The History and Psychological Use of the Label “Conspiracy Theorist”

Red Sky at Morning

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I am seeing the description “conspiracy theorist” being applied to anyone who questions the official line on anything these days and have started to look into the origins of the description. I am hoping that more knowledgable folk than me can add to this understanding....

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Red Sky at Morning

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CIA Document 1035-960: Foundation of a Weaponized Term
from Memory Hole: Reflections on Media and Politics


© Memory Hole Blog / James F. Tracy
originally published January 20, 2013


“Conspiracy theory” is a term that at once strikes fear and anxiety in the hearts of most every public figure, particularly journalists and academics. Since the 1960s the label has become a disciplinary device that has been overwhelmingly effective in defining certain events off limits to inquiry or debate. Especially in the United States raising legitimate questions about dubious official narratives destined to inform public opinion (and thereby public policy) is a major thought crime that must be cauterized from the public psyche at all costs.

CIA


Conspiracy theory’s acutely negative connotations may be traced to liberal historian Richard Hofstadter’s well-known fusillades against the “New Right.” Yet it was the Central Intelligence Agency that likely played the greatest role in effectively “weaponizing” the term. In the groundswell of public skepticism toward the Warren Commission’s findings on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the CIA sent a detailed directive to all of its bureaus. Titled “Countering Criticism of the Warren Commission Report,” the dispatch played a definitive role in making the “conspiracy theory” term a weapon to be wielded against almost any individual or group calling the government’s increasingly clandestine programs and activities into question.

This important memorandum and its broad implications for American politics and public discourse are detailed in a book by Florida State University political scientist Lance deHaven-Smith, Conspiracy Theory in America. Dr. deHaven-Smith devised the state crimes against democracy concept to interpret and explain potential government complicity in events such as the Gulf of Tonkin incident, the major political assassinations of the 1960s, and 9/11.

CIA Document 1035-960 was released in response to a 1976 FOIA request by the New York Times. The directive is especially significant because it outlines the CIA’s concern regarding “the whole reputation of the American government” vis-à-vis the Warren Commission Report. The agency was especially interested in maintaining its own image and role as it “contributed information to the [Warren] investigation.”

The memorandum lays out a detailed series of actions and techniques for “countering and discrediting the claims of the conspiracy theorists, so as to inhibit the circulation of such claims in other countries.” For example, approaching “friendly elite contacts (especially politicians and editors)” to remind them of the Warren Commission’s integrity and soundness should be prioritized. “[T]he charges of the critics are without serious foundation,” the document reads, and “further speculative discussion only plays in to the hands of the [Communist] opposition.”

The agency also directed its members “[t]o employ propaganda assets to [negate] and refute the attacks of the critics. Book reviews and feature articles are particularly appropriate for this purpose.”

1035-960 further delineates specific techniques for countering “conspiratorial” arguments centering on the Warren Commission’s findings. Such responses and their coupling with the pejorative label have been routinely wheeled out in various guises by corporate media outlets, commentators and political leaders to this day against those demanding truth and accountability about momentous public events.
  • No significant new evidence has emerged which the [Warren] Commission did not consider.
  • Critics usually overvalue particular items and ignore others.
  • Conspiracy on the large scale often suggested would be impossible to conceal in the United States.
  • Critics have often been enticed by a form of intellectual pride: they light on some theory and fall in love with it.
  • Oswald would not have been any sensible person’s choice for a co-conspirator.
  • Such vague accusations as that “more than ten people have died mysteriously” [during the Warren Commission’s inquiry] can always be explained in some natural way e.g.: the individuals concerned have for the most part died of natural causes.
Today more so than ever news media personalities and commentators occupy powerful positions for initiating propaganda activities closely resembling those set out in 1035-960 against anyone who might question state-sanctioned narratives of controversial and poorly understood occurrences. Indeed, as the motives and methods encompassed in the document have become fully internalized by intellectual workers and operationalized through such media, the almost uniform public acceptance of official accounts concerning unresolved events such as the Oklahoma City Murrah Federal Building bombing, 9/11, and most recently the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, is largely guaranteed.

The effect on academic and journalistic inquiry into ambiguous and unexplained events that may in turn mobilize public inquiry, debate and action has been dramatic and far-reaching. One need only look to the rising police state and evisceration of civil liberties and constitutional protections as evidence of how this set of subtle and deceptive intimidation tactics has profoundly encumbered the potential for future independent self-determination and civic empowerment.

 






Karlysymon

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First off, i just want to say "thanks" for posting that article by Prof. James Tracey. He had fallen off my radar but now he's back on :)

As to the OP, maybe that was the plan all along. Create the term (back in the 60s) so that years later (present day) it would be used to smear and ruin the lives of those who question gov't authoritarianism. Before even Covid rolled around, there was this...

What's even more frightening is how that dissent/"conspiratorial thinking" will be dealt with
So it’s interesting that presently, (so conveniently btw) the calls to “defund the police” are being segued into “federalizing the police” under Dept. of HHS.

Indeed,it is the rise of the Therapeutic state.
In 1963, American psychiatrist Thomas Szasz warned of the rise of what he called the “Therapeutic State,” a system in which unauthorized modes of thought and behavior are repressed through “pseudo-medical intervention.” While the ACLU and civil libertarians consistently promote the separation of church and state, perhaps a more necessary separation to argue on behalf of is the division between psychiatry and the State. In the absence of such a division, humanity could witness the emergence of psychologized subservience and the era of psuchikos man.
 






DesertRose

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Thanks Red noticed the efforts to label all those who are critical of the new abnormal.
James Corbett addressed this issue in this video to add to the articles posted above by Karly:):


“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

― J. Krishnamurti


A Message to New "Conspiracy Theorists"

 






Awoken2

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Here is quite an eye opening scene. The movie itself starred two of the biggest A listers of the era, Mel Gibson and Julia Robert's in the hope of drawing in a maximum audience but the movie wasn't a huge box office hit. I personally feel that the fact it wasn't a box office hit was irrelevant as it served it's purpose in it's intended way.

The portrayal of Gibsons maniacal charachter helped polarise the view that being a conspiracy theorist was some type of mental illness, I feel this was the main objective of the movie, the financial return was less important than the hidden messaging.

When you hear Gibsons revelations come spilling out this is the revelation of the method, in plain sight, as it all is, if you can identify it.


I think in simple terms it means it's ok to reveal the truth to the public regarding certain "conspiracies" as long as that information is disseminated by somebody who portrays themselves as mentally ill, hence the information loses any validity from the outset.

A really good example of the above has just been uploaded a couple of hrs ago by SMH productions, perfect timing for this thread.


My understanding of it is that the plans that have been made for the future of humanity have been revealed(see Georgia Guidestones) It has to be revealed to us beforehand to gain our consent, tacit will do, not to break any karmic law which appear to be very important to TPTB. A good synopsis here.

.

My view is that VC forum is a perfect example of how difficult it is to find the important stuff when it is buried in a mountain of nonsense and trivialities.

I think if you conducted a survey on your local high street asking the public "if powerful people were planning to kill over 90% of the worlds population would you like to know how they are going to do it?" I think you wouldn't get many people saying no. So taking this into account informing the public of their fate is quite an important aspect of the whole process.
 






Red Sky at Morning

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Quite a coincidence - this talk done over the weekend talks about the same use of the word “conspiracy theory” as I had put in the OP. I think it is being used as a means of social control and along the same lines as 1984’s “thought crime”...

 






Karlysymon

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Here is quite an eye opening scene. The movie itself starred two of the biggest A listers of the era, Mel Gibson and Julia Robert's in the hope of drawing in a maximum audience but the movie wasn't a huge box office hit. I personally feel that the fact it wasn't a box office hit was irrelevant as it served it's purpose in it's intended way.
I love this movie.I often wonder what celebs think when the predictive themes in their movie roles eventually play out in real life. Obviously some are on board with the agenda and others aren’t.
The portrayal of Gibsons maniacal charachter helped polarise the view that being a conspiracy theorist was some type of mental illness, I feel this was the main objective of the movie, the financial return was less important than the hidden messaging.
Even though Mel Gibson has been noted to play similar roles (like Morgan Freeman always playing a God-type character), his portrayal isn’t an isolated incident. Conspiracy theorists are ALWAYS portrayed in movies as crazies, mentally ill or paranoid right wingers. Just off the top of my head, the portrayal doesn’t fail in films like Contagion (Jude Law’s character) or Toxic Skies.
When you hear Gibsons revelations come spilling out this is the revelation of the method, in plain sight, as it all is, if you can identify it.

I think in simple terms it means it's ok to reveal the truth to the public regarding certain "conspiracies" as long as that information is disseminated by somebody who portrays themselves as mentally ill, hence the information loses any validity from the outset.
Every conspiracy he mentions is on point, except one...the one to do with UN troops and militias. It is something you’ll NEVER hear in conspiracy circles, it’s like a well-kept secret and I’ve stated now elsewhere that I believe the intel-crumbs dropped by “insiders” about UN/Russian/Chinese troops incarcerating Americans to be disinfo. That isn’t to say that in the distant future, when many countries have relinquished their sovereignty, UN troops won’t be in charge of policing but right now, it’s increasingly looking like Mel’s little theory….agitate both sides and pit them against each other. If people have been snitching each other over “covid violations”, is it really hard to imagine right wingers rounding up left wingers OR viceversa?
The theories about the Hoover dam have been around for years but if something happens, don’t be surprised
 






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Conspiracy Theories at this point have been almost entirely co-opted by the elites and their agendas. That is if they weren't a creation of the elites TO BEGIN WITH.

During the pandemic CNN reported that QAnon has exploded 10 fold, in terms of those who follow it. There are now suburban soccer moms who believe Donald Trump is out to save the worlds children from blood drinking pedophiles.

That is the end game of a long manipulated agenda to put "conspiracy theories" into the mainstream, heavily assisted by social media.

These ridiculous (mainstream) conspiracy theories such as Qanon, Pizzagate, Flat Earth, Wayfair, Crisis Actors, 5G, also serve to DISCREDIT real conspiracies such as 911. You make the crazy ridiculous crap, and the crazy ridiculous people like Alex Jones the face of the movement. Then people associate that garbage with legitimate truth seekers.

Its a brilliant plan that on the one hand creates a brainwashed cult of followers for their chosen agendas, while at the same time delegitimizing true and honest research into elite conspiracies.
 






Red Sky at Morning

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Conspiracy Theories at this point have been almost entirely co-opted by the elites and their agendas. That is if they weren't a creation of the elites TO BEGIN WITH.

During the pandemic CNN reported that QAnon has exploded 10 fold, in terms of those who follow it. There are now suburban soccer moms who believe Donald Trump is out to save the worlds children from blood drinking pedophiles.

That is the end game of a long manipulated agenda to put "conspiracy theories" into the mainstream, heavily assisted by social media.

These ridiculous (mainstream) conspiracy theories such as Qanon, Pizzagate, Flat Earth, Wayfair, Crisis Actors, also serve to DISCREDIT real conspiracies such as 911. You make the crazy ridiculous crap, and the crazy ridiculous people like Alex Jones the face of the movement. Then people associate that garbage with legitimate truth seekers.

Its a brilliant plan that on the one hand creates a brainwashed cult of followers for their chosen agendas, while at the same time delegitimizing true and honest research into elite conspiracies.
As in...


My thoughts exactly btw
 






Cintra

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I am seeing the description “conspiracy theorist” being applied to anyone who questions the official line on anything these days and have started to look into the origins of the description. I am hoping that more knowledgable folk than me can add to this understanding....

View attachment 43914
Newspeak.
Control of people through control of language

 






Tidal

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I am seeing the description “conspiracy theorist” being applied to anyone who questions the official line on anything these days....
Buddha gave us a good guideline-
"Believe nothing, no matter who said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense"
So if somebody says something ludicrous that makes no sense to us, we're entitled to immediately slap a "conspiracy theory" label on it, rather than follow the consp-theorists down here to la-la land..:)-

 






Red Sky at Morning

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Buddha gave us a good guideline-
"Believe nothing, no matter who said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense"
So if somebody says something ludicrous that makes no sense to us, we're entitled to immediately slap a "conspiracy" label on it, rather than follow the consp-theorists down here to la-la land..:)-

“half of conspiracy theories are complete nonsense - the problem is working out which half” ~ me
 






Tidal

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“half of conspiracy theories are complete nonsense - the problem is working out which half” ~ me

Yes, the trick is to stand our ground and refuse to be pulled off the "reality path" into cloud cuckoo land, so that we can say to ourselves-

 






Frank Badfinger

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the one to do with UN troops and militias. It is something you’ll NEVER hear in conspiracy circles, it’s like a well-kept secret and I’ve stated now elsewhere that I believe the intel-crumbs dropped by “insiders” about UN/Russian/Chinese troops incarcerating Americans to be disinfo. That isn’t to say that in the distant future, when many countries have relinquished their sovereignty, UN troops won’t be in charge of policing but right now, it’s increasingly looking like Mel’s little theory…
The UN Strong Cities Network is already in US cities.

Boiled down to its essence, the SCN is actually a new law-enforcement body whose laws will govern participating cities, including New York, Atlanta, Denver, and Minneapolis, that have already signed on as members. Law-enforcement measures for these cities will dovetail with or emanate from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue and the United Nations, not from the U.S. Constitution and locally elected officials and the laws governing them. In her remarks at the unveiling of this new organization, Attorney General Lynch claimed that the new arrangement would work toward being “an alliance of nations” and would aspire to be “a global community.”

The Strong Cities Network, therefore, should be known as a nascent global police force controlled by the United Nations. Where central or global authority doesn’t govern police power, it is controlled locally. When it is controlled by a national or international governing body, as it was in the hands of Germany’s Gestapo, the Soviet Union’s KGB, or the ruling body in a communist-led country, tyranny reigns.
 






Karlysymon

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Conspiracy Theories at this point have been almost entirely co-opted by the elites and their agendas. That is if they weren't a creation of the elites TO BEGIN WITH.

During the pandemic CNN reported that QAnon has exploded 10 fold, in terms of those who follow it. There are now suburban soccer moms who believe Donald Trump is out to save the worlds children from blood drinking pedophiles.

That is the end game of a long manipulated agenda to put "conspiracy theories" into the mainstream, heavily assisted by social media.

These ridiculous (mainstream) conspiracy theories such as Qanon, Pizzagate, Flat Earth, Wayfair, Crisis Actors, 5G, also serve to DISCREDIT real conspiracies such as 911. You make the crazy ridiculous crap, and the crazy ridiculous people like Alex Jones the face of the movement. Then people associate that garbage with legitimate truth seekers.

Its a brilliant plan that on the one hand creates a brainwashed cult of followers for their chosen agendas, while at the same time delegitimizing true and honest research into elite conspiracies.
Obama-era official Cass Sunstein wrote a paper suggesting that they be banned.

"The paper, called “Conspiracy Theories,” was first published in 2008, in a small academic journal called the Journal of Political Philosophy. In it, Sunstein and his Harvard colleague Adrian Vermeule attempted to explain how conspiracy theories spread, especially online. At one point, they made a radical proposal: “Our main policy claim here is that government should engage in cognitive infiltration of the groups that produce conspiracy theories.” The authors’ primary example of a conspiracy theory was the belief that 9/11 was an inside job; they defined “cognitive infiltration” as a program “whereby government agents or their allies (acting either virtually or in real space, and either openly or anonymously) will undermine the crippled epistemology of believers by planting doubts about the theories and stylized facts that circulate within such groups.”

He published the paper before he got his gov't job. I found @DavidSon's comment about the proliferation of FlatEarth theories in alt-media/conspiracy circles circa 2007 intriguing, when you take into consideration the time frame of writing and publishing the paper.
 






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Just say the word "conspiracy theory"

Whats the first thing that pops into most people's minds.

Is it an image of somebody trying to unravel the great mysteries and deceptions of history.

Or is it a MAGA Trump supporting Q anon cult member.

I'd say its the latter, by an overwhelming majority.

Being a conspiracy theorist isn't much different than being a Republican at this point. SMFH.
 






Red Sky at Morning

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Just say the word "conspiracy theory"

Whats the first thing that pops into most people's minds.

Is it an image of somebody trying to unravel the great mysteries and deceptions of history.

Or is it a MAGA Trump supporting Q anon cult member.

I'd say its the latter, by an overwhelming majority.

Being a conspiracy theorist isn't much different than being a Republican at this point. SMFH.
I think that’s why it’s so important to understand and unpack terms that are used, and what different meanings people ascribe to them.
 






kerrichinchilla

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I was watching CNN on the night of the 'riots' and I lost count how many times they used conspiracy theory as an excuse
 






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