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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: 24 October 2021

Conspiracy Theories Are for Losers

Conspiracy Theories Are for Losers

(p.130) 6 Conspiracy Theories Are for Losers
American Conspiracy Theories

Joseph E. Uscinski

Joseph M. Parent

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that conspiracy theories are essentially alarm systems and coping mechanisms to help deal with foreign threat and domestic power centers. Thus, they tend to resonate when groups are suffering from loss, weakness, or disunity. But nothing fails like success, and ascending groups trigger dynamics that check and eventually reverse the advance of conspiracy theories. In short, because defeat and exclusion are their biggest inducements, conspiracy theories are for “losers,” though sooner or later everyone must play the loser. In short, successful conspiracy theories conform to a strategic logic based on threat perception.

Keywords:   conspiracy theories, foreign threat, domestic power, threat perception, strategic logic

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