Controversy in Conspiracy Theories?

Conspiracy theory discourse is oppositional and provocative, existing in conflict with other – often mainstream – discourses. The ‘theory’ in ‘conspiracy theory’ challenges its truth status, as yet unaccepted by its opposition, or understood as an officially proven fact. By extension, the conspiracy theorist can be considered an ‘outsider’ or ‘outcast’, at least in that moment; however, outsider status is not necessarily negative. The notion of the outsider as enlightened lies at the core of conspiracy theorist identity with the theorist assuming they are privy to special knowledge – that many cannot comprehend – uncovering the blueprint to world events. In this talk, we will explore the concept of conspiracy theory, looking at the underpinning logic and how the narratives stand out.

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After teaching for many years, I decided to embark on a Master’s course and one thing led to another! I am currently researching the language of conspiracy theories. I was struck by how prevalent they had become. There seemed to be something striking about how they were put together that I wanted to get to the bottom of. I analyse how conspiracy theories are persuasive and how they can be replicated. I am particularly interested in helping people understand why and how we believe what we do. In doing so, we can find ways to connect and engage with divergent audiences and, ultimately, understand ourselves better. If you’re interested in reading more, here’s a link to a recent article I wrote for The Conversation.

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