What is conspiracy: Definition and 41 Discussions

A conspiracy, also known as a plot, is a secret plan or agreement between people (called conspirers or conspirators) for an unlawful or harmful purpose, such as murder or treason, especially with political motivation, while keeping their agreement secret from the public or from other people affected by it. In a political sense, conspiracy refers to a group of people united in the goal of usurping, altering or overthrowing an established political power. Depending on the circumstances, a conspiracy may also be a crime, or a civil wrong. The term generally implies wrongdoing or illegality on the part of the conspirators, as people would not need to conspire to engage in activities that were lawful and ethical, or to which no one would object.
There are some coordinated activities that people engage in with secrecy that are not generally thought of as conspiracies. For example, intelligence agencies such as the American CIA and the British MI6 necessarily make plans in secret to spy on suspected enemies of their respective countries, but this kind of activity is generally not considered to be a conspiracy so long as their goal is to fulfill their official functions, and not something like improperly enriching themselves. Similarly, the coaches of competing sports teams routinely meet behind closed doors to plan game strategies and specific plays designed to defeat their opponents, but this activity is not considered a conspiracy because this is considered a legitimate part of the sport. Furthermore, a conspiracy must be engaged in knowingly. The continuation of social traditions that work to the advantage of certain groups and to the disadvantage of certain other groups, though possibly unethical, is not a conspiracy if participants in the practice are not carrying it forward for the purpose of perpetuating this advantage.On the other hand, if the intent of carrying out a conspiracy exists, then there is a conspiracy even if the details are never agreed to aloud by the participants. CIA covert operations, for instance, are by their very nature hard to prove definitively but research into the agency's work, as well as revelations by former CIA employees, has suggested several cases where the agency tried to influence events. During the Cold War, the United States tried to covertly change other nations' governments 66 times, succeeding in 26 cases.A "conspiracy theory" is a belief that a conspiracy has actually been decisive in producing a political event of which the theorists strongly disapprove. Political scientist Michael Barkun has described conspiracy theories as relying on the view that the universe is governed by design, and embody three principles: nothing happens by accident, nothing is as it seems, and everything is connected. Another common feature is that conspiracy theories evolve to incorporate whatever evidence exists against them, so that they become, as Barkun writes, a closed system that is unfalsifiable, and therefore "a matter of faith rather than proof."

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  1. H

    Is the Atomic Bomb a Hoax Perpetuated by Conspiracy Theorists?

    Someone wrote to me that the atomic bomb didn't exist and was probably a hoax. T They said that in World War II German scientists declared the bomb impossible. German scientists were the best in the world so the bomb must be fake.
  2. Astronuc

    How to Spot Pseudoscience in an Age of Conspiracy Theories

  3. pinball1970

    Critical thinking skills and belief in conspiracy theory

    This is the article. This is not the usual sort of study I read but given the last 16 months, I thought I would post and see what pf guys thought of the method and conclusions. The line of best fit in the results seemed a bit random to me but let's see what you make of it...
  4. DennisN

    What we can learn from conspiracy theories

    I just read an article I found very interesting, about the psychology of and possible reasons for conspiracy theories: What we can learn from conspiracy theories (BBC, 25th May 2020) http://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200522-what-we-can-learn-from-conspiracy-theories "From political upheavals...
  5. Dr. Courtney

    "Fake Science News" The Sugar Conspiracy - notable example

    https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/apr/07/the-sugar-conspiracy-robert-lustig-john-yudkin Lots of important lessons here, for scientists, teachers, and the general public who consumes and often makes personal decisions based on science news.
  6. Evo

    News Fifth Graders Charged With Murder Conspiracy

    So, these two obviously violent individuals could be released in 2 years or less? I keep reading that serial killers start by torturing and killing animals when they are children. I wouldn't be surprised if these two are also into that, but have also decided to move on to humans. I'd like...
  7. C

    The line between insane conspiracy theories and credible human rights violatio

    What is the formal definition of the line between insane conspiracy theories and credible human rights violations? What usually distinguishes the two, and makes some rational, and others not? For example, 9/11 conspiracy theories don't seem to be credible nor believable at all. However, US...
  8. S

    Doomsday Conspiracy Theorists Needs to Be Shut Down

    Hey there folks! This is my first post and I have just discovered this stellar forum only a couple hours ago. I am a simpleton compared to most of you so please bare with me and my diminutive thought process :P I work with a man who bases his whole life around the world ending (or changing...
  9. M

    Sleepless Nights: A Conspiracy of Waking Up

    Greater forces are toying with my life...or at least, the part of it where I'm supposed to sleep. I don't mind my sleep being a little troubled, that's probably my fault but every freakin' morning, something happens that just *has* to wake me up. Today, somebody was looking for my dad but...
  10. F

    Uncovering the Truth Behind the College Conspiracy

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpZtX32sKVE Wow how reliable are the facts in the video??
  11. D

    Conspiracy theory with Jesse Ventura

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZOt29NR0FY&feature=topvideos How did this guy manage to become a governor? Scary.
  12. Pattonias

    Can a conspiracy theorist assert his claims without lying?

    I don't understand how a person can honestly assert a conspiracy theory. I'll use 9/11 conspiracy for an example. The numerous documentaries that are floating around the internet assert that the President of the United States pulled off the most flawlessly executed mass murder and...
  13. edward

    News What are the dangers of spreading and believing in extreme conspiracy theories?

    The online version of my local paper, as do many, has a place to post an opinion addressing most of the days articles. People make posts and then argue back and forth. It doesn't take long until the conservative wing nuts begin going off of the deep end. From todays article about Obama...
  14. C

    Conspiracy of the Intellectuals

    Conspiracy of the “Intellectuals” Conspiracy of the “Intellectuals” I claim that most twentieth century intellectuals engaged, most probably unwittingly, in a cabal to accentuate reason and to denigrate emotion for the purpose of accentuating human “god-like” characteristics and denigrating...
  15. Ivan Seeking

    Can Vaseline be used as a substitute for wienerschlicker?

    Okay, since Wolram uses all sorts of expressions and words that we Yanks can't understand, like brittle pegs, which means sore legs, I think, we need to create some new words that we Yanks can use agin the Brits. Here is my first suggestion: Vaseline - wienerschlicker.
  16. Loren Booda

    The most convincing conspiracy

    Of conspiracy theories, which is your favorite? What is the most outrageous such theory found to be true?
  17. D

    Is There Real Evidence for the Moon Landing?

    First- I definitely believe we landed on the moon. But is there any real evidence? Pictures, rocks, and huge, expensive shuttles aren't conclusive evidence, are they? David
  18. baywax

    Chemtrails / Contrails - debunk a conspiracy theory

    Could someone please debunk the idea that there is a secret government dumping viruses, nerve gas, hormones and other irritants from jets at over 30,000 feet to influence everything from voting preference and the weather to birth rates? This idea has been around for a number of years and all you...
  19. K

    Declassified files: The end of conspiracy

    If all of the gov files from the 1940’s are declassified, will this put an end to the Philadelphia Experiment debate? 1980’s- Project Montauk What about the millions of government cover-ups on UFO’s? I think there will still be claims about a government cover-up to cover-up the government...
  20. Ivan Seeking

    News The great Happy Feet conspiracy

    The great "Happy Feet" conspiracy http://mediamatters.org/items/200611210008?offset=20&show=1 What role should Hollywood play in helping to educate the public about important issues? When is Hollywood educating, and when are they spreading propaganda?
  21. rcgldr

    It's a Small World conspiracy

    It's started. It's a Small World conspiracy has started as of yesterday, 06/06/06. This secretly satanic tune is getting stuck in victims brains, taking away the ability to concentrate, leading to some close calls and accidents. I've added disclaimers so you know that the accidents weren't that...
  22. Chi Meson

    What caused the mysterious flash of light during 9/11 plane strikes?

    EDIT: This is delicate. The thread was started in S&D, but just now moved to GD. In no way did I intend to further a conspiracy wing nut theory. I believe there to be a plausible explanation, I just would like to know what it might be: [/EDIT] I saw last night a portion of a conspiracy theory...
  23. R

    News Tom DeLay: Indicted on conspiracy charges

    [SOLVED] Tom DeLay: Indicted on conspiracy charges http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/national/AP-DeLay-Investigation.html?hp&ex=1127966400&en=2cf6902ed6f45124&ei=5094&partner=homepage Who's surprised? :tongue2:
  24. K

    Old Oklahoma City conspiracy theory; any engineers out there?

    The following was written by a USAF General shortly after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. It basically says that the truck bomb couldn't have done the damage we saw. http://independence.net/okc/congressbombreport.htm Also available here...
  25. S

    News A link for the conspiracy theorists

    The death of the Florida Deprtment of Transpotation Director; Suicide or...was the guy really on to something? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raymond_C._Lemme
  26. Y

    Unbelievable Conspiracy Theories: Delve into the Craziest Ideas!

  27. R

    News Bernie Ebbers: Guilty of Fraud & Conspiracy, Surrenders Assets

    Former Worldcom boss Bernie Ebbers, found guilty of fraud and conspiracy in connection with the firm's demise, has given up most of his assets in a deal. He will surrender the majority of his cash, his home and other assets in a settlement with legal authorities and investors in the bankrupted...
  28. P

    Was 9/11 a controlled demolition?

    This has been floating on the net for the last couple of days and it does prove to be intriguing. This will definitely be an affirmation for the conspiracy theorists out there because it is coming from a from a pretty interesting source. It gets even better, here is the link to the Lew...
  29. W

    Evil Conspiracy on PhysicsForums.com

    It seems there's an evil conspiracy on physicsforums.com to ignore my posts...
  30. P

    9/11 Conspiracy Theorist Offers $100,000 Prize For Proof Of Official Theory.

    Jimmy Walter has spent more than $3 million promoting a conspiracy theory the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States were "an inside job" and he is offering more cash to anyone who proves him wrong. The millionaire activist is so convinced of a government cover-up he is offering a...
  31. V

    Are My Posts Being Ignored? Investigating a Possible Conspiracy

    I have been noticing lately. that my no. of posts is not increasing as fast as i am posting. yesterday when i logged in i had 138 posts. i made around 6-7 posts yesterday, and also a couple of them today but it still reads 138. is this site having some trouble or are the admin. trying to...
  32. T

    News Iraq Election results conspiracy theory

    Okay, I'm sitting here watching CNN and they have the big winners in the election being interviewed. They all speak English very well. My apartment manager is from the middle east and he can't speak English as well and he's been here for over a decade. I've never seen Bush being interviewed in...
  33. P

    Sept. 11 Conspiracy Theorist Offers $100,000 Prize

    So do we have any takers? Here's the link to the article: http://www.zogby.com/Soundbites/ReadClips.dbm?ID=10574 Jimmy Walter has spent more than $3 million promoting a conspiracy theory the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States were "an inside job" and he is offering more cash...
  34. I

    Conspiracy Theories: Check & Share Your Thoughts

    check this out http://www.prisonplanet.tv/audio/091204hilton.htm and this http://www.freedomunderground.org/memoryhole/pentagon.php#Main tell me what you think
  35. Ivan Seeking

    The Gale17-Mentat conspiracy thread.

    So after mysteriously disappearing together, after a long absence they just as mysteriously and suddenly, magically appear, together. Need I say more...? :wink:
  36. Ivan Seeking

    News A conspiracy theory, just for fun

    Something occurred to me tonight as I watched the latest on the Iraq situation. I am just passing this on as some wild speculation that seems to make a bit of sense. Going into the war, I was extremely concerned that we had been duped. To me, Powell's presentation to the UN had all the...
  37. Ivan Seeking

    The original UFO conspiracy nuts

    The original UFO conspiracy "nuts" ORIGINAL NICAP BOARD OF GOVERNORS: Dr. Marcus Bach...State University of Iowa Rev. A1bert Baller...Robbins Memorial Church Dr. Earl Douglas...Religious Writer & Columnist Frank Edwards...Radio/TV Commentator Colonel Robert B.Emerson...USAR Major...
  38. Q

    The Ivan Seeking Conspiracy Thread

    In the spirit of Psuedosciences all over the world: Is it just me or do you see this Ivan Seeking character's name all over this section of PhysicsForums.com as well? Could this be some conspiracy to dominate and monopolize the opinions and threads of the Psuedosciences section? Or is Ivan...
  39. Ivan Seeking

    Moon-landing conspiracy theories weightless but persistent

    "Even today -- the 34th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing, the first arrival by astronauts on the lunar surface -- there are people who think the whole program was a sham." http://www.siliconvalley.com/mld/siliconvalley/6350437.htm
  40. C

    Conspiracy? i think 'they' exist here too

    Conspiracy?? i think 'they' exist here too threads can be blocked but posts deleted, never, who could do that? thats right pf users, posts have been goin missing in threads. 'they', in what is probably a vein attempt to keep the pittiful squablings of 'them' (us) in check, have been deleting...
  41. G

    Debunking the SARS Biotechnology Conspiracy Theory

    My biology teacher who seems to hate biotechnology said that "SARS is possibly a product of biotechnology that went wrong!" and things like that, persuading the whole class to believe it. I don't know much about biotechnology/SARS but I don't think what my teacher said is true because I've...