The phrase “conspiracy theory” is often used by establishment agencies, the mainstream media and useful idiots as a tool to dismiss legitimate evidence or viewpoints that disagree with their predetermined version of events. This method of propaganda was not always as widespread as it is today. The phrase was not “created” by the CIA, but it was in fact weaponized by them in the 1960s after the assassination of John F. Kennedy with the express purpose of shutting down rational debate.
CIA memo 1035-960, circulated within the CIA in 1967 and exposed through a freedom of information act request by The New York Times in 1976, outlines strategies the agency would use to shut down critics of the Warren Commission Report. Specifically, they suggested the accusation of “conspiracy” with negative connotations attached, predominantly in mainstream books and articles. This was indeed done through the CIA’s many puppets in the media, and the concept of “conspiracy theory” as a pejorative was born.
Through the use of straw man arguments, red herring fallacies and sophistry, the incredible scale of evidence (exposed by investigators like New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison) suggesting the Warren Commission was either corrupt or ignorant in its findings was buried in a flurry of hatchet jobs and hit pieces. And this was the goal, of course; to attack the messenger and silence the truth without having to go through the ugly process of directly confronting the truth.
Until recently, this strategy was highly effective. Attacking a person as a “conspiracy theorist” was the only tool critics really needed to keep a piece of evidence or a concrete viewpoint from going viral. Conspiracy theory is equated to insanity, or stupidity, or buffoonery. Everyone knows a conspiracy theorist is not to be taken seriously, so why waste time listening to what they have to say in the first place?
It should come as no surprise that conspiracy REALITY is not something these people want entertained by the public. Conspiracies are a fact of history. Governments lie, all the time, and they have been caught doing it. The media lies, constantly, and has been caught doing it. Yet, we are supposed to ignore this and assume that anyone daring to stand contrary to government and media claims is some kind of lunatic?
They seem specifically angered by the idea that their “journalistic” and “professional” status no longer matters to most people. Not long ago, anyone wearing a suit, a uniform, a lab coat, a journalist’s badge or collecting a government paycheck was supposed to be immediately taken seriously as a designated “expert”. As Noam Chomsky describes them in his book Manufacturing Consent, they were the professional class, the top 10% or less of individuals with “all the answers”. These were the people the establishment sought to indoctrinate most of all, because these were the community leaders that many in the public listened to without question.
Now there is a growing movement of people who could not care less about what kind of degree someone’s parents purchased for them from an Ivy League university. They don’t care about establishment designations and fake accolades and titles and credentials. What they care about are facts and evidence. What they care about are the arguments a person puts forth, rather than how important they purport to be. This is causing some consternation among the elites.
A key figure and gatekeeper in the propaganda war against the alternative media and conspiracy reality is Cass Sunstein, former “Information Czar” in the Obama Administration. Sunstein has written numerous books and articles lamenting the growing influence of the alternative media, including his book Conspiracy Theories And Dangerous Ideas.
The main thrust of Sunstein’s position is that conspiracy theories isolate the populace into small groups of like-minded people perpetuating each other’s “misguided” views. He also suggests that these groups represent a concrete threat to the stability of government and of society by spreading wrong (or perhaps inconvenient) information and civil unrest. In other words, a few decades ago all information was centralized and filtered by the corporate media and government, and now the Internet is decentralizing information flow thereby allowing people to think differently and break from the majority narrative, which is unacceptable by Sunstein’s standards.
Sunstein sees the creation of a public hive mind as the best outcome for social order. He suggests in his book Nudge the concept of “Libertarian Paternalism” (which is neither libertarian nor paternal). He advocates for the control of society through subversive means of influence (nudging) while allowing people to continue believing that their choices are actually their own.