Are They Harmless Fun?

Dr Daniel Jolley

Thursday, August 3 2017 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)


29-41 Bedford Street,

Dr Daniel Jolley

What's the talk about?

Conspiracy theories are associated with almost every significant social and political event, such as the suggested theory that the U.S. government orchestrated the 9/11 attacks, that the U.K Government murdered Diana, Princess of Wales, or that the pharmaceutical industry deliberately conceals the harmful side-effects of vaccines to ensure that they are able to make a profit.

Beliefs in these type of conspiracy theories are blooming in the 21st century; millions of people subscribe to them.  A basic understanding of logic, rationality, and probability tell us, however, that most of these conspiracy claims are probably false. So why then do so many people believe them? What makes them so attractive and compelling to certain people? And, anyway, what’s the problem, aren’t they just harmless fun?

Until recently, psychologists have not explored these questions in great depth but today the psychology of conspiracy theories is flourishing.   In this talk, Daniel will provide a brief overview of what we have learned so far about why people subscribe to conspiracy theories, before uncovering some of the potentially damaging consequences of conspiracy theories; maybe they are not just harmless after all.  


Dr Daniel Jolley is a Lecturer in Psychology at Staffordshire University.  He is a Chartered Psychologist of the British Psychological Society, where he is a member of the Executive Committee of the Social Psychology Section and a Committee Member of the Research Board.   

Daniel’s main area of research is the psychology of conspiracy theories. He is particularly interested in using experimental methods to examine the social consequences of exposure to conspiracy theories and has co-authored articles in outlets such as PLoSONE, the British Journal of Psychology and Political Psychology.  

Daniel blogs at and tweets @DrDanielJolley