It seems like you can’t catch a news headline or social media post these days without coming across the terms conspiracy theory and conspiracy theorist, or phrases like ‘spreading conspiracies’. One has to wonder: why are they so frequently employed?
In my most recent published work, I referenced an article from Canada’s National Post which ran with the headline ‘CBSA says it’s investigating border officer spreading COVID conspiracies online.’
The problem with these kinds of articles is that they are too often merely used as hit pieces to ridicule, degrade, and discredit any individual or group that goes against a certain narrative or disagrees with an author’s (or their publication’s partisanship or funders’) views.
Moreover, their authors very seldom make specific references or claims as to why they label their targets when using such over-used and over-abused disparaging rhetoric. When this is the case, it leads me to believe that the overall purpose of their pieces is to disparage their targets more than anything else.
Another recent example of this involves that from the article entitled ‘Network of Syria conspiracy theorists identified – study’ written by Mark Townsend from The Guardian (UK). In the article, the author claimed “journalist Aaron Maté at the Grayzone is said by the report to have overtaken Beeley as the most prolific spreader of disinformation among the 28 conspiracy theorists identified.” Maté had to refute the claim made against him which also involved contacting Townsend by phone. His counter article and the phone conversation appear on his Substack page (see ‘NATO-backed network of Syria dirty war propagandists identified)’ and is definitely an interesting case on how these ploys take place.
Countless other instances could be cited, but suffice it to say that there is no shortage of them.
But what is perhaps even more laughable with this phenomenon is the fact that these authors wantonly use these terms without even knowing their true meanings and where they actually originate from.
Before looking into these, though, we must first and foremost examine the meaning of the word ‘conspiracy’ itself. Oxford defines it as:
a secret plan by a group of people to do something harmful or illegal
Conspiracies have been an integral part of humanity ever since people have bonded together in groups for a better chance at survival.
Lord knows that history is riddled with an abundant supply of conspiracies and we will look at some notable examples later on.