Accepted Paper:

has pdf download The conspiracy theory meme as a tool of cultural hegemony: a critical discourse analysis  


Ed Rankin (Fielding Graduate University)

Paper short abstract:

The intelligence community and other agents of the state have used mainstream media to limit and control public discourse. Evidence of direct involvement of these agents of power in the creation of memes such as "conspiracy theorist" and the use of memes to limit challenges to power is compelling.

Paper long abstract:

Politicians, the media and other agents of power often label those rejecting the official accounts of significant suspicious and impactful events as "conspiracy theorists" and their proposed alternative explanations as "conspiracy theories". Agents of power use these labels to dismiss the beliefs of those who question potential hegemonic control of what people believe.The conspiracy theory concept functions as an impediment to legitimate discursive examination of conspiracy suspicions. The effect of the label appears to constrain even the most respected thinkers. This impediment is particularly problematic in academia, where thorough, objective analysis of information is critical to uncovering truth, and where members of the academy are typically considered among the most important of epistemic authorities. This paper tracks the development and use of such terms as pejoratives used to shutdown critical thinking, analysis, and challenges to authority. The underlying research employed critical discourse analysis as a research methodology. Evidence suggesting government agents were instrumental in creating the pejorative meme "conspiracy theorist" has been found in contemporary media.

Panel P29
The politics of truth after the fact: shifting states in a post-fact world