There are numerous discussions of the structure and power of conspiracy theories. J.M. Berger has a succinct explanation of how these theories function in the context of extremist ideologies in his Extremism (84-89), and that was our starting point. Berger also includes an examination of the specific role of anti-Semitism in a range of conspiracy theories, focusing on the enduring role played over the past century by the early 20th century forgery, Protocols of the Elders of Zion (96-98), which continues to be cited as a genuine document by American white nationalists.
A recent overview of the way conspiracy theories function more generally is laid out in detail in Joseph Uscinski’s Conspiracy Theories: A Primer.
For discussion of the role of these theories more specific to American white nationalism, we drew from Cynthia Miller-Idriss, Hate in the Homeland (especially, 55-62). Many discussions of conspiracy theories in the contemporary US cite Richard Hofstadter’s 1964 article, The Paranoid Style in American Politics, which briefly surveys the role that conspiracy theories have played in the US since the country’s inception. On the central role that narratives can play, with particular reference to The Turner Diaries, we consulted Kurt Braddock’s Weaponized Words (71-74) and J.M. Berger, Alt History: How a Self-published, Racist Novel Changed White Nationalism and Inspired Decades of Violence.
Theories about conspiracy theories can become almost as absorbing as the theories themselves. And many online sources discuss ways in which conspiracy theories from all ends of the political spectrum proliferate because of features of contemporary culture, especially video games, and are amplified by the Internet. An example is Molly Sauter’s, The Apophenic Machine (apophenia is a normal psychological function that conspiracy theories appeal to). More recently, the QAnon phenomenon has sparked a wealth of articles on conspiracy theories, many of which are referenced in Reed Berkowitz, A Game Designer’s Analysis of QAnon.
“Conspiracy theories are the only theories for which evidence against them is actually construed as evidence in favor of them. The more evidence piled up by the authorities in favor of a given theory, the more the conspiracy theorist points to how badly ‘They’ must want us to believe the official story.”
- Brian Keely, Of Conspiracy Theories, 120
“When you discuss with conspiracy theorists the veracity of their pet theories, an immediate question regarding falsifiability is: What evidence could I show you that would convince you that you are wrong? If their answer is, ‘Nothing,’ then I advise you to exit the conversation.”
- Joseph Uscinski, Conspiracy Theories: A Primer, 27