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Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe Them$
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Joseph E. Uscinski

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190844073

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190844073.001.0001

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Polls, Plots, and Party Politics

Polls, Plots, and Party Politics

Conspiracy Theories in Contemporary America

(p.298) 20 Polls, Plots, and Party Politics
Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe Them

Adam M. Enders

Steven M. Smallpage

Oxford University Press

Conspiracy theories have always been fixtures of American politics and culture. Indeed, conspiracy theories have been used to explain major events from national tragedies, terrorist attacks, and mass violence to national accomplishments, election outcomes, and power structures. Rather than the incoherent ramblings of a “crazy” few, a majority of Americans endorse at least one conspiracy theory. Conspiracy theories also have an important political component: Where members of both parties engage in conspiratorial thinking, the actual conspiracy theories endorsed by Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives are very different, and oftentimes used to achieve political goals. Finally, conspiracy theories have consequences including declining trust in government, the exacerbation of social polarization, and the proliferation of the politics of disruption that have characterized recent electoral cycles.

Keywords:   conspiracy theory, partisanship, ideology, measurement, trust, survey

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