This post contains affiliate links. Book Riot can earn a commission when you buy through these links.
Not that there’s a specific reason you want this now, but there are some books out there that delve into conspiracy theories. Whether they’re teaching you to spot a compelling joke, getting your loved ones off a crazy idea, or impaling a particular idea, they’re priceless. Get hold of and read friends. The ride is probably not quite over yet.
There is a notable lack of diversity in this sector – most books on conspiracy theories appear to be written by whites about whites. White people, while notoriously prone to conspiratorial thinking, do not have a collective bargaining monopoly on bad ideas. Listen to the always weird Langston Kerman and his My Momma Told Me podcast for more about conspiracy theories in BIPOC communities. Amber Butts also has a very interesting perspective on why conspiracy theories compel the Black Community at RaceBaitr.
Terrible Archives: Conspiracy Theory, Rhetoric, and Evidence by Jenny Rice
We should be able to get QAnon people off this whole crazy Trump-pizza-Jewish-laser-something dealio, right? Wrong, says Jenny Rice, an associate professor of public speaking at the University of Kentucky. The evidence of reality does not affect the people who already have what they consider to be evidence … so for conspiracy theory. Understanding this is key to having a more productive debate with people who end up becoming conspiracy theorists. It can even be the key to breaking them out.
Escape the Rabbit Hole: How to Debunk Conspiracy Theories Using Fact, Logic, and Respect by Mick West
If you’re here for a book that will help get your mother out of QAnon, look no further. In addition to discussing conspiracy theories in this book, West teaches you how to properly and properly debunk them without anchoring your potential salvation topic. Don’t approach the Thanksgiving table without at least looking at it.
I heard it through the grapevine: Rumor in African American Culture by Patricia A. Turner
This one is a bit older, but worth including here. This is because there is one important facet of BIPOC conspiracy thinking to be aware of: it is not necessarily baseless. From the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment to COINTELPRO, there have been numerous conspiracies that have been relevant to black health and safety and have been proven to be true. Who can blame people for swallowing a wild-sounding story after another set of wild-sounding stories turns out to be all too real? While the book may be a little dated, author and UCLA Dean and Vice Provost Patricia Turner still talks about the basis of collective paranoia, especially medical conspiracy theories, in the black community. Your current context, COVID-19, is critical reading. Don’t miss your current panel.
True Story Newsletter
Sign up to True Story to receive nonfiction, new publications, and upcoming titles.
Thanks for signing up! Keep an eye on your inbox.
The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe: How to Know What’s Really Real in a World That Is Always Fake by Dr. Steven Novella
Dr. Novella teaches at Yale and has a critical thinking podcast. His work also leads the ranks of books on conspiracy theories. Fun fact: he was also involved in groundbreaking research on ASMR! In a nutshell, this guy is smart and fun, and you should definitely give this title a look if you’re looking to improve your sanity against nonsense and quacks.
An illustrated book of Bad Arguments by Ali Almossawi
If your old college friend is tracking down chemtrail conspiracies on Facebook, it’s time to pull out this adorable and highly entertaining book of logical fallacies. One by one, you will travel through a delightful landscape of straw man errors, logical inconsistencies and ad hominem attacks and discover what makes each one unique, compelling and stupid.
You’re Already here: UFO Culture and Why We See Saucers by Sarah Scoles
This is a book that is not actively debunking. Instead, it tries to understand – and that understanding often achieves the same end goal. If ever a book on conspiracy theories were debunked with gentle compassion, this would be it. Welcome to an exploration of the people behind UFO culture. It’s not mean, it doesn’t detract, and it’s never ashamed.
Republic of Lies: American Conspiracy Theorists and Their Surprising Rise to Power by Anna Merlan
They knew there would be books on conspiracy theories that deal with our current political landscape! Your ability to understand what’s going on (gestures with all of this) depends on your ability to look beyond the cartoon characters promoting bunks. After all, there is often a logic behind people who promote nonsense – it has more to do with alienation and resentment than with the “deep state”.
Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts About Alternative Medicine by Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst, MD
Isn’t the scientific method a great thing? Singh and Ernst believe, but many homeopathic medicine manufacturers disagree. This is why they tend to promote the idea that doctors are out to get you. In this case, an anti-medicine conspiracy theory can do real harm to your friends and loved ones. Equip yourself with knowledge of the alternative medicine industry by reading this book.
The Age of Misinformation: How Cailin O’Connor and James Owen Weatherall’s False Beliefs Spread
If you’re going on an epic debunking trip, understanding how your deluded uncle came to believe that Hillary Clinton sacrificed children in the nonexistent basement of a DC pizza place is helpful. This book describes the social forces that pull people into strange beliefs. Believe it or not, the Pizzagate concept itself isn’t that compelling. On the other hand, your uncle’s social media friends …
Maybe you just want to read about aliens and you accidentally clicked on this article. That’s OK! Book Riot still got you covered!