Oxford English Dictionary:
conspiracy: 1. The action of conspiring; combination of persons for an evil or unlawful purpose . . . 3a. Union or combination (of persons or things) for one end or purpose; harmonious action or effort . . .
conspiracy theory n. the theory that an event or phenomenon occurs as a result of a conspiracy between interested parties; spec. a belief that some covert but influential agency (typically political in motivation and oppressive in intent) is responsible for an unexplained event.
This concept has become popular in both practice and criticism as change becomes more rapid and people seek simple, dramatic answers to complex phenomena.
Popular literature and media are full of conspiracy stories, which also constitute many urban legends.
The Da Vinci Code
Three types of conspiracy theories (Michael Barkun):
1. "event" conspiracy: Kennedy assassination (by Mafia, CIA, Cuban exiles, etc.); 9/11;
2. "System" conspiracy: Catholics, Masons, Jews, International Communism, ATF, Multinational Corporations (gas prices), Roswell + other alien invasion theories
3. "Superconspiracy" theories: David Icke, Milton William Cooper (nearly all systems in #2 cooperate)
Symbols associated with popular conspiracies
Attractions to conspiracy thinking:
Detractions to conspiracy thinking:
How does Conspiracy Theory resemble Millennialism?