Last modified on 28 October 2011, at 19:29

Talk:conspiracy theory

Return to "conspiracy theory" page.

Examples of usageEdit

Wikipedia talk pages have numerous examples of people using the phrase "conspiracy theory" in an attempt to discredit a subject. People accuse allegedly dubious theories of being fiction using "conspiracy theory" all the time. Hollow are the Ori 22:24, 17 August 2007 (UTC)

Is Wikipedia considered a reliable source here? Blueboar 22:27, 17 August 2007 (UTC)

The entire point of wiktionary is so all examples of usage can have a place to put those definitions. Hollow are the Ori 22:30, 17 August 2007 (UTC)

Do some of the definitions constitute neologistic creations?Edit

I am concerned that some of the definitions here are personal ones that reflect the opinion of the editor adding them, and not used by multiple sources. Especialy:

  • 3. An accusation that something might be an example from the type or collection of eccentric fiction.
  • 4. Historically connoted that a subject was unworthy of serious consideration.

Number three is essentially a repeat of the second def. and the last really belongs in the usage section as it isn't really a definition. I have cut these two defs.

Also, the usages section reads like the opinion of one editor... can we have some examples of how the term is used in these ways? Blueboar 22:26, 17 August 2007 (UTC)

I recommend reading this and this. Many times additions to wikipedia have been improperly reverted or rejected because the reverter claimed the content was a "conspiracy theory" (proof the phrase was used to discredit). Hollow are the Ori 22:39, 17 August 2007 (UTC)

I think the rfv template is the wrong one to useEdit

I think the rfv template is to verify if "conspiracy theory" should be included at all, perhaps there is a better template tag you could use? {cleanup} or similar is ok with me. Hollow are the Ori 22:42, 17 August 2007 (UTC)

Well... I would like a third party opinion on the validity of last two definitions and the tone of the usages section, not just a clean up. I am not familiar with Wiktionary's tags. If you know one that is more appopriate...? Blueboar 22:46, 17 August 2007 (UTC)
How are the last two definitions invalid? I've provided examples of usage. Feel free to propose tone fixes to the usage notes section in a new discussion section. I will look for a new template tag to use. Hollow are the Ori 22:51, 17 August 2007 (UTC)
They aren't really seperate definitions... they are usages of the first two definitions. As I said... I would like an outside opinion on this. Blueboar 22:57, 17 August 2007 (UTC)
I am surprised those POV aligned with you haven't shown up already. Hollow are the Ori 22:58, 17 August 2007 (UTC)
This is absurd. This definition is based on postings by Zen-master on Wikipedia, was written by the same editor here, and now is being used by Zen-master to support his postings on Wikipedia.[1] The sources for this definition should be entirely independent. Will Beback 23:20, 17 August 2007 (UTC)

These definitions are supported by others' postings to Wikipedia and common knowledge and google and common sense, not my postings to anywhere. Hollow are the Ori 23:24, 17 August 2007 (UTC)

I've removed the disputed definitions and the "usage note", pending consensus on this page. Will Beback 23:42, 17 August 2007 (UTC)
It's against policy to arbitrarily remove definitions that have been here for over a year. Please allow the rfv process to proceed. Hollow are the Ori 23:46, 17 August 2007 (UTC)
Please point out the policy that says there is a time limit on challenging a definition. Also, I concur with the deletion... I do not find it "arbitrary"... it seems clear that one user has added definitions to this entry to support his unique arguments on wikipedia (and vise versa). I would indeed like to see independant usage for these definitions. I would even argue that the second definition (a genre of fiction) is a neologistic one... dependant on the first definition. I would contend that there isn't a unique genre of fiction called "conspiracy theory fiction"... there is simply fiction that uses a conspiracy in its plot. I would like to see independant usages for all of these definitions except the primary one. Blueboar 00:25, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

Critique/comment on new versionEdit

I'm now happy with the definitions, and the first of the usage notes. The second usage note seems dubious, and very weasel-worded. There are those who allege that "picnic" is a racist term (I kid you not) but we wouldn't necessarily document it. "Manhole" would be another one, although the confusion leading to it being considered sexist is pretty well-document in reliable sources. Users here alleging that it's inappropriate for a certain reason isn't enough cause for us to document the allegation, IMO. SamBC 18:09, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

If any criticism is citable it should be included, though maybe "usage notes" is not the right title for usage criticism. The fact that most proponents of theories that alleges a conspiracy don't want their theory labeled discreditingly as a "conspiracy theory" is evidence some people reject the phrase as being inappropriate. Hollow are the Ori 18:17, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
If that is a fact, then it should be citable and cited. I'm not familiar enough with style conventions here to say what else it could be called other than a usage note, it still reads like an essay. SamBC 18:35, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
Do we just go ask proponents of theories that allege conspiracies their beliefs about the phrase "conspiracy theory"? What specifically do you not like with the way the second usage note is written? Hollow are the Ori 18:52, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
(edit conflict)Going and asking the proponents wouldn't give us a reliable source either. If a reliable source has published something mentioning this criticism, then that's a source that can be cited. In terms of the writing, one specific thing is that saying that it's "inappropriate" begs the question "in what context?". SamBC 19:58, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
I think you're overstating your case a bit, and also assuming a bit too stridently that all of Wikipedia's policies apply here. (Some do, some don't; and some do in theory, but are interpreted differently here.) If there exists a briefly-expressible criticism of the use of a term, and we can cite a source demonstrating such, then I really don't think it's a problem to include it. I wouldn't necessarily clamor to include it, but if it makes another editor happy (and my impression is that it does, though obviously I can't speak for anyone else here), then it seems a more than acceptable compromise. (We do need to find a source for it, but for that I'm really not worried.) —RuakhTALK 19:38, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
Okay, if there's a citation of that that's not related to Hollow (and I'll take his/her word on it), then I'll accept that. The "inappropriate"-related concern I mention above stands.
As regards policies, I was trying to work based on the policy/guideline stuff I found here, but as reliable source isn't defined and the en.wp stuff is reference, I was basing it broadly on that. SamBC 19:58, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
The source for the second definition is also a source for the usage notes. Hollow are the Ori 22:02, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
For the first usage note, yes, but that source says nothing about any appropriateness, or about any concerns anyone has expressed. SamBC 00:02, 19 August 2007 (UTC)
I have to agree with Sam... take a look at the usage notes for the word nigger (a word which most people find inappropriate)... it talks about the usage in a neutral way... pointing out that it is used as a pejorative... but it does not discuss it's appropiateness or make a value judgement on using it. Blueboar 11:24, 19 August 2007 (UTC)
Saying that "some consider it inappropriate" is not making a value judgement on it, it's neutrally stating what some believe. Hollow are the Ori 16:13, 19 August 2007 (UTC)

(unindent) Leaving aside whether people (or significant (number of) people) actually say that, "inappropriate" isn't a useful word, as there's not really any such thing as a word or term which is universally inappropriate. It depends on context. I think the wording now covers everything that anyone is trying to get across here. SamBC 16:45, 19 August 2007 (UTC)

Usage notesEdit

While I agree with the reasoning behind the removal of the first usage note, something doesn't feel entirely right. It seems that the entry now emphasizes the pejorative use of the term way over the matter-of-fact use. SamBC 18:38, 19 August 2007 (UTC)

I like the current version except something seems missing, I will think about it. Hollow are the Ori 18:47, 19 August 2007 (UTC)
To me it seems reasonable to emphasize the pejorative use of the term, because in my experience it's the usual use; is your experience different? —RuakhTALK 19:50, 19 August 2007 (UTC)
Yes; it's hard to elaborate on that. However, a point to note (for this discussion) is that sometimes it's taken to be pejorative when that's not how it's meant. SamBC 19:55, 19 August 2007 (UTC)
Interesting. This might take some hammering out. —RuakhTALK 20:02, 19 August 2007 (UTC)
I'm surprised that we've now got a note saying that a reference is needed for usage without pejorative meaning. Perhaps the editor making this change could discuss on the talk page, as my last edit summary suggested? SamBC 23:23, 19 August 2007 (UTC)
Further to this, here's a very short (but complete) quote from the Compact Oxford English Dictionary:

conspiracy theory

  • noun a belief that some covert but influential organization is responsible for an unexplained event.
When the compact version of one of the most respected British English dictionaries makes no mention of pejorative use, I'd say that's evidence that the term is not inherently pejorative. How the heck do you provide a reference for a negative, in any case? SamBC 23:30, 19 August 2007 (UTC)



several edit conflicts later
Usage notes that generate controversy are generally resolved only by citing sources. This entry has had, what, about 45 edits in the last day or two? Take your edit war somewhere else...several factions have spilled over from Wikipedia, for what, to mangle an entry here to support their arguments there? Get a grip. Now that attention has been drawn to this entry, it needs to be combed over by Wiktionarians, not POV pushing Wikipedians. Do not remove cleanup tags. I indicated a comment within the cleanup tag to say that references are needed, then summarized what the usage note says. I don't see any justification for a usage note, but I haven't looked to closely (at other references) yet. Which is to say, other dictionaries I have looked at say nothing of the sort. --Connel MacKenzie 23:35, 19 August 2007 (UTC)
While my attention was drawn here due to a discussion on en.wikipedia, I'd invite you to assume good faith an look at the specific edits. No dictionary I've looked at mentions anything about a pejorative use, but others have made reasonable experience-based arguments that there is such a use. My efforts since then have been driven towards an attempt at compromise and consensus. If you'd like to base the entry on the entry I quote above (available for verification online here), then be my guest, although I think the definition will lose out somewhat. SamBC 23:42, 19 August 2007 (UTC)
To give you an example of the usage of the term "conspiracy theory" that is not pejorative... many people believe that the Freemasons planned the Boston Tea Party in one of their meetings (the facts do not bear this out, which explains why it remains a theory and is not considered "accepted fact" by historians... nevertheless it is an oft repeated claim). This is usually presented in a way that praises the Freemasons for doing so (at least it is if the person talking about this theory is an American). It is nevertheless called a "conspiracy theory" ... simply because it is a theory that involves the idea that someone conspired to do something. Blueboar 23:43, 19 August 2007 (UTC)
Your comment seems to be about something different from the rest of the discussion. What I was saying, and what I assume Connel was saying, is that calling a theory a "conspiracy theory" is dismissive of the theory and pejorative of those who ascribe to it. —RuakhTALK 00:00, 20 August 2007 (UTC)
Connel seems to be saying that we need a reference to indicate that it can be used without being pejorative. I believe that Blueboar and myself are attempting to provide such references with the intention of determining what would be suitable and sufficient for the page. SamBC 00:08, 20 August 2007 (UTC)
I agree with your interpretation of what Connel is saying, and I believe that you are attempting what you say you are; but Blueboar is doing something different: (s)he's giving an example where, (s)he claims, the term is not being used "pejoratively". The problem with this is that his/her explanation of why it's not pejorative has no bearing on Connel's implicit claim (that I agree with) that the term usually is used pejoratively. (There's a fallacy of four terms in play here: Connel and I are saying that the term is pejorative toward people who believe in such theories, and Blueboar is replying that the term is not necessarily pejorative toward the supposed conspirators. Does that make sense?) —RuakhTALK 02:26, 20 August 2007 (UTC)
You're right; I misread what Blueboar was saying. So, can we move on from that and try to get a definition and usage notes that makes sense and doesn't bother anyone (reasonably), preferably also agreeing with reality (in ways that the dictionaries I've referenced don't). SamBC 02:38, 20 August 2007 (UTC)
Thank you Ruakh, SamBC. Yes, I don't see this as a non-pejorative expression, even with regard to Freemasons. But as Ruakh pointed out, that has nothing to do with the Usage notes section. I think the entry would benefit from citations, that show typical (pejorative) use of the primary definition. I don't see how the last sentence of the current Usage notes section is helpful. The first sentence tries to reach a conclusion that we shouldn't dictate; simply providing examples of how the term is used, lets readers draw their own conclusions. Since no other dictionaries seem to to back up the assertion, I don't see how a usage notes section is justified. If anything, it might mention (as SamBC said,) that it is usually interpreted as pejorative, even if that was not the intended meaning. But I don't see any references that would support even that. --Connel MacKenzie 07:22, 20 August 2007 (UTC)
So three respected dictionary definitions not mentioning any pejorative (unlike their definitions for, say, nazi or fag) doesn't hold any weight? SamBC 10:38, 20 August 2007 (UTC)
Further to this, neither of the online-searchable Dictionary.com unabridged (based on Random House unabridged) or American Heritage dictionary mention a pejorative use or meaning. SamBC 23:45, 19 August 2007 (UTC)
Pigden, Charles R (2007) "Conspiracy Theories and the Conventional Wisdom" Episteme: A Journal of Social Epistemology Volume 4, Issue 2, Edinburgh University Press pp. 222 DOI: 10.1353/epi.2007.0017 does mention this and in my book University Press supersede regular dictionaries any day of the week.