And this isn’t just about figuring out why some dude in Michigan voted for Trump. Though that’s part of it. We should figure that out. It’s about actually exploring division instead of putting it in side-by-side boxes on television, whether it’s a conversation about politics or religion, race or gender, or belief itself. Ana has accrued a bunch of unlikely friends in politics, and she has strong disagreements with those friends. So why not have a civilized, thoughtful conversation (with some jokes and maybe the occasional “oh come on” because these are important issues and people feel strongly) and see what happens?
This week Anna Merlan (@annamerlan) helps us Ana Marie Cox (@anamariecox) parse America’s increasingly conspiratorial culture. Anna spent eight years covering conspiracy groups and just came out with a book, Republic of Lies: American Conspiracy Theorists and Their Surprising Rise to Power. Join us as we discuss vaccinations, UFOs, spying on Quakers, and finding a path forward. Also, check out our bonus mega-mix of recent guests and their most ridiculous secret beliefs. (We had to end Conspiracy Month in the strangest way possible.)
This week Vann Newkirk (@fivefifths) joins Ana Marie Cox (@anamariecox) to discuss conspiracy and its complex relationship with marginalized groups. Why does conspiratorial thinking appeal to those who feel “othered” within their society? Vann walks us through how the historic mistreatment of people of color has created a baseline of skepticism that can grow into full-on conspiracy. As Vann says: “Black Americans’ belief in conspiracy theories is like the Farmers’ Almanac: accurate enough to keep using.”
This week Will Sommer (@willsommer) joins Ana Marie Cox (@anamariecox) for a discussion of his work in exploring the wide-spread radicalization of mostly middle-aged people who think a shadowy cabal is going to take revenge on everyone they don’t like. And also make other people (including the still living JFK Jr.) like them and support their cause? QAnon, it turns out, is a bit of a mess. Which you might expect from an ideology founded on the belief that Donald Trump is out here playing three-dimensional chess to save the world. Our conspiracy theory theme month plows ahead into dangerously confusing territory, so come play 17 Questions with The Daily Beast’s specialist on all things pizza and pedophiles!
This week Jesse Walker (@notjessewalker) joins Ana Marie Cox (@anamariecox) for an exciting round of “Who’s Right and Who’s a Nut?” Jesse Walker reminds us that you don’t need a tinfoil hat to believe in conspiracy theories, and that they have surrounded us for centuries. Afterwards they talk about when conspiracy theories have been based in malice, versus when they have actually been true. This is your periodic reminder that the CIA is still terrifying! Afterwards, Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) joins Ana to discuss the contemporary issues that face Trans individuals in Trump’s America. Parker and Ana break down the ways the Trump administration slowly and gradually peeled back the few systemic protections that protected Trans individuals. They then shift to discuss the role the ways the media fails trans individuals by not addressing the gradual implementation of anti-Trans policies. While they navigate this modern landscape, they discuss issues that trans individuals have felt before Trump - including access to medical care, fair employment, amd access to housing.