One of my papers (the Kaikoura piece) has been sent back with a rejection slip. Now this isn’t as bad as it might seem, for two reasons. The first is that the paper did get far enough to be revised, which is better than for most other submissions, so hurray me. The second is, well, that it seems that the reviewers really were never going to accept the paper anyway. I quote:

The question that the author raises is pointless and rests on a total misunderstanding of the conspiracy theory as presented by Karl Popper and by Richard Hofstadter. The theory was the subject of criticism for almost two centuries, and the latest literature that continues this activity is quite redundant.


The author seems not to take the main point, namely that Pigden and Keeley havent the faintest idea what the problem is, nor do they even competently reproduce what Popper says.

Which is to say that all the recent work on Conspiracy Theories in Philosophy (according to the two reviewers) is unnecessary because none of the work improves upon Sir Karl Raimond Popper’s work in `The Open Society and Its Enemies.’

Now, I could rant on for quite some time as to how ridiculous that view is but I am not going to. One of the first lessons you learn in the publication game is that papers get rejected for silly reasons and the only real response is to seek publication elsewhere. So, off the paper goes (again).

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.


  1. If that can be any consolation, the last journal I sent an article to promptly folded. They must have looked at it and decided they couldn’t take any more.

  2. Um… pointless? If this is the question, then it does look rather meaningful and nontrivial to me. (Though I admit I have no familiarity with this field, and perhaps the question has been answered elsewhere.)

  3. It hasn’t as far as I know (and I have read everything extant in the field (of Philosophy)); given the general tenor of the reviewers responses I assume they think the entire field of enquiry into Conspiracy Theories is a waste of time. I do somewhat face this on a daily basis, the notion that very few academics find my studies worthwhile, but it is depressing to get confirmation of that.

  4. It’s a conspiracy. I met with the editor (who is Jewish) in our beige room, and we decided that you were not fully assimilated yet. Keep toiling, and wait for the two am call.

    Seriously, have you considered trying to publish stuff in journals that fall loosely into the ctageory of ‘intellectual history/the sociology of knowledge’, rather than hardout philosophy venues?

  5. Yes, and no, to quote `Little Britain.’

    I’m currently going for journals that have published material on the same topic before within Philosophy (which is why the rejection is particularly disarming in this case). I’ve resubmitted to another journal of the same ilk. In part it’s because, given that this is a less than respectable topic, it will look better for me, my supervisors, my Department and my job prospects if I can get a little publicity within the philosophical community.

    I do plan to try to broaden my horizons, publication-wise. Given that I want to say in Aotearoa and my choice of topics dovetails nicely with some work in Sociology and Politics it would be good to broach other disciplines’ journals, but I’d like to keep the philosophers on side as well.

  6. Fair enough. Do you know Radical Philosophy, though? That’s a neat little journal which quite a lot of social scientists as well as philosophers read (OK probably only Continental philosophers read it). It also publishes quite short pieces. You could probably bang out/rework something quite quickly for them. Another quite interesting journal, which perhaps sits on the boundary of sociology and philosophy, is Thesis Eleven.

  7. I am sure you don’t do requests, but I would like to read a rant by you about how ridiculous is the view that post-Popper works on conspiracy theories are unnecessary.

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