Recently, US president Biden has claimed conspiracy theories about election fraud to be a national threat. Ex-president Trump, who complains about election fraud, responded on GAB:
The Biden Administration now says “conspiracy theories” about elections are the greatest threat to the homeland. Does the Department of Homeland Security include in its list of conspiracy theories the on tape irrefutable evidence of massive “Ballot Harvesting” in the Swing States? (…)
However, Trump and Biden both have a common and mistaken conception of “conspiracy theory”, typical for the CIA propaganda.
- First, note that the conspiracy theories may turn out to be true.
- Second, there is nothing wrong with positing a conspiracy theory as a hypothesis.
- Third, presenting an unproven conspiracy theory as a proven one is wrong.
- Fourth, it is inconsistent to call only a restricted class of conspiracy theories as conspiracy theories.
Now, consider the following claims:
- A) There was election fraud in the US in 2020 (and the real winner was Trump).
- B) There was election fraud in Belarus in 2020 (and the real winner was Tsikhanauskaya).
- C) Russia is planning a false flag operation in Ukraine to get an excuse to attack Ukraine.
ALL these three theories above are conspiracy theories. All of them are legitimate hypotheses worthy of consideration, having also some confirming evidence. However, the US official policy has been:
- To reject hypothesis A) on the ground that it is a conspiracy theory. In fact, there is confirming evidence on the election fraud, but the legitimacy of the elections and the real winner remain a disputable question.
- To accept a strong form of hypothesis B) as a proven one, without ever even trying to present an independent and publicly checkable proof. Instead, all claims of “proof” are reduced back to Belarus’ opposition, which is not an independent source. Worse, in Lithuania, Tsikhanauskaya was even claimed to be the official winner of the Belarus elections. However, for sure it is known that there were violations of rules, but it is highly difficult to argue that Lukashenka with his official result of 80% was not a real winner. (The hypothesis that in the US the real winner was Trump is much more plausible than the hypothesis that in Belarus the real winner was Tsikhanauskaya.)
- The US claimed that Russia was preparing a false flag operation in Ukraine without providing any public evidence. Worse, it was claimed that if you do not believe the US claim without evidence, then you blindly believe Russian propaganda — utter nonsense.
Thus, the politicians in the US are using the notion of “conspiracy theory” inconsistently, applying it only when they wish to depreciate some plausible hypothesis. We do actually see that most of the Western political propaganda consists of unjustified conspiracy theories that are presented as proven ones or, it is even explicitly demanded to believe them without sufficient evidence.