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Conspiracy Theories: The Right Woos the Left

Program #BERC001. Recorded in Cambridge, MA on November 14, 1991.

Oliver Stone’s film JFK sparked widespread popular interest in conspiracy theories ranging from who killed President Kennedy to the October Surprise to a plethora of banking scandals, not to mention CIA plots. Conspiracy theories abound on the right and the left. They deflect the public’s attention from perceiving and addressing genuine problems. Instead, convenient scapegoats are identified as the locus of our troubles. Classic propaganda techniques are employed in manipulating race, class, ethnic and religious prejudices to promote the notion that a sinister group is at work in defiling and destroying our way of life. Some of the methods used are: making allegations and them referring to them as facts; reduction of complex issues to simple equations; assigning causation to sequence; unsubstantiated assertions; and leaps of logic and faith.

Speaker(s):

Chip Berlet

Chip Berlet is an investigative journalist and coordinator of the Building Human Rights Network. His byline has appeared in scores of publications, including The New York TimesThe Boston Globe and The Progressive. For many years he served as senior analyst at Political Research Associates.

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