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?