Throughout the Covid pseudopandemic, the phrase ‘conspiracy theorist’ soared through the zeitgeist.
Suddenly, anybody found questioning any official story was deemed a ‘conspiracy theorist’ worthy of censorship and, in some instances, jail time.
The establishment told us not to do our own research because thinking critically means not being dependent on ‘the experts’.
History of the phrase
The phrase ‘conspiracy theory’ first appeared in academic discourse in the 19th century. It referred to the study and analysis of conspiracies, often focusing on political intrigue and secret plots.
Initially, the term had a neutral or even positive connotation, highlighting the importance of investigating potential covert activities.
Then, in the 20th century, the phrase began to take on a more negative meaning.
Why does the phrase ‘conspiracy theory’ unsettle a lot of people, notably journalists and academics?
Following public doubt over the Warren Commission’s conclusions on JFK’s assassination, the CIA issued a comprehensive directive to its stations. The Warren Commission, set up by President Lyndon B Johnson on 29 November 1963, was tasked with investigating the assassination of President John F Kennedy, which occurred on 22 November 1963.
Titled Countering Criticism of the Warren Commission Report, this memo significantly contributed to the use of ‘conspiracy theory’ as a term to discredit those who question the government’s secretive operations and policies.
Ironically, the Warren Commission’s namesake, Chief Justice Earl Warren, likely knew about the coverup.
Even Lee Harvey Oswald’s lawyer suspected foul play.
The directive, known as Document 1035-960, was released by the CIA in 1976, after a FOIA (Freedom Of Information Access) request by the New York Times, in which it details a 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.”
One example was to remind “friendly elite contacts (especially politicians and editors)” about the accuracy and soundness of the Warren Commission Report, and that “further speculative discussion only plays in to the hands of the [Communist] opposition.”
Basically, if one challenged the government’s story, then one was an evil commie.
The CIA also told 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.”
It’s a compliment
The phrase ‘conspiracy theorist’ is now a regularly used pejorative.
The truth is that being labelled a ‘conspiracy theorist’ is a compliment because it means that one is not outsourcing one’s critical thinking.
When the phrase ‘conspiracy theorist’ gets thrown around, the CIA smiles.