Episode 70: The Enemy Within: Conspiracy Theory 101

Conspiracy theories are a mainstay of modern culture. Whether anchoring complex theatrical thrillers, or filling air time in the twenty-four hour news cycle, the complex shadow machinations of mysterious actors create excellent alternative narratives and high entertainment value wherever we might encounter them. The interesting side effect of this ubiquitous coverage of conspiracy theories is that they have moved from the fringes, to the mainstream. Where did this start? When did we politically paranoid Americans stop trusting the government? Maybe we have always been skeptical, but the widespread systematic dogma that makes up the modern belief in conspiracy theories wasn’t in place until after the Vietnam War. Join us this week as we discuss the burglary that brought down J. Edgar Hoover’s COINTELPRO program We’ll also talk about that program’s pointed effort to inspire paranoia in the domestic population. We’ll explore the lasting effects of this actual government conspiracy on the modern mind, why we believe conspiracy theories, and how these ideas spread. Of course, we would be remiss if we spoke of conspiracy theories and didn’t mention “the most paranoid man in America,” Alex Jones.  So we’ll do that, too. Wake up, sheeple, this one is a doozie.

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Sources:

Narcotizing Dysfunction: The Danger of Information

Burglars Who Took On F.B.I. Abandon Shadows – New York Times

Breaking 43 Years of Silence, the Last FBI Burglar Tells the Story of Her Years in the Underground – The Nation

BERRIGANS DENY KIDNAPPING PLOT – New York Times

Plot to Kidnap Kissinger Is Charged; Philip Berrigan and 5 Others Indicted – New York Times

How Alex Jones’ Wild Conspiracies Breed Potentially Deadly Plots – Southern Poverty Law Center

Why People Who Believe One Conspiracy Theory Are More Likely to Believe Another – Scientific American

COINTELPRO and the History of Domestic Spying – NPR

FBI Vault – COINTELPRO – Black Extremist

From COINTELPRO to Snowden, the FBI Burglars Speak out After 43 Years of Scilence – Democracy Now!

It Is Not A Funny Trial – New York Times – February 27, 1971

Alex Jones – Southern Poverty Law Center

Meet Alex Jones – Rolling Stone

Going Online in the Age of Conspiracy Theories – The Atlantic

The Plot To Destroy America – Newsweek

A Comprehensive Guide To Alex Jones: Conspiracy Theorist And Trump “Valuable Asset” – Media Matters

The FBI COINTELPRO Program and the Fred Hampton Assassination – The Huffington Post

Preventing the Rise of a ‘Messiah’ – The Guardian

COINTELPRO – FBI Vault

As an American, I question the US travel alerts and embassy closures – The Guardian

Ridge says he was pressured to raise terror alerts – NBC News

Conspiracy Theory Reconsidered – Lance deHaven-Smith, Matthew T Witt

How FBI Entrapment Is Inventing ‘Terrorists’ – and Letting Bad Guys Off the Hook – Rolling Stone

Terrorist Plots, Hatched by the FBI – New York Times

FBI Terror Stings: Entrapment or Prevention? – CBS News

Sir Richard Evans on conspiracy theories – BBC

Conspiracy and Democracy – University of Cambridge

The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI by Betty Medsger

FBI File – The Berrigan Brothers and the Harrisburg Seven Trial

Silver Bullets and Seed Banks: A Material Analysis of Conspiracist Millennialism by David G. Robertson

Government’s Little Helper: US Press Coverage of Foreign Policy Crises, 1945-1991 by John Zaller

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