Nothing happens by accident, everything is connected, and there are no coincidences: that is the essence of conspiratorial thinking. Long a fringe part of the American political landscape, conspiracy theories are now mainstream: 147 members of Congress voted in favor of objections to the 2020 presidential election based on an unproven theory about a rigged electoral process promoted by the mysterious group QAnon. But this is only the latest example in a long history of ideas that include the satanic panics of the 1980s, the New World Order and Vatican conspiracy theories, fears about fluoridated water, speculations about President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, and the notions that the Sandy Hook massacre was a false-flag operation and 9/11 was an inside job. In Conspiracy, Michael Shermer presents an overarching review of conspiracy theories―who believes them and why, which ones are real, and what we should do about them. Trust in conspiracy theories, he writes, cuts across gender, age, race, income, education level, occupational status―and even political affiliation. One reason that people believe these conspiracies, Shermer argues, is that enough of them are real that we should be constructively conspiratorial: elections have been rigged (LBJ’s 1948 Senate race); medical professionals have intentionally harmed patients in their care (Tuskegee); your government does lie to you (Watergate, Iran-Contra, and Afghanistan); and, tragically, some adults do conspire to sexually abuse children. But Shermer reveals that other factors are also in play: anxiety and a sense of loss of control play a role in conspiratorial cognition patterns, as do certain personality traits. This engaging book will be an important read for anyone concerned about the future direction of American politics, as well as anyone who’s watched friends or family fall into patterns of conspiratorial thinking.
Legendary singer-songwriter, Robert Forster has announced the release of his latest solo album, The Candle And The Flame in February of 2023. The acclaimed, Brisbane-based artist kindly sent us a preview of his latest work, including the album’s first single, She’s A Fighter. About the song, Robert writes, “She’s A Fighter is the last song I wrote for ‘The Candle And The Flame album. I wrote the music for it in June 2021. I liked the tune and the quick energy of the song, but I didn’t know yet what it was going to be about. In early July, Karin Bäumler, my wife and musical companion for thirty-two years received a cancer diagnosis. In late July, with a series of chemotherapy sessions about to begin, Karin talked of fighting for her health and a path through chemotherapy to recovery. The phrase, ’She’s A Fighter’ came to me. I liked it. And I knew immediately that it would work with my new melody. I needed just one other line for the lyric. ‘Fighting for good.’ The song was finished. I had written my first two-line song. I had just out-Ramoned The Ramones! Because the song has so much meaning to us, we decided to record it as a family. The only time this happens on the album. Karin sings and plays xylophone. Our daughter Loretta plays electric guitar. Our son Louis plays guitar, bass, and percussion. And I strum an acoustic guitar fiercely and sing.” As a primer for our exclusive upcoming conversation with Robert Forster we will share I Don’t Do Drugs I Do Time and Tender Years, two more cuts from, The Candle And The Flame.
It seems to happen all too frequently these days, just as we are about to wrap the production on our latest show, news comes in of the loss of another rock and roll legend – The Killer himself, the one, the only, Jerry Lee Lewis has passed at the age of 87. A true original. The man influenced not only scores of fledging piano players but also legions of rock n roll aficionados, like me. In tribute, possibly not one of his most popular recordings, but certainly a favorite of mine, Last Train To Memphis. Turn the volume way up as you jive around the kitchen to that signature piano style and the gospel-infused vocals. Rest In Peace, Mr. Lewis.