AMERICAN CONSPIRACIES Conspiracy thinking has been a part of American society from the colonial period through the present day. Americans have labeled as enemies numerous groups, including Catholics, Communists, Democrats, Jews, Masons, Mormons, Republicans, and women, to name just a few. They have accused leaders such as Barack Obama, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Franklin Pierce of working to undermine the American way of life, not to mention the various conspiracy theories about aliens, AIDS, and the One World Government.
This investigation will explore a sample of those theories in United States history. Using an array of written and visual sources (personal correspondence, newspaper articles, editorial cartoons, televised speeches, etc.), students will be exposed to the conspiratorial language used by Americans to explain the unexplainable. They will emerge from this experience with a better understanding of the differences between conspiracies and conspiracy theories, the historical context for the belief in conspiracy theories, and the use of evidence and argumentation in critically analyzing conspiracy theories.