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Conspiracies & Conspiracy Theories  By  cover art

Conspiracies & Conspiracy Theories

By: Michael Shermer,The Great Courses
Narrated by: Michael Shermer
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Publisher's summary

Millions of Americans buy into conspiracy theories. Did you know that...

  • 81 percent of Americans believe more than one person was responsible for the assassination of John F. Kennedy?
  • 1/3 of this country thinks 9/11 was an “inside job” by the Bush administration? 
  • 21 percent believes aliens crash-landed in Roswell and are being hidden in Area 51? 
  • 7 percent are convinced that the moon landing was faked?

What causes some people to advocate these unfounded—often disproven—ideas as reality? And why is the power of conspiracies so compelling that they can motivate people to act, some even participating in acts of violence?

In this eye-opening Audible Original, Professor Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine and the host of the Science Salon podcast, takes you through some of the most prevalent conspiracy theories in history, giving you a clear understanding of how and why they came about, who was likely to believe and perpetuate them, and the reality behind these beliefs.

Whether you are looking for the truth regarding popular conspiracy theories; are fascinated by the psychology of why people buy into them; or are interested in how they shaped and were shaped by history, this course will provide you all the tools you need to better understand the pervasiveness of conspiracy theories.  

©2019 Audible Originals, LLC (P)2019 Audible Originals, LLC.

Our favorite moments from Conspiracies & Conspiracy Theories

Chapter 2, Lecture 1: The Difference between Conspiracies and Conspiracy Theories
  • Chapter 2, Lecture 1: The Difference between Conspiracies and Conspiracy Theories
Mass-killer manifesto
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Chapter 6, Lecture 7: The Conspiracy Detection Kit
  • Chapter 6, Lecture 7: The Conspiracy Detection Kit
Russia manipulates US social media.
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Chapter 11, Lecture 12: The Real X-Files: Conspiracy Theories in Myth and Reality
  • Chapter 11, Lecture 12: The Real X-Files: Conspiracy Theories in Myth and Reality
"And you greet me with bombs!"
-0.00
  • Chapter 2, Lecture 1: The Difference between Conspiracies and Conspiracy Theories
  • Mass-killer manifesto
  • Chapter 6, Lecture 7: The Conspiracy Detection Kit
  • Russia manipulates US social media.
  • Chapter 11, Lecture 12: The Real X-Files: Conspiracy Theories in Myth and Reality
  • "And you greet me with bombs!"

Publisher's summary

Millions of Americans buy into conspiracy theories. Did you know that...

  • 81 percent of Americans believe more than one person was responsible for the assassination of John F. Kennedy?
  • 1/3 of this country thinks 9/11 was an “inside job” by the Bush administration? 
  • 21 percent believes aliens crash-landed in Roswell and are being hidden in Area 51? 
  • 7 percent are convinced that the moon landing was faked?

What causes some people to advocate these unfounded—often disproven—ideas as reality? And why is the power of conspiracies so compelling that they can motivate people to act, some even participating in acts of violence?

In this eye-opening Audible Original, Professor Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine and the host of the Science Salon podcast, takes you through some of the most prevalent conspiracy theories in history, giving you a clear understanding of how and why they came about, who was likely to believe and perpetuate them, and the reality behind these beliefs.

Whether you are looking for the truth regarding popular conspiracy theories; are fascinated by the psychology of why people buy into them; or are interested in how they shaped and were shaped by history, this course will provide you all the tools you need to better understand the pervasiveness of conspiracy theories.  

©2019 Audible Originals, LLC (P)2019 Audible Originals, LLC.
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About the Professor

Dr. Michael Shermer is the publisher of Skeptic magazine, the host of the Science Salon podcast, and a Presidential Fellow at Chapman University where he teaches Skepticism 101, a course in how to think like a scientist. For 18 years he was a monthly columnist for Scientific American. Dr. Shermer is the New York Times best-selling author of numerous books including Heavens on Earth, The Moral Arc, The Believing Brain, The Mind of the Market, Why Darwin Matters, The Science of Good and Evil, and Why People Believe Weird Things. Dr. Shermer received his BA in psychology from Pepperdine University, his MA in experimental psychology from California State University and his PhD in the history of science from Claremont Graduate University. He has been a college professor since 1979, has appeared on such shows as The Colbert Report, 20/20, and Dateline, and is a guest on such popular podcasts as The Joe Rogan Experience. Dr. Shermer was co-host and co-producer of the television series Exploring the Unknown.

What listeners say about Conspiracies & Conspiracy Theories

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No chapter titles!!???

I find it unbelievable that Audible would make a special contract with Great Courses to provide exclusive content but get lazy about putting in chapter titles. Without chapter titles, we can’t go from chapter to chapter depending on the topic we want to read about, which is the whole point of the great courses. Please fix this failure.

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115 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Unconvincing take on conspiracies and conspiracy theories

This Audible Original course from the usually excellent The Great Courses would have better been titled 'The psychology of conspiracy theories', since that is the main focus of this course. The first handful of lectures deal with a breakdown of what makes a conspiracy theorist tick but I found the argument unconvincing. In this era where conspiracy theories have become common fodder on cable news and talk radio, fills up the shelves of our bookstores and is swamping the internet I think we have moved beyond the concept of a loony tune ranging away in a crowded room. Conspiracy Theories have almost become part of pop culture and group think than one man shouting loudly from the fringe. Unfortunetly, this premise is not explored at all even though the most popular theories - such as UFO or 911 - involve numerous people spouting theories over decades. The psychology used is solid but not related to the topic and, thus, I found it to be unconvincing. This short series of lectures was interesting but, in the end, unrewarding.

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43 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Over sensationalization

Why does he find it necessary to use a rough voice when speaking as a conspiracy theorist and why does he need to picture them in dark rooms? Make your point without the artificial drama ~ I'm out.

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33 people found this helpful

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Lost me when he mocked creationists

1st he seemed like he would give a fair unbiased perspective.
next he used a belittling tone to anyone who believes in some level of conspiracy.
Then he related creationists to the people he had mocked before.
I was done.

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28 people found this helpful

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Wanted More Substance

Perhaps the nature of the subject makes it difficult for a scholar/author to judge accurately how far to get into the weeds of conspiracies that have influenced history. For instance, the generalist audience members would have to know a lot about history to put long-ago successful conspiracies and unsuccessful conspiracies into context. I found the lack of detail frustrating, However, I took away a better understanding of why people believe rumors, false narratives, and even preposterous ideas. Most of us have trouble understanding our increasingly complicated world from day to day. Groping around for SOME explanation of big events, it's oddly comforting to be certain of something, even if it's something patently untrue, than to accept the sad fact that most of what happens defies explanation and/or moral grounding.

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24 people found this helpful

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Not what I was expecting!

I got this thinking they’d be explaining all major conspiracy theories. Instead, you get education into the minds of conspiracies and those who believe them. It’s a very interesting listen to learn about why certain theories take off and the hardcore believers of that theory very seldom waiver. Great stuff here!!

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20 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Leftist Rant

If you are a leftist you may enjoy this book. Otherwise don't waste your time.

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not what I was hoping for

I was hoping for more about what makes people susceptible to this sort of thinking, and how to effectively argue against conspiracists.
The lectures touched on those, but spent far more time giving historical accounts of known conspiracies that failed, succeeded, or never were.
it might be a great series if you are more interested in the history end than the psychological one.

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16 people found this helpful

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Irrekevant

immorally biased, irrelevant examples, short in perspective, narrow scope, pompous introduction, poorly written and read, a waste of time and money.

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11 people found this helpful

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Really good review of conspiracy theories topic

Very interesting topic with many good examples including analysis of how/ why/ who around conspiracies.

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