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Conspiracy theories have become a fact of American political discourse. It seems at times that we are inundated by conspiracy theories that are being raised and addressed before being consigned to the dustbin in favor of the next batch. Our media outlets devote precious time and resources to debunking these theories and our politicians seem more willing than ever to traffic in conspiracy theories when it is politically convenient. It is tempting to find a scapegoat for this dynamic, to identify a few discrete actors who have introduced it into our politics. If this were the case, then all we would need to do is root these malign figures out of politics and the whole phenomenon would dissipate like mist. Of course, it is not so simple. Our present moment is far from a unique occurrence, as conspiracy theories have a long history in American political discourse. The aim of this paper is to trace the history and character of America's conspiratorial tradition, to better contextualize our present moment within a tradition, and to illuminate our available options.
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Shaffer, Liam Edward, "The Parallax View: How Conspiracy Theories and Belief in Conspiracy Shape American Politics" (2020). Senior Projects Spring 2020. 236.
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