In the literature on conspiracy theories, the least contentious part of the academic discourse would appear to be what we mean by a “conspiracy”: a secretive plot between two or more people toward some end. Yet what, exactly, is the connection between something being a conspiracy and it being secret? Is it possible to conspire without also engaging in secretive behavior? To dissect the role of secrecy in conspiracies – and thus contribute to the larger debate on the epistemology of conspiracy theories – we define the concepts of “conspiracy,” “conspirator,” and “secret,” and argue that while conspirators might typically be thought to commit to keeping secrets once their conspiracy is underway, the idea that conspiracies are necessarily secretive to start with is not as obvious as previously thought.
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