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This year, I was working closely with many college-bound gifted students, one assignment, a student wanted to research the "Roswell incident". Though I can generally quickly think up several potential research questions for any given topic, due the nature of the topic, I could not think of any.

Though I redirected the student to find another topic of interest, I can't help but wonder, what is a good way to steer a student when they want to examine a topic, such as the Roswell incident, that by its nature, attracts conspiracies, and, as such, is hard to view the topic from a academically rigorous standpoint.

How can students create quality research questions or thesis statements around a topic that is just a conspiracy?

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One approach to avoid the issue of whether a conspiracy is worth investigating or not is to set constraints on what an acceptable research question is. In addition to the many resources out there on how to develop a research question and answer it, making it clear that the question should not be easily answered by Wikipedia or blogs may help.

Note that there is legitimate analysis around conspiracy theories. For example, while conspiracies themselves largely hold little merit, an analysis of the people who typically believe in them, how conspiracies evolve, differences in the evolution of varying conspiracies, similarities between conspiracies, etc. could all be interesting.

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