Under no circumstance link to this page from another location; that will just invite conspiracy minded individuals to wreck MeatballWiki.
Conspiracy theories are growing rapidly, like viruses, on the Internet. Except like SnowCrash, they hijack people's minds and cause them to self-destruct in horrifying ways for society. Regardless, if you spend time online, you may find yourself in a confrontation with someone who has been captured by the conspiracy theory and wishes to argue with you.
A surprisingly effective way of dealing with them is to say flatly, "Well, that's just the conspiracy template." The first time enumerate the parts. After that, since they cannot escape the template, you can just name the part.
More seriously, the power of the conspiracy template is that it succeeds in cutting the infected person off from the rest of society and blocking any further flow of information, or the triangulation of their theories with facts. They effectively are living a waking nightmare, completely unable to check if there truly is a bogeyman hiding under their bed; and they have eliminated everyone who can help them.
In a way, the conspiracy template treads familiar ground of cults and abusive relationships by cutting people off from the rest of society. However, the conspiracy template hinges on certain different elements.
The conspiracy template relies on the believe cutting themselves off from society, rather than the threat of the loss of exclusion or social belonging from either the abuser or the cult. And the template does this by elevating the believer's self-worth instead of breaking them down, by making them believe they are smarter, more in the know than the rest of society whom they pejoratively label as Sheep. Finally, rather than threaten the loss of belonging, it instantly grants access to a SecretSociety? of other believers. It simply feels great to believe in a conspiracy, which is why it is so insidious.
Conversely, if you were trying to design a conspiracy from scratch to unravel society, the template is a good starting point.
If you're looking for source material, it's easy. Almost all of human society is managed by organized groups of people. Because any organization has to make decisions where some may be winners and some may be losers, look for any decisions that result in a loss of power for one group in favour of another who may be making the decision. Finally, because it's impossible to know another consciousness directly, you can never really definitively claim the basis of such decisions were rational, morally sound, or knowable, and thus you can inject your own thoughts.
Well, that's just the conspiracy template:
It's too high-conflict to throw the template back in people's faces over and over again. The key is to ask them to identify the person or persons that are the oppressors. Then offer to directly ask that accused why they behaved in one manner or another, stating plainly they are after all conscious human beings and no one can really say what they were thinking, because that's mind reading; but we can ask them to SeekUnderstanding? since that would be the normal thing to do.
The conspiracy theorist usually cannot identify a specific person. If they can name a specific person, they definitely have not talked to that person; and the threat of talking to the accused person to determine the truth is enough to make the conspiracy theorist retreat; and regardless, usually the accused is on public record stating their thoughts.
No matter what, the conspiracy minded person will never agree with you. They will rotate through the template endlessly.
At some point you can simply point out they are living a waking nightmare, but refuse to check under the bed to see if there really is a bogeyman.
The purpose of this exercise is not to change the conspiracy theorist's mind, but to prevent another person from being infected. Simply pointing out the inescapable template they are locked into, which continues no matter the content of the conspiracy, proves there is no reality.