The reason I want to write this up is to have these thoughts in one place in a hopefully coherent way. I have found it useful at times to use what I say here in discussions with people, and I'd like to share it with you guys.
Everyone is a conspiracy theorist. People conspire to do things. Like when the US conspired to built atom bombs and drop them on Japan. Or when Harvey Weinstein conspired with the ex-mossad agents he hired to cover up his sexual abuses. Or when Hitler conspired to keep hidden from the outside world that he was killing people in concentration camps. Or, some people believe that the Allies conspired to blame Hitler for killing a bunch of the Jews. Not all conspiracy theories are wrong.
The term "Conspiracy Theory" Thought-terminating cliché. That basically means when someone uses it, it tends to imply to them and others that no more thinking is required. Invoking the term dismisses them from further examining this discussion.
One other example I give is this cute video of a girl and her mom conspiring to hide the fact that the mom gave the daughter a piece of candy. If the dad comes home, and suspects them, then he is a conspiracy theorist. Its totally absurd of course, but that's the point. Thinking of this as a conspiracy makes you see how meaningless the term is.
So people will say, "well, you know what I mean, I'm talking about REAL conspiracy theories, the crazy ones".
To which I would respond that es there are crazy conspiracy theories. But there are MANY CONFIRMED CONSPIRACIES But how do you determine which are which? And if you are going to use the term "conspiracy theory" in a derogatory manner, but the term includes very sane and actually true conspiracies, then you have a problem. Its kind of like using a racial slur, but then when asked if you think that all hispanic people are "spics" you say "well you know what I mean, they ones who are pieces of shit are spics". Its nonsensical.
The term makes sense as a way to describe a theory about a possible or known conspiracy, but it is absurd to use it as an insult.
Something that is interesting is that the CIA made an effort to co-opt the term "Conspiracy Theorist" into a slur(successfully, clearly):
the CIA with the help of powerful media interests, instituted a propaganda campaign to turn the term “conspiracy theory” into one of derision. A crucial piece of evidence for this comes from CIA Document 1035-960: “Concerning Criticism of the Warren Report”.