Conspiracy Theories and Democracy

Conspiracy theories, fake news and alternative facts are increasingly a part of our political dialogue and social landscape. Driven by the speed and reach of social media, conspiracy theories are thriving and amassing global audiences and advocates. Does this present a threat to our democracies, and how do we begin to counter the deliberate spread of misinformation?


Conspiracy theories have traditionally been exiled to the political fringes, with former presidents limiting their airtime and debunking their authority as sources of truth. Conspiracism, however, moved with Trump into the White House, and to the heart of the political system, motivating important policy decisions.

Conspiracism & Democracy: In the White House, an editorial by Dr Matteo Bonotti and Dr Zim Nwokora

Watch the recording | Conspiracy Theories & Democracy

Event Recorded: Tuesday, 9th February, 2021 | 10:00AM - 1:00PM (AEST)

In their acclaimed book, A Lot of People Are Saying: The New Conspiracism and the Assault on Democracy, Russell Muirhead and Nancy L. Rosenblum discuss the difference between ‘classic conspiracism,’ which involves the meticulous collection of facts to create a persuasive narrative, and the new conspiracism which has come to punctuate political and social dialogue, and which relies instead upon allegations and insinuations, spreads through repetition, and is aided by online platforms.

Join the authors alongside an expert panel for this timely and engaging discussion about the rise of new conspiracism, its threat to democracy and how it must be addressed.

About the Panellists

Russell Muirhead is the Robert Clements Professor of Democracy and Politics at Dartmouth College and is Chair of the Department of Government. Professor Muirhead is an expert on democratic processes, partisanship and democratic citizenship. Russell is the co-author of A Lot of People Are Saying: The New Conspiracism and the Assault on Democracy (2019), and the author of The Promise of Party in a Polarized Age (2014).

Nancy L. Rosenblum is the Harvard University Senator Joseph Clark Professor of Ethics in Politics and Government emerita. Professor Rosenblum’s field of research is historical and contemporary political thought, and she is an expert on modern political thought and constitutional law.  Nancy is the co-author of A Lot of People Are Saying: The New Conspiracism and the Assault on Democracy (2019), and the author of Good Neighbors: The Democracy of Everyday Life in America (2016).

Michael Mintrom is Professor of Public Policy and Director of Better Governance and Policy, at Monash University. Professor Mintrom is a world authority on public policy processes and advocacy. Michael has advanced knowledge of effective policy development, how policies can have strong, positive impacts, and how academic research can better inform practice.


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