EP 609 Why the Rational Believe the Irrational


Conspiracy theories are now mainstream in American politics. The most recent was the rigging allegations surrounding the 2020 election when somehow a cabal of independent state actors, many of whom were Republicans, and computer hackers conspired to give Joe Biden a seven million vote plurality in the popular vote, even though he actually lost to Donald Trump.  At the same time, Republicans picked up seats in the House of Representatives and state races.  I guess the theory is that only the top line was tampered with.  Many candidates in 2022 ran on the dis proven election lie.  Historically enough conspiracies were real so paying some attention to the phenomenon made sense. Medical professionals have harmed people in their care (Tuskegee) and the government does lie to us, such as in the case of Watergate, Iran-Contra and Vietnam so it is good to be skeptical, but what is lacking today in many cases is the theory of the case.  QAnon, for example, is the conspiracy theory of everything (and thus nothing).  To break all this down for us is Michael Shermer, the publisher of Skeptic magazine, and the author of the new book, “Conspiracy”.  He describes all the factors involved in trying to make sense of a world that seems, at times,to have gone mad.  Clinging to conspiracy theories may say as much about us, our own anxieties and loss of control, then about the wild notions being thrown about.