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What Really Is A Conspiracy Theory?

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By Rand Clifford

16 December, 2009   Countercurrents.org

Imagine saying to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, “My, you’re very tall.”

Imagine denigrating anything not hailed as truth by institutions such as government, or mainstream media, as “conspiracy theory.”

What’s the connection? Much deeper than at first it might seem, much deeper than the absence of critical thinking—it’s a pattern of apathy. Both instances lack wit and subtlety…no thinking, whether stating the obvious, or scoffing at any truth not “official.” So why has conspiracy theory become such a knee-jerk label? First, let’s look at what “conspiracy theory” means, institutionally and officially.

Conspiracy theory is most often used to identify secret military, banking, or political actions aimed at stealing power, money, or freedom from the people. “Wikipedia” even adds the zest, or invitation for the absurd (more on this in a moment), of secret plots by conspirators of “…almost superhuman power and cunning.”

America’s plague of conspiracy-theory labeling subverts critical thinking; one of our least popular endeavors—critical thinking that is, has much to do with protecting one’s comfort zone and avoiding cognitive dissonance…much to do with choosing what to believe, regardless of evidence. A fine example is Americans’ attitude regarding official confessions that the anthrax attacks soon after 9/11 were false flag. (1)

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