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Mon Sep 28, 2015, 07:07 AM

"Conspiracy theory" is a way overused term. [View all]

Calling something--anything--a "conspiracy theory" has become a one-second method of discrediting that thing. If you believe everything is exactly as government and politicians and their surrogates describe it, I think you are either lying or far too naive to be taken seriously.

No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up.
Lily Tomli

Can distrust be taken to a ridiciulous extreme? Yes. Duh. Almost anything can be taken to a ridiculous extreme (good gelato being one of very few exceptions). When it gets to the point at which people find it necessary to prove they exist, cynicism and doubt just may have gone too far. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cogito_ergo_sum

This post does not attempt to draw a line between healthy cynicism and paralyzing doubt, but to attempt a definition of a conspiracy because I have recently been seeing the term misused here over and over.

First, let's get this straight: a conspiracy requires more than one person or entity. If I believe that a single corporation has covered up or denied some danger created by its products, I may have a theory. That theory may be correct or off the wall. Either way, it simply cannot be a conspiracy theory. I simply suspect a single corporation of wrongdoing.

It's also not a "conspiracy theory" if the theory does not include conspiring. Sometimes, several people or companies simply decide to do something quite independently of each other.

We don't usually accuse people of conspiring to do good deeds, but people absolutely do conspire to do good deeds all the time. Is the last part of that sentence a conspiracy theory on my part? No, it's fact, not theory.


After that, the definition of a conspiracy gets murky (for me, anyway).


conspiracy
Also found in: Medical, Legal, Idioms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
con·spir·a·cy (kən-spîr′ə-sē )
n. pl. con·spir·a·cies

1. An agreement to perform together an illegal, wrongful, or subversive act.

2. A group of conspirators.

3. Law An agreement between two or more persons to commit a crime or accomplish a legal purpose through illegal action.

4. A joining or acting together, as if by sinister design: a conspiracy of wind and tide that devastated coastal areas
.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/conspiracy


The third definition is clear enough, but the first is not. Our society seeks to outlaw most things that are significantly wrongful and/or subversive. So, why isn't "illegal" enough?

So many things can be deemed "wrongful." For example, if I happen to know something signifcant, negative or positive, about a politician and I decide to keep that information to myself, I have a hard time believing a criminal case would exist against me, even if the information is likely to swing an election. Does it become more "wrongful" because two people know the information and agree with each other to keep silent? And, if I suspect those two people of having information they agreed not to disclose, is that a conspiracy theory? If so, why?

How about insignificant things, like conspiring to throw someone a surprise party? How about if the conspirators know the guest of honor hates surprise parties?

I don't know the answers to all the questions, but I do know that conspiracies do exist. Maybe not as many as some people think, but they exist. And maybe we should not be so quick to dismiss the idea that conspiracies exist or, for that matter, to whip out Occam's Razor. But, let's save the term conspiracy for something more significant and malevolent than, say, a surprise party.

Oh, and labeling something a "conspiracy theory" does not disprove it, even if you are using the term correctly.

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Reply "Conspiracy theory" is a way overused term. [View all]
merrily Sep 2015 OP
orpupilofnature57 Sep 2015 #1
merrily Sep 2015 #2
orpupilofnature57 Sep 2015 #13
merrily Oct 2015 #41
orpupilofnature57 Oct 2015 #46
TexasProgresive Sep 2015 #3
merrily Sep 2015 #5
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TexasProgresive Sep 2015 #16
merrily Sep 2015 #17
rhett o rick Oct 2015 #25
merrily Oct 2015 #37
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Erich Bloodaxe BSN Sep 2015 #4
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merrily Sep 2015 #10
rhett o rick Oct 2015 #27
robertpaulsen Oct 2015 #22
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merrily Sep 2015 #8
Jim Lane Sep 2015 #14
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Jim Lane Sep 2015 #19
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historylovr Oct 2015 #20
Ichingcarpenter Oct 2015 #21
rhett o rick Oct 2015 #24
zeemike May 2016 #47
rhett o rick Oct 2015 #23
still_one Oct 2015 #26
merrily Oct 2015 #31
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PatrickforO Oct 2015 #28
emulatorloo Oct 2015 #29
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Doubledee Oct 2015 #30
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