Given the fact that there are so many buzzwords and phrases out there used by conspiracy theorists (“CT’ers” for short; we use the term “CT” to refer to conspiracy theories themselves), we thought we would put together a handy little glossary so you can know what the hell they’re talking about when they throw them around.
Note: this is not intended as a glossary of popular conspiracy theories, which is why you won’t find items like “chemtrails” or “NWO” on the list. This is a glossary of terms used by conspiracy theorists.
Note: some of these terms, like ad hominem and cui buono, have legitimate meanings in the real world which are different than the way CT’ers use them. Terms like this are identified with CT’er meaning and real meaning.
Ad Hominem: Latin term. Real meaning: an argumentative tactic that diverts attention from the substance of an argument by conducting an irrelevant attack on the arguer. Example of this usage: “Barack Obama believes in universal health care. You should not believe in universal health care because Barack Obama is African-American.” CT’er meaning (1): any question upon the credibility of any purveyor of CT information. For example, Steven Jones [9/11 Truther] believes the WTC towers were brought down by controlled demolition. The validity of Jones’s scientific processes is open to serious question. However, according to the CT’er usage of ad hominem, questioning Jones or his competence to opine on 9/11 at all is an impermissible ad hominem attack. CT’er meaning (2): a way to try to derail any argument with someone who doesn’t believe CTs. Example of this usage: “You haven’t debunked anything! You’re just engaging in ad hominem attacks!”
Asleep: the condition of being brainwashed, duped, and lulled into a false consciousness by the “powers that be.” Essentially, the condition of not believing in conspiracy theories. If you deny the validity of CTs, you are “asleep.”
Awake: the opposite of “asleep.” Essentially, the condition of believing in conspiracy theories and not believing (supposedly) any government or “mainstream media” source. CT’ers employ numerous variations on the “asleep”/“awake” concept, such as “I woke up,” “You’re asleep,” “Why did you go back to sleep?”, “When I was asleep I believed…”, “We’re trying to wake people up!”, “A lot of people are waking up,” etc., etc.
Banksters: term referring to financial institutions or wealthy investors who are believed by CT’ers to control the world. Usually, but not always, a (supposedly) race-neutral synonym for the anti-Semitic CT idea of “Jewish bankers.”
Coincidence Theorist: mocking term for someone who doesn’t believe in CTs, particularly someone who refuses to connect factually unconnected events under the rubric of a conspiracy theory. This term is usually deployed to validate spurious and incorrect estimates of mathematical probabilities as substitutes for facts. Example of this usage: Senator Paul Wellstone died in an accidental plane crash in 2002 just before a Congressional election. “You don’t believe the Bush Administration rubbed out Wellstone? You must be a coincidence theorist, then!”
COINTELPRO: an acronym for an FBI project, CounterIntelligence Program.Real meaning: a program undertaken by the FBI between 1956 and 1971 to infiltrate domestic political organizations. The program has been defunct since 1971. CT’er meaning: a vast program of total government surveillance and infiltration which supposedly continues to this day (despite zero evidence that it is active), aimed especially at discrediting CT’ers and refuting CTs. This term is often heard in conjunction with the term “disinformation agent” (q.v.) or “shill,” but a CT’er who deploys the term COINTELPRO is affirmatively accusing someone of being a government agent paid to criticize CTs.
Critical thinking: a form of epistemology. Real meaning: reasoned inquiry that evaluates evidence from a logical standpoint and reaches conclusions based on that evidence. CT’er meaning: justification for out-of-hand rejection of any evidence that contradicts CT’s as being part of the “establishment” or promoted by the “powers that be.” To CT’ers, “critical thinking” is a fig leaf for automatically disregarding any factual evidence that impugns or in any way questions conspiracy theories. Example of this usage: “Of course peer-reviewed social science rejects Acharya S.’s conclusions that Christ never existed. They’re afraid of pissing off religious people. Use critical thinking! You can see the scientific establishment is biased.”
Cui Buono?: Latin for “who benefits?” Real meaning: an inquiry into who might stand to gain from a particular inquiry; not, however, a conclusion.CT’er meaning: a substitute for evidence of any kind. If anyone benefited in any way from something, “cui buono?” is absolute proof that they caused it. Example of this usage: “Acme Drug Company manufactures swine flu vaccine. ‘Cui buono?’ Because Acme Drug Company benefited financially from the swine flu outbreak, Acme Drug Company caused the swine flu outbreak.”
Disinformation: any item of information that contradicts CTs. Most CT’ers cannot comprehend or understand why people would disagree with their conspiracy theories. Consequently, they conclude that anyone who disputes CTs must be paid to do so, or is deliberately spreading false information. Usually the claim is made that someone spreading “disinformation” works for the government or other supposed conspirators. Often shortened todisinfo.
Disinformation agent: someone who spreads “disinformation,” meaning, someone who contradicts CT’s regardless of motivation. CT’ers will often accuse “disinformation agents” as being part of COINTELPRO (q.v.) or “Project Vigilance” (a more recent government program to encourage pro-military bloggers during the Iraq War—a project which never got off the drawing board). Usually anyone who disputes CT’s will be accused of being a “disinformation agent.”
Do Your Own Research: a term used by lazy CT’ers who don’t want to try to explain why they believe the silly things they believe. “Research,” in this context, means looking at CT web sites and watching YouTube videos that promote CTs. It does not mean reading books or objectively evaluating evidence to determine whether a CT is true. Example of this usage: “Alex Jones can back up everything he says. Do your own research! Read InfoWars.com!”
End the Fed!: political slogan calling for the dissolution or overhaul of the Federal Reserve system. Not always associated with CTs, but CT’ers who believe in CTs to the effect that the Federal Reserve is a tool of conspirators (the Illuminati, NWO, etc.) will often use this slogan. Warning: this slogan does have cachet in legitimate (non-CT) circles and can refer to a political objective not dependent upon CT thinking.
Enjoy your ignorance: thought-terminating cliché intended by CT’ers to make non-CT’ers feel bad about not accepting CTs. This is a condescending phrase used to paint the non-CT’er as a gullible dupe who is “asleep” (q.v.) or “sheeple.” Example of this usage: “I can’t convince you that 9/11 was an inside job? Well, then, enjoy your ignorance. I know you can’t handle the truth anyway!”
Enslaved: someone who does not believe in CTs or is unwilling to “resist” what CT’ers believe is totalitarian control by conspirators. This term is heard particularly in connection with Illuminati/NWO or other world domination CTs. It’s doubly ironic because CT’ers are unable to distinguish features of truerepressive governments or societies from the imagined oppression that theythink is happening.
Equal Money System (EMS): utopian ideology promoted by Desteni conspiracy cult. Similar to “resource based economy” (q.v.) without the technological elements. Supposedly in an EMS, all the world’s people will have a guaranteed standard of living equivalent to the way millionaires in the first world live now. Subject of an elaborate mythology within the Desteni belief system.
Even an X-year old can tell… / Even an X-grader knows…: thought-terminating cliché used by CT’ers to cloak spurious arguments in erroneous terms of general acceptance. When this term is used, whatever is asserted, 99.9% of the time, is completely false. Example of this usage: “Even a 6-year-old knows that jet fuel doesn’t burn hot enough to melt steel!” / “Even a 4th grader knows that something can’t come down faster than free-fall speed!”
False Flag: military term. Real meaning: an attack deliberately and falsely ascribed to an enemy. Example: German attack on the Gleiwitz radio station in 1939, blamed on Poland. CT’er meaning: a massive operation by the U.S. (or Israeli) government or other conspirators which is intended as a pretext for some nefarious scheme that has not yet occurred. CT’ers believe that all wars, terrorist attacks or even accidents are “false flag” attacks. Example of this usage: “The guy who flew that plane into the IRS building [in February 2011]—that was a false flag, man!”
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win: quote erroneously attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, but it does not appear he ever said or wrote it; it may actually derive from labor leader Nicholas Klein. Used by CT’ers to shrug off widespread ridicule and disbelief of their theories. Also often used by CT-related cults and ideology groups (such as Zeitgeist and Desteni) to predict that their ideology will ultimately achieve victory despite what appear to be long odds in persuading people that they’re right.
Free-fall speed: physics concept erroneously used by believers in 9/11 conspiracy theories to “prove” that controlled demolition was used at the WTC towers. Supposedly the towers fell at “free-fall speed” (which is false), which is supposedly impossible without them being “pushed” (by secret explosives no one has ever seen). Debunked many years ago, but maintains acceptance in CT circles.
Hit piece: an article, blog, video or news story that is critical of conspiracy theories or particular CT’ers, and which CT’ers want to believe is a maliciously motivated attack without any merit. Usually, but not always, deployed to discredit a criticism of a particular person. Example of this usage: “That blog debunking the New World Order was nothing more than a hit piece on Alex Jones!”
I feel sorry for you: condescending phrase designed both to terminate thought and to place the CT’er in a position of moral superiority to one who does not believe in CTs and is therefore, in the CT’er’s mind, not enlightened or is doomed to suffer a life of “enslavement” (q.v.) or being “asleep” (q.v.). Almost always used disingenuously. Example of this usage: “You’re totally happy getting raped by the NWO every day of your life, aren’t you? I feel sorry for you!”
Intellectual inhibition: phrase coined by Zeitgeist cult leader and CT’er Peter Joseph Merola, referring to those who do not believe in CTs. Supposedly a form of mental illness afflicting those who are not “awake” (q.v.) enough to accept CTs.
Just asking questions: false and disingenuous phrase used by CT’ers to explain what they are supposedly doing by asserting the truth of CTs. Usually used to cover up and obfuscate assertions that CTs are literal fact in favor of a more reasonable-seeming, supposedly agnostic position. Disingenuous because in reality CT’ers do not wish to ask any question whose answer involves refutation of CTs. Example of this usage: “Why did the towers come down at free-fall speed? Why did the BBC report the hijackers were still alive? I’m not a conspiracy theorist—I’m just asking questions!”
Leave the Matrix: term used to refer to “waking up” (see “awake,” q.v.) or otherwise rejecting the supposedly false reality imposed by conspirators, government, mainstream media, etc. It connotes the common CT delusion that there is a hidden reality (conspiracies) behind what most people take to be reality. Derives from the 1999 science fiction film The Matrix which involves a literal depiction of this type of scenario. Example of this usage: “If you really want to leave the Matrix, you should start listening to Alex Jones.”
Lemmings: synonym of “sheeple” (q.v.), meant to connote blind obedience and group-think. Evokes the erroneous view that lemmings willingly commit mass suicide as the result of following the herd.
Lightworker: term used, particularly by CT’ers who believe in CTs involving evil extraterrestrials, to refer to someone who’s working against evil conspirators for the benefit of mankind. Appears frequently in Desteni and NESARA CTs and sometimes Illuminati/NWO mythology. Example of this usage: “The reptoids control everything, but there are some lightworkers out there fighting against them.”
Not The Movement: term used by members of the Zeitgeist Movement cult to divert attention away from embarrassing actions or statements by their own members. The phrase is usually deployed when a critic notes the association between the Zeitgeist Movement and CTs or CT’ers. Example of this usage: “The movies [the Zeitgeist films which promote conspiracy theories] aren’t the movement.” “Peter Joseph [Merola, leader of the Zeitgeist cult] is not the movement.” “9/11 Truth is not the movement.” “Jared Lee Loughner is not the movement.”
Official Story: the opposite of a CT. Almost universally, CT’ers believe that explanations for events that are accepted by the majority of society are false constructs transmitted by the government or other officially-dominated organs of information control, and that these “official stories” are false, where CTs are supposedly true. Usually, but not always, heard in conjunction with 9/11. Example of this usage: “You mean you actually believe the official story of 9/11?” Non-9/11 example: “The official story on JFK is that Oswald acted alone.”
Powers That Be (PTB): conspirators. Evil governments (usually U.S., but sometimes Israel), corporations, media outlets, the Jews, reptoids (q.v.), the Illuminati, etc. Generic term for shadowy figures, who are sometimes left undefined, that supposedly control everything.
PsyOp: military term. Real meaning: psychological operation, a form of hostile action against an enemy usually involving tactics to scare or deliberately irritate them. “Death cards” used by U.S. soldiers in Vietnam are a real-life example of a psyop. CT’er meaning: any act of deception committed by any government or conspirator anywhere for any reason. Often is a synonym for, or goes hand-in-hand with, “false flag” (q.v.). Example of this usage: “9/11 was just a big PsyOp to justify invasive TSA searches and the Patriot Act!”
Reptoid, Reptilian: extraterrestrial being of reptilian origin, usually evil, and often possessing the ability to project an outward humanoid appearance. Key feature of the CT mythology of David Icke, also believed by many members of the Desteni conspiracy cult.
Resource Based Economy (RBE): utopian ideology promoted by the Zeitgeist Movement, formerly espoused by the Venus Project (before the messy April 2011 public divorce between Zeitgeist and Venus leaders). A socioeconomic system where unlimited resources are provided to the earth’s population in a moneyless perfect allocation, usually said to be technological in origin (i.e., computers decide who gets what). Similar to Communism without the elements of class struggle and with computers/robots in the role of the “dictatorship of the proletariat.” Does not specifically refer to CT’s, but believed in and promoted by many CT’ers as a result of Peter Joseph Merola’s Zeitgeist conspiracy films.
Sheeple: singular or plural term for non-believers in CTs who supposedly do not believe in CTs as a result of “brainwashing” by conspiratorial powers. Derogatory contraction of “sheep” and “people.” Example of this usage: “All the sheeple out there just believe whatever the government tells them!”
Shill: a person who argues against CTs and publicly maintains that CTs are false. Similar to, and sometimes synonymous with, “disinformation agent” (q.v.) except that “shill” does not always connote that the person arguing against CTs is being paid to do so or otherwise knowingly spreading falsehoods. Example of this usage: “Stop attacking Alex Jones! You’re just a shill for the NWO!”
Straw man: argumentative fallacy. Real meaning: a deliberate misrepresentation of an opponent’s argument which can be refuted with greater ease than the real argument. CT’er meaning: any piece of genuine evidence used to discredit conspiracy theories. Example of this usage: “You say Hani Hanjour actually could fly a plane? That’s a straw man! He almost flunked out of flight school…”
Troll: (1) Someone who criticizes CTs, especially on the Internet. (2) Term used specifically by adherents of the Zeitgeist Movement to refer to persons who publicly oppose the cult. Trolls are often the scapegoats for whatever is wrong in the Zeitgeist Movement—essentially the Zeitgeist equivalent of Scientology’s “suppressive persons.”
Truther: someone who believes in CTs about the 9/11 attacks. Actual embrace of this term by Truthers themselves is waning; it was much more common in 2005-06 for CTs to self-identify as Truthers, but in recent years most of them reject the term. This term sparked the trend of identifying CT’ers by single-word terms ending in “-er” depending on the CT they believe in, such as “Birther” [one who believes Barack Obama was not born in the United States], “Deather” [one who believes Osama bin Laden is not dead], etc.
Truth seeker: conspiracy theorist. Derivative of “Truther” (q.v.) that is not specifically limited to belief in conspiracy theories about the September 11 attacks, but may, and usually does, encompass CTs going far beyond the subject of 9/11. Unlike “Truther,” which CT’ers usually reject, “truth seeker” is not viewed by CT’ers as pejorative and many will self-identify with it.
The truth will set you free!: quote from the Bible, attributed to Christ (John 8:31). Platitude used by CT’ers to encourage belief in CT’s, again relating to the idea that only CT’s are real “truth” and anything that contradicts CT’s is an artificial reality constructed by supposed conspirators. This phrase gained cachet when it was used by conspiracy filmmaker Nigel Turner in 1995 for a follow-up to his popular miniseries about the JFK assassination, The Men Who Killed Kennedy (which was roundly debunked many years ago).
USrael: deliberate pejorative conflation between “USA” and “Israel.” Term used by anti-American and often anti-Semitic CT’ers to emphasize their belief that everything bad that happens in the world is the fault of the United States government working in conjunction with, or for the benefit of, Israel.
Wake up, sheeple!: desperate plea by CT’ers designed to induce belief in conspiracy theories. A rallying cry of sorts; you’ll often see it appended to brief statements of conspiracy thinking. Example of this usage: “They’re putting RFID chips in the swine flu vaccine! Wake up, sheeple!”
What’s best for all: supposed credo of South Africa-based conspiracy cult Desteni. A nebulous concept usually deployed to justify behavior in any given situation. Example of this usage: “Desteni is only working to implement what’s best for all, so why do you oppose them?”
What’s your solution to fix the world?: thought-terminating cliché used by CT’ers promoting a utopian ideology, especially the Zeitgeist Movement. This question is deployed as a tactic to divert attention away from CTs and CT-criticism, the reasoning (such as it is) being that if you can’t come up with a plan to solve all the world’s problems on the spot, then you might as well give the desired ideology (Zeitgeist, Resource Based Economy, Equal Money System, etc.) a try. Example of this usage: “You don’t like the Zeitgeist Movement? Well, then, what’s your solution to fix the world? If you have one, I’m all ears. If you don’t, you must accept Zeitgeist, because all you’re doing is tearing people down without offering anything positive.”
When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth: quote by the character Sherlock Holmes in Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1926 story “The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier.” Used by CT’ers as a substitute for evidence and justification for jumping to conclusions prematurely. Example of this usage: “Jet fuel doesn’t burn hot enough to melt steel. Therefore 9/11 had to be controlled demolition, man! When you have eliminated all which is impossible…”
You are being lied to: slogan used by CT’ers to attempt to “wake up” people (see “awake,” q.v.) whom they believe are duped by an officially-dominated information structure. The passive voice deliberately eliminates the need to identify the supposed conspirators. Example of this usage: “Don’t you know global warming is a hoax designed to justify carbon taxes? You are being lied to!”
You lose: thought-terminating cliché deployed by smug CT’ers in debates to hammer home their supposed superiority. Example of this usage: “You think Popular Mechanics debunked 9/11 theories? You lose! The editor ofPopular Mechanics was related to Bush’s cousin…”
More definitions may be added in the future by popular demand.
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