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Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe Them$
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Joseph E. Uscinski

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190844073

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190844073.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 19 April 2021

Down the Rabbit Hole We Go!

Down the Rabbit Hole We Go!

(p.1) 1 Down the Rabbit Hole We Go!
Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe Them

Joseph E. Uscinski

Oxford University Press

Conspiracy theories are not fringe ideas, tucked neatly away in the dark corners of society. They are politically, economically, and socially relevant to all of us. They are intertwined with our everyday lives in countless ways. Just like other ideas, they have consequences which can sometimes be deadly. Conspiracy theories can also encourage good behavior and uncover wrongdoing. Beyond shaping the composition and nature of governments through democratic processes, conspiracy theories exert a profound effect on policy choices. Sometimes this is a top-down process by which political elites use conspiracy rhetoric to justify or propagate particular policies; in other instances conspiracy theories can percolate from the bottom up, and affect policy through direct democracy or by influencing the actions of otherwise nonconspiratorial elites. Conspiracy theories are often discussed, but much less understood. What do we know about conspiracy theories and what answers continue to elude us? What makes conspiracy theories so important now?

Keywords:   conspiracy theory, violence, ideology, conspiracist ideation, conspiracy, policy, 2016 election, Trump, Brexit

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