"It was so much easier to blame it on Them. It was bleakly depressing to think that They were Us. If it was Them, then nothing was anyone's fault. If it was us, what did that make Me? After all, I'm one of Us. I must be. I've certainly never thought of myself as one of Them. No one ever thinks of themselves as one of Them. We're always one of Us. It's Them that do the bad things."
Conspiracy theories are, essentially, Wild Mass Guessing, Headscratchers, and Fanon Discontinuity (in the sense that something didn't happen according the way "official" sources said it did) applied to Real Life. Like all memes, conspiracy theories mutate and interbreed almost too fast for humans to track. Any of the theories and sub-theories mentioned below can be, and in all likelihood has been, combined with any or all of the others by at least one person. Don't be surprised if the theory raises more questions than the original incident in the first place.
It is important to distinguish a Conspiracy Theory from a regular theory about a conspiracy. A conspiracy is merely a plan by more than one person to commit a crime, and a theory about it could be made. However, it is different from a Conspiracy Theory, as a Conspiracy Theory explicitly means a fringe theory which purports that events, either in the news or in history, are not as we understand it but really the works of secret cabals of cunning conspirators acting for malicious ends, from merely getting rich to propagating an ideology up to and including world domination.
People who tend to have these can be found under "Conspiracy Theorist." The Mel Gibson film Conspiracy Theory has its own article.
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There are almost as many claims circulating about 9/11 as there are about the Jews (and the two aren't mutually exclusive, as shown below), and while they're nowhere near as widespread as they used to be, they retain a high profile on the internet.
The "9/11 Truth Movement" was spawned by two major sources — the amateur documentary Loose Change (freely available at your friendly neighborhood YouTube), and the French book L'Effroyable imposture (sold in America as 9/11: The Big Lie). Alongside the JFK assassination theories, this is probably one of the most high-profile conspiracy explanations in the Western world. Unlike many conspiracy theories that play to the fears of one fringe of the political spectrum, this one crosses political lines to appeal to both the hard left and the hard right — though, of course, each side's explanation for the "why" tends to differ. (More on that below.) Everybody, whether or not they believe the theory, has probably heard of it, seeing as how it has been given mainstream press and support by such celebrities as Rosie O'Donnell, Jesse Ventura and Charlie Sheen. The following is the Cliff Notes version of what is generally the most popular conspiracy explanation, as presented by the above two works:
The World Trade Center Towers (the Twin Towers) allegedly collapsed as a result of explosives planted within the building before the disaster, as well as thermite charges that cut through the building's support beams. The night before the attacks (in most versions of the story), the conspirators allegedly tore open the walls on the floors where the planes crashed, packed them with enough explosives to drop the buildings while simulating a plane crash, rebuilt them, and painted them so as to hide the evidence in a single night without being seen. The planes, meanwhile, were remote controlled. The theory claims that the damage caused by the plane crashes and fires alone wasn't enough to significantly damage the buildings' structures to the point of total failure, with many proponents claiming that 9/11 was the first time in which steel-framed skyscrapers collapsed due to fire.
These arguments conveniently neglect two major factors, factors which NIST had, in fact, published but which theorists conveniently never mention. First, fire softens steel asymmetrically, which causes the beams to buckle and bend, dramatically reducing structural integrity as a result. In fact, a sufficiently large fire would actually cause less buckling, which would make it less likely for the tower to collapse had the fire actually been larger. Two, this is the first and only time a steel skyscraper has been allowed to burn internally for that long without any water or, indeed, any attempt to control the fire whatsoever. The water pressure to the area had been cut off due to the initial damage (to say nothing of what said damage did to the buildings themselves), preventing the internal sprinklers from mitigating heat build-up on the inside of the building and stopping fire-fighters from having any effective means to fight the fire. The Beijing Cultural Center Fire, which is often cited by Truthers as being proof that a steel skyscraper can't collapse due to fire, blazed for five hours and was being fought with water the entire time. WTC Tower 7 (see below), however, burned completely uncontrolled for seven and a half hours before collapsing.
In fact, you don't even have to soften the steel in a building (let alone melt it) to destroy the structure. One cause of structural collapse fire-fighters are trained to recognize is that steel beams expand when heated; expanding a few centimeters (which is easily done by a beam the length used in large buildings) can cause the joints between vertical and horizontal beams to fail and/or push out load-bearing walls, weakening them and increasing the odds of collapse.
Also, the largest building ever demolished took weeks to prepare, openly, with crews working 24/7, and that wasn't even the size of WTC 7, much less the 110-story towers. For an experimental, covert planning, it would take even longer, and still have a near certain risk of discovery.
World Trade Center Tower 7 was another skyscraper in Lower Manhattan that collapsed on 9/11, but often goes unheard of due to the higher-profile collapses of its neighbors. It caught fire as a result of falling debris from the Twin Towers. Conspiracy theorists have latched onto the collapse of WTC 7 as proof of a conspiracy, mainly due to the fact that it was a part of the WTC complex and collapsed without being hit by any planes. They will point out that the FDNY had been given orders to "pull it" shortly before the collapse, a phrase which they interpret as meaning "pull the building down." However, if one was to look at photos of the building shortly before it collapsed, they would notice that one side of the building was completely engulfed in flame, and that chunks of the building were falling off. Also, it is more likely that "pull it" was an order to pull all firefighters out of the building, as they knew that it was unstable. Such theories also tend to ignore that, while Tower 7 wasn't hit by any planes, it was hit by large pieces of rubble from the much larger North Tower which was collapsing all around it.
The Pentagon was allegedly hit not by an airliner, but by a cruise missile or an unmanned fighter jet. The main evidence used to support this claim is the alleged lack of passenger jet debris at the crash site (even though such debris was recovered), and claims that the hole in the Pentagon was too small to have been caused by a 767 (even though the evidence all suggests that the aircraft "landed short" and thus did not strike the building directly).
And, if you look at the picture, the hole is actually EXACTLY the right size for a plane to hit if its wings were sheared off from "landing short".
The "Hole is too small" crowd also tends to compare the Pentagon damage to the strike damage of the Towers, completely ignoring the fact that the Pentagon was built to withstand mortar fire, hence would be able to absorb more of the impact.
There are two competing theories as to what happened to United Airlines Flight 93. One theory claims that the plane was shot down by the Air Force over Pennsylvania, while the other claims that it was safely landed in Cleveland. Both versions claim that the debris at the crash site was planted, and that the calls from passengers had been faked.
The lack of debris is largely attributed to the way the plane landed, which was something of a nose dive going a few hundred miles per hour into the ground (thus why the crash site is nothing but a large crater). Such an impact would have disintegrated most of the plane. Although, apparently many Conspiracy Theorists don't care to adhere to physics. If there were no plane-like parts there, there was no plane. A photograph taken by a woman who lived near by and heard/felt the crash of a huge cloud of smoke rising from the direction of the crash site is frequently dismissed as being doctored by the internet. The woman is still harassed by conspiracy theorists even today, all for taking a picture.
Sometimes, theorists will cite that there is a discrepancy of the location of the crash site as reported in proximity to a nearby lake. There is actually no discrepancy, and it was fictitiously "created" by plugging directions into Google Maps from the lake to the crash site, which gives directions based on road miles traveled, rather than a straight line between the two.
Many 9/11 Truthers argue that our air security's lack of response to the 9/11 attacks was due to a stand-down order or some other form of induced paralysis. In fact, some Truthers equate the situation as the Mathias Rust situation racketed Up to Eleven. However, NORAD did respond. According to the 9/11 Commission Report, fighter jets from Otis Air National Guard Base in Cape Cod, Massachusetts were sent to holding positions off the coast of Long Island, and fighter jets from Langley Air Force Base 130 miles south of DC were sent north chasing a phantom Flight 11 that was reported flying south toward DC (after it had crashed into the North Tower). Also, if they had shot down the planes, there would be about 130 tons of flaming airplane debris indiscriminately hurtling towards New York City, Washington DC and their suburbs. It would have been like the Columbia Disaster happening right on top of those cities.
In general, when you come across a Truther, there will be two types of arguments that they put forth. The first is the claim that the towers were destroyed in a controlled demolition because it is impossible for the crashed airplanes to cause the collapse of the buildings, either at all or in the way that they did. Expect falsehoods and misrepresentations such as "steel can't melt at such low temperatures," "it fell at free-fall speeds" and "it was a symmetrical collapse" to be thrown around. The second, and less common type of argument is the argument from supposed "evidence", such as remnants of explosives in the rubble, girders that were deformed or blasted into surrounding buildings, or "modifications" on the aircraft, that indicated they were military or controlled remotely. The first is obviously hokum, and are usually justified from linear extrapolations of flawed logic, in other words they have no idea what a skyscraper collapse should look like or what would cause one. The second is easily disproven because the evidence is either nonexistent or completely misinterpreted. Both are quite easily shown to be false if one simply views the footage from the disaster itself, which show no detonations or explosions, an asymmetrical collapse, and collapse that is naturally much longer than free-fall speed.
Larry Silverstein, owner of the WTC, made money on insurance for the complex. Problem is, he didn't. He had an insurance policy, but he originally wanted a much lower one, and was pressured by his stockholders to increase the amount. His lease was such that he still had and has to make payments on the destroyed buildings - more money than most people will ever see - and overall, he actually lost money. Truthers also get rather coy when asked whether it was Larry who approached the government conspirators, or the conspirators who approached Larry.
Now that the "how" is out of the way, let's get into the "why". As stated above, this is where the left-wing and right-wing versions of what happened diverge. But first, the similarities that they still share. Both of them cite a paper by a think tank called the Project for the New American Century, which called for regime change in Iraq and a return to a militaristic foreign policy but acknowledged that it wouldn't be politically feasible without "a catalyst like Pearl Harbor." Many of the co-signers of the document went on to high positions in the Bush Administration. According to theorists, this is proof that the 9/11 attacks had been planned for years. The counter-point is that this doesn't prove they had foreknowledge, only that they may have simply seized an opportunity which they potentially foresaw. In addition, it has been claimed that there was an unusual surge in short-sellingnote Essentially, betting money that a stock will fall hard in the short term. on airline stocks in the week before 9/11, causing unknown parties to get rich off the attack. (The 9/11 Commission investigated and supposedly debunked this claim.)
Now for the chief differences. The left-wing theory plays into distrust of big business by pinning the conspiracy on high-ranking people within the Bush administration and the energy industry, who supposedly wanted to create a rationale for invading the Middle East to secure the oil reserves in that region (Iraq being home to vast oil reserves, and Afghanistan being along a valuable route for a planned pipeline). They would orchestrate a series of attacks on American soil, and then blame them on Islamic terrorists in order to whip the people up into a pro-war fervor. This idea raises the question of "why didn't they do that in the Gulf War?", which, in its realized extent, went much better for the USA in regards to both public opinion and factual losses.note The most popular explanation for this is that the Bushes were pro-Saddam at that time. Think Loose Change.
A small variant of this focuses on the WTC 7 collapse by noting that it contained major investigative field offices of the Securities and Exchanges Commission and the Secret Services, as well as field offices of the IRS and a major undercover operation for the CIA. This gained traction when the subsequent decades saw the failures of several major financial institutions - the allegation being that destroying the files in building 7 was the actual target and the remainder of the attack was a decoy.
The right-wing theory, by contrast, plays into distrust of government and of international institutions like the United Nations. 9/11 was rapidly incorporated into existing theories of the New World Order, The Illuminati, the 'globalists', etc. as part of their plan to foist a communist/fascistOne World Order onto the globe. (For more on that, see below.) This theory traditionally focuses on anti-terrorism measures like the USA PATRIOT Act and similar laws in Britain and elsewhere that were passed after the attacks, viewing the entire situation as having been designed to get the people accustomed to the idea of living in a Police State. One of the chief proponents of this theory is radio talk show host Alex Jones.
And then there's the crowd that even the other 9/11 Truthers find infuriating. In the Arab world and in various racial supremacist and anti-Semitic circles, it is alleged that the Jews (or, more specifically, the Israelis) were the masterminds behind the 9/11 attacks, pulling them off in order to rile up the US and get them to fight against Iraq on their behalf. This theory is so persistent that "JEWS DID WTC" has become an internet meme. One element of this theory, disseminated by various Arab media within mere days of the attacks, is that Israel allegedly contacted four thousand Jewish employees at the WTC, warning them not to show up for work that day. In reality, based on data from WTC companies' employee records and the medical examiner's office, between ten to fifteen percent of 9/11 victims were Jewish, which roughly corresponds with the percentage of New Yorkers in general that are Jewish. Another part of it claims that a group of Israelis who were involved in, and busted for, an art student scam were actually Mossad agents, either planning the attacks or tracking the terrorists.
And then there's the really fringe explanations. One theory claims that no planes crashed into the Twin Towers, and that the planes that people saw were actually holograms. There also exist theories claiming that the buildings had been destroyed with "micro-nukes", with "nano-thermite" or with orbital Kill Sats, and (of course) a theory claiming that aliens were behind 9/11. One woman has even blamed rap star Sean Combs (a.k.a. Diddy, P. Diddy, Puff Daddy, Puffy, etc.) for the attacks, and tried to sue him for a trillion dollars. (For what it's worth, "P. Diddy [insert devious act here]" is now an internet meme.)
There's also the popular, if less grandiose, conspiracy theory that the mainstream account of the attacks themselves is accurate, but that the government knew of the attacks in advance and allowed them to happen because it was politically advantageous (similar to claims that Franklin D. Roosevelt had foreknowledge of Pearl Harbor). This defines such an essential division amongst 9/11 hypothesizers that they are categorized by this division. LIHOPers speculate that the US government Let It Happen On Purpose whereas MIHOP theorists believe they Made It Happen On Purpose. By far, most 9/11 hypothesizers are LIHOPers rather than the Vocal Minority of MIHOPers. Like with the "MIHOP" theory, no evidence has arisen that the government had definitive foreknowledge of 9/11; while there werewarnings in the months before the attacks, most of the evidence seems to suggest that they were ignored out of the perception Bin Laden wasn't going to attack there at the time rather than malice. And such warnings tend to be of general nature ("bin Laden wants to hijack aircraft") and remember that before 9/11 hijacking an airplane meant a Hostage Situation, not large scale suicide bombing.
Finally, we can't end this without mentioning the pilot of the TheX-Files spinoff The Lone Gunmen, which involves a conspiracy plot almost identical to 9/11, plus the MIHOP conspiracy theory about it (a hijacked plane hitting the World Trade Center as a False Flag Operation). Said pilot aired six months before 9/11. Make of that what you will.
Bin Laden was a big fan of the X-Files?
The show's producers said it just goes to show more than one group of people can come up with more or less the same idea.
The Greys: the "stock" perception of aliens in Western culture, having replaced "little green men" in The Sixties. Short, with skinny bodies, gray skin, big heads, small (or non-existent) mouths and noses, and enormous black eyes. Often blamed for alien abductions.
A less publicly popular conspiracy theory states that many reported cryptids such as Chupacabra, Sasquatch, the Dover Demon and Mothman are in fact alien creatures, who are either seen when they visit Earth, are aliens stranded on Earth, or are the result of genetic engineering with alien genetic material.
Several prominent world leaders and royals are claimed by some (such as David Icke) to actually be shape-shifting "reptilian humanoids" who are trying to destroy humanity.
Or, that many of them were born nine months after the Roswell Incident, suggesting alien baby-daddies. This is similar to the plot of the TV show Roswell, in fact.
No theory about the aliens is complete without a government cover-up of their existence. The Roswell crash, the Majestic-12, and the circumstances behind Project Blue Book, among others, are often cited as proof that the government is concealing the existence of extraterrestrial life. The Men in Black and Area 51 are often involved. Expect a joke about "weather balloons."
Area 51 already has plenty of conspiracy theories circulating about it being the secret storage place of the government's recovered extraterrestrial wreckage and alien reverse-engineering projects, but a more recent one suggests that Area 51 is actually nothing of the kind, but is in fact a distraction for where the government keeps its real extraterrestrial wreckage storage facilities and alien reverse-engineering projects.
Similar conspiracy theories are present in Russia, in the form of the Kapustin-Yar airbase. Theories range of alien craft or Nazi secret projects relating to aliens were stored there, to an out-and-out air war between the Soviet Air Force and alien aircraft.
The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil — 168 dead — until 9/11 six years later) has a multitude of conspiracy theories surrounding it, many of which have the "official" perpetrators (Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols) simply be the "fall guys" for the U.S. government/Islamic terrorists/[insert favorite conspiracy group here], who instigated the bombing for their own nefarious reasons. Never mind that McVeigh and Nichols were angry at the government for their mishandling of the infamous Ruby Ridge and Waco incidents that had occurred several years previously...
Some people still think Saddam Hussein masterminded the McVeigh plot.
One of the more interesting versions of the conspiracy is that al-Qaeda was involved. There was a "John Doe II" reported at the time of the bombing, who bore no resemblance to known conspirator Terry Nichols, and whom the FBI later claimed had never existed — even though artist sketches of him had been leaked. John Doe II looked distinctly similar to José Padilla, an American-born al-Qaeda operative who was captured and received a train wreck of a trial and a media circus.
An arguably more likely conspiracy is that the Aryan Republican Army, a Jesse James-esque white supremacist gang working at the time, was involved. McVeigh was a known associate of convicted bank robber and ARA member Michael William Brescia, and the ARA had connections to various far-right Christian groups and neo-Nazi skinheads — groups which would have spurned the help of al-Qaeda. In addition, ARA member Richard Lee Guthrie, Jr. resembles pictures of "John Doe II", and was the subject of an FBI investigation, but hanged himself in his jail cell with a bedsheet noose before he could be questioned.
One variation on the "Guthrie was John Doe II" theory (as detailed here by Cracked) claims that the FBI, in its search for Guthrie, accidentally nailed the wrong man — Kenneth Michael Trentadue, who looked almost exactly like Guthrie, right down to a similar tattoo. When he died in custody (hanging from a bedsheet, again like Guthrie), his body was so badly bruised that his family suspected that the authorities had tortured him badly enough to drive him to suicide. The theory goes that the FBI's dismissal of there being a John Doe II, rather than a cover-up of "who was really behind OKC", was a cover-up of their own botched investigation.
Like the 9/11 attacks, there were also allegations of government foreknowledge without actual involvement. A common Urban Legend in late 1990's Oklahoma was a "friend of a friend" government employee at either the Murrah building or the IRS building in Tulsa being told not to go to work that day.
The 2011 earthquake in Haiti was allegedly man-made, using HAARP (see "Atmosphere and Weather" below), underground bombs, or some other type of "earthquake machine." The motive? Some say it's to acquire Haiti's oil, others say that the US planned it in order to acquire a base in the Caribbean to oppose Cuba and Venezuela, and still others say it's to distract from the supposed imposition of martial law in the US.
Theories abound regarding the crash of TWA Flight 800 — "officially" caused by a fuel vapour explosion in the Boeing 747's CWT (Centre Wing Tank), but the exact cause of the explosion is undetermined. The most common theory says that it was shot down with a missile, either by a terrorist or by accident as part of a Navy training exercise. This theory is not supported by the NTSB because 98% of the wreckage was recovered, and a large part of the fuselage reconstructed, and not a trace of any missile impact was found. Other theories say that it was the result of a terrorist bomb on board, or electromagnetic interference from a nearby fighter plane. Some claim that the Clinton administration ordered a cover-up so Clinton wouldn't look soft on terrorism during his re-election campaign.
The most prominent proponent of the conspiracy line was Pierre Salinger — formerly President John F. Kennedy's press secretary — who didn't have much convincing evidence, but garnered attention because of his former job. Much of the suspicion around the crash was formed because the FBI aggressively pursued a criminal investigation, much to the chagrin of the NTSB working alongside them, and did discover some explosive residue on the wreckage, but then had to backtrack and admit that it was a miniscule trace that had come from a package used to train drug sniffer dogs. The missile theory was partly started by reports from several witnesses who saw an object climbing into the sky and then heard a loud explosion. Investigators concluded that they had seen the nose-less wreck of the 747 climbing and stalling in the sky and, because light travels faster than sound, then heard the initial fuel tank explosion.
The Tunguska event. Possibly not a "disaster" since nobody died, but it fits here better than anywhere else. And, hooo boy, are there conspiracy theories about it, suggesting everything from a UFO crash to a rip in space-time to the work of Nikola Tesla. Indeed, there's a whole trope based around it.
Some have claimed that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was planned as part of a plot to discredit offshore drilling. Some people are saying that radical environmentalists or the Obama administration did it to advance an environmentalist agendanote even though Obama had just approved expansion of offshore drilling before the spill — something that earned him a lot of criticism afterwards, while others claim that it was caused by OPEC to keep America dependent on foreign oil. While radical environmentalists have been known to engage in eco-terrorist attacks against polluting industries (sometimes with negative consequences for the very environment they were trying to protect), it would be disingenuous to claim that oil companies like BP weren't fully aware of this and on the lookout for any attempt to destroy their property. If eco-terrorists or an OPEC nation had bombed the Deepwater Horizon, BP would've known about it and turned the attack against the culprits.
A variation claims that the spill was carried out as part of Their plan to depopulate the world by destroying the fisheries of the Gulf Coast. Another one claims that the North Koreans blew up the rig in order to strike at either the US or the rig's manufacturer, the South Korean conglomerate Hyundai Heavy Industries.
The sinking of the Titanic has produced a number of conspiracy theories, including a prominent one that circulated a few years back that the ship that was called the Titanic was actually its sister-ship, the Olympic. As the story goes, the White Star Line, which owned them both, swapped the names as part of an insurance scamGone Horribly Wrong. Expeditions to the resting place of the Titanic have brought back conclusive evidence that the ship at the bottom of the Atlantic could not possibly be the Olympic, but the theory persists.
In the aftermath of the Belsan school seige, former FSB agent and defector Alexander Litvinenko claimed it was a false-flag operation by the Russian government, claiming that many of the terrorists were known to Russian authorities and a few were even released from custody shortly before the attack. Others have claimed that the weapons the hostage takers used were planted in the school beforehand. It's worth noting that Alexander became the center of his own conspiracy theory after his mysterious poisoning death involving radioactive polonium-210.
The crash of the Polish presidential plane in Smolensk on April 10th, 2010 has spawned many different conspiracy theories, promoted mostly by right-wing kooks. According to them, the plane was a) taken off course by a spoofed radio beacon signal, b) taken off course by poison gas planted on the plane, which caused the pilots to lose orientation, c) shot down by the Russians who used helium (which is heavier than air, according to the conspiracy theorists) to reduce the plane's lift to make it crash or at least to generate massive amounts of fog, d) shot down by the Russians who used other means of fog production, e) shot down by the Russians who planted a bomb on the plane, f) shot down by the Russians who used a HAARP-style orbital weapon, g) after the crash the Russians proceeded to dispatch KGB agents to shoot the survivors, h) any or all of the above, all on behalf of a) Vladimir Putin, who controls the current "puppet" government of Poland, or b) Vladimir Putin, in cooperation with the current government of Poland. Of course this is claimed to be an outrageous conspiracy theory by kooks who claim that the plane that crashed in Smolensk was empty, and the passengers have been kidnapped in Poland and then taken to Russia, where they either remain imprisoned in a Gulag or living in luxury sponsored by the Russian government. And let's not even start about those claiming that a Tu-154, as a modified bomber, would smash through trees unharmed.
The mildest version of the theories posits the crash was caused by neglect on part of the Russian airfield crew, subsequently mopped under the carpet by the Russians with silent agreement (either out of fear or poorly-timed goodwill) of the Polish government.
The disturbing part of it is, it has been proven that, at the very least, somebody's severely neglected his job during the clean-up: despite the identification efforts, bodies have been switched around in the coffins, the claim of which had been dismissed as the kooks' paranoia right until the exhumations two years later.
Name a notorious shooting spree committed by a lone nutjob: Port Arthur, Columbine High, Virginia Tech, École Polytechnique, Aurora, Sandy Hook Elementary, whatever. Somewhere, someone is claiming that the shooter was a patsy for a greater conspiracy (and quite possibly brainwashed), and that the massacre was a False Flag Operation designed to drum up support for new gun control laws to disarm the people and make it harder for them to resist when the Day Of The Jackboot comes.
"Birther Queen" Orly Taitz (known for many outlandish conspiracy theories) claimed that Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza was under mind control and drugged by the Obama Administration, claiming that the word "assassin" comes from the Arabic word "Hashish", a drug, and such things happen all the time. (This is only literally true. The word comes from the Arabic word ḥashshāshīn, the plural of ḥashshāsh, which means "worthless person". Like most of her theories, Taitz gave no actual proof at all to back it up.)
The Utoya summer camp massacre in Norway also has other theories attached to it, the most common one being that it was carried out to discredit right-wing and anti-immigrant groups in Norway and Europe by attaching them to a high-profile terrorist attack. (The culprit, Anders Behring Breivik, committed the massacre because he felt that Norway's left-wing leadership had sold the nation out to Muslim immigrants; the summer camp was affiliated with Norway's Labor Party.) Others claim that the Israelis, the Freemasons, or Islamic terrorists were behind it, sometimes for the reasons above.
Similarly, there's Project Gunrunner, an ATF operation that started in 2006 intended to catch gun smugglers trying to take advantage of loose American gun laws, buying guns in the US and then running them to Mexico to sell to the cartels. Project Gunrunner was publicly revealed in late 2010 with the botched Operation Fast and Furious, in which the ATF attempted to let a shipment of powerful weapons "walk" their way into the cartels, in the hopes of being able to bust higher-ranking members rather than low-level smugglers. Unfortunately, not only did the ATF lose the guns, one of them was later used to murder a US Border Patrol officer, causing a firestorm of controversy that was only made worse by Attorney General Eric Holder's attempts to cover up the mess.
Most mainstream criticisms of Project Gunrunner and Operation Fast and Furious chide the ATF and Holder for both acting irresponsibly and attempting to cover up their own incompetence. Some fringe explanations, however, claim that the ATF "lost" the guns deliberately, and that the entire program was meant to fuel the violence in Mexico and on the border, thus providing an impetus for new gun control measures with the stated aim of defusing the Mexican drug war... which would, of course, be another step to a Police State.
The Jonestown mass suicide, in which the Reverend Jim Jones and hundreds of his People's Temple followers killed themselves in Guyana, was allegedly not a suicide at all, but one of two things:
A CIA massacre designed to silence a large group of leftist dissidents. This one gained traction within the Soviet Union, along with related claims that Jones and his followers were planning to emigrate to the USSR.
A cover story for a US operation to remove a Soviet base in the region.
Within hours of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, at which two pressure-cooker bombs exploded, killing three people and injuring over a hundred more, there were individuals on the Internet (including, perhaps unsurprisingly, Alex Jones) claiming that the attack was orchestrated by the US government as a False Flag Operation.
The bombings were also supposedly a distraction so that the American public wouldn't notice Congress passing the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which would allow the U.S. Government to view Internet traffic information. The FBI supposedly were the actual bombers and framed the two suspects, the Tsarnaev brothers. There were also people believing that, since the brothers are of Chechen descent, that it is part of some Chechen invasion plan (either Chechnya is planning on invading the U.S. or the U.S. wants to invade Chechnya).
Some believe that certain conspiracy theories are being deliberately spread by Them in order to control the opposition and divert attention from what's really going on. Considering that Them are, well, Them, this is entirely possible. Examples:
Some have claimed that the government is behind most UFO and alien conspiracy theories, using them as a shield for their own black projects. Alternatively, They plan on using widespread belief in aliens to orchestrate a fake "Alien Invasion" using their advanced technology to Take Over the World.
As stated above, the main 9/11 conspiracy theory (thermite in the towers, missiles hitting the Pentagon) is claimed by some to be an effort to a) deter theorists from examining the use of energy weapons and holographic "planes" in the attack, and b) deter ordinary people from examining 9/11 at all, as the main conspiracy theory is easily debunked. Alternatively, many other 9/11 conspiracy theorists believe that the "holograms and energy weapons" theorists are themselves a form of disinformation, meant to make people take less seriously 9/11 conspiracy theories in general.
Various entities (governments, corporations) are deliberately pushing conspiracy theories about themselves in order to cover up their own incompetence, and/or to make themselves look vastly more fearsome and "in control" to the people than they actually are. This was South Park's satirical 9/11 conspiracy theory — the government is backing the entire Truth Movement so that people wouldn't think that it had its head up its ass before and during 9/11.
Some of Alex Jones' critics accuse him of being a disinformation agent/shill, as he doesn't go after the critic's personal "Them" of choice (the Vatican, the Zionists, etc.). Other prominent conspiracy theorists get this as well.
This happened when Alex Jones and Peter Joesph (maker of the documentaryZeitgeist), two conspiracy theorists with very different views on the Powers That Beshort explanation Alex Jones is a devout Christian who believes that the conspiracy is Satanic/occult in nature, while Peter Joseph is an atheist who believes in a purely secular conspiracy that uses religion as a tool of oppression., have an interview. They start out well enough in Part 1, but skip to Part 4 and behold the madness!
Alex Jones himself accused David Icke of being a shill for pushing the (reptilian humanoids) conspiracy theory, supposedly to discredit his fellow theorists who also believe in aliens.
Similarly, any Conspiracy theorist who claims that the "System" or "Them" are falling instead of growing stronger, most notably Benjamin Fulford, Drake Bailey and David Wilcock's infamous "Mass Arrests" hoaxshort explanation A conspiracy that claimed the imminent arrests and destruction of suspected Illuminati members. It doesn't help that much of the sources used by supporters of Fulford, Bailey and Wilcock as well as by these conspiracy theorists themselves are even less credible than much of the sources used by most of the well-known conspiracy theorists(Much of these sources used in the Mass Arrests conspiracy came from New Age 2012 "Ascension" material and spiritual channeling and mediums).
The Report from Iron Mountain was a Sixties counterculture book written by Leonard Lewin as a Stealth Parody of Vietnam-era military think tanks, and was convincing enough that, until it was revealed to be a hoax in 1972, even Lyndon B Johnson thought it was an authentic document written by a secret government panel (he reportedly "hit the roof" when he read it). Given that it fooled the President, it stands to reason that there remain people who believe that it was authentic, and that it was only claimed to be satiricalas a means of damage control. It basically stated that war was a necessary part of the economy and served to divert collective aggression, and that society would collapse without it. Therefore, in the event of peace, they recommended that new bodies be created to emulate the economic activities of war, including Blood Sports, the creation of new enemies to scare the people (including alien invaders and environmental destruction), and the reinstatement of slavery.
Those who believe in the Rapture (see Religion and Apocalypta below) tend to believe that following the Rapture, the various world governments (even the ones that are ostensibly Christian) will invent some story to explain why every Christian on the planet suddenly disappeared in order to keep people from recognizing it as a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy and converting to Christianity. Many believe that these governments are aware that the Rapture will happen and are already preparing their cover stories. To that end, all mention of aliens, from Roswell to E.T. to legitimate scientific discussion of life on other planets, is an attempt to prepare the world to accept the idea that the Rapture was actually a mass alien abduction. That's the most popular one, but virtually any conspiracy theory that could explain a mass disappearance has also been used to fulfill this role.
WikiLeaks is getting this as well; people are starting to claim that they are a plant for the CIA or the MOSSAD making the world willing to attack Iran. As with a lot of theories, this is because information in the cables contradict their own theories/ideals. Except, as Paul Craig Roberts and others have noted, some of the "data" in those cables is just really dialogue between officials, and they are just expressing opinions or otherwise not exactly dealing with facts. Unfortunately for Wikileaks's credibility, some of that stuff in the cables is absolute garbage that was proven as such long before Wikileaks even came into the picture. It also doesn't help that Information Czar Cass Sunstein was calling for a government propaganda front posed as intelligence leakers or independent experts around that time.
Until we see photographic evidence, Osama bin Laden is still alive. And when we see photographic evidence... it's obviously been 'Shopped.
Michael Jackson. There's a documentary that can be seen on Netflix claiming that he faked his death and is still alive.
Jim Morrison of The Doors. He told his friends beforehand that he was planning to fake his death, move to Africa, and live amongst the primitives. There was also the part where the only two people to see his body were his girlfriend, Pamela Courson (who committed suicide a few years after Morrison's death), and a doctor who signed Morrison's death certificate so illegibly that his identity was never determined.
Some more rabid fans of hide believed that he faked his death and would reemerge in society and/or that he would return from the dead in some way 10 to 12 years from his death in 1998. Most of those seem to have been convinced otherwise since this didn't happen (at least in the "faked death or rose from dead" ways) Many of them seemed to move toward less literal views of his survival shared by fans who do acknowledge his death, involving Reincarnation or channeling or becoming an angel or such, after this, but some still remain committed to the belief - which actively hurts his survivors when the more Loony Fan of them lash out at them for "lying" that he died.
Stand-up comedian and satirist Bill Hicks not only faked his death, but got plastic surgery and re-emerged under a new identity: conspiracy radio host Alex Jones.
Muammar Gaddafi. Most claims that he's still alive say that the video of him shortly before his death is a body double.
Shortly after Heath Ledger died following the release of The Dark Knight theories began to circulate that he had in fact faked his death as a publicity stunt for the film and for increasing his own chance of winning the Oscar for Supporting Actor, which he would then triumphantly reveal himself alive to collect. As it happened, Ledger did win the Oscar, but did not reappear alive at the ceremony.
X was murdered, or X did not die as they say he/she died.
Kurt Cobain, frontman of Nirvana. A supposed murder disguised as a suicide. Supposedly, the killer was working on the orders of either his wifeCourtney Love or his record company.
hide, lead guitarist of X Japan. Also alleged to be murder disguised as suicide or accident, despite everything from a coroner's report to his best friends' arguments to the contrary. Everyone from the Yakuza to Yoshiki to his unnamed girlfriend to all three have been blamed repeatedly.
A slightly more potentially valid murder theory centers around hide's brother Hiroshi. Slightly more valid because Hiroshi had a motive (profiting monetarily from hide's death far more than he may have had hide lived) and opportunity (he and the girlfriend were the last people seen with hide before death)
Pope John Paul I. Supposedly killed by The Mafia, the Freemasons, or by a conspiracy within the Church because he threatened to reveal the shady dealings of the Vatican's bank.
Princess Diana's fatal car crash was supposedly engineered by the British Royal Family, who did not want her marrying Dodi Fayed, an Egyptian Muslim. Not helped at all by the fact that Diana was actually quoted as saying she thought Prince Charles wanted her dead...
Other theories on Diana's death include that the US was behind it because she opposed the use of land mines (of which the US made a profit from), that Israel was behind it because they feared her siding with Israel's enemies or converting to Islam, that another reason the British royal family engineered it was because she was pregnant with Fayed's baby and they did not want a half-Egyptian Muslim to be a future king's half siblingnote this ties into a sister theory that a member of the royal family is racist, most assuming it's Prince Phillip, that Diana faked her death and is still alive somewhere, or that she intended to fake her death but it went wrong and she died.
At the time of James Garfield's assassination, rumors began to circulate that the gunman, Charles Guiteau, had been put up to it by Garfield's Vice President (and therefore successor) Chester A Arthur, though they died off rather quickly. Guiteau himself believed that Arthur would pardon him out of "gratitude" for giving him the nation's top job. Spoiler alert: he didn't.
The CIA. Kennedy was very pissed off at them for leaving him out of the loop during the Bay Of Pigs Invasion, and is quoted as saying that he wanted to "splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it into the wind" as a result of what happened.
The name that comes up most often in this theory is that of David Sánchez Morales, a CIA agent who was very angry with the government that many of his friends and trainees had gone to their deaths at Bay of Pigs. A number of his friends allege that in private he made disparaging remarks about both John and Robert Kennedy, and claimed to have been in the same city at the same time as both assassinations. As well, several eyewitnesses have placed a man matching his description in the company of Oswald and (RFK's assassin) Sirhan Sirhan on more than one occasion. A number of agents who would later go on to be involved in Watergate have also been implicated, including one, E. Howard Hunt, who was said by his son to have confessed his involvement on his deathbed.
The Mafia. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy was placing incredible pressure on them with a huge wave of prosecutions, and killing his brother, the President, would short-circuit his war on them. In addition, the Mafia operated a large number of very profitable casinos, drug and prostitution rings in Havana that they lost once Castro took over Cuba, and which they desperately wanted back.
Other theories are somewhat more mundane — that Sam Giancana wanted Kennedy assassinated (take your pick) a) because he was angered that after Giancana allegedly rigged the Illinois Presidential Election of 1960 to get Kennedy elected note Even if Illinois' 27 electoral votes had gone to Nixon, Kennedy would still have won, Kennedy's brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy vigorously prosecuted the Mafia; b) to send a message to Robert F. Kennedy to stop vigorously prosecuting the Mafia; c) in revenge for Kennedy allegedly stealing a girlfriend of Giancana's; d) due to some issue regarding Giancana's involvement in plots to assassinate Castro that went awry.
The military-industrial complex, which felt that he would abandon SouthVietnam to the communists, and that a drawdown of the Cold War and military spending would hurt their bottom line. This is the version of the theory that Oliver Stone used in his film JFK.
Vice President Lyndon B Johnson, who feared that he would be dropped from the Kennedy ticket in 1964.
The KGB, as revenge for the humiliation of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The Cuban exile community, who felt that Kennedy had betrayed them at the Bay of Pigs.note Noticing a trend here?
Conversely, others think that Fidel Castro was behind it in retaliation for CIA attempts to assassinate him.
The Federal Reserve, which felt that Executive Order 11110 was the beginning of an attempt by Kennedy to abolish them.
The Israeli government, which felt that Kennedy was too close to the Arabs and was trying to pressure them to give up their nuclear program.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff, as revenge for Kennedy overruling them in the matter of Operation Northwoods (see 'Real Conspiracies' below).
One variation claims that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman... but that he was trying to kill Texas Governor John Connally (who was also in the car), not Kennedy. Allegedly, Oswald felt that Connally (then Secretary of the Navy) had been responsible for his undesirable discharge from the Marine Corps, a status that would hurt his employment prospects upon his return from Russia, and decided to assassinate him as revenge. This was the theory put forth by Oswald's widow Marina, though by the time she gave her testimony the Warren Commission had already come to most of its conclusions.
Another theory that is commonly floated around when discussing this issue is that Jack Ruby, the man who killed Oswald in a Vigilante Execution, was also a member of the conspiracy, sent to silence Oswald before he could give up the names of those higher on the totem pole.
Robert F. Kennedy's assassin, Sirhan Sirhan, was allegedly brainwashed by the CIA's MK-ULTRA program. More than a few authors who have met Sirhan feel that he encourages this in the hopes of getting his conviction overturned.
While we're still on the subject of deaths involving the Kennedys, one would be remiss not to mention the Chappaquiddick incident in 1969, in which a car driven by Senator Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy went off a bridge while leaving a party on the island, drowning his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne. Kennedy was sentenced to two months in jail after pleading guilty to leaving the scene of an injury without informing police; this sentence was later suspended, but the scandal badly damaged Kennedy's reputation and torpedoed his Presidential ambitions. A number of alternative versions of the events exist, claiming that Kennedy had been either set up, hadn't been in the car at the time, had attempted to deflect blame to others, or had orchestrated Kopechne's death in order to cover up some prior crime.
Vince Foster, deputy White House consul. Supposedly murdered on the orders of Bill Clinton to prevent information on the Whitewater scandal from leaking.
If that wasn't enough, there's an entire "Clinton death list" that keeps making the rounds.
Tupac Shakur, mostly because a) they never found his killer, even though he was gunned down in plain sight on the Vegas Strip after a Mike Tyson fight(in the words of Chris Rock, "more people saw Tupac get shot than the last episode of Seinfeld!"), and b) his record label collected every demo he'd ever done and kept releasing "new" albums for years after his death. The most common culprits for who ordered the hit are:
Marion "Suge" Knight. Tupac got involved in a fight between Knight's entourage and some Los Angeles gang members in town for the Mike Tyson fight. One of the gang members, Orlando "Babylane" Anderson, was the top suspect in the investigation of Tupac's killing, but he had been shot and killed in an unrelated incidentnote But then again, that's probably what They want you to think. before the police could apprehend him. Shakur was also owed royalties by Knight and may have been planning to move to another record label.
Christopher "The Notorious B.I.G." Wallace. The two had a longstanding beef over a shooting Shakur believed Wallace was involved in, and Shakur involved Wallace's estranged wife in their feud. Wallace's death soon after opened up several other conspiracy theories, one of which seemed to have hit paydirt when the LAPD Ramparts scandal broke. (See below.)
Christopher "The Notorious B.I.G." Wallace, as mentioned above. Author Randal Sullivan (who wrote a book on the murders of both Biggie and Tupac) accused Suge Knight of conspiring with David Mack, an LAPD officer of the notorious Ramparts CRASH unit, a convicted bank robber, and alleged Death Row security employee, to kill Wallace and make his death and Tupac's appear the result of a fictitious East Coast/West Coast rap rivalry. Mack was a fan of Shakur's music, and owned a black Chevrolet Impala SS similar to one sighted at the shooting. Another, far more bizarre and highly unlikely theory (and only believed by very few) says that Kimberly "Lil Kim" Jones ordered Wallace to be killed, in spite of the fact that he was both Jones' father figure and lover.
Fred Hampton, a Black Panther leader in Chicago who was killed in a police raid ostensibly related to the deaths of two cops in a shootout with the Panthers. While the culprits behind his death are public knowledge, some believe that the raid was specifically targeted at Hampton in order to intimidate the Panthers and take out one of their best organizers.
Benazir Bhutto, leader of the Pakistan People's Party. Widely believed to have been assassinated on orders from Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.
Marilyn Monroe. Like Kurt Cobain, a supposed murder disguised as suicide. Among those implicated in her death are the FBI (because they believed her to be a security risk), the Kennedys (to cover up her supposed affair with JFK), and The Mafia.
Gary Webb, a journalist who claimed that the Contras in Nicaragua, with backing (or at least a blind eye) from the CIA, had been heavily involved in cocaine trafficking in The Eighties in order to raise money for their activities, sparking the crack epidemic. Some have claimed that his suicide in 2004 was actually a CIA hit done to silence him.
Jimmy Hoffa. Interestingly, while some people claim government involvement, few really argue against The Mafia being behind it. The real conspiracy is where they buried him. Answers are as broad as the old Giants Stadium to the bottom of Lake Michigan.
Karen Silkwood, a labor activist who claimed that workers at nuclear fuel production facilities were being exposed to dangerous levels of radiation, and was herself contaminated at the Cimarron Fuel Fabrication Site. Some claim that the car accident that killed her had been orchestrated by the Kerr-McGee Corporation, owners of the site and other nuclear facilities.
John Lennon. Some argue that Mark David Chapman was "programmed" to kill Lennon by Them, who feared the possible consequences of him reactivating both his music career and, more importantly, his political activism after five years of seclusion. The Catcher in the Rye usually figures in these theories as some kind of "trigger".
Osama bin Laden was allegedly killed years before his reported death in 2011 and kept on ice, and his swift sea burial after Seal Team Six got him was to prevent "independent" examination of the body. Given that facial recognition and DNA confirmed his identity, one wonders why the theorists' extraordinary level of proof wasn't called for with, say, Saddam, or any other bad guy.
In the words of Saturday Night Live's Seth Meyers, "Barack Obama will go down in history as the first black person ever to have to prove that he killed someone."
There is a quite popular theory of the accidental death (murder by his own government?) of Ludwig II of Bavaria, who mysteriously drowned in Lake Starnberg, after being removed from power. The circumstances of his death were highly suspicious, and many have alleged that he was murdered by his political enemies.
The cause of movie star Bruce Lee's death was never clear. Some doctors believe it was caused by an allergic reaction to Equagesic (a brand of painkillers he took), but a physician who had treated him before did not believe that the medicine was involved. Due to his iconic status and untimely death, many fans suggested that foul play had been involved, many believing that members of Chinese organized crime groups had put a curse on his family. One version suggested that he had been inflicted with a deadly martial arts technique called "the Quivering Palm" which allows the practitioner to will the victim to die days after actually striking him. (There is no proof that this technique is anything more than an Urban Legend.)
Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt. One day in December 1967, after a few drinks and a tough day at the office, Holt plunged into the surf at Portsea to impress a woman generally considered his mistress... and disappeared without a trace. Theories about what happened to him range from suicide, to having faked his death, to having been killed and/or kidnapped by the Chinese or the CIA.
Among the many theories regarding the final flight of Amelia Earhart is that she was doing the flight as part of a recon effort for the US government to spy on the Japanese. The Japanese shot her down, and she was either killed in the crash or died as a prisoner, with the US not doing anything to rescue her in order to maintain plausible deniability.
In 1970, author Joe Klaas published a book titled Amelia Earhart Lives, claiming that New Jersey resident Irene Bolam was Earhart having assumed a new identity. The theory was easily disproved by the public records of Bolam's life. Incidentally, Ms. Bolam was not amused and sued successfully.
Andrew Breitbart, a conservative journalist/pundit and online New Media mogul who died of a heart attack at the age of 43. A number of his supporters claim that he was poisoned on orders of the Obama administration to silence his activism, and more specifically, to stop him from releasing incriminating videos from Obama's college days. It's worth noting here that, according to his relatives, Breitbart had been having heart problems for a number of years before his death... and the aforementioned videos not only were released just weeks after his death, but turned out to be pretty tame, all things considered.
Chris Benoit, a professional wrestler who killed himself, his wife and his son in a case of Pater Familicide. Some have suggested that the whole thing was set up by Nancy Benoit's ex-husband, Kevin Sullivan, as revenge for her divorcing him to marry Chris. Many versions throw on elements of Satanism as well, claiming that Sullivan was a high-ranking member of a Satanic church. Sullivan actually played a Satanist character, but there's never been any evidence it was anything more than a character.
Ananda Mahidol, King Rama VIII of Thailand, was found dead in an apparent murder made to look like a suicide, and three of his servants were convicted and executed for the crime. However, almost no one seems to believe they did it, and alternative suspects range from his brother Prince (now King) Bhumibol Adulyadej to his regent. Just as varied are the theories about motive: among those who believe Bhumibol is the prime suspect, for instance, guesses range from an accident while cleaning the gun to an active, malicious attempt to gain the throne.
Similar claims have been made about Prince Alfonso of Spain, who officially shot himself by accident. The theorists claim that he was actually shot by his older brother, Prince (again, now King) Juan Carlos. Unlike the theories about Ananda, however, this one is universally considered to have been accidental if true, likely because Juan Carlos would've had no motive (he was higher in the line of succession than Alfonso).
Nigerian activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, leader of a famous and successful protest campaign to stop the Shell oil company from polluting his tribe's ancestral land. Nobody really doubts the official story behind his death (he was executed for a murder he didn't commit in a Kangaroo Court); the real question is precisely who was involved. Quite a few people believe that the Shell corporation essentially ordered the government to silence him so they could have the land back. In 2009, the Shell company lost a wrongful death lawsuit and had to pay his family millions, so this one may just be more than speculation.
Journalist Danny Casolaro, who claimed he had uncovered proof Ronald Reagan was in on the Iranian Hostage Crisis, a conspiracy he called "The Octopus". Naturally, many people, including his family, believe the CIA killed him (his death was officially ruled a suicide).
Really, almost any violent death of a journalist will get at least someone claiming involvement of higher powers, especially if they died in a place whose leaders are generally agreed to be deficient in the morality department.
Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, who was assassinated on February 28, 1986 while walking home from a cinema. Often called the Swedish version of the JFK assassination, especially because it's still unsolved — more than 130 different people have confessed to the crime. Some of the accused include:
Christer Pettersson, a junkie who had previously been convicted of manslaughter, and who was named by Palme's wife (and, later on, some criminal associates of his) as the killer. He was convicted of the crime in 1988, though he was later acquitted on appeal, and he died in 2004 officially not guilty.
Victor Gunnarsson, a political extremist who had been associated with a number of radical groups, including the LaRouche movement, and whose home was found to be filled with anti-Palme propaganda. He later moved to the United States, where he was murdered by an ex-cop in 1993.
South Africa's apartheid government. A week before his assassination, Palme had made the keynote address to the Swedish People's Parliament Against Apartheid, which was attended by several members of the African National Congress, calling for the elimination of the apartheid system.
The Swedish armaments company Bofors. They had allegedly made some under-the-table bribes in order to secure a lucrative contract to sell howitzers to the Indian Army, and they had Palme assassinated after he found out and threatened to leak the information.
The Red Army Faction, a West Germanleftist terror group. Palme had been Prime Minister of Sweden during the RAF's failed siege of the West German embassy in Stockholm. The RAF was one of the many that took credit for the assassination, claiming that it had been performed by someone named the "Holger Meins Commando".
Roberto Thieme, a Chilean neo-fascist who was part of a far-right Chilean political party called Patria y Libertad (Fatherland & Liberty). Allegedly, he wanted revenge against Palme for granting asylum to large numbers of Chilean leftists after the overthrow of Salvador Allende in 1973.
A conspiracy among right-wing elements within the police department.
Michael Jackson's prescription drug overdose death, according to a theory espoused by his sister La Toya, was an assassination masterminded by bigwigs at his record label Sony and This Is It concert promoter AEG Live when the former were unable to buy his stake in both the valuable ATV (Song) Publishing Catalog and his own work from him. The theory also claims Sony previously attempted to ruin him by sabotaging the promotion of 2001's Invincible and getting him charged with child molestation in 2003 (see below for more). According to La Toya, Michael often told her "they" were trying to ruin and even kill him for his holdings. But as a skeptical Nathan Rabin points out in his review of her memoir Starting Over (which discusses her theory in depth):
Dag Hammarskjöldnote Which roughly translates as "Doug Hammershield"., the Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1953 until 1961, when he died in a plane crash over Northern Rhodesia (present-day Zambia) while on his way to to the Democratic Republic Of The Congo to negotiate a ceasefire between UN peacekeepers, the DRC, and the breakaway state of Katanga in the southeast. The Western powers, particularly the Belgians (the former colonizing force in the region), had large stakes in the mines and resources of Katanga, and they backed that region's independence movement, concerned that the DRC would nationalize the mines. Allegedly, they had Hammarskjöld's plane shot down out of fear that he would side with the DRC.
Pat Tillman, a football player who famously turned down a $3,000,000 contract in order to serve in Afghanistan, where he died. He was initially assumed to have been killed by the enemy, but further investigation revealed that accidental friendly fire was the most likely culprit. The fact that basically every piece of evidence related to his death has mysteriously disappeared, however, has led some (including decorated military man General Wesley Clark) to theorize or at least consider the possibility that Tillman was in fact deliberately murdered by his own squadmates for his vocal opposition to President George W. Bush, and that the killing was covered up by Bush's administration.
John Dillinger, according to crime writer Jay Robert Nash, lived out a comfortable retirement in Oregon; a fall guy took the bullets outside the Biograph.
The murder of Patrice Lunumba, generally considered the last decent President of the Democratic Republic Of The Congo, is claimed by some to have been ordered by US President Dwight Eisenhower, who allegedly feared Lunumba's friendliness with the Russians could provide a gateway for Africa to be overrun with Dirty Commies.
Paul Wellstone, a Democratic US Senator from Minnesota who, in 2002, died in a plane crash with his wife and one of his children. Wellstone had been one of the most outspoken opponents of a war with Iraq, and some have suggested that the plane crash was orchestrated by higher-ups in the Bush administration (including Dick Cheney) in order to silence him. The official story states that the crash occurred because the pilot was Too Dumb to Live.
The nationwide news blackout of Lori Klausutis's dead body found in Joe Scarborough's Florida office, summer 2001, in the middle of the Condit-Levy media rage. The Northwest Florida Daily News was the only newspaper to reasonably cover the case. The Klausutis articles have been removed from the archives, and also from Google's cache. The nationwide news blackout, plus the deletion from the archives, is offered as evidence of a conspiracy.
Anton Cermak, mayor of Chicago in the 1930s, who was assassinated in 1933 in Miami by a man trying to shoot Franklin D. Roosevelt. Some, including '30s radio personality Walter Winchell (who was in attendance during Roosevelt's visit to Miami), claim that Cermak—who had begun a serious campaign against organized crime—was the real target of the attempt, and that it was a hit by the Chicago Mob.
The "Paul is dead" theory has it that Paul McCartney died in 1966, and was replaced with an impersonator.
The "Birther" movement claims that US President Barack Obama is not a natural-born American citizen, which would make him ineligible for the position he currently occupies. The name "Birther" comes from the fact that they believe his birth certificate to be a forgery, and that his real birth certificate (which he is supposedly hiding) proves that he was born in Kenya/Indonesia/wherever. This rumor was started during the 2008 campaign by some of the angrier supporters of Hillary Rodham Clinton, who were upset that she was losing the Democratic primary to Obama, and was picked up by many on the far-right fringe after Obama was elected. In order for this claim to work, it would require either a) planning by Them going back half a century (Honolulu newspapers reported his birth◊), in a time when the idea of a non-white President was laughable, as well as a lot of natural charm, brilliance and political success on the part of their supposed puppet to actually get elected 47 years later, or b) Obama not only successfully forging his long-form birth certificate, but also fabricating those newspaper announcements, fabricating his college records, bribing immigration officials, and bribing or fooling election officials.
For the record, under current laws, anyone born to an American citizen is also a natural-born American citizen, no matter where this occurred. The President was born before this law was implemented, but even under the statutes he was born under, he only needs to spend a few years in the United States to claim natural-born citizenship; his academic record alone validates that claim. Some claim that being a natural-born citizen isn't enough — you must actually be born in the US to run for President. This is in spite of the fact that the Constitution does not make such a requirement, only requiring a) either natural-born citizen status or being a citizen of the US at the time the constitution was ratified (the latter doesn't apply anymore, but it's why George Washington was allowed to be president despite not being a natural born citizen), b) having lived in the US for fourteen years, and c) being at least 35 years old. Even if there were a "born on US soil" requirement, there is ample evidence confirming that Obama was born in Hawaii.
One variation claims that, since Obama's father (a native of British Kenya) held British citizenship at the time of his son's birth, then Obama holds dual US and British citizenship, which they feel would make him ineligible even if he was a natural-born citizen. Problem is, there is nothing in the Constitution saying that dual citizenship makes a candidate ineligible, and even if there was, the 14th Amendment to the Constitutionwhich says "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside..." would override it. Other claims allege that Obama's mother had renounced her US citizenship and, by extension, her son's (she hadn't, and even if she did it wouldn't have affected Obama's status), that a trip by Obama to Pakistan in 1981 could only have been accomplished with a foreign passport due to an alleged ban on travel between the US and Pakistan (no such ban existed), and that Obama's enrollment in a school in Indonesia in his youth could only have been done if he wasn't a US citizen at the time (living outside the US as a minor, as ruled in Perkins v. Elg, does not cause you to lose your citizenship).
Another variation claims that Obama being born in Hawaii means that he's not a natural-born citizen, the argument being that Hawaii is not legally part of the US, but rather, is an independent kingdom under US occupation — and therefore, nobody who was born there can claim natural-born US citizenship unless they meet one of the other requirements for it. (As shown above, he does meet the criteria.)
Amusing bit of trivia — Obama's 2008 opponent, John McCain, was born in the Panama Canal Zone (or Panama itself, some believe), meaning that, by some variants on this theory, he too was ineligible to be President. Of course, this ignores the fact that his father was a serving US naval officer, stationed in Panama, which means that Mc Cain automatically is a natural-born citizen.
One moderately well-known politician and statesman, Sir Winston Churchill, could legitimately have claimed US citizenship via an American-born mother. Would there have been such an uproar about his being born overseas had he tried standing for public office in the USA? And the British people were not in the least concerned by his being 50% foreign (actually, slightly less than 50%, since his father's mother was also an American) ... the question never arose. Maybe more important things got in the way.
U.S. law at the time of the marriage of Churchill's parents would have resulted in the loss of his mother's U.S. citizenship. A 1963 U.S. law made him an "honorary" U.S. citizen.
Ironically, when the Birthers produced a birth certificate of their own claiming that Obama had been born in Kenya, it was found to be a forgery, due to several instances of shoddy research. For one, it listed his birthplace as "Mombasa, Republic of Kenya", even though a) in 1961, the year of Obama's birth, Mombasa was a part of Zanzibar, not Kenya, and b) Kenya was still a British colony at the time, not a republic. In addition, the format of the certificate bore no resemblance to that used in Kenya at the time. It was shown to be an altered version of a birth certificate issued in South Australia in 1959.
An unrelated theory that some of Obama's more radical detractors maintain is the belief that he is secretly a Muslim who was educated in a madrassa (an Islamic religious school), despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. (Extreme versions of this theory go so far as to say that he is a Muslim that has been "planted" in the White House by some government or radical group in the Middle East.) Among the evidence that proves otherwise is the fact that his wedding was conducted by a Protestant minister, his children were baptised by the same minister (and there were dozens of witnesses to both ceremonies) and there have been public events where he has eaten food (on camera) that is taboo to Islam. In addition, the alleged "madrassa" in Indonesia that he attended was, in fact, a secular public elementary school.
Conversely, one theory claims that Obama is actually a closeted gay man who's secretly married to a Pakistani guy. Most of the "proof" for this theory comes from a 1990 article by the Harvard Law Revue, which is not a news magazine, but is in fact an Onion-esque parody of the Harvard Law Review (which Obama was editor of at the time). How Obama could've been married to another man in 1990, fourteen years before Massachusetts legalized gay marriage, goes unanswered.
A tamer rumor about Mr. Obama, circulated on websites like The Free Republic, American Thinker, and World Net Daily, is that educator and former radical Bill Ayers helped him write Dreams of My Father. There is no evidence to support this claim.
Even First Lady Michelle Obama has been targeted by an outlandish claim. Some say that she ordered her husband's female aide (who supporters of this claim also say was his lover) banished to the Carribean. Everyone involved (including the aide herself) say this is false.
Similar to Obama, former US President Chester A Arthur was alleged to have been born in Ireland or Quebec rather than Vermont as he claimed, which would've made him ineligible for the Presidency. Arthur Hinman, the man hired by the Democratic Party during the 1880 campaign to discredit Arthur, wrote a book about it, How a British Subject became President of the United States.
There are various theories that question whether or not William Shakespeare actually wrote his plays, and if not, who did write them. The most interesting is the Marlovian theory, which supposes that Christopher Marlowe wrote the Shakespeare plays after faking his own murder (possibly for reasons related to national security) in 1593.
Lady Gaga is rumored to be a fully functioning hermaphrodite, possessing working sets of both genders' reproductive organs, despite this being medically impossible (and the fact that she used to be a stripper... you'd think people might have noticed). But you've heard that already. What you may not have heard is the theory that hermaphrodites are caused by incest (though hermaphrodite is an outmoded, even offensive term for intersexuals); the American medical authorities just cover it up. The reason that she was produced in an incestuous manner was part of a secret eugenics program to create the next generation of entertainers.
By complete coincidence, she is also under the control of the NWO, promoting their aims with pop music. Presumably, they felt that the best mascot available to them was an incestuous hermaphrodite singer.
Jamie Lee Curtis is often said to have been born a hermaphrodite, and her parents decided to make her a girl. "Proof" of this amounts to little more than "her name would work for a boy or a girl."
The Chicago Tribune headline correctly reported the result of the 1948 Presidential election: Thomas Dewey really did defeat Harry Truman. The "President Dewey" conspiracy theory might not be a real one, but it at least gets some facetious references:
A 1960 MAD article gave Dewey's term of office as "1948–?" and noted that all records of it were somehow lost or destroyed.
Dave Barry Slept Here: "Dewey had defeated Truman, who immediately threatened to drop an atomic bomb on Chicago, so everybody went ha-ha-ha-ha, just kidding, and wisely elected to let the feisty ex-haberdasher have another term."
As noted above in the John Lennon reference, The Catcher in the Rye tends to crop up in a few conspiracy theories as a kind of "trigger" for brainwashed assassins. As well as Mark David Chapman, John Hinckley was found to have a copy in his possession after attempting to shoot President Reagan, among others. Of course, independently of brainwashing by Them, it's also quite a popular and influential novel with a wide readership and fan-base composed of many people who haven't shot any celebrities (or, indeed, anyone for that matter), as well as one with subject matter and themes that would tend to appeal to disaffected, isolated, and rather angry loners such as Chapman and Hinckley.
The Jack the Ripper murders have created a cottage industry of conspiracy theories—perhaps unsurprisingly, given that many of the details of the case are vague and unclear, not least the identity of the killer (up to and including how many people he killed and how long he was operating). Many of them involve the British government and/or Royal Family, with the argument going that the five women who are most frequently accepted as his 'canon' victims were united by a secret that they shared—usually the existence of an illegitimate heir to the throne with an embarrassing or potentially damaging lineage, usually involving Catholicism—and were silenced by the establishment in order to prevent this knowledge from becoming public. For whatever reason (usually the inherent psychopathy of the person in question), the establishment usually decides to silence these women in an unusually vicious, sadistic, gory, and publicly prominent fashion rather than just, say, clubbing them over the head and dropping them in the Thames. Many theories also incorporate Freemasonry or Jews in some fashion as well.
Of course, the fact that the British crown cannot be passed down to the illegitimate offspring of its wearers, meaning that a cover-up wouldn't have been necessary in the first place, is overlooked by the "Royals Did It" faction.
Pretty much all of the above is used in the comic book (and film) From Hell. Notably, Alan Moore stated outright that he didn't believe this theory was true, he just thought it made for a good story.
The Rothschild family, a Jewish-German family with strong ties to business and government. Alleged to either be a front for the Illuminati (see below), or to be controlling the world's wealth and financial institutions, or to have staged several wars in history.
Even Fred Rogers, the host of Mister Rogers and one of the nicest guys you would ever meet, was not immune to slanderous rumors. One common rumor about him was that he was a Vietnam veteran, and according to some, was rather brutal towards enemy combatants. This was untrue; for one thing, Rogers, who was born in 1928, was too old to have served in the Vietnam war.
Let's play a bit of Mad Libs. Here's the sentence for you to fill in. "Hitler was ____". Here are the words you can choose from. " an alien (illegal or from space)". "Gay", "Jewish", "an Aspie", "Communist", "fighting aliens", "Sorcerer", "Mystic", "Psychic", "the owner of the Spear of Destiny", "Framed" and "/is living in South America". Now throw in "and he/the authorities covered it up" and congratulations, you have just described a good chunk of the conspiracy theories about Adolf Hitler.
Quite a few famous people, especially rappers, are believed to be in The Illuminati (or the Freemasons, depending on who you ask), including Tupac Shakur, Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Kanye West, and even Barack Obama. Just Google "illuminati". Kanye West in particular received a lot of heat after his music video for "Power" came out. Conspiracy theorists believed that it was supposed to be Satanic and he was trying to brainwash our children to become Satanic Freemasons.
Consider his notorious appearance at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards, which were held on his birthday. Early in the show, Britney Spears presented him with a cake and a treble clef statuette, noting that to her he was the "artist of the millennium"...and Jackson proceeded to give a prepared acceptance speech for an "Artist of the Millennium Award" that didn't actually exist. (The treble clef statuette was a gift that each of the artists attending the show received backstage; this became grist for a joke made by host Jimmy Fallon immediately afterward, and a skit with Fred Durst and Jack Black at the following year's show.) MTV's website claims that Jackson misunderstood what was going on. More specifically, Jackson friend Frank Cascio claimed in a 2011 memoir that his then-manager claimed he was going to get an award as a way to convince him to go to the show, hence the prepared speech, and despite Cascio's efforts to convince him otherwise; in this telling, Jackson admitted he trusted the wrong person afterwards. Meanwhile, Jackson fans claim that MTV deliberately lied to him so they could get him on the show and publicly humiliate him. Why? Because they were in bed with the music industry, particularly Jackson's label Sony Music, and like the rest of the non-black mainstream media sided with Sony when he claimed it was racism on their part that caused Invincible to prove a commercial disappointment (by his standards).
His 2003 arrest and 2004-5 trial on child molestation charges was the result of a conspiracy between Sony Music (out for his music publishing holdings), Santa Barbara, California district attorney Tom Sneddon (out for revenge after he couldn't get Jackson tried and arrested on similar charges in 1993-94 after he settled out of court with the accuser) and the accuser's family (out for money). This theory can be combined with the "assassination" theory above — i.e., once Sony found they couldn't ruin him, they decided to murder him.
Any celebrity that loses even a little bit of weight is obviously gravely ill and trying to hide it.
As is any celebrity who's caught on camera looking tired, uncomfortable, or even like their natural, cosmetic-free (hence less "radiant") self.
And any female celebrity who gains a quarter-inch around the middle is secretly pregnant.
The pharmaceutical industry has been accused of so much wrongdoing, one would think that Resident Evil was based on a true story.
Supporters of "natural" cures and alternative medicine (the most famous being Kevin Trudeau) allege that Big Pharma is suppressing knowledge of these treatments in order to protect their profits, which are built on making people sick, keeping them sick, and selling them drugs and surgery that do nothing more than suppress the symptoms. An excellent example of the Consumer Conspiracy. Also falls under "Suppressed Science and Technologies" below.
The AIDS dissident movement claims that HIV does not cause AIDS, and that it is instead a result of (depending on who you ask) poverty, malnutrition, the "gay lifestyle," and other environmental factors. It is claimed that the HIV-AIDS link was fabricated by Big Pharma in order to allow them to make money off of their "treatments" for the disease. Unlike most conspiracy theories, this one has had serious repercussions in many parts of the world. The prevalence of AIDS dissidence at the highest levels of the South African government (including former President Thabo Mbeki) has been widely blamed for the spread of the disease in South Africa and the rest of the continent.
Alternatively, it is claimed that AIDS is a man-made, genetically-modified disease that was made to wipe out black people, homosexuals, drug addicts, and other "undesirable" groups. Dr. Alan Cantwell is one of the main proponents of this idea, with his version claiming that it was deliberately spread into the gay community in the late '70s through Hepatitis B experiments. Variations on this theory are especially prevalent in minority communities, thanks in no small part to the Tuskegee Study (see "Real Conspiracies" below).
Matilde Krim, a cancer virologist, AIDS expert, and the co-chairperson of the American Foundation for AIDS Research, has also suggested that Dr. Wolf Szmuness' hepatitis B vaccination experiments of the late '70s caused the AIDS epidemic. Unlike Cantwell, however, she attributes this to accident rather than conspiracy.
Keep in mind though, the KGB was more than happy to create an actual conspiracy to spread disinformation about fake AIDS conspiracies. For more info, Operation INFEKTION is a good place to start.
The alleged link between vaccines and autism. Like the AIDS dissident theories, this is another one that has had serious repercussions for public health. Scientists have never been able to come anywhere close to finding any conclusive evidence for the existence of any link between vaccination and autism. In addition, the only medical study to suggest such a link, out of the countless done on the subject, was later found to contain so much faked data, unethical practices, and conflicts of interest that its lead author, Andrew Wakefield, had his medical license revoked. Likewise, the pharmaceutical companies have naturally worked overtime to eliminate potentially toxic preservatives from vaccines after a scare several years ago.
Still, millions of parents, thanks to such noted non-experts as Jenny McCarthy, have been led to believe that Big Pharma is conspiring to suppress this link in order to prevent a tidal wave of class-action lawsuits. The effects of this vaccine boycott have manifested themselves in increased incidence of childhood diseases like mumps and rubella that, ten years ago, were nearly eradicated, thanks partly to the breakdown of so-called "herd immunity"short version nearly everybody being vaccinated means a lack of vectors for disease to spread, protecting the few people who aren't vaccinated. in places where anti-vaccine propaganda has proliferated (most notably in Britain). Hundreds of children have died from preventable diseases because parents were convinced that the vaccines were harmful.
This one is not helped in the slightest by a coincidence of timing and the False Causefallacy. The MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine is typically first administered when a child is about a year old. Autism symptoms aren't visible before about 12-18 months of age. So, to somebody who doesn't know much about autism, this can turn into "Most autistic children start showing symptoms shortly after receiving the MMR vaccine, so the vaccine must be responsible." This is akin to arguing that since in the spring birds fly north and daffodils come up, the daffodils must be getting up to go birdwatching.
Some of the mud slung during the debate on health care in the US belongs here. Beyond the usual accusations of "socialism", some people felt that the health care plan being put forth by the Obama administration would have created "death panels" that would consign millions of old and infirm Americans to die in order to save money on their treatment. Of course, it would be disingenuous not to mention that such considerations are necessarily a part of any hospital service or insurance company, public or private, that deals with limited resources, as demonstrated by the concepts of triage and pre-existing conditions (the latter of which was banned under Obama's health care law).
Some people believe that the H1N1 or "swine flu" epidemic is entirely artificial, whether from genetic engineering of a virus, to deliberate spreading of a minor virus, to government/big pharma exerting pressure for intentionally over-blown media coverage.
The Church of Scientology maintains that psychiatry is a corrupt, criminal profession based on false science that is out to destroy them, torture people, suppress human spirituality, and Take Over the World. They run a museum called Psychiatry: An Industry of Death which expounds upon these claims, and have produced an accompanying Documentary Of Lies. We are of course expected to ignore the fact that the core of Scientology's "belief system" is an alternative to psychiatry that incidentally involves "treatments" at least as pricey as any shrink's bill.
Interestingly, there are many more plausible conspiracy theories that can be made about Scientology itself than about its enemies. And quite a few of them are true...
Would you believe that there's a conspiracy theory about corn, of all things? An increasing number of medical experts think that the use of cheap and abundant high-fructose corn syrup in foods contributes to the obesity epidemic, to the point where a number of food and drink makers (such as Snapple) have switched back to real sugar due to HFCS's bad publicity. The government has refused to sponsor any studies about the usage of HFCS. At the same time, corn is so heavily subsidized by the government and sells for such a low price that it costs more to raise an acre than a farmer can get for selling it. Tie all these factors together, mix in some paranoia, and there are some crazy conspiracy theories out there.
A simpler and more rational explanation for this is that all presidential candidates put a lot of effort into winning the Iowa caucus, the first state primary election, and none of them want to become less popular in Iowa, a major corn-producing state.
Admittedly, the conspiracy theorists do have one point in their favor. The price of cane sugar in the United States is kept artificially high due to a system of tariffs and quotas on sugar passed during the 1970s and, as stated above, the price of corn is kept artificially low due to government subsidies. But that's a far cry from proving an organized conspiracy between corn growers and the federal government. More likely it started as a temporary vote-buying scheme that no one bothered to fix afterward.
Though some just prefer the taste of cane sugar in their soda over corn syrup.
The fluoridation of public water supplies. The usual justification for it is that it helps improve dental health, this theory originating from observations that people living in places where the drinking water was filled with natural flouride had very clean and healthy (though slightly discolored) teeth. Many criticisms are along the lines that it's not as effective or cheap as claimed, can have adverse health effects, or is slightly unethical in that it assumes consent which might not have been given. These are reasonable objections, if perhaps contentious. Then there are the people who believe it's a communist mind-control plot designed to brainwash people into being subservient slaves. This was particularly prominent during the Red Scare of the 1950s and 1960s, and was parodied in Dr. Strangelove with the character of General Ripper.
"It's incredibly obvious, isn't it? Foreign substances introduced into our precious bodily fluids, without the knowledge of the individual, and certainly without any choice? That's the way a hardcore Commie works."
Cell phones supposedly cause cancer, which is being suppressed by the cell phone providers. This is believed due to the fact that cell phones, like all electronic devices, give off radiation - holding a radioactive device next to your head doesn't sound very healthy. However, cell phones give off non-ionizing radiation, which means it lacks the energy to displace electrons, and thus does not cause damage (if it did, half the developed world would have cancer of the ear by now).
Some claim that the exposure to electromagnetic fields forming around high-voltage electric wires may cause cancer. Such possibility has been taken relatively seriously by the scientific community, but so far it remains unproven. Roughly the same reason as above is a factor here.
Some anti-abortion activists claim that legal abortion is a plot to drive down the birth rates of poor people and minorities. Many of these theories go by the allegedly disproportionate citing of abortion clinics in low-income neighborhoods, as well as Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger's enthusiastic support for eugenics in the early 20th century — something that the modern organization has long since disowned.
Of course, there's an interesting point here: most economists agree that availability and acceptability of family planning (including contraception and, yes, abortion) are a major factor in lifting families and especially women out of poverty by giving them the opportunity to pursue education and career advancement without having as many children to support. So eugenics? No. Abortion as a means to drive down the birthrates of the poor? To some degree yes, but in conjunction with better alternatives, so they won't have to be poor anymore. And a conspiracy? Most advocates of contraception and abortion rights point out the poverty-fighting power of family planning openly!
The popularity of gluten-free diets has lead to various conspiracy theories about bread, of all things.
The phantom time hypothesis states that the early Middle Ages (roughly AD 614-911), particularly the Carolingian period (including Charlemagne), did not exist. Therefore, according to this theory, we are technically living in the early 18th century, not the 21st. The theory is based in the lack of archaeological evidence dating from the era (understandable, as it was, well, the Dark Ages), the presence of various styles of architecture a few hundred years before they were supposed to have been developed, errors in the correlation of the Julian (i.e. Roman) and Gregorian (modern) calendars, and massive gaps in history from Europe all the way to the Middle East and India. The alleged culprit of the conspiracy was Holy Roman Emperor Otto III (with help from Pope Sylvester II), who wanted to rule around the year 1000 (the millennium), and invented Charlemagne as the model hero that he wanted to be.
A similar theory, the Hungarian Calendar hypothesis, claims that the era from AD 960-1160 never occurred.
The "New Chronology" theory claims that human history began around AD 800, that the histories of the world's ancient civilizations (Rome, Greece, Egypt, Persia, ancient China, the events of The Bible) all took place during the time of AD 1000-1500, and that the "official" history was codified around 1600.
Similarly, Young Earth Creationists believe that the universe and world were created 6,000 years ago. See "Suppressed Science and Technologies" for details.
Atlantis theories are pretty weird; regardless of whether the island existed, the earliest source (Plato) describes Atlanteans merely as military aggressors against Athens; they are not particularly enlightened or advanced, and in fact are brought up as a contrast with the ideal society. This was well understood by everyone in the following centuries who spoke of the legend — until the 19th, when the Crystal Spires and Togas stuff was suddenly pulled straight from someone's ass.
The search for Atlantis and other "lost" civilizations has also been filled with Unfortunate Implications over the years. One of the first proposed sites for Atlantis outside of the Mediterranean was Africa. Why? Because, when the Europeans started heavily colonizing the continent in the 19th century, they found evidence of civilizations both long dead and still alive. Cultural chauvinism made it impossible for them to believe that these civilizations had been built solely by black Africans, so they theorized that their must have been a white "precursor" civilization that passed down its cultural achievements to the Africans. Before long, somebody conflated this hypothetical civilization with Atlantis.
The Nazis also left a huge stain on the search for Atlantis, which they felt was the original homeland of the Aryan race. This is why so many pop-culture depictions of Atlantis show wreckage of Nazi U-boats or the remains of a Nazi expedition. It's only been in the last couple of decades that the search for mythical civilizations has managed to distance itself from the racist aims of the Nazis.
As for the reality of Atlantis, the same book that generated the idea (Plato's Timaeus) contains the line: "[Atlantis] which you yesterday described to us in fiction." It should never have been more mysterious than the fate of Middle Earth.
Lemuria is equally weird if you know its history. Scientists found lemur fossils in both India and Madagascar, but not in Africa. This lead to some great bafflement as to how these creatures were found in two locations that were separated by water, but nowhere in between on land. To explain this, the lost continent of Lemuria — located between India and Madagascar — was proposed. In time, the real answer to the mystery was discovered — plate tectonics (that is to say, Madagascar was once part of India, then got broken off and has nearly completed its journey towards Africa. A population of Lemurs came along for the ride). To wit: there was never any evidence for Lemuria. It was a scientific hypothesis, and one that didn't work out. So naturally, the woowoos decided that it MUST have existed and that there MUST have been advanced people living on it. Really, if you want to leave an indelible mark in the woowoo scene, just propose that there was a missing continent. They'll have it full of Crystal Spires and Togas and visited by Ancient Astronauts in no time.
Nazi Germany was engaged in a lot of "out-there" research, from UFOs to the aforementioned Atlantis. As a result, lots of people have speculated on exactly what the Nazis discovered. It's also claimed that, after the war, the Nazis fled to a secret base in Antarctica to continue their research and, from there, Take Over the World. The tropes Stupid Jetpack Hitler and Ghostapo are based on these theories. Slightly less outlandish theories suggest that Hitler survived and escaped to a South American country, probably inspired by the several prominent Nazis who did exactly that.
There exist various theories about how and why the Pyramids of Egypt were built. One of the more popular ones claims that they were built by Ancient Astronauts. Another claims that they were nuclear power plants. All of them claim that the widely-accepted explanation for how they were built is physically impossible.
Never mind that continual research has expanded upon the construction techniques that might have been used. One researcher, for instance, made the rather (in hindsight) obvious jump that the Egyptians might have used some of the technology they used in boats and such to aid in building the pyramids.
Then there's the Lost 13th Amendment theory: the notion that the actual 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibited any U.S. citizen from accepting any "title of nobility or honour", or from receiving "any present, pension, office or emolument of any kind whatever, from any emperor, king, prince or foreign power". This amendment was never ratified by the necessary number of states, and so never became part of the Constitution; the theory claims that it was ratified, that it became part of the Constitution, and that then it was covered up — because (so says the theory) the suffix "Esquire", which attorneys in the United States traditionally append to their names, is (... so says the theory!) a "title of nobility", and thus under this amendment lawyers cannot hold public office in the United States. (This theory implodes when you realize that this means lawyers couldn't become judges. No matter how much you hate lawyers, who other than a lawyer would know the law well enough to interpret it? Had this amendment actually passed, it would've been child's play for the federal courts to say "Nope, 'Esquire' doesn't count" on various grounds,note Among which were (1) that in the 19th century it was considered the postnomial equivalent of "Mr."—anyone could use it, and at the time many did, it's just that by the beginning of the 20th century the lawyers are the only ones who had kept using it—and (2) "Esquire" derives from "squire", which was never a title of nobility or honor at all: it was at first merely an indication that one had ancestors who had some title of nobility or honor, and then devolved into general use. and that would've been the end of that.)
There's been reports that both the moon and Mars have ruins on them. Some of these ruins are truly bizarre, such as two crystals, 7 and 4-miles tall respectively, a colossal submarine-looking thing just sort of being there in a crater, and what is apparently a castle floating 9 miles above the lunar surface, suspended from nothing by a sometimes visible cable. What absolutely does not help quell the conspiracy is that the area northeast of the Ukert crater (where the majority of these things are supposed to be) appears to have been sloppily photoshopped out of the Google Maps moon version. Also on Mars, there's apparently several complexes of ruins near the infamous "face" formation. Here'splenty of information for you to look over. Strangely, there seem to be no alternate explanations for the majority of these, possibly because the conspiracy isn't well known enough to have detractors.
The typical explanation for these is just that the brain is good at picking signals out of random noise, particularly in low-res photos such as these. The Face of Mars looks a lot less like a face when you look at it in high detail or at a different angle.
One really out-there theory is about the Martian moon Phobos. It's orbit characteristics lead Russian scientist Iosif Samuilovich Shklovsky to declare it was most likely hollow, as they indicated it was extremely light. This in turn led some, most notably Fred Singer, science advisor to President Dwight Eisenhower, to declare that if Phobos was hollow then it might have even been a massive artificial satellite created by the ancient Martians. Even though this theory has since been proven incorrect and current research indicates that Phobos is not hollow (at least not entirely), there are still plenty of people out there saying that's no moon.
The Iranian hostage crisis in 1979 has some conspiracy theories surrounding it, most of them surrounding Ronald Reagan. According to the most popular theory, the Reagan campaign had cut a deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran to hold off on releasing the hostages until after Reagan had won the election, thus denying Jimmy Carter an "October surprise" and allowing Reagan to take credit for ending the crisis.
Similar to the Pyramids of Egypt, theories abound as to the construction and purpose of Stonehenge. Various scholarly explanations claim that it was an astronomical calendar, a pagan shrine/sacred site, or a place of healing, and that the massive stones had been brought to the site either by water or over land using ball bearing-like "wheels" and then raised up using A-frames. Somewhat... less scholarly theories involve extrapolations on all of the above, as well as claims about ley lines or aliens being involved.
The Georgia Guidestones are a large granite monument in Elberton, Georgia that had been built in 1979-1980 under the commission of a man using the pseudonym "R. C. Christian" who was claiming to represent "a small group of Americans who seek the age of reason". The entire structure is astronomically aligned, and carved into it are ten "guiding thoughts" in eight languages describing how an ideal society is to be managed. Speculation has abounded for decades as to the identity of "R. C. Christian" and the purpose of the Guidestones, and some are convinced that the inscriptions are a blueprint for the New World Order or The Antichrist and that the Guidestones should be destroyed. In 2008, the Guidestones were vandalized with a number of anti-NWO messages.
Genocide denial in general often falls into this. As a general rule, whenever Nation A is found to have committed attempted genocide against Ethnic Group B, Religious Group C and/or Dissident Group D, the die-hard supporters of Nation A will claim that such allegations were made up or exaggerated by Groups B/C/D and/or Enemy Nation E in order to smear them, and that any killings or internment that Nation A committed against Group B/C/D were justified in order to put down a rebellion or stop them from collaborating with Enemy Nation E.
Holocaust denial. See "Jews/Israel".
The arguments on both sides over the events of the Armenian Genocide. On one side, the Turkish government and scholars claim that the Armenians are exaggerating Ottoman behavior against them during World War I while whitewashing their own anti-Ottoman resistance campaign and collaboration with the Russians, and that special interest groups linked to the Armenian diaspora are paying off historians and pressuring governments to recognize the events as a genocide. On the other side, the Armenian government and scholars claim that modern Turkey is suppressing evidence that would prove Ottoman complicity in an organized campaign of what we would now call ethnic cleansing in eastern Anatolia, and that it is abusing its position as a key NATO ally to bully the US and, by extension, Israel into not recognizing the genocide. This tends to lead to a lot of embarrassing Misplaced Nationalism on the part of both Turks and Armenians.
A persistent myth among Japanese ultra-nationalists claims that tales of Imperial Japanese atrocities before and during World War II (such as the Nanking Massacre and Unit 731) are lies, or at least exaggerations, pushed by the Chinese and Koreans (bothparts) out of spite for Japan and as a form of "victor's justice", and that those convicted of war crimes were "martyrs of Showa". Given that China is now a growing world power, this has grown into a very touchy live-wire in East Asian politics, especially as far as Japanese school textbooks are concerned.
Until the 1980s, the Soviet Union maintained that the Holodomor, the starvation of millions of Ukrainians in the early 1930s as a result of a Soviet campaign to seize grain from them, was a myth pushed by capitalists and fascists in the West in order to smear the communist system. Today, this position is maintained by a number of apologists for the Soviet Union.
Conversely, the unsupported assertion that the Holodmor was a deliberately-targeted genocide perpetrated by Soviet authorities is more or a less a mainstream belief in modern nationalist-dominated Ukraine.
The Srebrenica massacre in 1995, in which members of a Serbian paramilitary called the Scorpions killed over 8,000 Bosniaks during The Yugoslav Wars. Some Serbian nationalists and others claim that the figure of dead is an exaggeration by the West done to punish and embarrass Serbia, and that many of the dead were combatants.
Similar to the Soviet Union's denial of the Holodomor, Maoists in the present day claim that the death toll of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution has been exaggerated by both the post-Mao "revisionist" governments of the People's Republic of China and by the capitalist powers in order to smear the legacy of Mao Zedong.
The infamous "stab in the back" myth claimed that Germany was on the verge of winning World War I in 1918, and that its surrender came not because of a crumbling situation on the battlefield and the imminent arrival of millions of fresh American soldiers to the Allied ranks, but because it had been betrayed by leftists, the labor unions, republicans and Jews, who were working together to slow the supply lines, sow dissent and cut backroom deals with the Allies. After all, very little of the fighting had taken place on German soil, so didn't that mean that the Germans were winning? The Nazis wound up riding this myth all the way to Berlin in 1933, and it remains a powerful example of how conspiracy theories can be abused for evil. It also ended up very definitively biting Germany in the ass in World War II — the entire reason that the Allies would not accept anything less than total, complete and unconditional surrender from Germany and the other Axis powers was to make sure that there could be no room for this theory to raise its ugly head again. Melded with Hitler's complete denial of military reality, the "Stab in the Back" theory ended up causing vast misery for the entire German people.
Much like the Pyramids, Stonehenge or any other monument not built by the Roman Empire or the Ancient Greeks, the moai of Easter Island have Ancient Astronauts theories stapled to them, too. While most archeologists think the moai were erected to worship ancestors and to monument great tribal leaders, a small group of theorists believe that the moai were built for or by alien visitors.
The "lost" island of Bermeja is supposedly located in the Gulf of Mexico, north of the Yucatán Peninsula. It had been reported on maps since the 17th century, but it has not been sighted since the 19th century. Bermeja's "disappearance" is the subject of a conspiracy theory in Mexico, claiming that the CIA dynamited the island in The Seventies in order to rob Mexico of some of its offshore oil reserves — if the island existed, it would move the maritime border between Mexico and the United States in the oil-rich Gulf of Mexico about a hundred nautical miles north. Officially, the Mexican government's stance is that, if the island ever existed, it was likely destroyed by tectonic activity in the 19th century.
The "Homintern" (Homosexual Comintern), or the "Gay Mafia," was an alleged conspiracy of gay elites who supposedly controlled the world of art and culture, including Hollywood. They used their control to slip tons of Ho Yay into the media (the Batman series was often cited as an example) in an effort to turn people gay, and used the Casting Couch to have sex with studly young actors and other people looking to make it in the arts. As funny as this theory is now, lots of people took it seriously in the mid-20th century, including many liberals and even some gay people. The Homintern theory broke down with the rise of the gay rights movement — like any good conspiracy theory, a key component was the secrecy and speculation as to who in Hollywood was a part of it, and once gay people started coming out en masse, the whole thing fell apart, to be replaced by...
The "Gay Agenda." Since homosexuals cannot reproduce with each other, the theory goes that they must "recruit" new homosexuals by infiltrating schools and the media to promote the gay lifestyle. Any depiction of a homosexual in media in which they are not evil and depraved, or which does not show their life devolving into pure hell, will inevitably be accused of this.
Betty Bowers claims to have uncovered the Gay Agenda here. Of course, Betty Bowers is part of the fictional parody churchLandover Baptist. She isn't a real person. more information Assume complete control of the U.S., state, and local governments (in addition to other nations' governments); destroy all healthy Christian marriages; recruit all children grades Kindergarten through 12 into your amoral, filthy lifestyle; secure complete control of the media, starting with sitcoms; molest innocent children; give AIDS to as many people as you can; host a pornographic "art" exhibit at your local art museum; and turn people away from Jesus, causing them to burn forever in Hell.
The "Gay Lifestyle" is itself another one, the belief that all gays—when they're not busy carrying out the "Gay Agenda"—live a secret existence where they do nothing but party, take illegal drugs, and have copious amounts of sex...often for money so that they can afford to party and do drugs.
The quintessential anti-Semitic screed (and perhaps the original conspiracy theory!) is the Blood Libel, the Older Than Print accusation that Jews made a hobby of kidnapping, ritually murdering, and drinking the blood of Christian children. This despite one of the biggest kosher prohibitions being blood — so much so that it is mentioned two separate times in Leviticus (Lev 7:25-27; Lev 17:10-15) as well as Deuteronomy 12:23-25.
Apart from just regular rabble-rousing, Blood Libels were often instigated so that the accusers could ride into town and take everything the Jews had, or to just outright steal their land. Many pogroms were started by a Blood Libel.
And the biggest irony is that the Blood Libel was originally aimed at Christians; Roman paganism heard about the Last Supper and the Mass and thought there was something warped about a religion that encouraged its followers to eat the body and consume the blood of their God as the centrepiece of its religious rite. They then leapt from this to the belief that Christian worship involved real, rather than symbolic, human sacrifice to provide the blood and flesh or the cannibal feast. And from there to the assertion that Christians abducted good Roman children to provide the human sacrifice. And when the Christians asserted power in Rome and the Empire and set about eradicating rival religions, such a useful and effective propaganda tool was considered too good not to use and was promptly revived for use against the Jews.
Around the same time, the Black Death was killing a third of Europe's population — with one notable exception. The culture of Jewish minority populations tended to be unusually encouraging of bathing and good hygiene, and they kept cats and small dogs that made their ghettos the cleanest, most vermin-free places on the continent. Consequently, they experienced remarkably few plague deaths. Suspiciously few, to some people. The notion that they had somehow poisoned Christendom's water supplies spread faster than the plague did. Obviously, the idea that just MAYBE the Jews were on to something by actually bathing and doing something about the rats was not picked up on by the rest of Europe.
Not that this excuses the accusations, but it must be remembered that it was a long time before anyone realized that rats were the ones spreading the disease. Bear in mind this all happened hundreds of years before the concept of germs was even presented (and even then, it was a while before anyone believed that germs were real). Ironically, there have been accounts of villages exterminating the cat population, for their traditional link with witchcraft, an action that certainly couldn't have helped keep the number of rats down.
Conspiracy theories about Jews are unfortunately still common. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a particularly famous (and fiction-based) 19th-century book detailing the supposed Evil Plan of the Jews and the Freemasons to conquer the world using such evils as Darwinism, socialism, liberalism, Nietzscheism, universal suffrage, and porn. To the conspiracy theorists' credit, many are now blaming other groups, such as space lizards and Atheists. The groups that still blame Jews are almost universally white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and Islamic extremists (and the last group has some very pragmatic reasons for wanting to eradicate the Jews, rather than reasons based on superstition and prejudice.)
And even they apparently haven't read The Protocols, as it's a transparent propaganda-piece that hails a return to monarchy as the only force capable of opposing the Strawman Political caricatures behind this Evil Plan.
More to the point, anyone who knows anything of Russian history would know to immediately be able to tell the work of the Okhrana, the Imperial RussianSecret Police, from about eleven time zones away.
Some modern conspiracy theorists claim that, while the conspiracy presented in The Protocols is real, the stuff about it being Jewish-led was put in by Them in order to discredit it and cause it to become associated with outdated, bigoted ideas. It's... kind of strange.
Others believe that Jews control Hollywood and the American media, and that they use this to spread their propaganda. This includes spreading ethnic stereotypes to undermine nonwhites and generally being evil, which is apparently just what Jewish people do.
Jews also control all banks, and are therefore responsible for all recessions and depressions in history. You know, for funzies.
Of course, Bernie Madoff has, unfortunately, thrown a good deal of gas on that particular fire... despite the fact that he was primarily ripping off Jews. Including Henry Kaufman, Steven Spielberg, and Elie Wiesel. The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity lost $15.2 million, and Wiesel and his wife, Marion, lost their life savings.
Note that beliefs like this also caused things like a brief interest in the government of Japan in recruiting massive numbers of Jews to immigrate because it was believed that Jews in essence had magical money powers. Possibly one of the few times stereotypes about Jews were used to their benefit.
Since World War II, a major component of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories has been the claim that the Holocaust never happened. Most examples of Holocaust denial have it that the Holocaust was a hoax designed by the Jews in order to elicit enough sympathy to let them build the state of Israel. Some racists claim that it was also meant to ferment white guilt and destroy the white race. Obviously, this theory is regarded as a joke among serious historians, due to both its racist overtones and the fact that even a cursory examination of the events of World War II will quickly debunk it. After all, millions of people can't just disappear into thin air.
The biggest problem with this theory is that the reasoning of a lot of its believers seems to be "the Holocaust never happened, but it would be nice if it did!" Note, for example, how Holocaust deniers always seem to focus on mitigating the number of Jewish deaths, without ever mentioning the roughly five million non-Jews (Poles, Romani, homosexuals, dissidents) who also died in the camps. To claim that there was no organized campaign of genocide, and that the figure of six million dead Jews is a hoax, would require that one also explain what happened to those other five million — something that they never do, exposing their ulterior motives.
Since much of what is known about the Holocaust comes from the Nuremberg Trials, Holocaust denial requires assuming that the Soviet, British, French and American judges presiding were either (1) in on the hoax, or (2) somehow taken in by it, by persons who also somehow arranged for many SS officers to give false self-incriminating testimony.
Worse, Holocaust deniers even try to parse Himmler's Posen speech, where he openly and literally speaks about the extermination of the Jews, as Himmler advocating 'relocation'. That those idiots are usually people not capable of reading any German at all doesn't help.
Actually, more often that not these people are perfectly capable of reading German. They just choose not to.
To clarify a point: the "six million" figure for the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust is merely a rough estimate, rather than an exact figure. Most scholarly estimates range from 5.1 million (the lowest figure that won't get you funny looks) to as high as 7.5 million, with the "average" being 5.7 mil — which is often rounded up to six million. Naturally, Holocaust deniers latch on to even the slightest disagreement and try to present it as proof that there is "serious dispute" over the reality of the Nazis' Final Solution.
They're not deniers. They're revisionists. Some will even go so far as insisting that they're not actually denying the Holocaust happened as commonly understood, they're just saying that all the evidence toward it isn't really evidence, is all.
Anyone who ever feels the least bit unsure about the Holocaust (or who just wants to watch deniers getting owner) should read Telling Lies About Hitler by British historian Richard J. Evans.
Now that there's a state of Israel and widespread political opposition to its actions, nearly all of these theories have resurfaced with "Jews" crossed out and "Zionists" or "Israelis" hastily scrawled in. This frustrates Jews, Zionists, and sane people of all stripes because these theories are still obviously anti-Semitic, but any effort to call them such will bring protests along the lines of "I don't hate Jews; I'm just criticizing Israel/Zionism". On the same token, it also angers people that have genuine grievances with Israeli policy, as the racists have drowned out the debate and made it nearly impossible for anybody to voice a critical opinion on Israel without being viewed as anti-Semites, even if they're Jewish themselves (at least one Jewish commentator has been called anti-Semitic by the Jerusalem Post for doing this). Everyone reasonable can see that these conspiracy theories remains equally wrong and equally hateful no matter whose name you write in.
That's a problem (or good thing, depending how you look at it) with conspiracy theories in general: Conspiracy theorists mix up genuine criticism of immoral or inconsistent events with insane nonsense and/or blatant racism, to the point that nobody takes the legitimate critics seriously anymore.
It also allows for the ironic Jewish conspiracy (that is, a conspiracy believed by Jews) that any and all criticism of Israel is done by people who have a natural hatred of Jews whose Anti-Semitism takes the form of hatred of Israel.
The "Holocaust Industry" theory is another one built upon the pattern of Jews using the accusations of anti-Semitism to bash people they don't like, while also re-using the Greedy Jew trope. This theory posits that the various Jewish organisations use mix of guilt and threat of branding as anti-Semitic to extort money (inflating the numbers of people they represent and value of their lost possessions) from countries and organisations involved — no matter how indirectly — in Holocaust.
Oh, and Israel seemed to have deliberately caused the 2004 tsunami, for whatever reason one can think of, using a nuclear bomb. Of course, any serious physicist knows that no nuke has been made with anywhere near enough power to do this, and it would be immediately recognizable as such.
One of the stupider tendencies in the Arab and Muslim world—one futilely recognized by most Arab and Muslim intellectuals—is a tendency to blame everything on some Israeli plot. An Egyptian official once blamed the shark attacks in the Red Sea in late 2010 on Israeli action; to his people's credit, most Egyptians thought that this was batshit.
Crying Shark is an excellent way to destroy your credibility. If he ever decides to raise objections to something Israel actually does, who's going to believe him without corroboration?
Along similar lines, there is a theory floating around in the Arab world that Monica Lewinsky (latching on to the fact that she is Jewish) was in fact an Israeli spy, who did that dirty deed under the Oval Office desk for the sole reason of getting Bill Clinton impeached. Why? Because Bill had intended to make concessions to Palestine, so the Jews derailed his plans and his presidency.
A Jordanian op-ed once accused the Pokemon games of being a Zionist attempt to distract people from their real problems, namely the Jews.
The theory that Ashkenazi Jews are descended from the Khazars, an empire in what is now the Caucasus whose aristocracy and nobility (and apparently some of the populace) converted to Judaism in the 8th century AD. This theory is often trotted out by anti-Semites to claim that modern Jews don't have a right to Israel, as they aren't properly descended from the ancient Israelites. Not only does genetic evidence go against this theory, but even if it were true, a) Jewish tradition accepts all converts and their descendants as being full-blooded Jews on the same level as any other, meaning that the theoretical Khazari Jews would be treated as having the same claim to Israel as any other, and b) it makes the classic assumption that All Jews Are Ashkenazi. In reality, the majority of the Jewish population currently living in Israel is not Ashkenazi, but Sephardi, Mizrahi and Yemenite. Their ancestors didn't speak Yiddish — the Sephardim spoke a flavor of Spanish called Ladino, and most of the rest spoke Arabic or Persian.
Ironically, the man who popularized the Khazar theory in The Seventies, Arthur Koestler, was an Ashkenazi Jew who was trying to challenge religious anti-Semitism, thinking that it would lose its basis if it were to be proven that the Ashkenazim weren't descended from the "Christ-killers". He had a huge Oh Crap moment when he saw his theories hijacked by neo-Nazis and radical Islamists to use for ethnic anti-Semitism.
Allegedly, the kosher labeling on various foods is to show that the producer had paid a "secret tax" to the Jews in order to support Israel — and of course, this "tax" gets passed on to the goyim (non-Jews). In reality, the labels simply do exactly what they say — show that the food was made in accordance with Jewish dietary regulations so that observant Jews can eat it without breaking kashrut. Snopes took this one on here.
This stems from the fact that food labels can't use the hechsher (the symbol denoting kosher certification) without being certified by an official Rabbinical authority. Such authorities will often charge for their services. This is, of course, not a tax, as it is voluntary.
Interestingly, unlike other conspiracy theories about Jews and Israel—where you will find hyper-partisan Muslims grasping at straws to agree with them (for the extra anti-Israel ammunition) while level-headed ones try to argue back—virtually no Muslims give this one any credence. Muslims often use kashrut as a substitute for halal, as most Muslim authorities agree that anything kosher that isn't alcoholic is also halal.
There is a community of African Americans who believe they are the true 12 tribes if Israel. The story goes that Africans and Muslims captured Israel, took them out of their homeland, and sold them to Europeans who used them as slaves (those who were not captured escaped to Asia, the South Pacific Islands, and the Americas, creating modern Latinos, Native Americans and other minority groups). Satan-worshipping Europeans took Christianity and perverted into the Catholic Church while others went around the world pretending to be Jewish people in order to gain sympathy and eventually claim Israel. As expected, this would also mean that the Holocaust never happened, turning this into even more of a headscratcher since you end up with minorities standing up for the Nazis. African American leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. are considered patsies for the Catholic Church and not true Hebrews, which pains Africans in a negative light, making this conspiracy even weirder. Usually, this theory extends into belief in other conspiracy theories involving Freemasons, the Illumanati, NWO, and 9/11 being an inside job.
The Strawman News Media in all of its various forms. The way that the news focuses on some things at the expense of others, mis-reports other things, and otherwise skews the truth is often cited as proof that it either has a political bias, is in the pocket of the government or big business, or is being manipulated by a more insidious conspiracy.
The alleged use of Subliminal Advertising to sell products. In 1957, a market researcher named James Vicary (who later coined the term "subliminal advertising") performed an experiment at a movie theater in New Jersey. The words "Drink Coca-Cola" and "Hungry? Eat popcorn" would be flashed on the screen for 1/3000 of a second at five second intervals. Vicary alleged that sales of Coca-Cola and popcorn increased at that theater by 57.8% and 18.1%, respectively. Although the results have never been replicated, and Vicary himself later admitted to faking his results, conspiracy theories pertaining to subliminal messages persist to this day, and have inspired countless writers and filmmakers.
One form of subliminal message used in music is "backmasking," or recording a sound or message backwards so that it is audible only when played backwards. Many bands, most notably The Beatles and Pink Floyd, used backmasking for effect and as a way of putting easter eggs into their musicnote The former's use of backmasking, incidentally, led to the "Paul is Dead" conspiracy theory., and it is also used by radio stations as a crude way of censoring explicit lyrics. Conspiracy theories surrounding backmasking are often religious in nature, the idea being that rock bands and other popular musicians are using it to, among other things, encourage devil worship, sex, drug use, and suicide. Much of the religious angle was started by rumors that there was a backmasked homage to Satan in Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven". Psychologists have pointed out that listeners can't understand words heard backward, let alone be subliminally influenced by them, and Rob Halford has pointed out how bad a business model it is to brainwash your fans into killing themselves. This theory was at its height in The Eighties, as a part of the general hysteria over Satanic ritual abuse.
Rather more-plausible theories contend that backmasking was a record-company scam, intended to trick fans into ruining their records so they'd have to buy replacements.
A YouTube series called The Industry Exposed (or simply The Industry) alleges that the music industry is controlled by occult/Satanic groups, including the Freemasons, and that they put subliminal messages and esoteric imagery into songs and music videos in order to seduce young people to The Dark Side.
Likewise the short lived TV series Traveler, which focused on two college students being framed as terrorists by a classmate whom they can't even prove exists. The never made seasons would reveal that it was orchestrated by the "Fourth Branch", an Illuminati-eque group of the oldest and most powerful families in America that has secretly running the country since the American Revolution and whose current heir apparent is the US President (a clear Bush analogue) who plans to use the attacks as a means to gain sympathy and eventually amend the Constitution to make himself President For Life.
There's a prevailing theory that Top 10 music video countdown shows with viewer participation, like MTV's TRL and BET's 106 & Park, are rigged by the record companies (or the network themselves) in order to promote their music, or the music the network is more comfortable playing. Rumors surrounding the latter started when a song by Beyonce from the Goldmember soundtrack reached the Top 10 within a day of its debut, then disappeared after the film had run its course — which was no longer than a week.
This has been confirmed to a certain extent by Tom Green, who revealed in his biography how MTV had pressured him to retire his "Bum Song" from TRL before a week of pre-taped episodes, in order to maintain the fiction that it was still a live request show.
Another example: Bone Thugs N Harmony debuted a song on 106 & Park that never broke through despite fans organizing a small army of internet posters to vote. Ironically, that group of fans had no problem getting the vid onto TRL.
This theory may have been inspired by various payola scandals that occurred over the years, in which record companies were caught paying radio stations and DJs extra money to play their songs. It was naturally assumed that the record companies were continuing this practice into the music video era.
It has been claimed that hip-hop and rap are intentionally being watered down by the Powers That Be and the rap labels for varying reasons, most commonly mass appeal and profit. This belief is mostly borne out of the fact that it's much easier to get airplay for ringtone jams and club anthems about champagne-sipping pimps and players, than it is to get it for rap songs that criticize the establishment for whatever reason (see the BET entry in the Network Decay article). Another explanation is that racism is a factor, and that the watering down is taking place in order to dumb down black people, who are stereotypically the largest audience for rap music. The death of Political Rap and Conscious Hip Hop, which BET and many rap stations outright refuse to play, has been blamed on this conspiracy.
There was a "blacklist" of certain rap artists circulating on the web that was allegedly given to radio and video programmers (it originally centered around BET programmers though circa mid 2000's), telling them to keep these artists off the air. Most on the list was comprised of old school rappers, hardcore/gangsta rappers, and alternative rappers. Those on the list were deemed either irrelevant or "too intelligent" for their audience.
Voting on the singing competition American Idol is allegedly being rigged by 19 Entertainment in order to favor contestants that it considers to be more marketable or less controversial. Not helping matters is the fact that the Fox network has consistently refused to detail exactly how the votes are counted. One of the most commonly cited instances by those who believe this to be happening came during the season 8 finale, when AT&T (one of AI's sponsors) provided free cell phones, texting services and, allegedly, lessons in "power-texting" (sending ten or more votes at once) to people at the AI finale parties held in Jacksonville, Arkansas, the hometown of season 8 finalist Kris Allen. This may have been enough to cost Allen's rival, Adam Lambert, the victory. The Real Life rigging of game shows in The Fifties makes this one plausible.
In what seems to be something of a hybrid of the "Writers hate me personally" theory mentioned above and the New Coke theory listed below in 'Other,' there is belief by a Vocal Minority of X-Men fans in a conspiracy among the higher-ups at Marvel Comics to intentionally sink the sales of the X-Men titles, allegedly through a combination of phasing out the more interesting characters, making the characters look bad in high-profile storylines, and deliberately sending their worst writers and artists to the X-Men books in hope fans will lose interest (the infamous Matt Fraction/Greg Land run is often cited as evidence of this, as is taking Fraction's much better-received successor Kieron Gillen off the book after slightly more than a year). Their (alleged) motive? Essentially the fact that they got screwed in the X-Men film deal with Fox (Marvel takes only about 10% of the profits from the films), which they made while they were in bankruptcy and needed any money they could get, and they want to focus on marketing The Avengers characters, whose films are produced in-house. While the theory that Marvel favors the Avengers books for this reason is arguably valid, the evidence cited for a malicious conspiracy against the X-Men seems to boil down to a single anecdote related by Rob Liefeld from the time he left Marvel; he pitched a big X-Men story, and the bosses (allegedly) killed it so as not to give Fox free publicity. What the theorists claim will be the ultimate endpoint of this conspiracy varies, the most common version seemingly being that Marvel will quietly cancel all the X-Men titles and fold the characters into the Avengers. Which, of course, ignores the fact that Fox owns the rights to the characters, not just the team name, and thus they'd arguably come out ahead in this situation since they'd then be the only ones producing X-Men media.
The rape charge brought against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is believed by a number of supporters of the website to be a frame-up or at least a baseless accusation on the part of The Man in an attempt to silence his activism.
The accusations leveled at the Stop Online Piracy Act, a bill debated before the United States Congress in early 2012, probably belong here. While the bill's stated purpose was to stop copyright infringement, the extremely radical provisions it would allow for doing so - essentially, it would have given the FBI a carte blanche to shut down any website even accused of infringement by a copyright-holder, with no compensation made to the site's owner if the accuation was found to be false - led many, many people to believe the bill was essentially a shill for big media companies in order to allow them to effectively censor any site they didn't like. Some even believed it could be used to silence political dissent via targeting social networking sites, which had proved instrumental in the success of the massive protests of the preceding year such as the Arab Spring and 99% Movement. Among conspiracy theories this one is fairly unique in that the "alternative" theories about the bill were if anything the majority opinion, and following a truly massive outcry that included such large and powerful websites as Google and Wikipedia (not to mention This Very Wiki), the bill was consigned to oblivion.
New World Order (NWO)/Secret Societies
The New World Order (NWO) theorynote Not to be confused with the pro wrestling stable. posits the existence of a shadowy group of businessmen, politicians, and other elites who are secretly plotting to Take Over the World in order to advance their own interests at the expense of everyone else. The theory was created by the John Birch Society in The Seventies, and remained largely obscure until Bush Senior used the phrase "new world order" in a poorly-timed New Era Speech following The Great Politics Mess-Up (you can see how the words were used in context here), causing nearly every Conspiracy Theorist on the planet to latch onto it as a catch-all term for Them. Most broad-reaching conspiracy theories will typically link back to or reference the NWO, to the point where it's less a conspiracy theory than it is a framework into which nearly any conspiracy theory or secret cabal can be shoehorned in. Variants include...
The NAU Theory: The first step for this dastardly cabal is the formation of a "North American Union" of Canada, the US, and Mexico, which will abandon their existing currencies in favor of something called the "Amero". Why? Who knows, it's an Evil Plan.
The construction of massive concentration camps for the detention of dissidents. May be inspired by the detention of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
Especially funny are plans to kill American children by using poisonous vaccines for purpose of reducing world population while, at the same time, promoting child births with tax exemptions and bonuses.
Skull and Bones, the secret society at Yale University that has given rise to a large number of political and business leaders. In 2004, Alex Jones got a lot of mileage out of exploiting the fact that both George W. Bush and John Kerry were connected to them.
Bohemian Grove, a men's club in northern California that counts many influential political and business leaders among its ranks. Sometimes alleged to be a front for the NWO. In 2000, Alex Jones garnered lots of attention by sneaking into the Grove and filming their fraternity-esque Cremation of Care ritual, which he alleged to be a pagan sacrifice.
The Bavarian Illuminati was a short-lived secret society that was formed in 1776 and was devoted to freethought and the ideals of the Enlightenment, claiming over 2000 members across Europe. They fell apart in the mid-1780s, after Bavaria, where they were based, outlawed all secret societies. However, this hasn't stopped people from claiming that they somehow managed to not only survive, but complete their alleged goal of world domination. They are often alleged to be the masterminds of the New World Order.
Well, Freethought and Enlightenment ideals are fairly mainstream in the western world now...
The Freemasons. Fears regarding their influence over America (many of America's Founding Fathers, including Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Andrew Jackson, were Masons) were strong enough to lead to the creation of the Anti-Masonic Party in the early 19th century, which managed to get nearly eight percent of the vote at its peak. Today, they are sometimes alleged to be a part of the aforementioned NWO or Illuminati. This group was an important element in Dan Brown's novel The Lost Symbol, where he played with the idea.
ironically, Catholics are forbidden from becoming Masons
, atheism, you name it. The image of the Evil Scheming Freemasons has made a bit of a comeback in recent years, giving the ultra-nationalists not only a convenient explanation as to why Russia's history for most of the 20th century suckedsobadly, but another convenient excuse to keep hating Americans long after the end of the Cold War — "their country was founded by a bunch of Freemasons, that obviously proves that they have meant to screw us over all along!"
In the Catholic countries, the Freemasons are supposed to be the shadowy cabal dedicated to the destruction of the Catholic Church, bringing forth Communism, and/or various nefarious kinds of social engineering.
The Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, and the Bilderberg Group, three policy institutes dedicated to promote greater global cooperation, are all alleged to be fronts for the NWO, and are often mentioned in the same breath. In 2006, Alex Jones led a protest of a Bilderberg meeting in Ottawa.
Some people believe that the adoption of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the US Constitution created a second class of citizenship (literally) because the C in citizen is lower-cased and not upper-cased. And this second class has lesser rights, and the government needs to trick you into accepting it by getting you to sign paperwork. Therefore, these people won't get driver's licenses or anything "government" issued. Never mind that the real reason is that the rules for capitalization in 1787 (i.e. putting Them in the Oddest of Places) were different from the ones in the 1860s (i.e. the ones we have today, more or less).
This has a variation among some racist groups. White supremacists will sometimes use this theory to claim that non-whites hold a second class of "14th Amendment" citizenship, and that "true" citizenship, with all the unique and special rights that it entails, is exclusive to white people. Some black supremacist groups, meanwhile, have used it to claim that, since they don't hold "true" US citizenship, the US government holds no legal jurisdiction over them, and therefore, they constitute a separate nation.
You can expect to hear the term "Military-Industrial Complex" a lot with these sort of theories. The phrase came from President Dwight D Eisenhower's farewell address and was a warning about the increasing closeness between the military, defense contractors, and the Congressional committees that controlled defense spending. Conspiracy theorists took the phrase and ran with it.
The European Union is thought of by some European conspiracy theorists to be up to no good, like a trans-Atlantic version of the North American Union. Exactly what it's doing is up for debate — from a non-lunatic perspective, it doesn't really seem to be doing anything, above board or below.
Once in a while, the EU issues market or anti-discriminatory regulations, which the theorists (mostly the right-wing ones) tend to take as social engineering projects meant to be the preparation for the European branch of NWO. Mix with Freemasons, Illuminati, Satanists, or all at once for flavour.
Also overlapping, part of the Rapture theory is that either in the days before or days following the Rapture, a One World Government will form under the leadership of the Antichrist. The EU, UN, and pretty much every other international government are simply the buildup.
Agenda 21, a non-binding United Nations plan for sustainable development written in 1992, is often claimed (particularly on the right wing of American politics) to be a blueprint for imposing socialism, radical environmentalism and, in some versions, population reduction onto the world.
In Turkey there's the deep state, alleged to be an alliance of anti-democratic groups, particularly in the intelligence agencies and military, working behind the scenes for some nefarious goal. What this nefarious goal is, on the other hand, isn't clear, but the group is considered to be highly Kemalist/Nationalist, and has been alleged to stand behind things like assassinations of Kurdish activists.
This terminology is also used in other Middle Eastern countries, particularly the authoritarian republics of the Arab world, by analogy with the Turkish. It generally refers to an alleged group of high-ranking officials in the military-police-intelligence complex, and are generally identified with authoritarian secular nationalism. The goal is generally less nefarious, however: since these countries are/were run by the military-police-intelligence complex, the "deep state" is simply trying to stay in control of the "surface state". An excellent example here is Egypt: the Egyptian "deep state" is supposedly the senior officers of the military and Interior Ministry (police), who supposedly directed the affairs of the old regime (i.e. they told Mubarak and his ministries what to do). When the Arab Spring hit Egypt, the story goes that they tried to maintain control by surfacing and having the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces take power, and when President Morsy tried to assert their authority, they made a bargain with him—thus the situation where the Brotherhood and military work together to put down persistent liberal and leftist protests.
Ted Turner's name tends to come up in this sort of theory, both because he is very wealthy and powerful and because he is an advocate for radical population control, having expressed more than once that he feels the ideal world population to be less than ten percent of what it is now. Most people feel he is simply referring to extensive birth control use spanning many centuries, but there are holdouts who claim he is in fact advocating, and possibly even actively planning, the greatest and most terrible Final Solution the world has ever seen. One conspiracy blog considers him the most likely suspect for the identity of R.C. Christian.
Ever since Hurricane Katrina there have been claims that the relief agency FEMA's infamous mishandling of the disaster was in fact deliberate, and that the organization's true purpose is to establish concentration camps for the detention and execution of political dissidents and "genetic undesirables" (ie. minorities and the mentally-disabled) once the NWO takes power. Alex Jones got a lot of milage out of a photograph taken on one of their properties depicting a large amount of plastic containers, which he alleged to be coffins.
Executive Directive 51 was a resolution passed in the wake of 9/11 that called for a radical restructuring of the US government should it in its present form be thrown into chaos by a hypothetical even worse attack. There are some arguably-valid concerns that a sufficiently-megalomaniacal President could use ambiguous wording in the document to institute a military dictatorship, as well as more fringe theories that claim the President who signed it, George W. Bush, intended to do so himself (which, since he ended up leaving office after two terms like any normal President, seems rather unlikely now). This document's name comes up in a lot of theories about False Flag Operations; that is, said sufficiently-megalomaniacal President would make such a disaster happen in order to seize power.
Race and Immigration
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) 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).
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 of 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 U.S 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.
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 says 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.
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.
Since the popularity of the Left Behind books, co-authored by Tim La Haye who was 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.
There was a persistent theory that the world will be destroyed on or near December 21, 2012, supposedly based on Mayan calendars. That belief persisted only until 12:01 a.m. GST, Saturday, December 22, 2012. If you ask any scholar specialized in pre-Hispanic Mayas about the "prophecy," he/she will answer 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.
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.
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 doing this was cost. In 1980, a 176 megabyte DEC RP 06 hard drive cost $38,000. If a record had four dates on it, putting the as a two-digit figure saved 8 bytes per record, and if you had several million records, it added up. In 1980, the only real problem would have been for things such as 30-year mortgages, since dates in the next century would not otherwise be stored in data files. But 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 system 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. Most systems not dependent on keeping a calender 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.
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.
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.
Then we found out that the Catholic Church was, in fact, involved in a massive conspiracy to cover up decades of pedophiliac sexual abuse by priests.
The Catholic Church is and always has been concerned with its public image, which is directly connected to its moral and political authority. Hiding some pedophiliac priests is most likely not part of some larger Evil Plan. The last time the Church had an actual Evil Plan, it involved taking over some city states of Italy by force, which isn't really subtle enough to be conspiratorial.
The first Evil Plan of the Catholics was probably helping to bring about the Dark Ages: they were the ones to close Plato's academy, and they bear some responsibility for burning the library at Alexandria.
Though to be fair, these institutions were closed because of their connection to Pagan Cults which were outlawed by the Roman Emperor Theodosius. Many of ancient philosopher's works were preserved by the Church through the Dark Ages, though the only ones who could read them were Churchmen and those nobles who cared.
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-traditionalists 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 XIII), 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.
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 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 hit the Earth in 2003. 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 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 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.
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.
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 *
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.
Then there's the other conspiracy of Senna's death: what caused it? Senna's injuries were caused by the steering column breaking and hitting his helmet 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. 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.
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?.
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.
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 CO 2 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.
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.
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.
Considering American astronauts involved in the Apollo-Soyez 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.
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 "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 Orbiternote FAKED! And clumsily faked!. 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.
Tax Protestor Arguments
Note: This section specifically deals with claims that the American financial and tax systems are illegitimate. It is not related with 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 coined and 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 coin 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. 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 Jelly Beans 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.)
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 "catridges 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 why 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.
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 the 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, 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. War with Japan with that aim is idiotic, and even Hitler knew it. (Also, the object was to provoke Germany to declare war, not Japan.) Of course, these actions were 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.)
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 in the last two 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 MI 6 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 PB 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.
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".
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.
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.
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).
A conspiracy theory that is becoming more common in recent years is that the Democratic party is actively trying to get the majority of the American people dependent on welfare or some other kind of government aid so they can remain in power indefinitely. Their logic goes that if the majority of the American people are so economically disadvantaged that they need aid from the government to stay afloat, then they will always vote for the Democratic candidate out of fear that if the Republican candidate wins they will lose their welfare and thus be plunged into poverty. This theory has gotten much more prominent after Democratic president Barack Obama won reelection in 2012, with many right-wing pundits (especially the pundits on Fox News) attributing Obama's victory to this theory; Defeated Republican challenger Mitt Romney also voiced a variation of this theory as an explanation to why Obama defeated him. Those who support this theory also allege that the reason why the US economy has been in a prolonged recession since 2008 is because the Obama administration is purposely preventing an economic recovery to allow for the aforementioned theory to play out. They also claim that Democratic presidents Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter were also actively trying to get Americans dependent on welfare, the latter's plot being heroically foiled by Ronald Reagan.
A variation of this theory is that the Democrats are mainly just trying to get minorities dependent on government aid to lock in their votes, with idea that eventually their locked-down minorities will outnumber the number of white Republican voters. They also claim that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a part of this plot, as it played a significant part in getting African-Americans locked into the Democrat fold and dependent on welfare. Now that the blacks are solidly Democratic, they are now targeting latinos, and that once the latinos are dependent on welfare and are solidly Democratic, the plot will be complete and the Democrats will be able to hold onto the presidency indefinitely.
The Bielefeld Conspiracy is one of the most famous satirical conspiracy theories (also listed under German Humour), making fun of the ways a Conspiracy Theorist's mind works. In short, it postulates that the German city of Bielefeld doesn't exist, and that They are hiding the fact. As proof of the idea, it employs a whole plethora of logical fallacies by asking three questions: Do you know anybody from Bielefeld? Have you ever been to Bielefeld? Do you know anybody who has ever been to Bielefeld? If you answer "no" to all three, it is concluded that Bielefeld doesn't exist. If you said "yes" to any of them, it's concluded that you work for Them. As for why They are doing this, various explanations have been proposed.
Alternately, it was to disguise the flavor difference in the switch from Sugar to High Fructose Corn Syrup as a sweetener.
This indicates an even more insidious conspiracy, as Coca-Cola had made the switch to HFCS several years before the arrival of New Coke.
To be fair, Sergio Zyman actually said that the New Coke debacle was not as much a debacle BECAUSE it ultimately reaffirmed the relationship with the brand and helped them outmaneuver Pepsi who had gotten ahead in the taste wars but were always behind in the nostalgia wars.
A lot of people believe that there was a conspiracy behind Gary Webb being discredited (See Iran-Contra below). In relation, there's quite a few who believe that the crack epidemic in the inner cities are related to the Contras. And not just nut jobs either, but credible people like law enforcement officials and some politicians. Sometimes the CIA itself is alleged to have done so, although the theory by these more credible sources is usually that they just looked away as Nicaraguans connected with them dealt cocaine to fund the movement, and in some cases shielded them from police.
Some people believe that anti-virus software companies create and disseminate computer viruses for the explicit purpose of generating revenue for their products. It doesn't help that one of the most common pieces of criminal scumware is the fake virus checker, which essentially acts as a cyber protection racket — a download that dumps several viruses on you, then pops up a window telling you how many viruses you are infected with and then claiming that only our AV can cleanse your computer (for $50).
Or that a scan will generate a false virus report.
This conspiracy has been used by internet trolls to trick less computer-savvy users to delete System 32 on their Windows computers. Doing so will actually cause Windows to delete itself.
The Franklin child prostitution ring allegations; a series of high-profile accusations and legal actions surrounding an alleged child sex ring serving prominent citizens of Omaha, Nebraska, as well as high-level U.S. politicians. The scandal centered around the actions of Lawrence E. King, a prominent member of the Republican Party and former official at the Franklin Community Federal Credit Union in Omaha. King was eventually arrested and convicted of embezzlement charges. Nebraska state legislature convened a special committee to look into the allegations. After hearing many hours of testimony, the county grand jury threw out all of the allegations concerning sexual child abuse, labeling the charges a "carefully crafted hoax [...] scripted by a person or persons with considerable knowledge of the people and institutions of Omaha," but without identifying who perpetrated the hoax. Members of the special Nebraska legislative committee assigned to investigate the allegations would eventually criticize the grand jury findings. To wit:
To assume that the 'hoax' was crafted assumed the existence of a craftsman. Who was it? To state that it was 'carefully crafted' assumes someone with intelligence and enough knowledge of accurate facts to make the 'hoax' credible.... We can find no clear evidence which conclusively establishes what was the truth and what was a "hoax".
In Utah, there is a minority but bitterlyvocal theory that democracy — alldemocracy — is the work of Dirty Commies trying to establish Marxist regimes. The solution? Oppose democracy and promote a republic. This is believed to be rooted in Utah being so staunchly hard-conservative in culture and politics, and any word starting with "democra"- is anathema, and words beginning with "republic-" are preferred. The irony is that the majority Mormon culture had traditionally practiced a form of Christian socialism called the United Order, which is still manifested in institutions like LDS Family Services (formerly called LDS Social Services), the Bishop's storehouse, etc. There was a tectonic cultural shift during the Cold War / Red Scare when Mormons were suspected of being socialist sympathizers, so Mormon culture came to retroactively deny all socialism or the association of the United Order as socialist in nature. (In fairness, the United Order had no direct relation to Marxism under the common umbrella of socialism, and the United Order actually predated Marxism.) With the continual rightward shift since Utah became a predominantly Republican state in the Civil Rights Movement (and now one of the most solidly red states in the United States), democracy itself has also increasingly been seen as a conspiracy by Dirty Commies to spread Marxism. While still a minority view, it has become notable enough to make repeatnewsreports in local publications like the Salt Lake Tribune, and even a national mention or two in publications like The Week (in their "Only in America" section).
"Did Glenn Beck rape and murder a young girl in 1990?"note Now, we're not saying it's true that Glenn Beck raped and murdered a young girl in 1990, we're just asking questions. There is no evidence to prove it. But why haven’t we had an official response to the widespread rumor that Glenn Beck raped and murdered a young girl in 1990? Does he have something to hide? Similarly to the Bielefeld conspiracy above, this is a parody of conspiracy theories, specifically spoofing the style of talk radio host (and former Fox News pundit) Glenn Beck, who is known for making outrageous, highly speculative allegations and asking his guests to disprove them.
There's been a fairly new conspiracy theory involving celebrities and Scientology. This theory is that a lot of the alleged celebrity scientologist 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).
In all fairness, NATO's principles don't really extend beyond geopolitical expediency, and fomenting inter-communal strife is a tried and tested tactic of most imperialist interventions throughout history.
A few people have gone so far as to say that the revolution itself doesn't exist.
Due to some bizarre leap of logic, police officials on the West Coast of the United States and even the Attorney General of New Mexico came to the conclusion that Pedobear was some kind of a rallying mascot for pedophiles. Officers were told to look out for Pedobear symbols or paraphernalia as the mark of pedophile activity and distributed flyers warning parents of the "menace". The internethad afield day.
A favorite theory of Andrew Sullivan: Bristol Palin (the daughter of Sarah Palin) is actually the mother of Sarah Palin's son Trig.
Pretty much every election in history has had claims of rigging thrown at it, more so if it was a very close one. We're not going to list them all, because then we'd be here until the Whigs controlled Congress again.
Because for every ten nutball conspiracy theories, there are a couple that actually have something behind them. Most of these are not Conspiracy Theories, or fringe theories about a secret cabal running the world. They are actually just theories behind conspiracies, or criminal acts that were planned by more than one person. The following are conspiracy theories that are at least taken seriously by professional historians.
The assassination of Julius Caesar is universally agreed to have been the result of a conspiracy among a number of Roman senators.
Likewise, there have been many, many conspiracies since the Middle Ages between the nobles aiming to overthrow kings and install their own candidates (e.g. the conspiracy that assassinated Peter III of Russia and put his wife, who later became known as Catherine the Great, onto the throne). Interestingly, such conspiracies rarely attract attention outside Historical Fiction or court intrigue stories, despite them being by far the most historically plausible ones. (Or maybe it's because they are so plausible and, therefore, boring.)
Many people know that John Wilkes Booth was the man who assassinated Abraham Lincoln. What few realize is that the assassination was intended to be one of a number targeting the upper echelons of the U.S Government, specifically those in line for succession to the president, by a number of Confederate sympathizers allied with Booth. Secretary of State William H. Seward was injured, but not fatally in a stabbing by Lewis Powell. George Atzerodt, who was to assassinate the Vice President, chickened out and got the hell out of Washington. The assassination was in fact preceded by a plot to kidnap Lincoln during the war by Booth, but by the time they got around to organizing it, the Confederacy failed and Booth, angered by the prospect of "nigger citizenship" decided instead to kill him.
The Business Plot in 1933 was a plan by several business leaders (including Bush Snr. Snr.) to overthrow President Franklin D. Roosevelt and install a fascist government, conceived out of the fear that he would turn America into a socialist nation. The whole thing fell apart when they asked General Smedley Butler to act as the leader of the coup. Butler, who, although a registered Republican, was very disillusioned regarding US interventionism to support business interests, responded by revealing the whole plot to the government. It's pretty likely that the conspiracy was nowhere near as wide-spread as Butler assumed, and indeed may have only included a very few rabidly anti-Roosevelt individuals (Butler himself only met two, a contact man, and an eccentric heir to the Singer sewing machine company who he only met before the plot was finalized) who probably didn't have a real chance of success in their coup. The thing that stokes the conspiracy flames, though, is how limited the investigation was (even when it was clear that someone was planning what could only be described as a domestic terrorist plot; the "contact man," Gerald MacGuire had passed away at this point, and since he was the only one who had discussed the plot with Butler, most of the testimony was dismissed as hearsay), meaning that there are elements of the Plot that we will never know. Much modern speculation falls on MacGuire, who may have been acting in the business leader's perceived interests without going to the trouble of actually telling them anything (with the idea they'd come around to it later), or may have been stringing Singer heir (and former Marine under Butler) Robert Clark along in order to line his own pockets.
Project MKULTRA was a covert CIA program in the '50s and '60s designed to research Mind Control through the use of drugs (especially LSD), using unknowing Americans as test subjects. All indications are that the research was stopped, not because of any moral compunction, but because dosing people with LSD without telling them just made them crazy, sometimes suicidally so. Given its heinous nature and the amount of documents related to it that have been destroyed, the program has been the basis of numerous sub-theories, including one that suggests the Unabomber turned out the way he was because of his involvement in the experiments. Some (admittedly credible, if circumstantial) evidence does indeed suggest Ted Kaczynski participated in some kind of MKULTRA experiment during his time at Harvard, but again, we'll never know the full truth.
The Great American Streetcar Scandal (also known as the General Motors Streetcar Conspiracy) was a plan running from 1936 to 1950 in which National City Lines and other bus companies, all of them run by oil companies and automakers, bought up the many streetcar lines in America's cities and replaced them with bus lines. It's debated how much influence the conspiracy had in the decline of streetcars, as personal automobiles were also becoming popular around this time, cutting deeply into the profits of the streetcar lines.
The rate of streetcar removal in cities where GM never looked at was essentially the same as cities where GM had a presence. GM didn't make the streetcars sell out; they just snapped them up as they did, albeit in an underhanded manner. At the time, it was conceded that streetcars were old-fashioned, dirty, rickety things that couldn't raise money for repairs or upgrades, while buses were new, shiny, comfortable, modern, quiet things that didn't have to raise money for their tracks, being as how they ran on existing taxpayer-subsidized roads. Their disadvantages would not be understood until much later, and in fact still are not understood by most people, even including many streetcar and rail advocates.
The scandal was made light of in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? when Judge Doom buys the "Red Cars" in Los Angeles solely for the purpose of destroying them and promoting car travel.
The COINTELPRO (Counter Intelligence Program) was a series of covert, often illegal operations in which suspected "radical" organizations in the US were infiltrated, monitored, and subverted by the FBI. (Basically, this means that the FBI snuck into these groups, watched their activities, and then undermined them.) It officially ran from 1956 to 1971, targeting all elements of the "New Left", including feminist groups, the American Indian Movement, the Weather Underground, and black civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and the NAACP (though arguably the black panther party was hit the hardest). FBI records are at pains to point out that they also devoted 15% of their resources to monitoring "white hate groups" such as the KKK.
The Reichstag Fire on February 27, 1933 was claimed by the Nazi party to be a Communist attack on Germany. Some modern historians, however, feel that the fire was a False Flag Operation, carried out by the Nazis themselves to provide a rationale for the ensuing restriction of civil liberties. This explanation is disputed among professional historians. The Nazis arrested mentally ill Dutch commie Van Der Lube for the crime; many historians believe he was indeed the perpetrator, but of course, the Nazis used him as an excuse to outlaw the entire Communist party and other far-left groups regardless of whether or not they had a role in the arson.
For most of its history, the De Beers diamond company acted as a cartel. They artificially inflated the price of diamonds by a) forcing mines to sell their diamonds to them and b) sitting on vast reserves of the precious gem, threatening to release them and crash the market if anybody were to threaten their control. They also ran a brilliant advertising campaign to keep market demand for diamonds high. The De Beers diamond monopoly fell apart in The Nineties and at the Turn of the Millennium, when the company realized that its business model was unsustainable, the price of diamonds began to fall, the technology for making synthetic diamonds improved, and mines outside of De Beers' African base (such as those in Russia, Canada and Australia) started doing their business elsewhere.
The advertising campaign was for decades largely centered on the classic slogan, "A Diamond Is Forever" — which was coined in 1947 with the specific intent of undermining the very concept of a diamond aftermarket. (You wouldn't want to give your fiancée someone else's used "forever", would you?)
The Tuskegee syphilis experiment was a study run from 1932 to 1972 in which the US government recruited 399 poor black sharecroppers infected with syphilis to study how the disease progresses in black people. The study would eventually become notorious for its gross violation of scientific ethics, not the least of which was that the test subjects were left untreated even after it had been proven that penicillin cures syphilis (the subjects weren't even told about penicillin). The victims of the study included not only the test subjects, but also their wives who contracted the disease and their children who were born with it. The disaster caused by the study led to a massive overhaul in ethical standards regarding human testing. To this day, the Tuskegee Study is a major reason why so many black people do not trust doctors, and are inclined to believe that there is something similarly fishy going on with HIV research.
And the greatest irony? The Tuskegee Study was originally intended to justify the treatment of syphilis in black people by proving that it doesn't affect them any differently than it does white people — which is exactly what it proved! Unfortunately, this aim soon devolved into "For Science!" with a touch of racism thrown in.
The quiz show scandals of The Fifties, in which it was revealed that many of the hit game shows on American television (most notably Twenty One) were being rigged by the networks in order to increase tension for viewing audiences. Game shows wound up being Deader than Disco for nearly twenty years as a result of these scandals. It's also the reason some American Idol viewers think there's something fishy going on with the voting.
One wonders why religious fanatics go through so much trouble to make up conspiracy theories about the Catholic Church being Satanic/funding The Mafia/running the world, when a much more real conspiracy has made itself known over the past several years. To make a long story short (and it is a long story): over the past several decades, the Catholic Church has had a problem with priests molesting children, and has feverishly worked to hush up the allegations and prevent their image from being tarnished. Oftentimes, pedophile priests would simply be moved to another diocese, where they would molest again, rather than defrocked or otherwise reprimanded. There was even a special kind of priest called a "cleaner" sent in to deal with the fallout whenever a priest was caught and transferred. While it's argued how far the conspiracy goes (local bishops certainly were involved in multiple locations, and questionable actions at higher levels), the scandal that ensued has already tarnished the Church's image in America and Europe, and has led to calls for major reforms, not least making it automatic to turn all abuse cases over to secular authorities. There are also calls (with little to no chance of success) for radical changes such as the end of celibacy and the ordination of women. Of course, given the nature of pedophilia, those measures probably wouldn't actually do that much. Pedophiles become priests (or whatever job gets them close to children) far more often than priests become pedophiles. More relevant is the inordinate amount of authority that priests are accorded, and assumption of their moral superiority, which allows them to get away with abuse unquestioned and have people even make excuses for them.
Terrorist plots are almost always conspiracies, particularly large-scale ones like the 2005 bombings of the London transit system or the 1998 suicide bombings of American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya.
April Fools: a worldwide united effort to spread disinformation and propaganda for a single day, thus bringing mass confusion and embarrassment upon the populace.
If it weren't for the fact that April Fools is not celebrated in all the world. Spanish speaking countries celebrate their pranking holiday December the 28th, as an example.
The IB affair. IB was a millitary intelligence agency in Sweden whose mission involved gathering information on communists and other persons who where considered threats to national security. It was similar to the COINTELPRO mentioned above, only there were no rules on what it was allowed to do or not do. It is not entirely clear what "IB" even stands for, either ''Informationsbyrĺn" (The Informations Bureau) or "Insamling Birger" ([Information] Gathering Birger) after the director, Birger Elmér. The organization was exposed by journalists Jan Guillou and Peter Bratt in 1973, leading to the two being imprisoned for espionage and causing a political scandal.
Interestingly, the Watergate scandal actually serves to discredit most government-orchestrated conspiracy theories (that is, theories about conspiracies orchestrated by the government, not conspiracy theories created by the government). If the federal government was unable to keep a simple scheme to wiretap an office secret, how could they possibly orchestrate something as huge as the 9/11 attacks without anyone finding out and blowing the whistle? Conspiracy Theorists get around this by claiming that Nixon had betrayed Them, and was thus set up in Watergate to get rid of him.
There is actually something else that needs to be understood about Watergate. The popular perception of Watergate is that a pair of young plucky journalists found out about a corrupt government conspiracy, investigated it and brought the President down. While Woodward in particular was already investigating the break in, this wouldn't have gotten him nearly so far without the intervention of the mysterious "Deep Throat", who fed Woodward and Bernstein information that allowed them to pursue it much further than they would otherwise have been able to. In 2005, "Deep Throat" was revealed to be Mark Felt, the man in charge of the government's internal investigation into the break in. Mark Felt had it in against Nixon, who promoted someone else as the head of the FBI instead of himself. Felt had the investigative resources to catch Nixon in the act, and leaked his findings to the media. What is commonly understood to be a cool morality play of young journalists speaking truth to power has an element of truth to it, but it's often overlooked that they were enabled and assisted by a rogue employee striking against his boss. Or said government conspiracy being blown open by a man who realized things had gone too far, if you support a more altruistic view of Felt. In fact Felt was under investigation himself for illegal FBI actions of the time, such as searching residences without warrants and dangling people out of windows by their ankles to get information on the Weather Underground, which he was convicted of, but pardoned by Ronald Reagan as his appeal was pending. Either way, this actually serves to undercut the idea of the 'omnipotent all-controlling government' even further; an entire shadowy conspiracy was undercut and brought down by something as simple as a disgruntled employee.
Another thing not widely understood about Watergate was just what it was all about. Most people seem to remember that operatives of the Committee To Re-Elect the President broke into a Democratic Party office to spy on the enemy. True enough, but this was merely the tail end of a CREEP conspiracy that started not long after Nixon took office, the goal of which was to undermine the nomination campaign of every Democratic presidential contender but George McGovern, who was judged the easiest to beat in 1972. They even had a back up plan, in case McGovern did too well: they'd managed to find and hide the psychiatric treatment records of McGovern's VP nominee, Eagleton, which they then leaked in order to damage the McGovern campaign. The damage was enough to just about sink it. The story is told in depth in Nixonland, by Mark Perlstein.
One more thing that is often forgotten is the fact that Watergate wasn't an isolated incident. "The Plumbers", which was effectively a secret police Nixon compiled out of ex-CIA and FBI members, were active throughout Nixon's first term. Nixon, a very paranoid man who falsely believed in many non-existant conspiracies against him, assembled "The Plumbers" to undermine and/or discredit those who Nixon believed were behind conspiracies against him, who ranged from major political figures, members of his staff to celebrities on his infamous "enemies list". The mere existence of "The Plumbers" was extremely unconstitutional and grounds for impeachment, and everything they did throughout Nixon's first term were abuses of power on his part. The Watergate break in was simply when Nixon got caught. Even then, there wasn't enough evidence to implement Nixon; he only got tied into it when he tried to thwart the FBI's investigation into the break in and cover it up, and he did that because he (correctly) predicted that the investigation of the break in would reveal all the other abuses of power he was engaging in. And that is why Watergate became as huge as it did - it snowballed into the revelation that President Nixon had his own secret police running around ending the careers of everyone he distrusted and that he had basically rigged the 1972 election in his favor. And that is also why the American people were hungry for Nixon's head on a platter after the scandal broke, and became so outraged at Gerald Ford's pardon of him.
Project 112: Ironically, perhaps one conspiracy (sorta) that matches closest to traditional theories is little known Project 112 (and sub Project SHAD) which were conducted in the late 1960s/early 1970s by the US government. Their intent was to study the effects of biological and chemical weapons on military personnel and the vulnerability of service ships and harbor cities to the same. To the point of actually exposing unwitting and unknowing military personnel to said biological and chemical weapons.
There were also earlier instances of US personnel exposed to nuclear fallout (some infamous photos depict them actually walking under mushroom clouds) with it being deemed "harmless." In experiments designed to create "super soldiers" some were also given PCP without their knowledge, similar to the CIA doping people with LSD.
The Lockheed bribery scandals came about when U.S Senator Frank Church began a subcommittee investigation into the possible misappropriation of bailout money. What they uncovered was a bribery scandal implicating key political leaders of The Netherlands, Japan, West Germany, Italy and Saudi Arabia. It included such varied characters as Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, Japanese Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka and right-wing underworld figure Yoshio Kodama, Prince-consort Bernhard of the Netherlands, then-Italian President Giovanni Leone and West German Minister of Defense Franz Josef Strauss. The goal of the bribing was to persuade these nations to purchase Lockheed aircraft, especially the F-104 Starfighter, which had gained a reputation as unsafe. The aftermath resulted in many of the political figures resigning from their posts, Tanaka ended up jailed and Lockheed nearly went out of business. The weirdest part of this whole scandal was when Mitsuyasu Maeno, a roman porno actor rammed his plane into Kodama's home in an attempted Suicide Attack. Maeno died, but the attack failed.
Carnivore was a system implemented by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that was designed to monitor email and electronic communications. It used a customizable packet sniffer that can monitor all of a target user's Internet traffic. Carnivore was implemented in October 1997. After prolonged negative coverage in the press, the FBI changed the name of its system from "Carnivore" to the more benign-sounding "DCS1000." DCS is reported to stand for "Digital Collection System"; the system has the same functions as before. The Associated Press reported in mid-January 2005 that the FBI essentially abandoned the use of Carnivore in 2001, in favor of commercially available software, such as NarusInsight (a mass surveillance system). Yes, it's real.
Operation Northwoods was a plan created by the Joint Chiefs of Staff which called for the CIA to create a series of false-flag operations with the intent on generating public support for going to war against Cuba. They ranged from mock Cuban military attacks on Guantanamo Bay to staged terrorist attacks in Miami. It was ultimately rejected by Kennedy. Probably (hopefully) because it was bugfuck crazy. CTs like to use this as an example of a False Flag, conveniently ignoring the part about how it was not implemented.
Operation Gladio was the Italian section of NATO's back-up plan in case of a Communist coup or losing WWIII.
The July 20 Plot was a conspiracy by German officers to remove Adolf Hitler from power and attempt to negotiate peace with the Allies. Of all the attempts on Hitler's life, this came the closest to killing him (only a very thick table leg saved his life).
Similar to De Beers, there is the case of United Fruit, a Cold War-era American corporation in the business of, well, fruit that may very well have been the closest thing to a Mega CorpReal Life has seen yet. Far more powerful than most entire countries, it actually made a business out of inciting revolutions in developing nations to install leaders who were both friendly to fruit production and unfriendly to Dirty Commies. Without giving half a damn how these leaders treated their people, of course. This is where the term Banana Republic comes from, and may be a factor in why many people in such countries believe something fishy is up with US interests in their nation. Most infamously, they got the US to overthrow President Arbenz of Guatemala when he attempted to redistribute land they owned to the peasants (saying he was in bed with the Dirty Communists, naturally), setting up a military dictatorship that committed numerous brutal atrocities and caused more than thirty years of civil war.
The cover-up surrounding the Hillsborough disaster, the largest stadium-related disaster in British history in which a series of safety failures led to 96 Liverpool fans being crushed to death. An independent panel in 2012 concluded that there had been a "strenuous attempt" to deflect blame for the disaster away from the emergency services and onto Liverpool supporters, including editing 164 eyewitness statements to remove references to the police's failures and the fabrication of stories about fans rushing the gates and attacking police.
The LIBOR scandal was an international finance conspiracy that lasted for years among the banking community. The London InterBank Offered Rate is calculated by asking the major banks of London what rates they would expect to pay were they to borrow money from other banksnote The overall state of the financial system is calculated from these numbers, as banks who were feeling nervous would submit high numbers and those feeling confident would submit low ones. The highest and lowest scores would be deleted and the average of the remainder becomes the LIBOR rate, which features heavily in adjustable rate contracts (check your mortgage or student loans). Several banks, most notably Barclays, had trading divisions which made very large and career-defining moves on the outcome of the LIBOR rate, and so would apply behind the scenes pressure on the other parts of their institution or on personal friends at other banks to manipulate the rate. Over 300 trillion dollars in investments were influenced by this scheming, and many cities around the world lost substantial sums of money when their purchased investments did not properly cover their bond sales.
The suspicious death of ex- X Japan bassist Taiji Sawada in Saipan is, in light of further information, deserving of inclusion in this section. Information revealed by at least one investigating journalist and sources who knew him before his death (and his fiancee and mother who saw his body before it was cremated) have established that the people around him near the end of his life, including his manager and his religious adviser, both of whom were friends with each other, were stealing money from him and yet demanding him to stay with them. The manager, Kitami Terumi, had contacts in high places in Saipan. While it is not in doubt that Taiji got into a fight with her on the airplane, there is no video or audio evidence of the fight (on a flight headed to a tourist destination, at that) or other witness testimony of how he acted on the plane, and the only documentation of the incident is the FBI arrest report. Post arrest, his treatment seemed even more unreasonable and suspicious: he was detained (rather than released on own recognizance, medically evacuated to a far more competent neurological/psychiatric treatment hospital than Saipan's Community Health Center, or bailed out, despite having someone willing to pay his bail and let him live with him), and within two days (during which, someone had made a call to his fiancee from his phone extorting money) he allegedly committed suicide by hanging with a bedsheet. Except, according to his mother and fiancee, who saw his body, there was no damage to his neck despite his suffering a condition that would have made his bones very easily breakable. Instead, he was braindead, with a red slash mark to the chest. The religious adviser, Shinsho, who had been working to steal money from him with Ms. Terumi, did an end-run around the family to demand the cremation of the body in six days, despite no autopsy having been done to confirm actual cause of death. While the "why" and even the "who" of his death are still unknown, and the official story is still "hanging by bedsheet," so much of the story even before his actual death and whatever may have caused it is so absolutely unusual and suspicious that something definitely improper happened at some point.
ODESSA was a group of S.S officers who created a network of contacts for former members of the organization to utilize towards the end of the war in order to avoid trail for war crimes and to re-organize them to create a Fourth Reich. This organization may have helped as many as 10,000 members of the former Nazi government escape prosecution, most notable among them Josef Mengele, by sending them to safe havens in South America and the Middle East.