Let me say publicly that DonBoy’s answer exudes a combination of intuitive genius and confidence that make me think DonBoy is going to do big things in his life. -- Steven D. Levitt (Freakonomics blog)
Sunday, August 15, 2004
The word "conspiracy"

It looks like the word "conspiracy" has finished acquiring the meaning "false". From Hitchens' review in the NYT of a collection of pro-Kerry books:
Over a decade later, in confronting the uniformed and bemedaled figure of Oliver North, who really could have been his evil twin from Vietnam, Kerry came close to unmasking yet another secret Republican state-within-a-state. I vividly remember the way in which his Senate office and then his subcommittee became the clearinghouse for a whole series of seemingly unbelievable rumors about the Iran-contra connection, most of which turned out to be true. And much credit belongs to Kerry for winnowing out the genuine stuff, about drug running and death squads and slush funds and secret deals with foreign dictatorships, from the conspiratorial garbage.
If "conspiratorial" doesn't describe charges of "drug running and death squads and slush funds and secret deals with foreign dictatorships", I don't know what it does describe. I guess he's referring to the original, accept-no-substitutes October Suprise theory that the Reagan campaign cut a deal so that Iran would hold the US hostages past the election -- but that's no more "conspiratorial" than all the stuff that's been proved. If it's not true, it's because it didn't happen, not because government conspiracies don't exist.

(Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog highlighted the Hitch paragraph.)

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