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How to Build a Conspiracy Theory


Techniques General Persuasion > Conspiracy Theories > How to Build a Conspiracy Theory

 Seek strangeness | Cast beneficiaries as conspirators | Extrapolate weak indicators | Develop believers | Publicize theory | Interpret denial as confirmation | See also


How are conspiracy theories built? Here's your personal guide on how to build a theory of your own.

Seek strangeness

Look for things which are out of the ordinary. Things to seek include:

  • Major news items that cause shock and surprise, such as assassinations or freak weather events.
  • Small news items that quickly disappear, such as government appointments or industrial disasters.
  • Subtle patterns that appear across many events, such as unexplained deaths or unmarked buildings.

Events such as these are candidates for a conspiracy theory.

Cast beneficiaries as conspirators

Ask yourself: Who might benefit from the strangeness? Who might be involved? Classic candidates include:

  • The government, which seeks to control its population.
  • Big companies, which seek to maximize profit.
  • Rich people, who seek to keep and extend their wealth.
  • Religions, which seek to propagate their ideologies.
  • Political groups, which seek to change democracy.
  • Interest groups, which seek to further the agenda of minorities.

The first step in creating the theory is to identify such beneficiaries and then theorize how they might be involved, pulling strings and taking direct actions behind the scenes.

For example, deaths could be caused by governments or others assassinating critics who would expose them.

Extrapolate weak indicators

Seek evidence that might support your theory. Initially this might lead you to change the theory, though once you have established the theory you should stick to its claims at all costs.

This evidence can be quite weak and need not prove any cause. Plausibility is more important than proof. A useful source is previous form, where they have done something similar in the past. For example, if a government has assassinated people before, then they may be assumed to have assassinated anybody else you care to identify. An extension of this principle is to take accusations as evidence, so if the government has been accused of assassination, even in another conspiracy theory, then you can also claim this as proof.

Extrapolate and exaggerate what you have found. If a person in the government is found to be corrupt, then assume the whole government is corrupt. If a company is found to be tipping toxic waste, assume it is endemic within the industry.

Create the conspiracy

Having identified beneficiaries and their evil deeds, the next step is to extend the theory to include others.

There is a basic structure that is core to all conspiracies, so you need to be able to explain all parts of this:

  • Bad things are done for plausible and immoral reasons.
  • Those involved will suffer if they are found out.
  • They seek to hide what they are doing, using anonymity and cover-ups.
  • People who know or may also benefit may be enticed into doing similar bad things and so join the conspiracy.
  • These people plot together to maintain the silence.
  • Those who might expose the conspiracy are silenced by payment, legal action, physical threat or other means, legitimate or otherwise.

The conspiracy may be widespread, though it is can also be between a few key players. There are typically 'circles within circles' where outer members may be less involved and know less than those at the core.

Develop believers

A conspiracy needs to be exposed and one person crying in the wilderness will unlikely be heard. Worse, they may be silenced by the conspirators.

A safer and better way is to build a group of people who believe the truth of the theory and who work together to expose the conspiracy.

A key goal is to build a group of committed believers who are so outraged and concerned they are prepared to put significant effort into exposing the conspiracy.

This can be enjoyable as it creates a group of like-minded people who soon become friends.

Publicize theory

The only way to bring down the conspiracists is to make their misdeeds public. While annoying the tiger, this also protects you. If they harm you, then they prove their guilt, and other believers will be witness to this.

At one time theorists would publish books and pamphlets. These days the web is a wonderful tool not just for telling the awful truth but also finding and conversing with like-minded believers.

There are many ways to communicate, and the dilemma is how to convince a perhaps doubtful public of the truth. Depending on the audience, this may use a 'shock-horror' expose, use dignified disgust, or narrate the facts like a newsreader.

Interpret silence or denial as confirmation

Of course they will want to avoid admission of any involvement. They may used all kinds of ways to propagate this, from flat denial to completely ignoring you.

Whatever they do, it proves their complicity. You would expect them to deny involvement if they were a part of a conspiracy, and of course this is what they do.

See also



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