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Conspiracy Theories are for Losers

20th July 2017 · 7:30pm - 9:00pm

In person | Virtual event

 Conspiracy Theories are for Losers

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Americans have believed in conspiracy theories since before the United States united. A ceaseless array of conspiracy accusations have demonized witches, Freemasons, foreigners, red coats, black helicopters, Mormons, Muslims, Jews, fifth columns, the government, and more recently, Vladimir Putin. The common assumption is that conspiracy theories are nothing more than the delusions of paranoid minds trying to make sense of an ever more complicated world. However, the evidence tells a different story.

In this talk, Professor Joesph Uscinski will show that conspiracy theories follow a strategic logic: they are tools used by the powerless to attack and defend against the powerful. Conspiracy theories must conform to this logic, or they will not be successful. In this way, conspiracy theories are for losers.

Professor Uscinski will highlight his analysis of more than a hundred years of data taken from newspapers, surveys, and the internet. The surprising findings address the following questions: Who believes in conspiracy theories and why? Why are some conspiracy theories more popular than others? What are the dangers of conspiracy theories? Are conspiracy theorists prone to violence? How did conspiracy theories affect the 2016 presidential election? What can conspiracy theories in the United States tell us about conspiracy theories in the United Kingdom?

Joseph Uscinski is associate professor of political science at University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL and co-author of American Conspiracy Theories (Oxford, 2014).

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