Are we living in a new golden age of conspiracy theories?

Here are a few questions for you to wrestle with? Do you believe that Elvis is still alive somewhere? Are you convinced that president Kennedy was not murdered by a lone gunman? Could it not be true after all that the landing on the moon was faked? Did Russia intend and work hard to get Trump elected president?

Well, if you answer yes to any of the questions raised above, you are certainly susceptible to conspiracy theories, and, believe it or not, this may have far-reaching implications for your own political positioning and attitudes toward democracy. Though, don’t despair because you are far from being alone. Empirical studies have shown that more than 50 percent of participants answer questions like the ones posed above in the affirmative. No wonder, then, that the chattering classes on both sides of the Atlantic keep hammering home their conviction that conspiracy theories have reached dangerous dimensions today. But, behold, because there is no serious scientific evidence supporting such claims. In fact, conspiracy theories have always been part of human existence, and they reached a high point toward the end of the 19th century and the 1950s; at least, this can be said for the United States.

Professor James Tilley

Stays true to academic tradition prevalent in the english-speaking world and has produced an intriguing

program

Looking at this particular question from various angles, and he has earned quite a reputation for taking on intriguing questions shaping interactions between the individual, politics and society at large. For example,in this

one

He explores what power struggles within Chimpanzee collectives can tell us about human beings and the way we engage in politics.

For me it is one of the most appealing aspects of academic, intellectual life in the english-speaking world that scholars are encourage to appeal to a much broader public and go beyond the narrow confines of their specific discipline and research. Books are usually written for a much more diverse audience than is the case in continental Europe, and academics don’t shy away from seeking out the media and sometimes the limelight. When I attended universities in Germany, I noticed very quickly a significant cultural difference between the two worlds. German academics often try to avoid public commentary and pride themselves on their scientific approach to their work by eracting barriers to cut themselves off from large segments of society; talking to the media or not using plenty of term enology when, as happens rather infrequently, they end up engaging with society at large. It is that sort of continental academic snobbery which put me off and ensured that until this day I remain attached academically and intellectually to the English-speaking world. Academics often do what all good scholars should strive to accomplish; they try to make their findings relevant to society at large, and to me this seems essential when it comes to recognizing the importance of scholarly work particularly in the social science.

So, what answer can Tilley give us in relation to conspiracy theories for example? Well, he readily concedes that there is no apparent solution to the problem; in his view, conspiracy theories cannot be eradicated, and must therefore be managed.

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