Jeffrey Epstein's death and our age of conspiracy theories

What makes this moment so different — and dangerous — is that elites who presumably know better, or should know better, have become increasingly paranoid as well.

It’s normal for the party out of power to dabble in conspiratorial thinking. Partisanship and perceived powerlessness fuel the desire to see your opponents in the worst light.

The “Clinton body count” stuff started on the right under Bill Clinton. Under George W. Bush, 9/11 “Trutherism” ran rampant. Under Barack Obama, “Birtherism” spread like a cancer.

But the trend has metastasized recently. No doubt there are many causes. Cratering faith in institutions, especially the media, is kindling for the fires of paranoia. Social media prioritize the sensational over the factual and give outsized voice to those who claim to know what’s “really” going on. The growth of bureaucratic and unaccountable government and the rent-seeking of the financially powerful — at home and internationally — have turned “globalists” into the malefactors of 21st-century know-nothingism.

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