What is a conspiracy theory?

“Conspiracy theories are used as an attempt to make sense of an event that has happened. The event is usually a major political, historical or social event. It is what lies behind the theories that interests people the most. According to theorists, the perpetrator of the event is usually a secret organization or a powerful person.”

In effect, a conspiracy theory is based on an event over which there is no conclusive proof of the outcome. This leads to opposing views (or theories) about the outcome which are based on perspective and perception.

There is generally an establishment narrative which is accepted by many because it is the establishment narrative.

Those who hold a different opinion are usually labelled “conspiracy theorist” and are subject to all sorts of abuse – loonies, tin-foil haters etc, etc.

Basically, if someone holds an alternative for one particular event they are branded as if they are “professional conspiracy theorists” who always look for the anti-establishment answer.

This is patently not the case. Most people (even those who ridicule others) have their own “pet” conspiracy theory. For instance, I know people who would laugh at others if they suggested that the 2014 indyref was rigged but they believe passionately that Willie MacRae was murdered by the establishment. Therefore, they support the official narrative for one event but oppose it for another.

One person’s conspiracy theory is another person’s search for the truth.

The point I am trying to make is people should never resort to insults and ridicule over a differently held point of view. Instead they should try to understand why the other person holds their beliefs and put forward a reasoned argument setting out why they disagree.

This has never been more pertinent than in the current arguments surrounding the covid crisis, particularly with opposing views over masks, lockdown, vaccines etc.

What should be borne in mind is that everyone is entitled to have an opinion and everyone should have the freedom to express that opinion. There is no excuse for insults or abusive behaviour and absolutely no excuse for trying to silence people.

If we no longer have freedom of speech then we cease to function as a society.

1 thought on “What is a conspiracy theory?

  1. Peter A Bell

    The author is evidently blind to the irony of advocated freedom of expression while insisting on his right to define the parameters of what constitutes acceptable expression. Blind also to the equally heavy irony of complaining about expressed views being dismissively “branded” as conspiracy theories while reserving the right to dismiss expressed views by branding them “abusive”.

    The author also seems to have some difficulty making the distinction between opinion guided by reasoned consideration of evidence and faith – which is belief against evidence. The example used in the hope of making some point about the equal value of opinions in fact nicely illustrates the difference between views based on rational assessment of evidence and views which are expressions of faith. Doubts about the official account of Willie MacRae’s death derive from citable discrepancies in that account. Those claiming that the 2014 independence referendum was “rigged” – particularly those insisting there was significant interference with the count – are famously unable to offer any credible evidence of interference such as might affect the result. Nor any explanation at all as to how the count could have been “rigged”.

    I will vigorously defend the right of anyone to hold and express any view subject only to the constraints of law. Unlike the author, however, my championing of freedom of expression extends to those who denounce illogic and irrationality and faith-based positions informed by pseudo-science and specious argument.

    The law rightly prohibits the public expression of certain views. There is another class of views, however, which do not warrant being deemed illegal but which nonetheless merit condemnation and/or mockery. Or what the author would doubtless label “abuse” and seek to exclude from discourse.



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