COVID-19 and 'Conspiracy Theory': Who Decides What's 'Misinformation'?
This is a guest preview of an article on Substack, well worth your time. The Newsletter is "Unrestrained Inquiry", and the author, Nathan D, is a deeply thoughtful person and an IPAK-EDU student.
During this time of COVID-19, the term "conspiracy theory" has been bandied about too casually by mainstream media sources. We indeed live in an "age of misinformation," a time when it is legitimately hard to tell what exactly is true and what is not. But during this time, how do we make sense of the non-stop flood of contradictory COVID-19 information? And what do we make of alleged COVID-19 conspiracies?
Seldom do the media acknowledge that "conspiracy theory" can become weaponized, the charge becoming a means to stifle free inquiry into a topic. Who decides between valid information versus misinformation? And who decides what distinguishes a conspiracy theory from real political or financial agenda?
The mainstream media, often acting in concert with business or government, have decided it is their responsibility to be the official purveyors of news, the anointed ones to tell you what is authoritative versus what is not; and they have decided to tell you what stories constitute conspiracy theories.
These COVID-19 conspiracies include:
The COVID-19 cases result from health effects from 5G wireless technology, as opposed to a virus.
The virus responsible for COVID-19 was bioengineered in a Wuhan lab and was either accidentally or intentionally released.
COVID-19 vaccines contain "Satan's microchips."
The key question here is: who, ultimately, is the decider of what constitutes a conspiracy theory? We are presented with an illusion of choice in which we are emotionally pressured to join with the author's views.
So, as news consumers, how are we to know what to think when certain information is dismissed entirely as "conspiracy theory"? Sometimes a story is unfounded, but sometimes the story reveals wrongdoings hiding behind the shadows.
Before accepting the viewpoint of an author or a media authority, there are important questions that need to be considered. We present these questions in the form of a framework that can help you make sense of the charge of conspiracy theory.
By using this framework, you will be able to distinguish between honest reporting and propaganda, thus allowing you to better voice your commentary. It is the public's right to voice its concerns, and it is the citizen's duty to ensure the government serves the people.
What is a Conspiracy?
We need to carefully examine the meanings of the terms conspiracy and conspiracy theory…
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Wow super impressive work. Thank you for the framework of assessment. I can spot the mainstream narrative but I am constantly trying to figure out if the counter narrative is fake or meant to discredit the opposition. It can be hard to spot the controlled opposition. Why are the comments not enabled on the article?
The origin of the weaponization of the term is the CIA, in its document "Countering Criticism of The Warren Report" https://archive.org/details/COUNTERINGCRITICISMOFTHEWARRENREPORT/page/n7/mode/2up
"From the day of President Kennedy's assassination on, there has been speculation about the responsibility for his murder... In most cases the critics have speculated as to the existence of some kind of conspiracy and often they have implied that the Commission itself was involved... This trend of opinion is a matter of concern to the U.S. government... Conspiracy theories have frequently thrown suspicion on our organization... The aim of this dispatch is to provide material for countering and discrediting the claims of the conspiracy theorists so as to inhibit the circulation of such claims... We do not recommend that discussion of the assassination question be initiated where it is not already taking place. Where discussion is active, however, addresses are requested:
To discuss the publicity problem with liaison and friendly elite contacts (especially politicians and editors) pointing out... that the charges of the critics are without serious foundation and that further speculative discussion only plays into the hands of the opposition. Point out also that parts of the conspiracy talk appear to be deliberately generated by Communist propagandists...
To employ propaganda assets to answer and refute the attacks of the critics... Our play should point out as applicable that the critics are (i) wedded to theories adopted before the evidence was in (ii) politically interested (iii) financially interested (iv) hasty and inaccurate in their research or (v) infatuated with their own theories.
In private or media discussion not directed at any particular writer or in attacking publications which may be yet forthcoming the following arguments should be useful. A. No significant new evidence has emerged which the Commission did not consider... B. Critics usually overvalue particular items and ignore others... C. CONSPIRACY ON THE LARGE SCALE OFTEN SUGGESTED WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE TO CONCEAL IN THE UNITED STATES... D. Critics have often been enticed by a form of intellectual pride..."
The document goes on to cite many more rhetorical methods, logical fallacies, false accusations, and disinformation techniques to disparage truth seekers and bury the facts.
"Twenty-Five Ways To Suppress Truth: The Rules of Disinformation" http://www.whale.to/m/disin.html
"Logical Fallacies, An Encyclopedia of Errors of Reasoning" https://www.logicalfallacies.info/
Logical Fallacies with Dr Michael Labossiere https://youtu.be/h9_XuSCI6Ps