If we consider a conspiracy theory to be a memetic network then, is there a correlation between network complexity and how robust a belief in a conspiracy becomes?
We can think of the nuggets of information as nodes on a network. How many links to other nodes a particular node has is known as nodal degree of freedom (DOF). A node links to 5 other nodes (regardless of the direction or strength of the link) then that node has a DOF of 5, simple as that. Network connectivity can be seen as a function of degrees of freedom (nodal links) & the number of nodes. And in turn network complexity can be seen as a function of connectivity.
The active agent traversing these networks is attention and attention can follow any link from one node to another in any direction. Attention can give more weight to some links & less to others (positive & negative reinforcement) & so change the structure of network. The attention agent in these systems can be thought of as an optimizer. Its main function being to maximize DOF, its criteria being, the best networks are those that make the most links between nodes.
Feedback loops can emerge in sufficiently complexy systems that either dampen or amplify connectivity to certain groups of nodes. Frozen structures can also emerge that are impervious to changes in its surrounding. See Stuart Kauffman’s work on NK models where simple tuneable networks can evolve such frozen blocks.
At some stage these networks also show traits of autocatalysis, they become self-perpetuating. As the host’s attention becomes more & more focused on the network it no longer needs external forces to help with network dynamics. This phenomenon is evident in the Qorg assimilation process where, inductees are at first guided & then left to run free once the germ network has established itself.
It’s my contention that sufficiently complex conspiracy networks will evolve robust structures eg the frozen blocks mentioned above. Not that surprising to most I’m sure but I think that its possible to develop an, at least qualitative, analysis of conspiracies based on network & systems theory. And possibly a classification of how far down a rabbit hole someone needs to go or, put another way, how complex does the network need to be before a robust, self-perpetuating conspiracy belief emerges.