The history of the United States is dotted by moral panics: delusional mass hysterias over complete fictions like the Illuminati, 9/11 trutherism, Stranger Danger, and pedophilic satanists. Now, in a climate in which the fertile jungle of the internet seems to produce new conspiracy theories by the day, we need to understand the importance of moral panics: how they warp minds and destroy lives.
Joining me today is Chelsey Weber-Smith, producer of the excellent podcast American Hysteria. In this conversation we explore the causes of moral panic, the current moral panics in our culture, what led Chelsey down this strange path of studying conspiracy theories and moral panics, and what frightens her the most about moral panics. This was a great conversation, and I had enormous fun.
Do you have thoughts on moral panics, satanism, deviant clowns, and pedophiles? Please leave a comment below, and I would love to engage with you. Also, if you enjoy my work, please sign up for my mailing list.