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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 listeners say about Conspiracies & Conspiracy Theories

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.

11 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Warning! Beware what you believe.

The author makes no attempt to convert hardcore believers of any ConT. Instead he present either what is publicly available or the most probable explanation to challenge popular beliefs. Unfortunately, the research is not exhaustive enough. Rising hot button topics like anti-vaxing etc remained untouched.

3 people found this helpful

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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

1 person found this helpful

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very biased

The author does not have a good understanding of conspiracy theories or how to look at issues objectively and rationally. He uses a lot of emotional language to try to persuade the reader. I could not get through this book

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snore

zzzz zzzzzz zzz zzzz zzzz zzzz zzz zzzzzzzzz zzzzzz zzz zzzzzz z zzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzz zzzzz zzzzz

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    4 out of 5 stars

interesting but errors

He said that there is no evidence of a advanced culture 10+ years old. There 100% is, he isn't fact checking himself. That was just the last one that annoyed me. There are some other concepts he seems to be reinventing or renaming to make them his creation.

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    4 out of 5 stars

Useful but lacking

Too grandparent where much more common or straightforward wording would have been more effective. Presentation seemed stilted or bland.
Useful information and insight with good examples to illustrate concepts.

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Great

Shermer is clear, on point, and often funny. All books have been great and this offering continues the tradition

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An Audiobook for our Time

Courses like this should be made easily available for everyone and the world would be a better place.

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A great overview into conspiratorial thinking

Very informative and straightforward. Michael Shermer presents a well sourced, logical, no bull approach to a topic that tends to be illogical.

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Brandon Sholund
  • 2020-01-25

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.

39 people found this helpful

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  • Jeff M.
  • 2020-04-20

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.

15 people found this helpful

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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.

110 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.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Marsha L. Woerner
  • 2020-05-05

Not ALL conspiracies are wrong…

(As posted in GoodReads)
I personally am not one for conspiracy theories, but the question of why some people get so convinced and drawn in by some of these has long baffled me. This book both points out some of the best known and most influential conspiracy theories and the aspects that pull people in. And it makes clear that, in fact, some conspiracies are real and that evolution has a good deal to do with the development of conspiracy theories in general. I am confident that I still use enough skepticism and reality to help build my beliefs.
Some of what is pointed out in lecture 10 is particularly unnerving and disturbing, but I really like this book.

9 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 2020-05-17

Leftist Rant

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

8 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

8 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Leo Felis
  • 2020-06-08

Irrekevant

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

7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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!!

20 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Wayne
  • 2021-08-06

Not what I expected

This book is interesting but it presents a very shallow treatment of its topic. I wanted to hear far more about why conspiracy theories grab some people while not interesting others. There was little said about the most widely believed conspiracy theory ever; one that was believed by close to half of the us population. That theory was that Trump had colluded with the Russians to win the 2016 presidential election. Yet the author made a big deal of of the conspiracy theory that Obama was not born in the US when it is doubtful that it was ever believed by as much as 5% of the US population.

4 people found this helpful