What is Conspiracy Theory?

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  • #53364 Reply

      Apparently “free speech” these days means the same as “behaving like a spook”.

      #53366 Reply

        I don’t know if I want to get embroiled in this long-running argument, but to answer the question ‘have i ever believed a conspiracy theory’… Well, at times I’ve entertained hunches and put forward arguments that go against what’s more commonly accepted, and in one case, this was referred to (by a journalist) as a ‘conspiracy theory’. However, I try to back my ‘theories’ up with facts that can be proved or disproved (or shown to be more or less likely) and I don’t invoke principles or assumptions that beg more questions than they answer.

        Of course, my questioner is now blocked so I don’t expect a response.

        #53367 Reply

          Mods, thank you for revealing Node’s sock puppetry. I did suspect that ‘Buster’ might be another commenter from Craig’s comments section, but it hadn’t occurred to me that it was Node. I therefore treated ‘Buster’ in good faith. Thank you for saving me from wasting any more of my time, and for revealing that there is one less conspiracy theorist in the world than it seemed.

          Yet again, it seems that I am too trusting.

          #53392 Reply
          Trowbridge H. Ford

            You are still the leading anomaly, Clark!

            #53398 Reply

              Why, thank you, Trowbridge 😀 (doffs cap)!

              You must have discovered that Squonk has reopened comments. See you there.

              #53475 Reply
              Trowbridge H. Ford

                Hillary Clinton, in finally endorsing Joe Biden, said he had worked all his life to become POTUS, no matter what it took.

                Now it’s working from home. Yesterday it was briefing the Governors on his candidacy. He’s avoiding campaign crowds to avoid embarrassing questions. The trouble with the Governors is that there are more Republican ones than Democrats.

                #53484 Reply
                Trowbridge H. Ford

                  What’s more JOe completely loused up the briefing, telling a small group of Democrat Governors that the pandemic had killed millions of Americans and 85,000 had lost their jobs.

                  Joe has lost his brain, and isn’t fit to be POTUS either.

                  #53486 Reply
                  Trowbridge H. Ford

                    Joe Biden has even started stuttering again.

                    Given his mental incompetence, I wonder if he will be obliged to name Berne Sanders as his running mate, and forced to resgn after his in auguration, or will the Democrat Convention in Charlotte go into emergency session, and name someone else like New York Governor Andrew Cuomp as its presidential candidate.

                    #53613 Reply

                      Sanders would be hopeful, but he’s getting old.

                      #53719 Reply
                      Eric Saunders

                        This is a very silly thread. Every conspiracy theory and every no-conspiracy theory should be judged on its merits. Russiagate has been exposed as a bogus conspiracy theory. No we need a theory to explain how this conspiracy theory took on such absurd dimensions. This raises the question of whether or not bad actors consciously contrived the hoax in secret or if it somehow arose organically. A non-conspiratorial theory for the origins and rapid rise of the bogus Russiagate conspiracy theory is likely untenable. Same thing for, say, the Skripal case.

                        The bigger point is that the term “conspiracy theory” has been weaponized since the 1960’s in response to Warren Commission critics. It is most often used in nonsensical fashion to delegitimize people who posit state/elite criminality. The OP is taking the weaponized Orwellian use of the term and trying to say that such should be the definition we accept. The foolishness of this is best expressed with the statement that “a conspiracy theory is not a theory proposing/about a conspiracy.” A red hat is not a hat that is red.

                        The best book on this subject is ‘Conspiracy Theory in America’ by Professor Lance deHaven-Smith.

                        #53737 Reply

                          Why call a thread silly when you obviously haven’t read it, or you’ve only skim-read it with your mind already made up? You’ve resorted to the point I made in my very first post, ‘…use of “their” weaponised term “conspiracy theory”…’. The term couldn’t have been weaponised if the sort of thinking I describe didn’t exist; there would have been no nonsensical proposals to associate the proposals of conspiracy with.

                          I’m making a point about an ambiguity of language. The word ‘theory’ gets used in two different ways, which creates confusion, and a lot of defensiveness from a certain sort of people. There’s a difference between “theory”, which is a framework for understanding eg. gravitational theory or music theory, and “a theory”, which should really be called “a suspicion” or “a proposal”

                          Herman and Chomsky’s propaganda model of the corporate media explains Russiagate. We know where that came from; Crowdstrike originated it, and predictably, the corporate media ran with it. Crucially, in doing so the corporate media indulged in conspiracy theory; “Russia” and “Russian hackers” became their explanation for anything and everything.

                          #53768 Reply
                          michael norton

                            The only reason Uncle Joe has had his name put forward is so after he is declared mentally unfit to hold office, in walks his co-conspiritor H.R.C.

                            who nobody actually wants.

                            #53779 Reply
                            Eric Saunders

                              The point is that you are tying yourself into knots trying to deride “conspiracy theory” writ large while also expounding on the conspiracy theories that you find credible. It is the fault of professional conspirators (i.e. clandestine intelligence services) that we have so many unadjudicated state crimes. The media serves the same class as the spooks so they treat cover stories as objective fact and deride dissenters as “conspiracy theorists.” You are reifying the weaponization of the term by arguing that it is acceptable to deride CT as such.

                              Elite conspiracies abound. Thus has it ever been in human civilization. The material and cultural assets available to our politico-economic elites is unmatched in human history. Hence: CIA overthrows, JFK/RFK/MLK/Malcolm X assassinations, Vietnam, Iraq WMD, CIA drug trafficking schemes, the 1968 and 1980 October Surprises, stolen elections in 2000 and 2004…maybe 2016 also, the post-9/11 anthrax attacks, US+jihadi wars on Libya & Syria, Russiagate, OPCW fraud… and never any accountability or even acknowledgment of the crimes.

                              In an understated way, Bratich here addresses some of the epistemological questions here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBH16BlAoS4&feature=emb_logo

                              #53818 Reply

                                Eric Saunders – “Elite conspiracies abound. Thus has it ever been in human civilization

                                I agree that they exist. I’m not sure they abound; your handful is drawn from over half a century. There will also be more the less notable they get; a pyramid. Ultimately, they are symptoms of dominance, elitism and capitalism rather than a cause.

                                But what do you call the sort of thinking I describe in my opening post? It’s clearly a problem; it’s currently feeding covid-19 denial, and appeal to it has obstructed action on climate change for thirty years.

                                #53821 Reply

                                  Great lecture from Bratich so far; thanks Eric. At 16:34 he asks a very good question. First he points out that journalistic articles concentrate on asking why some believe “conspiracy theories”, but he reframes this, asking, shouldn’t the question be why some people produce “conspiracy theories”? He suggests that this approach “drives a wedge” between makers and believers.

                                  Before I listen further, I’ll set out some of my thoughts. I think there are two aspects to this; production and reinforcement, and reinforcement is practised by the believers. At this site over the years I have watched a social process of reinforcement of, let’s call them “crazy conspiracy theories”; things like Twin Tower demolition hypothesis, chemtrails, global warming denial, covid-19 denial. I have, to my shame, even been drawn into and helped to reinforce the first of those, and I continue to have a gullible side. But I can’t remember any occasion when a commenter has innovated an element of such a belief set. The assertions are presented verbatim as found in media, mainstream or otherwise, but promoted and defended aggressively. The reinforcement and promotion process is commonplace and public; on this site, on Facebook, in Youtube comments, a large and vocal minority engage in this.

                                  Production seems to be a more private process that requires setting up a website or making and posting videos.

                                  #53823 Reply

                                    By two minutes later, he’s saying that established media writers frame belief in “conspiracy theories” as a psychological defect in the believers, but he wants to reframe this as, why have people lost trust in the established media?

                                    I have been speculating along these lines for a while; the established media has been losing trust as Internet media has been bypassing it. At first I found this very hopeful. It should be a good thing, because the established media is the corporate media, and it is subject to institutional bias.

                                    But the new independent media is turning out to be a very mixed blessing, I’d say especially over the last few years. I started to get alarmed when the Trump campaign began leveraging “crazy conspiracy theories”. After Bernie Sanders was ejected I didn’t much care who won the presidency; it seemed to me that Trump would be worse for the people of the US but Clinton would be more of a warmonger. What alarmed me was the Trump campaign’s antiscience and anti-rationality, and the support that was getting among the “crazy conspiracy theorists”.

                                    #53826 Reply

                                      I’m at 29:44, and Bratich has just displayed a slide:

                                      Why has popular erupted around CTs?

                                      – 1) Technological enhancement.
                                      – 2) Political representation failure.
                                      – 3) Economics: economy depends of sociality.
                                      – 4) Pop culture
                                      – 5) Terror-war

                                      I haven’t heard what he’s going to say yet but these are pretty much the causes I have been suspecting.

                                      #53830 Reply

                                        OK, that lecture was interesting but a bit vague for me in some of its aspects; I would have liked Bratich to apply some of his ideas to some practical examples, and he didn’t seem to propose any solutions.

                                        I agree that the informational environment has become a battleground; “crazy conspiracy theories” seem vulnerable to being exploited, eg. there is obvious incentive for capital to encourage covid-19 denial, to incite public opposition to “lockdowns” so that profit generation can be re-escalated. This can then converge with the incentives of hostile states to induce the collapse of the health systems of their rivals.

                                        An interesting idea was that some institutions were protected from scepticism, because their role is to establish the legitimate rules of scepticism itself, but this has now broken down – hyper-scepticism.

                                        #53863 Reply
                                        Trowbridge H. Ford

                                          Does Mike Pompeo resort to glowering, acting like a hoodlum, when his hyper skepticism fails to silence critics?

                                          #54280 Reply
                                          Trowbridge H. Ford

                                            The mentioning of Marine Sergeant Clayton Lonetree’s spying for the Soviets brings into focus the difference between a conspiracy theory and a conspiracy.

                                            If you are an unquestioning American, his honey trap espionage led nowhere since it was just based on the loneliness of this poor Marine guard.

                                            If you believe in the importance of knowing the truth, or a supporter of the former USSR, It puts into focus the plot which alerted Moscow what was behind setting uo SWedish Stats-minister Olof Palme, a Soviet agent who had outlived his usefulness.

                                            #54532 Reply

                                              How could we bring into focus the difference between a suspicion or allegation of conspiracy, and conspiracy theory as a framework for thought, like music theory or set theory? The former is commonly called “a conspiracy theory”, whereas the latter is almost entirely overlooked, virtually unacknowledged.

                                              Conspiracy theory seems a most underdeveloped field, lacking any rigour, seemingly through such ambiguity, and lack of discussion among its practitioners. The alleged conspiracies in so-called “conspiracy theories” seem to have a tendency to expand without limit to power, scope or ability, and to coalesce into the dreaded “them” or “MSM and PTB”.

                                              #54598 Reply

                                                Whatever conspiracy theory’s own nature is, it is certainly used as a political tool:


                                                – Numerous right-wing pundits and activists are now alleging that Soros is funding the protests following the murder of George Floyd. Prominent among them is Candace Owens, who wrote, “As he did with Antifa, Democrat George Soros has these thugs on payroll. He is funding the chaos via his Open Society Foundation.” DeAnna Lorraine, the Republican candidate for Congress who ran unsuccessfully against Nancy Pelosi in March 2020, asked her 261k followers to “bring attention to this very organized takeover” of the country by getting #sorosgate and #soros to trend on Twitter.

                                                – When President Trump tweeted (about the protests), “It’s ANTIFA and the Radical Left. Don’t lay the blame on others!,” former game show host Chuck Woolery disagreed. “It’s George Soros,” he tweeted. David Wohl, Trump surrogate and father of disinformation activist Jacob Wohl, agreed, saying, “Soros funded rent-a-mobs no doubt.” Actor-turned-right-wing-Twitter-pundit James Woods, referring to a “night of savage anarchy” on May 30, wrote that “[when] George Soros rules our streets, we are doomed. #TakeAmericaBack.”

                                                – Others used more conspiratorial and sinister language to describe their theories about Soros’ involvement. Posts in several anti-Soros Facebook groups recirculated a 2016 article claiming that a leaked memo revealed that Soros planned to “use Black Lives Matter to federalize U.S. police.”

                                                “Network marketing” entrepreneur Laire Lightener wrote to her 84k Facebook followers that “George Soros #1 goal in life is destroy America so that globalists can take over. He funds the #BLM movement & riots happening across the nation every time the globalists decide they need a new race war started.” Numerous posts on social media have cited a fabricated 2014 “quote” from Soros: “I’m going to bring down the United States by funding Black Hate groups. We’ll put them into a mental trap and make them blame white people. The Black community is the easiest to manipulate.”

                                                – Some go so far as to say that the death of George Floyd, which precipitated the protests and rioting of recent days, was a false flag event orchestrated by George Soros. One lengthy post on a Facebook group with 25k members claimed, “the Floyd event was staged…with the purpose of creating racial tensions and driving a wedge in the growing group of anti-deep state sentiment from common people, that have already been psychologically traumatized by Covid 19 fears… You can draw your own conclusions, but this appears to have all the earmarks of George Soros. Please open your eyes!!!!”

                                                #69110 Reply

                                                  This person presents a strong case that conspiracy deniers have transferred an infantile trust and reliance in parents, which evolution has hard-wired into us, to governments and other powerful modern institutions.

                                                  Why do otherwise perfectly intelligent, thoughtful and rationally minded people baulk at the suggestion that sociopaths are conspiring to manipulate and deceive them? Conspiracy deniers place their trust “in the biggest, loudest, most present and undeniable force around, because instinct decrees that survival depends on it. And, in this great ‘world nursery’, the most omnipresent force is the network of institutions which consistently project an unearned image of power, calm, expertise, concern and stability.”

                                                  Off-Guardian: On the Psychology of the Conspiracy Denier

                                                  #69135 Reply

                                                    That’s not a “strong case”; it’s a bald assertion completely devoid of evidence. Tim Foyle never defines his new term “conspiracy denier”, but his condescending article makes clear that it’s just his way of saying “sheeple”. Just the conspiracy theorists’ typical, utterly predictable sneering sense of self-superiority.

                                                    Elsewhere, Foyle promotes the ludicrous notion that COVID-19 is a hoax; indeed, this seems to be the only other idea that Foyle promotes.

                                                    The article is tripe and contributes nothing to the understanding of conspiracy theory as a phenomenon. “PresentAndCorrect”, I think I can safely assume that yours is another sorry mind sadly clouded by conspiracy theory. Got any thoughts of your own?

                                                    #69141 Reply

                                                      PresentAndCorrect quotes an article from a website that used to be critical of the empire and imperial adventures but has now become almost completely dedicated to covid denial. As a result they have become a magnet for conspiracy theory nuts and the standard of comments has deteriorated rapidly. The admins there now delete comments they don’t like so that real discussions are not allowed, something they deplored when the Guardian used the same tactics.

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