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Suspect Science: Climate Change, Epidemics, and Questions of Conspiracy

When Sep 17, 2015 10:30 AM to
Sep 19, 2015 01:00 PM
Where CRASSH, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, CB3 9DT – SG1&2
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Please register online for this event (Deadline: Tuesday 15 September 2015)

– Conference fee – 3 days: £26 (full), £13 (students) – includes lunch, tea/coffee
– Conference fee – 1 day: £13 (full), £5 (students) – includes lunch, tea/coffee

Twitter Hashtag: #CRASSHSuspect



Dr Nayanika Mathur (Social Anthropology) and Dr Alfred Moore, Research Fellows on the Conspiracy and Democracy project.



In recent years conspiracy theories have come to be seen as a threat to democracy. They have been variously linked to a crisis of trust in government, to the undermining of democratic deliberation, and a weakening the state’s capacity to govern. Particular concern has focused on conspiratorial suspicion of science, in cases ranging from climate change to HIV-AIDS to vaccines and public health surveillance more generally.

Where science, politics and power intersect we find rich ground for suspicion and mistrust of experts, and accusations of conspiracy. This raises a number of important questions. Why do people believe in conspiracy theories? How do people think about conspiracies? How are we to make sense of the relationship between mistrust of expertise and accusations of conspiracy? How have boundaries been drawn between authorized and unauthorized knowledge? How are anxieties about conspiracies related to more general problems of explanation and causal attribution in complex environments?

In this conference we aim to situate these questions about ‘suspect science’ in broader conceptual, geographical and historical contexts. We will address them by drawing together scholars from a wide range of disciplines, including anthropology, public health, history, politics, sociology, psychology, and philosophy, and we will consider a wide range of empirical cases. Through this interdisciplinary approach we hope to stimulate critical reflection on the shifting problems of doubt, denial and dissent in the politics of knowledge.

For the full programme and abstracts please see the CRASSH event page  for Suspect Science.


Keynote speakers

  • David Runciman, University of Cambridge
  • Eric Oliver, University of Chicago
  • Harriet Washington, University of Las Vegas, Nevada



Supported by the Centre for Research in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CRASSH) and the School of Arts and Humanities at the University of Cambridge. This event forms part of a series of colloquia entitled ‘Conspiracy and Democracy’ under the ESRC-funded initiative for ‘Transforming Social Science’.

Administrative assistance: skg41 [at]