- Title Pages
- 1 Down the Rabbit Hole We Go!
- 2 The History of Conspiracy Theory Research
- Section I What Is a Conspiracy Theory?
- 3 What We Mean When We Say “Conspiracy Theory”
- 4 Conspiracy Theory
- 5 Media Marginalization of Racial Minorities
- 6 Conspiracy Theories and Philosophy
- Section II How Do Conspiracy Theorists and Non-Conspiracy Theorists Interact?
- 7 On the Democratic Problem of Conspiracy Politics
- 8 The Politics of Disruption
- 9 Learning about Conspiracy Theories
- 10 In Whose Hands the Future?
- 11 Conspiracy Theory Phobia
- 12 Conspiracy Thinking, Tolerance, and Democracy
- Section III Are Conspiracy Theories “Anti-Science”?
- 13 Don’t Trust the Scientists! Rejecting the Scientific Consensus “Conspiracy”
- 14 Conspiratorial Thinking and Dueling Fact Perceptions
- 15 The Conspiracy Theory Pyramid Scheme
- Section IV What Is the Psychology of Conspiracy Theorizing?
- 16 Conspiracy Theory Psychology
- 17 Conspiracy Rumor Psychology
- 18 The Truth Is Around Here Somewhere
- Section V What Do Conspiracy Theories Look Like in the United States?
- 19 Conspiracy Theories in U.S. History
- 20 Polls, Plots, and Party Politics
- 21 How Conspiracy Theories Spread
- Section VI What Do Conspiracy Theories Look Like Around the World?
- 22 Who Believes in Conspiracy Theories in Great Britain and Europe?
- 23 Why the Powerful (in Weak States) Prefer Conspiracy Theories
- 24 Conspiracy Theories in Post-Soviet Russia
- 25 The Collective Conspiracy Mentality in Poland
- 26 The Conspiratorial Style in Turkish Politics
- 27 The Hidden and the Revealed
- Section VII How Should We Live with Conspiracy Theories?
- 28 Conspiracy Theories and Religion
- 29 The Credulity of Conspiracy Theorists
- 30 Empowerment as a Tool to Reduce Belief in Conspiracy Theories
- 31 Conspiracy Theories for Journalists
The Credulity of Conspiracy Theorists
The Credulity of Conspiracy Theorists
Conspiratorial, Scientific, and Religious Explanation Compared
- (p.422) 29 The Credulity of Conspiracy Theorists
- Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe Them
Brian L. Keeley
- Oxford University Press
Where does entertaining (or promoting) conspiracy theories stand with respect to rational inquiry? According to one view, conspiracy theorists are open-minded skeptics, being careful not to accept uncritically common wisdom, exploring alternative explanations of events no matter how unlikely they might seem at first glance. Seen this way, they are akin to scientists attempting to explain the social world. On the other hand, they are also sometimes seen as overly credulous, believing everything they read on the Internet, say. In addition to conspiracy theorists and scientists, another significant form of explanation of the events of the world can be found in religious contexts, such as when a disaster is explained as being an “act of God.” By comparing conspiratorial thinking with scientific and religious forms of explanation, features of all three are brought into clearer focus. For example, anomalies and a commitment to naturalist explanation are seen as important elements of scientific explanation, although the details are less clear. This paper uses conspiracy theories as a lens through which to investigate rational or scientific inquiry. In addition, a better understanding of the scientific method as it might be applied in the study of events of interest to conspiracy theorists can help understand their epistemic virtues and vices.
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