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American Conspiracy Theories$
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Joseph E. Uscinski and Joseph M. Parent

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199351800

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199351800.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 01 December 2021

A Theory of Conspiracy

A Theory of Conspiracy

(p.1) 1 A Theory of Conspiracy
American Conspiracy Theories

Joseph E. Uscinski

Joseph M. Parent

Oxford University Press

Theintroductory chapter reviews some of the most notable conspiracy theories in American history. It details their consequences and close links to politics and policy. It assesses the strengths and weaknesses of previous studies on conspiracy theories and discusses the gaps in what is known about conspiracy theories. It then presents the book’s main argument: conspiracy theories ignite when socialized motive meets political opportunity. Conspiracy theories are a manifestation of vulnerability, a symptom of heightened danger from powerful actors. They are a motivated bias to see the world in a politically charged way. Finally, an outline of the book and overview of the subsequent chapters is presented.

Keywords:   American history, conspiracy theories, socialized motive, political opportunity, motivated bias

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