Response to Jim Hougan

It is true that Jim Hougan is a well-established investigative reporter, and also a good friend. He has a wealth of experience researching the world of spooks and spies, having written Secret Agenda: Watergate, Deep Throat, and the CIA; Spooks: The Haunting of America: The Private Use of Secret Agents; and Kingdom Come, a novel about a CIA bureaucrat. He also wrote and produced a documentary on Jonestown for the Arts and Entertainment Channel on the twentieth anniversary of Jonestown. No wonder he takes umbrage at being lumped together with “professional conspiracists.” That’s a legitimate complaint.

In my article, “Reconstructing Reality: Conspiracy Theories About Jonestown” in Journal of Popular Culture 36, no. 2 (Fall 2002) – available online – I described Mr. Hougan’s article in Lobster as falling within the genre of conspiracy literature. I stand by that statement, and I believe other readers of the article would agree. Indeed, given Lobster’s self-description as “the Journal of Parapolitics that includes International Intelligence, Conspiracy Theories and Government Abuse,” I believe the editors published Mr. Hougan’s piece because of its conspiracy themes.

However, there is a difference between an article written by a professional conspiracist, and an article with a conspiracy theme written by an investigative reporter. I recognize the importance of making that distinction, and I am happy to do so.

– Rebecca Moore

(Rebecca Moore is the author and co-editor of numerous books and articles about Peoples Temple and Jonestown. A professor in Religious Studies at San Diego State University, she also serves as co-general editor of Nova Religio: The Journal of New and Emergent Religions, together with Catherine Wessinger. She can be reached at