I Want to Believe

Hunting down America’s favorite fringe stories, cryptids, and alien encounters

Lars Plougmann (Flickr/criminalintent)
Lars Plougmann (Flickr/criminalintent)

Whether it’s Lemurians making their home on Mount Shasta, aliens alighting in the middle of Illinois, meat falling from the Kentucky sky, or cows being drained of blood in Oregon, accounts of unexplained phenomena are on the rise. Why have so many Americans opened themselves up to fringe beliefs and conspiracy theories, even as our empirical understanding of the world has increased? Cultural historian Colin Dickey joins us on the show this week to talk about his new book, The Unidentified, in which he traverses the country in search of the cryptids and conspiracies that have stuck with us for the past few centuries, evolving alongside the dramatic changes in our frontiers, scientific knowledge, and cultural mores.

Go beyond the episode:

Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.

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Stephanie Bastek is the senior editor of the Scholar and the producer/host of the Smarty Pants podcast.


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