The Return of Paranoid Politics

I have an essay in the latest Standpoint on the explosion of conspiracy theories.

Until recently, examining paranoid politics was not a respectable occupation for serious writers. Stephen Jay Gould once wrote that few of his scientific colleagues wanted to spend years looking for fraudulent science when they could be concentrating on making their own discoveries. The same unwillingness to waste precious time protected fraudulent history. The effort needed to go through the shifting assertions of, say, the 9/11 “truth” campaigners would question the researcher’s sanity as much as the sanity of his or her targets. Such studies of paranoia as there have been followed the format of Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends, where the role of the journalist is to confirm the audience’s sense of its own superiority by inspecting American survivalists or racial supremacists, much as Georgian gentlemen examined the lunatics of Bedlam.

The rise of radical Islam with its medieval manias about Jewish conspiracies and Crusader intrigues and the wild fears the disasters of the Bush administration provoked are driving out unwarranted superciliousness, and not before time.

Go read the whole thing

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2 thoughts on “The Return of Paranoid Politics

  1. All the conspiracy theorists about Iraq block from their minds any thought for the tens of thousands blown to pieces by al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia.

    Which conspiracy theories are you talking about in this part of the essay?

  2. The paranoicas defence for when they are in trouble rather than causing it: ‘just because i’m paranoid it doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me’ could have, if being a particular nuissance, again tagged on the end of it. The first question is what have you been doing? should test them enough, you would think. Until you here I

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