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We'll start with what it doesn't mean. It doesn't mean:

"I dislike the diarist, diary, and/or ideas presented in the diary."
"I disagree with the diary and its thesis and/or evidence."
"I want to suppress the information and/or ideas in the diary."
" I want to make an HR for disagreement appear legitimate by falsely calling CT."
"The thesis in the diary hasn't been proven to my satisfaction."
Or any similar silliness.

The real meaning will be addressed below the squiggly-doo

"Conspiracy Theory" hasn't really been defined in general or with respect to Daily Kos. In days of yore, however, Kos banned some folks for CT and in discussing that action, gave some hints. In focusing on cases widely and commonly known to be wrong, like Trutherism, he seemed to draw a narrower line than I do here, but I hope to set forth the bare minimum requirements.

I'll try to boil it down to two simple points.

First: The diary must explicitly allege the existence of a conspiracy.

I start by pointing out that the diary must allege a conspiracy because I've seen too many diaries that do not do so accused of being CT. Just yesterday we had yet another diary with a glob of people yammering CT when no conspiracy was being alleged by the diarist.

For the record, alleging a conspiracy to exist means asserting that multiple persons or entities are (were) conspiring together to achieve a specific goal or end. I can't begin to enumerate all the times I've asked somebody shouting "CT, bad, bad, bad" to name the conspirators and the object of the conspiracy and found them unable to do so.  (Many nonetheless insisted that the diary in question was a CT all the same, justifying said seeming idiocy by typing vapid non sequiturs like "extraordinary  claims require extraordinary evidence". Hey, if you cannot even limit your determination of what is a conspiracy theory to assertions of conspiracy, then what makes you fit to judge what is or is not extraordinary or evidence?)

It must be emphasized that the diary must explicitly assert the existence of the conspiracy. It is not sufficient for some reader with a masters in creative reading to creatively so interpret the diary. If you cannot point to specific direct assertions, you are not dealing with CT in the diary, but only in your mind.

 

First Requirement Summarized

You must be able to name the alleged conspirators and the alleged object of the conspiracy as well as the language with which the diary explicitly asserts those specific claims or you should not claim that the diary is or includes CT.

Second: The allegation of a conspiracy must be false

Conspiracies abound. They are a dime a dozen and assertions regarding their existence aren't CT unless those assertions are false. There was a Watergate Conspiracy, there was a FBI conspiracy called Cointelpro, pointing them out is not CT.

Three clarifications:

1) Your belief or disbelief is irrelevant. It isn't whether you like believe that the conspiracy exists or existed, but whether or not the assertion that it does or did is false. Opinions don't make anything CT.

2) Lack of proof is not falsity nor even necessarily evidence thereof. Nor is failure to present what you may, in your infinite wisdom, consider to be extraordinary evidence, based on your personal determination that the claim in question is somehow extraordinary.

3) Denials by those lacking in credibility are not of significant evidentiary value. That includes those made by persons with a personal or political vested interest in convincing the public of the falsity of the assertions as well as most government agencies and officials.

Recap of Requirement 2:

The explicitly asserted claim of a conspiracy must be false

There you have it, CT requires an explicit assertion that two or more entities are conspiring to achieve some goal and the assertion is false (and known to be so).

Thank you for reading.
 

Originally posted to enhydra lutris on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 08:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Logic and Rhetoric at Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (16+ / 0-)

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 08:00:14 AM PDT

  •  I'd go stronger (4+ / 0-)
    Lack of proof is not falsity nor even necessarily evidence thereof. Nor is failure to present what you may, in your infinite wisdom, consider to be extraordinary evidence, based on your personal determination that the claim in question is somehow extraordinary.
    But the lack of evidence, and merely the assertion of coincidence and opportunity, can be CT.
  •  And what happens if the claims presented in (7+ / 0-)

    the diary are so vague that it's impossible to either prove or disprove them? A typical example would be all the 'we live in a fascist country' diaries.

    •  If you mean Ray Pensador's diary of (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      enhydra lutris, WheninRome

      yesterday, about corporate fascism, that's not really vague, nor is it impossible to prove, it's obvious to anyone willing to see.

      •  That and his older diaries that made even more (3+ / 0-)

        specific claims. When he claims that corporations conspire to do smth it would be nice if he presented the evidence of them actually doing it.

        •  If we had evidence of that (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          WheninRome, enhydra lutris, angel d

          we wouldn't be watching our Constitution being overrun by the Corporate. We'd be stopping them.

          So please--yes, it would be NICE to have proof of anything under discussion but in the meantime, there should be absolutely nothing wrong with asking questions and provoking thought.

          "The “Left” is NOT divided on the need to oppose austerity and the Great Betrayal. The Third Way is not left or center or even right. It is Wall Street on the Potomac."--Bill Black

          by lunachickie on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 09:03:52 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  If you read your stock ticker backwards, it says (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            FG, enhydra lutris

            "Ixnay on the -ncriminating-ay atements-stay about the onspiracy-cay">
            Proof enough for me.

            You can't make this stuff up.

            by David54 on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 09:25:11 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  If the diary was asking questions, I would have (3+ / 0-)

            no issues with it. But the diaries were making strong claims that this is the case and using these claims as basic assumptions that are so obvious that require no proof. The diaries went basically like this: 'It's clear to everyone that we live in a fascist state. The goal of the diary is come up with ways to fight it'.

            •  Link? (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              FG, enhydra lutris, angel d

              I didn't see that one, and your use of the word "basically" would indicate that you're paraphrasing ;)

              "The “Left” is NOT divided on the need to oppose austerity and the Great Betrayal. The Third Way is not left or center or even right. It is Wall Street on the Potomac."--Bill Black

              by lunachickie on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 09:39:30 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Depending upon the definitin of fascism used, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              lunachickie

              that is a very supportable case. One of my sate's Senators, for example, openly represents corporate interests and not the interests of the citizenry or voters. In cases where the two conflilct, she can be counted on to go corporate every time, regardless of any public hue and cry.

              That is evidence of an equality of corporate and government interests and of control or ownership of government by corporate interests. So are certain Supreme Court Decisions facilitating such control and ownership.

              So, it is then a question of degree and extent, an evidentiary question, and not one that can possibly rise to the level of CT because it cannot be widely and commonly known to be false, or even convincingly shown to be false in the face of all of the evidence to the contrary.

              That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

              by enhydra lutris on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 11:01:49 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Right (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                enhydra lutris

                which naturally begs the question: "What is the level of stupid of those who continually insist such cases cannot possibly be made under any definition in the current realm?"

                And the answer to that is "It depends on who and what you're reading."

                One supposes, anyway...

                "The “Left” is NOT divided on the need to oppose austerity and the Great Betrayal. The Third Way is not left or center or even right. It is Wall Street on the Potomac."--Bill Black

                by lunachickie on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 01:28:04 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •   The answer is ALEC. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          enhydra lutris

          I'd tip you but they cut off my tip box. The TSA would put Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad on the no-fly list.

          by OHdog on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 12:03:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  then it is speculation and discussion (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      enhydra lutris, angel d

      And if it is noted as same, then what the hell is wrong with that?

      "The “Left” is NOT divided on the need to oppose austerity and the Great Betrayal. The Third Way is not left or center or even right. It is Wall Street on the Potomac."--Bill Black

      by lunachickie on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 08:46:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That depends on whether and how they (0+ / 0-)

      define fascism. That specific allegation leads to definitional and/or evidentiary disputes, and anything that isn't cut-and-dried false is unlikely to be CT.

      I'd like to ask, rhetorically, how something can be too vague as to present a falsifiable hypothesis and yet explicitly allege a conspiracy of two or more entities to achieve a specific goal or set of goals.

      FWIW, both the Dems and the GOP are clearly conspiracies to run the country. Together, along with sundry bureaucrats, they do so. For whose benefit, for what ppurpose and at whose behest, then, is crucial to the issue of fascism under some definitions, and there is plentiful evidence supporting the allegation  of (encroaching) fascism or fascist tendencies.

      That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

      by enhydra lutris on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 09:09:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What's lacking in the vague ones (4+ / 0-)
        explicitly allege a conspiracy
        That's part of how they are vague. It's all allusion and innuendo and hints. Leaving a definite impression of some conspiracy. An approach of "just sayin'" or "something to think about"; but not enough to provide a testable hypothesis.

        "No one life is more important than another. No one voice is more valid than another. Each life is a treasure. Each voice deserves to be heard." Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse & Onomastic

        by Catte Nappe on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 09:28:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Then the objection to the diary is that is is (0+ / 0-)

          overly vague and doesn't really say anything, not that it is CT.

          That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

          by enhydra lutris on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 10:07:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  These particular diaries are written well enough (4+ / 0-)

        so they don't rise to the level of undisputable CT. The author manages to skirt the line quite well.

        •  then they should be challenged on other (0+ / 0-)

          grounds, or the suspected innuendo should be swubject to a direct question of the "are you saying ... form".

          That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

          by enhydra lutris on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 10:06:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I agree about vagueness (3+ / 0-)

      Don't think the diaries you reference rise to the CT standard, but I do see some finely crafted CT sometimes in which the allusions to hidden connections don't really give you enough to "name" the conspirators, or the object of the conspiracy.  There's one up this morning hinting at some sort of conspiracy by officials who are not fully reporting the details of the West, Tx. explosion. I'm not sure exactly which authorities are involved in this conspiracy or what their intent is though.

      "No one life is more important than another. No one voice is more valid than another. Each life is a treasure. Each voice deserves to be heard." Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse & Onomastic

      by Catte Nappe on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 09:10:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That sounds like they are devoid of (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Catte Nappe, Brown Thrasher

        cognitive content. OTOH, OTOH, some background information should be presumed to be included without reference in almost any discussion. Travel discussions presume that the world is more or less round, largely water, that there are airplanes and airlines, etc.

        Similarly, all political discussions concerning the US should include awareness that we have a putative representative democracy in which elected representatives enact legislation (subject to veto) and where the courts have ruled that mioney is speech, that it is legit for reps to demand money for "access" and for companies and people to pay it, and that it is legit to pay a rep who is about to weigh in on a matter of import to you, such that a judge would recuse herself, unless it can be proven that there was an up front agreement for some sort of quid pro quo. The purposes and goals of corporations should also be taken for granted as well as the arguable contentin that they are, by definition and nature, pathological.

        That soprt of information colors any discussion and really needn't be trucked out and repeated for each and every relevant diary.

        That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

        by enhydra lutris on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 09:49:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Some things do need spelling out (3+ / 0-)

          For example

          The purposes and goals of corporations should also be taken for granted
          I have seen diaries asserting that the purpose and goal of any corporation is to maximize value to the shareholders. I have seen others contending that it is to squeeze every penny of profit possible with no regard for worker, consumer, society or even the long term health of the company. I have seen others who are certain that the purposes and goals are to subjugate the 99% into mindless sheep like toil and obedience.  I kind of like to know which view is being "taken for granted" - it sometimes adds needed context to the rest of the diary.

          "No one life is more important than another. No one voice is more valid than another. Each life is a treasure. Each voice deserves to be heard." Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse & Onomastic

          by Catte Nappe on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 10:12:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The first is a matter of law in the US, part of (0+ / 0-)

            the definition, as it were. It all too often leads to the second, sufficiently so that it may be held to be a rule of thumb though not invariably true. The third was exposed as far back as "The Hidden Persuaders" and why certain forms of subliminal advertising had to be banned, it is what advertising and promotion is all about. Again, it is an element, a goal of more than a minority of large corporations and oligopolies, while not necessarily on John Doe, M.D., Inc.'s radar.

            In short, there is some support for each to be acknowledged as part of the US corporate culture.

            That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

            by enhydra lutris on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 11:12:25 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  That's Easy: HR It n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      enhydra lutris

      Too Folk For You. - Schmidting in the Punch Bowl - verb - Committing an unexpected and underhanded political act intended to "spoil the party."

      by TooFolkGR on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 12:36:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this helpful diary. I was ready (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    enhydra lutris, Brown Thrasher

    to suggest another diary this morning bordered on CT, but held back. I'm glad I did.

    A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. - Greek proverb

    by marleycat on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 08:19:19 AM PDT

  •  Somebody alot smarter'n me wrote this once: (6+ / 0-)

    "I’m not a big one for conspiracies.  But conspiracies do exist.  People do plot and plan.  That’s how things get done in the boardroom."

    Ayn is the bane! Take the Antidote To Ayn Rand and call your doctor in the morning: You have health insurance now! @floydbluealdus1

    by Floyd Blue on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 08:43:53 AM PDT

  •  Very helpful. (4+ / 0-)

    Too many people confuse critical thinking (CT) with conspiracy theory (CT).  The result has been a pervasive fear to express reasonable skepticism.  It's like a having a bishop give a press conference saying "Alas!  The church is completely purged of child rapists!" and then requiring anyone who doesn't believe the guy to present 10,000 pounds of affidavits, depositions, photographs, and blood stained before potential concerns are even remotely legitimized.  

  •  Computed tomography (4+ / 0-)

    Carpal tunnel
    Cholera toxin
    Conventional therapy
    Control tower
    Counterterrorism
    Can't talk

  •  I don't get the CT prohibition anyway. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    enhydra lutris, angel d

    We're not plotting here, we're dissecting. It seems like anything outside of the box is shunned and people neg for nothing as if they're covering their eyes and refusing to consider any possibility that might stretch their thinking abilities. It's one thing I don't like here.

    •  Kos, legitimately, lashed out at some specific (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brown Thrasher, angel d

      instances of CT that were so over the top that the site would've been a target for derision and mockery were they allowed to proliferate.

      Since then, multiple users and groups thereof have used the prohibition he enunciated, illegitimately, IMHO, to try to silence and suppress analyses and hypotheses that they disagree with, both those which are technically CT and those which are not.

      Some prefer not to discuss that which they disagree with and try to use assertions of CT to derail and/or such diaries, again, sometimes legitimately and sometimes not.

      That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

      by enhydra lutris on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 09:24:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  See This is a Really Important Distinction (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        enhydra lutris, Neuroptimalian
        Since then, multiple users and groups thereof have used the prohibition he enunciated, illegitimately, IMHO, to try to silence and suppress analyses and hypotheses that they disagree with, both those which are technically CT and those which are not.
        This diary has nothing to do with standards at Daily Kos, standards of logic, and certainly not any commonly understood meaning of the phrase "Conspiracy Theory" or its component words.

        It's beautifully formatted, well written, and it's your opnion.  Nothing more.

        Too Folk For You. - Schmidting in the Punch Bowl - verb - Committing an unexpected and underhanded political act intended to "spoil the party."

        by TooFolkGR on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 12:38:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sorry, but Watergate is not a conspiracy (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Brown Thrasher

          theory as that term is used here, nor Cointelpro. As used here, an asserted conspiracy must be known in advance of the assertion to be false in order to qualify as CT.

          That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

          by enhydra lutris on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 01:06:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Some conspiracies, like 9/11 allegations ... (3+ / 0-)

      ... are so thoroughly disproven, or lacking in basis, that discussing them here at all (a) makes the site look silly, and (b) wastes time.

      •  Wasting time is rampant here. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        enhydra lutris

        I don't know anybody who buys the stock line on 911 either, but I agree not to talk about it. Just like nobody is buying the stock line on the JFK assassination for that matter.

        The recent fascism argument is instructive because we get to define the word and its implications outside of ]hitler[ and get to the root mechanisms of how different systems are structured and what their inherent problems are.

      •  Correct. That is a pretty narrow constraint, (0+ / 0-)

        however. However, vince Foster and 9/11 are worlds away from questioning just why certain regulations are not enforced against certain entities or why certain facilities have never had required safety inspections, of have have repeated violations of some reg or rule simply glossed over.

        That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

        by enhydra lutris on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 09:58:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Emphasis on "wastes time". (3+ / 0-)

        Before we even get to the subject of people being actually persuaded to silly beliefs, the potential for drawing us off on wild goose chases that suck all the air out of the room — rather than spurring constructive activism — is in itself sufficient reason why (true) CT is HRable.

        Time once again to fight cyber-spying! Defeat CISPA!

        by Brown Thrasher on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 12:42:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Sadly, some will always try to silence others (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dfarrah, enhydra lutris, angel d

    Sadly, human nature is such that there will always exist at least one person who will take enough offense at something written here in an article or a comment that they will seek to silence the writer.

    And given that HRs provide a mechanism for written material to be removed, we will continue to see inappropriate or unreasonable HRs given out.

    I highly value the freedom of the written word, so I have always stood for wide-open freedom of the written word.  I suggest instead of silencing offending writings, that we should use our freedom of the written word to express why we think an offending expression should be protested.

    What is never gauranteed is our freedom from being offended.  But we can choose between being offended by a written opinion, or being offended by having ours and others' opinions removed from view.  

     

    "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

    by Hugh Jim Bissell on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 09:29:25 AM PDT

  •  In Order for me to Recognize and Respond to CT (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Adam B, SilentBrook, enhydra lutris

    It only needs to be unsubstantiated.  The burden of proof is never on the skeptic.

    And I'll keep HRing it when I see it.

    Too Folk For You. - Schmidting in the Punch Bowl - verb - Committing an unexpected and underhanded political act intended to "spoil the party."

    by TooFolkGR on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 10:35:18 AM PDT

    •  You are confusing completely different and (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brown Thrasher

      unrelated standards.

      Arguing that something is true unless and until proven false is a fallacy (argumentum ad ignorantum).

      CT however, isn't CT unless it is false, so HRing it just because you don't believe it is actually nothing more than HRing for disagreement, which is well established to be HR abuse.

      That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

      by enhydra lutris on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 12:27:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Except It Isn't - You're Just Making This Up (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        enhydra lutris
        CT however, isn't CT unless it is false
        If someone is alleging a conspiracy, and they are not providing evidence to substantiate their allegation, they are presenting conspiracy theory.  Full stop.

        This bit about "it's only CT if it's false" is unsupported by any dictionary on earth... you've completely invented that bit to mislead people into accepting your definition.

        OK that's unfair: It's also possible you don't know what the words mean.

        But either way, your'e flat out incorrect about what a conspiracy theory is.

        Too Folk For You. - Schmidting in the Punch Bowl - verb - Committing an unexpected and underhanded political act intended to "spoil the party."

        by TooFolkGR on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 12:32:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sorry, but you are creating a definition that (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Brown Thrasher

          does not remotely accord with the historical usage on this site by such as Kos, MB, et. al. Watergate wasn't CT, nor cointelpro, just because some folks were in denial about them.

          That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

          by enhydra lutris on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 01:10:54 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Out for a bit - back soon. (0+ / 0-)

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 01:44:25 PM PDT

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