Talking to a friend, I made the comment that a "conspiracy theory" is a belief in a secret cabal that we don't have good evidence for but people think exists anyway. This is different from a group of people pushing a mutually held political agenda that is well-known. A good example is the World Economic Forum, which has been accused of conspiracy, but makes its agenda public. Some have accused the World Economic Forum of pushing socialism, but this is a matter of interpretation. It seems to me that they are pushing a "command economy", but the problem is that command economies are associated with dictators and fascists.
As far as I can tell, it is not true that the World Economic Forum wants to kill millions of people. This would be a conspiracy theory.
I am very much surprised by the large percentage of people who believe in conspiracy theories.
'Difference from conspiracy
A conspiracy theory is not simply a conspiracy, which refers to any covert plan involving two or more people. In contrast, the term "conspiracy theory" refers to hypothesized conspiracies that have specific characteristics. For example, conspiracist beliefs invariably oppose the mainstream consensus among those people who are qualified to evaluate their accuracy, such as scientists or historians. Conspiracy theorists see themselves as having privileged access to socially persecuted knowledge or a stigmatized mode of thought that separates them from the masses who believe the official account. Michael Barkun describes a conspiracy theory as a "template imposed upon the world to give the appearance of order to events".
Real conspiracies, even very simple ones, are difficult to conceal and routinely experience unexpected problems. In contrast, conspiracy theories suggest that conspiracies are unrealistically successful and that groups of conspirators, such as bureaucracies, can act with near-perfect competence and secrecy. The causes of events or situations are simplified to exclude complex or interacting factors, as well as the role of chance and unintended consequences. Nearly all observations are explained as having been deliberately planned by the alleged conspirators.
In conspiracy theories, the conspirators are usually claimed to be acting with extreme malice. As described by Robert Brotherton:
The malevolent intent assumed by most conspiracy theories goes far beyond everyday plots borne out of self-interest, corruption, cruelty, and criminality. The postulated conspirators are not merely people with selfish agendas or differing values. Rather, conspiracy theories postulate a black-and-white world in which good is struggling against evil. The general public is cast as the victim of organised persecution, and the motives of the alleged conspirators often verge on pure maniacal evil. At the very least, the conspirators are said to have an almost inhuman disregard for the basic liberty and well-being of the general population. More grandiose conspiracy theories portray the conspirators as being Evil Incarnate: of having caused all the ills from which we suffer, committing abominable acts of unthinkable cruelty on a routine basis, and striving ultimately to subvert or destroy everything we hold dear.'