The phrase conspiracy theory has today a negative meaning, due to the existence of conspiracy theories which are argued to be "obviously" incorrect and absurd. The phrase is therefore rarely used by supporters of the existence of a "conspiracy" or some similar argued phenomena. The phrase is instead often used by opponents, as a guilt by association label, in order to summarily dismiss the theory or observation. This is often problematic, since there are real conspiracies and since members of a group do may behave similarly without being involved in a conspiracy.
Examples of real conspiracies include many assassinations, coups, and revolutions (or attempts), which were organized by various secret groups.
A notable example is conspiracies by Communists, with violent revolutions being an official part of the Communist ideology, and with this implying the presence of Communist conspiracies before the attempted violent revolutions. At least during the regime of Lenin and Stalin, Communist organizations in other countries were very often controlled by and took orders from the Communist Soviet Union, and they often committed numerous crimes while preparing for or attempting Communist revolutions. (See, for example, The Black Book of Communism, "Part II Word Revolution, Civil War, and Terror".)
Just one example of a Communist conspiracy (or several conspiracies) is the extensive Communist infiltration and espionage in the United States, which caused "McCarthyism".
Entryism, trying to take over or influence other, often larger, organizations, such as by covertly and conspiratorially infiltrating these organizations, is a semi-official part of Trotskyism. There are numerous examples of such attempts by Trotskyists.
Starting a war is often seen as requiring a provocation and there are many examples of fabricated false flag provocations, which are then used as an excuse for starting a war or attempting to start a war. Related methods include, for example, making false allegations of producing weapons of mass destruction (see Iraq War).
During a war, false propaganda is very common. One example is during the First World War, when large scale false propaganda was spread as psychological warfare and which falsely blamed Germans for various large scale atrocities.
The start of WWI itself involved a large Serbian conspiracy, the Serbian Black Hand organization with hundreds of members (many of them government officials and officers), which was involved in the June 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo.
Regarding the Second World War:
- Alleged German conspiracy to hide the Holocaust - a politically correct conspiracy theory
- Allied psychological warfare
- Anti-Holocaust revisionism: "Conspiracy theories" - on criticisms of Holocaust revisionism as conspiracy theories
Other examples of conspiracies include all forms of organized crime, terrorist organizations, and spying and other activities (such as Operation Mockingbird, COINTELPRO, and Project MKUltra) by intelligence and other government agencies.
A seldom mentioned aspect of the most common view on the conspiracy theory stated in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, that this writing was a forgery by the Czarist secret police, is that this is also a conspiracy theory.
Similar behavior by group members without a conspiracy
It is possible for a large group of people to behave similarly without being involved in a conspiracy. For example, people from a particular ethnicity often tend to support policies seen as beneficial for the ethnicity. Thus, the absence of a conspiracy does not necessarily mean the absence of generally similar behavior by the members of a similar group (such as by the members of particular ethnicity or by the members of groups such as Freemasons).
- 33 Conspiracy Theories That Turned Out To Be True, What Every Person Should Know…
- CIA Document 1035-960: Foundation of a Weaponized Term by James F Tracy
- Conspiracies: Fact or Fiction? at Running Cause I Can't Fly