Michael Butter

»Nothing is as it seems« - On Conspiracy Theories

(German title: »Nichts ist, wie es scheint«)
ca. 271 pages
Michael Butter

Michael Butter

Michael Butter, born in 1977, teaches History of American Literature and Culture at the Eberhard Karls University in Tübingen. He is heading a pan-European research project on conspiracy theories and appears regularly in the media as an expert on the subject.

Rights available


According to most recent empirical studies, fifty percent of the US-American population and a smaller, but not insignificant number of Germans believe in at least one conspiracy theory. Personalities like David Icke or Alex Jones enjoy celebrity status; in his TV show the latter chats to Donald Trump, who for his part undermines the belief in shared interpretations with his attacks on the »Fake-News Media«.

Next to a lack of trust in politics, the belief in conspiracy theories is a feature of the seething populism. But what turns an explanation into a conspiracy theory? Why is it so attractive to many people? And what can be done against that?

The answers to questions like these are harder to find than the conspiracy theories themselves. Michael Butter explains how such narratives function, where they come from and which effects they can have. Since they underestimate the inherent logic of social systems, such theories are always wrong; as a symptom, however, they have to be taken seriously. At present, they are an indicator of the fragmentation of the public that is threatening democracy.