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This is one of those articles you don't need to read, and which can be summed up in a single paragraph without missing anything. In this case, that paragraph is even included in the article itself (specifically, the conclusion):

Though the differences between America and the Islamic world might loom large, what links them is a desire for the reassurance that certainty provides. "The world is obscure and what is happening is often obscure," Dr. [Robert] Robins [a political scientist] said. "Conspiracy theories make the world seem a lot more rational."

However, were you to read only that, you would miss this gem of a second paragraph:

Whatever the evidence to the contrary, suspicious minds will always believe that the truth about the Kennedy assassination lies buried in government files. Indeed, in a 1999 poll, three out of four Americans insisted Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone, and 68 percent said an official cover-up has kept the public in the dark.

Translation: I am know-it-all journalist, I will deftly accuse many of my readers of being "suspicious minds" while allowing them to think they too know What's Really Going On.

Actually, the article's kind of funny: It goes to some effort and quotes a number of sources to argue that there are in fact psychological and sociological reasons why "suspicious" people fall for conspiracy theories — it suggests that, for these reasons, people will be drawn into believe conspiracy theories even when such theories are unsupported by the available evidence (whatever it may be). It's almost as if — oh my — think about it — it's almost as if there's a CONSPIRACY to make us think the conspiracy theories are false!

See, you just can't trust anything you read these days.

March 11, 2002 12:37 AM

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