conspiracy theory

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conspiracy theory

an element within a belief system in which social consequences, identified as harmful or unwanted, are seen as arising from the activities of groups believed able to influence the operation of power, economic decision-making, etc., in surreptitious ways. Members of successful religious or ethnic minority groups, political extremists, freemasons, etc., may be identified in such theories, e.g. the ‘witch hunt’ of members of the Communist Party (and alleged fellow travellers) carried out by Joseph McCarthy in the United States in the early 1950s, or the so-called ‘Doctors’ Plot’ in the USSR prior to Stalin's death in 1953, in which Jewish doctors were accused of plotting to poison Stalin. Whether or not there are elements of truth in the claims made in such conspiracy theories, it is the exaggerated nature of the claims, and the often slender evidence advanced, that leads conspiracy theories to be regarded as a phenomenon requiring explanation rather than being seen as ‘true’ theories. Thus, they might be explained as arising from the believers’ powerlessness and structurally precarious situation, and the need for the believers themselves to find a reason’ for this and some hope of resolution.
References in periodicals archive ?
In "Conspiracy Theories," the legal scholars Cass Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule attribute conspiracist thinking to feelings of impotence: such theories are "especially likely to appeal to people who are cynical about politics, who have lower self-esteem, and who are generally defiant of authority.
Lunar lies: The impact of informational framing and individual differences in shaping conspiracist beliefs about the Moon landings.
see Jonathan Kay, Among the Truthers: A Journey Through America's Growing Conspiracist Underground (New York: Harper, 2011).
Belief in unidentified flying objects, or aliens for that matter, doesn't imply a conspiracist impulse by itself.
Despite the attacks by Groden and his conspiracist allies, the Sixth Floor Museum does not deny the fact that there are many people who dispute the conclusions of the Warren Commission.
In addition, consistency has been demonstrated across conspiracist beliefs; stronger belief in conspiracy theories (7/7 attacks in London) was predicted by stronger belief in other conspiracy theories (Swami et al.
59) Presented as well in an earlier study of Hubbes Laszlo,"'Signs of Times'--A Semiotic Content-Analysis of Visual Apocalyptic Rhetoric on Hungarian Conspiracist Websites" (Acta Universitatis Sapientiae.
When I read Paul Wells's review of my book, Among the Truthers: A Journey into the Growing Conspiracist Underground of 9/11 Truthers, Birthers, Armageddonites, Vaccine Hysterics, Hollywood Know-Nothings and Internet Addicts, I was pleasantly surprised.
According to professional conspiracist Alex Jones, the attendees engage in "satanic rituals" that date all the way back to the blood orgies of a "Babylonian death cult.
As Kay puts it, "Scratch the surface of a middle-aged 9/11 Truther, and you are almost guaranteed to find a JFK conspiracist.
Among the Truthers: A Journey Through America's Growing Conspiracist Underground comes from an author who spent three years researching conspiracy theorists, and offers eyewitness accounts of the conspiracist subculture that abounds.