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The Truth Is Out There: Understanding Conspiracy Theories

Go beyond just debunking conspiracies theories. Explore the psychological and intellectual reasons why these theories develop, how they influence history and politics, and the changing nature of conspiracy theories and misinformation in the digital age. 
 

A Field Guide to Lies: Critical Thinking in the Information Age by Daniel J Levitin
Levitin outlines recommendations for critical thinking practices that meet the challenges of the digital age's wealth of misinformation, demonstrating the role of science in information literacy while explaining the importance of skeptical reasoning in making decisions based on online information.

A Lot of People Are Saying: The New Conspiracism and the Assault on Democracy by Russell Muirhead
Conspiracy theories are as old as politics, but conspiracists today have introduced something new--conspiracy without theory. The new conspiracism has moved from the fringes to the heart of government with the election of Donald Trump. Muirhead and Rosenblum show how the new conspiracism differs from classic conspiracy theory and what needs to be done to resist it.

Among the Truthers: A Journey Through America's Growing Conspiracist Underground by Jonathan Kay
Kay offers a thoughtful and sobering look at how social networking and Web-based video sharing have engendered a flourishing of new conspiracism. Kay details the sociological profiles of ten brands of modern conspiracists in a compelling exploration of America's departure from reason.

Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News by Kevin Young
The award-winning author traces the history of the hoax as a distinct American phenomenon, exploring the roles of stereotype, suspicion and racism as factors that have shaped fraudulent activities from the heyday of P. T. Barnum through the fake news activities of Donald Trump.

Conspiracies Declassified: The Skeptoid Guide to the Truth Behind the Theories by Brian Dunning
Fifty of the most well-known conspiracy theories are examined. Each entry looks at the who, what, when, where, and why of the theory; how each theory was formed, why it exists, and the historical or sociological context that allowed it to thrive. Finally, each theory presented is either debunked or proven.

Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History by Kurt Andersen
Explains how the influences of dreamers, zealots, hucksters, and superstitious groups shaped America's tendency toward a rich fantasy life, citing the roles of individuals from P.T. Barnum to Donald Trump in perpetuating conspiracy theories, self-delusion, and magical thinking.

How to Fake a Moon Landing: Exposing the Myths of Science Denial by Darryl Cunningham
Is hydro-fracking really safe? Is climate change real? Did the moon landing really happen? How about evolution: fact or fiction? Author-illustrator Cunningham looks at these and other hot-button science topics and presents a fact-based, visual assessment of current thinking and research on eight different issues everybody's arguing about.

Suspicious Minds: Why We Believe Conspiracy Theories by Rob Brotherton
Brotherton explores the history and consequences of conspiracism, and delves into the research that offers insights into why so many of us are drawn to implausible, unproven and unproveable conspiracy theories. They resonate with some of our brain's built-in quirks and foibles, and tap into some of our deepest desires, fears, and assumptions about the world.

The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies: How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths by Michael Shermer
Shermer demonstrates how our brains selectively assess data in an attempt to confirm the conclusions we've already reached. Drawing on evolution, cognitive science, and neuroscience, he considers not only supernatural beliefs but political and economic ones as well.

The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters by Thomas M. Nichols
From the anti-vaccination movement to citizen blogging to attacks on GMOs, the nation has witnessed a surge in intellectual egalitarianism. While increased access to information undoubtedly brings some societal benefits, the leap to enlightenment undermines established sources of knowledge.

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan
How can we make intelligent decisions about our increasingly technology-driven lives if we don't understand the difference between the myths of pseudoscience and the testable hypotheses of science? Pulitzer Prize-winning author and distinguished astronomer Sagan argues that scientific thinking is critical not only to the pursuit of truth but to the very well-being of our democratic institutions.

The Truth Matters: A Citizen's Guide to Separating Facts From Lies and Stopping Fake News in Its Tracks by Bruce R. Bartlett
The media and political landscapes are littered with untrustworthy sources and the dangerous concept of fake news. Bartlett presents actionable tips and tricks for reading critically, judging sources, using fact-checking sites, avoiding confirmation bias, identifying trustworthy experts, and more.

The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory by Jesse Walker
Presents a comprehensive history of conspiracy theories in American culture and politics, from the colonial era to the War on Terror. The fear of intrigue and subversion doesn't exist only on the fringes of society, but has always been part of our national identity. When such tales takes hold, Walker argues, they reflect the anxieties and experiences of the people who believe them, even if they say nothing true about the objects of the theories themselves.

 

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