Conspiracy theories – the belief that events are secretly manipulated behind the scenes by powerful forces – exist in all modern societies. In recent years, their significance and popularity has been increasing steadily, especially online with the rise of fake news and disinformation. Some conspiracy theories may be harmless entertainment or a sign of well-founded scepticism. But at times they can be dangerous. They can lead to a loss of faith in medical and scientific expertise, to political disengagement, and even to violence. Conspiracy theories are an important challenge in many societies today.
ABOUT THIS PROJECT
COMPACT [Comparative Analysis of Conspiracy Theories] is a network of academic researchers investigating conspiracy theories from a variety of perspectives. Funded by COST (EU Cooperation in Science and Technology), it has brought together 150 scholars from 35 countries across Europe to share ideas and collaborate on research projects. The aim of this COST Action has been to develop a comparative and multidisciplinary approach. This has involved comparing research on conspiracy theories in a range of cultures and regions, as well as different historical periods. The network has combined research from qualitative and quantitative approaches, including history, literary and cultural studies, sociology, politics, communication studies, anthropology, philosophy and psychology.
We have held meetings to present work in progress, and to share findings to different stakeholders (journalists, policy makers, NGOs, science communicators and educators). We also organized two training schools and a number of visits to research centres for early career researchers to learn about the latest research in this field. We have published a state-of-the-art Handbook of Conspiracy Theories, and have established the new Routledge Series on Conspiracy Theories. We have also collaborated with The Conversation to produce a five-part podcast series, ‘Expert Guide to Conspiracy Theories’.
This website contains short profiles of the COMPACT participants, as well as information on their new scholarly publications, new research projects that have emerged out of the network, and a comprehensive bibliography of research on conspiracy theories. We have written a short guide to conspiracy theories, along with recommendations of how to deal with them, that can be downloaded for free. On this website you can also find a selection of educational resources for teaching about conspiracy theories at all levels of education.
Although the COST Action has now come to its conclusion, we will continue to support the COMPACT network and maintain this website. Please get in touch if you would like further information.