The Participant - Fall 2017 » Investigating Conspiracy Theories
Lecture: “Investigating Conspiracy Theories: The case for treating conspiracy theories seriously, even the (apparently) ridiculous ones”
The term ‘conspiracy theory’ gets a bad rap in public discourse. Recent academic work – particularly in history, philosophy and sociology – has convincingly argued that conspiracy theories do not deserve their bad reputation; conspiracies don’t just happen but many pejoratively labelled ‘conspiracy theories’ have turned out to be warranted. But what would it be like to treat such theories seriously enough to engage in a systemic investigation of them? How do we sort good theories from bad? What counts as evidence for or against a conspiracy? Just who would investigate such theories? Drawing together a swath of recent academic work on these things we call ‘conspiracy theories,’ Dentith argues that we ought to treat conspiracy theories seriously and investigate them, even if that means sometimes we have to ponder whether alien shape-shifting reptiles run our governments.
Speaker: Matthew Dentith is author of Philosophy of Conspiracy Theories and co-host and producer of the Podcaster’s Guide to the Conspiracy. Dentith has published numerous papers in such venues as Social Epistemology, Episteme, Skeptic, and The Fortean Times.
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