Conspiracy, Theory

“That’s just conspiracy theory!”


Even as a child, I never understood the logic of that argument. It’s as if the line of reasoning is: it’s a conspiracy theory, therefore it is false.


Right. And that makes sense because…?


If one looks up those words in a dictionary or even two, one may find something like the below.


conspiracy n: two or more persons making secret plans for a nefarious purpose.


theory n: set of suppositions or ideas intended to explain particular facts or events.


Two or more persons secretly planning something not very nice… No, that never happens. At least nothing big, just little things like two brothers who conspire to buy and drink lots of vodka, then dispose of the bottles without their mother finding out.


And as for theory… well, no doubt some are entirely false and some are entirely true, and then there’s everything in between to varying degrees according to case.


So, a “conspiracy theory” is just that. It is a theory about a conspiracy. If one investigates and analyze the data available to them (as opposed to dismissing the theory without any consideration), then one can make a reasonable conclusion. It’s possible the theory is true or has a high probability of being true, depending on the quantity and quality of the data.


And by the way, is there a conspiracy behind the term “conspiracy theory” being used as a slant?


Quite possibly. The term is traceable to CIA Dispatch 1035-960, dated 1967 and subsequently released in 1976 under FOIA. It was apparently written as an instruction to counter criticisms of the Warren Report re assassination of JFK—in other words, to counter those who object to the official account of the assassination.


The term “conspiracy theories” and “conspiracy theorists” are mentioned as (presumably) accepted terminology, so the term most likely pre-dates this document. To be fair, there is no explicit instruction or explanation that the term is to be used as a slant but when the term is mentioned in the context of discussing tactics to counter those who question the official account, one has to wonder…

 

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