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Conspiracy Theories: What Do Some People Believe & What Makes These Theories Take Hold in Society?


Conspiracy theories can range from the absurd to the believable. Currently, there are plenty of conspiracy theories about COVID-19 – where it originated, if it’s related to 5G, and more. We’ll discuss why some conspiracy theories stick, what makes people believe certain ideas, and how they can polarize society.


  •   Stephanie Kelley-Romano, associate professor and chair of the Rhetoric, Film, and Screen Studies department at Bates College. She teaches a class on Conspiracy Rhetoric. 
  • Ryan Neville-Shepard, assistant professor of communication at the University of Arkansas, where he teaches and researches in the areas of political communication, rhetoric, and argumentation. 
  • Timothy Kaplowitz is a soon-to-be graduate of Bates College. He majored in rhetoric, and wrote his thesis earlier this year on the use of Apocalyptic Rhetoric in the QAnon conspiracy theory.



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