Conspiracy Theories' Impact on Society

Steve Adubato goes One-on-One wtih Barna Donovan, author of “Confirmation: Investigations of the Unexplained” and professor at Saint Peter’s University, to talk about the negative effects conspiracy theories have on society and the importance of looking at them more critically.

8/20/18 #2158






"We are pleased to welcome Dr. Barna Donovan, Professor of Communications at Saint Peter's University. Author of a book called Confirmation: Investigations of the Unexplained. Good to see you, doctor. Thank you for having me. Let's disclose that we both have doctorates from a different university... Rutgers and the same communications program. Absolutely. What if we just... tell folks this. What's the key to getting your doctorate? Just not quitting. [laughter] Where you just... yeah. You just get to a point where you say that, "I'm not going down, I'm going the distance on this." That's right. And I'm not going to stop. Yeah. Don't worry. I get into conspiracy theories I understand... folks. How about this.... this whole conspiracy thing, you write about theories? Mm hmm. It didn't start with 9/11... so as a little kid, I remember a little bit later on, I started reading about the Kennedy assassination. Was that one of the first conspiracy theories? It couldn't have been, you know, one shooter... Mm hmm. It's... there were... we've had conspiracy theories in American culture going back literally centuries. I mean back to the founding of the country, you had people afraid of the Freemasons, afraid of the Illuminati, so it's... it's something that's part of the... part of our culture. Actually, I would say it's probably part of human nature to look for conspiracies, to look for people who have a lot of power. Who might hang out... similar type of powerful people and then ask these questions... well, what are they up to behind those closed doors? So... It's gotta be something? Yeah, it's got to be something, but yeah for... for the... because I teach a class on conspiracy theories as well... At St. Peter's? At St. Peter's. Conspiracy theories and entertainment and popular culture... For example? So... Give us a conspiracy theory based on some, quote-unquote, "entertainment related"... either person or story. Oh, entertainment related conspiracy, you have conspiracies about Walt Disney. The way that he's... that he might have been buried with his with his head removed. Yeah, you have all kinds of, you know, odd speculations about, you know, what he might have... Who's frozen? Who's not frozen? Right, right. Exactly. So... so it... we're looking mainly though at the films and the conspiracy theory films, and the sorts of... the sorts of things going on in society at the time they were made. And how does those films are reflecting the times. So, let me ask you this... Devil's Advocate... I'm curious about this. Manchurian Candidate... is it an example of it? Oh, that's one of the films that we watch. Is that right? It's one..."