JFK and the Decline of Conspiracy Theories
Here’s a link to a blog post from American political scientists Joseph Uscinski and Joseph Parent, trailing their forthcoming book, “American Conspiracy Theories” (Oxford University Press, 2014).
Among the interesting results, they claim that conspiracy theorizing in America has actually been on the decline since the JFK assassination:
Our analyses suggest the overall level of conspiracy theorizing in the United States has been going down steadily since Kennedy’s assassination. The U.S. government looks too ungainly to control and too leaky to seal. Liberals and conservatives increasingly see the world differently and now debate conspiracy theories about different events rather than different interpretations of the same event.
Another interesting claim is that the internet has not made much difference:
While often a scapegoat, the Internet does not appear to have changed conspiracy theorizing any more than television or radio did. Our research shows that the vast majority of Internet news discusses conspiracy theories mostly to mock or debunk them. Of the 100 or so most trafficked Web sites in the United States, none are primarily focused on conspiracy theories.
I would like to see more details on that claim, but it seems (at first glance) to say more about the volume of internet conspiracy talk than about the how the internet has changed (or not changed) the formation and transmission of conspiratorial claims.