Monday, September 17, 2007

What's In a Name?

Yesterday, I came across a new word on the Guardian's comment is free web page. "Troofer", as in "the troof is out there," is apparently a derogatory term for a conspiracy theorist. As conspiracy theorists are, in my opinion, fairly low down in the intellectual food chain, I thought this word might be worth adopting. I'd still like a good term for the troofers who claim that Jesus never existed, although it seems Jesus Myther is going to stick.

The disciples of Richard Dawkins are another group in need of a name. What should we call the Dawkinistas if not Dawkinistas (which doesn't seem to have caught on)? Neither new atheists nor neo-atheists really do it for me, although that is what they tend to call themselves. Would the simple term Dawks be considered too rude? It's better than Brights anyway.

Looking at the biggest conspiracy theories out there - 9/11, Diana, Holy Blood, Kennedy, Shakespeare - I am struck that they all seem to be promulgated by the left. Why don't conservatives have any conspiracy theories? It seems most unfair. Apart from the belief that the media are a bunch of lily-livered liberals, conservatives just don't have a decent paranoid delusion to their names. Are they just too sensible to believe in them? Or maybe believing in conspiracy theories is all part of being anti-establishment.

On other matters, I've rejigged the blog to allow various feeds and networking options. It looks a bit ugly at the moment, I'm afraid. I tried the new blogger templates but that just made my blog look the same as everyone else's. Also, regular reader Bjorn-Are has started an English-language blog called B.A.D. Blog. He always has something interesting to say. I want to compile a blog roll of my own, so if you have a blog and especially if you link here, let me know in the comments.

Click here to read the first chapter of God's Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science absolutely free.


Jim Slagle said...

I like "Dawkinistas." Their self-appointed term "brights" is a little too obnoxious to take seriously. Maybe we can call them "shrills" instead.

I've only heard "troofers" used to refer to 9/11 conspiracy theorists, because they self-identify as the "9/11 Truth Movement."

I haven't investigated the issue, but I suspect that conspiracies tend to be hatched by the side that's not in power. I recall in the 1990s some videos were produced which claimed that the Clintons were dealing cocaine out of the White House. Of course, they didn't get the coverage that 9/11 conspiracies do, but maybe that's because 9/11 was such a significant event in and of itself.

Bjørn Are said...

Lack of conservative conspiract theories? Well...;-)

I think the oldest and most widely spread ones are conservative, even partly Catholic, many originally derived from Barruel and Robison's allegations about Illuminatus having infiltrated freemasonry and set up the French Revolution. Ref. e.g.

This has been elaborated into an monumental mythos with many aspects, from Babylon to Armageddon.

Anonymous said...

I think Slaglerock is right about the swing of theories being related to who's in power. During the 90's I remember any number of them from the conservative side...

Vince Foster suicide was really murder.
Flight 98 was really shot down by a surface to air missile.

There are others, but you get the point.

On the names, I really like brights. There's just something fitting about a label that almost any person with an ounce of humility would see as a derogatory, while at the same time the folks to whom it's applied are so lacking in humility that they actually take pride in it.

Something about that makes me smile.

jack perry said...

On the substance of your entry: I detest naming the camps. Okay, so I'm a Catholic, and I'm an American; I don't mind those names, despite the negative associations with them today. On the other hand, I've tired of the whole pro-life/anti-choice and pro-choice/pro-abortion/anti-life argument, which in my opinion distracts from the fact that in these issues there are humans at stake, and not just ideas. Terms like "troofers", "brights", and "Dawks" seem to fall in this same category of uncivil discourse.

I'll second the remark about conservative conspiracy theorists. If you think that conservatives are free of such tendencies, you don't even have to read the literature of the Tridentine Mass types; there's a whole genre of novels written by conservative Christians that tend towards conspiracy theories. "Left Behind", "Father Elijah", just about anything regarding the late Madeline Murray-O'Hair... Only in the past year or two did my mother receive that email that Ms. M-O'H was trying to shut down religious broadcasters.

On your appeal for a blogroll: I link to you, and on occasion I even direct readers to your posts. I suspect that I would bore most of your readers to tears, though.

I'd definitely recommend B-Are's site. Will any of the other members of your lists be joining the party? :-)

James said...

I like to avoid labels too, but they are so useful as a short hand, as long as everyone knows what they mean. But they should not be derogatory, so alas I cannot use Dawks or even Troofers. Instead, I will stick to neo-atheist unless I am in a very bad mood.

Jack, please remind me of your blog's address.

Elliot said...

My blog is:

And I probably link to you more often than I should! :-)

Niall said...

I really don't like the idea of labeling Dawkins' followers negatively. That said, I've been known to refer to a certain variety of Dawkins' followers as Dick-heads, which while rude, is generally accurate.

As for conservative conspiracy theories, ever hear of WMD or that Saddam had a hand in 9/11?

And I link here. So feel free to add my blog

jack perry said...

I wish we could score comments, but I don't think Blogspot does that yet. Despite what I said about labels, "Dick-heads" leaves me in stitches.

James, I'm at

olvlzl said...

Dawkins Dittos.

Jim Slagle said...

My blog is at if you're interested.

Al Moritz said...

Dawkinatics, Dawkiniples.

(Not intended for real-life use though.)

Al Moritz said...

Or Dawkinsciples.

Adam Greenwood said...

"Brights" is just fine, connoting arrogance and cluelessness.

If you don't think rightists can't be troofers, you haven't met my relatives and you obviously aren't actively involved in your local Ron Paul campaign.

Camassia said...

A while ago I suggested Lokayata as an alternative to "bright," as they bear some resemblance.

Kzer-za said...

I find "freethinker" even more annoying than "bright."

None said...

you obviously aren't actively involved in your local Ron Paul campaign

Ron Paul is not a "troofer".

JOR said...

Conspiracies, left-wing? You are familiar with the ID movement, no?