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Critical thinking: Conspiracy theories, urban legends, and moral panics

If you’re teaching critical thinking and looking for timely and engaging material, why not try a conspiracy theory?

Podcasts

When possible, I've linked to the podcast's website but all are available on Spotify, Stitcher, and other podcast apps.


9/12  Episode 4 discusses Loose Change.
undefined American Hysteria Per the logo, one of the 1st season episodes was Poisoned Halloween Candy. Among the other moral panics, urban legends, and conspiracy theories covered: Mandela Effect, Satanic Panic, the Illuminati, Phantom Clowns, the Momo Suicide Challenge, and Teenage Sex.
undefined The Anthill: Expert Guide to Conspiracy Theories. Six part series within The Anthill podcast from The Conversation.
undefined Behind the Bastards. So many bastards. Most relevant here: multi-part installments on Alex Jones, Mike Adams, Andrew Wakefield & the Anti-Vaccine Movement, the Sackler Family, and Charles Koch.
undefined Conspiracy Theories. Mostly two-part episodes with part 1 describing the alleged conspiracy and part 2 discussing the theories.Conspiracies and conspiracy theories include MK Ultra, Chemtrails, the New World Order, Operation Northwoods, the Phantom Dark Age, HAARP, the Moon Landing, Bohemian Grove.
undefined Headlong: Surviving Y2K. Multi-episode investigation of the moral panic that swept the globe in 1999. If you lived through it, you will love this podcast. If you weren't, you will be amazed at the mania. Whether you were there or not, you will find many parallels to recent history.
undefined Hidden Brain: Facts Aren't Enough. Many episodes of this NPR podcast are relevant to the question of why people believe conspiracy theories. This particular episode highlights the anti-vaccine movement.
Internet Urban Legends. Currently available only on Spotify. Episodes have included the Momo challenge, Etsy's haunted store, a recurring HorrorTok series, and some nonInternet urban legends.
undefined Metabunk Website of Mick West, author of Escaping the Rabbit Hole: How To Debunk Conspiracy Theories Using Facts, Logic, and Respect.One of the site's fora is Practical Debunking.
My Momma Told Me. "Comedian Langston Kerman and his guests take a deep dive into the most exciting, groundbreaking and sometimes problematic Black conspiracy theories. They’ll cover silly conspiracies, scary conspiracies and conspiracies they learned from that uncle who used to wear jeans when he went swimming in the public pool."
On the Media: The NPR podcast has run several episodes about conspiracy theories in the last few years, including one on the Boogaloo Boys and COVID conspiracies on Facebook.
Podcaster's Guide to the Conspiracy. One of the hosts, Dr. MRX Dentith (University of Waikato) is a prolific writer on conspiracy theories and many of the episodes, notably the series of episodes about foundational papers in philosophy journals, take an academic bent. Conspiranews is a monthly roundup of what's happening in the world of conspiracy theories. Props to the title's allusion to Doug Adams.
QAnon Anonymous. As the title suggest, the podcast covers all things QAnon. Episodes occasionally cover other topics like the Monoliths or the Loch Ness Monster
undefined Secret Societies. Like Conspiracy Theories, this podcast is from Parcast and follows their formula. The podcast has covered the Templars, Skull & Bones, Rosicrucians, and other groups.
The Skeptic's Guide to the Galaxy. Points for the Doug Adams homage title. The exceptionally long episodes often touch on conspiracy theories, but the podcast bills itself as a podcast dedicated to promoting critical thinking and science literacy.
Skeptoid "Since 2006, the weekly Skeptoid podcast has been taking on all the most popular urban legends and revealing the true science, true history, and true lessons we can learn from each."
Stuff They Don't Want You to Know. In addition to unsolved murders and mysterious events, the self-described Conspiracy Realists also address topics like UFOs, chemtrails, food conspiracies, and Covid-19 conspiracies.
Two Minutes Past Nine. From BBC Radio 4. American "[j]ournalist Leah Sottile investigates the legacy of the Oklahoma City Bombing in a series that gets into the heart of America’s far-right today. Episode 4: Don't Tread on Me discusses right-wing conspiracy theories and how they influenced Timothy McVeigh.
Throughline: Conspiracy. This episode charts the idea of conspiracy theories as fundamental to American history.

Uncover: Satanic Panic. Season 6 of CBC podcast Uncover examines what happened 30 years ago when Satanic Panic swept through Martensville, Saskatchewan, and the lasting effects on the participants and victims.

Urban Legends. Episodes are "Broken into three sections; The Story, where the tale is retold. The History, where the true crimes that inspired the legends are studied and dissected, and finally, the alternate versions, where several interpretations from around the world are divulged."