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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 Theories and Religion

Conspiracy Theories and Religion

Superstition, Seekership, and Salvation

(p.411) 28 Conspiracy Theories and Religion
Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe Them

David G. Robertson

Asbjørn Dyrendal

Oxford University Press

Religious ‘beliefs’ are more often situational than propositional. Reading reported conspiracy beliefs the same way deepens our understanding of their function and appeal. Ideas shared by both religion and conspiracy theories—including the paranormal, esotericism, millennialism, and prophecy—are varieties of the rejected knowledge of the “cultic milieu.” The distrust of epistemic and institutional authority in these fields leads to a profusion of syncretic “grand explanatory narratives,” which make meaning and explain away the apparently anomalous or morally perplexing. A religious studies perspective not only clarifies the social function of such ideas, but also offers tools for understanding the people who believe in conspiracy theories in a more human and productive light.

Keywords:   conspiracy theory, religion, belief, paranormal, apocalypticism, prophecy

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