Review: The Power of Unreason Conspiracy Theories Extremism and Counter Terrorism

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This paper is the first in a series of policy papers on emerging themes in extremism and terrorism by Demos. These papers focus on under-researched dimensions of extremism, and do not present an exhaustive answer, but suggest new avenues of study. Future papers include the role of women and gender in extremist movements, and methods to de-glamorise al-Qaeda.

This paper examines the role of conspiracy theories in extremist groups. Numerous studies have considered a variety of factors thatencourage extremism: ideology, grievance, poverty, religion, and social networks. The role of conspiracy theories, defined as accounts  of events as the deliberate yet concealed product of a powerful few,regardless of the evidence, has been ignored. This study is the first attempt, as far as we are aware, to research this subject and should be viewed as such.

 

We have conducted new analysis of the literature, ideology and propaganda of over fifty extremist groups from across the spectrum: religious, far-right and left, eco, anarchic, and cult-based. The groups are or were active over the past 30 years, and are drawn mainly from the United Kingdom, Europe, and the United States.

We have focused primarily on extremist groups that have become violent1 although we have included a small number of extreme groups that hold socially problematic views, such as those based on racial supremacy…..

http://www.scribd.com/doc/36819383/The-Power-of-Unreason-Conspiracy-Theories-Extremism-and-Counter-Terrorism

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