"Thank you for an interesting entertaining article. I'm looking forward to reading Jonathan Kay's book (novel?). I've been an armchair theorist for around 15 years now.
The idea of a "conspiracy theorist underground" is, in and of itself, an amusing conspiracy theory. It implies shadowy cabals, clandestine meetings, and secret handshakes.
On its face, the idea is patently absurd. By our very nature, we want publicity. We want people to think about our ideas. We want the validation of the unlikely event that some pet theory turns out to be correct.
Look at the sources you mentioned: emails, RSS feeds, voice mails, facebook groups. All pretty much totally public and visible. Kay missed quite a few, but we conspiracy theorists live in an obvious spiderweb world. Each node is a desperate little "Look at me! I'm over here!" plea for attention.
There are probably as many different types of conspiracy theorists (and reasons that we believe the things we do) as there are conspiracy theorists. It would take a book to explore even the few I know about.
There really seems to be just one common trait that almost all of us share: a mistrust of authority. Everyone knows politicians (and, thus, the government) lie. Elected officials are practically professional liars: their jobs depend on telling voters what we want to hear.
We also all know that the mainstream media deceives us. Whether it's by mistake, slant, omission, cover up, or just outright lie.
Every American (except the fools who believe *their* news source is fair, balanced, pristinely truthful, and infallible) realizes those two facts. Conspiracy theorists just take those facts and run with them.
Most of us tend to wind up believing that the MSM no longer represents the "free press". That you've turned into the propaganda arm of the gover-business interests that *really* make all the decisions these days. That's why we wind up turning to alternative sources that are questionable at best.
Take your article, as an example. It's full of brainwashing messages. I don't have it in front of me as I write this, so I'm sure I'll get the quotes wrong (this is one of the techniques we theorists use to delude ourselves), but I'll try to convey the tone of what I perceived (which, ultimately, is what counts in any form of communication).
Ridicule is obvious: "You may laugh at such silliness, but..." If you can make people laugh at some idea, you make that idea unthinkable.
Conflation isn't necessarily a brainwashing technique per se, but it is a logical fallacy used by brainwashers. "Some people believe President Obama was not born in the US. Some people have questions about the official story on 9/11. Some people believe both. Therefore, the 911 truthers are obviously as stupid as the birthers." This technique will pretty much inevitably gore someone's ox, so now they'll decide the UTW's an active participant in making sure people don't learn the truth about *their* pet theory.
"Us vs Them" is the most fundamental example: The idea of "Look at these idiots! How can they possibly believe such a thing, which is absurd? You don't want to be like *them* do you?"
Analysis: I doubt anyone would believe that you know the "real" story behind the JFK assassination. But, by publishing such a biased column, the UTW places itself squarely on the side of "them" with everyone who questions any "official story" on the side of "us".
And there's a breakdown of one way something totally innocent gets twisted into 'evidence' for a sinister conspiracy.
There's a *lot* more to it than that, of course. Maybe I'll write that book after all. If it ever gets published, I'll give you full credit and send you a copy gratis."