One of the things conspiracy theorists do is to see signals in the statements of those who are inside the conspiracy, signals that disclose the existence of the conspiracy. Regular folks respond with the obvious question: why would people trying to keep something secret give public signals of it? The problem with conspiracy theorists is that they don’t ask correcting questions like that; they explain the signals typically to arrogance, or guilt.
The classic signal is the phrase “New World Order” used by former President George H. W. Bush in a 1991 speech to Congress.
Right-wing conspiracy theorists see this as a signal that the New World Order will begin in earnest by faking a terrorist bombing of the World Trade Center on the 10th anniversary of the speech and that the secret UN troops are stationed all over the United States ferried around by black helicopters ready to take over.
Birthers make even more bizarre contextual violations to find signals, and the most notorious is the Onaka “smiley face” on President Obama’s birth certificate. Birthers believe that State Registrar Alvin Onaka of Hawaii stamped Obama’s form with his official rubber stamp and then somehow (and this is never explained) altered it so that a smiley face appears in the loop of the letter “A” of his name, and the word “THE” is changed to “TXE.” The obvious question is why would Onaka make such alterations that ONLY appear to exist when the resolution of the document is reduced and how could any rational person think that such putative alterations would signal that the document was false, instead of, say, that Onaka was happy to finally get the birth certificate published so he wouldn’t have birthers bugging him about it?