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Conspiracies & Conspiracy Theories

What We Should and Shouldn't Believe - and Why
Narrated by: Michael Shermer
Length: 6 hrs and 30 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (15 ratings)

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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.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

A couple of problems

This recording was, overall, informative and kept my interest throughout. However, it is very American-centred and left me wondering throughout how much of it applied to us in Canada. Also, having made the assertion that conspiracy theories no longer require facts or evidence, Shermer makes the optimistic statement that the arc will eventually bend toward truth and justice. He gives no facts and makes no argument to back up his theory. Like the modern-day conspiracy theorists he just expects us to take his word for it. I'm not so optimistic, and he has given me no reason to think otherwise.

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Just x files

Clears up a lot of stupid believes that people have about UFOs, government hidings and world corruption within their and our governments

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • P. Lalone-madigan
  • 2019-09-21

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.

71 people found this helpful

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  • sanslos
  • 2019-10-25

Really good review of conspiracy theories topic

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

5 people found this helpful

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  • Erik Nelson
  • 2019-10-20

Persuasive discussion of the Kennedy assassination

As the author indicated, remastered HD versions of the Zapruder film do seem to show a spray of blood fanning out in a forward direction (before getting caught in the 20mph headwind) from the 3rd & fatal head shot, consistent with a shot from the rear

3 people found this helpful

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  • Lynn
  • 2019-10-03

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.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Wingznut
  • 2019-10-16

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!!

10 people found this helpful

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  • Tad
  • 2019-11-19

A healthy dose of skepticism combined with a healt

Shermer's work here provides the tools needed to distinguish real conspiracies from the fraudulent.

1 person found this helpful

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  • James G.
  • 2019-11-02

Real eye-opener! <br />

Will Rogers said it. What we know that ain't so can hurt us. Afraid to say this will be much tougher in the years ahead with the impact of social media.

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  • Craig S.
  • 2019-09-18

Great listen!

Great listen! Shermer does a great job as always! Entertaining, enlightening and thoroughly engrossing stuff!

10 people found this helpful

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  • David
  • 2019-10-02

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.

22 people found this helpful

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  • V. Taras
  • 2020-01-19

Not revolutionary, but insightful enough

The book may not be a major breakthrough but it's definitely insightful enough to be on your reading list.

The book provides a good review of theories of conspiracy, good examples of conspiracies and analysis of such.

recommend.