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HISTORY, POLITICAL THEORY, INTERNET

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Hitler and the Nazis Were High on Drugs – a Theory for the Age of ‘Alternative Facts’

When we began our project in 2013, we thought it was a mainly academic enterprise, but with the Brexit and US Presidential election campaigns it gained public significance. The world has entered the era of ‘post-truth’ and ‘alternative facts’ in which conspiracy theories have become part of the international currency of ‘fake news’ on the […]

30 May 2017
“Denial”: how to deal with a conspiracy theory in the era of ‘post-truth’

I only have a very small part in the film Denial compared to those of David Irving (played by Timothy Spall), Richard Rampton QC (played by Tom Wilkinson), Anthony Julius (played by Andrew Scott), and Professor Deborah Lipstadt (played by Rachel Weisz), but I like to think it’s an important one. When Irving sued Deborah […]

15 February 2017
Workshop “Populists and Technocrats: open antagonisms, hidden affinities”

A workshop on “Populists and technocrats: open antagonisms, hidden affinities”, co-convened by Conspiracy and Democracy project researchers Dr. Tanya Filer and Dr. McKenzie McHarg, is one of four to have been selected from across the University for collaboration with the Philomathia Forum in 2017. The Philomathia Forum is a vital part of the Philomathia Social […]

1 February 2017
Peace Framed as Plot?

The apparently democratic character of referendums faces myriad critiques. One of them is the influence that the opinions of voters on other issues, whether or not relevant to the decision at hand, may exercise on their vote in a referendum. As this New York Times piece explains, when confronting complex choices, voters facing either information overload or information deficits might […]

6 October 2016
‘Coalgate’: corruption, an honest bureaucrat and a deeper malaise in India

Nayanika Mathur, University of Cambridge “Corruption. It’s like a demon sitting on my brain and eating it with a fork and knife.” So bemoans a character in the novelist Aravind Adiga’s Between the Assasinations set in India. While it is commonplace and easy to bemoan the pervasiveness of corruption in India, it is harder to […]

23 August 2016
New publication on conspiracy and democracy!

I’ve recently published a special issue of Critical Review, in which a group of political theorists reflect on the place of conspiracy and conspiracy theory in democratic politics. Our former guest on the project, Lawrence Quill, has a piece based on his successful lecture on Technological Conspiracies. I’ve written an introductory essay as well as […]

28 July 2016
Are you serious?: Measuring belief in conspiracy theories – Rob Brotherton

Psychologists love to measure things, and psychologists who study conspiracy theories are no exception. To understand where conspiracy theories come from, we need to be able to measure the extent to which people believe them. But measuring things is often trickier than it first appears. At first glance, it seems pretty straight-forward. Pick a few […]

25 May 2016
Conspiracies Real and Imagined in the French Revolution – Marisa Linton

The French Revolution saw the invention of a new political system for France, that of modern participatory politics, with an elected legislature, political clubs, and a free press. For the first time France had politicians – answerable not to one man, but to public opinion and to the ‘people’. On the face of it conspiracy […]

6 May 2016
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