I probably should have called this The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of the use of these words, because it is so very much like that.

Over at someone elses blog, I was engaging in a conversation in the comments section with someone named “Gib”. We were discussing the use of psychiatric labels as a control or thought-stopping mechanism, and Gib created a scale that he felt related to scientology’s auditing levels.

I agreed, and pointed out that there were a number of specifically biological psychiatry items incorporated into the very first subject L. Ron Hubbard had created, which was Dianetics. I then provided a link to a library article of mine, entitled: The Covert Origins of Dianetics – Biological Psychiatry.

Gib responded, referring to my article as “your conspiracy theory” – that he was not sure of – and proceeded to talk about anecdotal evidence of a couple of Hubbard’s associates at the time of his working on the manuscript of Dianetics.as to why he suddenly changed to using engram instead of the previously used term of norns.

Gib did not address any single crucial point or document raised in my article – of which there are many.

In my response to Gib, the first thing I pointed out was the apparent paradox of being unsure of something yet sure enough to categorize it as conspiracy theory and dismiss the whole thing.

But it was my second response discussing how I view conspiracy research that I thought might be of some use for our readers here.

Here’s my response to “Gib” –

It sounds more that you have sources that you prefer the narrative on, or are simply more familiar with, and when I introduced sources that show that Hubbard was directly paralleling Semon’s work, for example, it was something that was new to you and was not in alignment with your current views.

I certainly write about conspiracies, and I am step by step proving them or disproving them, one at a time, as I dig deeper into history and find things no one expected me to find or piece back together.

Some conspiracies are now no longer “theories”, in the sense of lacking proof.

The article you read, among other points, offered new evidence that regardless of previously existing narratives and personal recollections as to Hubbard’s choice of the term engram, there are factual direct comparisons between the two men’s work that any reader can see the similarity for themselves.

The article also covers the specific re-introduction of the term, and the particular Semon take on it, just before Hubbard, by the Society of Biological Psychiatry.

Which came first, did Hubbard, by choosing Semon ’s term and incorporating a number of his working points into Dianetics, copy the Society of Biological Psychiatry? Or was it the other way around? I lean towards the former, myself.

Then there’s the question of WHY did Hubbard choose to closely parallel Semon’s work in several key ways.

Any thoughts on that?


Let’s have a look at these words conspiracy and theory.

The word conspiracy, by itself, means: an evil, unlawful, treacherous, or surreptitious plan formulated in secret by two or more persons; plot. a combination of persons for a secret, unlawful, or evil purpose.

The word theory, by itself, has two very different meanings. The first is: the analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another. The second is: abstract thought; speculation.

You are probably already beginning to see where the problem comes in here.

The approach that I take is two-fold. I am examining conspiracies, ie: plots, utilizing both the analysis of a set of facts in relation to one another – whether there is one, isn’t one, whether coincidence or something more, and so on – and I also discuss speculation or abstract thought in regards to what I’m looking at.

Primarily as possible avenues of exploration to explore in order to ultimately determine whether there was a plot, conspiracy, or whether there was not, or whether its a false or misdirecting presented plot that is actually meant to both obscure and discredit any mention of the real one.

Ok, now somewhere along the way, someone shoved the two words conspiracy and theory together and created an idiom, one that is parenthetically surrounded with sarcastic “air quotes”.

Like this –

Conspiracy theory


I believe it was around early 1800’s when the British Royal Society of Medicine was being arrogantly and protectively dismissive of the claims of physical abuse in Britain’s mental asylums – which turned out to be true by the way – in referring to the reports as conspiracy theory.

It’s a distinctly derogatory label, but a very tricky one actually because it has one part possible truth, one part dismissal of said possible truth.

“Conspiracy Theory” – 1. a theory that explains an event or set of circumstances as the result of a secret plot by usually powerful conspirators. 2. The idea that many important political events or economic and social trends are the products of secret plots that are largely unknown to the general public.

I’m sure you also see in that where the logic problem starts entering in, but both of those are then modified by this, which is the real crux of the matter, the term itself is: used in an attempt to imply that hypothetical speculation is not worthy of serious consideration, usually with phrasing indicative of dismissal (e.g., “just a conspiracy theory”).

The first problem with Gibs use of the words conspiracy theory (either as an idiom or not) is that he was dismissing my article and any evidence in it as “hypothetical speculation”.

Lining up Semon’s work next to Hubbards and showing their clear similarity is most certainly not “hypothetical speculation”.

Any speculation I did employ about WHY this was the case, certainly did not fall under “not worthy of serious consideration” either, considering the evidence presented.

I believe that the use of the idiom conspiracy theory is fully appropriate in a number of situations and examples one can easily come up with out there, but even I don’t do that unless I can firmly disprove it or prove the person’s complicity in some way at obscuring the truth.

However, I also believe that there exist people who go so far the other way in dismissing REAL conspiracies, that they are literally acting to block any actual investigation into whether it is, or isn’t true. Sort of if you do? We’ll punish you one way or another.

The only reasons for doing that would be fear or malice. The first would be your average person who would rather keep their head in the sand and not have to face up to the realities of this world, what they would have to do to really figure out whats going on, and also their responsibility in doing something about it – thereby projecting all that on anyone who rocks the boat. The second is someone who is trying to prevent exposure of actual conspiracies, some of which are very long-running and simply change their “face” or front groups with each succeeding generation. This person, or persons, gets quite vicious about trying to stop any real investigation.

Now I’ll give you a couple of examples of conspiracies that are now no longer “theories”.

The first is Cecil Rhodes and the Round Table – there was an actual conspiracy.

The second is that Alistair Crowley was actually an agent for British Intelligence –

There are more, but my point is, how often have you seen both ends of the spectrum employed on just those two subjects? One end discredits the whole thing by total bullshit spins on it, mixing it with aliens and illuminati and all manner of whatnot, the other dismisses it entirely as “conspiracy theory” by “crazy nutters”.

Notice how the two actually serve the same end, which is –


Do not go any further in this direction.


This is why it correctly gets called a thought-stopping label.

So, was L. Ron Hubbard, the topic of my Covert Origins article, involved in any conspiracies? Yes, it is now known that Miles Copeland, CIA agent, specifically involved him in CIA conspiracies. Was Hubbard involved in more than one conspiracy? I believe so, and I have been systematically gathering evidence along that line of enquiry.

But, he’s just one line of enquiry, just one part in a bigger picture.

He is a good example, but here’s the important point I want you to take away with you today.

Would anyone ever be able to prove the existence of any conspiracies Hubbard was involved in, if they only listened to naysayers and accepted only their “Hubbard the con artist” or “Hubbard the Hero” or “Hubbard the genius with Clay Feet” narratives?

Well, would they?

How likely is it that they would ever find documents that either point to or even flat out prove this as a fact if they weren’t looking?

It is crystal clear that “conspiracy theory” has always been a disparaging term.

One isn’t likely to take a theory and turn it into fact (or fully disprove it as a valid theory) if they are stopped from even considering the theory as possibly valid in the first place. They are insulted, ridiculed, and publicly degraded for even trying to look for themselves.

Whom does that serve?

Certainly not you.

Virginia McClaughry.

Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. As you know very well, historical research moves by the collection of documents, then the creation of competing narratives. Piece by piece, the picture slowly emerges. It is like crochet work, fine links are established but many holes remain.
    I suspect that many people who read your research don’t understand this painstaking process, fraught with large areas of uncertainty and small fragments of certainty.
    The term “conspiracy theory” can act to debunk the process. It is not a term well understood by most of the public.
    I am sure that some of your data will be disproven, some will prove out. Over time examination of competing narratives may cause reconsideration of the whole.
    Personally, I think the creation of the document chains is invaluable. Historians base an entire career on small segments of data.
    It looks to me like you are open to adding new evidence as it emerges. Can’t expect more than that from a historical researcher.

    BTW: I have been present when historical researchers presented competing narratives. Almost came to blows. Unfortunately, it comes with the territory. People are fierce about their theories.
    My advice: if someone says you are a conspiracy theorist, remind them that you are a historical researcher. Then ask them to create an alternate narrative for the issue under discussion. Maybe they will come up with something good!

    • Yes, Eileen. All very good points. As to your last point, that is essentially what I did with the person you see my comment to (included within my post here today).


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