What do you think accouns for the rise of conspiracy theories that are offered as explanations for the assassinations of the great leaders of the 1960s?
I think one reason for the development of so many conspiracy theories was the rise of the Cold War. People began to suspect everything and everyone. It was a time of spies and lies. I also think that there were so many assassinations and secret government projects coming to light that people began to suspect something under every rock.
I think too that it is hard for us to sometimes believe that one individual could be responsible for carrying out such an awful thing against a great leader. It is much easier to believe that there was more involved, maybe it makes us feel a little safer too.
This is, of course, a matter of opinion. There can be many ways to explain such theories, ranging from the idea that the theories are true to the idea that they are made up by people who are projecting their own negative ideas on to others. To listen to a long discussion of conspiracy theories (this one is centered on 9/11 theories), follow this link.
I would argue that conspiracy theories arise druing times of great stress. At such times, people are worried and are often at a loss to understand the problems they see around them. At such times, they tend to lose trust in official sources and they tend to want to find someone or something to blame society's problems on.
At such times of stress, then, it becomes attractive to make up elaborate conspiracies on which to blame things that happen. These conspiracies come from people's distrust of government and their desire to explain what is going on.
Overall, then, I would argue that these theories in the 1960s came from the lack of trust in government (due to the Vietnam War and other such upheavals) and from the stress that was brought on by all the social change of the decade.
I agree with the above but would like to stress, as a social scientist, that conspiracy theories are ideologies that posit an alternative account to Liberal Democratic theories in the modern world-they are in effect alternative views on political and social systems. They also diverge from social chaos theory in that randomness is replaced with intricate planning i.e the plots executed by conspiracy theorists.
I think the contemporary resurgence is due to postmodernism in that any narrative is open to interpretation and justification.
Conspiracy Theory is an area in which I am currently researching so all opinions are welcome.