April Monthly Gathering – The United States of Paranoia

Until it is deemed once again safe to return to meeting as a group, Southeast Michigan Mensa will be presenting a series of lectures on Zoom. Attendees need to pre-register by clicking on the following link: https://tinyurl.com/SEMM-0421-Gathering The event’s Zoom URL and instructions for connecting will be sent to those who are pre-registered, about an hour before the presentation. The number of attendees will be limited, so please pre-register early.

From QAnon to COVID-19 to “stop the steal,” conspiracy theories seem to be all over the American landscape right now. But conspiracy theories have always been all over the American landscape — this is just the latest crop. From the colonial days to today, they’ve been popular not just on the far left and the far right but in the middle of the road; they’ve been embraced not just by society’s outsiders but by society’s elites.

Join us on Saturday, April 17, when Reason magazine’s Jesse Walker, author of The United States of Paranoia, will help us explore the history of conspiracy theories and its lessons for today. He’ll cover five primal conspiracy narratives that keep recurring in America. Along the way, we’ll look at the precursors to QAnon, the rumors that circulated during pre-COVID pandemics, and the 19th-century counterparts to the fellow who tried to rescue some imaginary sex slaves from a pizza restaurant’s imaginary basement.

Jesse Walker is books editor of Reason magazine. The University of Michigan alumnus has written the books The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory and Rebels on the Air: An Alternative History of Radio in America, and he maintains a blog called The Perpetual Three-Dot Column. His articles have appeared in a number of publications, including The New York TimesThe Wall Street JournalThe Washington PostThe Atlantic, Salon, The New RepublicPoliticoL.A. TimesL.A. WeeklyChroniclesBoing BoingNo Depression, and the Journal of American Studies. He has also worked as a DJ, a dishwasher, and a miscellaneous office grunt. He lives in Baltimore with his wife and their two daughters.

The Zoom room opens at 6:30pm for mingling. The program starts at 7:00pm