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Great Books About Conspiracy Theories

Updated on May 21, 2017

You've probably heard various conspiracy theories like jet fuel couldn't melt steal beams related to the 9/11 attacks, that alien bodies were found at Roswell, Barack Obama was really born in Kenya, Princess Diana was murdered, or that John F. Kennedy was assassinated by the CIA, or by Cubans, or by the Mafia, or perhaps a combo. There are all kinds of websites, YouTube videos, and books promoting conspiracy theories. Some of your friends of relatives may be sharing them on social media.

You may wonder about these theories and their validity. While some seem outlandish, some may sound perfectly reasonable. If you're curious about these theories, and arguments that counter them, these are some great books to read. Some cover multiple conspiracy theories while others address just one. There are also books that examine the topic from the point of view of history and psychology.

Suspicious Minds: Why We Believe Conspiracy Theories

The title explains what this book is about. It explores the psychology behind belief in conspiracy theories. The book also explains that conspiracy theories are nothing new and looks at them historically. Author Rob Brotherton claims that these ideas "resonate with some of our brain's built-in quirks and foibles, and tap into some of our deepest desires, fears, and assumptions about the world."

Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can't Stand Up to the Facts

Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can't Stand Up to the Facts is by Popular Mechanics. Throughout the book, a particular theory related to 9/11 is laid out, and then answered. As an example, conspiracy theorists claim that the 9/11 hijackers wouldn't have had the skill needed to fly planes. The book goes into detail about the training the hijackers received and points out that some of them had earned pilots licenses. The layout makes this one a very easy read.

Debunked!: Conspiracy Theories, Urban Legends, and Evil Plots of the 21st Century

This book covers several conspiracy theories relating to "pop culture, politics, sports, business, and even religion." Like other books that cover multiple conspiracy this one doesn't go into a lot of depth. But it's a good overview of many of them. It's an easy and fun read and a good starting point for delving into conspiracy theories.

Bill Nye on Conspiracy Theorists

The Skeptic's Guide to Conspiracies

The full title of this book by Monte Cook is a mouthful: The Skeptic's Guide to Conspiracies: From the Knights Templar to the JFK Assassination: Uncovering the [Real] Truth Behind the World's Most Controversial Conspiracy Theories. It covers a lot of ground in short chapters. While it's a good introduction to a variety of conspiracy theories, it doesn't go into enough depth on any of them. Still it's a good starter book to learn about some of the most popular conspiracy theories.

Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK

From not enough depth to a lot, Gerald Posner goes into a lot of detail and often dwells on things like bullet trajectories. I found myself skipping several pages at times in this one because of the amount of details. The level of detail is great for anyone who wants to study the topic in depth but may be a bit too much for casual readers. But it's still a great book even for casual readers and there were plenty of times when I was so engrossed I didn't want to put it down. Posner argues that Lee Harvey Oswald was a lone wolf assassin. If you've taken for granted that John F. Kennedy was killed in a vast conspiracy, Posner will give you some food for thought.

Moon Hoax: Debunked!

Conspiracy theorists claim that the moon landing never happened and that footage from the Moon was filmed on a set right here on Earth. Out of all conspiracy theories, finding out about this one surprised me the most. After all, even America's enemy and competitor in the space race, the USSR, accepted that the Moon landing really happened. Author Paolo Attivissimo goes through the various conspiracy theories and explains why they're wrong.

Conspiracy theorists believe the moon landing was filmed on a set
Conspiracy theorists believe the moon landing was filmed on a set

The Real Roswell Crashed-Saucer Coverup

Roswell has become a major part of popular culture and is perhaps one of the best known conspiracy theories. It's such a popular theory that it brings tens of thousands of visitors who spend millions of dollars to Roswell, New Mexico each year. Author Philip J. Klass claims it's not the U.S. governments who's been involved in a cover-up of what really happened. He argues that it's the many people who profit from the Roswell "UFO crash" who have the most reason to hide the facts.

A alleged UFO landing brings thousands of tourists to Roswell
A alleged UFO landing brings thousands of tourists to Roswell

The Fluoride Myth: Debunking the Controversy

About two thirds of Americans consume water with added fluoride. Fluoride is added to public water supplies for the purpose of reducing cavities. Opponents of fluoridation consider it to be the mass medication of populations without their consent. They claim the practice causes all kinds of health problems including brain damage. Author and dentist James A. Beck debunks these concerns.

The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory

This is another book that delves into the history of conspiracy theories going all the way back to the 17th century. Unlike many other books, it doesn't seek to debunk them but rather to discuss them. Author Jesse Walker seems more interested in the historical aspect rather than trying to prove or disprove.

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