--- There's a conspiracy behind this!
We have just marked the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the US. While the world considered those events, and the chain of disasters they unleashed, starting with the two attacks on Iraq, plus Afghanistan, I noticed there remains little in the media of the conspiracy theories which originally surrounded the airliner attacks.
For years we've heard numerous 9/11 conspiratorial theories – mainly that the US had participated in these attacks on its own soil in order to create a pretext to go to war (and to speed along the "security state apparatus" then under construction in the Free World). Those theories were hard to swallow in the first place, and perhaps now their ridiculousness has been recognized, or been absorbed in the greater conspiratorial world which has gone ballistic under the Trump administration.
What we're left with today is that 9/11 conspiracies remain unproven, with no information revealed after all these years of accusations and investigations. The same holds true of the conspiracies around other events – the Moon landing, for example, the Kennedy assassination, Vietnam-Cambodian War criminality – you name 'em!
Shouldn't all this prompt us to be more skeptical of such conspiracies? Shouldn't we demand more evidence than the usual few anomalies in the evidence? Shouldn't we refuse this use of minor confusions as a springboard to huge and complex claims of collusion?
A second consideration, which makes this subject even more difficult to unthread, is the fact that a lot of things in life qualify as "conspiracy theories". One of the most widespread is the question of religion, the grandest conspiracy theory ever! This conspiracy is that there's supra-human beings beyond our concepts of space and time who have set up this whole world of ours and who keep intervening as we make out way along. Isn't this a massive "conspiracy"? There are others, usually political but also economic, educational, even medical conspiracies. The COVID pandemic has spawned numerous conspiracies, from an innocent, or not, escape from Chinese biological weaponry to the opposite, a biological weapon created and spread by the CIA against China – so many bizarre scenarios! Hollywood has prepared us well for all this (another conspiracy theory).
Many accepted that economic-socio-political theories contain conspiratorial elements. Marxism, long considered "scientific" for its historical theory of classes, is hugely conspiratorial: the moneyed classes maintain their positions of influence and profit by manipulating society via constant entertainment and educational messaging. Almost any "common sense" theory has a conspiratorial element – from how to be healthy, to explaining away complaints by oppressed peoples. "Common sense" means one's habitual responses are a substitute for tested facts and replicated trials.
Uncovering a grand conspiracy is a childhood ambition many of us share; conspiracies can be titillating, like public gossip. But, really, they aren't science ... and what other source of hard facts about the world do we have? The scientific process, as messy as it often is, has no pragmatic alternative.