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Why government shills & intellectual cowards LOVE the term "conspiracy theory"

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Author Topic: Why government shills & intellectual cowards LOVE the term "conspiracy theory"  (Read 4860 times)
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« on: August 24, 2010, 10:48:00 am »

http://www.gatecreepers.com/entries/exclusive-debunking-myths-on-conspiracy-theorie/

Debunking Myths on Conspiracy Theories

Article written by Gatecreepers.
 
The purpose of this article is to redress a number of general myths concerning so-called 'conspiracy theories', repeated by media organisations and other self-proclaimed guardians of the orthodoxy, as well as people who have been erroneously convinced that conspiracy theories are intellectual aberrations rather than the acknowledgment of a common historical and social phenomenon.

This document does not claim that every event is the product of a conspiracy. It remains true, however, that conspiracies are far more common than admitted by the establishment. Whether conspiracy or coincidence was involved, we believe that the matter should be arbitrated by evidence rather than falsehoods on the alleged motives or state of minds of alternative researchers.

For the purposes of this guide, a conspiracy theory may be defined as:

    A theory detailing the involvement of two or more people who have secretly or otherwise conspired to commit an act that is against the public interest, and furthermore who may have conspired to cover up these acts in concert with the media and other authorities.

Conspiracy theories should not be confused with other schools of alternate reality. Such claims may include:

*  Supernatural claims. Elite groups may believe and act upon them, but those beliefs alone do not pertain to conspiracy as discussed in this document.

*  Mythological or religious claims. A theory that an occult group engages in subversion according to its religious beliefs may be considered a conspiracy theory, but interpretations of religion and scriptures are not covered by this manual.

*  Claims pertaining to alternative science. The act itself of covering up scientific discoveries is a conspiracy, but the legitimacy of the scientific claims are to be determined by researchers with the proper qualifications.

*  Existential claims. Claims pertaining to the alleged existence of hidden or unobservable phenomena or beings (such as aliens) are not in and of themselves conspiracy theories. Inexperienced proponents of such claims however may attempt to justify their lack of evidence with a conspiracy theory, usually that the evidence is covered up by the government or the entity alleged to exist (in most cases, however, this is a straw man). This secondary claim must be addressed apart from the primary claim with at least evidence that the alleged conspirators believe in the existence of the alleged phenomena, and that they have made attempts to cover it up.

If the entity is alleged to be a participating actor in a conspiracy, then its existence must be proven and the entire claim must be treated as a conspiracy theory.

Conspiracy myths may be divided into the following categories:

*  Claims that discredit proponents of conspiracy theories as legitimate researchers

Ad Hominem attacks are often leveled at conspiracy theorists to label them as paranoid, delusional, extremist, hyperbolic or mentally incompetent. In the case of academics, attempts will be made to undermine their credibility by labeling them as incompetent, unprofessional, or lacking objectivity, or by publicising issues of their lives or beliefs that are unrelated to the theories they propose.

*  Claims that associate conspiracy theories with group behaviour or psychological pathology

This category is a subset of the first category, but it gets special mention because a large amount of anti-conspiracy propaganda aims at using scientific-sounding theories to equate it with paranoia, frivolous fantasies or security blankets.

Claims of this nature are usually made by purported experts from various academic fields. Like the specifically listed claims such as #1, #5, #9, #13, #20, #21 and #22, other claims trying to pin conspiracy theories on group behaviour and psychological disorders are groundless and pseudo-scientific.

In extreme cases of demonisation, there may be attempts to conflate belief in conspiracies with paranoid delusion. As pointed out in Myth #16, pathologising anti-establishment researchers has been done in many authoritarian regimes such as current Communist China and the historical Soviet Union, with various labels ranging respectively from 'political maniac' to 'sluggishly progressing schizophrenic'.

There may also be attempts to pin belief in conspiracies on sociological reasons, such as alleged needs to 'make sense of a traumatic event' and similarly formulated 'theories'. Those claims are usually found in articles which, despite being written by experts in their own field, rarely cite or point to academic research, are filled with political bias and aim at discrediting a specific conspiracy that started to gain prominence. Articles of this nature are formulaic and often start with statements alleging that conspiracy theories are popular amongst average people and have accompanied most major events (Claim #29).

*  Claims made by academic scholars that delegitimise the role of conspiracies played in society and history

Many scholars reject conspiracy theories in favour of the so-called 'institutional' perspective, which ascribes events to the dynamics of institutions rather than organised groups. We do not believe that conspiracies and institutions are mutually exclusive; they often work together. Certain institutions that are taken for granted originated from conspiracies; likewise, institutional factors may explain what motivates people and groups to conspire.

We believe that the conspiratorial point of view has its merits because not all activities operate within recognised institutions. Hidden, extra-institutional groups can exert major influence in ways that are overlooked by institutionalists.

Possible reasons why conspiracy theories are frequent targets of ridicule may include:

*  Institutionalised intellectual elitism. Mainstream media personalities and academics may feel that their authority and experience are challenged by what they perceive to be 'amateur' research, while seeing themselves in the role of gatekeepers who filter the information to protect the public from what they view as 'unsuitable' information.

*  Deliberate propaganda campaigns aimed at protecting established truths. An example of such a practice has been documented by a declassified document admitting attempts by the CIA to use academics and the media to discredit alternative theories on the assassination of JFK. The document reveals that many of the myths still widespread today and debunked in this document originated from the CIA (see Countering Criticism of the Warren Report). Other documents reveal CIA infiltration of American and foreign media as well as academia (see How to co-opt academia and Operation Mockingbird).

*  The presence of unfounded and over the top conspiracy theories which undermine the credibility of more rational theories. It is speculated that many of those theories were deliberately spread in order to divide or ridicule research communities as well as confuse or turn away people who come across the alternative versions of the official story.

*  Perception of conspiracy theories as being part of a cultural phenomenon or fad rather than a serious investigation of the motives and actions of the ruling elite. Such perceptions are reinforced by stereotypical portrayals in movies and sitcoms, such as 1997 movie Conspiracy Theorist and Dale Gribble in King of the Hill. This stereotypical view of conspiracy theorists, however, appears to be limited to American culture; in fact the expression 'conspiracy theorist' itself appears to be an invention of the American media. Most equivalent terms in other languages are directly translated, sometimes awkwardly (such as in French "partisan de la théorie du complot"), and are not used to label other people to the extent that they in the United States. It is also mainly in American language that one finds expressions such as "tin-foil hat". It is thought that those cultural caricatures originate from the controversies around the JFK assassinations, possibly with initial or on-going prompting from the CIA (see point #2).

The following is a collection of general statements purporting to dismiss conspiracy theories heard in various places from mainstream media articles to discussion forums.

[Continued...]
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