Conspiracy theories are associated with almost every significant social and political event, including the theory that the U.S. government orchestrated the 9/11 attacks, that the U.K Government murdered Diana, Princess of Wales, or that the pharmaceutical industry deliberately concealed the fact that the MMR vaccine causes Autism. Belief in these types of conspiracy theories is blooming in the 21st century; millions of people subscribe to them.
A basic understanding of logic, rationality, and probability tell us, however, that most of these conspiracy claims are probably false. So why then do so many people believe them? What makes them so attractive and compelling to people? And, anyway, what’s the problem, aren’t they just harmless fun?
In this talk, Dr Daniel Jolley will take you through the psychology of conspiracy theories. You will learn why people subscribe to conspiracy theories and discuss some of the misconceptions (including whether all conspiracy believers are paranoid!). He will also uncover some of the potentially damaging consequences of conspiracy theories; maybe they are not just harmless after all, before discussing ongoing research into tools to combat the negative harm of conspiracism!
Dr Daniel Jolley is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Staffordshire University. He is a Chartered Psychologist of the British Psychological Society, where he is a member of the Executive Committee of the Social Psychology Section. Jolley’s main area of research is the psychology of conspiracy theories. He is particularly interested in using experimental methods to examine the social consequences of exposure to conspiracy theories and has co-authored articles in outlets such as PLoSONE, the British Journal of Psychology and Political Psychology. He blogs at conspiracypsychology.com and tweets @DrDanielJolley.
Talks are held on the first Wednesday of the month starting at 7:30 pm unless otherwise noted. We meet in the Star and Garter pub, 60 Old Woolwich Road, London SE10 9NY. The Star and Garter pub is close to many transport links and is approximately 7 minutes walk from Maze Hill Overground Station, or 10 minutes walk from the Cutty Sark DLR Station. Although the pub does not serve food, there are plenty of excellent restaurants in Greenwich, including several very nearby on Trafalgar Road. Attendance is free (unless otherwise stated) although a small donation to help cover expenses is appreciated. There is no need to book in advance (again, unless otherwise stated).
NB: You are strongly recommended to register (at no cost) with the “Psychology of the Paranormal” email list (run by Professor Chris French, Head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit, Goldsmiths, University of London) to ensure that you are informed of any future changes to the programme as well as news of related events. You can also follow @chriscfrench on Twitter for announcements (including news of last-minute cancellations, changes of speaker, etc.).