Document Type


Date of Original Version



Communication Studies


Predictions of catastrophe at the end of the year 2012 are popular enough to be exploited by Hollywood and debunked by NASA. Drawing from a YouTube video series predicting a 2012 cataclysm caused by “Planet X,” we ask whether the discourse in question is a conspiracy theory and demonstrate how it exemplifies the challenges of analyzing rhetoric in the “paranoid style.” Examining these videos in terms of evidence, credibility, and inter-textuality, this article articulates an aesthetic of conspiracism, going beyond identifying the components of paranoid style to answer what makes a good conspiracy theory as such.