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Emotion trumps reason when it comes to conspiracy theories

River to River, hosted by Ben Kieffer

One can find unfounded conspiracy theories throughout U.S. history. On this episode of River to River — how conspiracy theories take root, grow and do real damage.

Presidential historians Tim Naftali and Tim Walch join Ben Kieffer to discuss how fear of the unknown and apprehension about the future give rise to theories that many believe — from the Salem Witch Trials to McCarthyism — and how these instances relate to current conspiracy thinking.

Guests:

  • Timothy Naftali |Presidential historian and founding director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum and associate professor of history and public policy at New York University
  • Tim Walch | director emeritus of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum
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Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Caitlin Troutman is a talk show producer at Iowa Public Radio
Natalie Dunlap is a rising junior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and minoring in gender, women's & sexuality studies. She is from Iowa City and in her free time enjoys getting coffee and reading downtown with friends.