Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Conspiracy Theories and Religion: Reframing Conspiracy Theories as Bliks

  • Glenn Y. Bezalel

Abstract

Conspiracy theories have largely been framed by the academy as a stigmatised form of knowledge. Yet recent scholarship has included calls to take conspiracy theories more seriously as an area of study with a desire to judge them on their own merits rather than an a priori dismissal of them as a class of explanation. This paper argues that the debates within the philosophy of religion, long overlooked by scholars of conspiracy theories, can help sow the seeds for re-examining our understanding of conspiracy theories in a more balanced and nuanced way. The nature of religious belief is elemental to understanding the epistemological foundations of the conspiracy theorising worldview amidst what we may call ‘conspiratorial ambiguity’. Specifically, R.M. Hare's concept of bliks, which are unfalsifiable but meaningful worldviews, offers a way forward to reframe our approach towards the theory of conspiracy theories.

Copyright

Corresponding author

References

Hide All
Alston, W. (1993). Perceiving God. New York, NY: Cornell University Press.
Barkun, M. (2006). A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Basham, L. (2006). ‘Living with the Conspiracy Theory.’ In Coady, D. (ed.), Conspiracy Theories: The Philosophical Debate, pp. 6176. Farnham: Ashgate.
Buenting, J. and Taylor, J. (2010). ‘Conspiracy Theories and Fortuitous Data.’ Philosophy of the Social Sciences 40, 567–78.
Chen, S., Duckworth, K. and Chaiken, S. (1999). ‘Motivated Heuristic and Systematic Processing.’ Psychological Inquiry 10, 44–9.
Coady, D. (ed.) (2006). ‘An Introduction to the Philosophical Debate about Conspiracy Theories.’ In Conspiracy Theories: The Philosophical Debate, pp. 111. Farnham: Ashgate.
Coady, D. (2007). ‘Are Conspiracy Theorists Irrational?’ Episteme 4, 193204.
Delaplante, K. (2011). ‘Critical Thinking About Conspiracies: An Argument for Default Skepticism.’ http://www.criticalthinkeracademy.com/017-default-skepticism-about-conspiracies.html.
Dentith, M.R.X. (2018a). Taking Conspiracy Theories Seriously. London: Rowman & Littlefield.
Dentith, M.R.X. (2018b). ‘The Problem of Conspiracy Theories.’ Argumenta 3, 327–43.
Douglas, K., Sutton, R.M. and Cichocka, A. (2017). ‘The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories.’ Current Directions in Psychological Science 26, 538–42.
Drochon, H. (2013). ‘Religion and Conspiracy Theories.’ http://www.conspiracyanddemocracy.org/blog/religion-and-conspiracy-theories/.
Dyrendal, A., Robertson, D.G. and Asprem, E. (eds) (2018). Handbook of Conspiracy Theory and Contemporary Religion. Boston, MA: Brill.
Ferguson, N. (2017). The Square and the Tower: Networks, Hierarchies and the Struggle for Global Power. London: Allen Lane.
Glatzer, N.N. (2002). The Dimensions of Job. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers.
Goertzel, T. (2010). ‘Conspiracy Theories in Science.’ European Molecular Biology Organization Reports 11, 493–99.
Haidt, J. (2012). The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. London: Penguin Books.
Hick, J. (1988). Faith and Knowledge. London: Macmillan.
Hick, J. (2004). An Interpretation of Religion: Human Responses to the Transcendent. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Hick, J. (2007). Evil and the God of Love. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
Hick, J. (2018). ‘Is the Universe Religiously Ambiguous?’ https://www.closertotruth.com/interviews/2400.
Hitchens, C. (2008). God is not Great. London: Atlantic Books.
Hofstadter, R. (1964). ‘The Paranoid Style in American Politics.’ Harper's Magazine. https://harpers.org/archive/1964/11/the-paranoid-style-in-american-politics.
Horsburgh, H.J.N. (1956). ‘Mr Hare on Theology and Falsification.’ Philosophical Quarterly 6, 256–9.
Kahan, D.M., Peters, E., Wittlin, M., Slovic, P., Ouellette, L.L., Braman, D. and Mandel, G. (2012). ‘The Polarizing Impact of Science Literacy and Numeracy on Perceived Climate Change Risks.’ Nature Climate Change 2, 732–5.
Kant, I. (1999). Critique of Pure Reason. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Keeley, B.L. (1999). ‘Of Conspiracy Theories.’ Journal of Philosophy 96, 109126.
Keeley, B.L. (2007). ‘God as the Ultimate Conspiracy Theory.’ Episteme 4, 135–49.
Keeley, B.L. (2018). ‘Is a Belief in Providence the Same as a Belief in Conspiracy?’ In Dyrendal, A., Robertson, D.G. and Asprem, E. (eds), Handbook of Conspiracy Theory and Contemporary Religion. Boston, MA: Brill.
Lichtenstein, A. (2004). Leaves of Faith: The World of Jewish Living (Volume 2). Jersey City, NJ: Ktav Publishing House.
Malcolm, N. (2000). ‘The Groundlessness of Religious Belief.’ In Davies, B. (ed.), Philosophy of Religion: A Guide and Anthology, pp. 115–22. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Miller, J.M., Saunders, K.L. and Farhart, C.E. (2016). ‘Why Donald Trump's Election May Mean We see More Liberal Conspiracy Theories About the Government.’ http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/usappblog/2016/12/07/why-donald-trumps-election-may-mean-we-see-more-liberal-conspiracy-theories-about-the-government.
Mitchell, B. (1971). The Philosophy of Religion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Moore, P. (2016). ‘Little British Belief in Outlandish Conspiracy Theories.’ https://yougov.co.uk/topics/politics/articles-reports/2016/05/27/conspiracies.
Newman, J.H. (1870). ‘Letter to William Robert Brownlow.’ In Dessain, C.S. and Gornall, T., S.J. (eds), The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman, Vol. 25: The Vatican Council: January 1870 to December 1871. https://www.oxfordscholarlyeditions.com/view/10.1093/actrade/9780199200559.book.1/actrade-9780199200559-div2-126.
Oliver, J.E. and Wood, T.J. (2014). ‘Conspiracy Theories and the Paranoid Style(s) of Mass Opinion.’ American Journal of Political Science 58, 952–66.
Pecorino, P.A. (2001). Philosophy of Religion: Online Textbook. http://www.qcc.cuny.edu/SocialSciences/ppecorino/PHIL_of_RELIGION_TEXT/default.htm.
Phillips, D.Z. (1993). Wittgenstein and Religion. London: Macmillan.
Phillips, D.Z. (2000). ‘Grammar and Religious Belief.’ In Davies, B. (ed.), Philosophy of Religion: A Guide and Anthology, pp. 108–14. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Pigden, C. (2006). ‘Popper Revisited or What is Wrong With Conspiracy Theories?’ In Coady, D. (ed.), Conspiracy Theories: The Philosophical Debate, pp. 1744. Farnham: Ashgate.
Pigden, C. (2007). ‘Conspiracy Theories and the Conventional Wisdom.’ Episteme 4, 219–32.
Pigden, C. (2017). ‘Are Conspiracy Theorists Epistemically Vicious?’ In Lippert-Rasmussen, K., Brownlee, K. and Coady, D. (eds), A Companion to Applied Philosophy, pp. 120–32. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.
Pinker, S. (2018). Enlightenment Now. London: Penguin Books.
Pipes, D. (1997). Conspiracy: How the Paranoid Style Flourishes and Where It Comes From. New York, NY: Free Press.
Popper, K. (2002a). ‘Towards a Rational Theory of Tradition.’ In Conjectures and Refutations, pp. 161–82. Oxford: Routledge.
Popper, K. (2002b). ‘Science: Conjectures and Refutations.’ In Conjectures and Refutations, pp. 4386. Oxford: Routledge.
Popper, K. (2003). The Open Society and Its Enemies. Volume Two: Hegel and Marx. Oxford: Routledge.
Robertson, D.G. (2016). UFOs, Conspiracy Theories and the New Age: Millennial Conspiracism. London: Bloomsbury.
Robertson, D.G. (2017). ‘The Hidden Hand: Why Religious Studies Need to Take Conspiracy Theories Seriously.’ Religious Compass 11, e12233.
Rogers de Waal, J. (2015). ‘Are Conspiracy Theories For (Political) Losers?’ https://yougov.co.uk/topics/politics/articles-reports/2015/02/13/are-conspiracy-theories-political-losers.
Stokes, P. (2018). ‘Conspiracy Theory and the Perils of Pure Particularism.’ In Dentith, M.R.X. (ed.), Taking Conspiracy Theories Seriously, pp. 2538. London: Rowman & Littlefield.
Sunstein, C.R. and Vermeule, A. (2009). ‘Conspiracy Theories: Causes and Cures.’ Journal of Political Philosophy 17, 202–27.
Williams, D.D. (1970). ‘The Concept of Truth in Karl Barth's Theology.’ Religious Studies 6, 137–45.
Wisdom, J. (1944). ‘Gods.’ Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 45, 185206.
Wittgenstein, L. (1938). ‘Lectures of Religious Belief.’ http://www.depa.univ-paris8.fr/IMG/pdf/Lectures_on_Religious_Belief.pdf.
Wittgenstein, L. (1994). Culture and Value. Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press.

Keywords

Conspiracy Theories and Religion: Reframing Conspiracy Theories as Bliks

  • Glenn Y. Bezalel

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed