Thanks for this question. I think it’s a good critique. When we began this research, we were really sensitive to that term and its negative connotations and opted to use “alternative narrative” instead of “conspiracy theory” when referring to the narratives around shooting events. However, when I moved into this research, which revealed similar kinds of theories about very different kinds of content, it became hard to group them under the “alternative narrative” term and I shifted back to “conspiracy theory”. I agree, I should have done a better job defining it. My usage probably aligns best with the paper I cite in the “crippled epistemology”: Sunstein, C. R., & Vermeule, A. (2009). Conspiracy theories: Causes and cures. J. of Political Philosophy, 17(2), 202–227.