The "Reconquista" theory, popular among radical anti-immigration activists in The United States, claims that Hispanic/Latino immigration to the US is being motivated not solely by economic factors and the American Dream, but is being backed by the Mexican government and by radical Latino groups in order to create a fifth column for the secession of the Southwestern United States, followed by a Mexican reconquest of the region. While there was a "Plan Espiritual de Aztlán" among Chicano activists in The Seventies that was analogous to contemporary Black Power movements, and the Mexican-American War is still a Berserk Button for many patriotic Mexicans, support for returning the "Lost Territories" to Mexico is a fringe movement among Hispanic/Latino Americans, not unlike the neo-Confederates to the east.
The "Eurabia" theory is a similar one among European anti-immigration activists, claiming that Muslim immigrants to Europe are plotting to overthrow the governments and Christian civilization of Europe in order to install theocratic Islamist states where Christianity and Western culture would be outlawed. Even assuming that a significant number of Muslims even want this—which they don't—how a minority religious group that, while possessing a number of loud-mouthed elements, only claims single-digit percentages of the population in most European countries (7% in France, 5% in The Netherlands—and these are the highest percentages in all Europe)note Besides Bosnia, Albania, and Kosovo, where a plurality or majority of people are theoretically Muslim—theoretically, because those countries spent sixty years as Commie Land and religious observance is absurdly low can successfully take over society and remake it in their image is rarely satisfactorily explained. The conspiracy theorists often claim that high birth rates and unrestricted immigration are allowing them to build their numbers up into a serious threat—but even then, the birthrate among European Muslims has dropped with their relative prosperity in Europe, and immigration faces both official obstacles and an increasing lack of motivation thanks to the lackluster European economy (if you don't have a job in North Africa, and you won't have a job in France, why bother moving?). Oh, and it doesn't seem to give any credit to widespread Muslim assimilation—despite the common joke (well, half-joke, 'cos it's true—and then some) that "for every Muslim woman wearing a burkha in France, there are twenty wearing bikinis".
During the 19th century, it was claimed that immigration to the US from Europe was being backed by the European empires and by the Catholic Church, which wished to subvert the threat that American democracy presented to their power by putting a Catholic Habsburg prince on the throne of an American kingdom. To do this, they would send over waves of immigrants from Italy, Ireland, Austria and other Catholic countries, who would act as black shirts for the new King of America and work to suppress patriotic Protestant Americans. This actually was attempted in Mexico, though that was more about the European powers (namely France) collecting on their foreign debts — and Mexico, which was not only largely Catholic but also weaker and poorer than the United States, kicked out the invaders in less than a decade—even as various Mexican factions squabbled among themselves.
A common theme among white supremacists is that there is a secret plot by the Powers That Be (usually the Jews; see above) to destroy the white race so that they can rule the world more easily... or something. They go about this by promoting homosexuality, feminism, abortion and interracial marriage in order to reduce white birthrates, thus necessitating loose immigration laws in order to make up for a stagnant/shrinking white population and keep the economy running, while suppressing research into racial differences in order to push the new, politically correct egalitarian ideal. Apparently, the "lesser" races make for easier, more docile subjects to rule over. If only someone told the British in India or Kenya, or anybody involved in the Pacific War...
The above theory has a mirror counterpart among black supremacists, purporting that the white Western powers (and sometimes the Jews as well for good measure) are plotting genocide and forced population reductions against the black race in order to either steal Africa's resources, establish white supremacy, or (usually) both. Mechanisms for how The Man is to go about this include the proliferation of abortion and birth control so as to reduce black birthrates, the engineering of famines through unequal trade treaties that depress agriculture in developing African nations (or sometimes through simple weather control), and the creation of genetically-modified diseases that are then spread across Africa (often under the guise of public health and vaccination programs).
There's a theory among black supremacist groups that holds that having more melanin (which determines skin tone in humans) causes people to be superior in every way, therefore only black people are human, and white people colonized black societies because they knew this. This is referred to as "melanin theory", and people who believe this essentially believe that all wrongs committed against or problems common with black people are due to this. For example, cocaine was invented to bind with the melanin in people's skin, and increased high blood pressure in black people is due to melanin picking up stress vibrations from others.
There is another theory (mostly believed by those in the Nation of Islam) that all white people were created through eugenics by a man named Dr./Mr. Yakub, who was a black scientist that lived 6000 years ago and created the white race as a race of evil people. Some also believe that this is the same person as the Biblical Jacob (thus feeding into the anti-semitism that some Nation of Islam members have). The white race (aka Yacubians) is basically implied to be evil savages who usurped power from black people and eventually enslaved them. Believers claim that this theory has been proven by modern science.
Among white supremacist groups who profess to be Christian, there exist numerous alleged Biblical "justifications" for the superiority of Mighty Whitey to everyone else:
The "Ten Lost Tribes" theory, which is based on the fact that ten of the twelve Israelite tribes mysteriously vanish from the Biblical records around the time Assyria conquered Israel. Long story short, this theory posits they ended up in Europe, where they became the ancestors of White people, which in turn would make them, not Jews, God's "real" Chosen People, which (according to the theory, anyway) entitles them to do whatever they please with other ethnicities.
One with unfortunate historical significance is the "Curse of Ham" theory, which states that Africans are descended from Ham, son of Noah (of Great Flood fame), and therefore carry the curse placed on his descendants that required them all to live in servitude. This one goes as far back as the heyday of the slave trade, where it was typically brought up whenever anyone questioned how selling millions of people into involuntary servitude based on their race could possibly be morally sound.
Even that one, however, could be considered generous compared to the "Pre-Adamite" theory, which suggests that "lesser races" are not even human. This one builds on an extremely ambiguous passage in Genesis which could be interpreted as God creating some form of sentient life before He made humankind; these beings are said by the theory to be the ancestors of people of color.
Australia's most xenophobic (and possibly unhinged) Prime Minister, Billy Hughes, began to believe in all sorts of racist conspiracy theories after World War One began. He genuinely feared an ethnic German uprising in Australia in the midst of WWI, and even had the police draw him secret escape and counter-militia measures, for when the German hordes descended upon the government. Unsurprisingly, and as the police consistently told him, this was totally pointless. Most ethnic Germans had been in Australia for generations, and no domestic threat materialised. Hughes also felt that Catholics (particularly Irish Catholics) were plotting against him and trying to undermine the government, to the extent that despite his open hatred of Catholics he appealed to the Pope to have a local Australian Catholic priest he particularly disliked ordered out of the country.
One conspiracy theory that started cropping up in the wake the drug epidemic of the 70's and 80's in black communities is that the US Government, or at the very least the local city government was responsible for introducing drugs (heroin and cocaine in the 70's, crack cocaine in the 80's) to their communities for the purposes of oppressing blacks into subservience through drugs, or wiping them out with drug abuse and gang warfare. This theory cropped up on occasion in Blaxploitation films, where the The Man Behind the Man turns out to be "The Man" supplying drugs to the local criminal kingpins.
A similar conspiracy theory is that menthol cigarettes are specifically targeted at black people and have additives to make it more deadly or cause sterility.
The proliferation of gunshops is also part of this conspiracy. Apparently this isn't enough though, as Black Helicopters fly over South Central LA dropping firearms from the air.
This crosses over with health with the idea that Planned Parenthood has abortion clinics in black communities in order to enact some sort of eugenics scheme to eliminate the black race (this ties into Planned Parenthood's founder, Margaret Sanger, being a eugenicist, although they have long since change their beliefs).
A few people have gone so far as to say that the revolution itself doesn't exist.
A favorite theory of right-wing pundit Daniel Pipes is that the well-documented and ever-growing embracing of nonviolence and democracy by Muslims in recent years is somehow a culture-wide act to lull the Western powers into a false sense of security.
White supremacists like to claim that Rosa Parks—whose refusal to give up her bus seat to a white passenger is often considered a jumping point for the Civil Rights Movement—was told by the NAACP to resist bus segregation specifically for the purpose of angering the black community into action, knowing that the arrest of a tired, middle-aged seamstress would be the last straw in many's eyes. While Parks did volunteer for the NAACP, the only "proof" that leaders told her to resist is a vague line in her memoir where she says she was "selected" to do the right thing at that point in time. Given that she was a religious woman, she was most likely referring to God. And even if she was on a mission to resist an unjust law at the most opportune moment in order to draw attention to racial oppression in the Deep South, the response from a less-bigoted person would be, "And this was a bad thing?"
In post-Apartheid South Africa, there have been a large amount of murders of white farmers by black supremacists. Cue white supremacists coming up with a theory that these killings are actively sponsored by the now-African-controlled government as payback for Apartheid. Possibly inspired by Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe, where violence against whites has been confirmed to be state-sanctioned.
"*insert distrusted group here* is trying to sabotage our country from the inside!" is a favorite scare tactic of nationalist groups and authoritarian governments, and one that can very easily lead to tragic consequences. The most famous is the "stab-in-the back" myth, a rumor spread by the Nazis that the Jews deliberately spoiled the Central Powers' war effort in World War I, which is covered in more detail in the "Jews/Israel" section, and it was commonly claimed by racists during the 1950s and 1960s in the United States that activists such as Martin Luther King were in bed with the Communist countries. The above-mentioned Eurabia and Reconquista theories can be considered modern-day variations. The "other" in this case isn't always an ethnic group, either; many Communist regimes staged mass executions of the rich for similar reasons.
Known conspiracy theorist Orly Taitz has contributed to the immigration debate, much the way she contributes to anything. July 2014, Taitz filed a lawsuit challenging the transfer of undocumented immigrants from South Texas to other states, claiming they would spread communicable diseases. When her lawsuit was denied, she made an amended complaint which, in addition to her claims about communicable diseases, claimed that unknown parties pressured a border patrol agent to not testify on her behalf; she also claimed the NSA and FBI have placed agents in the federal courts to tamper with documents.
Religion and Apocalyptica
Biblical doomsday! Starting around 300 BCE, apocalypticism (the belief that the world was caught in an epic struggle between good and evil and that good would eventually triumph any day now) took hold in Judaism. Writings of near-future apocalypses became a literary genre in their own right; the Book of Daniel was just one of many that cropped up during this period. This only accelerated with the birth of Christianity, especially after the 19th century introduction of the concept of the Rapture to the world of theology. For centuries, people have been tripping over themselves in their excitement to see it arrive as soon as possible. Despite calculation after calculation failing to deliver on its promise of The End of the World as We Know It, the conspiratorially-minded have been re-estimating their numbers since the beginning of the first century.
The theory goes like this: somehow, the magical divinatory powers of numerology can be used to take random passages from The Bible, add them up, maybe multiply or divide, and get the name of the The Antichrist, his most secret intentions, his right-hand man, the country he'll be born in, his shoe-size, and the exact date of when the world will end. It's such a persistent idea that even the most brilliant people have bought into it — Isaac Newton was particularly obsessed with it, going so far as to translate the Book of Daniel from Hebrew himself in order to be absolutely certain of his predictions. As for how accurate those predictions were, we'll just have to wait and see.
The question of why God didn't simply tell us this very important information if he wanted us to have it is never addressed. Jesus in fact explicitly saysnote in Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32 that even He doesn't know when the End of the World will be, only God the Father — and Jesus is part of the Trinity. There are at least half-a-dozen other passages in the New Testament - Matthew 24:42, 24:44 and 25:13; Mark 13:33-37; Acts 1:7; and 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 - which say the same thing, or even explicitly say that attempting to set an exact date for Christ's return is verboten.
But Jesus also says, in Matthew 23, that "All these things shall come upon this generation", when speaking of his second coming.
Some people, in a misguided attempt to bring about the Second Coming, actually take steps they believe are in accordance with biblical prophecy. One major example of this is Christian Zionism, which is the idea that the survival of Israel, and its encompassing the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, are necessary prerequisites for the beginning of the End Times. As a result, some fundamentalist individuals, churches and organizations have taken on a very hawkish and pro-Israel stance in order to strengthen Israel's position in the Middle East, unilaterally supporting any action the country takes.
To be fair, most Christian Zionists support Israel simply because they see it as a fulfillment of prophecy and a nation with God's favor upon it. While there are certainly many who see Israel's existence as a sign that the End Times are near, only a tiny, negligible minority support it out of an active effort to speed up the process.
There's a company called Zion Oil and Gas that has ideas of a similar bent that believes that due to some vague biblical readings that there's a huge deposit of oil below Israel. The idea is that the oil reserves will make Israel self-sufficient during the end times when presumably other countries with oil will be destroyed or turn evil. Unsurprisingly they have not had much success, claiming that the oil will only appear when a "super spiritual person" appeared and then they got complaints from a man claiming he was the "super spiritual person".
Due to a reference to mass beheadings in Revelation (Rev 20:4) those of the Jack Chick and Left Behind persuasion believe that the government (sometimes FEMA) are stockpiling guillotines of all things for the evil end of world government.
Since the popularity of the Left Behind books, co-authored by Tim LaHaye, a member of the John Birch Society before his career as a Rapture scholar, there's been a large overlap between this conspiracy theory and the New World Order.
Project Blue Beam is a supposed conspiracy with NASA (and maybe The Antichrist if your conspiracy is religious) to fake the second coming/similar events in other religions and start a new evil world spaning/controlling religion. It's supposed to use sufficiently advanced technologies, such as artificial earthquakes to uncover things that contradict history, a telepathy transmitter, a hologram project to show visions (the Tupac hologram was a dry run apparently) along with demons possessing people, a transporter to fake the rapture and a fake Alien Invasion.
It's been noted by even other conspiracists that it has many similarities to Star Trek storylines.
Any universal numbering or identification system will almost always decried as the Mark of the Beast (Rev 13:16-18) by very Christian people. This includes social security numbers, licenses, credit cards, product barcodes and even more obscure/barely used things like implanted RFID chips. Supposedly it's a conspiracy to trick people into accepting it.
There was a persistent theory that the world would be destroyed on or near December 21, 2012, supposedly based on Mayan calendars. That belief persisted only until 12:01 a.m. Line Islands Time, Saturday, December 22, 2012. If you asked any scholar who specialized in pre-Hispanic Mayas about the "prophecy," he/she answered that the calendar simply enters a "new age", rather like when our calendars mark the passing of a new millennium; you buy a new calendar and time keeps going as if nothing had happened.
Some, of course, took the "new age" idea and ran with it, claiming that 2012 would be the dawn of a new era of spiritual enlightenment.
Or that aliens would land.
Some people joked that the 2012 doomsday would be because whoever won the election would be such a horrible president that the world will end.note Of course, the winner of the 2012 election wouldn't be taking office until January 20, 2013, a month after the supposed apocalypse.Saturday Night Live did a parody version of this based on Roland Emmerich's 2012.
One of the more amusing takes on this was an edition of "The Weekly World News", which claimed the "Mayan Apocalypse" would actually usher in an age of untold peace and prosperity.
Remember the Y2K bug? Back in the day, most computers only calculated the last two digits of the year in the date and time. When the year 2000 rolled around, the computer's internal clock would reset to "01/01/00," which would supposedly cause it to crash. Combine this with the increasing computerization of society, and people were proclaiming that on January 1, 2000, society would be sent back to the Dark Ages as electricity failed worldwide, planes fell out of the sky, and cats and dogs started living together. Businesses, schools, and the government spent the late '90s working to "Y2K-proof" their computer systems in order to keep them running after the big 2-0 rolled around, providing a lot of easy work for young computer programmers at the height of the "dot-com" boom. And also work for a lot of older computer programmers, since COBOL was an almost dead language when people started getting concerned about Y2K.
The real problem was dates stored with two-digit years, with a "19" added as a prefix. The reason for this was cost. In 1980, a 176 megabyte DEC RP06 hard drive cost $38,000. If a record had four dates on it, putting the year as a two-digit figure saved 8 bytes per record; if you had several million records, it added up. In 1980, the only real use would have been for things such as 30-year mortgages, since dates in the next century would not otherwise be stored in data files. Closer to the millennium change, we started to see end dates which were apparently prior to the beginning dates. This is not a good thing.
Just how much damage Y2K would've actually done if not for these preparations is debatable. One side holds that the lack of catastrophes was due mainly to the countless man-hours put in by programmers to fix and update the world's computer systems, while noting that New York City's Y2K preparations allowed it to more effectively respond to the 9/11 attacks two years later. The other side, meanwhile, counters with the fact that, even in places that saw little preparation for the Y2K bug (such as America's school systems and in countries like Italy, China and Russia), very few problems were reported as the new year rolled around.
Of course, the major question that is overlooked is how the changing of a date would actually affect certain systems. Systems not dependent on keeping a calendar or otherwise requiring long term calculations would simply roll over and treat the new old date as normal — so a clock, for instance, would return the wrong date but would still otherwise give you the correct time. (Some clocks returned the year on January 1 as "19100" rather than "2000".)
Even without deliberate re-engineering of computer systems, the rapid rate at which computers were (and still are) becoming obsolete would've ensured that most important systems got fully replaced with newer, Y2K-compatible hardware in the hype-plagued years leading up to the actual date.
A totally serious chain email in the late '90s claimed that Bill Gates was the Antichrist and that the Internet (which... he owned?) was his Mark, by adding up the ASCII for "Bill Gates" (66 + 73 + 76 + 71 + 65 + 84 + 69 + 83) and adding 3 as in William Gates ''III'' to add up the Number of the Beast. It went on to say this method also worked for "Windows 95", and that "WWW" represented the Number because of its resemblance to "VI VI VI".
There's an urban legend among fundamentalist Christian conspiracy theorists that the UN General Assembly and/or the European Parliament chambers have a seat number 666 that is never occupied and is presumably being reserved for their boss when he turns up. There are conflicting stories about whether it's true or not, but if true it's probably down to superstitiously avoiding the number rather than because either organisation is part of some demonic plan.
The idea of a great Satanic conspiracy that controls world affairs and is sacrificing people to Satan in an effort to bring about the end of the world. Widespread paranoia over so-called "Satanic ritual abuse" reached a fever pitch back in The Eighties, destroying the lives of countless people.
Some claim that the Freemasons or The Illuminati created a giant satanic pentagram pointing at The White House using Rhode Island Avenue, Vermont Avenue, Massachusetts Avenue, Connecticut Avenue, and K Street as some sort of bid to demonically control the goverment. Except Vermont and Connecticut avenues do not meet at the point that's supposed to point at The White House (which you would think would be an important part) and Rhode Island Avenue does not extend west of Connecticut Avenue to meet with K Street. Judge for yourself.
Another claim is that Dupont Circle, Logan Circle, and Scott Circle each have six streets intersecting, placing the Number of the Beast on the city.
For a while, the Procter & Gamble company suffered from rumors of having links to satanism, mostly thanks to this company logo◊. It was claimed that the logo was a mockery of Rev 12:1 ("And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of 12 stars."), since it has 13 stars instead of 12. It didn't help that rival company Amway also helped in propagating the rumors. Also by looking at the hair you see evil horns and the inverted Number of the Beast.
The 13 stars, of course, have more to do with P&G having started in the United States of America, which uses the number 13 in its iconography.
Some christians claim that the peace sign is really the depiction of a upside-down cross/crucifix with broken arms or a birds foot (because witches use them in spells) making it some sort of secret satanic symbol. It does not help that it was associated with the hippies whose often new age beliefs are labelled as satanic by more evangelical or fundamentalist christians.
Conspiracy theories about the Catholic Church have been around since the Protestant Reformation. In 19th and early 20th century America, they often tapped into nativist, anti-immigrant fears, as described above under "Race and Immigration". Today's anti-Catholic conspiracy theories (as presented by such people as Jack Chick) tend to be less political and more religious in nature, claiming that the Catholic Church is a satanicReligion of Evil whose traditions violate supposedly fundamental Christian doctrine, and which is trying to stamp out "true" Christianity and Take Over the World (that, or they're secretly running/run by/in league with The Mafia). Of course, this is ignoring the fact that Roman Catholicism was the earliest form of Christianity's influence in the West.
Chick (and his source, Alberto Riviera — who falsely claims to be a former Jesuit, and who later admitted that he made the whole thing up to get people to pay attention to him) get around the whole "Catholicism came first" elephant in the living room by claiming that the "real" Christians were driven underground by the Catholics in the early years of Christianity, and that the "true" faith was later reborn in the Protestant Reformation.
While we're on the subject of Antichrist accusations and the Catholic church, there's the Vicarius Filii Deiwho? Vicar/Representative of the Son of God rumor. The link has the whole story, but to sum it up — this is given as a supposed title of the Papacy, and present on one of the Papal Tiaras. The name, while innocuous, can be numerologically represented as none other than 666. Problem is, no such title is actually claimed by the Papacy — the actual title is Vicarius Christi (Vicar of Christ) — and none of the extant Papal Tiaras have such writing on them.
Some Traditionalist Catholics even get into conspiracy theories with their own church. There are groups of ultra-traditionalistsnote called "sedevacantists," derived from the Latin phrase sede vacante, literally "the seat being vacant" who believe that the last true pope was Pius XII or John XXIII (depending on the particular traditionalist's views on John XXIII), and that there was a conspiracy to keep Cardinal Siri from being elected instead of the eventual Paul VI. This is because Paul VI continued the Second Vatican Council (convened by John XXIII), a council that created some significant changes to the Church's liturgy (though there were no significant changes in dogma), including retiring the Latin Tridentine Mass for a new Mass to be said in the vernacular. They believe that the focus was to destroy the Church from within by bringing about laxity of faith.
Some people (such as, again, Jack Chick) believe that when a Catholic is Confirmed into the Church, they effectively become citizens of the Vatican, with the Pope serving as their head of government. Where this turns from misinterpretation of Catholic ritual into conspiracy theory is the belief that this so-called "citizenship" in the Catholic Church supersedes each Catholic's other citizenship, and that the Pope can direct Catholics to break or ignore the laws of their country, or even overthrow their local government if ordered to do so.
Richard Nixon used this conspiracy theory in his campaign against John F. Kennedy, claiming that were Kennedy, a Catholic, elected, he would effectively hand over governance of the United States to the Pope. Nixon still lost and Kennedy didn't do that.
Before Nixon and Kennedy was the 1928 presidential campaign: Republican and Protestant Herbert Hoover versus Democrat and Catholic Alfred Smith. Republican speakers insisted that they were only supporting Hoover because Al Smith was "wet" (opposed to Prohibition), but their speeches were full of anti-Catholic slurs. The Ku Klux Klan intimidated or attacked Smith supporters throughout the Midwest and South. One political cartoon of the time showed the Pope and the College of Cardinals in the Oval Office, and not as visitors.
Anti-Catholic sentiment in the United States reached a fever pitch in the early-to-mid 1800s, with increased Irish immigration and the publication of works like Maria Monk's Awful Disclosures of the Hotel Dieu Nunnery in Montreal, which depicted Catholic schools and nunneries as dens of sexual enslavement. This stoked fears that Catholics would indoctrinate or even kidnap Protestant children. In 1834, a mob destroyed an Ursuline convent in Boston; massive riots racked Philadelphia a decade later, spurred by arguments over allowing Catholic Bibles in public schools. A short-lived political party, the Nativists or Know-Nothings, arose from the anti-Catholic backlash.
Pope Benedict the XVI was the first pope in almost 800 years to voluntarily give up his seat. His stated reason for retiring was his advanced age, being the oldest pope in three centuries, but the suddenness and uniqueness of the situation have prompted theories that he was pressured to step down, usually due to either a.) his homophobia, or b.) fallout from the child abuse scandal described in "Real Conspiracies."
Back in the 1920's, Margaret Murray claimed that there was an "Old Religion" in Europe predating Christianity (all the way back to the stone age!) that had secretly survived under the Church's nose for centuries. Witch hunts were an attempt at wiping these people out once and for all. Oh, and Joan of Arc was a voluntary human sacrifice for this pagan cult. Despite the fact that she has been completely discredited (her claims have pretty much no basis in fact, and some of her "facts" were completely twisted), many new agers and pagans continue to believe the myth she's propagated.
The "National Sunday Law" is a theory believed in by some Seventh-Day Adventists and others who believe that the Sabbath should be practiced on Saturday (most Christian churches practice it on Sunday). Allegedly, the government is gearing up to pass a national "blue law" that would close all businesses on Sunday and declare the day to be one of rest and worship... and since they believe Sunday worship to be the Mark of the Beast, this law will lead to the End Times, the rise of The Antichrist (who is The Pope in most versions of the theory), and all that entails. In reality, the trend over the last half-century or so has been towards the repeal of blue laws, with many jurisdictions that choose to keep them (such as Bergen County, New Jersey) doing so not out of piety, but in order to have a reprieve from the traffic that comes with the weekend shopping period. The last attempt to pass a national Sunday law was in 1888.
And then there's Nibiru, a.k.a. Planet X, that crazy rogue planet which is about to hit (or near-miss) the Earth. No one knows when, but it's definitely imminent! The theory originated in 1995 with someone named Nancy Lieder, who claimed that helpful aliens sent her a telepathic warning that a "Planet X" would swing past the Earth in 2003 with catastrophic consequences. Meanwhile, Ancient Astronauts conspiracy theorist Zecharia Sitchin made up a bunch of stuff about the Sumerians, including their supposed discovery of a planet called Nibiru with an extreme elliptical orbit. "Nibiru", by the way, is actually the Sumerians' term for the planet we know as Jupiter. Anyway, Planet X and Nibiru got conflated together, something which was denounced by Sitchin, but no one cared about what he had to say anymore. An incident in 1983 when NASA thought it might have discovered a new planet is also often cited, because when scientists change their story, it's never because they found out they made a mistake. Oh no, it must be a cover-up. There are also unfounded claims that world leaders are secretly building bunkers so that they'll be able to ride out the Nibiru cataclysm and, when they return to the surface, the remaining survivors will be easily enslaved. The fact that 2003 came and went without incident (jokes about The Matrix sequels aside) has not deterred anyone, of course, and various new dates for Nibiru's arrival have been proposed. This includes December 21, 2012 naturally, but it's passing has not stopped Nibiru theories any more effectively than the passing of 2003 did.
Comet Elenin has had a lot of Wild Mass Guessing that it would cause the end of the world as it was coming close to earth and that NASA was covering it up. Decriptions on how this was going to happen varied including hitting the earth like the one that wiped out the dinosaursnote Never mind that was a meteor, not a comet, which are two very different things, that it passing would cause massive geological upheaval and had already started causing earthquakes, that it was a spaceship or one is hiding in its tail, it really was Nibiru (see above) or it was the physical form of Lucifer. And this was follow by the usual claims that the Conspiracy Theories were disinformation. Part of the claims usually included a Backronym for the name Extinction Level Event with the rest somethin like NINe or Nibiru is N(fill in something). Theorists took the general media disinterest in the comet as a sign that it was covered up despite it being mostly of interest to niche markets such as astronomers.
There's been a fairly new conspiracy theory involving celebrities and Scientology. This theory is that a lot of the alleged celebrity scientologists aren't real believers of the religion. Instead most see the organization as more of a facade and a country club made up of Hollywood insiders. And most join for the perks, and networking. In essence it's a organization within another organization. Basically celebs and Hollywood insiders are exploiting the group for their own end, while Scientology gets to use the celebs' fame (and money).
Cited almost as often as Rivera by Jack Chick is John Todd, whose claims are equally bombastic. Todd spun a valiant backstory for himself, involving being a member of The Illuminati, here a Satanist cult, who learned precisely how powerful and evil they were upon reaching a high enough rank, promptly defected from decadence, and blew the whole thing wide open to the Christian community (a story nearly identical to Rivera's, incidentally; just replace the Illuminati with the Jesuits), stopping along the way to rescue his sisterfrom being executed as a loose end by the cult. Chief among Todd's claims is that Rock 'n' Roll music is manufactured by the cult as a rebranding of old Druidic music, and was created with the express intent of being a springboard into witchcraft for young people. However, a quick backround check revealed that Todd (or his sister, incidentally) had never actually been where he said he'd been when he said he'd been, and the final nail in the coffin came when he went down for rape in 1987, ultimately dying in an insane asylum. Naturally, Chick still believes every word he said.
There are some who believe that the National Football League has been deliberately thwarting every effort to establish or move a franchise to Los Angeles, in order to allow teams in all the other cities to use the implied threat of moving to convince cities and local fans to build them a new stadium with tax money. The fact that the 15 years since the two franchises left has coincided with a major stadium boom hasn't helped.
The real reason for this is as follows: Until recently, the city of Los Angeles would not approve an NFL team playing anywhere but the LA Memorial Coliseum, the home of the old LA Raiders and current home of the USC Trojans, since that stadium had powerful backers on the City Council. Problem was, the NFL would never return to the Coliseum, as the stadium is smack-dab in the middle of South Central and has too many seats to avoid TV blackout rules. There are also legal entanglements (the Davis family, who moved the Raiders back to Oakland in 1995, still claim rights over the Los Angeles area), and West Coast teams are a nightmare for the NFL's already byzantine television scheduling. The city council finally approved a new stadium in September 2012.
However, the NFL is not shy about using the promise of a Super Bowl to entice local voters to approve stadium renewal packages. Both New York and Kansas City were awarded Super Bowls contingent on securing funding for a new stadium or a large renovation. The former finally did and gets its Super Bowl in 2014. The latter did not and will not get a Super Bowl.
Supposedly sports are being used to distract the population from whatever the evil goverment is doing. The National Football League gets this allegedly because its founder, Walter Camp, was a Skull And Bones member (see New World Order (NWO)/Secret Societies). Actually, Camp, often called the "father of American football" for his contributions to the college game, had no role in the founding of the organization that eventually became the NFL.
Muhammad Ali's iconic victory over Sonny Liston, as depicted in this famous image◊, was allegedly the result of Liston throwing the fight. The two most common explanations for why he would have done this are a) Liston owed money to The Mafia and bet against himself in order to raise that money, and b) Liston was afraid of what the Black Muslims would do to him if he beat their champion, Ali.
Michael Jordan's sudden (and short-lived) retirement from the Chicago Bulls in 1993, at the top of his game, is alleged to have been a cover-up for him being suspended by the NBA over his gambling problem. Related to this, it has also been claimed that the death of his father, James R. Jordan, Sr., was the result of a hit placed on him by someone who his son owed gambling money to.
The 1951 pennant run of the New York (now San Francisco) Giants baseball team has been alleged, especially by their rivals the Brooklyn (now Los Angeles) Dodgers, to be the result of them stealing signals from opposing teams, allowing them to know what pitches were coming. The fact that three former Giants have said as much probably does more than a bit to bolster this theory's credibility.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s stirring victory at the Daytona International Speedway in June 2001, just four months after his father died in a horrific wreck on the track, has been alleged to have been the result of NASCAR pulling strings behind the scenes in order to make that moment happen and thus increase ratings. Specifically, it's been claimed that they told the drivers in front of him to pull back so as to let him win, and allowed Dale Jr.'s team to make illegal modifications to his car.
Allegedly, NBA Commissioner David Stern has been rigging American basketball in order to give preferential treatment to teams in larger markets (such as Boston, New York and Los Angeles), allowing them better draft picks and pressuring referees to make calls in their favor.
The 1958 NFL Championship between the Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants, won by the Colts in a 23-17 overtime victory, is often considered to be the greatest American Football game ever played. It has been alleged that the iconic final play in the game, in which the Colts went for a risky touchdown rather than an easy field goal, was the result of Colts owner Carroll Rosenbloom having bet money on his team winning by 3.5 points or more — something that a three-point field goal wouldn't have covered.
Of note is that the game-winning touchdown was scored on 3rd down, not 4th, which would have allowed the field goal to occur on the next play. Additionally, the NFL has long had unwritten rules of machismo about closing out games (the classic example being the first "Miracle at the Meadowlands").
The great Major League Baseball steroid scandal in the '00s. Exactly who was actually using performance-enhancing drugs, and who was just slinging mud to get back at their rivals, will probably never be known for certain, even after a Congressional investigation into the matter. Some have gone as far to allege that four-fifths of all baseball players are using steroids.
Australian Rules Football: The AFL was formed by the expansion of the Victorian Football League, and has ten teams based in Victoria and eight in other states. Some believe that the AFL is deliberately trying to bankrupt some of the Victorian clubs in order to force them to relocate, merge or fold - this is especially popular among fans of the smaller, poorer clubs such as Footscray/Western Bulldogs and North Melbourne (South Melbourne were relocated to Sydney in 1982 as the first step of the league's expansion, and Fitzroy merged with and relocated to Brisbane in 1996)
Did Italian officials conspire to delay Formula One driver Ayrton Senna's time of death to avoid canceling the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix? Considering his injuries it was likely he died on impact, a belief F1 medical delegate Sid Watkins believed, and the official time of death listed was 2:17 pm local time, about the time of the crash. Yet it was not declared until 6:40 pm, and he had been kept alive with a life support machine. Theorists have speculated that the people behind the race conspired to keep Senna alive because under Italian law note While the official title of the race was the Grand Prix of San Marino, it was hosted in Imola, Italy, if a person dies at a sporting event, the event must be canceled, a move that would have caused the race organizers to lose millions, hence them delaying Senna's death. A sister theory is that they also conspired to hide that the death of Roland Ratzenberger, who had died the day before, was instantaneous, which also would have forced a cancellation.
While the exact cause of Senna's death is known (the front right suspension came up and hit his head and a piece of the suspension pierced his visor) the cause of the crash is the source of another conspiracy theory: The steering column was found to be broken but did it break as a result of the crash or did it cause the crash in the first place? What's known is that there were fatigue cracks, aided by a haphazard welding to extend the column. Furthermore inboard footage shows the steering wheel moving oddly just prior to the crash.It doesn't help that the black box on board Senna's car became mysteriously unreadable, despite staying intact. (And Williams, the team Senna was on, was allowed to handle it before turning it over to the investigators, despite that being a breach of FIA regulations.) Adrian Newey, designer of the car, argued that a tire puncture could have been the cause. Understandably, people are loathe to claim it's driver error, considering Senna's skill level.
There are some conspiracy theories proposed about the long-running fake girlfriend hoax perpetrated on Manti Te'o. The most "mundane" of these is that Te'o is simply a closeted homosexual who seized on an out-of-state girl (whether or not he knew she was fake) to avoid raising questions. The more elaborate claim that Te'o, his family, the pranksters, and even the University of Notre Dame were all conspiring to give Te'o a national media storyline which bolstered his campaign for the Heisman trophynote He finished second in the voting to Johnny Manziel. Some take it further and conclude that the media must also have been in on the hoax because the story drew viewers.
There are probably hundreds of sporting events that have been rumored to have been fixed or thrown. Going back to the earliest days of baseball, there has certainly been thrown games and fights (the 1880s baseball scandal, more than a few boxing matches). In combat sports, any high-profile fight that ends in a controversial decision or suspect knockout/submission get the conspirators running to their tinfoil hats. Notable examples include:
Georges St. Pierre/Jonny Hendrix Welterweight Championship fight. The fight was actually closer than the physical damage after the fact looked (GSP's face was hamburger, Jonny was barely marked), but that didn't stop people from claiming the UFC fixed the fight to ensure their top PPV draw remained champ. Him voluntarily dropping the title afterwards to take time off for personal issues simmered a lot of the accusations, but fueld other, more colorful ones.
Anderson Silva's behavior prior to being knocked out by Chris Weidman in their first fight led many to believe he had been paid to take a dive so UFC could put the belt on a more marketable (IE, white and American) fighter after Anderson had held the belt for so long. This ignores the fact that Silva was already hugely popular and the second biggest PPV draw behind GSP, Weidman was an unproven commodity as champ, Silva goofs around like that in NEARLY EVERY FIGHT, and he was obviously very much knocked out for real and few people purposley would allow themselves to get blasted like that. The other theory is he just got tired of the pressure of being champ and took the dive on his own, ignoring how unlikely someone as insanely competitive as Silva would lose on purpose.
Manny Pacquiao's decision loss to Timothy Bradley. While almost everyone agrees it was a terrible decision, few of the conspiracy minded have came up with any really good explanations as to why anyone in boxing would want the 2nd biggest moneymaker in the sport to tarnish his record, but they try anyway.
UFC's old Japanese rival promotion PRIDE had a few fights in its early days that were more than likely fixed (when they were closer to a pro wrestling organization than a fight promotion), which led many to speculate on just HOW many and for how long PRIDE fixed/manipulated fights. Often pointed out as proof was the fact that the referees wore earpieces (so the powers that be in the back could tell them when the "finish" was to happen), accusations that certain people were brought in to lose (Rampage Jackson straight out said they told him he would have a bigger purse if he lost than if he won in his first fight with them), along with many seeming mismatches (although "tomato can" fights really aren't that uncommon in boxing), suspect hometown decisions and draws for Japanese fighters, and seemingly referee favoritism to allowing popular fighters to recover with suspect fight pauses, among other things. How much is true manipulation by the organization and how much is speculation among conspiracy theorists may never be known.
Along those lines, many sports drafts have been accused of being fixed, ensuring that certain players go to certain teams. It doesn't help that there have been a few confirmed instances where this DID happen, but it puts EVERY convenient draft pick in question.
The Dark Horse Victory by West Germany in 1954, over an Hungary team that hadn't lost in over 2 years and only started having troubles in the playoffs (in the group staged they trounced the same German team - because the coach deliberately put the reserves, to both hide the team's true strength and avoid a rematch with the Magyars until the final). Some accuse the "Miracle of Bern" of only happening due to the Germans using performance-enhancing drugs in the dressing room.
In 1978, the host Argentina entered their game with Peru knowing that only by winning over 4 goals they would reach the final, and the result was a 6-0 defeat. This is pointed by many as occuring due to some interference by the dictatorship that ruled the country (whether bribing, delivery of dissidents or just the fact that the Peruvian goalkeeper was born in Argentina).
In 1998, defending champions Brazil entered the final against host France, and were beaten 3-0, with star Ronaldo visibly in bad conditions and everyone else also not playing well. The official story is that Ronaldo had a convulsion the day of the match, and seeing that affected his companions deeply. But of course some didn't accept this - or the fact that the French had a strong team that even a healthy Brazil would have problems - and believe Brazil "sold" the final to win the next one (which they did).
In May 2014, in response to the National Basketball Association banning Donald Sterling for making racist remarks, Orly Taitz filed a "complaint" with the NBA, requesting that it also ban Shaquille O'Neal because he, in Orly Taitz's opinion, "publicly bullied" a disabled person. (No, it made no sense, much like most of what she says.)
Energy companies have been allegedly hiding plans for alternative energy sources (electric cars, cars that run on water, cold fusion, free energy) and revolutionary energy efficiency technologies (such as advanced batteries) for God knows how long, buying patents and then sitting on them.
General Motors' EV1 electric car was supposedly doomed from the start due to this. The alleged culprits include the oil industry, who feared their profits being undercut and supported efforts to kill the mandate requiring zero-emissions vehicles, and GM itself, which allegedly sabotaged the EV1 program by engaging in negative marketing and failing to build enough cars to meet demand. This was the subject of the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car?. Far less sexy is the fact that the EV1 cost more to manufacture than it did to sell, and its performance left quite a bit to desire, with the initial versions being capable of only 60 miles on an 8 hour charge.
Likewise, the Urban Legend regarding the gentleman that purchased a car, and quickly discovered that it seemingly never ran out of fuel. He goes home, and in the middle of the night, sees strange men working under the hood of his new wondercar. After that night, the car only gets normal mileage. Supposedly, the miracle car was a high-efficiency prototype and the gas companies sabotaged it to prevent the loss of profits from gas sales. This implies that gas companies and car companies were working at cross-purposes: if a car company designed such a miraculous car — one that that no other company had — they would dominate the industry, and wouldn't give it up voluntarily, so were sabotaged against their will.
In the The Lone Gunmen episode "Like Water for Octane" plays with this. The Gunmen are trying to find an experimental prototype water-powered car before an agent of an oil company, who presumably intends to destroy it. It turns out that the agent wants to see it mass-manufactured, and its original creator hid it away because he realized that freedom from oil would ultimately mean more cars and more consumption—his "miracle" would accelerate corporate devastation of the environment rather than stop it.
Referenced in Warehouse 13 with a car stored in the titular warehouse that could run off bioelectrical energy of its passengers or a standard car battery that was invented by Thomas Edison which he then showed to Henry Ford. Ford turned it down because oil wore down engine components more quickly, and thus, Ford could make moremoney when people would buy replacement parts or cars.
The idea of the water-fueled motor is an especially stupid one. The idea is that someone has developed a combustion engine that runs on water, and as such, would completely destroy the oil industry. The reason why this is stupid is that water (and carbon dioxide) are actually -products- of combustion - the reason CO2 and H2O are useful for putting out fires is that they are what fires produce, and as such, cannot be "burned" any further. There ARE ways of setting water and carbon dioxide on fire, but they involve incredibly dangerous (and corrosive) chemicals like fluorine; some fluorine compounds can even set asbestos on fire. They are useless as ordinary fuels, however, as most of them are too dangerous to be useful, and there is literally no way to put out some fluorine fires - they simply burn until exhausted, producing such wonderful compounds as hydrofluoric acid (which is both highly acidic and poisonous) as combustion byproducts.
'Water-powered engines' are often being described as the engines burning the hydrogen obtained through the electrolysis of water. Such engine would not only revolutionise the transportation but also physics as we know it, because the explanation above clearly violates the Law of Energy Conservation.
Cold fusion is another common rumor, mostly because people don't understand the science (or rather, the lack thereof) behind it. While cold fusion DOES, in fact, occur, it occurs at such a slow rate as to be useless, or else requires exotic, unstable particles like muons. The idea of generating any usable amount of power off of this process is laughable - it occurs far too slowly. Fusion in general is highly impractical - not only does it require ridiculously high temperatures, but it produces radiation, gradually making whatever containment unit it is in radioactive, which is why fusion power has been "20 years away" since the 1950s.
Another one about the oil companies: they are supposedly hiding the existence of vast amounts of untapped oil from the general public, creating the illusion of "peak oil" in order to keep prices artificially high. One version of this theory (and the reason why it's under "Suppressed Science and Technologies") holds that oil reserves replenish naturally over time (the abiogenic petroleum origin theory), and that the oil companies have been suppressing this and pushing the "fossil fuel" theory in order to protect the value of their investments. Comparisons are usually drawn between this and the diamond industry (see "Real Conspiracies" below).
Conversely, it is often the case that small gas/oil companies will under-report their production to prevent competitors from leasing all the land around good properties before they do. But that is not really a conspiracy against the consumer, and is not illegal except in Texas. Which is one of the many reasons the Hubbert Decline Curve predicted the production history of Texas more accurately than it did other parts of the US.
The other problem with the theory is that it encourages people to use less fuel and develop other energy sources. When oil got too expensive in the late 2000s, people changed their driving habits and bought more fuel-efficient vehicles - and even when the prices dropped again, people continued to use less gas.
A large number of creationists maintain that there is a conspiracy to suppress any scientific evidence that calls evolution into question. Some claim that this conspiracy is led by secularists and atheists who want to discredit the existence of God and push liberal social values onto society. Others claim that it's a matter of pride, with evolutionary biologists not wanting to risk their careers by seeing their life's work getting discredited. The "documentary" Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed was about this alleged conspiracy.
The more generous ones ascribe the problem to paradigm theory, that even scientists are prone to ignore evidence that doesn't fit their preconceptions. There have been some studies that support this idea but not to the extent necessary for what creationists claim (especially since many scientists are religious, quite a few of them even of the religions that believe in some form of creationism.)
Some go further and claim that the theory of evolution is itself inherently sinister. This version typically comes up in discussions of the theory that humans first evolved in Africa; according to the conspiracy theorists, this is designed to provide a scientific justification for the "inferiority" of black people. The most extreme version of this one claims that the theory of human evolution in Africa is being actively pushed by The Man (usually some sort of worldwide conspiracy of Satan-worshippers that includes the Catholics; see 'Religion and Apocalyptica' above) in order to make the enslavement and/or genocide of "lesser races" seem acceptable to the public.
Which makes no sense anyway, since if all humans evolved in Africa, they have a common origin, and thus there are no "lesser races" to begin with. In fact it can be (and has been) used against racism.
The prohibition of marijuana in the United States was allegedly caused by a conspiracy involving, among others, the DuPont chemical company and newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst, who were allegedly afraid of the competition that hemp products presented to the chemical and paper industries. A common embellishment is that the wide availability of hemp rope meant that new, patentable nylon rope would have no market. Which is rather silly given that nylon rope is much stronger, lighter and durable than hemp rope, is resistant to many chemicals and incapable of rotting the way hemp does.
Time Cube. Gene Ray believes that any rejection of his theories by academic institutions is the result of this, and not because the only research shown on his site is crudely drawn squares, apparently representing Earth.
The "Lost Cosmonauts" theory posits the idea that the Soviet Union launched other space missions before Gagarin, at least two of which died (another is said to have gone off course and been caught by Red China). They then proceeded to cover this up, so as to prevent bad publicity during the Cold War. (The fact that the early Russian space program was rather disorganized and one cosmonaut - Vladamir Komarov - did indeed die on a mission are often cited to enforce this theory, but the theory otherwise has almost no proof.)
Considering American astronauts involved in the Apollo-Soyuz co-mission who went to the Soviet Union later said the Soviet space officials refused to admit there had been a horrific accident involving their failed N1 rocket (presumed to have been an attempt at a moon rocket) in which an unmanned test failure resulted in over a hundred deaths on the ground, despite American spy missions having photographed the destruction at the launch site, and add to it that missions resulting in the deaths of the Soviet crews were kept quiet for years, the idea they hid failed attempts before Gagarin isn't as far-fetched as it seems.
The principal impediment to this theory having any credibility is the complete and total absence of any substantive evidence. After the Cold War ended, lots of secret Soviet space program information came tumbling out (including an entire moonshot program that had been successfully hidden from the West for over 20 years), but not one shred points to missing cosmonauts.
Aurora is claimed to be a secret U.S. Air Force hypersonic reconnaissance aircraft, believed to be the successor to the SR-71. The story first appeared in Aviation Week & Space Technology where a U.S. Air Force budget report was shown that had over 400 million dollars directed to a project entitled "Aurora". Almost immediately afterward, sightings broke out of an unusual triangle-shaped aircraft generating sonic booms and leaving odd "doughnuts on a rope" contrails. The more mundane theories suggest that Aurora was simply the budget name for a number of "black" aircraft and that the sightings were of real then-secret aircraft such as the F-117 or the B2. Other more fantastic claims state that the Aurora is/was a real plane capable of flying anywhere between Mach 5 and Mach 8, it is/was powered by liquid methane and was built using alien technology. To this day, just about any slightly unusual budget allocation at or above the hundred-million dollar range will get someone claiming it's for the continued development or upkeep for Aurora.
The funniest part of the theory is that it was conducted in secret in the Philadelphia harbor, specifically where the battleships docked. Here's the slight flaw in that theory: the Philadephia Naval Shipyard is completely open, none of it is secretive or hidden. This experiment couldn't have happened without all of Philly being able to see it. That, and the actual crew of the Eldridge from the time find the whole story absolutely hilarious.
As it turns out, the navy really did conduct top secret science experiments on the Eldridge using electromagnets, but they didn't involve anything as flashy as teleportation. What they were really doing was trying to figure out a way to demagnetize the hull so that it would be immune to magnetic mines. The fanciful sci-fi stories about time travel and invisibility were most likely a disinformation campaign to prevent the Axis Powers from figuring out what they were up to.
The "Moon hoax" theory claims that the moon landing was a hoax, filmed on a Hollywood soundstage to fool the Russians and "win" The Space Race. (Some versions claim that Stanley Kubrick was the one who filmed it.) The MythBusters had a field day debunking this, and in any event there are photographs of the moon landing sites from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Probably the most obvious response to this is to ask why the Soviets, who were perfectly capable of watching American spacecraft, didn't call them out on the fraud. If there was even a shadow of a doubt that the Americans really had landed on the moon, the Soviets would have thrown it right in their faces and scored an enormous propaganda victory.
Incidentally, the Apollo crews left three retroreflector arrays on the Moon that can be observed with laser to this day. And before anyone can say "unmanned drone", it would have been more expensive to develop such a device back in the 1960s than to send human astronauts.
Also, it's been pointed out by several people, that it would have been much easier to actually land on the moon than generate such a conspiracy since over 400,000 people working for NASA (including astronauts, scientists, engineers, technicians, and skilled laborers) for over a decade would have had to have kept the secret. Someone out of that almost half-million would have said something by this point.
In 2002 William Karel created a Mockumentary, The Dark Side of the Moon purported to be about how NASA and Hollywood had conspired to fake the Apollo moon landings, complete with heavyweight guest stars, including Buzz Aldrin and Stanley Kubrick's widow. In spite of the blooper reel featured over the end credits and names of people like Dave Bowman, Jack Torrance, and Dimitri Muffley (not to mention an on-screen acknowledgement that it was all made up) some people still believe that it provides evidence for the Apollo landings being a hoax!
Some groups such as the HareKrishnas and the Flat Earthers believe that the moon landing was faked because it doesn't agree with their preconceived ideas about the moon.
Alternatively, they did land on the moon but faked the footage to hide what they found or did whilst there (something to do with aliens, Nazis, Soviets, etc. Take your pick).
A more believable version of this is that the footage was faked when they decided that the real footage transmitted from the moon was disappointedly poor.
The Vela Incident. In 1979 a satellite detected a double-flash of light which some speculated was an unauthorised nuclear test near Bouvet Island, inspiring a couple of novels, and perhaps the choice of location for Alien vs. Predator.
Colony collapse disorder or the "bees are dying" is supposedly to being caused by a varitey of things (radiation from phones, genetically modified foods or pesticides - some pesticides have been banned in some countries for this reason) and this has been covered up to stop people suing. Or, if you want to believe in more sinister forces at work that its is deliberately being caused (usually by Monsanto) to control the world wide food supply or as a method of population control. Presumably it has little to do with alieninvasions.
The "Norwegian Spiral" is most certainly a failed Russian rocket but due to how bizarre it looks it was blamed on a variety of things including aliens, side effects of the Large Hadron Collider, a wormhole and - to cross into other conspiracies - Project Bluebeam or HAARP.
There have been people who have claimed that the earth is flat or hollow and it is being kept secret for... some inexplicable reason. Flat earth belief is nowdays generally seen as so bizarre that it used as by-words for someone who believes in some thing beyond all reason (including on this very wiki). Yet people and groups such as Wilbur Glenn Voliva and the Flat Earth Society were active well up into the mid 1900's, accusing NASA of hiding the "truth" (though more modern incarnations of the society have fallen into Poe's Law). Hollow World on the other hand is more popular, with people like David Icke believing in it and people claiming that they found giant holes at both arctic poles in Google Earth images that provide an entrance to the inner-earth (with a decent chance that Nazis have been/are there).
The transition to digital signals for television is a plan to cause people to buy new TVs and set-top boxes with hidden cameras inside them, or yet another way to mind control the masses.
Tax Protestor Arguments
Note: This section specifically deals with claims that the American financial and tax systems are illegitimate. It is not related to opposition to the income tax, the Federal Reserve, fiat currency, etc. on religious, moral or economic grounds. There is a difference between simply feeling that these institutions are a bad thing and feeling that they are part of a conspiracy to defraud and enslave Americans.
Did you hear? You don't have to pay your income tax! While these are certainly words that most Americans would love to hear come April 15, they are seriously believed by a subset of the American population, generally referred to as "tax protesters." A huge list of various arguments put forth by Tax Protestors, many of which have actually been used in Federal courts, is here. The legal/constitutional/logical gymnastics of each Tax Protestor can be incredibly creative, complex, and convoluted, but they all miraculously lead to the conclusion that they don't have to pay the income tax.
The commonest argument hinges on two big claims: first, that there Ain't No Law explicitly stating that you have to pay taxes on your income, and second, that the 16th Amendment to the Constitution (which they argue legalized the income tax)note The 16th Amendment did not actually legalize the income tax. It was meant to address a specific Supreme Court ruling that said taxing income derived from property (such as royalties and rents) was unconstitutional without apportioning. The 16th made it explicit that income "from any source" was taxable without apportioning. Income tax on wages were never in question and would still be legal even if the 16th were overturned. was never properly ratified, meaning that federal income taxes are unconstitutional. A whole industry has cropped up of people writing books about how you can use these arguments to legally get out of paying taxes — something that the courts apparently haven't caught on to, as they will bust you for tax evasion if you try to use these arguments (or any of the following) on a judge.
Each one of these has been ruled (often repeatedly) invalid by federal courts, but that doesn't stop people from trying them, or inventing new ones.
Another common tax protestor claim is that the Federal Reserve is a private bank, and that it is unaccountable to the federal government (most versions of this theory also claim that the Federal Reserve is controlled by the New World Order). Therefore, US currency, which is printed by the Federal Reserve (take a look at the wad of bills in your pocket; they all say "Federal Reserve Note"), is not legal tender, as only Congress has the power to make currency. While the Federal Reserve does act semi-independently of the government, this also applies to other federal agencies, such as the defunct Interstate Commerce Commission. As a federal agency, the Federal Reserve is subject to the Administrative Procedure Act and other forms of government regulation. Also, Congressional authority to set up a national bank was affirmed as far back as 1819, with the Supreme Court ruling of McCulloch v. Maryland.
Going back to the "coining money" argument, some tax protestors like to make the claim that only money backed by gold or silver is legal tender in the United States, and that Federal Reserve Notes, which are backed by neither, are therefore worthless. (For some reason, these same tax protestors still want to hold on to all their "worthless" Federal Reserve Notes, though.) Like the above argument, this was settled by the Supreme Court in a pair of cases in the late 19th century (the "Legal Tender Cases"), which affirmed that paper money, not backed by precious metals, was legal tender. This also answers the Federal Reserve argument: the Congress' power to "coin money" was held to mean that "Congress gets to decide what is and what isn't money." Note that this could be anything, within reason, and it doesn't matter who created the stuff. If Congress decided that jellybeans were legal tender, with denominations indicated by the color, well, then, they are.
The above theories, though certainly of very little legal merit, pale in comparison to the conspiracy theory behind the redemption movement, which is so bizarre that there's no point attempting to describe it here. You'll just have to click the link to read about it on Wikipedia. (Just for starters, it claims that the phrase "inalienable rights" in the Declaration of Independence refers to liens and that birth certificates are actually the US Government's certificate of title proving it owns - and can take out loans against - its citizens.)
To give an overveiw of the claims, when the US went off the gold standard and backed its money with the "full faith and credit" of the government, what they in fact were doing was using the potential future earning of its citizenry as collateral. How do they do this? At birth every citizen has a legal entity secretly created for them called a "straw man"note nothing to do with that sort of straw. For each straw man a secret account is set up which holds an amount of money based on potential earnings (the amount varies depending on who's telling the tale). Whats the proof? Well, when you are born you are usually given a birth certificate with your name in all capitals. This is the name of the straw man, since most people only capitalize the first letters of their names. Therefore the birth certificate is some proof of the goverment's ownership over the person's straw man. Furthermore, the movement claims that by filling out the proper paperwork you can borrow money and/or transfer debts and taxation obligations to the straw man.
This has led to a number of scammers claiming to help people access the financial benefits of the straw man, usually by falsely applying for government benefits for their mark or wrongfully claiming "rebates" on their victims' tax returns. They take the victims' money and run, leaving them to face the legal consquences when the goverment notices.
It has been claimed that, before the Mexican-American War, the US government ordered the settlers to go to the disputed territory knowing the Mexicans would attack them, so that a war to seize the northern parts of Mexico would look like self-defense.
Various conspiracy theories surround World War I, particularly America's involvement in it.
The sinking of the Lusitania in 1915 by a German torpedo, an event which contributed to the United States eventually entering the war. There's no question that it contained contraband (search for "cartridges and ammunition, cases" in its cargo manifest), but there are shaky further claims that it was carrying undeclared guncotton (a volatile explosive), or perhaps a battery of six-inch guns (somehow hiding 100 gunners in a crew of 700 green seamen).
It's been claimed that the Zimmermann telegram, sent by Germany to Mexico requesting an alliance and assistance in the war effort in exchange for some of its lost northern territories, was a British forgery to goad the US into joining the war. The British, who had cracked the German diplomatic code, had pulled up all transatlantic cables that did not pass through Britain. Thus, they were able to tap the German diplomatic cable traffic to the Western Hemisphere. The British made it look as if someone in Mexico City had stolen the decrypted text, since they did not want the Germans to discover that their code had been compromised. After the telegram had been published in the US newspapers, the German foreign minister, Arthur Zimmermann, pulled what has to be one of the great diplomatic blunders of all time: He admitted that the telegram was authentic.
Publicly, Britain's casus belli for getting involved in the war was to protect neutral Belgium from German aggression. Some, however, have argued that another major reason Britain went to war with Germany was out of imperial interests. Specifically, Britain wanted to prevent the completion of the Berlin-Baghdad Railway, which would allow the Germans to project power into the Middle East and, from there, East Africa while bypassing the British-owned Suez Canal.
Not a conspiracy theory by any means - it's accepted within academic circles that Belgium was a casus belli and nothing more (ink on paper, etcetc). Britain's domestic troubles in 1914 were enormous - women's suffrage, labour unrest, and Irish secession threatened to tear the country apart if something wasn't done to either appease or sideline them all. Not without good reason are there many Alternate Histories that posit a British (Socialist) Revolution in that decade, with or without the war.
General Billy Mitchell was court martialed in the 1920s for his unflattering comments about the deplorable state of the military. One of his comments that got him into trouble was the ridiculous claim that military preparedness was so bad that he fully expected the Empire of Japan to attack Pearl Harbor. His problem was that he was right nearly 20 years too early.
An alternative theory, which is even accepted by some supporters of FDR, is that while the attack itself was unexpected, Japan's hostility wasn't. In 1940, the US government prohibited iron and scrap steel exports to Japan, and in 1940 it also restricted oil exports (the US in those days was a major oil exporter, and Japan was heavily reliant on American oil), froze Japan's funds in the US, and initiated the Lend-Lease program in support of the Allies against the Axis powers, all the while demanding Japan's withdrawal from China and Indochina. Some folks argue that this was all designed to put an end to American neutrality without causing a public backlash by getting one of the Axis powers to declare war on the US. It hinges on the express aim of the U.S. aim of aiding Britain, which FDR did want to do; this was taking a rather big gamble that Hitler would join Japan in any war against the US—otherwise, trying to provoke Japan to save Britain would be a fool's errand. (Incidentally, Hitler was well aware that the provocations against Japan were directed at trying to get the US in the war against Germany.) As it turned out, Germany did declare war against the US, although there was nothing in the agreements with Japan that required it to do so, meaning that if the theory is true, FDR's gamble paid off. Of course, FDR's actions against Japan before Pearl Harbor were also done in part as a response to Japan's monstrous conduct in China, so they were justified in that respect.
A variation on this theory is that Winston Churchill learned of the attack but kept it quiet in order that the United States would be provoked into entering the Second World War and thus easing some of the pressure on the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and their allies.
The US did know that Japan was about to attack somewhere, but didn't know where, and were it not for atmospheric conditions preventing wireless transmissions across the eastern Pacific, Pearl Harbor would have been on alert when it was attacked. (John Toland, The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936–1945.)
US and British intelligence services didn't know for sure, but sensibly concluded that the Carrier-arm of the Japanese fleet was going to be used against the British Far-Eastern Flotilla in Singapore. It was painfully obvious to everyone that a Japanese offensive operation/campaign was imminent and that it would target British Malaya and the Dutch East Indies - to secure critically-needed iron and oil supplies. US forces in The Philippines were placed on alert just in case because hey, when people are going to war on your doorstep it doesn't hurt to be prepared, but nobody actually expected that Imperial Japanwould be loony enough to bring the US into a Japanese-Allied war.
We do have to remember that this was less than 15 years after Charles Lindbergh's famous solo flight across the Atlantic and less than four decades after the flight of the Wright brothers; aircraft technology was pretty new. Only a handful of people thought it was possible for such an attack to occur. While the US intelligence did rightly believe that an attack was imminent and knew the Japanese were planning something, all intelligence they did have suggested they were going to attack the Philippines (and remember, the Japanese did attack the Philippines too). The idea that there would travel halfway through the largest ocean on the planet and attack a military base thousands of miles away from them was at the time nearly unthinkable. Pretty much everyone was genuinely shocked when it actually happened.
The issue of fighting a war with no ships is usually circumvented by pointing out that at the time of attack, the carriers were off to the sea. This part of the theory usually assumes that the American leadership already knew it'd be the carriers, not the battleships, that would be the main weapon of Pacific.
The Vietnam War stands as one of the most controversial police actions in US history, and it occurred concurrently with the rise of the counterculture, so it stands to reason that it is surrounded in conspiracy theories.
Another long-lingering conspiracy theory states that the Soviet Union secretly gave the North Vietnamese T-72 tanks for field testing, which they used during the Battle of Saigon. The Vietnamese only officially received the T-72 in 2005, buying them from Poland, and almost every claim has been shot down as being misidentified T-54/55 or T-62 tanks. While the Soviet Union did provide them with advanced SAM systems and radar networks (staffed with Soviet personnel no less), there has been no concrete evidence the Soviets gave them T-72 tanks. Nevertheless, the theory persists, and even shows up in Battlefield Vietnam.
For one from after the war, there's the POW/MIA issue. It has long been alleged that the government of Vietnam is still holding American prisoners of war, and that the US is covering this up, either to save face or to improve relations with Vietnam. This theory was most popular in The Eighties, when it was popularized by such films as Rambo: First Blood Part II, the Missing in Action films, Uncommon Valor, and others. A number of people and groups funded expeditions into Southeast Asia in order to recover the alleged prisoners, all without success. The Senate investigated the issue in 1993, and concluded that Vietnam had complied with orders to return POWs as best as they could. However, the issue remains contentious to this day, with allegations that the report was a cover-up, and it was brought up as recently as the 2004 and 2008 US Presidential elections (which had Vietnam veterans running).
Pick any military conflict where the US or Great Britain directly or indirectly attacked a Third World country, especially one in the Middle East, or one where a leader of such a country (especially one who espoused anti-Western and/or anti-imperialist viewpoints) was overthrown in a revolution. Hold it in your head for a couple minutes. Inevitably, someone will accuse the CIA and/or MI6 from plotting the entire thing from the start in order to install a leader who will allow their companies to rob the country of its natural resources (usually oil), as a form of neo-imperialism. The overthrows of Iranian prime minister Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953 and Chilean President Salvador Allende in 1973 are famous examples of this actually happening, and are likely the main inspirations for conspiracy theories of this type.
One conspiracy theory begins with the known fact that in early 1982, the British government was considering heavy cuts in the Royal Navy. Royal Navy Intelligence is supposed to have known all about the threat from Argentina, but deliberately withheld their information from politicians, knowing the Navy would more than prove its worth in any reconquest, and cold-bloodedly allowing the Argies to invade. The Royal Navy then duly proved its worth in the war, and made any cuts unthinkable. Just to make sure, information about the cuts was leaked to daily newspapers and TV. Whatever the truth in this, the Navy cuts were discreetly dropped after the war...
The HMS Invincible theory states that the light aircraft carrier HMS Invincible was sunk by an Argentinean fighter pilot using an Exocet anti-ship missile (who conveniently died in the attack). The gist of it being that Invincible was damaged and met offshore with another aircraft carrier, HMS Hermes (a ship the conspiracy claims "should not have been there") and personnel and material were moved onto it, with the Invincible sinking or scuttled. Then the Invincible's sister ship Illustrious carried the name Invincible until a replacement ship could be built.
Critics point out the numerous logical fallacies, such as the fact that the war was heavily covered by the media and the sinking of an aircraft carrier going unnoticed (especially by Argentinean propaganda) would be impossible, the Illustrious had the Phalanx CIWS system installed when the Invincible only had it installed after the war, it would have left a wreck, and it would be impossible to disguise the construction of a brand new aircraft carrier. Despite this, the theory still has a following in Argentina, where it originated.
"Gulf War syndrome" was a mysterious malady suffered by 250,000 returning veterans of the Gulf War, whose symptoms included fatigue, musculo-skeletal pain, cognitive problems, skin rashes, diarrhea and general poor health. The prevailing theory is that the disease was the result of exposure to chemical weapons during the destruction of Iraq's WMD facilities by coalition forces. Other claims as to the origin of Gulf War syndrome include: the use of chemical weapons by the Iraqi army, fumes from missile fuel or the burning oil wells, anthrax vaccinations, the PBnote pyridostigmine bromide, a nerve agent antidote pills given to soldiers to protect against exposure to chemical weapons, the use of pesticides and insecticides to reduce pest-borne diseases, and depleted uranium. Some have questioned whether Gulf War syndrome was any different from post-traumatic stress disorder, while others have come up with a number of more esoteric origins for the malady, including government experimentation on soldiers in the field.
The "oil war" theory, popular among the more radical critics of American foreign policy (hence the anti-war slogan "no blood for oil"), claims that the war in Iraq was started in order to secure that country's oil reserves and prevent Saddam Hussein from selling Iraq's oil in euros instead of dollars.
Another problem is that it doesn't explain the war in Afghanistan. When conspiracy theorists are not simply ignorant of the fact that Afghanistan is not an oil-rich country — it has deserts and Muslims, so it must have oil, right? — they cite an abandoned 1990s plan to build an oil pipeline across the country (mentioned in Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, of course) and/or claim the Afghan war is simply the first step leading to later U.S. wars against Russia and China over the oil-rich former Soviet states in Central Asia. Perhaps due to the failure of either the pipeline or the wars to materialize in over a decade of occupation, it's now more often claimed that the U.S. is after some other resource in Afghanistan, usually opium.
There's also the obligatory antisemitic variation, which alleges that the US Army was merely clearing the way for Iraq, Afghanistan, and sometimes other Muslim countries to be annexed by Israel.
Conversely, some on the other end of the political spectrum claim that Iraq really did have WMDs, that Saddam Hussein had snuck them out of the country to Syria before the inspectors arrived, and that this was the origin of the chemical weapons that Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad used in his own country's civil war.
Similarly, Iraq's alleged ties to al-Qaeda were heavily emphasized by supporters of the war. Exhaustive investigation, by the US government and independent investigators, suggests that these "ties" consisted of a few inconclusive meetings between Iraqi diplomats and al-Qaeda representatives, which found the two groups ideologically incompatible.note Something which may be inferred by Bin Laden offering to defend Saudi Arabia against Iraq during the First Gulf War and supporting anti-Baath Party groups throughout the '90s. Many note that al-Qaeda's presence in Iraq increased during the conflict, with al-Qaeda playing a major role in the postwar insurgency.
During the conflict in Iraq, a rumor began to spread in the city of Basra that the British forces occupying the city had released a genetically modified hell-beast to kill cattle, maim children and generally cause panic and terror. The hell-beasts in question turned out to be honey badgers. They used to live in an area that was once swampland, dammed up by Saddam in an effort to evict the Marsh Arabs, a local minority. When the marsh was re-flooded, the badgers left and started moving into the city. Major Mike Shearer shot the claims down, saying "We can categorically state that we have not released man-eating badgers into the area".
The U.S.'s Enemy Mine alliance with Islamic militants during the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan has led to conspiracy theories that the Taliban and/or al-Qaeda are actually CIA puppets. This, of course, would make 9/11 and the entire War on Terror into a gigantic False Flag Operation. Many who believe this don't seem to be aware that American support for the anti-Soviet mujahideen is widely acknowledged and will act as though citing evidence of it proves the conspiracy version. This theory probably got its start with Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine, which alleged that Osama bin Laden was trained by the CIA. While Moore doesn't go so far as to claim that Bin Laden was actually working for the CIA when he perpetrated 9/11, he makes it rather easy for the viewer to make that leap.
There are claims that the Arab Spring was organized by the US and other Western countries, with the purpose of overthrowing "independent" Arab governments and replacing them with leaders who would be more pliant to US interests. Why the US would have overthrown their closest Arab ally, Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, isn't explained, nor is the fact that the Arab Spring began in Tunisia, whose leader, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, they were more or less neutral with.
In the other direction, there are claims that the Arab Spring was a plot to undermine the US and Israel by overthrowing friendly Arab governments and replacing them with Islamists hostile to US interests. Again, why this plot would've targeted Libya's Muammar Gaddafi or Syria's Bashar al-Assad, both outspoken critics of the US, isn't explained.
The use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war has been claimed by supporters of al-Assad and others to have been a False Flag Operation by the rebels in order to smear the regime.
Similar to the Iraq War, both NATO's intervention in the Libyan Civil War and proposed intervention in the Syrian Civil War have had accusations of ulterior motives slung at them, arguing that it was not simply due to the Western powers' outrage at the countries' respective leaders crossing the Moral Event Horizon, but rather using this as a convenient springboard to secure the nations' natural resources without the bad PR that came with attacking Iraq unprovoked.
The Ron Paul fans, meanwhile, have provided their own conspiracy theory about Libya: Namely, it was done to prevent Gaddafi from introducing an alternative African currency backed by (*drumroll*) gold, which he would trade oil on instead of "mainstream" currencies like the Euro or US Dollar; this would (somehow) devastate those currencies. Why on earth Gaddafi would want to do this, when he was already making lucrative money trading with Western oil companies in Western money, is never explained.
Before the Sochi Olympics started, conspiracy theorists were swearing up and down that Russia (probably in collusion with the U.S., NATO, every world leader, and — why not? — the Illuminati) had deliberately placed the games in the Caucasus region so they'd be able to stage a 9/11-style false flag to justify further wars against Chechnya and Georgia. It's all for oil, of course — never mind that Russia has plenty of oil.
And never mind that because Chechnya is a part of Russia, Russian government already has perfectly legal right to own it's oil...
Weather and the Atmosphere
There is a persistent myth that, during Hurricane Katrina, the levee in the Industrial Canal had been dynamited, flooding the Lower Ninth Ward, in an effort to relieve the pressure further up the canal where more expensive homes sat.
This likely was inspired by an incident during the Great Flood of 1927, when levees protecting poor neighborhoods were dynamited in an effort to prevent the levees protecting the wealthier areas from being overwhelmed. Of course, "They" were at least somewhat more open about it, as actual pictures exist of levees being dynamited during that particular flood...
Token WTF Theory: There were people claiming that George W. Bush blew up the levee. Not "Bush ordered the Navy to plant charges on the levee" (though that theory exists too); rather, Bush himself put on a diving suit, planted charges at the base of the levee, and was seen running away (probably laughing maniacally) before there was a large explosion. To kill a lot of black people. Seriously, that's the reason given in the conspiracy theories.
Who knows what Bush's motivation for doing this would be, other than just being evil and hurting his own approval rating. At least with the 9/11 conspiracy, there's an actual reason why the government would want it to happen.
It should be noted that the web of poor levee design/maintenance that turned Hurricane Katrina into a disaster in New Orleans was consistently under-reported, and so the reminder "Katrina was a man-made disaster" is a necessary refrain in lots of documentaries/retrospectives. The amount of damage and death was absolutely caused by human negligence, not by the hurricane being particularly strong. "Negligence" being the key word here.
There are also accusations that emergency aid was deliberately withheld from the poorer black neighborhoods in favor of the richer white neghborhoods.
Cynthia McKinney alleged that the US military executed 5,000 prisoners during Katrina and disposed of their bodies in the bayou.
The chemtrail theory claims that chemicals are being deliberately sprayed by planes into the atmosphere, either to manipulate the weather or to poison/drug the populace. The name comes from the supposed trails of chemicals left behind by the planes, which resemble the contrails left by jet aircraft (causing many skeptics to question whether the "chemtrails" aren't just ordinary contrails). Note that this is not related to cloud seeding (releasing particles into the upper atmosphere to facilitate condensation and create clouds), although some claim that the two are connected.
This particular conspiracy theory is sometimes given with an interesting twist: that it's not an evil conspiracy, but is actually a benevolent project to rebuild the ozone layer or dim the planet to slow down global warming.
Well, normal aircraft contrails have been proven to contribute to Global Dimming...
Going beyond chemtrails, some claim that advanced weather control technology is being used to remotely manipulate the weather. They claim that Hurricane Katrina was an example of a storm created using this technology, and that HAARP, a research project to examine the ionosphere, is actually a cover for just such a weather control device. Other theories claim that HAARP was designed as a weapon to knock out enemy satellites and spacecraft, and that it doubles as an earthquake machine.
One theory claims that the Obama adminstration used HAARP to create Hurricane Sandy and the 2013 Moore, Oklahoma tornado in order to impress the media with a pre-planned disaster response, allowing him to, respectively, give himself an "October surprise" to win the 2012 election and distract from the AP wiretapping and IRS scandals.
Others claim that HAARP is a Mind-Control Device (sometimes in addition to the weather control).
On the Soviet side is the Scalar Interferometer that uses "scalar waves" to control the weather. Oh and it caused the Columbia disaster cause there's still some Commies who won't let the end of the cold war go. The "scalar waves" can also do about anything including healing people and providing an endless energy source.
Or, the theory of man-made global warming was created not by radical environmentalists, but as a cover-up for what's really causing the shifts in the weather (HAARP, the "Earth changes" of 2012, the aforementioned alien xenoforming).