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HISTORY, POLITICAL THEORY, INTERNET

Category Archives: Conspiracy and Democracy Project

Conspiracy and Democracy at the Cambridge Festival of Ideas 2017

The Cambridge Festival of Ideas will be arriving this October and Researchers from Conspiracy and Democracy will be hosting and contributing to a number of free public events on subjects of Conspiracy, Populism, and Truth. The Festival of Ideas, which is now in its tenth year, consists of hundreds of free events over two weeks, […]

13 September 2017
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
‘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
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
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