Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History At Salon

Update: the NY Times has a glowing review of the book from MICHIKO KAKUTANI.

Salon has an interesting interview with British journalist and Times of London columnist David Aaronovitch about his  new book, “Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History. As conspiracy theories abound, thanks in part to the power of the Internet, it is good to see a book that addresses the topic and takes apart the theories. Not that the true believers will change their minds.

In recent years, people like the birthers and the 9/11 truthers have gotten a lot of press coverage and pop-cultural play. Are we in a new golden age of conspiracy theories?

I think we live in a more conspiracist period. There’s no question there are more of them, and they’re more global, and they take off more quickly. They’re also more complex and relate to virtual communities rather than real ones. I think it’s because of global interdependence. We live a global period, and there’s a huge temptation among people to believe there is a master plan, because otherwise the suggestion is we’re interdependent and the world is chaotic — and that’s a mindfuck.

There are entire societies where the default position is to believe in conspiracy theories, like in Pakistan or Iran. There are very few people in the Pakistan military, for example, who don’t believe that Bush was behind 9/11. But they’re also probably more easily dispelled, especially in places like the U.S. or Britain. Maybe I’m a false optimist, but I think we have a good skeptics’ movement. My book has done quite well in the U.K. I do think there is some appetite amongst the skeptics that we’ve had enough of this shit and it’s time to fight back.

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One thought on “Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History At Salon

  1. Haven’t read it, and not likely to as that interview snippet seems pretty simplistic about the notion of truth and the nature of conspiracy theory, cultural knowledge, and skepticism.

    “We” in the U.S. and U.K. are generally good skeptics, good at getting at the “truth”; etc. As long as we “stay skeptical,” we can somehow protect ourselves from false beliefs, (too bad those backwards people in Iran cannot).

    Sure, many people in my world have strange notions about 9/11, but don’t U.S. and U.K.ers seem to have equally unshakable conspiracist notions about Muslims?

    I always regret commenting on snippets, but this snippet seems to restate common beliefs about East/West, conspiracies/truth, and so on.

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