PSC 211 Conspiracy Theories in American Politics
- Fall 2019
Conspiracy theories are becoming an organizing principle in American politics. This course will explore the history and trends of conspiracy theories, the psychological and strategic underpinnings of persuasion in these theories and misinformation, and the political implications of current conspiracy theories. In order to understand the use (or misuse) of evidence and logic in conspiracy theories, several weeks will be dedicated to extended examples. These conspiracy theories are polarized and polarizing, a unit of the course will discuss political science research on polarization and place conspiracy theories within this trend. Assignments for the course include writing an individual short paper and group presentation on a conspiracy theory that applies the concepts in class. Readings include classics (e.g., Hofstadter's The Paranoid Style in American Politics) and contemporary academic articles and books (e.g., Knight's Conspiracy Nation: The Politics of Paranoia in Postwar America).