conspiracy theory

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conspiracy theory

an element within a belief system in which social consequences, identified as harmful or unwanted, are seen as arising from the activities of groups believed able to influence the operation of power, economic decision-making, etc., in surreptitious ways. Members of successful religious or ethnic minority groups, political extremists, freemasons, etc., may be identified in such theories, e.g. the ‘witch hunt’ of members of the Communist Party (and alleged fellow travellers) carried out by Joseph McCarthy in the United States in the early 1950s, or the so-called ‘Doctors’ Plot’ in the USSR prior to Stalin's death in 1953, in which Jewish doctors were accused of plotting to poison Stalin. Whether or not there are elements of truth in the claims made in such conspiracy theories, it is the exaggerated nature of the claims, and the often slender evidence advanced, that leads conspiracy theories to be regarded as a phenomenon requiring explanation rather than being seen as ‘true’ theories. Thus, they might be explained as arising from the believers’ powerlessness and structurally precarious situation, and the need for the believers themselves to find a reason’ for this and some hope of resolution.
References in periodicals archive ?
Nobody can fool a conspiracy buff. You're not going to get them to throw away their money buying Google stock.
Some conspiracy buffs believe the governments of the world are waging a secret war against an alien invasion, whereas some open-minded scientist are considering the possibility that the OBOLs are vanguard probes, sent out by extraterrestrials now on their way to earth.
Oswald's curious relationship with the veteran intriguer George De Mohrenschildt will always fascinate conspiracy buffs. Did De Mohrenschildt really go to Yale with Rudy Vallee?
DALLAS: John F Kennedy assassination conspiracy buffs have been handed a Presidents' Day present they are sure to savour.
Hopefully, conspiracy buffs won't misuse this treatment.
As a result, anyone interested in the Rabin assassination, conspiracy buffs included, can now watch the video and decide for himself whether it supports or contradicts the Israeli government's claim that Yigal Amir acted alone in assassinating the prime minister.
Conspiracy buffs could have a field day about the dark underbelly of high level equestrianism.
For years conspiracy buffs have reported the existence of a shadowy government entity known as Echelon, supposedly led by the U.S.
The site also offers a historical perspective (not the most common feature of many fan pages) that includes mention of the Baseball Hall of Fame exhibit on the incident and (for you conspiracy buffs out there) the documents from that era that have forever been sealed by the hall's monitors.
These conspiracy buffs contend the whole mission was staged for the nation's TV sets.
Web pages told readers of how the "GovtMedia instantly gang-pummeled" innocent conspiracy buffs into the ground (Goddard 1998b), mocked the "fair-haired boys of the media" who believed the "CIA's cartoon" (the CIA re-enactment of the crash) (Zehr 1997), accused the government investigations of being "elitist, grossly biased and dangerously counter productive to flight safety," perpetuated a "politically motivated charade," and "permutated" facts central to the investigation in order to produce "pernicious effect[s] [sic] on the media" (Donaldson 1998b, 1997a & 1997c).
A federal court there set a worrying precedent back in 1999 when it allowed a resident to sue for libel in Virginia over some dopey postings by an AOL Usenet group run by Kennedy assassination conspiracy buffs in Texas.