Campus Location

Abilene Campus (Residential)

Date of Award

12-2019

Department

Communication

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Committee Chair or Primary Advisor

Lauren Lemley

Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor

Joe Cardot

Third Committee Member or Committee Reader

Cindy Roper

Abstract

Conspiracy theories are deeply embedded in American culture, especially in current American society. The popularity of conspiracy theories in general reveals that society is becoming increasingly skeptical of authoritative organizations. Because of “fake news” and the availability of information and connection on the internet, people feel as though they must question everything, even sources they previously viewed as unquestionable authorities.

My analysis looks at how online conspiracy organizations create and defend their arguments in an attempt to understand why conspiracy theories are so persuasive. I analyze the rhetoric of three online conspiracy theory organizations: the Flat Earth Society, the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), and 911truth.org. I use the theoretical framework of framing to analyze how these organizations prove their own credibility and the credibility of their sources to their readers. I also examine how these conspiracy organizations follow the popular narrative structure of the hero’s journey to persuade readers that truth is subjective. My analysis reveals that conspiracy organizations present themselves as credible mentors, providing readers with helpful information and resources to defend against traditional and foundational knowledge.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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Rhetoric Commons

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