There’s a conspiracy theory that the CIA invented the term ‘conspiracy theory’ – here’s why

Conspiracy theories have a long history, but the actual term “conspiracy theory” emerged much more recently. It was only a few decades ago that the term took on the derogatory connotations it has today, where to call someone a conspiracy theorist functions as an insult.

So it may come as no surprise that there is even a conspiracy theory about the origins of the label. This conspiracy theory claims that the CIA invented the term in 1967 to disqualify those who questioned the official version of John F Kennedy’s assassination and doubted that his killer, Lee Harvey Oswald, had acted alone.

There are even two versions of this conspiracy theory. The more extreme version claims that the CIA literally invented the term in the sense that the words “conspiracy” and “theory” had never been used before in combination. A more moderate version acknowledges that the term existed before, but claims that the CIA intentionally created its negative connotations and so turned the label into a tool of political propaganda.

The more moderate version has been particularly popular in recent years for two reasons. First, it is very easy to disprove the more extreme claim that the CIA actually invented the term. As a search on Google Books quickly reveals, the term “conspiracy theory” emerged around 1870 and began to be more frequently used during the 1950s. Even die-hard conspiracy theorists have a hard time trying to ignore this. Second, the more moderate version received a big boost in popularity a few years ago when American political scientist Lance DeHaven-Smith propagated it in a book published by a renowned university press.

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QAnon Follower Killed Wife and Shot Daughter Before Cops Shot Him Dead

A 53-year-old Michigan man who was consumed by “Stop the steal” and QAnon conspiracies allegedly shot his wife, daughter, and their dog at their suburban Detroit home early Sunday morning, killing his wife and the dog.

He was shot dead by police officers moments later when he exited his home and began firing at the officers. While police said Sunday they don’t know what led to Igor Lanis shooting his wife, Tina, 56, and one of their daughters, Rachel, 25, another daughter who was not in the house at the time has claimed that QAnon is to blame.

“My Qdad snapped and killed my family this morning,” Rebecca Lanis, 21, wrote in a thread on the QAnon Casualties subreddit on Sunday, hours before the Detroit police and media first reported the details of the shooting.

She wrote that “growing up, my parents were extremely loving and happy people. I always had a special bond with both my parents.” But, she said, things began to change with her father a couple of years ago, after former President Donald Trump contested the results of the 2020 presidential election.

“In 2020 after Trump lost, my dad started going down the Q rabbit hole,” she wrote in the forum, which provides support to the families of those who’ve been affected by QAnon believers. “He kept reading conspiracy theories about the stolen election, Trump, vaccines, etc. It kept getting worse and he verbally snapped at us a few times. Nothing physical though. He never got physical with anybody.”

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Robert Anton Wilson on conspiracies…

“Indeed, those who think “conspiracy theories” never contain anything but paranoid fantasy should remember that our government itself and all advanced governments believe in conspiracies and have laws against them. Special branches of the police power have the job of investigating possible conspiracies in various areas—the SEC looks for bank swindles, the Red Squad of every police department looks for subversive ideas, district attorneys hunt for books so evil they are not protected by the First Amendment (which radicals like the late Justice Brennan believed was intended to protect all books), even the CIA (when it can spare the time from its profitable cocaine business) looks for external conspiracies, etc. If we (or three out of four of us) don’t trust the people who govern us, they don’t trust us, either. And no other country lacks some criminal conspiracy laws or agencies charged with seeking them out and prosecuting them. This, for instance, explains how the Italian government in the 1980s discovered the P2 conspiracy, which had placed over 950 of its agents in top government positions. Similarly, the U.S. government has recently found evidence of a conspiracy of deception by the tobacco industry. Such facts should warn us again dismissing all conspiracy theories as the pastime of dingbats and cranks. None of the investigative agencies charged with bringing hard evidence into court, however, have ever found traces of any of the Really Big Conspiracies that most “conspiracy buffs” believe in. This, of course, only proves one thing to the true conspiriologist: The major conspiracies really do have almost universal power, because the investigating agencies themselves “are part of the cover-up.” Against that kind of logic, the gods themselves contend in vain. But, of course, a truly powerful and truly intelligent conspiracy would never get “exposed” or even suspected, as Mel Gibson says in the popular film Conspiracy Theory.

Thus nobody can totally refute any truly crazy conspiracy theory, because all such theories have a Strange Loop in their construction. Any evidence against them also functions as evidence to support them, if you want to look at it that way. Thus, like its cousin, theology, the pop demonology of conspiracy theory survives any and all criticisms. People do not believe theological or demonological models of the world for logical or scientific reasons, but for “artistic” or at least emotional reasons. These models or narratives provide harmonious, coherent, and starkly simple explanations of events that otherwise seem chaotic and beyond human comprehension. That’s why I believe in so many of them myself.”

Robert Anton Wilson

UN Education Agency Launches War on ‘Conspiracy Theories’

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, better known by its acronym, UNESCO, is escalating its global war on ideas and information it considers to be “misinformation” and “conspiracy theories.”

According to the Paris-based U.N. education agency, which released a major report on the subject for educators this summer, conspiracy theories cause “significant harm” and form “the backbone of many populist movements.”

Among other concerns, conspiracy theories “foster and reinforce harmful thinking patterns and exclusive worldviews,” the report said.

They also “reduce trust in public institutions” and “scientific institutions,” which can drive people to violence or decrease their desire to “reduce their carbon footprint,” UN officials argued in the document.

While “all conspiratorial thinking threatens human rights values,” the document says without elaborating, some conspiracy theories are more dangerous than others.

In some cases, teachers are even encouraged to report their students to authorities.

Examples of “conspiracy theories” cited in the report include everything from widely held and respectable beliefs such as “climate change denial” and “manipulation of federal elections” in the United States, to more far-fetched notions such as the “earth is flat” or “Michelle Obama is actually a lizard.”

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A Former Member of the JFK QAnon Cult Tried to Kidnap Her Own Children

When Samantha Ricks was kicked out of the JFK-QAnon cult led by Michael Protzman at the beginning of December, she was already in a downward spiral. 

A couple of weeks later, Ricks was accused of substance abuse by the woman who had taken her family in. Then, child protective services said she had exposed her children to “inappropriate sexual behavior.” Three days before Christmas, Oklahoma Child Protective Services knocked on her door and took her 6-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son into foster care. 

Ricks then raged online about how child protective services was secretly trafficking children. She accused everyone, including those who tried to help her, of collaborating to take her children away from her, beliefs founded in QAnon conspiracies about global child sex trafficking rings that are reinforced by extremist groups who have made it their mission to prey on vulnerable parents.

After months of spreading misinformation, lashing out at everyone around her, and even fundraising, Ricks took matters into her own hands. 

What happened next was the culmination of her extremist views and desperate outlook: On August 8, Ricks tried to kidnap her own children. 

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What are ‘transvestigators?’ Conspiracy alleges numerous celebrities, politicians secretly transgender

On the surface, it seems to be an incredibly niche conspiracy theory that exists primarily in insular social media groups, occasionally spilling over onto Twitter or Reddit when particular claims get a lot of attention, but the attitude of “transvestigators” might not be limited to conspiratorial spaces.

“Transvestigation”

“Transvestigators” are people who believe that a large swath of the population (usually celebrities and politicians) are secretly transgender. They often demonstrate these beliefs by imposing shapes over pictures of celebrities to demonstrate the “male” qualities of women’s bodies or the “feminine” qualities of men. Some people within these groups do the same to regular people they see out in public, secretly photographing them to critique the shape of a woman’s collarbones or the way a man stands, using all of this as “evidence” that people everywhere are secretly transgender. 

Pictures of celebrities like Henry Cavill are shared with comments about eyes and brow ridges used as “evidence” of some sort of trickery. 

The tone of discussions within the Facebook group tends to lean in a more esoteric religious tone than a political one, with people whose pictures are shared referred to as “Baphos,” which appears to be a reference to reference to Baphomet, “an invented pagan or gnostic idol or deity that the Templars were accused of worshipping,” apparently drawing a connection between the celebrities and occult forces.

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QAnon Conspiracy Theorists Are Going Bonkers Over Anne Heche’s Death

Last week, the actress Anne Heche died at the age of 53 after a devastating car crash in her Los Angeles neighborhood. Heche was a celebrated actor with film credits like Six Days, Seven Nights and Donnie Brasco under her belt, and had also turned in acclaimed performances in shows like Men in Trees and Hung. Yet her accomplishments had consistently been overshadowed by two things: her three-year relationship with Ellen DeGeneres in the late 1990s; her struggles with substance abuse and mental illness; and her erratic behavior, such as an interview she gave to Barbra Walters about embodying an alien named Celestia, often garnering headlines.

From what we know thus far about Heche’s death, it seems that she continued to struggle up to the last moments of her life. Footage from the accident shows that she had been driving at high speeds at the time of the crash, and a blood test taken shortly afterward found the presence of drugs in her system. The story of her life and death seems like a tragic yet clear-cut case of an explosive talent struggling with addiction and mental illness, who ultimately succumbed to her demons.

Yet conspiracy theorists on the internet did not see it that way. Instead, they saw the death of Anne Heche as proof of something else: that she had been murdered to cover up the crimes of Hollywood power players and “elites” like Jeffrey Epstein and Amber Heard.

Shortly after Heche died, a post started circulating on Twitter that garnered about 4,000 shares before it was deleted. The post read: “So actress Anne Heche, who died in a fiery car crash, was working on a movie titled The Girl In Room 13 about the Jeffrey Epstein ring.” The claim also circulated on Facebook, where many speculated that Heche had been murdered to cover up the truth about the disgraced billionaire financier, whose 2020 death by hanging in a New York prison has been ruled a suicide.

There was one problem with the claim: The Girl In Room 13, which is set to air on Lifetime in October, is not about Epstein, as a network spokesperson later confirmed. According to an IMDB synopsis, the film is about sex trafficking in general, as it tells the story of a woman (Heche’s daughter in the film) being held captive in a hotel room for the purpose of being sold for sex. But it’s not at all clear that the story is based on him (there is no evidence, for instance, that Epstein ever held a woman in a motel room against her will).

The Epstein rumor is not the only one surrounding Heche’s passing. QAnon influencer Liz Crokin, who has promoted the claim that Chrissy Teigen is connected to Pizzagate as well as the ludicrous idea that John F. Kennedy, Jr. faked his own death, recently posted that at the time of her death, Heche was working on the HBO show The Idol, which is produced by the Weeknd and is rumored to be inspired by Britney Spears (a prominent figure in the QAnon ecosystem). Crokin then baselessly speculated that Heche — who had publicly spoken in support of Heard’s ex and her former costar Johnny Depp earlier this year — was killed days after online rumors had started circulating that Heard used to throw Satanic sex parties in the apartment she’d shared with Depp. “What did Anne know?” Crokin’s post ominously concluded.

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UN Declares War On ‘Conspiracy Theories’, Here Are Several That Already Came True

On August 1st, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced the beginning of a new campaign — #ThinkBeforeSharing. Intended to help counter and stop the spread of what it claims is harmful disinformation and conspiracy theories online.

They say, quite matter-of-factly, “The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a worrying rise in disinformation and conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theories can be dangerous: they often target and discriminate against vulnerable groups, ignore scientific evidence and polarize society with serious consequences. This needs to stop.”

Later quoting the UNESCO director general who says,

“Conspiracy theories cause real harm to people, to their health, and also to their physical safety. They amplify and legitimize misconceptions about the pandemic, and reinforce stereotypes which can fuel violence and violent extremist ideologies.”

Going on to affirm,

“A new campaign helps you learn how to identify, debunk, react to and report on conspiracy theories to prevent their spread. Check out the infographics and social media pack below and help spread the word that facts matter and no one is to blame. Thinking critically and being informed about conspiracy theories is key to challenging them.

This UNESCO campaign is implemented jointly with the European Commission, Twitter and the World Jewish Congress.”

Surly these would be noble sentiments, if they were genuine. But as you continue to peruse through the infographics it becomes quite apparent that the architects of this campaign only have one interest in mind: stifling public discourse, and discrediting anyone who dares to challenge the status quo narrative.

Indeed, upon browsing through the material provided it quickly establishes an air that only the supposed authorities are to be trusted, they would never lie to you or purposefully peddle false information. No, only those with whom the establishment has deemed fair, just, and honest are to be trusted. While seemingly encouraging critical thinking, they demand that you toss aside any critical thinking skills and blindly trust the figures whom you are told represent the best interests of everyone. While going on to paint anyone who disagrees and/or promotes alleged conspiracy theories as a dangerous bigot, and how one should react if you encounter one these dangerous people and their harmful ideas.

It is a carefully crafted package on how to identify “wrong think”. The latest salvo in the ongoing information war, paired with just enough of a Limited Hangout to appear good natured to the unaware.

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Inside the QAnon Queen’s Cult: ‘The Abuse Was Non-Stop’

As the woman he believed to be the true queen of Canada sat in a nearby RV, a man dressed in a camo shirt and hat delivered a rousing speech to the 40 people who’d come together in a Peterborough, Ontario, park, ready to arrest the city’s entire police department. 

“Today we are going to turn the members of the Peterborough Police Station over to the U.S. Special Forces Military, the Canadian Military, and the Global Military Alliance who will be here to pick them up once we detain them,” he said to the crowd.

With a megaphone in hand and dozens of other loyal subjects chattering excitedly behind him, he marched upon the Peterborough Police station. The group felt unstoppable. After all, they had the backing of their queen, a figure spawned from the online QAnon movement. Earlier in the week, she’d told her thousands of Telegram followers that the cops needed to pay for their crimes: enforcing COVID restrictions and infringing on their freedom.

But the station’s locked door promptly thwarted their quest for justice. They pleaded with the police through the megaphone to come outside to be arrested. When that didn’t work, they made their way behind the station, where they once again yelled at closed doors.

Then a car of officers pulled into the parking lot for a shift change, and the group’s leader made his move. “You guys are involved in the COVID crimes, and I’m placing you under arrest,” he said. 

“Actually, you are,” a nearby cop responded.

A melee quickly broke out. As two cops grabbed the first conspiracy theorist and threw him to the ground, another follower tackled some of the officers. Through sobs and screams, the crowd started chanting “Stand down.”

In the end, three people would be arrested, two of whom were charged with assaulting a police officer. The day marked a clear escalation for the so-called queen and her followers,  who had never resorted to violence for their sovereign before. 

Her military forces never did arrive.

The “queen” in question, Romana Didulo, is an internet personality who claims to be the one, true leader of Canada, waging a secret war against a cabal of pedophilic elites. But her mythos has moved far beyond typical QAnon musings and into the truly bizarre. She now claims to be an extraterrestrial spiritual leader with access to secret, New Age healing technology. She also routinely threatens to execute her enemies—as well as anyone who disobeys her. Yet to her followers, she’s the ultimate defender of the weak, a harbinger of a better age. 

“She is, I would say, one of the most dangerous QAnon influencers within the movement, if not the most dangerous,” Alex Mendela, an associate analyst at Alethea Group, an organization that monitors disinformation including the QAnon movement, told VICE News. “Inevitable confrontation might end up becoming violent. She very much dehumanizes and desensitizes her audience to violence.” 

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