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A Culture of Conspiracy

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Pages  255
Followed by  Chasing Phantoms
Author  Michael Barkun
Country  United States of America
3.6/5 Goodreads

ISBN  0-520-23805-2
Originally published  1 January 2003
Page count  255
OCLC  51305869
A Culture of Conspiracy t0gstaticcomimagesqtbnANd9GcS9rzxQzmktXAh3Kg
Preceded by  Religion and the racist right
Similar  Michael Barkun books, Religion books

A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America is a 2003 non-fiction book written by Michael Barkun, professor emeritus of political science at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.


Its publisher, the University of California Press, and scholarly critics describe the book as the most comprehensive and authoritative examination of contemporary American conspiracism to date by a leading expert on the subject.


Along with the Internet playing a key role in introducing individuals to beliefs once consigned to the outermost fringe of American political and religious life, Barkun points to the convergence of two phenomena that influences contemporary American conspiracism:

  • The rise of "improvisational millennialism" — a belief in an imminent destruction of the world and the creation of a new world as a result of the triumph of good over evil, which is independent from any single religious or secular tradition (e.g., Christian premillennial dispensationalism, etc.) and indiscriminately syncretizes ideas from different traditions (e.g., Western esotericism, Eastern religions, New Age movement, fringe science, radical politics, etc.).
  • The popularity of "stigmatized knowledge" — claims to the truth that the claimants regard as verified (e.g., climate change denial, location hypotheses of Atlantis, astrology, alchemy, folk medicine, alien abduction, extraterrestrial hypothesis for UFOs, suppressed cancer cures, etc.), despite the marginalization of those claims by the authoritative institutions that conventionally distinguish between knowledge and error (e.g., academia, scientific community, etc.).
  • Release details

  • Hardcover: 255 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 1 edition (November 7, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN 978-0-520-23805-3
  • Paperback: 251 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 1 edition (May 4, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN 978-0-520-24812-0
  • Reviews

    In a February 2004 review, writer and political blogger Daniel Pipes wrote:

    Some people believe in the lost continent of Atlantis and in unidentified flying objects (UFOs). Others worry about an 18th-century secret society called the Bavarian Illuminati or a mythical Zionist-Occupied Government secretly running the United States. What if these disparate elements shared beliefs, joined forces, won a much larger audience, broke out of their intellectual and political ghetto, and became capable of challenging the premises of public life in the United States? This is the frightening prospect, soberly presented by Michael Barkun in his important, just-published book.


    A Culture of Conspiracy Wikipedia

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