A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America
|A Culture of Conspiracy|
Cover, featuring the “Eye of Providence” on the reverse side of the Great Seal of the United States, which appears on the United States one-dollar bill.
|Publisher||University of California Press; 1 edition|
|Preceded by||Religion and the Racist Right|
|Followed by||Chasing Phantoms|
A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America is a 2003 non-fiction book written by Michael Barkun, professor emeritus of political science at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Its publisher, the University of California Press, and scholarly critics[which?] describe the book as the most comprehensive and authoritative examination of contemporary American conspiracism to date by a leading expert on the subject.
Along with the Internet playing a key role in introducing individuals to beliefs once consigned to the outermost fringe of American political and religious life, Barkun points to the convergence of two phenomena that influences contemporary American conspiracism:
- The rise of "improvisational millennialism" — a belief in an imminent destruction of the world and the creation of a new world as a result of the triumph of good over evil, which is independent from any single religious or secular tradition (e.g., Christian premillennial dispensationalism, Marxist historical materialism, etc.) and indiscriminately syncretizes ideas from different traditions (e.g., Western esotericism, Eastern religions, New Age movement, fringe science, radical politics, etc.).
- The popularity of "stigmatized knowledge" — claims to the truth that the claimants regard as verified (e.g., location hypotheses of Atlantis, astrology, alchemy, folk medicine, alien abduction, extraterrestrial hypothesis for UFOs, suppressed cancer cures, etc.), despite the marginalization of those claims by the authoritative institutions that conventionally distinguish between knowledge and error (e.g., academia, scientific community, etc.).
- The Nature of Conspiracy Belief
- Millennialism, Conspiracy, and Stigmatized Knowledge
- New World Order Conspiracies I: The New World Order and the Illuminati
- New World Order Conspiracies II: A World of Black Helicopters
- UFO Conspiracy Theories, 1975–1990
- UFOs Meet the New World Order: Jim Keith and David Icke
- Armageddon Below
- UFOs and the Search for Scapegoats I: Anti-Catholicism and Anti-Masonry
- UFOs and the Search for Scapegoats II: Anti-Semitism among the Aliens
- September 11: The Aftermath
- Conclusion: Millennialists from Outer Space
 Release details
- Hardcover: 255 pages
- Publisher: University of California Press; 1 edition (November 7, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN 978-0-520-23805-3
- Paperback: 251 pages
- Publisher: University of California Press; 1 edition (May 4, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN 978-0-520-24812-0
"Some people believe in the lost continent of Atlantis and in unidentified flying objects (UFOs). Others worry about an 18th-century secret society called the Bavarian Illuminati or a mythical Zionist-Occupied Government secretly running the United States. What if these disparate elements shared beliefs, joined forces, won a much larger audience, broke out of their intellectual and political ghetto, and became capable of challenging the premises of public life in the United States? This is the frightening prospect, soberly presented by Michael Barkun in his important, just-published book."
 See also
- Conspiracy theory
- New World Order (conspiracy theory)
- UFO conspiracy theory
- Chapter 5: 
- Pipes, Daniel. [Michael Barkun on] Old Conspiracies, New Beliefs. The New York Sun (13 January 2004). Retrieved on 2011-07-12
- Boyer, Paul S.. The Strange World of Conspiracy Theories. The Christian Century (27 July 2004). Retrieved on 2011-07-12
- Pratt, Ray. Review. The Montana Professor (Spring 2005). Retrieved on 2011-07-12
- Daschkea, Dereck. A Review of. Terrorism and Political Violence. Volume 18, Issue 4 (2006). Retrieved on 2011-07-12