We live in an information hierarchy where a few control what most believe about important events and the causes of these. The basic institutions of this hierarchy are mainstream media and national law enforcement. Conspiracy theorists often accuse both of covering up extreme government crimes and deceptions; a shadow government controls what they tell us and more importantly, what they don’t. The typical response to this allegation is that these institutions are in the business of reliably revealing political conspiracies, not covering them up. Unfortunately, our best justifications for this hope fail. Worse, cover-up does not require descending control of information by high-placed conspirators. Instead, the problem is built into the foundation forces of our information hierarchy. Some conspiratorial scenarios are too toxic for our institutions of public information to investigate, let alone disseminate. Cover-up by our information hierarchy through intentional neglect of investigation, not descending control by a shadow government, becomes predictable. The danger this poses is extreme.
Lee Basham is a professor of philosophy at South Texas College and the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley. He is author of a number of professional articles and book chapters on issues surrounding contemporary conspiracy theories.