This article is part of "Shadowland," a project about conspiracy thinking in America.
"I'm not one of the paranoid kinds of people," Michael, the 51-year-old owner of a construction company, told me this spring.
But who doesn't look at the state of the world these days and get a little paranoid? It's not just the virus and the economic collapse. It's the protests, the fires, the cyberspying, the border shutdowns, the freezer trucks full of bodies, the disinformation on television—the sense that we are living with the economy of 1928, the civil society of 1968, the politics of 1868. "I don't see a good outcome, whether he wins it or someone else wins it," he said, talking about President Donald Trump. "It scares me. I've got two daughters. I think about all the sex rings they've been cracking down on," he added. "Our country has almost got the qualities of a third-world country."