Quassim Cassam, Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Warwick University, was the second speaker of the PERITIA Lectures series [Un]Truths: Trust in an Age of Disinformation. In his presentation on 20 April, he unveiled the common misunderstandings of conspiracy theories among researchers, media and the general public, and argued for a stronger focus on the political dimension of this phenomenon.
In a 20-minute presentation, the philosopher underlined that conspiracy theories are forms of propaganda and their function is to promote a political agenda. He analised several of the most recent conspiracy theories, from the 9/11 inside job to the “fake” moon landing.
“Conspiracy theories are resistant to correction on their own terms. They are either totally baseless or, at best, highly speculative (connecting dots based on conjecture and supposedly errant data). Totally baseless Conspiracies (e.g. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion) are not even candidates for truth”, he emphasised.
Instead of looking for psychological explanations to the “believers” of these theories, Cassam characterises them as “smokescreens for political ends” and another damaging strategy of political propaganda. “We need to come up with political as well as intellectual responses if we are to have any hope of defeating them”.
The PERITIA Public Lectures [Un]Truths: Trust in an Age of Disinformation explore the concept of trust and truth in light of current events. Prominent philosophers and academics from Europe and the United States come together to present their latest research on trust in science, conspiracy theories, trustworthy science, truth and democracy, and trust and cognitive science.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 870883. The information and opinions on this website and other communications materials are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Commission.
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