Explaining the Prevalence of Conspiracy Narratives

Evidence from German Conspiracy Entrepreneurs
Von Tobias Weitzel


Bachelorstudiengang Politikwissenschaften, Universität Mannheim

To what extent does conspiracy output of conspiracy entrepreneurs (CEs) increase during crises (events)? Although the Covid-19 pandemic forcefully demonstrated the negative consequences of conspiracy narratives, no research investigates when and why CEs’ conspiracy output varies. This paper aims to fill this gap and advance the literature twofold: Substantively, the author brings forth a novel theory arguing that focal events (FEs) increase people’s conspiracy demand, which in turn increases CEs’ conspiracy output. Methodologically, the author introduces a new data set with 12,502 observations of 23 German CEs’ conspiracy output on Telegram during the pandemic. Using zero-inflated negative binomial regression with channel-fixed effects, the author finds robust evidence that CEs’ conspiracy output increases during FEs.