Pretty Much Pop #49: Conspiracy Theories as Pop w/ Al Baker

Al is a British ex-philosopher who now works for a company called Logically that fights misinformation. He joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to try to figure out such questions as: What’s the appeal of conspiracy theories? How similar is being consumed them to being a die-hard fan of some pop culture property? What’s the relation between pernicious conspiracy theories and fun speculation (like, maybe Elvis is alive)? Is there a harmless way to engage in conspiracy theorizing as a hobby? Is something still a conspiracy theory in the pejorative sense if it turns out to be true?

We touch on echo chambers, the role of irony and humor in spreading these theories, how both opponents and proponents claim to be skeptics, Dan Brown Novels, Tom Hanks, the Mel Gibson film Conspiracy Theory, and documentaries like Behind the Curve (about Flat Earthers) and The Family.

For expert opinions on the psychology of conspiracy theories, try The Conversation’s Antill Podcast, which had a whole series on this topic. For even more podcast action, try FiveThirtyEight, BBC’s The Why Factor podcast, Skeptoid, and The Infinite Monkey Cage.

What is Al hiding under that luxurious facial hair?

Here are some more articles:

If you enjoy this, try our #14 on UFOs. The Partially Examined Life episodes referred to in this discussion are #96 on Oppenheimer and the Rhetoric of Science Advisers and #82 on Karl Popper.

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