Conspiracy Theories, Myth-Making, and Extremism in the US

Tuesday, April 6, 2021
12:40 PM - 2:00 PM
Event Type
Cole, Michael

How do we make sense of the insurrection at the US Capitol and the rise of extremism in the United States? This panel will look at the circulation of ideas – conspiracy theories, myths, and misinformation – that have rapidly spread in both the United States and abroad to create a network of far-right extremist organizations. Our two panelists will show how today’s extremism is not new, but rather connects to ideas and myths that have long circulated in American political discourse. After presenting on their own work, the panelists will take questions from the audience. 


Dr. Lauren Kerby is a religious literacy specialist and lecturer on religious studies at Harvard Divinity School. Her work analyzes the way that white American evangelicals use history as a political resource. Her book, Saving History: How White Evangelicals Tour the nation’s Capital and Redeem a Christian America was published in 2020. She recently published an article in The Atlantic showing how her work helps explain the Capitol insurrection. Dr. Kerby received her PhD in religious studies from Boston University. 


Dr. Matt Motta is assistant professor of political science at Oklahoma State University. His research focuses on American politics, public opinion, and science communication, with a focus on identifying the causes of anti-science attitudes and investigating their policy impact. His work has been published in Social Sciences & Medicine, Environmental Communication, Political Behavior, and Political Research Quarterly, among others. Dr. Motta received his PhD in political science from the University of Minnesota.


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