Chapter 7 They Knew Too Much: The Entangled History of Conspiracy Theories, UFO s and New Religions

In: Handbook of UFO Religions
David G. Robertson
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This chapter considers the entanglement of UFOs, new religions, and conspiracy theory. In three case studies – the Nation of Islam, Heaven’s Gate and Scientology – the functional appeal of conspiracy theories is examined through their mitigation of uncertainty and failure by positing a malevolent, occluded counter-agency. Special attention is given to their epistemic appeal—in each case, special knowledge is gained through appeals to exclusive epistemic strategies, which challenge the dominant episteme and help to establish a counter-elite.

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