Support For Conspiracy Theories And Armed Rebellion Isn’t New. It Just Wasn’t Taken Seriously Until Jan. 6

This article is part of TPM Cafe, TPM’s home for opinion and news analysis. It first appeared at The Conversation.

Americans had to confront a new reality when an angry mob attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021: Some of their fellow citizens were in the grips of a false reality and had resorted to violence to support it.

Conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election and the strange alternate universe of QAnon helped drive the attack, which has prompted concerns about further domestic upheaval.

In the year since, a flurry of studies and analyses have tried to gauge the American appetite for conspiracy theories and the likelihood of more violence – even civil war. As someone who has studied the conspiracy theories that followed the December 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I keep revisiting a May 2013 poll about gun control that found widespread doubts about that shooting and shockingly high support for armed rebellion.