Why are people called conspiracy theorists?

Hama Neggs

Senior Member.
Congratulations, you win this high school debate.

But really, I'm waiting to hear how calling people names is useful.

Tick tock tick tock

Another strawman. No one said "calling people names is useful". You're just baiting now.

PS: Do you have any idea how many names you might have been called by now for doing this on about any other forum?
 
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Hama Neggs

Senior Member.
I guess I don't get why it is considered a disparaging term. Why don't they wear it with honor if they believe in what they are doing? I know we get called "debunkers" as if that is a disparaging term, but I accept is as accurate. Where's the problem? If they were conspiracy "PROVERS" they would deserve some other description. For the most part, they are not. We refer to them as exactly what they are. I can think of a lot of other "names" to call them, but I try to refrain until they really demonstrate they deserve it.
 

Trigger Hippie

Senior Member.
But really, I'm waiting to hear how calling people names is useful.

You might very well ask yourself that same question.

Why did you use the term "CTers" in this post you made on Nov 25, 2013?

I expect the possibility of a renewed interest by CTers of this case, and also I anticipate some of them to revisit this case and nitpick more details, especially with the amount of info that will be released.
 

Andrew Buckley

New Member
In my opinion, the major reason for the use of the term "conspiracy theorist" is habit, and because the people who use it rarely stop to think of the harm that the term causes. The establishment, by its very nature, maintains guidelines of acceptable and unacceptable beliefs; calling someone a conspiracy theorist, helps to deride them, and reduce their credibility without need for recourse to evidence-based debate.Many otherwise helpful people, who seek to instruct others with a gentle sensitivity to their frame of mind, become frustrated when the person they're arguing with commits logical fallacies. In their frustration, they justify (to themselves) the use of a term with derogatory connotations to describe their "opponent." In sum, our society suffers from an endemic crisis of people not knowing how to debate without calling each other names, or even why this might be a state of harmony worth attaining.Mick West earlier suggested that it is merely a descriptive term. This point would be pertinent, if we were talking about the adjective "empiricist", but I think it misses the point in the case of "conspiracy theorist". Why? Generally people don't dissociate themselves from, or refuse to make contact with, someone deemed to be an empiricist.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
So what general term would you use for people who tend to attribute most significant events to the machinations of a secret elite?
 

Andrew Buckley

New Member
Conspiracy theorist is a very blanket term which lumps many disparate theories together. I'd rather be called what I am, and I'd like to see others treated the same. For example, I'm of the opinion that the majority of money in the World is generated by the process of credit creation private banks use when they buy assets, or make loans. That means I believe money creation to be endogenous. One could call me a conspiracy theorist if they were unimpressed by the ramifications of my opinions, or they could say I subscribe to a theory of endogenous money, which has obvious conspiratorial implications. "Conspiracy theorist" is an unfortunate conversation stopper. It's like calling someone a drug addict.
 

Andrew Buckley

New Member
Some colleagues and many friends I've made the mistake [? - you never know, maybe they'll do some research :) ] of expressing my opinions to. I'm a physicist, so I'm well trained in the limitations of an authoritarian mindset. I've had positive responses from a select few; it's a mixed bag. Many people just don't have the time, and they (mildly) lash out.
Right, the context: usually with regard to monetary considerations, the history of war-crimes and the rationales used to justify war. Pretty standard stuff actually.
 

Andrew Buckley

New Member
I object to the idea of a "general conspiracy theory oriented populace". I think the notion that some people are generally distrustful of authority is more accurate - is there a word for that? I think the conspiracy theories (the "false" ones) are a result of this lack of trust, and not necessarily the result of an intrinsic desire to seek nightmarish "truths". Other times, people are just scientifically illiterate, all you can really call them are proponents of fringe/pseudo-science.I suppose conspiracy theorist is the best term we have, but I try not to use it. It has too many negative connotations to be worth using, in my opinion.
 
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Josh Heuer

Active Member
Another strawman. No one said "calling people names is useful". You're just baiting now.

PS: Do you have any idea how many names you might have been called by now for doing this on about any other forum?

Ohh. I thought Mick said that.

The "name calling" is a tiny tiny part of what goes on here. It's simply a useful way of describing a group with common characteristics.
But then again, he was careful to refer to it in parenthesis, so he didn't mean it, right?

So I can call you all 'losers' right? I'm sure you all lost at something in your life. But it wouldn't be name calling because it's true!
Never mind what value it had on the conversation.
 

Andrew Buckley

New Member
I guess I don't get why it is considered a disparaging term. Why don't they wear it with honor if they believe in what they are doing? I know we get called "debunkers" as if that is a disparaging term, but I accept is as accurate. Where's the problem? If they were conspiracy "PROVERS" they would deserve some other description. For the most part, they are not. We refer to them as exactly what they are. I can think of a lot of other "names" to call them, but I try to refrain until they really demonstrate they deserve it.
I've always thought debunking is a good thing. I imagine it elicits dangerous excitement in the helms of "conspiracy theorists", but of course, I'm just making rash generalisations. Maybe some conspiracy theorists appreciate the candour of those willing to debate with them. I know I do.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
So I can call you all 'losers' right? I'm sure you all lost at something in your life. But it wouldn't be name calling because it's true!
Never mind what value it had on the conversation.

Now that's just getting pedantic.

Just because something does not have value to you, it does not follow it has no value to anyone. There are books about conspiracy theorists. Conspiracy theorists can be reasonably well defined. There are some shared characteristics. The term is useful to people who discuss those groups. It's useful like the term "sports fans", or "pet lovers" is useful.

It's a term that's in the dictionary, it's in common use, people understand what it means. It's not going away. Your objection is noted, are but let's move on.
 

Andrew Buckley

New Member
Now that's just getting pedantic.

Just because something does not have value to you, it does not follow it has no value to anyone. There are books about conspiracy theorists. Conspiracy theorists can be reasonably well defined. There are some shared characteristics. The term is useful to people who discuss those groups. It's useful like the term "sports fans", or "pet lovers" is useful.

It's a term that's in the dictionary, it's in common use, people understand what it means. It's not going away. Your objection is noted, are but let's move on.
I'll concede that the term has value when not being used to describe a person in the conversation. I can call a politician a redneck, when discussing with my friends of similar political leanings, but I'd be foolish to do so in the presence of someone who voted for that politician, if I wish to have influence on their perspective.
 

Hama Neggs

Senior Member.
I've always thought debunking is a good thing. I imagine it elicits dangerous excitement in the helms of "conspiracy theorists", but of course, I'm just making rash generalisations. Maybe some conspiracy theorists appreciate the candour of those willing to debate with them. I know I do.
I've seen "debunker" meant in a derogatory fashion many times, as if debunker equals "lying shill". That's what CTers believe, really, that debunkers are some sort of evil, unfair, uncaring, unknowing, lie-spewing scum.
 
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Andrew Buckley

New Member
I've seen it meant in a derogatory fashion many times, as if debunker equals "lying shill". That's what CTers believe, really, that debunkers are some sort of evil, unfair, uncaring, unknowing, lie-spewing scum.
They distrust your "education". There is some sense in being skeptical of trained skeptics, but if people can't be bothered evaluating facts for themselves, then they'll have to reconcile their fear of widely accepted credibility with their belief systems. Rest assured, you won't convince them by stooping to the alienating labels.
 

Hama Neggs

Senior Member.
In my opinion, the major reason for the use of the term "conspiracy theorist" is habit, and because the people who use it rarely stop to think of the harm that the term causes. The establishment, by its very nature, maintains guidelines of acceptable and unacceptable beliefs; calling someone a conspiracy theorist, helps to deride them, and reduce their credibility without need for recourse to evidence-based debate.Many otherwise helpful people, who seek to instruct others with a gentle sensitivity to their frame of mind, become frustrated when the person they're arguing with commits logical fallacies. In their frustration, they justify (to themselves) the use of a term with derogatory connotations to describe their "opponent." In sum, our society suffers from an endemic crisis of people not knowing how to debate without calling each other names, or even why this might be a state of harmony worth attaining.Mick West earlier suggested that it is merely a descriptive term. This point would be pertinent, if we were talking about the adjective "empiricist", but I think it misses the point in the case of "conspiracy theorist". Why? Generally people don't dissociate themselves from, or refuse to make contact with, someone deemed to be an empiricist.

Many times I have seen, er... what are we supposed to call them now? Anyway, I have seen "them" respond by saying a debunker has called them all sorts of names and invoked "tinfoil hat" and such when no such thing has been said at all. They use it as a defense as if you have offered no facts or real info at all- just "attacked them", even when you have indeed given nothing but factual info. I see that all the time.
 

Hama Neggs

Senior Member.
They distrust your "education". There is some sense in being skeptical of trained skeptics, but if people can't be bothered evaluating facts for themselves, then they'll have to reconcile their fear of widely accepted credibility with their belief systems. Rest assured, you won't convince them by stooping to the alienating labels.
I'm not suggesting doing that at all. I do my best not to do that, but as I just posted, they accuse you of having done that even if you have not. The "education" thing is significant. I have seen that a significant percentage of "those people" resent training and "book-knowledge". They want to think that any lay-person is just as capable as a PhD to "figure out" stuff like astronomy- ie: where the sun and moon should be in the sky on any given date because they can "just look" and "remember" how it "used to be". Those are the people who insist the sun and moon and other sky objects are behaving abnormally. Yes, they think science and education are entirely controlled and equate to a type of brainwashing.
 

Andrew Buckley

New Member
Many times I have seen, er... what are we supposed to call them now? Anyway, I have seen "them" respond by saying a debunker has called them all sorts of names and invoked "tinfoil hat" and such when no such thing has been said at all. They use it as a defense as if you have offered no facts or real info at all- just "attacked them", even when you have indeed given nothing but factual info. I see that all the time.
I don't doubt your experience (that's genuine), but I would offer a word of caution. I've been accused of being sensitive in situations where I've noted the condescending and adversarial tone of people debating with me. Granted, it matters zilch with regard to the debate between the two debaters, but it does have a striking impact on everyone else watching/reading. Sometimes those of us with a higher education can be condescending without even trying, or even being aware of it. Furthermore, a certain degree of hostility is normal in the political arena, and hence, when the topic is politically relevant, I've seen otherwise calm debaters resort to ad hominem. I've done it myself. I like this forum's policy on the issue, because it recognises that the marginalised are most likely to have had their threshold for taking offence lowered by previous encounters with rogue debunkers.
 

Andrew Buckley

New Member
I'm not suggesting doing that at all. I do my best not to do that, but as I just posted, they accuse you of having done that even if you have not. The "education" thing is significant. I have seen that a significant percentage of "those people" resent training and "book-knowledge". They want to think that any lay-person is just as capable as a PhD to "figure out" stuff like astronomy- ie: where the sun and moon should be in the sky on any given date because they can "just look" and "remember" how it "used to be". Those are the people who insist the sun and moon and other sky objects are behaving abnormally. Yes, they think science and education are entirely controlled and equate to a type of brainwashing.
As usual, the more nuanced, and practically helpful, stance is not adopted primarily due to it requiring consistent active effort. Humility is what they feel we lack, and I don't think there's any way to convince them otherwise without treating them as extremely unobservant equals.
 

Hama Neggs

Senior Member.
I don't doubt your experience (that's genuine), but I would offer a word of caution. I've been accused of being sensitive in situations where I've noted the condescending and adversarial tone of people debating with me. Granted, it matters zilch with regard to the debate between the two debaters, but it does have a striking impact on everyone else watching/reading. Sometimes those of us with a higher education can be condescending without even trying, or even being aware of it. Furthermore, a certain degree of hostility is normal in the political arena, and hence, when the topic is politically relevant, I've seen otherwise calm debaters resort to ad hominem. I've done it myself. I like this forum's policy on the issue, because it recognises that the marginalised are most likely to have had their threshold for taking offence lowered by previous encounters with rogue debunkers.

I like the policy here too. On the other hand, spend some time on Youtube. Interactions there bear no comparison at all to rational debate. Really- check it out. It's a morass of illogical rantings and reactionary tirades.
 

Josh Heuer

Active Member
Bloody hell. These conspiracy theorists go on a bit, don't they?

Here we go again........
It's like this:
They call us shills!
Let's get back at them!
We'll call them conspiracy theorists! Yeah!

It's a big childish joke on the Internet. May as well just start calling them trolls instead.

You can't use 'them' or 'they', that refers to, you know, the powers that be, the new world order, the illuminati, whatever.
And now 'debunkers' continually have to define 'them', the ones they coined conspiracy theorists. It's like a giant sad game on the Internet.
 

Hama Neggs

Senior Member.
I'm sure that "Chevy-lovers" is considered a derogatory description by Ford lovers. Cripes, Josh... have a beer or something.
 

Hama Neggs

Senior Member.
Here we go again........
It's like this:
They call us shills!
Let's get back at them!
We'll call them conspiracy theorists! Yeah!

It's a big childish joke on the Internet. May as well just start calling them trolls instead.

You can't use 'them' or 'they', that refers to, you know, the powers that be, the new world order, the illuminati, whatever.
And now 'debunkers' continually have to define 'them', the ones they coined conspiracy theorists. It's like a giant sad game on the Internet.

I agree it is. What do you plan on doing about it?
 

Trigger Hippie

Senior Member.
BUSTED trying to fit into the crowd. I guess I'll never be a 'debunker,' I'll always be a 'CTist.'
What?

Or whatever name you want to call me.

Since last Thursday, I've been reading your bluster and righteous indignation defending the position that calling someone a conspiracy theorist has no real value. Yet you call people conspiracy theorists.

So what is the proper term for the behaviour when someone fails to practice the virtues they preach?
 

Josh Heuer

Active Member
I agree it is. What do you plan on doing about it?
I try to avoid the game. I don't want to label anyone anything, especially not based off what they post on the Internet. I'd rather look at what they bring to the table. Is it factual? Can I verify it?
 

Josh Heuer

Active Member
What?



Since last Thursday, I've been reading your bluster and righteous indignation defending the position that calling someone a conspiracy theorist has no real value. Yet you call people conspiracy theorists.
Ok, ok, ok. You win. Everyone needs to be labeled something. It's just something we have to do. How else can the conversation move forward, without first calling someone something or judging them?

Since we have unanimously agreed there is some need to label groups of people, I'll start calling you self-proclaimed 'debunkers' 'brick walls.' That's what it feels like I'm typing to sometimes.

So what is the proper term for the behaviour when someone fails to practice the virtues they preach?
I'd call them human. We all do it from time to time.
 
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Pete Tar

Senior Member.
You really can't tell the difference between insulting someone and labelling their position in the context of discussion?
 

Andrew Buckley

New Member
I'm sure that "Chevy-lovers" is considered a derogatory description by Ford lovers. Cripes, Josh... have a beer or something.
It is worth noting that this comparison is a little bit misplaced. Conspiracy theorist associates in the minds of many, with folks that deny certain catastrophic events ever occurred at all and other such emotional ghost-trainwrecks. Sporting team rivalries pale in comparison to the contrary opinions of a conspiracy theorist.
 

Andrew Buckley

New Member
What?



Since last Thursday, I've been reading your bluster and righteous indignation defending the position that calling someone a conspiracy theorist has no real value. Yet you call people conspiracy theorists.

So what is the proper term for the behaviour when someone fails to practice the virtues they preach?
I think what you just described is a hypocrite. That's probably not a polite thing to call someone though...
 

Josh Heuer

Active Member
I'm sure that "Chevy-lovers" is considered a derogatory description by Ford lovers. Cripes, Josh... have a beer or something.
No, but it's useless.
And I have plenty of beer, good beer at that. Good people drink good beer, said Hunter Stockton Thompson.

Now you're bringing in the straw man. I'm not claiming these things are derogatory. I'm saying they're pointless.
 

Trigger Hippie

Senior Member.
I think what you just described is a hypocrite. That's probably not a polite thing to call someone though...

The correct answer is: hypocrisy.

A hypocrite would be the one who practices hypocrisy. Read my post again... I was careful to address the behaviour and not the individual. Wouldn't want to be accused of being a name caller.

Too late though... eh? ;)
 

Andrew Buckley

New Member
The correct answer is: hypocrisy.

A hypocrite would be the one who practices hypocrisy. Read my post again... I was careful to address the behaviour and not the individual. Wouldn't want to be accused of being a name caller.

Too late though... eh? ;)
That's not what I remember reading earlier. This is clearly some sort of conspiracy. I'm off to investigate editing functions and how to trace them.
 

Hama Neggs

Senior Member.
No, but it's useless.
And I have plenty of beer, good beer at that. Good people drink good beer, said Hunter Stockton Thompson.

Now you're bringing in the straw man. I'm not claiming these things are derogatory. I'm saying they're pointless.

If that term is not derogatory, then I guess you must be on a crusade against pointlessness? I'm sure there must be something witty and sarcastic I could say about this, but I really would rather just wish you well, at this time.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
No, but it's useless.
And I have plenty of beer, good beer at that. Good people drink good beer, said Hunter Stockton Thompson.

Now you're bringing in the straw man. I'm not claiming these things are derogatory. I'm saying they're pointless.

Then don't use those things. (What are the other things?)

I find it useful for my own discussions with people who are intersested in the phenomena, as do others. How would you go about re-writing the various books on conspiracy theory culture without using the term "conspiracy theory"?

Reminds me of this:
http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/it-security/hacker-vs-cracker/
In mainstream press, the word "hacker" is often used to refer to a malicious security cracker. There is a classic definition of the term "hacker", arising from its first documented uses related to information technologies at MIT, that is at odds with the way the term is usually used by journalists. The inheritors of the technical tradition of the word "hacker" as it was used at MIT sometimes take offense at the sloppy use of the term by journalists and others who are influenced by journalistic inaccuracy.

Some claim that the term has been unrecoverably corrupted, and acquired a new meaning that we should simply accept. This descriptivist approach is predicated upon the assumption that there's no reasonable way to communicate effectively with the less technically minded without acquiescing to the nontechnical misuse of the term "hacker". I believe it's still useful to differentiate between hackers and security crackers, though, and that terms like "malicious security cracker" are sufficiently evocative and clear that their use actually helps make communication more effective than the common journalistic misuse of "hacker".

I think it's useful to differentiate especially because there are many situations where "hack", and its conjugations, is the only effective term to describe something that has nothing to do with malicious violation of security measures or privacy. When you simply accept that "hacker" means "malicious security cracker", you give up the ability to use the term to refer to anything else without potential confusion.
Content from External Source
Language is dynamic and evolving. Not everyone likes the way it turns out. But you can't really fight it.
 

JRBids

Senior Member.
Once again, let's go to the example I brought up before. If I drink one beer my entire life, should I be labeled a beer drinker? .

I've never come across a conspiracy theorist who only mentioned a theory ONCE. Actually I never came across any who only believed one conspiracy theory.
 
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