Paranoia Runs Deep

Into Your Life It Will Creep

In the last two years, it didn’t just creep — It leaped. The question is why. A service selling used books may provide insights into the political polarization and paranoia running rampant in the country.

The service is called Bargain Books and it deals in publisher closeouts, overstocks and remainders on topics ranging from Archaeology to Music, from Pets to Travel. And, yes, it does have a section on politics. There are 33 books listed in that category.

Nearly a third (10) of those books are anti-Clinton or anti-Obama tirades. If you add books that appear “alt-right” such as presidential candidate Ben Carson’s book One Nation or one titled The Conservative’s Handbook, that’s another ten. So, that means nearly two-thirds of all these books are ‘conservative’ oriented.

There are ones that you might label “alt-left” such as P.J. O’Rourke’s How the Hell did this Happen or Dark Money, billed as a “history of an elite cadre of plutocrats, ” There are only five (5).

That leaves eight (8) that may — or may not — be non-partisan. Some are clearly objective, like Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens’ Six Amendments or The Residence, which looks at “the dedicated professionals” who work in the White House. For some though the label ‘non-partisan’ may be debatable.

But that is NOT the main indicator that I am talking about. That comes from a completely different category — History. You remember your high school history teacher telling you about all the facts about the world’s development. Well, those history teachers would be rolling in their graves if they saw the list on this service.

Let’s run that same analysis on the history category. There are 175 books listed. Of those, a fourth would fall into an area that those history teachers would call ‘questionable.’

First, there are the 21 books (by my count) about Aliens. That translates into roughly one out of eight (12%). Things like: -

· The Ancient Giants who Ruled America showing that “North America was once ruled by an advanced race of giants.”

· Alien World Order which “reveals how the human race is enmeshed in a concealed plot to enslave humanity.”

· The 37th Parallel — “The secret truth behind America’s UFO highway.”

· Wars of the Anunnaki which “reveals the ancient nuclear event that destroyed the Sumerian civilization and the power struggles of the ‘gods’ that let up to it.

The Anunnaki are a favorite. Wikipedia describes ‘them’ as part of a Hittite belief that they are “the oldest generation of gods, who had been overthrown and banished to the Underworld by the younger gods” They show up many times in these books.

But, still, that is not the part that stuns you or ‘explains’ the political paranoia. That comes from the other books, the ones I have labeled the ‘conspiracy theory’ books. These are the ‘scary’ ones and one out of every seven books (26 books or 14%) are about these ‘ideas.’

Did you know that….

“Big Brother is watching you and sometimes murdering those they find ‘expendable’ or ‘talking too much.”

“The global elites (want) to reduce the world’s population to 500 million by whatever means necessary.”

“”Weather is being geo-engineered to enrich disaster capitalists and intimidate nations.”

“There are secret bases on the moon.”

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It starts when you’re always afraid
Step out of line, the man come and take you away

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

That leaves 129 books or about three-quarters of the books (74%) that are unaccounted for in either category. Determining which of these books are truly ‘history’ books, balanced and analytical, is difficult. Some of these are legitimate attempts at analysis. Some appear fact based but some appear to use ‘fake facts’ to bolster their argument. I tried to be conservative in my analysis, so the paranoia factor may be bigger.

Books on American history are equally, if not more, disturbingly paranoiac. In this category, the number one topic is…. Drum roll, please… the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Fourteen of the 116 books listed in this category are about the JFK assassination. That may be understandable, except for one key fact. ALL of them are ‘explanations’ of ‘what really happened.’ Determining which of these books are truly ‘history’ books, balanced and analytical, is difficult.

Put this all together and what do you get. Paranoia? Yes. Persecution? Yes. Polarization? Unfortunately, a double YES.

There’s battle lines being drawn
 And nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong
 Young people speaking their minds
 Getting so much resistance from behind

Those battle lines are between the ardent supporters of Mr. Trump and the equally passionate opponents. It would be easy to draw comparisons between the numbers of people who ‘believe’ these strange tales and the numbers of people who support Mr. Trump. That may have some legitimacy, but that is also a trite, unexamined response. There may be a correlation but that would require much, much more research than I am capable of.

Instead, maybe we can take a lesson from the final verses of the Buffalo Springfield song: -

You better stop
 Now, what’s that sound?
 Everybody look, what’s going down?
 We better stop
 Children, what’s that sound?
 Everybody look, what’s going down?

Notice something in those verses? You…. We… Children… Everybody.

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(To get a little balance in this, I did look at the USA Today list of the top 150 books being sold. Top of the list is the very cute children’s comedy novel Diary of a Wimpy Kid. That’s nice, right? Of the other 149, some appear to fall into one of my two categories, but how many would be time consuming to determine.

(Also, in the interests of balance, I looked at the New York Times best-seller list. Topping the list was Walter Isaacson’s biography Leonard da Vinci. Second on the list was the photo biography of President Barrack Obama’s time in office while Vice President Joe Biden’s account of his final year in office, Promise Me, Dad, came in fifth. At number four was Sisters First, the account by the twin daughters of President George W. Bush of growing up in the public eye.

(Lastly, as a matter of perspective, I should say that there is nothing wrong with what Bargain Books does. As you can see from the cover photo, there is a wide range of books. I subscribe to the service and buy from it regularly — just not these kind of books.)