Following Jeffery Epstein’s alleged suicide last week we have been deluged by a tsunami of narratives that do not adhere to the shifting official reports of his death. Presumably a few of the intimate secrets of the most powerful people on this planet will be buried with Epstein. While it is rational to believe that people powerful enough to impoverish continents or launch world wars that kill tens of millions could easily arrange the death of a single registered sex criminal in a NY prison cell, anyone who advanced such a scenario, however plausible, was immediately denounced as a ‘conspiracy theorist.’
‘Conspiracy theory’ is how the mainstream media characterizes any narrative that differs from their reporting of the official line. What is a conspiracy theory? Can it be defined in categorical terms? Can a conspiracy theory be validated forensically or refuted by similar means? What criteria can be used to differentiate between a conspiracy theory and theoretical musings?
The labelling of a theory as ‘conspiratorial’ is an attempt to discredit its author/authors and deny its validity. A ‘conspiracy theory’ usually involves an explanatory thesis that points to a malevolent plot often involving a secretive interested party. The term ‘conspiracy theory’ has a pejorative connotation: its use suggests that the theory appeals to prejudice and/or involves a farfetched, unsubstantiated narrative built on insufficient evidence.
Those who oppose conspiracy theories argue that such theories resist falsification and are reinforced by circular reasoning, that such theories are primarily based on beliefs, as opposed to academic or scientific reasoning.