Conspiracy Theories about Jonestown
This essay examines the conspiracy theories that have emerged to explain the mass murder-suicides of People’s Temple members in Jonestown, Guyana, in November 1978. These theories fall into three main categories: those produced by professional conspiracists who tend to see conspiracies everywhere; a subgroup of the professionals, which comprises Internet conspiracy sites; and theories developed by nonprofessionals that concentrate primarily on Jonestown. These theories show that in the absence of a credible narrative, that is, a believable reconstruction of what happened in Jonestown and why, alternative explanations arise. The conspiracy theories attempt to make sense of what appears ultimately senseless: that parents willingly killed their children and their elders, and that they willingly chose a rather painful death. Instead of accepting this possibility, the conspiracy theories provide alternatives that blame conspirators for the deaths.
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.