Conspiracy: Why the Rational Believe the Irrational

Johns Hopkins Univ. Oct. 2022. 384p. ISBN 9781421444451. $29.95. POL SCI
Shermer’s (Why People Believe Weird Things) latest work is organized in two parts: the first details the psychology behind belief in conspiracies; the second half uses this knowledge to break down popular conspiracies, including the 9/11 truth movement, Obama birthers, and the JFK assassination. In addition to terms and examples, there are solid insights that show that when faced with facts that contradict belief, most will double down on their beliefs, creating a cognitive dissonance that’s hard to counter. Conspiracies succeed thanks to repetition, and Shermer’s numerous examples prove how entrenched these beliefs are within contemporary American culture. The book includes solid tips on how to assess a conspiracy theory’s veracity, how to talk to conspiracists, and how to restore trust and truth in national conversations. A copy of Skeptic Research Center’s 2021 poll on conspiracies appears at the end of the book, providing insights into the composition of current conspiracists—a composition that may be surprising to some.
VERDICT A well-written and essential tool for those navigating today’s complicated geopolitical landscape.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing