“Show me the incentive and I will show you the outcome.”
The reason “conspiracy theory” works so well to dismiss arguments is not because powerful actors don’t sometimes plan malign deeds in secret, or that it’s wrong to theorize about the possibility thereof. It’s that the phrase has come to connote unrealistic, large-scale planning such that everyone but you and your fellow paranoiacs are in on it, i.e., a far-fetched fantasy only plausible if you are mentally ill.
Your view that the vaccine has myriad adverse effects, doesn’t stop the spread and doesn’t offer protection remotely as durable as natural immunity was a “conspiracy theory” because if that were true, then billions of people, who willingly took it, and their doctors, who willingly recommended it, would all have had to be in on it. Do you really think all those people and their doctors got together, signed a secret pact to lie about the vaccine and its efficacy, and that we wouldn’t be aware of it?
Of course, no one who alleged the vaccine wasn’t all it was cracked up to be believed in such a conspiracy. The “conspiracy theory” dismissal was a lazy straw man. Those who believed the vaccine was neither as safe nor effective as advertised likely believed something more like (1) a safe and effective vaccine during a scary pandemic would be a massive profit source for large pharmaceutical companies; (2) government officials are largely controlled by big corporations like banks, weapons manufacturers, big tech and pharmaceutical companies; (3) the scientific community largely depends on grants from government and large corporations; (4) dissenting scientists, doctors and academics were punished for their skepticism, while those who promoted it were rewarded; and (5) people terrorized by exaggerated depictions of covid’s lethality were eager to believe in something to save them and end the pandemic.
(1) Is obviously true, (2) is a sad fact of modern politics, (3) also a fact, (4) examples of this are legion and (5) beyond dispute.
Yes, this is a conspiracy of sorts, but it’s more a conspiracy to make money by accentuating the positives, seeing what one wants to see, ignoring the negatives and creating powerful incentives to bring people on board. It does not require all these parties getting together and explicitly agreeing to lie to everyone who’s not in on the plot.
That’s more or less obvious to people who are paying attention, but the more interesting conspiracy theory question is pointed back on its invoker: What about all those scientists, doctors and academics, of which there are thousands, who didn’t believe the vaccine was as advertised? You really think thousands of doctors conspired to fake VAERS reports, thousands of scientists conspired unsuccessfully to push for informed consent at the cost of their livelihoods and reputations? Or might they be earnestly telling the truth?
When you consider the two sides, one requires no grand conspiracy theory to explain the behavior because the incentives are in plain sight. All it took was the profit motive, and people willing to participate in a lie by omitting certain small details here, dismissing some reports there, interpreting the data as they were overwhelmingly incentivized to see it. The other side, for which not only were their scant incentives — a few doctors and scientists got some social media notoriety before being deplatformed — there were powerful deterrents, the loss of reputation, livelihood and vitriolic personal attacks. To explain the theory behind so many of them sticking their necks out on the chopping block, one needs either (1) an extremely farfetched conspiracy theory; or (2) by conceding that right or wrong, they were certainly earnest, trying to do their jobs in good conscience.
Of course, we now know they were largely correct, as it turns out the vaccine doesn’t stop the spread as advertised, doesn’t provide lasting immunity (why else would you be on your fourth and fifth dose) and has caused a staggering number of reported adverse reactions. But that’s almost beside the point which is that the true conspiracy theorists were always the ones who concocted farfetched theories explaining why so many doctors and scientists would speak out when the incentives — other than having a clean conscience and credible ethics — were to shut up and go along.