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Monthly Archives: July 2013


My old philosophy of science professor, Donald Gillies, used to tell a story about when he attended Karl Popper’s undergraduate lectures at the LSE in the 1960s. If I remember the story rightly Popper used to begin by simply commanding his students: “Observe!” The students would look about them, try to avoid his gaze, shift awkwardly […]

29 July 2013
On the vices and virtues of conspiracy theories

A special issue on “the psychology of conspiracy theories” has just appeared in the journal Frontiers in Personality Science and Individual Differences. One of the papers, by Michael Wood and Karen Douglas of the University of Kent (I put the pdf in our dropbox), looks at the styles of persuasion adopted on internet discussion boards by 9/11 conspiracy […]

15 July 2013
Coincidences and Conspiracy Theories

One of the central questions that our discussions have begun to broach is when and why conspiracy theories emerge. While structural conditions can inspire and influence the materialisation and development of conspiracy theories, such theories also commonly arise around particular events. These events are frequently physically violent in nature – such as assassination attempts, terrorist […]

13 July 2013
Conspiracy in Turkey: Erdoğan and the “interest rate lobby”

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan claimed a few weeks ago that the protests in Turkey and Brazil were orchestrated by the same unspecified conspirators. The Guardian reports Erdoğan declaring: “The same game is now being played over Brazil. The symbols are the same, the posters are the same, Twitter, Facebook are the same, the international media […]

10 July 2013
The death of Dr David Kelly

“Having written the biography of David Kelly”, writes Robert Lewis, “I have found out many new secrets, but have finally let go of the conspiracy theories.”  Ten years ago, Dr David Kelly  Britain’s foremost authority on biological weapons, and perhaps Britain’s leading expert on Iraqi WMD, was found dead in an Oxfordshire wood, apparently as a result […]

6 July 2013