A little paranoia can be good -- especially for a police officer walking a beat or a child who is approached by a stranger. But how does a healthy distrust of government, which is the birthright of every American, turn into an unshakable conviction that the U.S. is about to be overthrown by a United Nations force made up of Hong Kong police and Russian troops? It is tempting to dismiss people with such paranoid beliefs as sick, demented individuals. But that doesn't explain the widespread membership in the U.S. in militias and other extremist groups. Experts in psychology and group...

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