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Caltech Center for Science, Society, and Public Policy (CSSPP) Workshop

Thursday, September 14, 2023
Friday, September 15, 2023
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Baxter Lecture Hall
Conspiratorial Thinking & Origins, Spread, and Consequences

The Caltech Center for Science, Society, and Public Policy and the O'Doherty Lab in the Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences at Caltech are hosting a two-day workshop on "Conspiratorial Thinking & Origins, Spread, and Consequences," on September 14-15, 2023 at Caltech. There will be presentations about current research, from social and decision neurosciences, about the measurement of conspiratorial thinking, the origins of conspiratorial beliefs, how conspiratorial thinking spreads, and the consequences of belief in conspiracy theory for public opinion, trust in science, and public policy.

September 14, 2023

9:00 – 9:15am: Opening remarks

Caltech and the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences welcome - Tracy Dennison (Ronald and Maxine Linde Leadership Chair, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences)Workshop logistics - Lisa Kluen, John O'Doherty, and Michael Alvarez

9:15 – 10:45am: History and Philosophy of Conspiracy Beliefs

Session 1: 9:15 – 10:00am – Chair, Lisa Kluen
"Blood Libel: The Template for the Modern Conspiracy Theory," Elise Wang (CSU, Fullerton)
Session 2: 10:00 – 10:45am – Chair, Lisa Kluen
"Betting on Conspiracy: A Decision Theoretic Account of the Rationality of Conspiracy Theory Belief," Melina Tsapos (Lund University)

10:45am – 12:15pm: Current Events: Climate Change and Conspiracy Beliefs

Session 3: 10:45 – 11:30am – Chair, Beatrice Magistro
"Conspiracy Beliefs, Climate and Environmental Attitudes, and Sustainable Behavior," Yimeng Li et al. (Florida State University)
Session 4: 11:30am 12:15pm – Chair, Beatrice Magistro
"Conspiracy Spillovers are Shaping Public Attitudes Towards Climate Technologies," Ramit Debnath (University of Cambridge)

12:15 – 1:45pm: Lunch

2:00 – 4:15pm: Current Events: Conspiracy Beliefs, Partisanship, and Political Rumors

Session 5: 2:00 – 2:45pm – Chair, Michael Alvarez
"The Root of False Beliefs: Political Rumors in America from 2010 to the Present," Adam Berinsky (MIT)
Session 6: 2:45 – 3:30pm – Chair, Michael Alvarez
"Partisan Linked Fate in the American Mass Public," Betsy Sinclair (Washington University in St. Louis) and Steven W. Webster (Indiana University)
Session 7: 3:30 – 4:15pm – Chair, Yimeng Li
"Not Seeing is Believing: Santa Claus and Secret Plots," Joanne Miller (University of Delaware)

4:15 – 4:30pm: Closing remarks and outlook to Day 2

September 15, 2023

10:00am – 12:15pm:
Cognitive/Computational Aspects of Conspiracy Beliefs

Session 1: 10:00 – 10:45am – Chair, John O'Doherty
"Do Conspiracy Theorists Think Too Much or Too Little?" Nadia Brashier (UC San Diego)
Session 2: 10:45 – 11:30am – Chair, John O'Doherty
"Overconfidently Conspiratorial: Conspiracy Believers are Dispositionally Overconfident and Massively Overestimate How Much Others Agree with Them," Gordon Pennycook (Cornell University)
Session 3: 11:30am – 12:15pm – Chair, John O'Doherty
"A Comprehensive Approach to Identify the Cognitive Attributes Underpinning Susceptibility to Conspiracy Beliefs," Lisa Kluen et al. (Caltech)

12:15 – 1:45pm: Lunch

2:00 – 4:15pm: Psychiatric Aspects of Conspiracy Beliefs

Session 4: 2:00 – 2:45pm – Chair, Caroline Charpentier
"Paranoia and Conspiracy Theories Relate to Unexpected Uncertainty in Belief Updating and Assumptions about Others," Phil Corlett (Yale University)
Session 5: 2:45 – 3:30pm – Chair, Caroline Charpentier
"Differentiating Paranoia and Conspiracy Mentality – A Network Approach," Saskia Denecke et al. (University of Hamburg)
Session 6: 3:30 – 4:15pm – Chair, Caroline Charpentier
"Conspiracy Theory Beliefs: A Sane Response to an Insane World?" Joseph Pierre (UC San Francisco)

4:15 – 5:00pm: Psychological Interventions

Session 7: 4:15 – 5:00pm – Chair, Michael Alvarez
"Psychological Inoculation Against Conspiracy Theories," Sander van der Linden (University of Cambridge)

5:00 – 5:15pm: Closing remarks

Open to the academic/research community only.
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For more information, please contact Sabrina Hameister by phone at 626-395-4228 or by email at