Reviewer James Broderick, Ph.D: James is an associate professor of English and journalism at New Jersey City University. A former newspaper reporter and editor, he is the author of six non-fiction books, and the novel Stalked. His latest book is Greatness Thrust Upon Them, a collection of interviews with Shakespearean actors across America. Follow Here To Listen To An Interview With James Broderick.
Author: Paul Simpson
Publisher: Zenith Press
Author: Paul Simpson
Publisher: Zenith Press
A few years ago, I was doing a book signing for a book I had co-written about conspiracy theories. My co-author and I were at a Barnes & Noble in Savannah, Georgia, when a fellow suddenly appeared at our table, leaned in uncomfortably close, and asked in a whisper, “Did you tell the truth about 9-11?”
“You mean,” I began, fully confident in my response, “that the U.S. Government was behind the attacks? We of course cover that theory in the book,” I assured him, somewhat smugly.
“Nah, man,” he shook his head. “I mean the REAL truth.” He proceeded to explain what really happened. There were no airplanes that hit the towers, he said. That was all trickery by the major networks, which aired doctored footage. Those witnesses who claimed to have seen airplanes hit the buildings were CIA plants. What really brought down the towers was a series of electromagnetic bursts emitted from a secret power plant in the Canadian hinterlands.
“The government was testing the equipment, to see if they could destroy buildings with an electromagnetic pulse,” he continued in his deadly serious manner. “That whole thing about the government being behind the plane attacks was a total red herring, planted by the government itself, to distract us from what really happened.”
His evidence included the fact that several cars were overturned in the neighborhood around the twin towers at the time of the “attack,” and buildings in that neighborhood had their windows blown out and suffered other types of damage.
“Planes don’t overturn cars,” he said. “It was the pulse. They can’t completely control it.,” he said, as I handed him a signed copy of the book. “Not yet – but they’re very, very close.” He grabbed the book and disappeared among the shelves, as mysteriously as he had appeared.
I mention this to illustrate just how difficult it can be to have a rational discussion about conspiracy theories. The debate always seems to be dominated by either the lunatic fringe that sees conspiracies everywhere or the dyed-in-the-wool deniers who still think Nixon was unfairly hounded from office for a phantom offense. The teeter-totter of conspiracies balances upon a tiny fulcrum of genuine reason. That makes a book like Paul Simpson’s That’s What They Want You to Think: Conspiracies Real, Possible, and Paranoid such a valuable addition to the debate.
Simpson’s work is impressive for two reasons. First, for each of the conspiracies he discusses he offers an overview that is thoroughly informed and up-to-date. The world of conspiracies moves lightning fast now that we’re in the digital age, and Simpson is on top of the latest developments. For anyone seeking a primer on the most popular conspiracy theories out there, Simpson’s book is an excellent resource.
What also distinguishes his work from the shelves of other titles on this topic is Simpson’s open-mindedness. Reading this book, you don’t get a sense that he’s got an agenda to promote. He strikes one as an honest broker of the information he’s assessing – another rarity in the world of conspiracy authors.
The book is divided into useful groupings, such as “In the Way” (assassination conspiracies), “We Are Not Alone” (extra-terrestrial conspiracies) and “Brotherly Love” (secret society conspiracies). In addition to covering all the major theories, such as the JFK assassination and the moon landing hoax, he also addresses some lesser-discussed conspiracies such as the mysterious death of Dr. David Kelly, the distinguished scientist who became enmeshed in the saga of exposing the fraudulent claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and the Rendlesham Forest incident, also known as the “British Roswell.”
For anyone interested in a reasoned discussion of some often-far-fetched theories (as well as a sober analysis of actual conspiracies, such as the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and Watergate, Simpson’s book is highly recommended. And for those who think that such arguments are superfluous because the real truth can only be known by a select few, my advice is to hunker down. That electromagnetic impulse thing must surely be perfected by now, and it’s surely only a matter of time until the government flips the switch again.
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