When I first moved to this country almost 24 years ago, I knew nothing about it, except a few pieces of American pop culture that had been deemed culturally clean and "healthy" enough to be imported into China: The Carpenters, the movie "Love Story," and a few country songs. It took me a very long time to pick up things from incessant consumption of television (especially Law and Order), radio in the car, and summer blockbuster movies. That was before the InterWeb became the black hole that sucked everyone in.
During college, in the late nights driving home from my intern pharmacy shifts, I caught Rush Limbaugh on the radio and some guy called Lyndon Larouche. It was not very interesting and I paid them little attention. I had no idea what it was all about.
After I graduated from university, on my first job as an editor at a biomedical journal, one of my colleagues, a copyeditor, told me some weird things that I had never heard on the radio or read in newspapers --- outlandish stories about UN black helicopters, secret prisons, government conspiracies, and plans to enslave the American people. She had grown up in rural Maryland and all her friends were farm kids. They all believed these rumors. I had only heard vaguely about Ruby Ridge, Waco, and the Elio Gonzales affair, but never thought there was a vast conspiracy behind all of them. But she made it all sound so real.