Conspiracy Theories: Defying reality in a post-truth world and digital era

Why is the flag of the USA moving on the Moon when there is no air on the Moon? And look at the picture taken by Neil Armstrong, the shadows are not parallel. Surely if the Sun were the only light source, then the shadows should be parallel. And by the way, just have a look at the sky in the picture, it should be filled with stars, right?[1]
Something doesn’t add up. They are not telling the whole truth. I can feel something’s wrong here.
And are you seriously telling me that a guy in a cave, on the other side of the planet, managed to have two planes crash into the World Trade Center? Anyway, jet fuel cannot melt steel beams! And remember building 7. They said it had collapsed when you could actually see the building standing behind the BBC reporter[2]!
Open your eyes, do your own research, think for yourself! Wake up sheeple!


Conspiracy theories seem to shape most of the current political debates. In its “Guide to Conspiracy Theories[3]”, EU research network COMPACT[4] defines “conspiracy theories” as “the belief that events are secretly manipulated behind the scenes by powerful forces”. Douglas and al. argue that those theories are “attempts to explain the ultimate causes of significant social and political events and circumstances with claims of secret plots by two or more powerful actors” or “any group perceived as powerful and malevolent[5]”. COMPACT notices that “over the past twenty years, their significance and popularity has been increasing steadily, especially online”.

As conspiracy theories are now “omnipresent among members of modern and traditional societies[6]”, this set of seminars will (non-exhaustive list):
  1. Shed light on the causes of this phenomenon, by focusing on the methods and targets of conspiracy theories (multimodal analyses will be welcomed).
  2. Examine relevant examples, as the current context seems to encourage conspiracy theories (the rise of populism, which thrives on conspiracy theories, seems indeed to be fertile ground for this phenomenon). Comparative approaches will be welcomed.
  3. Try to determine the potential consequences and impacts of those stories, as they are relevant to a wide variety of fields: psychology, political science, sociology, history, information sciences, and the humanities at large.

[3] COMPACT, “Guide to Conspiracy Theories”, PDF version,
[4] COMPACT [Comparative Analysis of Conspiracy Theories] is an EU-funded COST Action research
network of 150 scholars from across Europe who are investigating the causes and consequences of
conspiracy theories.
[5] Douglas, K.M., Uscinski, J.E., Sutton, R.M., Cichocka, A., Nefes, T., Ang, C.S. and Deravi, F. (2019), Understanding Conspiracy Theories. Political Psychology, 40: 3-35.
[6] Van Prooijen, J.-W., & van Vugt, M. (2018). Conspiracy Theories: Evolved Functions and Psychological Mechanisms. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 13(6), 770-788.

Contacts :

Alma-Pierre Bonnet, Associate Professor in British Civilization
Massimiliano Demata, Professor in English Linguistics 
Denis Jamet, Professor in English Linguistics