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The Truth Behind Conspiracy Theories

As soon as a major news event takes place, a conspiracy theory or two is sure to follow. Why do some people believe that the official word is not what really takes place? What sort of comfort do the

The Truth Behind Conspiracy Theories

Originally aired April 3, 2007.

Tom Fudge: 

Conspiracy theories are probably as old as human society.  They all have certain things in common.  They involve dark motives and unseen forces.  They assume a privileged class of people who have the ability to manipulate events and hide the truth.  Today, they are communicated and sustained by that beacon of mass communication -- the World Wide Web. Among our favorite conspiracy theories: the plot to murder President Kennedy, the “murder” of Princess Diana, the U.S.-Israeli plot to topple the Twin Towers on 9/11, and how it was pinned on a handful of Arabs.  Conspiracy theories live on thanks to a psychology that assumes that anyone debunking them is simply a tool of the establishment.  But why do so many of us cling to conspiracy theories?   And are any of them true?


  • Chip Berlet, senior analyst at Political Research Associates who studies conspiracism.
  • Dr. Ted Goertzel, professor in the Sociology Department at Rutgers University who examines why people believe in conspiracy theories.

End Music:   8 by Squarepusher, from the album Burningn' n tree (1997)