Q: What do we need to have in place for a conspiracy theory to develop?
A: Conspiracy theories emerge where three things collide.
The first is our natural tendency to find patterns and create narratives, to try to turn all these stray signals we receive into some sort of coherent order.
Second is a situation that we're suspicious of and makes us fearful.
And third is the fact that there are actual cases of people conspiring. There's a reason why there's a legal offense called conspiracy. It's not like being afraid of some supernatural monster that people talk about but never shows up.
In related news:
• I talked about the book on WNYC in New York yesterday. You can listen to that conversation here.
• NPR's Scott Simon recorded an interview with me about the book earlier this week. It should air on Weekend Edition tomorrow.