By Ilana Novick
Source: Read full article at Truthdig
Conspiracy theories can seem so absurd they’re almost funny: major politicians are actually 12-foot lizard people, the U.S. government was responsible for 9/11, the fluoride in our drinking water is there not to strengthen our teeth, but to control our minds. It’s easy to dismiss such ideas as nonsense.
Sometimes, however, theories escape the confines of online message boards and social media and turn dangerous, even fatal. No one laughed when a man named Edgar Welch drove from North Carolina to Washington, D.C., and fired shots at innocent people in a pizzeria because he was a “believer in Pizzagate,” a theory spread by people like right-wing radio show host Alex Jones that Hillary Clinton and her close advisers ran a pedophilia ring out of the pizzeria’s basement. There also was no laughter when James Alex Fields drove his car into a crowd at a 2017 white supremacist gathering in Charlottesville, Va., killing anti-racist protester Heather Heyer.
As journalist Anna Merlan explains in her new book, “Republic of Lies: American Conspiracy Theorists and Their Surprising Rise to Power,” “While conspiracy theories are as old as the country itself,…