Eight Kinds of Conspiracy Theorist

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The Damaged Survivor

Type: "Damaged survivors are particularly effective as recruiters for conspiracist movements," writes Kay, "because the spectacle of their grief short-circuits our intellectual faculties."

Example: Jenny McCarthy. The former Playboy model has carved out a second act as the world's most influential purveyor of autism misinformation. She has taken to shows like Oprah and (the now defunct) Larry King Live to talk up the miraculous alternative therapies that allowed her son to "recover" from autism – an incurable genetic disorder – and tout discredited theories tying autism to vaccines. Under her influence, parents have avoided vaccinating their children, exposing them to preventable (and in some cases, fatal) diseases such as measles and petussis.


 Paranoid Nation: How Conspiracy Theories Are Destroying America


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