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Clark @ April 13, 2020 at 00:27
Yes I am afraid I can be accused of both pedantry and ignorance in my use of the term ‘Conspiracy Theory’. This is partly because I would like words to have a meaning and partly to resist the CIA and Wikipedia from defining how we use language.
And this and also as in the case of the use of the word ‘Flu’ is where misunderstandings occur and terms need disambiguation. So for me a conspiracy theory is how it is defined by Wiktionary
conspiracy theory (plural conspiracy theories)
A hypothesis alleging that the members of a coordinated group are, and/or were, secretly working together to commit illegal or wrongful actions including attempting to hide the existence of the group and its activities. In notable cases the hypothesis contradicts the mainstream explanation for historical or current events. [1960s] quotations ▼
(dismissive, derogatory) Hypothetical speculation that is commonly considered untrue or outlandish. quotations ▼
The phrase conspiracy theory is sometimes used in an attempt to imply that hypothetical speculation is not worthy of serious consideration, usually with phrasing indicative of dismissal (e.g., “just a conspiracy theory”). However, any particular instance of use is not necessarily pejorative. Some consider it inappropriate to use the phrase “conspiracy theory” in an attempt to dismissively discredit hypothetical speculation in any form.
This is the meaning sensu lato SL, in the broadest sense. But then the more narrow definition as found in Wikipedia is the one commonly used now which is
For other uses, see Conspiracy theory (disambiguation).
A conspiracy theory is an explanation of an event or situation that invokes a conspiracy by sinister and powerful actors, often political in motivation, when other explanations are more probable. The term has a pejorative connotation, implying that the appeal to a conspiracy is based on prejudice or insufficient evidence. Conspiracy theories resist falsification and are reinforced by circular reasoning: both evidence against the conspiracy and an absence of evidence for it are re-interpreted as evidence of its truth, whereby the conspiracy becomes a matter of faith rather than something that can be proved or disproved.
So for disambiguation Conspiracy theory SL is what I mean when I use the term, but you use it in the Conspiracy Theory Wikipedia sense. The reason why I like to distinguish these is simply that conspiracies abound and to start to debunk them you start to have a hypothesis as to who benefits and slowly work through this thought process. Sometimes you find a smoking gun, but often this remains hidden. So to give some examples , Craig Murray our host has developed a theory that there is an establishment conspiracy to discredit Alex Salmond. He stated this hypothesis and is slowly accumulating evidence that this is the case and for some this is clearly the case, but for others this remains a conspiracy theory (SL). This will unfortunately remain the case until a real smoking gun is found, at least in the MSM and by inference, the public eye. Another example is the Iraq War. The conspiracy theory there was that the Governments of the US and UK conspired to aggressively invade the sovereignty of an independent nation under a false pretence. This particular conspiracy theory was confirmed through many channels and evidence produced, not that it made a difference.
A current conspiracy theory is that the 2019 elections in UK was rigged through postal vote fiddling (see discussion forum on this blog) and there are pieces of suggestive facts but it would need a very large coordinated effort to prove that this is the case, but for some it will remain a conspiracy theory.
But the reason for me cutting slack is that we must try and break the Conspiracy Theories (Wikipedia) without alienation if possible. Of course there are serious questions about 911 and there are some outlandish allegations, but sometimes grouping all these under the CIA/Wikipedia definition does not do justice to some who still hold a degree of scepticism especially about how all of it was mishandled.