I was going to start this weeks rant off by declaring that ‘I’m not one for conspiracy theories’, but decided that I need not, because even with the disclaimer pro-establishment types will characterise my rantings in this way anyhow. I can accept that some of those characterised as conspiracy theorists are completely insane. But I also think that some of these theories are entirely plausible. I have a few reservations about any theory postulating that the earth has been visited by UFO’s and ET’s and I tend to chuck these theories in the crackers bin, but that’s not to say that I think such things are impossible, I just haven’t yet seen a convincing argument or any clear evidence that would persuade me otherwise.
I am currently doing a stats paper at University and it got me thinking about hidden agendas regarding reports, studies, articles, polls and the like. So I decided to carry out a search to find out where the term conspiracy theorist came from. The first hit indicated that the term conspiracy theory was coined by the CIA. No surprises there, really. he online Oxford Dictionary defines a conspiracy theorist as a person who holds a belief that some covert but influential organisation is responsible for an unexplained event.
I then wanted to find out why ‘conspiracy theorists’ have such a bad rep and I came across this statement: ‘all conspiracy theories are harmful because they threaten the establishment’ WTF? I mean really, WTAF? I’ll just clarify here the general definition of the ‘establishment’ is a group in a society exercising power and influence over matters of policy, opinion, or taste, and seen as resisting change. I was going to point out the big corporations in NZ that would fit this mould, but thought better of it; however, we can at least say that Treasury are a group that fit within the ‘establishment’ and they have an excess of power and influence when it comes to policy in NZ (evidenced by the implementation of Rogernomics in the 1980’s).
So let me summarise my own findings about conspiracy theory: If a person provides an explanation to an event that is based on evidence that is contrary to the explanation provided by the establishment then this is a conspiracy theory. Additionally, it is considered and conveyed as harmful (by the establishment) because it undermines their power and influence.
So what’s this post really about? In my view, it is time we stopped labeling dissent or discontent with explanations provided by the establishment as conspiracy theory and start categorising them as they are plausible or implausible.