The concept of conspiracy theory is said to have been launched by the CIA after the assassination of John F Kennedy. There were lots of different ideas floating around about who or what had killed the young president. And remarkably many mistrusted the current theory of the lone gunman and Marine veteran Lee Harvey Oswald, who was himself shot shortly afterwards by nightclub owner Jack Ruby.
To be called a conspiracy theorist is a kind of belittlement and mockery. There is no point in arguing with such an individual, because what she says is narrow-minded and absurd, most of it distorted and unreliable. One can ignore these people.
In other words, it is a very effective tool for eliminating criticism and questioning. Often it works by pointing to scenarios of real conspiracies, such as associations where members believe the earth is flat, or individuals who refuse all vaccines, blood transfusions, etc.
Then when criticism of a specific vaccine arises, such as newly developed mRNA preparations, etc., they are compared to anti-vaxxers and flat earthers. The critics’ ideas are quickly invalidated because they are associated with these somewhat narrow groups. A few months later, news of all sorts of side effects comes out, and long afterwards the critics are vindicated, but by then it’s too late.
The whole point of the conspiracy theory concept is for right-thinking citizens to chastise each other, for there to be meta-discussions, rifts and misunderstandings. So that the actual subject is not discussed but only the forms around it. The sensitive phenomenon can be dismissed without a thorough debate.
Many so-called conspiracy theories are not really even conspiracies, because there is no real conspiracy. Let us say that a UFO has crashed and the authorities choose not to make the matter public because they think it might cause panic, disrupt society in various ways, or for reasons we do not know about.
And the authorities are probably right to keep certain things secret, based on their business and how society works. There is no “conspiracy”, just ignorant citizens. And there are lots of other things that are not shared with citizens. The fact that some of these topics are raised and called conspiracy theories is certainly interesting, and that is why we are having this debate.
Compare this with the Swedish term ‘rättshaverist’, quite similar to ‘querulant’. It is an individual who drives legal processes into absurdity, often perceived as incomprehensible and sometimes meaningless to outsiders. The querulant does not give in, but appeals to every authority, contacts all authorities, administrators, local politicians, associations, distributes leaflets etc. etc.
What if all citizens had a little more of this in them? It would definitely be more difficult for our politicians and officials to maintain the clown world of today. Therefore, even the term querulant is a way of belittling and ridiculing these enterprising individuals, so that the behaviour does not rub off on the rest of the social body. And we ordinary upright citizens help to mock, belittle, and laugh at the matter. No shepherd is needed when the sheep are this obedient.