"Conspiracy theory"

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Declassified CIA memo# 1035-960 ("Countering Criticism of the Warren Report") reveals that this phrase was deliberately given associations of craziness, as though conspiracies do not happen. It is routinely used by the corporate media in their efforts to discredit suggestions that contradict official narratives. As with other enemy images such as "terrorism", it is only used on this site inside quotation marks.

Concept.png "Conspiracy theory" Glossary.png  SourcewatchRdf-icon.png 4
Always-you-with-that-conspiracy-stuff.jpg
Interest of• Chip Berlet
• Conspiracy Files
• Conspiracy Watch
• David Grimes
• Mark Crispin Miller
• Shyam Sunder
• Cass Sunstein
• Adrian Vermeule
Subpage(s)Conspiracy theory/Academic research
Conspiracy theory/Projection
An enemy image used to equate scepticism of government with craziness. It was developed by the CIA to try to contain doubt about the FBI's "Oswald did it, case closed" approach to the JFK assassination. It is now being associated with dangerous and violent insanity, in an effort to promote internet censorship of free speech.

"Conspiracy theory" is a label given to ideas which challenge an official narrative, held by people who are pejoratively termed "conspiracy theorists". This stems from the US deep state's efforts to promote the "lone nut" theory of the JFK assassination. The concept was later developed into a general purpose enemy image used to try to prevent the connection of deep events that the commercially-controlled media presented as isolated incidents. Post 9/11, it is the subject of pseudo-scientific study to limit freedom of speech by promoting the idea that the holders of such opinions are inclined to violence and deserve to have their civil liberties removed, in particular by subjecting them to internet censorship.

Origins

The phrase was occasionally used before,[citation needed] but its modern pejorative connotations stem from efforts within the US government to cover up the JFK assassination. The phrase appears in a November 1963 memo by the US Deputy Attorney General, Nicholas Katzenbach, and later in a 1968 CIA internal memo that explains how Operation Mockingbird "assets in the media" are attempting to "counter criticism of the Warren Report".[1]

Nicholas Katzenbach's memo

Full article: Document:Nicholas Katzenbach on the importance of reassuring the US public about Oswald
The section of the memo that the sent on 25 November 1963 to the White House Press Secretary that contains this phrase.

Within hours of the JFK assassination, the FBI were promoting an official narrative that it was carried out by a "lone nut" who had no deep political motivation. Many people were unconvinced by this, particularly after Oswald himself was assassinated in police custody by another "lone nut".

Nicholas Katzenbach sent a memo to Bill Moyers arguing that it was important then to persuade the public that "Oswald was the assassin," and that "he did not have confederates." This memo remarked that "the Dallas police have put out statements on the Communist conspiracy theory."[2]

Countering Criticism of the Warren Report

Full article: Rated 4/5 Document:Countering Criticism of the Warren Report
The now-declassified CIA dispatch "Countering Criticism of the Warren Report"

Since the perpetrators of the JFK assassination wished to discredit any suggestion which challenged their theory, a decision was made to use Operation Mockingbird commercially-controlled media assets to use the phrase "conspiracy theory" to do exactly that. Accordingly, they were instructed to use the phrase "conspiracy theory" to refer to anyone who publicly doubted the findings of the Warren Commission.[3] This is explained by declassified CIA memo# 1035-960, "Countering Criticism of the Warren Report", which reports the widespread disbelief of the Warren Commission report with concern:

"This trend of opinion is a matter of concern to the U.S. government, including our organization [the CIA]... Conspiracy theories have frequently thrown suspicion on our organization, for example by falsely alleging that Lee Harvey Oswald worked for us. The aim of this dispatch is to provide material for countering and discrediting the claims of the conspiracy theorists..." The memo recommends that its recipients "employ propaganda assets [in the media] to answer and refute the attacks of the critics".[4]

Pejorative connotations

NYU Media Professor Mark Crispin Miller records that the result of this CIA orchestrated effort was that it increasingly was loaded with connotations of craziness, to the point that by about 1980 it was an almost purely pejorative connotation, as if the official narrative is never mistaken or mendacious. As Miller notes in the public discourse only a century or so back the reverse was assumed to be true; distrust of authority used to be very common place, and formed the backdrop of a lot of political negotiations and some of the laws passed in USA. Conspiracy was formerly understood to be a potent force.[3]

Modern usage

As the internet allowed widespread access to diverse opinions, the label "conspiracy theory" has been working overtime as authorities try to sideline any competition to their favoured official narratives. It is associated with the word "extremist", which is used as a more general enemy image, to describe anyone with significant disagreements with official points of view. A dramatic awakening since around 2005 has lead to increasingly aggressive (and unsuccessful) efforts to censor such alternative ideas.

"Conspiracy theorists"

Full article: “Conspiracy theorist”
Tinfoil Hat Guy.jpg

Nowadays however, the label "conspiracy theorist" has become an ad hominem attack used on those with opinions which threaten the powers that be, as if anyone harboring such thoughts can be safely dismissed as a victim of irrational paranoia, possibly even mentally unbalanced or dangerous. The commercially-controlled media clearly have a commercial interest in casting suspicion on anyone whose primary source of information is elsewhere as inherently suspect, so it is easy to see why they might wish to repeatedly lump together patently absurd ideas together with well-founded doubts about the official narrative under a single label:'conspiracy theory'.

Wikipedia on Conspiracy Theories

Wikipedia noted as of January 2018 that “Theories involving multiple conspirators that are proven to be correct, such as the Watergate scandal, are usually referred to as "investigative journalism" or "historical analysis" rather than conspiracy theory.”[5]

Wikipedia's list of conspiracy theories is an interesting read as a reflection of how commercially-controlled media would like people to behave. The 'Conspiracy Theorist as defective personality' meme is present, with Wikipedia reporting that "The motivations for nations starting, entering, or ending wars are often brought into question by conspiracy theorists." This may refer indirectly to the neglect of economic reasons for war by the commercially-controlled media. In contrast, economic motivations are not questioned by Wikipedia's page on cartel and anti trust law. Acknowledging that "proving the existence of a cartel is rarely easy, as firms are usually not so careless as to put collusion agreements on paper" and that "Cartels usually arise in an oligopolistic industry", Wikipedia avoids the word 'Conspiracy' to describe those hidden arrangements, although American anti trust law such as the 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act uses the term. Back then, it seems, conspiracy theories abounded.

The reframing of the term "Conspiracy Theory' is also brought to attention by Daniele Ganser saying the official narrative of 9/11 is by definition (read: the "old" definition) nothing but another "Conspiracy theory". Needless to say that taking back the original meaning of such a major spin keyword (already loaded with the 'defective personality' meme after endless repetitions) can not be allowed by those who brought forth the spin in the first place.

A German editor Phi, who describes himself as senior government official, in section 'Psychological Foundations' remarks that 'Conspiracy Theories are similar to paranoia, a mental disorder...' He goes on to associate this paranoia with the delusion of the people's Führer in totalitarian regimes. The English Wikipedia is more polite but adds 'schizotypy' to the long litany of 'thought disorders' prevalent amongst "conspiracy theorists".

Marginalisation

In the section on assassinations, Wikipedia notes that "the question of Who benefits? (Cui bono?) is also often asked, with conspiracy theorists asserting that insiders often have far more powerful motives than those to whom the assassination is attributed by mainstream society". In the case of the JFK Assassination, since the majority of the US population doubt the Kennedy was killed by a "lone nut", this use of the adjective "mainstream" cannot be interpreted numerically. How then is it best understood? Since the US House Committee on Assassinations, the official US government position is that Kennedy was probably killed due to a conspiracy, this "mainstream" does not necessarily even mean the "government narrative". The "mainstream" in question is the commercially-controlled media, which loves to represent itself as "mainstream" as if any deviation from it is marginal and suspect.

Public attitudes to conspiracies

Full article: Public attitudes to conspiracies

Historically, conspiracy was understood to be an every present danger. The UK Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, for example, said to Parliament in 1856:

"There is in Italy a power which we seldom mention in this House ... I mean the secret societies... It is useless to deny, because it is impossible to conceal, that a great part of Europe — the whole of Italy and France and a great portion of Germany, to say nothing of other countries — is covered with a network of these secret societies, just as the superficies of the earth is now being covered with railroads. And what are their objects? They do not attempt to conceal them. They do not want constitutional government; they do not want ameliorated institutions ... they want to change the tenure of land, to drive out the present owners of the soil and to put an end to ecclesiastical establishments. Some of them may go further... "[6]

Michel Parenti on Conspiracy theories

Journalist Michael Parenti has pointed out that politicians and corporate leaders naturally work to further their own monetary and power interests, often in a conspiratorial manner. "To believe otherwise is to believe in Coincidence Theory, the truly nutty idea that the interests of the very wealthy are magically maintained by chance, year after year."[7] In his "Dirty Truths" (City Lights Books, 1996), Parenti points out that "conspiracy" can simply mean that ruling class individuals "are aware of their interests, know each other personally, meet together privately and off the record, and try to hammer out a consensus on how to anticipate and react to events and issues."


Incompetence theories distract from understanding malice. Limited hang outs are like using Newton's Laws to describe the way the universe works at the subatomic level. Newtonian physics is useful for building a bridge, but is an incomplete description of reality. http://www.oilempire.us/map.html

Michael Parenti offers the following "alternatives" to conspiracy theories:

  • Somnambulist Theory: The wealthiest 1 percent sleepwalk through life, never giving a thought to their vast wealth or how to keep it.
  • Coincidence Theory: Things repeatedly happen by chance in ways that magically maintain the interests of the very wealthy, year after year.
  • Stupidity Theory: The very rich are befuddled, incompetent and ineffectual. They just don't know how they keep that power.
  • Spontaneity or Idiosyncrasy Theory: Stuff happens (in a way that keeps the system in place.) Again and again. Over long periods of time.
  • Aberration Theory: Dirty tricks of the CIA and so forth are "atypical departures" from the norm.[7]

The above theories would have us believe our inequitable tax system, corporate-owned media, unjust social conditions and other wrongful policies are momentary aberrations, isolated from the central goal of our political system. Again, that goal is protecting the money and power of the wealthiest 1%. Parenti points out that the wealthiest 1 percent naturally defend their interests, just as farmers or steelworkers defend theirs. He also notes that the CIA is by definition conspiratorial, "using covert actions and secret plans, many of which are of the most unsavory kind. What are covert operations if not conspiracies?"

Pseudo-scientific study

On 15 January 2008, deep state actors Cass R. Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule of Harvard Law School published an academic paper entitled Conspiracy Theories, by which claimed that "the best response [to "conspiracy theorists"] consists in cognitive infiltration of extremist groups".[8] This is typical amongst the genre in adding an academic gloss to the comforting lie that authorities' versions of events are more or less always reliable and well intentioned, and anyone who suggests otherwise is crazy and potentially dangerous.

Demonisation

Late 2015 and early 2016 has the release of various papers on the topic of "conspiracies", which some have suggested may be indicative of an organised campaign to equate dissent with mental illness.[9] Certainly, it is interesting that such superficial work has received wide press coverage. A 2016 paper by Oxford physicist Dr. David Grimes, for example, was published by a supposedly highly reputable PLOS-One in spite of a simple statistical error and a very crude approach which ignored flew in the face of established historical evidence such as the existence of Operation Gladio and the Manhattan Project. The BBC reported on this paper uncritically under the headline "Maths study shows conspiracies 'prone to unravelling'", and cited Grimes' conclusions that “the Moon landings "hoax" would have been revealed in 3.7 years, the climate change "fraud" in 3.7 to 26.8 years, the vaccine-autism "conspiracy" in 3.2 to 34.8 years, and the cancer "conspiracy" in 3.2 years.”[10]

Censorship proposals

In 2015, French President François Hollande compared "conspiracy theories" to Nazism and called for their dissemination on the internet to be made illegal.[11]

Cultural references

The second series of Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy concludes with the protagonists having finally located the ruler of the universe (a.k.a. the "man in the shack") who makes the real decisions that are ascribed to the President of The Galaxy. The posthumously produced series three of the radio series (produced after Adams' death) diffuses this plot by suggesting that this was a psychotic episode. In the radio adaptation Trillian describes the idea of the secret ruler of the universe as a "conspiracy theory".

 

Related Quotations

PageQuoteAuthorDate
"Conspiracy mindset"“a small part in motivating the endorsement of such seemingly irrational beliefs is the desire to stick out from the crowd, the need for uniqueness”Roland Imhoff
Pia Karoline Lamberty
2016
Conspiracy belief“belief in conspiracy theories is positively associated with intuitive rather than analytic thinking. Consistently, higher education predicts lower conspiracy beliefs, a finding that is partly mediated by a tendency among the less educated to attribute agency and intentionality where it does not exist, and stronger analytic thinking skills among the higher educated.”Jan-Willem van Prooijen
Karen M. Douglas
2018
Conspiracy belief“[Conspiracy beliefs] are — almost by definition — not shared by the majority of people.”Roland Imhoff
Pia Karoline Lamberty
2016
Conspiracy theory/Academic research“they are emotional given that negative emotions and not rational deliberations cause conspiracy beliefs... One limitation... is that the field is lacking a solid theoretical framework that contextualizes previous findings, that enables novel predictions, and that suggests interventions to reduce the prevalence of conspiracy theories in society.”Jan-Willem van Prooijen
Karen M. Douglas
2018
Conspiracy theory/Academic research“[Conspiracy beliefs] are — almost by definition — not shared by the majority of people.”Roland Imhoff
Pia Karoline Lamberty
2016
Conspiracy theory/Academic research“Work in online misinformation details how alternative media intentionally fabricate conspiracy theories, spreading false allegations ranging from reptilian presidents to staged terrorist attacks”Karen M. Douglas
Robbie M. Sutton
Aleksandra Cichocka
June 2017
Conspiracy theory/Academic research“a small part in motivating the endorsement of such seemingly irrational beliefs is the desire to stick out from the crowd, the need for uniqueness”Roland Imhoff
Pia Karoline Lamberty
2016
Conspiracy theory/Academic research“history has repeatedly shown that corporate and political elites do conspire against public interests. Conspiracy theories play an important role in bringing their misdeeds into the light.”Karen M. Douglas
Robbie M. Sutton
Aleksandra Cichocka
June 2017
Conspiracy theory/Projectionthey are emotional given that negative emotions and not rational deliberations cause conspiracy beliefs; and they are social as conspiracy beliefs are closely associated with psychological motivations underlying intergroup conflict”Jan-Willem van Prooijen
Karen M. Douglas
2018
Conspiracy theory/Projection“[Conspiracy beliefs] are — almost by definition — not shared by the majority of people.”Roland Imhoff
Pia Karoline Lamberty
2016
Document:Evolution of the 9/11 Controversy From Conspiracy Theories to Conspiracy Photographs“Most 9/11 conspiracy theories contest every point of the official account. They base this refutation [sic] on their interpretation of both forensic anomalies at the accident [sic] sites whose existence the official account concedes and attempts to explain, and of evidence whose existence and trustworthiness the official account either rejects or ignores. Their interpretive practice, in other words, both reinterprets and finds conspiratorial details, ripping them out of their place within the official account's framework and inserting them into a conspiratorial one. The conspiracy theorists assert that any unexplained anomaly, or any anomaly for which they can provide a better explanation than the official account offers, causes the official account to fail, because each of the government's assertions requires and builds upon the truth of others. If some of the hijackers are still alive, they argue, or if the towers’ collapse was not caused by the plane collision, or if something other than American Flight 77 hit the Pentagon, then the entire official account would be revealed as a series of lies.””Mark Fenster2008
Julia Ebner“Across Europe, conspiracy theories that mix old antisemitic tropes with new ones that demonise migrants and Muslims have gained huge traction since the refugee crisis in 2015. A recent study showed that a stunning 60% of Brits believe in at least one conspiracy theory.”Julia EbnerFebruary 2019
Mental health“The logic of the conspiracy meme is to question everything the ‘establishment’ — be it government or scientists — says or does... Conspiracy theories can be useful for scientists who are so far out of the mainstream in their field that they seek to appeal to alternative funding sources or publication outlets. They also might occasionally surface when a scientist's mental health deteriorates to the point that he or she loses touch with reality.”Ted Goertzel2010
Official narrative“There is an Establishment history, an official history, which dominates history textbooks, trade publishing, the media and library shelves. The official line always assumes that events such as wars, revolutions, scandals, assassinations, are more or less random unconnected events. By definition events can NEVER be the result of a conspiracy, they can never result from premeditated planned group action. An excellent example is the Kennedy assassination when, within 9 hours of the Dallas tragedy, TV networks announced the shooting was NOT a conspiracy, regardless of the fact that a negative proposition can never be proven, and that the investigation had barely begun. Woe betide any book or author that falls outside the official guidelines. Foundation support is not there. Publishers get cold feet. Distribution is hit and miss, or non-existent.”Anthony Sutton2002
Brian Paddick“Hopefully there will be people in the police service, the security service and in government who will realise how important conspiracy theories are. And how important it is... that every attempt is made to try and counteract them.”Brian Paddick
Cass Sunstein“Those who subscribe to conspiracy theories may create serious risks, including risks of violence, and the existence of such theories raises significant challenges for policy and law.”Cass Sunstein
Adrian Vermeule
15 January 2008
UK/Torture<nowiki>“Unless we all start to believe in conspiracy theories and that the officials are lying, that I am lying, that behind this there is some kind of secret state which is in league with some dark forces in the United States, and also let me say, we believe that [[[U.S. Secretary of State]] Condoleezza Rice] is lying, there simply is no truth in the claims that the United Kingdom has been involved in rendition full stop.”</nowiki>Jack Straw2005

 

Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:911 and the Orwellian Redefinition of Conspiracy Theoryarticle20 June 2011Paul Craig Roberts"While we were not watching, conspiracy theory has undergone Orwellian redefinition..." A "conspiracy theory" now refers to any ideas or facts that are out of step with the official narrative as put forward by government and the commercially controlled media.
Document:A 21-Truth Salutewebpage2 August 2011Zen Gardner
Document:Beyond Conspiracy TheorypaperFebruary 2010Lance deHaven-SmithThe article posits a new framework for the analysis of Deep political events and Conspiracy Theories. The term SCAD (State crime against democracy) is explained and developed as a way of connecting the dots across multiple suspect events.
Document:Conspiracies and Conspiracismarticle28 June 2010James H. FetzerThis is an effective rebuttal of the claims of Chip Bertlet in his book "Toxic To Democracy: Conspiracy Theories, Demonization, & Scapegoating" which uses the terms "conspiracy theory" and "conspiracist" in the establishment's now de-rigeur pejorative sense.
Document:Countering Criticism of the Warren Reportmemo19 July 1968CIA
Document:Elites Link Anti-Government Thought to Mental Illnesswebpage11 March 2016Daily Bell Staff
Document:Evolution of the 9/11 Controversy From Conspiracy Theories to Conspiracy PhotographsWikispooks PageDonald StahlAn examination of the photos of the World Trade Center, how clearly they contradict the claims of "collapse", and how the US government has played fast and loose with its changing 9-11/Official narrative and with the law to try to hide this fact.
Document:The JFK Assassination - Conspiracy Phobia on the Leftbook extract1996Michael Parenti
Document:The State Against The Republicwebpage13 March 2015Thierry MeyssanMeyssan's prediction that pervasive online censorship is coming
Document:Why we love to hate conspiracy theoriesarticle12 September 2010Denis Rancourt
File:Cass sunstein conspiracies.pdfpaper15 January 2008Cass Sunstein
Adrian Vermeule
A classic Official Narrative-type exposition of Conspiracy theory and Conspiracy Theorists with recommendations on how governments should deal with them. It is the principal source of the now widely-used expression "Cognitive Infiltration"


Rating

4star.png 9 December 2017 Robin  An overview into this pejorative so beloved of the commercially-controlled media
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References

... more about ""Conspiracy theory""
Wikispooks Page +
File:always-you-with-that-conspiracy-stuff.jpg +
Declassified CIA memo# 1035-960 ("CounteriDeclassified CIA memo# 1035-960 ("Countering Criticism of the Warren Report") reveals that this phrase was deliberately given associations of craziness, as though conspiracies do not happen. It is routinely used by the corporate media in their efforts to discredit suggestions that contradict official narratives. As with other enemy images such as "terrorism", it is only used on this site inside quotation marks. used on this site inside quotation marks. +
Conspiracy theory +
Conspiracy_theory +
File:always-you-with-that-conspiracy-stuff.jpg +