I’ve been swimming upstream in the river of culture as long as I can remember. I once questioned my third grade teacher about the myth of Mrs. O’Leary’s cow in the Great Chicago Fire. She was not amused.
But at least she didn’t call me a conspiracy theorist or a history denier. She just smiled indulgently and went on with her story.
It seems to be a common reaction to perceived criticism to strike out against the critic with name-calling and meaningless pejoratives. Those who cast doubt on human causation of climate variation are labeled “deniers,” worse yet, “climate deniers” and “science deniers,” as if anyone could deny climate or science. Those who question the “Lone Nut” assassin claims for the Kennedy brothers, Martin Luther King, Jr and Malcom X are called “conspiracy theorists,” thus denigrating conspiracies, which are very real, and theory, which is an important component of the scientific method.
It’s difficult enough to seriously research significant historical events and current cultural trends without constantly having to respond to such ignorant accusations. It would be bad enough if they were restricted to the unknowing and unwilling to learn.
In the volatile world of public information, the casting of conspiracy and denier labels can have a significant cooling effect on the acceptance of ideas alternative to those professed by official organizations and mainstream media. Don’t think that this hasn’t escaped the notice of those whose reputations, fortunes and access to power and control are at risk to self-enlightened, critical thinkers with their own ideas and who are willing to publicly express them.
Where does the extensive and coordinated campaign to label opponents of “Global Warming” as “climate deniers” (similar to Holocaust deniers) originate? Where did the idea of “conspiracy theory” come from, and how and by whom has it been used? James F. Tracy and Cass Sunstein have some interesting ideas about that:
Having read JFK and the Unspeakable several years ago, I’ve been thinking about assassinations for quite a while and I’ve seen how “conspiracy theory” is used to shut off debate, to signal that we’re entering “the unspeakable” zone. So I began to wonder if the use of the term Conspiracy Theory might be a conspiracy itself.