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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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What We Mean When We Say “Conspiracy Theory”

What We Mean When We Say “Conspiracy Theory”

Chapter:
(p.53) 3 What We Mean When We Say “Conspiracy Theory”
Source:
Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe Them
Author(s):

Jesse Walker

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190844073.003.0003

The meaning of “conspiracy theory” constantly contracts and expands. On one hand, the phrase is regularly used to describe fringe views that do not involve alleged conspiracies. On the other hand, people tend to avoid using the phrase when describing conspiracy claims embraced by the mainstream, even when those ideas are highly dubious. Popular narratives about terrorism, gang activity, and new religious movements resemble more marginal conspiracy theories, particularly when they confuse decentralized networks with centralized organizations, perceive plots that don’t exist at all, or draw on the lurid imagery of pulp fiction.

Keywords:   conspiracy theory, terrorism, supernatural, paranormal, conspiracy

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