Dec. 27, 2020

Conspiracy theories and why people believe them with Dr Daniel Jolley and Juan Miles

Conspiracy theories spread like wildfire in 2020, which is unfortunate, because wildfire also spread like wild fire in 2020 and some of the conspiracy theories downplayed the impacts of climate change, which scientists agree leads to an increased chance of wildfires. ]

If that intro seemed a little confusing to you, you're not alone. Conspiracy theories from Qanon to the cause and severity of the coronavirus gained mainstream attention in a way that hasn't been seen since claims that 'George Bush did 9/11.'

Some may argue that the ability to change your mind and hold an unpopular position is a sign of independent thought and intellectual rigour. In today's episode we talk about why conspiracy theorists who claim to want to question everything are so bad at holding their own conspiratorial beliefs to critical analysis.

We also look at why conspiracy theorists are able to hold contradictory theories on the same event, even when it's obviously true that one of those theories has to be incorrect.

We look at the dangers of allowing people to fall into conspiracy theory groups, and the increased risk of violence believing in a conspiracy theory creates.

Lastly, we discuss how to talk to people who you believe to be falling for a conspiracy theory. 

In this episode I'm joined by Dr Daniel Jolley,  a Senior Lecturer at Northumbria University. His expertise is in the psychology of conspiracy theories.  The guest comedian is Juan Miles. We discuss what people are drawn to about conspiracy theories, how to talk to someone who has become a conspiracy theorist and how this all could be stopped if people remembered to hug their kids and encouraged runners.

You can learn more about Dr Daniel Jolley and his work on his website ( or Twitter (@DrDanielJolley).