My name is Joseph L. Flatley, and I’m a journalist based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My beat can loosely be termed: “the culture of American decline.” Is the world ending, or does it just feel that way? Why are so many true conspiracies ignored, while floridly wacky conspiracy theories are on the rise? When I started covering these topics over ten years ago, these stories were considered frivolous. But the world is waking up to something I’ve known for a long time: these people, and their stories, matter. There is much to be learned about this country by talking to its most peculiar citizens.

My latest book, New Age Grifter: The True Story of Gabriel of Urantia and his Cosmic Family (to be released by Feral House in August 2021) is an investigation of a UFO cult based in the Arizona desert. I also host two podcasts on conspiracy culture and am a frequent guest on several others. As a freelance journalist, my work has been carried in a number of publications, including The KernelPostindustrialPando, and CounterPunch. I am also a co-founder and former features editor of The Verge, a technology news and lifestyle website launched in 2011.

The seeds of this project were planted in October 2018, when a white supremacist named Robert Bowers entered the Tree of Life synagogue in my hometown of Pittsburgh and killed eleven people. He was motivated to kill, in part, by conspiracy theories. On that day, I knew that I had to find the roots of this poisonous modern mythology and map its impact on society.

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Stories and conversation from the end of the world


Journalist, author, host of FAILED STATE UPDATE podcast.