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Author Archives: Rolf Fredheim

Are conspiracy theories a threat to democracy?

Conspiracy theories are a marginal phenomenon, a form of disreputable counter-knowledge, and therefore unlikely to bring down strong democratic governments. Nonetheless, a case might be made that they contribute to a sometimes misplaced trust in elites. By all accounts, such trust is at historic lows. Complacency and political cynicism may be at corresponding highs. As Hugo noted, […]

13 January 2016
Can conspiracies be distinguished from other forms of collective action?

Can conspiracies be distinguished from other forms of collective action? Certainly. Conspiracies are (at least partially) a subcategory of collective action. The terms covered by the collective action umbrella range from proximate categories which may, perhaps, be indistinguishable, to those that are completely distinct. Unlike ‘conspiracy theory’, ‘conspiracy’ is easy to define: conspiracies are necessarily […]

12 January 2016
How do conspiracy theories relate to non-democratic regimes?

Conspiracies and conspiracy theories are prevalent in the margins between democratic and non-democratic regimes. By their very nature, hybrid regimes are a likely site for conspiracy theorising: partially free media outlets, elections, and other democratic institutions, which may coexist with authoritarian practices. In such an environment, where expression is possible, but constrained, elections are free […]

11 January 2016
What has surprised you the most in your study of conspiracy theories?

When I joined the project I thought of conspiracy theories as part of a family of arguments that point to simple agency rather than acknowledging more complex or even random interactions. The precise ways in which conspiracy theories are different from other forms of explanation seemed (and still seem) to me more normative than substantive. […]

5 January 2016
Listen: Tanya, Hugo, and Rolf on ‘Election’ podcast
Listen: Tanya, Hugo, and Rolf on ‘Election’ podcast

Tanya, Hugo, and Rolf discuss conspiracy theories with David Runciman on his ‘Election’ podcast. We present the results of our survey and touch on recent events in Argentina and Russia. Listen (from 10:00) here.

14 April 2015
Of Cynics and Conspiracy Theorists

What separates cynics from conspiracy theorists? When people use the language of conspiracy it’s not always clear exactly what sort of conspiracy they have in mind. In this post we analyse the data from our opinion poll to explore how respondents talk about hidden power.

23 February 2015
Conspiracy Poll Results

On the 3rd and 4th February 2015, YouGov polled a representative sample of 1749 adults across Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales – no Northern Ireland) for a conspiracy theory survey we co-authored with YouGov. The data can be browsed interactively below.

18 February 2015
Mapping comment threads
Mapping comment threads

For some time now the project has had a side-interest in commenting behaviour on on-line news articles. Who talks to whom? What sorts of dynamics emerge? What determines the comment structure: the order in which comments are displayed? Anonymous commenting? At some point in the hopefully not too distant future, Alfred, John, and I will […]

10 February 2015
Watch Dr Turkay Nefes’ (Oxford) talk “Impacts of the Turkish Government Response to the Gezi Park Protests”
Watch Dr Turkay Nefes’ (Oxford) talk “Impacts of the Turkish Government Response to the Gezi Park Protests”

A public lecture by Dr Turkay Nefes (Oxford), given on 3 February 2015 This is part of a series of public talks from the Leverhulme-funded project Conspiracy and Democracy. More information at Summary What happens when a prime minister proposes conspiratorial accounts of a momentous event in a democracy? Although conspiratorial rhetoric is the […]

European Conspiracy Theories
European Conspiracy Theories

Helped by our friends at YouGov, we are in the process of conducting a poll in the UK, soon to be followed by a number of European countries. We hope the results will shed light on the factors associated with belief in conspiracy theories. What is more important: religion, party system, levels of education, political engagement, or distance from the locus of power?

30 January 2015