Why are conspiracy theories on the rise?

Posted Aug. 10, 2009, at 4:07 p.m.

Conspiracy theories seem to be on the rise in recent years, despite (because of?) the wealth of information available on the Internet. Some of the recent theories are that President Obama’s birth certificate is a forgery, that the federal government has plans to

build concentration camps, and that the health care reform proposal includes provisions for physician-assisted suicide. More recently, theories were rampant about the World Trade Center being imploded by bombs, not airplanes, and about President Clinton being

responsible for the deaths of Commerce Secretary Ron Brown and presidential attorney Vince Foster. Why do these far-fetched theories take hold? What do they say about the public? About the media? Should newspapers and others make more of an effort to debunk them, or does that legitimize the theories?

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