Rationale of conspiracy theorizing: Who shot the President Chen Shui-bian?

Author: Türkay S Nefes

Rationality and Society, Aug 2014

Despite their apparent, and at times escalating, significance, there are not many studies on the ways conspiracy theories are used in political debates. This research attempts to fill the gap in the existing scholarship by suggesting a rational choice view in understanding conspiracy theorizing, and tests its argument on the uses of online conspiratorial accounts about the attempted assassination of Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian in 2004. Findings show that there is a significant correlation between perception of threat and proposing conspiracy theories, and online users change the direction of their conspiratorial accounts subsequent to the release of election results. The article concludes that online users propose conspiracy theories rationally in line with their political arguments and perceived threats.

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