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Monthly Archives: November 2013

A New British “Dolchstosslegende”?

Following the visit of Boris Barth a few weeks back and his wonderful account of the origins and development of the stab-in-the-back legend in Germany after WWI and its relation to conspiracy theory, this comment caught my eye: A narrative has emerged that ascribes Britain’s military difficulties to a failure by politicians to follow the professional […]

21 November 2013
The rise of “conspiracy theory”

On the question of the use of the term “conspiracy theory” the trajectory over recent decades is pretty clear. It’s on the up. This is just a search for “conspiracy theory” OR “conspiracy theories” in the title of articles on google scholar, excluding patents and citations. It’s only in the early 1950s that we find […]

17 November 2013
Decline in conspiracy theories. Really?

Intrigued by Alfred’s post about Uscinski’s and Parent’s claim that conspiracy theorising has been on the decline since the JFK assassination, I went looking on Google’s Ngram Viewer (which ransacks the 5.2 million books that Google had digitised up to 2008) to see what could be gleaned from the books database. Here’s the result: Conclusion: […]

14 November 2013
JFK and the Decline of Conspiracy Theories

Here’s a link to a blog post from American political scientists Joseph Uscinski and Joseph Parent, trailing their forthcoming book, “American Conspiracy Theories” (Oxford University Press, 2014). Among the interesting results, they claim that conspiracy theorizing in America has actually been on the decline since the JFK assassination: Our analyses suggest the overall level of conspiracy theorizing […]

13 November 2013
Conspiracies, Cover-ups and Cock-ups: Watergate Edition

In David’s talk at the recent Festival of Ideas he criticised the false dichotomy between a “conspiracy theory” of government and a “cock-up” theory of government. Conspiracies in democratic governments, he suggested, seem most often to be cover-ups of cock-ups. Thus they often look more like retrospective blame avoidance than a conscious and effective direction of future […]

7 November 2013
Psychology of Conspiracy Theories

Here’s a link to a blog on the psychology of conspiracy theories, run by a few graduate students working on the topic. The site includes a link to a special issue of the Psychology Postgraduate Affairs Group on conspiracy theories. And there’s also an interesting reflection by Michael Wood on the misinterpretations and hostile reactions in […]

5 November 2013
The Dummies’ Guide to Conspiracy Theorising

A question that has surfaced repeatedly in our Conspiracy & Democracy weekly meetings is when – if ever – we can conclusively identify someone as a conspiracy theorist. For, as our Directors mentioned at the recent highly successful Festival of Ideas event, we are not concerned with proving or disproving conspiracy theories and neither are […]

1 November 2013