Why are Americans drawn to conspiracy theories?

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The cover of "Republic of Lies." Courtesy of Anna Merlan.

A man walks up to the home of a notorious New York City mob boss, tries to make a citizen's arrest, but ends up killing him. The man does this because he believes in a conspiracy that the political deep state and liberal elites are trying to undermine President Trump. That’s the real argument a lawyer is making in a real court on behalf of his client, a 24-year-old QAnon believer who’s facing a murder charge. 

QAnon is the theory that a government insider is dropping clues about how Trump is secretly battling an underground cabal of political and media elites. It may be the conspiracy theory de jour. 

Americans have always had a taste for conspiracy theories, but these theories seem to metastasize faster nowadays. 

Credits

Guest:
Anna Merlan - Gizmodo Media Group, and author of “Republic of Lies: American Conspiracy Theorists and Their Surprising Rise to Power"

Host:
Madeleine Brand

Producers:
Sarah Sweeney, Michell Eloy, Alexandra Sif Tryggvadottir, Rosalie Atkinson, Adriana Cargill, Brian Hardzinski