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DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Topics » Politics & Government » Populist Reform of the Democratic Party (Group) » "Conspiracy theory&q... » Reply #14

Response to merrily (Original post)

Mon Sep 28, 2015, 07:58 AM

14. I don't like the term because of its connotation of fringe

 

The heart of the issue isn't whether a news organization is a single entity. The real problem is that the term is not applied neutrally. "One or more people conspiring" takes a back seat to "This is not only false, but is so ridiculous that only a crackpot would believe it."

From the Wikipedia article about the term:

Originally a neutral term, since the mid-1960s in the aftermath of the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy, it has acquired a derogatory meaning, implying a paranoid tendency to see the influence of some malign covert agency in events.[17] The term is often used to dismiss claims that the critic deems ridiculous, misconceived, paranoid, unfounded, outlandish, or irrational.[18] A conspiracy theory that is proven to be correct, such as the notion that United States President Richard Nixon and his aides conspired to cover up Watergate, is usually referred to as something else, such as investigative journalism or historical analysis.[19]


The 9/11 attacks provide another good example. "Various actors conspired to fake the attacks, including bringing down one or more buildings through controlled demolition" is called a conspiracy theory. "Various actors, including the 19 hijackers and a large supporting team headed by bin Laden, conspired to bring about the attacks" is not called a conspiracy theory because it's more respectable, having the government's imprimatur.

You say that it's "way overused", implying that it has some acceptable (albeit lower) level of use. I say it shouldn't be used at all. It adds nothing. As you note, the mere label doesn't disprove a theory. Just say "Smith believes a ridiculous and unsupportable charge about Western elites deliberately spreading AIDS in Africa" or whatever.

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merrily Sep 2015 OP
orpupilofnature57 Sep 2015 #1
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LineReply I don't like the term because of its connotation of fringe
Jim Lane Sep 2015 #14
merrily Sep 2015 #15
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