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Abstract

L'Education nationale devrait tester ses outils pédagogiques contre le complotisme. Car, s'il est mal adapté, le remède pourrait hélas! contribuer à renforcer le mal.
... Indeed, beyond the suspicion of mental health disorders for people defending conspiracy theories as well as their harmful effects pointed by academic circles, the journalists and civil society as a whole seem worried by the societal dangerousness of conspiracy theories. This is evidenced by governmental initiatives to counter conspiracy theories in school (Bronner et al., 2016). In this sense, through their suspected link with extremism and violent action (Bartlett & Miller, 2010), the challenge they pose to political legitimacy and the status quo (Imhoff & Bruder, 2014;Sapountzis & Condor, 2013), for instance by accusing the elites (qualified as "evil," Campion-Vincent, 2005), conspiracy theories are viewed as posing a potential risk in terms of social order and peace. ...
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Can conspiracy theories be a source of social stigma? If it is true, it would follow that people may expect to be socially excluded when they express endorsement of conspiracy theories. This effect should be partially explained by the knowledge of the negative perceptions associated with conspiracy theories. In Study 1, inducing French internet users to write a text endorsing (vs. criticizing) conspiracy theories about the Charlie Hebdo shooting, led them to anticipate fear of social exclusion. This effect was mediated by anticipated negative evaluation of the self. In Study 2, inducing French internet users to imagine defending (vs. criticizing) conspiracy theories about the Charlie Hebdo shooting in front of an audience, led them to anticipate fear of social exclusion. The effect was again mediated by anticipated negative evaluation of the self. To conclude, our findings demonstrate that conspiracy theories can be viewed as a source of social stigma. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
... Indeed, beyond the suspicion of mental health disorders for people defending conspiracy theories as well as their harmful effects pointed by academic circles, the journalists and civil society as a whole seem worried by the societal dangerousness of conspiracy theories. This is evidenced by governmental initiatives to counter conspiracy theories in school (Bronner et al., 2016). In this sense, through their suspected link with extremism and violent action (Bartlett & Miller, 2010), the challenge they pose to political legitimacy and the status quo (Imhoff & Bruder, 2014;Sapountzis & Condor, 2013), for instance by accusing the elites (qualified as "evil," Campion-Vincent, 2005), conspiracy theories are viewed as posing a potential risk in terms of social order and peace. ...
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Can conspiracy theories be a source of social stigma? If it is true, it would follow that people may expect to be socially excluded when they express endorsement of conspiracy theories. This effect should be partially explained by the knowledge of the negative perceptions associated with conspiracy theories. In Study 1, inducing French internet users to write a text endorsing (vs. criticizing) conspiracy theories about the Charlie Hebdo shooting, led them to anticipate fear of social exclusion. This effect was mediated by anticipated negative evaluation of the self. In Study 2, inducing French internet users to imagine defending (vs. criticizing) conspiracy theories about the Charlie Hebdo shooting in front of an audience, led them to anticipate fear of social exclusion. The effect was again mediated by anticipated negative evaluation of the self. To conclude, our findings demonstrate that conspiracy theories can be viewed as a source of social stigma.Keywords:
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Research on conspiracy theories has long debated about the definition of conspiracy theories, and especially the demarcation between real conspiracies (i.e., that were proven to have occurred) and conspiracy theories (which are at best hypothetical). The existence of real conspiracies is often invoked as an argument to consider some conspiracy theories as plausible or even likely. Here, we argue on the contrary that conspiracy theories are basically "unhealthy" on statistical, epistemological and psychological – hence, rational — grounds. We propose a distinction between the numerous "unhealthy" conspiracy theories, based on errant data (i.e., unaccounted details of the official version), and the rare conspiracy inquiries, based on positive evidence (i.e., confessions, official verified documents, etc.).
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Judging the warrant of conspiracy theories can be difficult, and often we rely upon what the experts tell us when it comes to assessing whether particular conspiracy theories ought to be believed. However, whereas there are recognised experts in the sciences, I argue that only are is no such associated expertise when it comes to the things we call ‘conspiracy theories’, but that the conspiracy theorist has good reason to be suspicious of the role of expert endorsements when it comes to conspiracy theories and their rivals. The kind of expertise, then, we might associate with conspiracy theories is largely improvised – in that it lacks institutional features – and, I argue, ideally the product of a community of inquiry.
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A reply to Lee Basham's “The Need for Accountable Witnesses: A Reply to Dentith".
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