Joel Levy’s small compendium Conspiracies (Allen & Unwin 2005) is in the “Best Reads of 2007” not for literary reasons but for its usefulness as a tool to think with.
From fake moon landings to the murder of Princess Diana, a modern-day paranoiac has plenty of reasons to keep looking over his shoulder. Could one man act alone to assassinate a hugely popular American president? What dark secrets are harboured by the Bush family (and the British royal family) about their 1930s collusion with the Nazis? Have the Freemasons secretly grasped control of the world’s economy? Who is holding back on the explanations, and why?
The conspiracy theory is more popular than ever. A staple of movies, books, TV and, above all, the Internet, it has now seeped into global consciousness to an unprecedented degree. More people now believe in more conspiracy theories than at any time in history.
The Little Book of Conspiracies reviews the essentials of 50 great and small conspiracies, whether documented or alleged, from your toothpaste giving you lead poisoning to the real reason the Titanic sunk. There are plenty of reasons to be paranoid…
Each chapter follows this formula:
1. A concise account of the theory
2. A concise account of the “official” view.
3. A % believability rating called “How paranoid should you be?”
That last one is one of the book’s best features. While the proposition that there was a massive deception on WMD to mobilise public opinion prior to the war in Iraq gets a 99% believability rating, that Marilyn Monroe’s death was anything other than suicide scores 3%, and of course many old favourites score down to 0%.
There are many sites covering similar ground on the internet, and in the bibliography many of them are listed.
See conspiracy theory in Sourcewatch.