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Russell Muirhead joins us to discuss the difference between conspiracism and conspiracy theory and how it influences modern political discussions.

Hosts
Aaron Ross Powell
Director and Editor
Trevor Burrus
Research Fellow, Constitutional Studies
Guests

Russell Muirhead is the Robert Clements Professor of Democracy and Politics at Dartmouth College and the author of The Promise of Party in a Polarized Age and Just Work. He lives in Hanover, New Hampshire.

Russell Muirhead joins us to discuss the difference between conspiracism and conspiracy theory and how it has influenced modern political discussions. Classic conspiracy theory insists that things are not what they seem and gathers evidence—especially facts ominously withheld by official sources—to tease out secret machinations. The new conspiracism is different. There is no demand for evidence, no dots revealed to form a pattern, no close examination of shadowy plotters. Dispensing with the burden of explanation, the new conspiracism imposes its own reality through repetition (exemplified by the Trump catchphrase “a lot of people are saying”) and bare assertion (“rigged!”).

What makes a theory a conspiracy theory? What is ‘conspiracism’? What is the difference between gossip and news? What are the foundations of society and how are they fragile? Do people care about facts?

Further Reading:

A Lot of People Are Saying, written by Russell Muirhead and Nancy L. Rosenblum

The Promise of Party in a Polarized Age, written by Russell Muirhead

Conspiracy Without the Theory, written by Russell Muirhead and Nancy L. Rosenblum

Why conspiracy theories are getting more absurd and harder to refute, written by Sean Illing

The Problem with “Fake News”, written by Ryan Khurana

In the Pursuit of Self Government, Does Quality News Matter?, Anthony Comegna and Caleb O. Brown

The Coddling of the American Mind, Free Thoughts Podcast