Paranoid Nation: How Conspiracy Theories Are Destroying America

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Demonstrators asking for a reinvestigation of the 9/11 terror attacks march in Denver, Colorado.
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Barack Obama wasn't born in the U.S. (And even if he was, no matter: He's still fixing to impose socialist tyranny on America); Osama bin Laden is still alive, or died long ago. 9/11 was an inside job. In case you hadn't noticed, conspiracy theories are big these days. Of course, they've always been big – for which, see Freemasons, Satanic cults, the JFK assassination, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Paul McCartney's death, and on and on. But it's hard to shake the feeling that conspiracy theories are getting out of hand. Cass Sunstein, a Harvard legal thinker now in the Obama administration, wrote an influential paper in 2008 arguing that conspiracism poses a threat to democracy and government needs to start taking it very seriously. And more recently, Canadian journalist Jonathan Kay, who has a new book out about conspiracism, has written Internet-fueled conspiracy theories have caused "nothing less than a rift in the fabric of consensual American reality" – meaning, we don't agree anymore on what reality is. 

Below, posts looking at at conspiracy theories in America today. Check back here for updates.

Top 10 conspiracy theories
Jews run the world; 9/11 was an inside job; Obama is a radical socialist; fluoride is sapping our national strength – and other paranoid fantasies believed by millions

Book excerpt: Among the Truthers
Journalist Jonathan Kay spent two years two journeying in America's "vast conspiracist subculture." He came back with a warning: conspiracy theories are tearing our society apart

Q&A: Jonathan Kay on America's vast conspiracist subculture
The author on on why conspiracists aren't crazy (or dumb), what they get out of believing, and why "birtherism" isn't about race

Photo Gallery: Eight Types of Conspiracy Theorist
From the midlife crisis case to the crank and the failed historian, people latch on to conspiracy theories for all sorts of deep, psychological reasons