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Karl Popper Conspiracy Theory Analysis

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Karl Popper coined the phrase “Conspiracy Theory of Society” (Popper) in his book The Open Society and Its Enemies. In doing so, Mr. Popper attempted to describe the phenomenon of conspiracism by explaining that people tend to believe “whatever happens in society – especially happenings such as war, unemployment, poverty, shortages, which people as a rule dislike – is the result of direct design by some powerful individuals and groups” (Popper). Conspiracy theories come in all shapes and sizes, from all over the globe. In this paper, three different academic theories that explain how conspiracy theories come about will be examined. Additionally, one conspiracy theory from the West and one conspiracy theory from the Middle East will also be…show more content…
Franks, Bangerter and Bauer claim conspiracy theories have a psychological function, which is “managing collective anxiety triggered by threatening events through over-interpreting, exaggerating the agency of the supposed conspirator” (Powerpoint). According to Franks, Bagnerter, and Bauer, conspiracy theories serve as a means of managing collective anxiety. Conspiracy theories do this in three ways. First, conspiracy theories reduce the complexity of unexpected events. Secondly, conspiracy theories contain the uncertainty that unexpected events generate. Thirdly, conspiracy theories translate unspecific anxiety into focused fear. Furthermore, Franks, Bangerter and Bauer also describe three key characteristics of conspiracy theories: Longevity/Familiarity, familiar outgroups, and an exaggeration of the alleged conspirator. Conspiracy theories are rooted in long-established patterns of thinking, which is why they typically consist of outgroups that are familiar and easy to identify and conspiracy theories exaggerate the agency of the conspirator. The globalists conspiracy theory from the West can easily be used as a demonstration of how this process works. In this theory, the longevity/familiarity is the shared belief that only those with wealth have power. The familiar outgroup is the globalists, or capitalists, who are wealthy. Lastly, the exaggeration of the alleged…show more content…
For example, the main difference is the source of the perceived threat of each conspiracy theory. According to the Middle East conspiracy, the perceived threat is the American and Taliban troops – it is an external threat. The Middle East’s conspiracy serves as an attack upon an actual, concrete enemy – not an abstract enemy. Conversely, according to the Western conspiracy theory, the perceived threat is an internal one – it is the Western worlds own elite class that is the perceived
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