What Conspiracy Theories Say About Us: Jesse Walker on The United States of Paranoia


"Political paranoia, and conspiracy theories in particular, have been a part of the United States since before there was a United States," explains Reason Magazine books editor Jesse Walker, author of the new book The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory. "Even when a conspiracy theory says absolutely nothing true about the object of the theory, if it catches on it says something true about the anxieties and the experiences of the people who believe it."

Rejecting the assumption that these beliefs are the purview of outsiders on the fringes of society, Walker details how even those at the very heart of American power—from John Quincy Adams' fear of Freemasons to LBJ's insistence that communists were stoking race riots—have held these views.

ReasonTV's Nick Gillespie sat down with Walker to discuss his book, the deep history of conspiracy theories in America, and how he became fascinated with the topic. 

Approx. 9:20 minutes.

Produced by Meredith Bragg. Shot by Todd Krainin and Amanda Winkler.

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