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NZ Skeptics Conference – The Slippery Slope of Conspiracy Theories

Posted in Reflections On Science on September 28th, 2009.

Matthew Dentith is currently finishing his doctoral dissertation on the evaluation of Conspiracy Theories as a species of belief. When he is not ruining his posture by sitting at a computer he teaches critical thinking skills for the University of Auckland, both to the undergraduate population and for the adult education students.

He also teaches the Philosophy of Science up at the School of Medicine, so you’ll know who to blame in ten years time when your GP says ‘But really, what is pain, epistemologically speaking?’

In this short presentation I am going to defend and develop the notion that ‘Conspiracy Theories’ are a kind of explanation. I will then touch on some salient issues in the appraisal of such explanations, asking specifically why it is that we normally take Conspiracy Theories to be inadequate, if not outright bad, explanations. I will then go through a number of examples of popularly held Conspiracy Theories, some of which skeptics might well feel an attraction to, using them to illustrate my analysis.

Matthew’s speech can be listened to below:

Part I

[audio:http://www.sciencemediacentre.co.nz/wp-content/upload/2009/09/Matthew-Dentith-Part-I.mp3]

Part II

[audio:http://www.sciencemediacentre.co.nz/wp-content/upload/2009/09/Matthew-Dentith-Part-II.mp3]
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