Conspiracy Theories

On the Radio Today: Jesse Walker, Mark Potok, and Michael Wood Debate Conspiracy Theories

On WHYY in Philadelphia from 11 to 12 ET



The annual Bilderberg conference, star of many a conspiracy theory, will begin tomorrow. To mark the occasion, the Philadelphia public radio station WHYY is interviewing me today to "discuss the more pervasive conspiracies, why people believe them, and how they are affecting this election cycle and the political system in general." The other guests will include the Southern Poverty Law Center's Mark Potok, whose work I have criticized from time to time, and the University of Winchester psychologist Michael Wood, who I wrote about here.

The show will air from 11 to 12 this morning, eastern time. To listen, tune in here. To get ahold of my book about conspiracy theories, go here. To see this year's Bilderberg agenda, go here. To tell me that that's not really this year's Bilderberg agenda, go here.

Update: Here's a recording of the program:

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  1. At the heart of every conspiracy theory is the human need to rationalize things, find a reason for things happening for no reason. It’s somehow more comforting to believe there’s a malevolent force behind the bad things that happen rather than trying to live with the knowledge that bad things just unpredictably and inexplicably happen almost at random. As long as somebody’s in charge, that’s somehow more acceptable than nobody being in charge. We can hope to fix all the wrong things if we stop the Evil One’s conspiracy, replace the wrong Top Men with the right Top Men. It’s hard to face the reality that there’s no secret cabal pulling hidden levers because then you’re faced with the reality that there’s no hidden levers. Nobody’s steering this ship because there’s no steering mechanism, we aren’t actually “headed” anywhere at all, we’re just aimlessly drifting. And maybe there isn’t any particular place to head even if we did have a steering wheel. We’re adrift on an ocean looking for the shore and nobody wants to think maybe this is a water planet and there is no shore.

    1. At the heart of every conspiracy theory is a group of powerful men meeting in secret. Which happens in real life, but their actual power to control events is not as god-like as people fear.

  2. Conspiracy theory: William Penn made Filthadelphia to be a flypaper for all the commonwealth’s a-holes. AND IT WORKED.

  3. Mark Potok is a dishonest asshole

    1. That’s unfair, assholes perform a useful function.

  4. To watch Jesse get all passive aggressive at a commenter go here.

  5. Didn’t get to listen to it, but I note that Wood’s website ( has an article devoted to the conspiracy theories around climate change. It says this:

    “The survey results showed a small but reliable relationship between climate change denial and belief in the various conspiracy theories: people who rejected the scientific consensus on climate change were more likely to believe that 9/11 was an inside job, the moon landing was faked, and the New World Order are taking over.”

    “It would be hard to reject the overwhelming scientific consensus on the reality of climate change without postulating a conspiracy among researchers to mislead the public.”

    That wasn’t written by Woods, but it’s on his website. Hopefully he took you to task for your constant omission of that grand conspiracy theory.

    1. Guilt by association. Since some people who question a flimsy scientific theory also question accepted wisdom on historic events, they’re loons.

      1. Here is the funny thing…the fake moon landers would say the exact same thing…”guilt by association. They’re loons, we aren’t.”

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