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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: 12 April 2021

Conspiracy Theory Phobia

Conspiracy Theory Phobia

(p.178) 11 Conspiracy Theory Phobia
Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe Them

Juha Räikkä

Lee Basham

Oxford University Press

Many scholars and journalists have recently questioned why people believe in conspiracy theories. Perhaps equal consideration should be given to the opposing question, why do people not believe in conspiracy theories. People who refuse to evaluate conspiracy theories evenly and openly may suffer from conspiracy theory phobia. This phobia manifests when a person rejects conspiracy theories out of hand without an appropriate evaluation of the available evidence, or if her reaction toward conspiracy theories is one of mockery, contempt, or hostility. Conspiracy theory phobia is likely explained by non-rational psychological mechanisms. In this chapter, we show how confirmation bias and pragmatic hypothesis testing can drive the rejection of conspiracy theories. Arguably, conspiracy theory phobia can distort social science and undermine political accountability within functional democracies.

Keywords:   conspiracy theory, conspiracy theory phobia, confirmation bias, pragmatic hypotheses testing, pathologizing approach

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