Where you, the readers, can decide…

So, I now have a fortnightly slot on Simon Pound’s Sunday Breakfast show on 95bFM. A chin wag with Simon on Conspiracies and their Theories with a little light philosophising thrown in for good measure. The question is, what should I be talking about. Conspiracy Theories, obviously, but which ones? What kind of material? Should I be talking about crackpot theories or should I dissect the mainstream, even vaguely plausible, ones? What, in essence, would you have me talk about, on, or with?

I really do want to know. Here is your chance to shape just how these sessions will go.


About Matthew Dentith

Author of "The Philosophy of Conspiracy Theories" (Palgrave Macmillan), Matthew Dentith wrote his PhD on epistemic issues surrounding belief in conspiracy theories. He is a frequent media commentator on the weird and the wonderful, both locally and internationally. On occasion he can be caught dreaming about wax lions but, mostly, it is rumoured he works for elements of the New World Order.

4 comments:

  1. Sounds awesome, will there be a regular podcast? Because I’d subscribe to that too.

    Ok, ideas …

    Way i see it, you’ve got conspiracy theories themselves, wikipedia has a massive page listed by country and mode: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_conspiracy_theories

    That should give you a start to delve deeper.

    The social psychology of conspiracy theorists might be another, similar to the pop-account in Jon Ronson’s “Them” which shows the paranoia.

    Another thing that interested me in conspiracy theory study was how they all quote each other rather than using primary sources. That was brought up in the book “a culture of conspiracy”. So bibliographic analysis of conspiracy theories would actually be quite interesting considering these days its more along the lines of hyperlinking to each other for citation.

    Perhaps some counter-examples of real conspiracies? As in the legal and criminal definition? The new book on organized crime called “Gomorrah: Italy’s other Mafia” by roberto saviano might be a good example.

  2. Thanks for that. I might talk to Simon’s producer (which, in some strange manner of inheritance of properties, is my producer) about whether I can lob the mp3s up as a podcast. It would be rather nifty.

    The whole division of Conspiracy Theories by region has always fascinated me and I’m bound to talk about it at some stage; I’m somewhat European, it seems, in that I like the arcane secret societies Conspiracy Theories more than the political ones (which are usually seen to be more American).

    As to Ronson… I read ‘Them’ back in 2006. It’s an interesting book and his comments on certain events versus certain Conspiracy Theorists on the same events seems quite illuminating; people really do see what they expect to see. The psychology angle is interesting and some of my thesis touches upon it, but I’m always a little afraid to go into it because I’ve taught students who were (also) doing Psychology and it’s so easy to engage in a shallow armchair analysis that goes against what the professionals actually believe.

  3. Well, the conspiracy theory I most often encounter in every day online psuedo-life is the one that says that “socialists want to destroy the country” or similar. It’s never “socialists want to improve the country, but I believe their ideas are wrong, and will therefore actually end up harming the country” — there’s always a malicious motive imputed.

    I dunno, maybe that’s just a matter for psychology — why people are incapable or unwilling to believe that people who share opposing views might have good reasons for holding them.

  4. Of course, socialists say the same thing about capitalists so, yes, I think you’re right this is more about psychology than anything else. The inability of the average human to play Devil’s Advocate is quite the bugbear when it comes to trying to explain why people of different persuasions enjoy doing things, well, differently.

    That being said, it probably ties into one of the factors that drives Conspiracy Theories, which is the want to find intentional agents and make them responsible for the world’s ills. If you’re a card-carrying Capitalist the last thing you want to admit is that Halliburton is actually at fault, so it must really be the effect of those dunderhead Congressmen and Congresswomen who have foisted socialist principles onto the actions of the Free Market. These might well be accidental instances of Conspiracy Theories, in that the people proposing them might not really believe it’s a concerted plan but rather just a collection of similarly motivated malacious acts, although some certainly see it as outright conspiratorial behaviour (it’s fashionable to blag Kiwiblog readers at the moment and whilst that kind of thing is above me, I have to say that some of the commentators would fit that bill of health…).

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