April 9, 2011

Reflections of conspiracy theory

Sam Smith writes at Undernews:

Why are we allowed to have theories on every topic from the creation of the universe to who is going to win the World Series with the sole exception of wondering who in power is screwing us and how?

The very use of the term 'conspiracy theorist' is an anti-intellectual attempt to silence argument for which the labeler has no factual answer. Ironically, it is often the very accuser who is more inclined to believe in conspiracies, albeit benign ones, because it implies a small number of people deciding the course of history, which is how these critics were taught in college that society properly functions.

Thus anyone who attacks someone else as a conspiracy theorist should be ignored on grounds of simple incompetence with the possible additional liability of disingenuousness. To do the job right, one must follow the evidence and be clear when it stops. The rest is theory or hypothesis, acceptable and worthy of debate, but in a lesser category than fact.

The massive effort to stop people from wondering about such matters is itself reasonable cause for suspicion since the effort relies so heavily on ridicule and so little on fact. Not probably the result of a conspiracy, mind you. More likely, one might theorize, absent further evidence, just plain stupidity.