicious of people. And there's always going to be some conspiracies that are real, so some theorizing is going to be justified. And that's just the way it is, you know?

I was on TV a few days ago, and someone said conspiracy theories were toxic to democracy. And all I can say is, I hope not, because that means you could never have a democratic society.


NEXT: Archbishop of Canterbury Says Christians Must Repent for Treatment of Homosexuals

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. You have a book? I’ve never heard about this.

    1. You know who else wrote a book?

      1. Dan Brown?

  2. I keep searching for the source of the mid-90s quotation: “Information wants to be $5.99” but I cant find it.

    Its a brilliant quotation, and someone deserves the credit.

    1. $5.99 is an odd price point.
      $4.99 makes sense, or $9.99, or the old standby, $19.99. But who wants to shell out $5.99 for something?

  3. someone said conspiracy theories were toxic to democracy.

    Bunk and hokum.

  4. I would buy this book were it not for the giant UFO disguised as a cloud hovering over the local Barnes & Noble, waiting for me. And we all know about the NSA so online purchase is not an option.

    If only Mr. Walker would accept payment in some confidential manner, such as Bitcoin or perhaps straight barter if he is in need of tin foil – I have lots of tin foil – a deal could be arranged?

    1. What are you, chicken? Go up there and talk to them. They’re waiting for you.

    2. so an unidentified object is disguised as a cloud…

      How do you even know it is hostile to you if it is unidentified?

      Hell how do you know it is not a cloud as it is unidentified?

  5. I hope not, because that means you could never have a democratic society.

    Technically The democrat and republican parties are conspiracies….The same thing can be said about any political party or political movement.

  6. Thanks for setting them straight Jesse. People want to mock ideas that are uncomfortable to them as “conspiracy theories” when sometimes, there are indeed people conspiring as the theorists believe. Of course, a lot of the theories are paranoid delusions too.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.