I’ve often ranted myself about libertarian cranks and nuts, conspiracy theories and the like. One of my favorite analyses is that by Brian Doherty in Reason (see The Worst of the Supreme Court, which links to Doherty’s It’s So Simple, It’s Ridiculous”; also and Five Reasons You Don’t Owe Income Tax, Dammit!) — he gives a nice analysis of the income tax protestor nuts:
The tax honesty movement’s vision of the world is fantastical in another way. It is not merely obsessed with continuity; it is magical in a traditional sense. It’s devoted to the belief that the secret forces of the universe can be bound by verbal formulas if delivered with the proper ritual.
In a debate with other libertarians, we discussed the issue of conspiracy theories. Some conspiracy theories are sensible, e.g. those having to do with the rise of the Fed and the influence of certain interested parties. I suppose what we are really criticizing are crackpot theories. Which conspiracy theories are crackpot, and which are not? It’s hard to say ahead of time, but usually you know it when you see it.
Anyway, two recent pieces critical of conspiracy theorizing, one by Objectivist Robert Bidinotto, A rant against conspiracy theories [original gone; some excerpts here]; one by Catholic Ed Feser: We the Sheeple? Why Conspiracy Theories Persist.