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  • A common one in recent years is that the Democrats are deliberately sabotaging the economy in order to make a majority of voters dependent on government assistance. The logic goes that the people would then vote only for candidates that would maintain or expand government programs while presumably locking Republicans out of office and creating a permanent Democratic majority.
    • People often also claim that Democrats are specifically trying to get African-Americans dependent on them and are brainwashing them to vote Democratic in every election.
  • New Coke: a near-catastrophic marketing disaster by the Coca-Cola Company, or a plan designed to increase the sales of Coke by replacing it with a new blend, then bringing back the original formula? The consumer either likes the new stuff or rejoices when the old stuff comes back; they win either way. Sergio Zyman said that the New Coke debacle 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 subplot of this is the whole thing was to cover the change from sugar to high fructose corn syrup as the primary sweetener within Coke.
    • There's also the conspiracy theory about the recipe for Coca-Cola itself, and it happens to be true, sort of. The theory goes that the recipe is divided into two documents, neither one containing the whole recipe (meaning you have to have both documents in order to recreate it). These documents are themselves kept in two secret locations, with draconian entry methods and guards, and each location/document can only be accessed by one (different) person in the company. This is all done to hide the horrible secret ingredient of Coca-Cola, which is so terrible we can't even talk about it here. This is entirely accurate. Except for the horrible secret ingredient — the real reason is much less glamorous, namely making things that much harder on any other companies trying to steal or reproduce the formula for themselves. This is even entirely normal practice for any company that sells a product with ingredients, such as KFC's famous secret eleven herbs and spices.
  • There's also the old one that Kentucky Fried Chicken started to secretly use vat grown meat and changed its name to KFC in-order to stop people suing or the goverment from cracking down by removing the word chicken. It was actually because fried foods had been increasingly considered unhealthy and the company wanted to distance itself from the stigma around the word "fried"; indeed, the menus use the word "chicken" multiple times. Somewhat Hilarious in Hindsight when you recall the major fuss that was made about the first steps towards Artificial Meat in 2012-2013. Even more so now that they're trying to use a wave of old-time nostalgia for the same purpose; besides using an actor to portray founder and mascot Colonel Sanders note , they're now labeling their buckets as - you guessed it - "Kentucky Fried Chicken" again.
  • 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 nutjobs 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.
  • Much with regular human viruses in the "Health" section above, some people believe that computer viruses are created and disseminated by antivirus software companies 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. System 32 is a vital file directory, deleting it will basically cause Windows to delete itself.
  • In Utah, there is a minority but bitterly vocal theory that democracy — all democracy — is the work of Dirty Commies trying to establish Marxist regimes. The solution? Oppose democracy and promote a republicnote . 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 repeat news reports 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).
  • 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.
    • One interesting variation: after the 2004 US Presidential election, there was a rumor that Karl Rove, one of George W. Bush's senior advisors, owned stock in the company that made the polling machines for the election, implying he'd somehow used his influence with them to get his boss re-elected.
  • The principle of population control has numerous conspiracy theories attached to it; most people feel that it simply revolves around increased use of contraception and sexual education, and that it has numerous environmental and economic benefits. Some theorists, however, argue that these "benefits" are being pushed by The Man to make the idea seem acceptable to the public, whereupon forced sterilizations, eugenics programs, and finally genocide will commence. The Rothschild family, the Rockefeller family, Ted Turner, and various other wealthy people are variously claimed to be the masterminds behind these programs, and they are often included in New World Order theories, usually with the end goal of reducing population to the five-hundred-million or so richest and most powerful people on the planet.
  • Some believe that the exposure of Valerie Plame as a CIA operative in the Plame affair was ordered by higher-ups in the Bush administration up to and including Bush himself in retribution for her husband disagreeing with the claims that Saddam Hussein was trying to get "yellowcake" uranium.
    • Well, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with the special prosecutor's investigation of the Plame outing, so there's some smoke there. It doesn't help that Bush commuted Libby's prison sentence before he ever served a day in jail.
    • It's generally agreed among pundits and political observers that someone in the Administration did something, but the details are likely known only to a select few, who aren't talking and probably never will.
    • A very common theory was that the Plame Outing was all orchestrated and executed by former White House adviser Karl Rove.
  • The vague and mysterious nature of the events surrounding the hijacking, disappearance and reappearance of the MV Arctic Sea have lead to numerous conspiracy theories surrounding the crew, what they were doing and the ship's cargo. The most popular being that they or their hijackers were smuggling weapons, possibly Russian cruise missiles.
  • Existing in the gray area between Real Conspiracies and the more batty ones, is the idea that the Egyptian revolution was only allowed to succeed by the military so that all of the dissidents would come out publicly, making it that much easier for the military to take and hold power shortly down the line. All with the benefit of removing Mubarak from power and eliminating any danger of his idiot son succeeding him.
  • The "Smiley Face Murders." Two police officers in New York City tracked the deaths of 45 college-age men in the Midwestern United States from the late 90's to the late 2000's; all were found in bodies of water after leaving a party or bar, and smiley face graffiti was found nearby. The officers suggested that a killer or a network of killers is targeting young men and dumping their bodies in the closest river, then tagging a smiley face on a building near the crime scene. If your first thought upon reading this is that the men most likely fell in the water and drowned because they were drunk, that's exactly what the local police, FBI, and even the deceased's families have said. As for the smiley faces, it's a generic graffiti symbol and "nearby" was applied very broadly. Not to mention, the Midwest is a large area containing over 60 million people. 45 drowning deaths in ten years may be individually tragic, but they don't indicate any kind of pattern. Unfortunately, some parents of the deceased have clung to the theory, thinking their son's death had to be a murder and not a random preventable accident, even when the body is recovered and all signs point to zero foul play.
  • Monarch Programming/ Project MONARCH is, supposedly, a continuation of the actual MK-ULTRA program (see Real Conspiracies below) and Satanic ritual abuse (see Religion and Apocalyphia) . According to theorists, the program did not really end but went underground and was perfected. The programming supposedly works by subjecting victims to mental, physical and sexual abuse and then encouraging them to disassociate from the abuse. Done successfully, this creates an alternate personality which can then be programmed into whatever the programmers want. The process is supposedly used to create everything from sex slaves, to Manchurian Agents to famous musicians and actors. Famous people who use stage names or personas are often cited as examples; Marilyn Monroe (real name: Norma Jean Baker)is supposedly an early example.
    • Proponents of the theory also claim that celebrity mental breakdowns are actually their programming breaking down and that rehab is a code for the being sent away to reprogrammed
    • Supposedly, a way to tell if someone is a MONARCH slave is by their usage of butterfly motifs, which symbolizes the process they go through (going from being a "caterpillar" (ordinary person) to a "butterfly" (mind-controlled slave) by "cocooning" (programming)). Any use of a butterfly motif is supposedly a sign of the programming. How one would be able to distinguish the slaves from the just ordinary people who like butterflies is not explained.

  • TV Tropes was created by the government for the purpose of keeping people in a mindless stupor so they could take more power and control for whatever reason without us noticing.
  • 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.
  • The Finland conspiracy theory is a joke that seems to have got out of hand, although it seems that more people think it needs serious debunking than actually believe it: it was originally a guy telling a story about his parents making a joke on his childhood credulity. The story is that Russia and Japan colluded to create a fictitious country in what is actually a region of open sea. Japan got exclusive fishing rights, and the Trans-Siberian railway was built to send the fish back to Japan in disguised "Nokia" containers, apart from the fish that Russia gets to keep as its side of the deal. The Finns actually live in an eastern region of Sweden which also contains Helsinki, and the lights visible from Estonia are from Japanese fishing trawlers. It is of course called "Finland" because fish have fins (no, really). Quite why the rest of the world goes along with this is anybody's guess.
  • "Did Glenn Beck rape and murder a young girl in 1990?"note  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 Is No Cabal.explanation 
  • The Lumber Cartel is a fictitious group that sponsors anti-spam. The reasoning is that internet spam doesn't use any paper and thereby wood so any one who is against spam must be an agent of the lumber companies.
  • Illuminatus!, by Robert A. Wilson and Robert Shea. Every conspiracy theory is simultaneously true, false, meaningless, true and false, true and meaningless, false and meaningless, and true and false and meaningless, except the ones that aren't. The overall effect rather beggars the concept of parody; it must be read, repeatedly, to be understood, to the extent that that's possible. The authors' (copious) further writings may assist in this process, or that may just be what you're supposed to think.
    • Do you believe that?
  • Derived from a read of Illuminatus!, Steve Jackson Games created the card game Illuminati as a parody of wild conspiracy theories in general.
  • Foucault's Pendulum by Eco.
  • Fama o Biciklistima ("The Cyclist Conspiracy") by Svetislav Basara. Written in 1988. When Yugoslavia went down the drain in 1991, real life easily surpassed even his wackiest forecasts.
  • Given the parallels between the Death Star's destruction in A New Hope and 9/11, someone inevitably made a video alleging that the Death Star's destruction was an inside job (parodying the 9/11 truthers' arguments). As of Rogue One, this one turned out to be true: one of the Death Star's architects secretly added a weakness that the rebels could use to destroy it.
  • One Hell Blazer story has John tell a reporter the truth about the British royal family. Turns out they're snake monsters, born from The Reptilians mating with German royalty a few centuries ago, Princess Diana was murdered so they could extract the alien fetus from her body, The Grays are their servants, JFK was killed by a literal Magic Bullet fired by a Gray (while his Reptilian boss looked on), and there's a network of tunnels under Buckingham Palace leading to (among others) Area 51. And then John gets shot while in the bathroom, leading the reporter to run for his life. It's all John trolling the poor schmuck, of course.
  • During the 2016 election, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee started a (fake) conspiracy that Donald Trump was illiterate, using much of the same logic that extreme right-wingers use against Hillary Clinton.
  • First, take a bunch of events that seems like they have no connections with each other. Second, connect them until the letters H and L or the number 3 are brought up. Half-Life 3 confirmed.
  • Canadian satirist Deven Green makes frequent jabs at hardline Holier Than Thou Christian types as Betty Bowers, America's Best Christian. Highlights include uncovering the Gay Agenda, which apparently entails - among other things, destroying all healthy Christian marriages, securing complete control of the media, starting with sitcoms and turning people away from Jesus, causing them to burn forever in Hell.
  • A great tactic to use in debates against conspiracy theorists is to use their own logic against them. Did they dismiss you as a shill? Ass Pull a meta-conspiracy and dismiss them as a shill. Did they rearrange some group's name into an anagram that they claim has occult meaning? Do the same with their name. Did they deny that claims need to be backed up with evidence? Ass Pull some absurd claim about them and throw their "I don't need evidence" argument back in their faces.

    Real Conspiracies 
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 most infamous and horrific example would likely be The Holocaust, the massive genocide committed by Nazi Germany against six million Jews and at least five million other people considered "undesirable" (Romani, sexual minorities, political prisoners, people with various disabilities, et cetera). Furthermore, it was committed in secret — until the death camps were finally liberated and the classified files discovered, the Nazi government's official line was that the victims were merely being "relocated" or "deported". Many people, including plenty of civilians under the Third Reich, had some knowledge of what was going on — but they often didn't know the full nightmarish scale of slaughter, and/or turned a blind eye to the Elephant in the Living Room to protect themselves (among the Reich's populace) or to justify their inaction (among Allied leadership). Unlike other conspiracy theories, whose believers are considered crazy, people who deny the Holocaust are almost universally agreed to be on the crazy side of this issue, and with good reason. The evidence that it happened is absolutely overwhelming, the evidence that it didn't happen is bogus, virtually all historians and other sane people acknowledge that it happened, and the people who don't are usually anti-Semites. This gives the deniers the odd combination of saying "It didn't happen, but wouldn't it be great if it did?"
  • 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 throughout history between nobles aiming to overthrow kings and install their own candidates. For example, Tsarist Russia had the conspiracy that assassinated Peter III and put his wife, who later became known as Catherine the Great, onto the throne. The Ottoman Empire was infamous for its murderous court intrigues. 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 August Coup in the Soviet Union, which occurred when communist hardliners attempted to overthrow Mikhail Gorbachev in order to reverse his democratization reforms. All the conspirators were high-ranking members of the Soviet government, including Gorbachev's own vice-president. Not only did the coup fail, its failure precipitated the break-up of the U.S.S.R.
  • The Business Plot in 1933 was a plan by several business leaders (rumored to have included Prescott Bush, father of Bush 41 and grandfather of Bush 43) 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.
    • Also said to have been involved were a group of disgruntled World War I veterans who feared (albeit correctly) that Roosevelt would bring the United States into another war, and who would have served as the ground troops of the coup.
  • 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 theories are not helped by the fact that almost all MK-ULTRA related records were destroyed by order of the Director of the CIA; we only know as much as we do because a bunch of data was misfiled, and therefore not purged.
    • Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey references this. During the investigation of Sector Delphinus, many crew members are driven into a homicidal rage for reasons unknown, causing them to attack and kill anybody on the vicinity. After determining that the malady affects the brain of the victims as a form of free-floating energy, Arthur, the ship AI, recommends the use of the MK Guns, devices designed to force altered states of consciousness, to drive out the disease. Some things cast a shadow on this procedure: Arthur was the only one on the crew who knew of the existence of said devices, and one of your crew mates questions why the Joint Team would include what are basically brainwashing guns in the arsenal and keep them as a secret from the rest of the team.
  • 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 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.
      • However, the most attention-grabbing thing involving this conspiracy is that the US Government did find GM (among other auto companies) guilty of forming a monopoly, slapping them with a ridiculously tiny fine. (Although the alleged cartel was on the sale of buses and spare parts for them to transportation companies, not in transportation companies themselves.) The reaction from Bradford C. Snell, an anti-trust attorney who testified in the case, sums it up best.
    Snell: The court imposed a sanction of $5,000 on GM. In addition, the jury convicted H.C. Grossman, who was then treasurer of GM. Grossman had played a key role in the motorization campaigns and had served as a director of Pacific City Lines when that company undertook the dismantlement of the $100 million Pacific Electric system. The court fined Grossman the magnanimous sum of $1.
    • 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 '90s and at the Turn of the Millennium, when the company realized that its business model was unsustainable, the price of and demand for 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, and were barred from actions such as joining the military that would have brought their condition to light and provided treatment). 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 Iran-Contra affair in The '80s, which involved the sale of arms to Iran (which was under an arms embargo at the time) to secure the release of hostages and fund the Contra rebel groups in Nicaragua (not to be confused with a certain other "Contra").
  • The Church of Scientology has been involved in a surprisingly large number (22) of real-world conspiracies. Most notably "Operation Snow White" (The (accomplished!) goal was the theft, destruction, or "correction" of Federal documents about Scientology in 30 different countries, utilizing 5,000 members in the US alone, making it the largest-scale infiltration of the US government in history), "Operation Freakout" (in which Scientologists tried to drive a critic insane, ruin her life, and/or get her jailed), and the general practice of "Fair Game" (which says that any enemy of Scientology can be 'tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed').
  • The quiz show scandals of The '50s, in which it was revealed that many of the hit game shows on American television (most notably 21) were being rigged by the networks in order to increase tension for viewing audiences. Game shows wound up being out of fashion 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, though opening priesthood to married men and women would still reduce the opportunity of a pedophile to assume a clergy postion. 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 28, as an example.
  • The IB affair. IB was a military 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 ''Informationsbyrån" (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.
  • The Watergate 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 Richard Nixon had betrayed Them, and was thus set up in Watergate to get rid of him, or that Watergate itself was engineered to fail from the get-go to make them look bad at keeping secrets.
    • There is actually something else that needs to be understood about Watergate. The popular perception of Watergate is that Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein from The Washington Post found out about a corrupt government conspiracy, investigated it and brought the President down. While chief editor Ben Bradlee had already assigned Woodward in particular to cover the story of 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 FBI Associate Director and the official in charge of the government's internal investigation into the break-innote . Mark Felt had it in against Nixon since the death of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, as Nixon had promoted Patrick Gray to be the FBI Director to replace Hoover instead of Felt 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 Woodward and Bernstein were enabled and assisted by a rogue FBI official striking against his boss. Or said government conspiracy being blown open by a man who realized things had gone too far, if you want to take a more altruistic view of Felt. It should also be noted that Felt was under investigation himself for illegal FBI actions of the time, such as warrantless searches of residences and dangling people out of windows by their ankles to get information on the Weather Underground, which he was convicted of, but pardoned by President 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.
    • Most of the public recalls that operatives of the Committee to Re-Elect the President broke into a Democratic Party office to spy on their enemies, and that's it. This was merely the tail end of a CREEP conspiracy that started not long after Nixon took office, with the goal to undermine the nomination campaign of every Democratic presidential contender but George McGovern, who was judged the easiest to beat in 1972. And in case McGovern did too well, they'd managed to find and hide the psychiatric treatment records of McGovern's Vice-Presidential nominee Thomas Eagleton, which they then leaked in order to irreversibly damage McGovern's campaign. The story is told in depth in Nixonland, by Mark Perlstein.
    • The most important thing about Watergate, and one that is often forgotten, is the fact that it wasn't an isolated incident. During his first term, Nixon had formed the White House "Plumbers", effectively a secret police Nixon compiled out of ex-CIA and FBI members. Nixon was a very paranoid man who falsely believed in many non-existent conspiracies against him. Thus, he assembled "The Plumbers" to undermine and/or discredit those who he 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" on their own 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 what caused Nixon to get caught. Even then, there wasn't enough evidence to implicate Nixon in the break-in; 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: a simple break-in 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 public was 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.
  • According to Dennis Dayle, former chief of the Drug Enforcement Agency's Central Tactical Program (CENTAC), over the course of his 30 year career he had determined that nearly all of the big targets of DEA operations were working for or otherwise linked to the CIA. This would include drug lords, cartels, syndicates and even terrorists from South and Central America, East Asia and the Middle East, and of course the United States itself.
  • Operation Gladio was the Italian section of NATO's back-up plan in case of a Communist coup or losing WWIII.
  • Related to the above, some of the Italian "stay-behind" forces committed bombings that were blamed on the anarchists and communists to help discredit them and prop up the right wing.
  • 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-Corp Real Life has seen yet. Far more powerful than most entire countries, it actually made a business out of inciting revolutions in developing nations to overthrow democratically elected presidents and 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. United Fruit was extremely well-connected at the time; CIA Director Allen Dulles was on its board of directors, and his brother, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, was a former lawyer for United Fruit.
    • In fact, United Fruit is only one of many such conspiracies that was behind U.S. "interventions" in Latin America and elsewhere. The CIA-operated Operation Condor was the most notorious of these, being involved in the Argentinian "Dirty Wars" and Augusto Pinochet's 1973 coup d'état in Chile.
  • 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 . 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.
  • In 1946, United States military intelligence termed a possible escape route for Nazi war criminals out of Europe ODESSA, named after the Organisation der ehemaligen SS-Angehörigen, or "Organization of Former SS Members" that had been allegedly used by captured SS members in their attempts to get special treatment from the Red Cross. ODESSA, it was said, could be responsible for smuggling Nazi war criminals out of Europe to friendly nations such as Franco's Spain, Argentina, Brazil and the Middle East. While historians are skeptical of the existence of a single unified organization for escaped Nazi war criminals, there were nevertheless smaller overt and covert groups, such as SS commando leader Otto Skorzenny's Die Spinne, that did exist and assist such infamous war criminals as Joseph Mengele in escaping international justice, though the degree to which they operated and the exact measure of their successs is a matter of continuous debate.
  • In what has to be a Crowning Moment of Meta, we have a real conspiracy promoting a fake one. Operation INFEKTION was a KGB disinformation campaign to spread the aforementioned claim that HIV/AIDS was created by the US government, supposedly for biological warfare purposes.
  • At the start of The Cold War, the US intelligence bureaus ran "Operation Paperclip", where former Nazi scientists were recruited by the US to keep their knowledge from falling into the hands of the Soviet Union. At the same time, the other side was running Operation Osoaviakhim, the Soviet version of Operation Paperclip.
  • The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary, which occurred in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on June 28, 1914, was committed by a conspiracy composed of young Serbian radicals connected with the "Black Hand" Serbian nationalist movement (which wanted to expel Austria-Hungary from Bosnia-Herzegovina, which had been annexed by Vienna just a few years previously) and directed by members of Serbian military intelligence, most prominently Colonel Dragutin Dimitrijević (nicknamed "Apis"), who was no stranger to assassination plots, having been involved in the 1903 murders of Serbian King Alexander I Obrenovic and his wife Queen Draga. note . Notwithstanding the involvement of Dimitrijević and other experienced plotters, the actual attack was carried out in an exceptionally amateurish fashion; of the would-be assassins, only Nedeljko Čabrinović actually did anything; he threw a bomb at the archducal car, which Franz Ferdinand deflected by batting it away into the street, and then jumped into the nearby Miljacka river and attempted (unsuccessfully) to commit suicide by swallowing cyanide. Most of the others simply stood in place as the archduke's motorcade passed by. Gavrilo Princip himself, thinking the plot had failed, was standing in front of a local tavern preparing to go into hiding when he saw Franz Ferdinand's car stop literally in front of him - the chauffeur had made a wrong turn and was trying to back up to get back onto the correct route. Even the actual murder of the Archduke was bungled; one of Princip's gunshots struck the Archduke's wife, Duchess Sophie, and killed her. Princip testified at his trial that he had actually been trying to aim at General Oskar Potoriek, the military governor of Bosnia.
  • One reason the Islamic world is often credulous towards conspiracy theories is that they've been the targets of many real conspiracies. The Sykes-Picot Agreement during World War I, where Britain, France and Russia divided up the Ottoman Empire while promising independence to the Arabs and a homeland for the Jews, is the most famous example. There's also Operation Ajax, the Anglo-American plot to overthrow Iran's President Mossadegh in 1953, and an alliance between Britain, France and Israel to prevent Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser from nationalizing the Suez Canal in 1956.
  • JFK conspiracy theories were spread by a KGB disinformation campaign, which sought to blame the assassination on a right-wing conspiracy and not on communist sympathizer Lee Harvey Oswald. While it's probably too much to blame the Soviets for inventing JFK conspiracy theories — they were almost certainly going to happen anyway — it is true that the KGB did everything they could to encourage them.
  • One of the conspiracies by Leon Degrelle is that his political party Rex was demonized by the Cardinal of Mechelen for being pro-nazi a few weeks before the election so that everyone that would have voted for Leon Degrelle would instead vote for Van Zeeland. Unlike other conspiracies that he made (which are covered in Wars) historians think that that is true. According to the predictions Rex would become so powerful that all people with another political ideology had to work together to still have a stable opposition. They really would allow anything to make sure that that would never happen. The conspiracy had however a very limited impact. The Belgian elections came a little bit after the German invasion of Poland, which stimulated anti-nazi and therefore anti-rexist beliefs.
  • Rosa Parks, whose famous refusal to give up her bus seat to a white passenger is often considered a jumping point for the Civil Rights Movement. While the media and history books painted her as tired middle-aged seamstress who decided to one day resist the bus's segregated seating rules, she was really an activist with the NAACP and was deliberately testing the bus system's policy. She wasn't the first black person to be arrested for this reason, but the NAACP focused their cause on her to draw the most sympathy. Many white supremacists tried to use this fact to discredit Parks and the NAACP, but it was still not exactly a bad thing that she resisted an unjust law and worked with a powerful activist group to draw attention to racial oppression in the Deep South.
  • Twenty-seven years later, it has finally emerged that the Hillsborough stadium disaster of 1989 (in which 96 people died in a crush at a football stadium in Sheffield, England) was in fact due to incompetent handling by the West Yorkshire Police. Police, politicians and national newspapers colluded to hide the truth and transfer the blame to the visiting Liverpool fans, who were described as drunken criminal thugs and other slanders. The fact the secret was kept for so long is blamed largely on a culture of omerta among British policemen which makes the Mafia look like loose-lipped blabbermouths by comparison. Even policemen who were honest, blameless and who had no part in the bad decision-making felt intimidated into silence by the dominant culture of their service even if they were privately horrified by the event. Add in a red-top press keen to label all football fans as criminal scum, and what was then a Thatcher government with no love for the working classes and a perceived need to support the police right or wrong, and you get that rare thing - a conspiracy that worked where nobody broke ranks. Until the inquest came along - 27 years after the event. 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.
  • Around 2014/15 in South Korea, a rumor started up about the "8 Goddess(es)", a secret society of the 8 richest women of South Korea, ruling the country and using the President as a prop to enforce their goals onto the country. At first it seemed like a bad joke and a very weak conspiracy theory until in late October 2016, then-current President of South Korea Park Geun-hye admitted although the 8 Goddesses conspiracy wasn't completely true, she confessed that she had been manipulated by a very close advisor and confidant who had no official governmental position. Park had been manipulated by her advisory for the entirety of her administration and she had amassed enough political power to stand toe to toe to elected officials and enacted policies that only served to force governmental policy by her direction and directly extorted millions of dollars from South Korean corporations and businesses. When the conspiracy was revealed, there was mass protests in the streets calling for Park to resign. On December 9, 2016 Park was impeached and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn was granted to serve as the Acting President until the next Presidential election.
  • During the Ford Pinto's rear-end collision tests in 1970, 8 out of 11 vehicles caught fire thanks to the faulty design of its gas tank. The three that didn't burst into flames had safety devices in place. Ford's cost-benefit analysis showed that installing safety devices into all their vehicles would cost $137 million, but litigation from victims of Pinto accidents, predicted to be around 180 people during the life cycle of the car, would only cost $49.5 million. As such, Ford released the car onto the streets with no safety features. All of this came to light after 13-year-old Richard Grimshaw sued the company after he was permanently disfigured in a Pinto accident on May 28th, 1972, which also killed driver Lilly Gray. Journalist Mark Dowie also discovered that Ford lobbied against a 1970 federal bill that would make safety devices standard for all vehicles. This bill became law in 1978, the same year that the company recalled all Pintos for refit. The Pinto defect is confirmed to be the cause of 27 deaths.
  • The California Electricity Crisis was the result of poorly-planned and regulated partial deregulation of the California energy market in the late 90's and became a full-blown crisis when various shady business practices from local energy companies resulted in multiple huge blackouts for the entire state. However, the line was crossed from greed-induced incompetence to outright criminal conspiracy thanks to the actions of infamous Texas-based energy corporation Enron. Enron traders encouraged energy suppliers to shut down their plants for entirely unnecessary maintenance periods, which caused rolling blackouts when electricity demands couldn't be met. Enron traders then used the increased demand for power to sell electricity at hugely inflated prices, as much as twenty times its normal peak value in some cases. The trader's calls, complete with Evil Gloating, were recorded, and later released to both authorities and major news outlets.

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