The United States of Paranoia and the Masters

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Jesse Walker, Editor of Reason Magazine, has written a new book that has gotten considerable positive attention from print and electronic media, and has some insightful comments about various types of conspiracy theories and the relationships between them. He defines five types: the Enemy Above, the Enemy Below, the Enemy Within, The Enemy Outside, and the Benevolent Conspiracy.

One of the occupational hazards of writing about groups that think in conspiratorial, paranoid terms about outsiders is that they will invent conspiracy theories defining you as their enemy. Although there have been random comments about dugpas and Jesuits, people angered by my Blavatsky research seem mainly to want to use words I find flattering in the extreme, like academic and materialistic skeptic, but which nonetheless are completely wrong. The same thing has happened to a much greater degree with Baha’is as a result of my writing about them– again I’m presumed to be in nefarious cahoots with an international network of academic scholars. It’s flattering yet appalling that believers can manufacture such imaginary K. Paul Johnsons, and that “scholarly bete noire of Theosophists and Baha’is” will be the first impression anyone gets about me via Google. On one hand, Theosophists are infinitely kinder and gentler in their Benevolent Conspiracy theory than Baha’is are in their various Enemy Within and Enemy Outside scenarios....

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