"Conspiracy theory"

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Concept.png "Conspiracy theory" Glossary.png  SourcewatchRdf-icon.png 3
Interest of • David Grimes
• Mark Crispin Miller
• Shyam Sunder
• Cass Sunstein
• Adrian Vermeule
Declassified CIA memo# 1035-960 ("Countering Criticism of the Warren Report") reveals that it has been deliberately given associations of craziness, as though conspiracies do not happen. It is routinely used by the corporate media in their efforts to stifle critics of official narratives.

In modern usage the phrase "conspiracy theory" is used to malign ideas[1] just as the phrase "conspiracy theorist" is used as an enemy image used against those who share them[2]. This modern usage was created by the CIA, anxious about widespread disbelief that the JFK Assassination was carried out by Lee Harvey Oswald, used their Operation Mockingbird assets in the commercially-controlled media to use the phrase to discredit opposition to the US government's official narrative.[3] Post 9/11, it is increasingly the subject of (pseudo-)scientific study, as a rationale for internet censorship.


Full article: Document:Countering Criticism of the Warren Report

Certain individuals in the CIA were concerned by books such as those of Mark Lane which presented a highly credible challenge to the Warren Commission's finding of Lee Harvey Oswald as a 'lone nut'. NYU Media Professor Mark Crispin Miller records that the phrase 'conspiracy theory' became popular in journalistic discourse as a label for describing commentators who publicly doubted the findings of the Warren Commission.[4] 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".[3]

Miller suggests that an attempt was orchestrated by the CIA and their friends in the media to soil the phrase 'conspiracy theorist' with connotations of craziness, noting that since 1980 it has taken on an almost purely pejorative connotation, as if the official narrative is never mistaken or mendacious. As Miller notes, the reverse was assumed to be true in the public discourse only a century or so back; distrust of authority used to be very common place, and formed the backdrop of a lot of political negotiations and some fo the laws passed in USA. Conspiracy was formerly understood to be a potent force.[4]

"Conspiracy theorists"

Full article: Stub class 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 labal:'conspiracy theory'.

Wikipedia on Conspiracy Theories

Wikipedia]] noted as of January 20918 that “Theories involving multiple conspirators that are proven to be correct, such as the Watergate scandal,[25] 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".


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

Until the phrase was deliberately tainted by a concerted campaign by the CIA, it had no associations of kookiness. 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?"


The most infamous academic paper on this topic is the working paper entitled just "Conspiracy Theories" by insiders Cass R. Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule of Harvard Law School, published on January 15, 2008 which claimed that "the best response [to "conspiracy theorists"] consists in cognitive infiltration of extremist groups".[8] This is typical amongst the whole 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 if not downright dangerous.

Late 2015 and early 2016 has seen at least pseudo-scientific 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 simplistic approach. 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]

Demonisation and censorship

When the internet allowed widespread access to diverse opinions, the label "conspiracy theory" has been working overtime as authorities try to sideline and competition to their favoured official narratives. A dramatic awakening since around 2005 has lead to increasing efforts to censor such alternative ideas. In 2008, Cass Sunstein, adviser to US President Barack Obama and husband of the US Ambassador to the UN, coauthored File:Cass sunstein conspiracies.pdf, a paper purporting to be a serious academic treatment of how governments should respond to "conspiracy theories". 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 Guie 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".

See Also


Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
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.
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"
Countering Criticism of the Warren Reportdispatch19 July 1968CIA
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.
The State Against The Republicwebpage13 March 2015Thierry MeyssanMeyssan's prediction that pervasive online censorship is coming
Why we love to hate conspiracy theoriesarticle12 September 2010Denis Rancourt

Related Quotations

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
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
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.”Antony Sutton2002
== Rating ==
3star.png 17 July 2017 Robin  An overview into this pejorative so beloved of the commercially-controlled media
The phrase "conspiracy theory", as this page demonstrates, was created by the CIA to tackle dissenting views about the culpability of Lee Harvey Oswald.


  1. Similarly to the word "extremism"
  2. Similarly to the word "extremist"
  3. a b Countering Criticism of the Warren Report, CIA memo# 1035-960
  4. a b 5 minutes into the first hour of http://www.unwelcomeguests.net/561
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Conspiracy_theory&oldid=817459185
  6. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/19104/19104-h/19104-h.htm
  7. a b Land of Idols, St. Martin's Press, 1994
  8. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1084585
  9. Document:Elites Link Anti-Government Thought to Mental Illness
  10. "Maths study shows conspiracies 'prone to unravelling'"
  11. Document:The State Against The Republic
Facts about "Conspiracy theory"
DescriptionDeclassified CIA memo# 1035-960 ("[[Co
Declassified CIA memo# 1035-960 ("Countering Criticism of the Warren Report") reveals that it has been deliberately given associations of craziness, as though conspiracies do not happen. It is routinely used by the corporate media in their efforts to stifle critics of official narratives.
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GlossaryDescriptionDeclassified CIA memo# 1035-960 ("Counteri
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 here inside quotation marks.
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