YANSS 197 – Steven Novella and Jesse Walker discuss the history and psychology of conspiracy theories

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Over the last few years, this show has devoted many shows to the psychology behind what we saw in the Capitol in January 2021. So, in this episode, we re-listen to three interviews on conspiratorial thinking to gain some perspective.

In this episode we discuss the history, social impact, neuroscience and psychology behind conspiracy theories and paranoid thinking.


Joseph Uscinski is an associate professor of political science at the University of Miami. He studies public opinion and mass media, with a focus on conspiracy theories and related misinformation. He is the coauthor of American Conspiracy Theories and editor of Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe Them.


Steven Novella is a leader in the skeptic community, host of The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe, and an academic clinical neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine. He blogs at Neurologica, Skepticblog, and Science-Based Medicine.


Jesse Walker is the books editor for Reason Magazine and author of the new book, The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory. Walker’s articles can be seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and many others. He blogs at The Perpetual Three Dot Column.


Links and Sources

Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – SoundcloudOmnySpotify

Transcript of the interview with Steven Novella

Boing Boing Podcasts

Cookie Recipes

The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe

The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory

Joseph Uscinski’s Website

Behind The Curve Website

The Study of Conspiracy Theories

Conspiracy Theories Can’t Be Stopped

Meta-Analysis of Psychological Research on Conspiracy Beliefs

American Conspiracy Theories

YANSS Episode on Conspiratorial Thinking

Wikipedia’s Giant List of Conspiracies