Tag: Papers


Due to an inability to read calendar dates properly I managed to miss the deadline for submitting the written version of my paper for the workshop on rumours that I am attending later this month is hot and humid Singapore.

The issue, as some might say, is now fixed.

‘Have You Heard?’ was first presented at the AAPNZ in Auckland three years ago, where it got reasonably good press from the attendees and provided me with a great near miss for its publication, when the editor of the (then) forthcoming Episteme issue on conspiracy theories told me he would have published it had he seen it just a few weeks earlier. By the time he heard it, the issue was already being put to bed (as I believe some publishers say).

I did try to get it published elsewhere, to aggravating effect, and ended up letting it lie fallow in my filesystem, with the notion that, eventually, I’d stop writing such long and convoluted sentences like this one and get on with the task of submitting it elsewhere.

Which was why it was a bit of a surprise to get it requested for the Singaporean workshop; it seems the blog actually does have an academic readership and it seems what they heard of the paper, they liked ((I wish to congratulate myself now for using rumour-locution throughout this post without actually talking about rumours per se.))

Taking a paper overseas is a good reason to have a look over it; you wouldn’t want Customs seizing it for being too rude, or to find that it’s all dusty when you present it at the foreign podium. It turns out that whilst the central thesis of ‘Have You Heard’ is, I think, still strong, the paper itself was filled with grammatical errors. This is most embarrassing; no wonder one of the reviewers asked if English was my second language.

One of the early ‘revise and resubmits’ I received for ‘Have You Heard’ proposed what I thought was a rather radical thesis; remove all the talk of conspiracy theories from the paper and just talk about rumours. Now, I didn’t do that, but, based upon this bout of editing, I think that maybe that is not a terrible idea after all. It’s not the conspiracy theory material isn’t interesting; it just doesn’t play as crucial a role in my analysis of why rumours are reliable as I thought.

So, maybe I will rewrite the paper after all, post-Singapore.

In other news, the season opener for ‘Lost’ was bloody brilliant.

An “Oh…” moment

So, the paper I am giving in Singapore, which is on Rumours, and touches on my thesis about the transmission of conspiracy theories is going to be preceded by Prof. Axel Gelfert’s paper entitled “Of Rumours and Conspiracy Theories: Philosophical Perspectives on Pathological Communication in the Public Sphere.”

Hmm… Hmm, says I, with bells on.


Singapore, Singapore, Singapore

I’ve been there before.

So, on the 22nd of February I will be attending a workshop entitled ‘The Political and Social Impact of Rumours’ at the Centre of Excellence for National Security at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University.

I’m giving an updated version of the Rumour paper from several AAPs ago, entitled “Have You Heard? The Rumour as Reliable.” ((Abstract: We have all heard Rumours. Some of us have even suffered because of them, often because they revealed something personal that we did not want to be publicly known or disseminated. Drawing on recent work by philosophers CAJ Coady and David Coady I will develop a theory which exploits the distinction between Rumours and Rumour-mongering. Whilst it seems true to think that mere Rumour-mongering, the act of passing on a Rumour maliciously, presents what can be called a ‘pathology’ of the normally reliable transmission of beliefs (which is usually associated with Testimony) I will argue that Rumours themselves have a reliable transmission process and thus can be examples of justified beliefs.

This analysis will then feed into a discussion of Conspiracy Theories, which share many salient features with Rumours but, quite often, must be contrasted with their non-conspiratorial, rival, theories. I will argue that whilst Rumours are reliable (as a mechanism for the transmission of justified beliefs) Conspiracy Theories are prima facie unreliable because of these rival, non-conspiratorial, theories.))

Because it is an updated paper I’m weirdly non-plussed about giving it (well, more so than usual) and I should be, if not concerned, a bit excited. This is a multi-disciplinary workshop, which means I’ll have to persuade non-philosophers as to my argument that we should treat Rumours as reliable, and I’ve been invited to attend, so presumably someone thinks sufficiently of me to want to get me to Singapore for a day ((If I were a Conspiracy Theorist I’d be concerned as to what that might mean.)).

It also means I’ve got very little to say about the paper at this moment in time. Whilst it is a keystone of the thesis (well, I think it is) and it provides me with a little project to work on post the thesis, I haven’t really been over the material in any depth for about a year. I need to start looking over it again and make it a little non-philosopher friendly.

Which is very much a task for a tomorrow. This is a very boring post, isn’t it? I’m not very exciting at the moment; I’m all about the thesis rewriting and not about the frolics.

Except for tomorrow; I’m going to the beach!


In what can only be called a piece of ecological terrorism, I am going to Singapore for a day to attend a conference on the status of Rumours. I will spend more time travelling than talking and part of me thinks this is very bad for the planet.

I’ll post details about the conference, the paper and suchlike tomorrow, when I’ve managed to convince myself that the desecration of the planet is a worthy price to pay for my paper on the epistemology of Rumours.

The Role of Endorsement in Conspiracy and non-Conspiracy Theories – The Video

Paper Post-mortem

Short version: It was received very well, I think.

Long version: The philosopher I was most concerned with, with regards to the general tenor of the paper, was Charles Pigden. I know Charles and get along with him very well; he’s a smart, erudite, well-respected philosopher and one of the few who can be said to also:

a) be working on Conspiracy Theories, and

b) doesn’t treat them as an insignificant topic in Philosophy.

He’s also slightly more sympathetic to Conspiracy Theorists (although not to any particular Conspiracy Theory) than most of our peers, so any paper running a (very) qualified defense of “Official Stories” over Conspiracy Theories was surely going to have to do some work to be acceptable to him.

It seems, all things considered, that it was.

I flagged, as footnotes, a couple of sections in the paper as “I wonder what Charles’ response to this will be” and, in most cases, I now have an answer. Charles, quite rightly, came up with a lot of examples that show that the trust I am advocating in official sources, cannot be much more than naive, but naive trust is sometimes sufficient for particular kinds of beliefs to be justified.

One of my supervisors, Justine Kingsbury, had dinner with Charles post the paper and I will be getting some of his suggestions, via her, come the beginning of the week. Looking forward to those.

It is, I suppose, a bit strange to be so pleased that one particular person liked the paper, but that is a consequence of this academic lark. Some voices are louder and more important on certain issues.

Which is not to say that I just blithely ignored the other comments I received, which were also largely positive. I might comment more fully on them all come Monday; at the moment I’m just tired and drained from five days of boozy socialising and hours of ‘big thinking.’

Which will also mark the process of making the paper an article. I think I can devote a week to that before Christmas and/or starting the final chapter before the end of the year.