Conspiracy Theories and the Conventional Wisdom

Episteme 4 (2):219-232 (2007)
Abstract
Abstract Conspiracy theories should be neither believed nor investigated - that is the conventional wisdom. I argue that it is sometimes permissible both to investigate and to believe. Hence this is a dispute in the ethics of belief. I defend epistemic “oughts” that apply in the first instance to belief-forming strategies that are partly under our control. But the beliefforming strategy of not believing conspiracy theories would be a political disaster and the epistemic equivalent of selfmutilation. I discuss several variations of this strategy, interpreting “conspiracy theory” in different ways but conclude that on all these readings, the conventional wisdom is deeply unwise
Keywords conspiracy theories  Karl Popper  rationality  belief-forming strategies  Tony Blair  Iraq War
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