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Is the Earth flat?! On Beliefs in Conspiracy Theories

Tuesday October 1st 2019 | 19:45 – 21:30 hrs |Instituto Cervantes Utrecht |Domplein 3, 3512 Utrecht |

Where do conspiracy theories come from? What drives belief in such theories? 

Conspiracy theories are all around us: 9/11, moon landing hoax, Illuminati, UFO cover-up, Obama’s birth certificate, and so on. Defenders and opponents of conspiracy theories seem to live in different worlds, and arguments about conspiracy theory often seem to revolve around the psychological makeup of those who do (not) believe in these theories. 

Conspiracy theories typically spread as a result of identifiable cognitive blunders, operating in conjunction with informational and reputational influences. A distinctive feature of such theories is their self-sealing quality. Conspiracy theorists are not likely to be persuaded by an attempt to dispel their theories; they may even characterize that very attempt as further proof of the conspiracy. 

But what is a conspiracy theory? Are there reasons to be suspicious of conspiracy theories? And what is the position of conspiracy thinkers in our contemporary society? 

We will talk about this and more with Jan-Willem Prooijen. He is Associate Professor at the VU in Amsterdam and wrote the book ‘Conspiracy theories: Evolved functions and psychological mechanisms. Perspectives on psychological science’.

This lecture is free of charge! Afterwards, there will be drinks at Café Hemingway!