We are all conspiracists! Conspiracy theories as counter-epistemic responses to conflict and insecurity in a modern world.
The talk is primarily intended for doctoral students at the Faculty of Science and Technology, but other faculty staff as well as post doc fellows are welcome to register. Registration opens in late August.
Conspiracy theorists find intention and hidden connections where others see contingency and coincidences. They tell us that nothing is as it seems and that the authorities are constantly plotting to exclude alternative explanations.
Within the last decades and accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, the belief in alternative medicine or alternative explanations of what is really going on in political decision making have become mainstream. Since Donald Trump’s presidency conspiracism has become a possible way of construing a whole political environment.
Rejected by the established social and natural sciences as pathological, irrational, anti-modern pseudo-science, I will argue that conspiracy thinking is an all-too-human mode of thinking which resonates with modern claims of democratic transparency, authenticity, scepticism, and doubt. However, this does not mean that the mainstreaming of conspiracy theories does not pose a challenge or even a threat to society.
Tempting as it is to divide people into ’tinfoil hat wearing paranoids’ and ’normal people’ I will argue that this form of polarisation misses a crucial point: Conspiracy theorising functions as a counter-epistemic response to an assumed unorder or an unresolved conflict. It is a mode of thinking which we can all be drawn by under the right circumstances.