They thus enable a cultural analysis of, first, conspiracy theory's ideological, circular, and endless desire for a totalizing method of mapping and understanding a social and political order where power seems always elsewhere; and, second, conspiracy theory's practice of producing meaningful and intense effects and an incessant chain of interpretation. As an interpretive practice, conspiracy theory represents an impossible, almost Utopian drive to seize and fetishize individual signs in order to place them within vast interpretive structures that unsuccessfully attempt to stop the signs' unlimited meaning production. This chapter and the next together assert that conspiracy theory displaces the citizen's desire for political significance onto a signifying regime in which interpretation and a narrative of conspiracy, and an obsessive desire for information, replace political engagement. In order to ground what will at times become a rather abstract description and analysis of conspiracy theory's interpretive practices, this chapter utilizes some of the conspiracies concerning Bill Clinton as examples. Accordingly, 1 begin with some details about two sets of conspiratorial allegations that arose during Clinton's two terms as president in order to use these allegations as illustrative examples of how conspiracy theory's interpretive practices work.
Search for “truth” becomes endless and repetitive
Fenster, University of Florida- Professor of Law, 9
(Mark, “Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture,” 2009, Pg. 100, Ebrary, JSkoog)
Conspiracy theories prodigiously commit to learn and know the presumed secrets of power and domination. In their endless striving for more information, conspiracy theorists clearly want something— specifically the "truth," as they would understand it, which entails a truly transparent state of relations with others as well as with the greater Other of power. This desire constitutes neither a basic human need nor a clear political demand. Although some who search for evidence of a conspiracy are impoverished, their search does not promise the fulfillment of their basic needs, and although some conspiracy theorists actively make political demands individually and collectively, their search seems only tangential))' related to the fulfillment ol specific demands concerning government programs and laws."' Rather, it constitutes a desire. The practice of interpreting conspiracy is repetitive, endless, and faces continual frustration. As a result, conspiracy theory's relationship to its seeming object of desire—the structure, order, and solution represented by conspiracy—is a complex one. Represents an endless desire to master the political order
Fenster, University of Florida - Professor of Law, 9
(Mark, Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture, Pg. 107-108, Ebrary, JSkoog)
"Conspiracy" transcends everything in this interpretive process. It has produced the past and present, and it will produce the likely future, ll produced the details under interpretation. It even produced the interpretive act itself—the conspiracy theorist's will to interpret follows the discovery of the conspiracy and organizes the conspiracy theorists narrative of history.w What began as a textual effect, the way in which a single detail's significance was understood, has become a transcendent organizing principle; what began as that which is presumptively searched for, the traces of conspiracy, has become that transcendent thing which drives the search itself. Interpretation may be endless, but it is organized—indeed, controlled—by the very particular logic of conspiracy. Interpretive Desire's Ideology The endless, circular search (the connections) and the thing that never arrives (the final order that is never revealed) represent a desire to find, understand, and represent the totality of social relations. Conspiracy theory clearly wants something: it is a never-ending practice that combs the past and the present for evidence of some transcendent, all-explanatory thing. Denying the ambiguities of the past, and the complexities and contingencies of the present, conspiracy theory wants to enjoy the pleasure of control, of finding the correct answer to the riddle of power, of mastering its desire of political order.'5 If the subject does not know what it wants, is this because of some ideological misrecognition by the conspiracy theorist, or is it the result of some top-down manipulation by a state apparatus? If conspiracy theory is a symptom of an ideological desire, then how is this conception of "desire" any different from Hostadter's notion of paranoia?
Conspiracy theory fails when applied to science and logic. Reville, public awareness of science officer at UCC, ‘9 (William, assistant prof. of biochem at UCC, public awareness of science officer, Dec. 1, 2009, Lexis Nexis, “When is a theory not a theory?”, p. 19, 6.27.11 JSkoog)
THE TERM conspiracy theory commonly means a fringe theory that explains an event as the secret machinations of powerful Machiavellian conspirators. The modern popularity of such theories dates from the conspiracy theory that arose in the 1960s around the assassination of JFK. Enhanced Coverage LinkingJFK. -Search using: Biographies Plus News News, Most Recent 60 Days Mainstream opinion looks on conspiracy theories with a jaundiced eye and often ridicules them. Of course genuine conspiracies do exist, for example Abraham Lincoln died as a result of a conspiracy. And George Bernard Shaw said, All professions are conspiracies against the laity . The word theory in conspiracy theory is used in a different sense to its use in science. A scientific theory is the agreed best explanation of a phenomenon, arrived at after long years of examining evidence and testing hypotheses by experiment. In everyday usage theory refers to a hypothesis an informed (and sometimes not-informed) guess as to the explanation of a phenomenon. Scientific theories are falsifiable and modifiable in the light of new evidence. Conspiracy theories, eg a secret branch of government is covering-up evidence of alien visits, are often unfalsifiable. Proponents of conspiracy theories are also very resistant to contrary evidence. Conspiracy theories are common and have grown up around well-known incidents such as: JFK Enhanced Coverage LinkingJFK -Search using: Biographies Plus News News, Most Recent 60 Days s assassination; the death of Princess Diana; the 9/11 terrorist attack; the ApolloMoon landing; the Roswell UFO incident, and so on. The theme features regularly in films, books television programmes. The two most infamous conspiracy theories of the 20th century were devised by Hitler and Stalin. Psychology attempts to explain conspiracy theories in various ways such as attempts to provide reassurance that disturbing events are not random but are the product of human intelligence and are, therefore, potentially controllable. The projection of undesirable characteristics of the self onto the conspirators is also suggested as another impulse behind conspiracy theories. Some conspiracy theories are obviously ridiculous, for example, the claim by former television presenter David Icke that humanity is controlled by alien reptiles who assume our appearance by drinking human blood. Other such theories seize on perceived weak points in the official explanation of an event, such as why were the hijacked 9/11 aircraft not shot down? Most conspiracy theories, in my opinion, do not withstand critical analysis. Most fail the test of Occam s Razor, a logical principle devised by medieval philosopher William of Occam which states, One should not increase beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything . This principle of parsimony has proved itself most useful in science. Many conspiracy theories are convoluted explanations of mainstream evidence. Finally, let me tell you my own little story of a conspiracy theory. A taxi-driver recently told me that immigrants are entitled to receive dole plus a weekly socialising allowance of EUR 70, and that immigrants are entitled to a grant of EUR 17,000 to buy a taxi. He said all taxi drivers knew this and Irish people are not entitled to these benefits. The Department of Family and Social Affairs press office assured me that the taxi-driver s claims are incorrect. In order to qualify for dole, everybody must first satisfy the Habitual Residence Condition, ie that their centre of interest is Ireland. Social welfare does not pay a socialising allowance and everybody, Irish and non-Irish, must be treated the same. The socialising allowance idea probably refers to asylum seekers. Asylum seekers are not entitled to the dole. They are housed and fed by the government while their applications for asylum are processed. In addition they are given a weekly allocation of about EUR 40 to buy small necessary items that cannot be foreseen in detail. Finally the notion of the EUR 17,000 taxi grant to immigrants is a distortion of the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance scheme. This scheme is open to all who are eligible for the dole. If you can convince officials of the Department that you have a viable business idea that will get you out of the ranks of the unemployed, you may be awarded a small grant to get the enterprise started. But, buying a taxi in the present recession, with taxis already in over-supply, would hardly qualify as a viable business idea . William Reville is UCC s associate professor of biochemistry and public awareness of science officer