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Category Archives: Current conspiracy theories

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
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
Old conspiracy theories never die.  They just mutate with the times.
Old conspiracy theories never die. They just mutate with the times.

At our Festival of Ideas gig on Wednesday someone asked a question that none of us had ever considered: how do conspiracy theories end? Tony Badger took it on, and talked about how the anti-communist hysteria of Senator Joe McCarthy’s time had endured over time, taking different forms in different eras, right down to the […]

26 October 2013
Conspiracy theorist enters government shock!

The most interesting news to come out of yesterday’s reshuffles (apart from the promotion of Tristram Hunt to Shadow Education Secretary) is the elevation of Norman Baker to a government position at the Home Office. Baker is best known as the Lib Dem backbencher who took a year out of his parliamentary career to write […]

8 October 2013
Conspiracy as Governance

I recently came across a 2006 essay by Julian Assange titled “Conspiracy as Governance” (extract here, fuller version here) and I thought it might be worth at least a brief comment as well as a link. He writes that in authoritarian regimes conspiracy – or conspiratorial interaction among the political elite – is the primary […]

28 August 2013
Hindsight and its drawbacks (updated)

Hindsight, as the saying goes, is the only exact science. It can also be a liability, because it enables us to view events of the past – and contemporary theories about them – with an unwarranted degree of condescension. That was one of the most useful insights provided by Thomas Kuhn’s work on the history […]

25 August 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