“There are a bunch of situations where it is perfectly rational to believe in a theory about a conspiracy,” says Dr M R.X. Dentith, a research fellow at Waikato University who studies conspiracy theories.
“The question is, at what point do we say what’s going on here is irrational, and the conspiracies people are putting forward are unwarranted.”
New Zealand has been a popular destination for conspiracy theorists. In 2009, US conspiracy theorist Richard Gage – a prominent figure among those who claim the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre were orchestrated by the US government – visited Wellington and spoke to a crowd of more than 600 people at Te Papa.
So many people turned up, the meeting had to be broadcast on screens into a spillover room. Gage later said it was the largest crowd he had drawn in his years of speeches on the topic.