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The Epistemology of Conspiracy Theories - Essay Example

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The Epistemology of Conspiracy Theories

As was demonstrated for example with the Iran-Contra Affair. Nonetheless, he points out that unwarranted conspiracy theories (UCT's) are the ones that pose philosophical difficulties, and it is these that he sets out to analyze by offering an explanation as to why they are popular, and why people should not believe in them. He also expresses an interest in discussing the wider philosophical issues surrounding conspiracy theories as well as examining the wider implications of many people nowadays accepting them as true explanations of events. This situation deserves being studied because it indicates a growing conflict between opposing views with some people accepting the mainstream received views and others that are more acceptive of the views of conspiracy theorists. The author terms the main tool of conspiracy theorists as 'errant data'. This type of data is considered to exist as either contradictory data, or data that is unaccounted for. Whereas the former is concerned with data that conflicts with official explanations, the latter is concerned with data which the official explanations are unable to account for satisfactorily. He makes the point that “Conspiracy theories are attractive, a fact demonstrated by their current popularity. But their alleged virtues are subtly flawed.”, and then tries to prove this. The attractiveness, or rather strength, of conspiracy theories, lies in their ability to seemingly unify the explanations of different events. ...
studied because it indicates a growing conflict between opposing views with some people accepting the mainstream received views and others that are more acceptive of the views of conspiracy theorists. The author terms the main tool of conspiracy theorists as 'errant data'. This type of data is considered to exist as either contradictory data, or data that is unaccounted for. Whereas the former is concerned with data that conflicts with official explanations, the latter is concerned with data which the official explanations are unable to account for satisfactorily. He makes the point that “Conspiracy theories are attractive, a fact demonstrated by their current popularity. But their alleged virtues are subtly flawed.”, and then tries to prove this. The attractiveness, or rather strength, of conspiracy theories lies in their ability to seemingly unify the explanations of different events. By their very nature, they are always able to explain more than other competing theories. Conspiracy theories explain not only the 'received account' of events, but also the errant data that these official explanations generate. It is precisely this 'virtue' of conspiracy theories that the author describes as their 'beauty', i.e. their “wonderfully unified accounts of all the data at hand, both those the official story explains, plus those niggling, overlooked errant data.” Also, conspiracy theories are sustained by making people believe they are indeed only conspiracy theories, i.e. not widely believed, which might otherwise make the truth be revealed. Errant data is believed by the author to play a critical role in UCTs. He believes that when an official received account fails to explain certain errant facts, the existence of a conspiracy becomes the best explanation of the ...Show more

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An essay "The Epistemology of Conspiracy Theories" reports that the epistemological concern of the author is with conspiracy theories, as distinct from those that do not pose a similar epistemological concern due to not pertaining to events with nefarious objectives…
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The Epistemology of Conspiracy Theories essay example
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