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Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe Them$
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Joseph E. Uscinski

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190844073

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190844073.001.0001

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The Conspiracy Theory Pyramid Scheme

The Conspiracy Theory Pyramid Scheme

Chapter:
(p.226) 15 The Conspiracy Theory Pyramid Scheme
Source:
Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe Them
Author(s):

Ted Goertzel

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190844073.003.0015

The conspiracy theory pyramid scheme has three tiers. First, writers and intellectuals who reinforce and legitimate conspiracy memes, sometimes without explicitly endorsing conspiracy theories. Second, people with a psychological affinity for conspiracy theories. And third, people who feel threatened by a specific issue and become persuaded that a conspiracy is at work. The pyramid metaphor should not be taken to imply that the top tier is in control and dominates the second and third tiers of the pyramid. Interaction between the tiers is reciprocal, not hierarchical. The authors examined in this chapter have played an important role on the first tier of the conspiracy theory pyramids: Andrew Wakefield, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Frederick Seitz, James Inhofe, Vandana Shiva, Noam Chomsky, and Edward Herman.

Keywords:   conspiracy theories, vaccine conspiracy, global warming hoax, AIDS conspiracy, Koch brothers

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