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The dismissive attitude of intellectuals toward conspiracy theorists is considered and given some justification. It is argued that intellectuals are entitled to an attitude of prima facie skepticism toward the theories propounded by conspiracy theorists, because conspiracy theorists have an irrational tendency to continue to believe in conspiracy theories, even when these take on the appearance of forming the core of degenerating research program. It is further argued that the pervasive effect of the "fundamental attribution error" can explain the behavior of such conspiracy theorists. A rival approach due to Brian Keeley, which involves the criticism of a subclass of conspiracy theories on epistemic grounds, is considered and found to be inadequate.

Original publication

DOI

10.1177/004931032002001

Type

Journal article

Journal

Philosophy of the Social Sciences

Publication Date

01/01/2002

Volume

32

Pages

131 - 150