6 Infamous Political Conspiracies

6 Infamous Political Conspiracies

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1. The Catiline Conspiracy

One of ancient Rome’s most scandalous conspiracies unfolded in 63 B.C., when the senator Catiline attempted to mount an uprising against the Republic. Frustrated by a stagnating political career—he had twice failed to be elected consul—Catiline formed Rome’s malcontent aristocrats, downtrodden veterans and indebted poor into a rebel army. He planned to march on the city and murder its nobles, but his scheme hit a snag when Cicero—one of Catiline’s chief political opponents—caught wind of the conspiracy and publically condemned him in a series of speeches on the Senate floor.

Under suspicion from his fellow politicians, Catiline fled Rome and rendezvoused with his forces in central Italy. The would-be rebellion was then publically exposed in December 63 B.C., when a Gallic tribe turned on the conspirators and revealed their plans to Cicero. Armed with hard evidence of a plot, Cicero and the Senate oversaw the execution of several of Catiline’s cohorts and dispatched an army to intercept him in the field. In the ensuing battle, Catiline’s army was routed and he and many of his fellow conspirators were killed.

2. The Gunpowder Plot

To this day, Britons still celebrate Guy Fawkes’ Day, an informal holiday marking the anniversary of the doomed “Gunpowder Plot.” The scheme first materialized in May 1604, when a small cell of disgruntled Catholics led by Robert Catesby hatched a plan to assassinate the anti-papist King James I and install his daughter as a puppet leader. In March 1605, the conspirators rented a cellar underneath the House of Lords and filled it with three-dozen barrels of gunpowder. Their plan was as simple as it was outrageous: when Parliament opened on November 5, they would blow King James and his entire government sky high.

Unfortunately for Catesby and company, their plot was exposed at the eleventh hour after one of their members sent a letter to the politician Lord Monteagle warning him not to attend Parliament. Monteagle turned the letter over to the authorities, and on the evening of November 4 a search team discovered Guy Fawkes—the conspirator tasked with lighting the fuse—standing watch over the gunpowder. Fawkes revealed the entire plot under torture at the Tower of London, and by January 1606, Catesby and the other schemers had all been rounded up or killed. The survivors were later found guilty of high treason and hanged, drawn and quartered.

3. The Pazzi Conspiracy

The illustrious Medici family ruled over Florence for some 300 years and helped fuel the Renaissance, but along the way they earned their fair share of enemies. Aggrieved by the family’s opposition to papal rule, in 1478 a group of conspirators led by Pope Sixtus IV, his nephew Girolamo Riario, the Archbishop of Pisa and others concocted an audacious scheme to wrest Tuscany from Medici hands. With the help of the Pazzi family—a rival Florentine clan—the group plotted to assassinate Lorenzo de’ Medici (also known as Lorenzo the Magnificent) and his brother Giuliano and then take charge of the city government.

The plan unfolded in grisly fashion on April 26, 1478. As the Medici brothers attended mass in the Duomo, they were set upon by two knife-wielding priests as well as a member of the Pazzi family and a hired assassin. Giuliano was stabbed some 20 times and killed, but Lorenzo managed to escape with only a shoulder wound. The larger coup failed to succeed after the botched assassination, and more than 200 conspirators were eventually captured and executed when an enraged citizenry rallied behind the Medici. When the dust finally settled, the Pazzi family had been stripped of their riches and permanently banished, leaving Lorenzo de’ Medici with almost total dominion over Florence.

4. The July 20 Plot

Adolf Hitler dodged several assassination attempts during World War II, but the most famous—and the closest to succeeding—came in 1944 in the weeks after the D-Day invasion. Convinced “Der Führer” was leading Germany to its doom, Lieutenant Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, Colonel General Friedrich Olbricht, Colonel General Ludwig Beck, Major General Henning von Tresckow and others conspired to see him dead. As part of a plan dubbed “Operation Valkyrie,” the men plotted to murder Hitler and then use Germany’s reserve army to seize Berlin’s supreme command headquarters and stage a coup against the Nazi high command.

On July 20, 1944, Von Stauffenberg attended a military conference in Hitler’s “Wolf’s Lair” in Prussia armed with a bomb disguised in a briefcase. After placing the case near Hitler, he excused himself to make a phone call. The bomb successfully detonated at 12:42 p.m., but another officer had shifted the case behind a chair leg only moments before the explosion. While four other people were killed, Hitler escaped with only minor injuries. Operation Valkyrie crumbled with the news of his survival. Von Stauffenberg and Olbricht were promptly captured and shot, and Beck and Von Tresckow committed suicide. In the investigation that followed, Hitler saw that some 5,000 conspirators and suspected subversives were executed, many of them hanged with piano wire as a gruesome warning against future assassination plots.

5. The Newburgh Conspiracy

The little-known Newburgh Conspiracy unfolded in March 1783 as General George Washington’s battle-weary Continental Army wintered in a camp at Newburgh, New York. Despite having the upper hand in the Revolutionary War, Washington’s troops had grown frustrated with the fledgling Confederation Congress’ inability to compensate them with back pay and pensions. As the discontent spread, several high-ranking officers began circulating a letter written by an anonymous author calling himself “Brutus” (later revealed to be Major John Armstrong). The missive included a chilling suggestion: if Congress and the states would not pay up, the military might abandon the war effort and force their way into government coffers at gunpoint.

Though he was sympathetic to his soldiers’ plight, Washington knew that any uprising could have potentially disastrous consequences for the revolution. When the rabble-rousing officers met in an unsanctioned meeting on March 15, 1783, he made a surprise appearance and asked to address the crowd. After condemning the letter as unpatriotic and foolhardy, Washington urged the men to remain patient with Congress. Straining to read a letter near the end of his talk, he produced a small pair of spectacles and apologized, saying, “I have not only grown gray but almost blind in service to my country…” The impassioned speech paid off. Struck by Washington’s devotion to the war, the officers voted to put their “unshaken confidence” in Congress. Washington would go on to negotiate a ceasefire with the British only a month later.

6. The Lincoln Assassination Conspiracy

John Wilkes Booth’s April 14, 1865 assassination of President Abraham Lincoln was just one part of a much larger plot to strike a decisive blow against the Union high command. The conspiracy had originated months earlier, when Booth and several other Southern sympathizers schemed to kidnap Lincoln and hold him ransom in exchange for Confederate prisoners. The plan encountered repeated setbacks, and as the rebellion disintegrated in April 1865, Booth was forced to alter his strategy. After learning that Lincoln and Union General Ulysses S. Grant were set to attend the play “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C., he resolved to carry out a series of coordinated assassinations. Booth would personally murder Lincoln and Grant, while his co-conspirators George Atzerodt and Lewis Powell would kill Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William Seward in their homes.

The conspirators hoped the killings would send the U.S. government into a tailspin, but their plan quickly fell apart. While Booth succeeded in mortally wounding Lincoln at Ford’s Theater, he missed out on Grant, who had decided not to attend the play. At the same time, Powell attacked Seward as the Secretary lay in bed, but only succeeded in leaving him with severe knife wounds. Atzerodt, meanwhile, abandoned the plan entirely and made no attempt to assassinate Johnson. While Lincoln would die the following morning, his administration remained intact. Within weeks, Booth had been killed and Powell, Atzerodt and several other conspirators were arrested. All were later executed or condemned to prison.

10 Dark Conspiracy Theories That Actually Turned Out To Be True

Throughout history, the world&mdashparticularly the the United States&mdashhas seen its fair share of conspiracy theories come and go. From reptilians disguised as humans to chemtrails, it&rsquos fair to say that most of these theories are entirely absurd.

From time to time, though, a conspiracy theory that many thought to be ridiculous is shown, in fact, to be correct. In such cases, the truth can prove to be much more terrifying than fiction. The following are ten examples of such real-life conspiracies.

Rand Paul Questions US Government’s Denial Of Natural Immunity Against COVID

Joe Martino 1 minute read

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On June 22nd, a Senate Health Hearing Committee was held where Rand Paul, a senator from Kentucky, rose important questions natural immunity, herd immunity and the potential dangers of COVID vaccines associated with younger people.

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8 The Armenians Fabricated Their Genocide To Swindle Aid

While the Armenian Genocide is pretty well documented, many (including the Turkish government) have continued to deny it ever happened or at least diminish its scope. Chief among the deniers is Samuel Weems, a former lawyer from Arkansas. In his 2002 book Armenia: The Secrets of a Christian Terrorist State, Weems accused the Armenians of fabricating the genocide in order to continue receiving funds from sympathetic countries.

These funds, says Weems, sponsored the country&rsquos expansionist and terrorist activities. He also contends that the numerous Armenian communities in the US serve primarily to lobby for their country&rsquos interests.

Weems&rsquos book quickly became a lightning rod for criticism. The Armenian Assembly of America described it &ldquounconscionable&rdquo while some scholars noted that the author&rsquos bias and inconsistencies made the book unbelievable. It has also been alleged that Weems, along with other revisionist historians, has been purportedly paid by the Turkish government to refute the genocide.


Numerous conspiracy theories pertain to air travel and aircraft. Incidents such as the 1955 bombing of the Kashmir Princess, the 1985 Arrow Air Flight 1285 crash, the 1986 Mozambican Tupolev Tu-134 crash, the 1987 Helderberg Disaster, the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 and the 1994 Mull of Kintyre helicopter crash as well as various aircraft technologies and alleged sightings, have all spawned theories of foul play which deviate from official verdicts. [5]

Black helicopters

This conspiracy theory emerged in the US in the 1960s. The John Birch Society originally promoted [6] it, asserting that a United Nations force would soon arrive in black helicopters to bring the US under UN control. The theory re-emerged in the 1990s during the presidency of Bill Clinton, and has been promoted by talk show host Glenn Beck. [7] [8] A similar theory concerning so-called "phantom helicopters" appeared in the UK in the 1970s. [9]


Also known as SLAP (Secret Large-scale Atmospheric Program), this theory alleges that water condensation trails ("contrails") from aircraft consist of chemical or biological agents, or contain a supposedly toxic mix of aluminum, strontium and barium, [10] under secret government policies. An estimated 17% of people globally believe the theory to be true or partly true. In 2016, the Carnegie Institution for Science published the first-ever peer-reviewed study of the chemtrail theory 76 out of 77 participating atmospheric chemists and geochemists stated that they had seen no evidence to support the chemtrail theory, or stated that chemtrail theorists rely on poor sampling. [11] [12]

Korean Air Lines Flight 007

The destruction of Korean Air Lines Flight 007 by Soviet jets in 1983 has long drawn the interest of conspiracy theorists. The theories range from allegations of a planned espionage mission, to a US government cover-up, to the consumption of the passengers' remains by giant crabs. [13]

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370

The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in southeast Asia in March 2014 has prompted many theories. One theory suggests that this plane was hidden away and reintroduced as Flight MH17 later the same year in order to be shot down over Ukraine for political purposes. Prolific American conspiracy theorist James H. Fetzer has placed responsibility for the disappearance with the then Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. [14] Historian Norman Davies has promoted the conspiracy theory that hackers remotely took over a Boeing Honeywell Uninterruptible Autopilot, supposedly installed on board, remotely piloting the aircraft to Antarctica. [15] [16]

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over Ukraine in July 2014. This event has spawned numerous alternative theories. These variously include allegations that it was secretly Flight MH370, that the plane was actually shot down by the Ukrainian Air Force to frame Russia, that it was part of a conspiracy to conceal the "truth" about HIV (seven disease specialists were on board), or that the Illuminati or Israel was responsible. [14] [17]

Deepwater Horizon

Multiple conspiracy theories pertain to a fatal oil-rig industrial accident in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico, alleging sabotage by those seeking to promote environmentalism, or a strike by North Korean or Russian submarines. Elements of such theories have been suggested or promoted by US radio host Rush Limbaugh. [18] [19]

New Coke

A theory claims that The Coca-Cola Company intentionally changed to an inferior formula with New Coke, with the intent either of driving up demand for the original product or permitting the reintroduction of the original with a new formula using cheaper ingredients. [20] Coca-Cola president Donald Keough rebutted this charge: "The truth is, we're not that dumb, and we're not that smart." [21]

Conspiracy theories frequently emerge following the deaths of prominent leaders and public figures. In ancient times, widespread conspiracy theories were circulated pertaining to the death of the Roman emperor Nero, who committed suicide in 68 AD. [22] Some of these theories claimed that Nero had actually faked his death and was secretly still alive, but in hiding, plotting to return and reestablish his reign. [22] In most of these stories, he was said to have fled to the East, where he was still loved and admired. [22] Other theories held that Nero really was dead, but that he would return from the dead to retake his throne. [22] Many early Christians believed in these conspiracy theories and feared Nero's return because Nero had viciously persecuted them. [22] The Book of Revelation alludes to the conspiracy theories surrounding Nero's alleged return in its description of the slaughtered head returned to life. [22]

In modern times, multiple conspiracy theories concerning the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963 have emerged. [23] Vincent Bugliosi estimated that over 1,000 books had been written about the Kennedy assassination, [24] at least ninety percent of which are works supporting the view that there was a conspiracy. [24] As a result of this, the Kennedy assassination has been described as "the mother of all conspiracies". [25] [26] The countless individuals and organizations that have been accused of involvement in the Kennedy assassination include the CIA, the Mafia, sitting Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro, the KGB, or even some combination thereof. [27] [24] It is also frequently asserted that the United States federal government intentionally covered up crucial information in the aftermath of the assassination to prevent the conspiracy from being discovered. [27]

Also in existence are claims that deaths were covered up. Such theories include the "Paul is dead" claim alleging that Paul McCartney died in a car accident in 1966 and was replaced by a look-alike Scottish orphan named William Shears Cambell who also went by Billy Shears, and that The Beatles left clues in their songs, most noticeably "Revolution 9", "Strawberry Fields Forever", "Glass Onion", and "I Am the Walrus", as well on the covers of Abbey Road, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Magical Mystery Tour. [42] [43] Another is the conspiracy theory, widely circulated in Nigeria, which alleges that Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari died in 2017 and was replaced by a look-alike Sudanese impostor. [44] [45] Many fans of punk-pop star Avril Lavigne claim that she died at the height of her fame and was replaced by a look-alike named Melissa. [46] The Melania Trump replacement theory proposes the same of the former US First Lady. [47] [48]

Inverted theories concerning deaths are also known, prominent among which are claims that Elvis Presley's death was faked [49] and that Adolf Hitler survived the Second World War and fled to the Americas, to Antarctica, or to the Moon. [50] Theories that Hitler had survived are known to have been deliberately promoted by the government of the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin as part of a disinformation campaign. [51] [52] [53]

The disappearance, and often presumed death, of an individual may also become a cause for conspiracy theorists. Theories of a cover-up surrounding the 1974 disappearance of Lord Lucan following the murder of his family's nanny include, for example, allegations of a suicide plot whereby his body was fed to tigers at Howletts Zoo. [54] [55] [56] Numerous conspiracy theories have also attended the 2007 disappearance of English girl Madeleine McCann. [57]

The murder of Democratic National Committee employee Seth Rich spawned several right-wing conspiracy theories, including the claim that Rich had been involved with the leaked DNC emails in 2016, which runs contrary to US intelligence's conclusion that the leaked DNC emails were part of Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections. [58] [59] [60] Law enforcement [58] [59] as well as fact-checking websites like PolitiFact.com, [59] [61] Snopes.com, [62] and FactCheck.org stated that these theories were false and unfounded. [58] The New York Times, [63] Los Angeles Times, [64] and The Washington Post called the fabrications fake news and falsehoods. [65]

New World Order

The New World Order theory states that a group of international elites controls governments, industry, and media organizations, with the goal of establishing global hegemony. They are alleged to be implicated in most of the major wars of the last two centuries, to carry out secretly staged events, and to deliberately manipulate economies. Organizations alleged to be part of the plot include the Federal Reserve System, the Council on Foreign Relations, Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg Group, the European Union, the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, Bohemian Grove, [66] Le Cercle [67] and Yale University society Skull and Bones.

The Discordian hoax has resulted in one of the world's foremost conspiracy theories, which claims that the "Illuminati" are secretly promoting the posited New World Order. Theorists believe that a wide range of musicians, including Beyoncé and Whitney Houston, have been associated with the "group". [68] Prominent theorists include Mark Dice and David Icke. [69]

Denver Airport

Some theorists believe that Denver International Airport stands above an underground city which serves as a headquarters of the New World Order. Theorists cite the airport's unusually large size, its distance from Denver city center, Masonic and alleged Satanic symbols, as well as a set of murals which include depictions of war and death. [70]

George Soros

Hungarian-American investor George Soros has been the subject of conspiracy theories since the 1990s. Soros has used his wealth to promote many political, social, educational and scientific causes, disbursing grants totaling an estimated $11 billion up to 2016. However, theories tend to assert that Soros is in control of a large portion of the world's wealth and governments, and that he secretly funds a large range of persons and organizations for nefarious purposes, such as Antifa, which the conspiracy theorists claim is a single far-left militant group. Such ideas have been promoted by Viktor Orban, Donald Trump, [71] Rudy Giuliani, [72] Joseph diGenova, [73] Bill O'Reilly, Roy Moore, Alex Jones, Paul Gosar, and Ben Garrison. Soros conspiracy theories are sometimes linked to antisemitic conspiracy theories. [74]


Conspiracy theories concerning the Freemasons have proliferated since the 18th century. Theorists have alleged that Freemasons control large parts of the economies or judiciaries of a number of countries, and have alleged Masonic involvement in events surrounding the sinking of the Titanic and the crimes of Jack the Ripper. [75] [76] Notable among theorists has been American inventor Samuel Morse, who in 1835 published a book of his own conspiracy theories. [77] Freemason conspiracy theories have also been linked to certain antisemitic conspiracy theories.

Üst akıl

Conspiracy theories in Turkey started to dominate public discourse during the late reign of the Justice and Development Party and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. [78] In 2014, Erdoğan coined the term üst akıl ("mastermind") to denote the alleged command and control institution, somewhat ambiguously placed with the government of the United States, in a comprehensive conspiracy to weaken or even dismember Turkey, by orchestrating every political actor and action perceived hostile by Turkey. [79] [80] [78] Erdoğan as well as the Daily Sabah newspaper have on multiple occasions alleged that very different non-state actors—like the Salafi jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the libertarian socialist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and supporters of Fethullah Gülen—were attacking Turkey at the same time in a well-coordinated campaign. [81]

One instance of promoting the "mastermind" conspiracy theory occurred in February 2017, when then-Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek claimed that earthquakes in the western province of Çanakkale could have been organized by dark external powers aiming to destroy Turkey's economy with an "artificial earthquake" near Istanbul. [82] In another example, in November 2017, the Islamist newspaper Yeni Akit claimed that the fashion trend of "ripped denim" jeans was in fact a means of communication, via specific forms of rips and holes, between agents of foreign states and their collaborators in Turkey. [83]

Israel animal spying

Conspiracy theories exist alleging that Israel uses animals to conduct espionage or to attack people. These are often associated with conspiracy theories about Zionism. Matters of interest to theorists include a series of shark attacks in Egypt in 2010, Hezbollah's accusations of the use of "spying" eagles, [84] and the 2011 capture of a griffon vulture carrying an Israeli-labeled satellite tracking device. [85]

Harold Wilson

Numerous persons, including former MI5 officer Peter Wright and Soviet defector Anatoliy Golitsyn, have alleged that former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson was secretly a KGB spy. Historian Christopher Andrew has lamented that a number of people have been "seduced by Golitsyn's fantasies". [86] [87] [88]

Malala Yousafzai

Conspiracy theories concerning Malala Yousafzai are widespread in Pakistan, elements of which originate from a 2013 satirical piece in Dawn. These theories variously allege that she is a Western spy, or that her attempted murder by the Taliban in 2012 was a secret operation to further discredit the Taliban, and was organized by her father and the CIA and carried out by actor Robert de Niro disguised as an Uzbek homeopath. [89] [90] [91] [92]


Since at least the Middle Ages, antisemitism has featured elements of conspiracy theory. In medieval Europe it was widely believed that Jews poisoned wells, had been responsible for the death of Jesus, and ritually consumed the blood of Christians. The second half of the 19th century saw the emergence of notions that Jews and/or Freemasons were plotting to establish control over the world, a similar conspiracy theory relates to cultural Marxism. Forged evidence has been presented to spread the notion that Jews were responsible for the propagation of Communism, or the hoax The Protocols of the Elders of Zion (1903), which outlines a supposed plot by Jews to control the world. [93] Such antisemitic conspiracy theories became central to the worldview of Adolf Hitler. Antisemitic theories persist today in notions concerning banking, [94] Hollywood, the news media and a purported Zionist Occupation Government. [95] [96] [97] These theories have a tyrannical worldview in common. [98]

Holocaust denial is also considered an antisemitic conspiracy theory because of its position that the Holocaust is a hoax designed to advance the interests of Jews and justify the creation of the State of Israel. [99] [100] Holocaust deniers include former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, [101] the convicted chemist Germar Rudolf [102] and the discredited author David Irving. [103]


Conspiracy theories that allege that the Armenians wield secret political power are prevalent in Azerbaijan [104] and have been promoted by the government, [105] including President Ilham Aliyev. [106] [107] [108]

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has claimed that the Russian media is run by Armenians. [109] American writer and disbarred lawyer Samuel Weems [110] has claimed that the Armenian genocide was a hoax designed to defraud Christian nations of billions of dollars, and that the Armenian Church instigates terrorist attacks. [111] Filmmaker Davud Imanov has accused the Armenians of plotting against Azerbaijan and has claimed that the Karabakh movement was a plot by the CIA to destroy the Soviet Union. [112]


Iran's Baháʼí Faith minority has been the target of conspiracy theories alleging involvement with hostile powers. Iranian government officials and others have claimed that Baháʼís have been variously agents of the Russian, British, American or Israeli governments. [113] An apocryphal and historically-inaccurate book published in Iran, entitled The Memoirs of Count Dolgoruki, details a theory that the Bahá'ís intend to destroy Islam. Such anti-Baháʼí accusations have been dismissed as having no factual foundation. [114] [115] [116]


Since the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, anti-Catholic conspiracy theories have taken many forms, including the 17th-century Popish Plot allegations, [117] claims by persons such as William Blackstone that Catholics posed a secret threat to Britain, and numerous writings by authors such as Samuel Morse, Rebecca Reed, Avro Manhattan, Jack Chick and Alberto Rivera. Theorists often claim that the Pope is the Antichrist, accuse Catholics of suppressing evidence incompatible with Church teachings, and describe Catholics as being involved with secret evil rituals, crimes, and other plots.

In 1853, the Scottish minister Alexander Hislop published his anti-Catholic pamphlet The Two Babylons, [118] in which he claims that the Catholic Church is secretly a continuation of the pagan religion of ancient Babylon, the product of a millennia-old conspiracy founded by the Biblical king Nimrod and the Assyrian queen Semiramis. [118] It also claims that modern Catholic holidays, including Christmas and Easter, are actually pagan festivals established by Semiramis and that the customs associated with them are pagan rituals. Modern scholars have unanimously rejected the book's arguments as erroneous and based on a flawed understanding of Babylonian religion, [118] but variations of them are still accepted among some groups of evangelical Protestants. [118] Jehovah's Witnesses periodical The Watchtower frequently published excerpts from it until the 1980s. [119] The book's thesis has also featured prominently in the conspiracy theories of racist groups, such as The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord. [120]

Fears of a Catholic takeover of the US have been especially persistent, [121] [122] prompted by phenomena such as Catholic immigration in the 19th century [123] and Ku Klux Klan propaganda. [124] [125] Such fears have attached to Catholic political candidates such as Al Smith [126] and John F. Kennedy. [127] [128] [129]

Pope John Paul I died in September 1978, only a month after his election to the papacy. The timing of his death and the Vatican's alleged difficulties with ceremonial and legal death procedures has fostered several conspiracy theories.

The elderly Pope Benedict XVI's resignation in February 2013, for given reasons of a "lack of strength of mind and body", [130] prompted theories in Italian publications such as La Repubblica and Panorama that he resigned in order to avoid an alleged scandal involving an underground gay Catholic network. [131] [132]


Apocalyptic prophecies, particularly Christian claims about the End Times, have inspired a range of conspiracy theories. Many of these cite the Antichrist, a leader who will supposedly create an oppressive world empire. Countless figures have been called Antichrist, including Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, Russian emperor Peter the Great, Saladin, Pope John XXII, Benito Mussolini, Barack Obama, French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, and German Führer Adolf Hitler. [133] [134] [135] [136]

Bible and Jesus

Bible conspiracy theories posit that significant parts of the New Testament are false, or have been omitted. Various groups both real (such as the Vatican) and fake (such as the Priory of Sion) are said to suppress relevant information concerning, for example, the dating of the Shroud of Turin. [137]

Much of this line of conspiracy theory has been stimulated by a debunked book titled The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail (1982), which claimed that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were lovers and that their offspring and descendants were secretly hidden in Europe following the death of Jesus, from whom the then-living French draughtsman Pierre Plantard claimed descent. Interest in this hoax saw a resurgence following the publication of Dan Brown's 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code. [138]


"War against Islam" is a conspiracy theory in Islamist discourse which describes an alleged plot to either harm or annihilate the social system within Islam. The perpetrators of this conspiracy are alleged to be non-Muslims and "false Muslims", allegedly in collusion with political actors in the Western world. While this theory is often referred to in relation to modern social problems and changes, the Crusades are often presented as its starting point. [139]


Since the September 11 Attacks, many anti-Islamic conspiracy theories have emerged, concerning a variety of topics. Love Jihad, also called Romeo Jihad, refers to a conspiracy theory concerning Muslim males who are said to target non-Muslim girls for conversion to Islam by feigning love. [140] [141] [142] [143] The "Eurabia" theory alleges a massive Muslim plot to islamize Europe (and often the rest of the western world) through mass immigration and high birth rates. [144] In addition, before and during his presidency, Barack Obama was accused by opponents of secretly being a Muslim.


White genocide conspiracy theory is a white nationalist notion that immigration, integration, low fertility rates and abortion are being promoted in predominantly white countries in order to turn white people into a minority or cause their extinction. [145] [146] [147] [148] [149] [150] A 2017 study in France by IFOP, for example, found that 48% of participants believed that political and media elites are conspiring to replace white people with immigrants. [151]

In the United States, black genocide conspiracy theory [152] [153] holds the view that African Americans are the victims of genocide instituted by white Americans. Lynchings and racial discrimination were formally described as genocide by the Civil Rights Congress in 1951. Malcolm X also talked about "black genocide" in the early 1960s. [154] Public funding of the Pill was also described as "black genocide" at the first Black Power Conference, in 1967. [155] [156] In 1970, after abortion was more widely legalized, some black militants depicted abortion as being part of the conspiracy. [157]

Some Rastafari maintain the view that a white racist patriarchy ("Babylon") controls the world in order to oppress black people. [158] They believe that Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia did not die in 1975, instead believing that the allegedly racist media propagated false reports of his death in order to quash the Rastafari movement. [159]

"The Plan" is an alleged plot by white power brokers in Washington, D.C., to "take back" the city's local government from African Americans, who were a majority of the city's population from the late 1950s to the early 2010s and remain its largest ethnic group. [160] [161] The theory asserts that the decline of low-income black residents and their replacement by wealthier whites from outside of the city is intentional through the calculated use of gentrification and urban renewal. [162] Most city residents, regardless of race, consider The Plan to be false, but some believe it has quiet but considerable support among black residents and influences local elections. [163]

Among the foremost concerns of conspiracy theorists are questions of alien life for example, allegations of government cover-ups of the supposed Roswell UFO incident or activity at Area 51. [164] Also disseminated are theories concerning so-called 'men in black', who allegedly silence witnesses. [ citation needed ]

Multiple reports of dead cattle found with absent body parts and seemingly drained of blood have emerged worldwide since at least the 1960s. This phenomenon has spawned theories variously concerning aliens and secret government or military experiments. [165] Prominent among such theorists is Linda Moulton Howe, author of Alien Harvest (1989). [166] [167]

Many conspiracy theories have drawn inspiration from the writings of ancient astronaut proponent Zecharia Sitchin, [168] who declared that the Anunnaki from Sumerian mythology were actually a race of extraterrestrial beings who came to Earth around 500,000 years ago in order to mine gold. [168] [169] [170] In his 1994 book Humanity's Extraterrestrial Origins: ET Influences on Humankind's Biological and Cultural Evolution, Arthur Horn proposed that the Anunnaki were a race of blood-drinking, shape-shifting alien reptiles. [168] This theory was adapted and elaborated on by British conspiracy theorist David Icke, [168] who maintains that the Bush family, Margaret Thatcher, Bob Hope, and the British Royal Family, among others, are or were such creatures, or have been under their control. [171] Icke's critics have suggested that 'reptilians' may be seen as an antisemitic code word, a charge he has denied. [49]

In the modern era, political conspiracy theories are often spread using fake news on social media. A 2017 study of fake news published by the Shorenstein Center found that "misinformation is currently predominantly a pathology of the right". [172]

Political conspiracy theories may take generalized and wide-ranging forms concerning wars and international bodies, but may also be seen at a localized level, such as the conspiracy theory pertaining to the 118th Battalion, a British regiment stationed in Kitchener, Ontario, during World War I, which is believed by some in Kitchener to still be present and controlling local politics. [173]


Conspiracy theories concerning the Illuminati, a short-lived 18th-century Enlightenment-era secret society, appear to have originated in the late 19th century, when some conservatives in Europe came to believe that the group had been responsible for the French Revolution of 1789–1799. [174] Hoaxes about the Illuminati were later spread in the 1960s by a group of American practical jokers known as the Discordians, who, for example, wrote a series of fake letters about the Illuminati to Playboy. [175]

False flag operations

False flag operations are covert operations designed to appear as if they are being carried out by other entities. Some allegations of false flag operations have been verified or have been subjects of legitimate historical dispute (such as the 1933 Reichstag arson attack). [176] Discussions of unsubstantiated allegations of such operations feature strongly in conspiracy theory discourse.

The rise of ISIS gave rise to conspiracy theories that it had been created by the US, CIA, Mossad, or Hillary Clinton. [179] [180] The same happened after the rise of Boko Haram. [181] [182]

The multiple attacks made on the US by terrorists using hijacked aircraft on 11 September 2001 have proved attractive to conspiracy theorists. Theories may include reference to missile or hologram technology. By far, the most common theory is that the attacks were in fact controlled demolitions, [183] [184] a theory which has been rejected by the engineering profession [185] and the 9/11 Commission.

Sandy Hook

A 2012 fatal mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, prompted numerous conspiracy theories, among which is the claim that it was a manufactured event with the aim of promoting gun control. Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke has theorized that Zionists were responsible. [186] Theorists such as Alex Jones have suggested that the event was staged with actors. [187] [188] Harassment of the bereaved families by conspiracy theorists has resulted in actions for defamation. Rush Limbaugh also stated that the event happened because the Mayan Calendar phenomenon made shooter Adam Lanza do it. [189]


The Clinton Body Count refers to a conspiracy theory, parts of which have been advanced by Newsmax publisher Christopher Ruddy among others, that asserts that former US President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary Clinton have assassinated fifty or more of their associates. [190] [191] [192] Such accusations have been around at least since the 1990s, when a pseudo-documentary film called The Clinton Chronicles, produced by Larry Nichols and promoted by Rev. Jerry Falwell, accused Bill Clinton of multiple crimes including murder. [193] [194]

Jeffrey Epstein death conspiracy theories

The death of Jeffrey Epstein, an American financier billionaire and convicted sex offender with ties to Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and other members of the elite, has become the subject of conspiracy theories. [195] [196]

The United States' Federal Emergency Management Agency is the subject of many theories, including the allegation that the organization has been engaged in the building of concentration camps on US soil, in advance of the imposition of martial law and genocide. [197]

African National Congress

Members of South Africa's African National Congress party have long propagated conspiracy theories, frequently concerning the CIA and alleged white supremacists. In 2014, Deputy Minister of Defence Kebby Maphatsoe joined others in accusing without evidence Public Protector Thuli Madonsela of being a US agent working to create a puppet government in South Africa. [198] [199] [200]

Barack Obama

Former US President Barack Obama has been the subject of numerous conspiracy theories. His presidency was the subject of a 2009 film, The Obama Deception, by Alex Jones, which alleged that Obama's administration was a puppet government for a wealthy elite. Another theory which came to prominence in 2009 (known as "birtherism") denies the legitimacy of Obama's presidency by claiming that he was not born in the US. [201] This theory has persisted despite the evidence of his Hawaiian birth certificate and of contemporaneous birth announcements in two Hawaiian newspapers in 1961. [202] Notable promoters of the theory are dentist-lawyer Orly Taitz [6] and former President Donald Trump, who has since publicly acknowledged its falsity but is said to continue to advocate for it privately. [203] [204] [205] Other theories claim that Obama, a Protestant Christian, is secretly a Muslim.

A pair of fatal attacks on US government facilities in Benghazi, Libya, by Islamist terrorists in 2012 has spawned numerous conspiracy theories, including allegations that Obama's administration arranged the attack for political reasons, and Senator Rand Paul's repeated assertion that the government's response to the incident was designed to distract from a secret CIA operation. [206] [207] [208]

Cultural Marxism

The intellectual group known as the Frankfurt School which emerged in the 1930s has increasingly been the subject of conspiracy theories which have alleged the promotion of communism in capitalist societies. The term "Cultural Marxism" has been notably employed by conservative American movements such as the Tea Party, [209] [210] and by Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik. [211]

Deep state

While the term is occasionally used as a neutral term to denote a nation's bureaucracy, [212] the conspiratorial notion of a "deep state" is a concept originating principally in Middle Eastern and North African politics with some basis in truth, and has been known in the US since the 1960s. It has been revived under the Trump presidency. [213] [214] "Deep state" in the latter sense refers to an unidentified "powerful elite" who act in co-ordinated manipulation of a nation's politics and government. Proponents of such theories have included Canadian author Peter Dale Scott, who has promoted the idea in the US since at least the 1990s, as well as Breitbart News, Infowars and former US President Donald Trump. [215] A 2017 poll by ABC News and The Washington Post indicated that 48% of Americans believe in the existence of a conspiratorial "deep state" in the US. [216] [217]

Sutherland Springs

The 2017 Sutherland Springs church shooting has also been the subject of multiple conspiracy theories. The shooter has been linked to multiple conspiracies, such as identifying him as a Democrat, Hillary Clinton supporter, Bernie Sanders supporter, "alt-left" supporter, Antifa member, or radical Muslim [218] [219] or claiming that he carried an Antifa flag and told churchgoers: "This is a communist revolution". [220] Some reports also falsely claimed that he targeted the church because they were white conservatives. [221]

Trump and Ukraine

Beginning in 2017, a sprawling conspiracy theory emerged from 4chan and was spread via right-wing message boards and websites, then via Breitbart and Fox News to then-President Donald Trump and his allies. The conspiracy theory holds both that Ukraine (rather than Russia) had interfered in the 2016 United States elections, and that then-Vice President Joe Biden had intervened to protect a company in which his son Hunter was involved. The New Yorker found that reporting of the conspiracy in the right wing media was initiated by Peter Schweizer, a former Breitbart News contributor and president of The Government Accountability Institute, "a self-styled corruption watchdog group chaired and funded by conservative mega-donor Rebekah Mercer" [222] and founded by Steve Bannon. [223]

Biden-Ukraine conspiracy theory

Refers to a series of allegations alleging that former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden coordinated efforts against anti-corruption investigations in Ukraine into the Ukrainian gas company Burisma. [224]

"Stolen election" conspiracy theory

The stolen election conspiracy theory falsely claims that the 2020 United States presidential election was "stolen" from Donald Trump, who lost that election to Joe Biden. It serves to justify attempts to overturn the 2020 United States presidential election, including the 2021 storming of the United States Capitol. A particular variant of it is the "Soros stole the election" conspiracy theory that claims that George Soros stole the election from Trump. [225]

Alternative therapy suppression

A 2013 study approved by the University of Chicago suggested that almost half of Americans believe at least one medical conspiracy theory, with 37% believing that the Food and Drug Administration deliberately suppresses 'natural' cures due to influence from the pharmaceutical industry. [226] A prominent proponent of comparable conspiracy theories has been convicted fraudster Kevin Trudeau. [227]

Artificial diseases

Scientists have found evidence that HIV was transferred from monkeys to humans in the 1930s. Evidence exists, however, that the KGB deliberately disseminated a notion in the 1980s that it was invented by the CIA. [228] This idea, and similar ideas concerning Ebola, have since been promoted by persons such as actor Steven Seagal, [229] [230] [231] Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and former South Africa President Thabo Mbeki. [228] [232] [233]

In January 2020, BBC News published an article about SARS-CoV-2 misinformation, citing two 24 January articles in The Washington Times that said the virus was part of a Chinese biological weapons program, based at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). [234]

Similar conspiracy theories allege that pharmaceutical companies assist in the creation of conditions and diseases including ADHD, HSV and HPV.

COVID-19 pandemic

A number of conspiracy theories have been promoted about the origin and purported motive behind the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its spread. Some claimed that the virus was engineered, [235] [236] [237] that it escaped or was stolen from a research laboratory, [238] [239] [240] [241] that it may have been a Chinese or United States bioweapon, [242] [243] [244] a Jewish plot including to force mass vaccinations or sterilizations, [245] [246] [247] spread as part of a Muslim conspiracy, [248] [249] a population control scheme, [234] [250] or related to 5G mobile phone networks. [251] [252]


Water fluoridation is the controlled addition of fluoride to a public water supply to reduce tooth decay. [253] Although many dental-health organizations support such fluoridation, the practice is opposed by conspiracy theorists. [254] Allegations may include claims that it has been a way to dispose of industrial waste, [255] [256] or that it exists to obscure a failure to provide dental care to the poor. [254] A further theory promoted by the John Birch Society in the 1960s described fluoridation as a communist plot to weaken the American population. [257]


It is claimed that the pharmaceutical industry has mounted a cover-up of a causal link between vaccines and autism. The conspiracy theory developed after the publication in Britain in 1998 of a fraudulent paper by discredited former doctor Andrew Wakefield. [258] The resulting anti-vaccine movement has been promoted by a number of prominent persons including Rob Schneider, [259] Jim Carrey [260] and former US President Donald Trump, [261] [262] and has led to increased rates of infection and death from diseases such as measles in many countries, including the US, Italy, Germany, Romania and the UK. [263] [264] [265] [266]

Vaccine conspiracy theories have been widespread in Nigeria since at least 2003, as well as in Pakistan. Such theories may feature claims that vaccines are part of a secret anti-Islam plot, and have been linked to fatal mass shootings and bombings at vaccine clinics in both countries. [267] [268] [269]

Global warming

A global warming conspiracy theory typically alleges that the science behind global warming has been invented or distorted for ideological or financial reasons. [12] Many have promoted such theories, including former US President Donald Trump, [270] [271] US Senator James Inhofe, [272] British journalist Christopher Booker, [272] and Viscount Christopher Monckton. [273]

Weather and earthquake control projects

Numerous theories pertain to real or alleged weather-controlling projects. Theories include the debunked assertion that HAARP, a radio-technology research program funded by the US government, is a secret weather-controlling system. Some theorists have blamed 2005's Hurricane Katrina on HAARP. [274] HAARP has also been suggested to have somehow caused earthquakes, such as the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami or the 2013 Saravan earthquake. [275] Some HAARP-related claims refer to mind-control technology. [276]

Also of interest to conspiracy theorists are cloud-seeding technologies. These include a debunked allegation [277] that the British military's Project Cumulus caused the fatal 1952 Lynmouth Flood in Devon, England, [278] and claims concerning a secret project said to have caused the 2010 Pakistan floods. [279]


Genuine American research in the 1950s and 1960s into chemical interrogation and mind-control techniques were followed by many conspiracy theories (like Project Monarch), especially following CIA Director Richard Helm's 1973 order to destroy all files related to the project. These theories include the allegation that the mass fatality at Jonestown in 1978 was connected to an MKUltra experiment. [280]

Flat Earth

Flat Earth theory first emerged in 19th-century England, despite the Earth's spherical nature having been known since at least the time of Pythagoras. It has in recent years been promoted by American software consultant Mark Sargent through the use of YouTube videos. [281] Flat-earther conspiracy theorists hold that planet Earth is not a sphere, and that evidence has been faked or suppressed to hide the fact that it is instead a disc, or a single infinite plane. The conspiracy often implicates NASA. Other claims include that GPS devices are rigged to make aircraft pilots wrongly believe they are flying around a globe. [282] [283]

RFID chips

Radio frequency identification chips (RFID), such as are implanted into pets as a means of tracking, have drawn the interest of conspiracy theorists who posit that this technology is secretly widely implanted in humans. Former Whitby, England town councilor Simon Parkes has promoted this theory, which may be related to conspiracy theories concerning vaccination, electronic banking and the Antichrist. [284] [285]

Technology suppression

Numerous theories pertain to the alleged suppression of certain technologies and energies. Such theories may focus on the Vril Society Conspiracy, allegations of the suppression of the electric car by fossil-fuel companies (as detailed in the 2006 documentary Who Killed the Electric Car?), and the Phoebus cartel, set up in 1924, which has been accused of suppressing longer-lasting light bulbs. [286] Other long-standing allegations include the suppression of perpetual motion and cold fusion technology by government agencies, special interest groups, or fraudulent inventors. [287]

Promoters of alternative energy theories have included Thomas Henry Moray, [288] Eugene Mallove, and convicted American fraudster Stanley Meyer. [289]


Conspiracy theorists often attend to new military technologies, both real and imagined. Subjects of theories include: the alleged Philadelphia Experiment, a supposed attempt to turn a US Navy warship invisible [290] the alleged Montauk Project, a supposed government program to learn about mind control and time travel and the so-called "tsunami bomb", which is alleged to have caused the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. [291]

Other theories include Peter Vogel's debunked claim that an accidental explosion of conventional munitions at Port Chicago was in fact a nuclear detonation, [292] and a theory promoted by the Venezuelan state-run TV station ViVe that the 2010 Haiti earthquake was caused by a secret US "earthquake weapon". [293]

Targeted Individuals

Conspiracy theorists claim that government agents are utilizing directed energy weapons and electronic surveillance to harass members of the population. Theorists often cite research into psychotronic weapons, the Cuban Health Attacks, and the Microwave Auditory Effect as proof of their theory. There are over 10,000 people who identify as Targeted Individuals. [294]

The "Targeted Individual" phenomenon has been featured on episodes of Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura [295] and History Channel's In Search Of. . [296]

False history

Some theories claim that the dates of historical events have been deliberately distorted. These include the phantom time hypothesis of German conspiracy theorist [ citation needed ] [ original research? ] Heribert Illig, who in 1991 published an allegation that 297 years had been added to the calendar by establishment figures such as Pope Sylvester II in order to position themselves at the millennium. [297]

A comparable theory, known as the New Chronology, is most closely associated with Russian theorist Anatoly Fomenko. Fomenko holds that history is many centuries shorter than is widely believed and that numerous historical documents have been fabricated, and legitimate documents destroyed, for political ends. Adherents of such ideas have included chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov. [298]

Scientific space programs are of particular interest to conspiracy theorists. The most prolific theories allege that the US Moon landings were staged by NASA in a film studio, with some alleging the involvement of director Stanley Kubrick. [299] The Soviet space program has also attracted theories that the government concealed evidence of failed flights. A more recent theory, emergent following the activities of hacker Gary McKinnon, [300] suggests that a secret program of crewed space fleets exists, supposedly acting under the United Nations. [301]

Conspiracy theorists have long posited a plot by organizations such as NASA to conceal the existence of a large planet in the Solar System known as Nibiru or Planet X which, is alleged to pass close enough to the Earth to destroy it. Predictions for the date of destruction have included 2003, 2012 and 2017. The theory began to develop following the publication of The 12th Planet (1976), by Russian-American author Zecharia Sitchin, was given its full form by Nancy Lieder, and has since been promoted by American conspiracy theorist and End Times theorist David Meade. [302] The notion received renewed attention during the period prior to the solar eclipse of 21 August 2017. [303] [304] Other conspiracy theorists in 2017 also predicted Nibiru would appear, including Terral Croft and YouTube pastor Paul Begley. [305] [306]


Boxing has featured in conspiracy theories, such as the claims that the second Ali-Liston fight [307] and the first Bradley-Pacquiao fight were fixed. [308]


The theft and disappearance of the Irish-bred racehorse Shergar in 1983 has prompted many conspiracy theorists to speculate about involvement by the Mafia, the IRA and Colonel Gaddafi. [309]

Rigged selection processes

The "frozen envelope theory" suggests that the National Basketball Association rigged its 1985 draft lottery so that Patrick Ewing would join the New York Knicks. Theorists claim that a lottery envelope was chilled so that it could be identified by touch. [310] A similar "hot balls theory", promoted by Scottish football manager David Moyes, suggests that certain balls used in draws for UEFA competitions have been warmed to achieve specific outcomes. [311]

1984 Firecracker 400

The 1984 Firecracker 400 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona, Florida, was the first NASCAR race to be attended by a sitting US president, Ronald Reagan, and was driver Richard Petty's 200th and final career victory. Rival driver Cale Yarborough's premature retirement to the pit road has prompted conspiracy theorists to allege that organizers fixed the race in order to receive good publicity for the event. [312]

Ronaldo and the 1998 World Cup Final

On the day of the 1998 World Cup Final, Brazilian striker Ronaldo suffered a convulsive fit. [313] Ronaldo was initially removed from the starting lineup 72 minutes before the match, with the teamsheet released to a stunned world media, before he was reinstated by the Brazil coach shortly before kick off. [314] [315] Ronaldo "sleepwalked" through the final, with France winning the game. [315] The nature of the incident set off a trail of questions and allegations which persisted for years, with Alex Bellos writing in The Guardian, "When Ronaldo's health scare was revealed after the match, the situation's unique circumstances lent itself to fabulous conspiracy theories. Here was the world's most famous sportsman, about to take part in the most important match of his career, when he suddenly, inexplicably, fell ill. Was it stress, epilepsy, or had he been drugged?" [316] Questions also circulated into who made Ronaldo play the game. The Brazil coach insisted he had the final say, but much speculation focused on sportswear company Nike, Brazil's multimillion-dollar sponsor—whom many Brazilians thought had too much control—putting pressure on the striker to play against medical advice. [316]

New England Patriots

The New England Patriots have also been involved in numerous conspiracy theories. [317] During their AFC Championship 24–20 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, several conspiracy theories spread stating that the referees helped the Patriots advance to Super Bowl LII. [318] However, sports analyst Stephen A. Smith stated the Jaguars were not robbed, but that they had no one to blame but themselves for the loss. [319] There were also conspiracy theories regarding the Super Bowl LI matchup between the Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons stating that the game was rigged [320] while others said the Falcons made questionable play-calls at the end of the game that resulted in them blowing a 28–3 lead. [321]

Ask a crazy conspiracy theorist enough questions, and you'll eventually get to a dark boardroom full of evil billionaires secretly manipulating world events . like puppeteers, but with money. They come in all shapes and sizes -- the New World Order, the Illuminati, Masons, Scientology, the Jews, the "gay mafia" that allegedly controls Hollywood. To get a nuanced understanding of how the average conspiracy theorist thinks the world runs, watch the scene in Trading Places in which two old guys ruin Dan Aykroyd's life over a one-dollar bet, and punch yourself in the part of your brain that contains a sense of humor.

Fortunately, modern societies reward companies that give people what they want, and we have laws designed to punish fat cats who try to gang up on the little guy. Unfortunately, breaking those laws pays extremely well in certain circumstances. While they may not be as smart or capable of weather control as we give them credit for, the extremely wealthy do occasionally meet up in dark boardrooms and make decisions that make themselves richer, and you more miserable. And that, boys and girls, is why you drove a car to work this morning.

There was a time in America when even small towns hummed around on electric trains and trollies. Around the end of World War I, urban railways accounted for 90 percent of trips taken in vehicles, and there was no reason to believe they were going anywhere. Urban railways meant that the average workaday citizen didn't have to invest time and money in learning to drive, paying for gas and maintaining a car. At the time, driving a car was considered a novelty. A fun thing to do on a Sunday that allowed the moderately wealthy to feel fancy without having to buy a boat. Plus, the railways were so lucrative that the local government didn't have to pay a dime to maintain them, since small businesses did the work for them. Everyone was a winner, except for a handful of very rich people who had overestimated the demand for automobiles back when they were known as horseless carriages.

In 1921, only 10 percent of Americans owned cars, and after losing $65 million in a year, General Motors had to face the fact that cars just weren't worth it for the other 90 percent. Today, the ascendance of the automotive industry is a foregone conclusion, but at the time it seemed more like a bunch of rich guys had forgotten that not everyone was rich. Imagine if the wealthiest people in your city invested all their money in limousines, under the assumption that everyone would stop taking cabs because why take a taxi? Limos only cost a couple hundred dollars extra!

This is where less successful men would have come to terms with the fact that they'd backed the wrong horse. Capitalism had spoken, and its answer was: "We'll take the clearly superior alternative that doesn't cost half a year's paycheck up front." Instead, General Motors decided to find a way to make cars worth it to the average citizen. After waiting for the laughter in the room to die down when someone suggested that they lower car prices, the car industry looked at the people who rode electric rails to work and decided to make them what's known in the mafia as "an offer they can't refuse."

According to a Senate report, in the 1930s, GM, Goodyear, Firestone Tire and a bunch of oil companies joined together to form a number of fake rail companies. They would buy up all the small companies that operated America's small town railway systems, then destroy the systems, and soon enough America would run on gasoline-powered tires. By the mid-1950s, the fake rail companies had replaced 900 of the 1,200 public railway systems with gas-powered buses and cars and were ready to take on the biggest electric railway system in the world: Los Angeles. Yes, the city that's famous for bumper-to-bumper traffic once hummed along on 1,500 miles of electric railways. GM bought out the local railway companies, and a few years later there wasn't a single electric streetcar operating in Los Angeles. Today, the smog over LA is so thick that most of the people who live there have no idea they that live at the foot of a beautiful snowcapped mountain range.

America's 10 most popular conspiracy theories

America's most popular conspiracy theories and the science behind them.

Why do people believe in conspiracy theories?

First of all, it's not just a few loners on the internet—prior research indicates that half the American public believes in at least one conspiracy theory in any given year.

Political scientists Eric Oliver and Thomas Wood, who studied the subject, defined a conspiracy theory as “an explanation that makes reference to hidden, malevolent forces seeking to advance some nefarious aim." A conspiracy theory does not have to be untrue, but it is sure to contradict the usual, popularly-accepted version of the same event or phenomena.

Once a conspiracy theory becomes the accepted explanation, it stops being a conspiracy theory and becomes a fact of history. This certainly is one reason people continue to believe—they hope their views will eventually be proven right.

Some have viewed conspiracy theories as a particular affectation of the American right, with President Trump being both a proponent and target of a number of conspiracy theories. Historian Richard J. Hofstadter's influential essay “The Paranoid Style in American Politics" described a paranoid strain that runs through the thinking of far right politicians in America's history that can be still discerned today. This approach views all of history as a “vast and sinister" conspiracy of sorts, whose “gigantic and yet subtle machinery of influence set in motion to undermine and destroy a way of life". This rather apocalyptic way of belief sees the world in constant turmoil, where only the one who understands the conspiracy can defend the attacked way of life, destroy the enemy and save humanity.

Modern researchers, however, challenge the view that conspiracies are an exclusively rightwing feature, seeing such theories as a kind of magical thinking that allows people from all walks of life and political persuasions to cope with complex emotions, often brought on by an inexplicable event.

Certainly, in the wake of President Trump's victory, there's been no shortage of conspiracy theories that sprang up on the left. Such an occasion can trigger people to look for patterns, to make sense of an emotional upheaval. But the mental shortcuts that we use when searching for patterns (called heuristics) can often find relationships between things and events that aren't necessarily there. An explanation that includes such heuristics can feel very compelling and emotionally satisfying.

The view that people believe in conspiracies when they feel a lack of control was studied by Professor Galinsky:

This understanding can also lead to a strategy for combatting conspiracy theories, as studied by the Dutch researcher Jan-Willem van Prooijen.

Another recent theory posed by researchers actually sees conspiracy talk as a way to bolster the status quo. Potential existence of conspiracies can allow people to have a positive feeling about the society they live in when that social system is threatened. This way if something happens that is out of line with their views (like the election of Donald Trump was for many), people can blame a few bad apples instead of coming to feel like their whole country is against them. Although Russia's interference in the United States 2016 presidential election is proving to be true—a conspiracy that may soon enter history as fact.

Here are some of the most common conspiracy theories of the recent past:

1. Secret Group Controlling World - this conspiracy proposes that a secret group called the Iluminati has been really controlling the world and is looking to create a one world government. Their end-goal is supposedly to create the New World Order, which will dissolve national boundaries and people's identities, while allowing for total authoritarian control.

A version of this theory also sees other groups in a similar position of world domination - the Freemasons, the Jewish people, the Bilderberg Group or the “globalists" that are often invoked in rightwing media outlets like Alex Jones and Breitbart News. President Trump himself mentions “globalists" and invokes fighting against insidious “elites" as a battle cry for his base.

2. President Obama Wasn't Born in the U.S. and May Be a Secret Muslim - this untrue proposition was famously championed on Twitter and elsewhere by the current President Donald Trump. The theory that Barack Obama was actually born in Kenya and is not a natural-born citizen (and thus ineligible for U.S. Presidency) was used to delegitimize President Obama.

Despite Obama producing a long-form birth certificate to placate the doubters, showing that he was born in Hawaii to a Kenyan father and an American mother, 72% of Republicans in a 2016 NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll still expressed skepticism about the President's place of birth.

President Obama's long-form birth certificate.

Another aspect of this conspiracy alleges that Obama is actually a Muslim, although he is a very well-documented Christian. This idea is fueled by Obama living with his Muslim father as a baby and speaks to the anti-Muslim fears stoked by politicians and talkshow hosts.

3. The Attacks on 9/11 Were an Inside Job - a community of “truthers" has emerged around the idea that the terrorist attacks on 9/11 were actually orchestrated by the U.S. government, stemming from the White House itself. They believe the Bush administration had advanced knowledge of the attacks and allowed them to happen so they could invade Iraq and advance their agenda.

The “truthers" claim that jet fuel from the planes was not enough to melt the steel beams of the World Trade Center towers, which were actually brought down by a controlled demolition.

This theory was, of course, widely debunked but continues to live on. One reason for the idea's longevity is that historical facts did prove that the war in Iraq was justified using incorrect information about the supposed existence of weapons of mass destruction.

4. Lizard People aka “Reptilians" Are Running the World - this is a very sci-fi, Hollywood variation on secret groups controlling us, famously championed by David Icke, a professional conspiracy theorist from Britain, who is also a big player in the “truther" movement. The idea also has support from 12 million Americans, according to a 2013 national survey.

What they believe is that the top echelon of our government is actually controlled by shape-shifting reptilian aliens, who have been lording power over humans to make them into mindless slaves for their own purposes.

Photo taken 17 January 2005 in Amsterdam, of an iguana's head. (Photo credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

5. JFK Assassination

51% of Americans believed that there was a conspiracy behind the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in a large national survey in 2013. The popularity of this particular theory stems from the horrific murder in 1963 of President Kennedy and the subsequent lack of a clear, satisfying explanation for who was really behind it.

While the shooter Lee Harvey Oswald got the official blame, parties as divergent as the CIA, KGB, or the mob have been implicated in the public consciousness. The particulars of the theory focus on analyzing whether there was just one gunman and if more shots were fired than officially claimed.

Photo: Jacqueline Kennedy, Edward Kennedy and Robert Kennedy stand as the coffin of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy passes them. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

6. Aliens Are Contacting Us - a variety of events come under the rubric of beliefs in alien contact. Among these are mysteries like the alleged 1947 crash of a flying saucer in Roswell, New Mexico. The ensuing government coverup of that incident supposedly links to Area 51, a top-secret military base where experimental research is carried out, giving rise to rumors that the studies are actually on aliens and their technology.

A group of protestors march in front of the General Accounting Office (GAO) 29 March to raise awareness about an examination being conducted by the GAO for documents about a weather balloon crash at Roswell, N.M. in 1947. The protestors believe the balloon was a crashed UFO.(Photo credit: JOSHUA ROBERTS/AFP/Getty Images)

Believing in UFOs is definitely one of the most widespread alternative beliefs, with ongoing explorations of the topic in cultural products and a steady stream of first-person claims that are spread through the Internet.

7. The Moon Landing Was Faked - one of the most significant scientific and political achievements of the last century, landing on the moon, often comes under attack.

Photo: Astronaut Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin poses next to the U.S. flag July 20, 1969 on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission. (Photo by NASA/Liaison)

Some people believe that the landing did not happen and its appearance was orchestrated by NASA/American government as part of the Cold War, to raise national pride and one up the arch-rival Soviet Union.

Supporters of the idea point to such things as the flag appearing to move in photos from the moon, something that should not happen as there is no wind in space. This was disproved by pointing out that the flag only appears to move during the moment of unfurling, something which would happen even without wind.

A variation of this theory even goes so far as to say that the famous film director Stanley Kubrick was the creative mastermind of the fake footage of the landing.

8. FDA is Withholding the Cure for Cancer - this idea maintains that the FDA and Big Pharmaactually figured out how to cure cancer a while back, but are not making the medicine available. While Big Pharma has not made itself many friends among the public, there is no evidence that such a vast conspiracy is possible as it would require the participation of thousands if not millions of people in both for-profit and non-profit sectors. It makes more sense that selling the cure would actually make more money. It's also hard to believe that these evil medical professionals would not use the cures on themselves and their families, a fact that would likely come to light eventually.

9. Chemtrails - another conspiracy theory mainstay, this idea says that the trails you can spot in the sky behind planes are actually “chemtrails" - some kind of chemical sprayed by the government to control the population. Of course, the trails are just “contrails," created by the combination of vapor from the plane's engine combined with low temperatures at night altitudes.

Photo: Two commercial airliners appear to fly close together as the pass over London on March 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

10. The Holocaust Did Not Happen - you would think there's no doubting a well-documented historical fact of 6 million Jews being exterminated by German Nazis in the recent past, supported by thousands of photos, films and first-hand accounts, but there are some people who believe the Holocaust did not happen.

Photo: Starved prisoners, nearly dead from hunger, pose in concentration camp May 7, 1945 in Ebensee, Austria. The camp was reputedly used for 'scientific' experiments. (Courtesy of the National Archives/Newsmakers)

Only about 54% of the world's population has heard of the Holocaust, according to a large 100-country survey by the Anti-Defamation League. And only a third of those who've heard of it believe the Holocaust is portrayed correctly.

Given political realities, it's not a surprise that only 8% of responders in the Middle East heard of the Holocaust and believed its description was true.

6. The Parthenon of El Negro


Looking through El Durazo Negro’s Partenón. Julio Cesar Sánchez/CC BY-SA 2.0

While not in the United States, Arturo “El Negro” Durazo Moreno, the notoriously corrupt Chief of Police in sprawling Mexico City from 1976 to 1982, deserves an honorable mention on this tour of civic malfeasance. During his tenure he developed a reputation for egomaniacal behavior and crookedness that would follow him to the grave.

From petitioning to become a five-star general despite never serving in the military, to enjoying the kickbacks of an illegal cocaine smuggling ring, El Negro managed to convert Mexico City’s police into a racketeering empire the likes of which had never been seen before. All that extra cash had to be funneled somewhere, so El Negro established a couple of lavish mansions and this Greek-styled seaside playhouse along the cliffs. Today it is possible to tour the Parthenon in its former glory, where patios look out on to empty pools, and murals of Bacchanalia still adorn the walls of a crooked cop’s erstwhile dream home.

The Battle Of The Sexes

The famous tennis match nicknamed “The Battle Of The Sexes” is most commonly associated with the 1973 match between 55 year-old male tennis player Bobby Riggs and 29 year-old female tennis player Billie Jean King. Riggs would go out of his way to taunt female tennis players, and issuing a financial challenge for any female to compete against him on the court — which King accepted, obviously.

But even with King winning, marking a huge step for women’s professional sports, the game was mired in controversy both because King was said to have beaten a past-his-prime opponent, and because of allegations that Riggs concocted the event to raise money to pay off gambling debts he owed to rather unsavory folks.

The earliest recorded Jesuit conspiracy theory is found from Augustinian monk, George Browne, who had exclaimed from the pulpit to a crowd in 1551 the following conspiracy theory:

But there is a new fraternity of late sprung up who call themselves Jesuits, which will deceive many, who are much after the Scribes and Pharisees’ manner. Among the Jews they shall strive to abolish the truth, and shall come very near to do it. For these sorts will turn themselves into several forms with the Heathen a Heathenist, with the Atheists an Atheist, with the Jews a Jew, with the Reformers a Reformade, purposely to know your intentions, your minds, your hearts, and your inclinations, and thereby bring you at last to be like the fool that "said in his heart there was no God." These shall spread over the whole world, "shall be admitted into the counsels of Princes, and they never the wiser," charming of them, yea, making your Princes reveal their hearts, and the secrets therein, and yet they not perceive it which will happen from falling from the law of God, by neglect of fulfilling the law of God, and by winking at their sins yet in the end . . . they shall become odious to all nations: so that at the end they shall be worse than Jews, having no resting place upon earth and then shall a Jew have more favor than a Jesuit. [1]

Less than a decade later, another widely spread libel against the society would appear. The zealous Dominican, Melchor Cano, who had publicized a letter two days before his death, stated the following:

God grant that it may not happen to me as is fabled of Cassandra, who was captured and burned. If the members of the Society continue as they have begun, God grant that the time may not come when kings will wish to resist them, but will not have the means of doing so. [2]

Later these claims would find its proofs in the Monita secreta, a document detailing the supposed illicit ways that inducted members of the Society were using to gain both temporal and spiritual ascendancy over all. [3] First published in Krakow, 1612, edited and published by the former Jesuit, Jerome Zahorowski, [4] he alleged that it was written by Jesuit Superior General Claudio Acquaviva, whose Regional Assistant and Admonitor, Paul Hoffaeus [de] , S.J., had likewise brought scandal to the Society as visitor for the Upper German Province of the Society in 1596, when he had written the following anti-Jesuit report to the Jesuit College of Ingolstadt:

It is to be regretted that so many beneficial precautionary measures are not always observed, or are observed very carelessly. Feasting and frequent visits to single females at their residences take place without necessity. Rendezvous are given in the church for long conversations with women, and there are scandalously long confessions of women, even of those who frequently confess. Confessions of sick women in their houses are heard without the presence of a companion who can see the confessor and penitent. Frequently, yes, very frequently, intimacy prevails between two persons without any trace of strict repression on the confessor's part. I fear that sweet and agreeable words are exchanged, which are tinged with carnal lust and carnal feelings. Unpleasant occurrences, which lead to apostasy and to expulsions from the Society, teach us what great evils are caused by such transgressions in the case of confessors. Must there not be a strange aberration of intellect and heart when confessors in a free and unembarrassed manner, and without fear of shame, dare to pass many hours joking with women before the criticising eyes of the world, as if they themselves and their penitents were not in any danger from such unrestricted intercourse? It is known and has also reached the ears of the princes that confessors from amongst our Order have become entangled through such Satanic examples of vice, and have apostatised or been expelled from the Society as evil nuisances. [5]

The Protestant Reformation, the English Reformation, and later the Age of Enlightenment brought new suspicions against the Jesuits, who were accused of upholding Ultramontanism, infiltrating political realms and non-Catholic churches. In England, it was forbidden to belong to the Jesuits, under grave penalties, including the death penalty. A 1689 work, Foxes and Firebrands by Robert Ware (later exposed as a forger [6] ), claimed Jesuits took a secret oath that stated:

I do further promise and declare that I will, when opportunity presents, make and wage relentless war, secretly and openly, against all heretics, Protestants and Masons, as I am directed to do, to extirpate them from the face of the whole earth and that I will spare neither age, sex nor condition, and that will hang, burn, waste, boil, flay, strangle, and bury alive these infamous heretics rip up the stomachs and wombs of their women, and crush their infants' heads against the walls in order to annihilate their execrable race. That when the same cannot be done openly I will secretly use the poisonous cup, the strangulation cord, the steel of the poniard, or the leaden bullet, regardless of the honour, rank, dignity or authority of the persons, whatever may be their condition in life, either public or private, as I at any time may be directed so to do by any agents of the Pope or Superior of the Brotherhood of the Holy Father of the Society of Jesus. In confirmation of which I hereby dedicate my life, soul, and all corporal powers, and with the dagger which I now receive I will subscribe my name written in my blood in testimony thereof and should I prove false, or weaken in my determination, may my brethren and fellow soldiers of the militia of the Pope cut off my hands and feet and my throat from ear to ear, my belly be opened and sulphur burned therein with all the punishment that can be inflicted upon me on earth, and my soul shall be tortured by demons in eternal hell forever. [7] [8]

Jesuitism is the term their opponents coined for the practices of the Jesuits in the service of the Counter-Reformation. [9]

Other conspiracy theories and criticisms relate to the role of the Jesuits in the colonization of the New World, and to their involvement with indigenous peoples. Some allege that the Jesuits, through their settlements (reductions), may willingly have contributed to the assimilation of indigenous nations, even accusing the Society of commanding them in guerrilla warfare [10] On the other hand, the Jesuits were hated by the Catholic rulers and colonists, who saw their reductions, which were cut off from contact with European Christians, as subversive and a threat to good order, at times even believing in the worst of accusations against the Society. Étienne François, the Foreign Minister of France, who had a strong influence on France, and supposedly even on Spain's global strategy, firmly believed that the Society was a shadow government, believing that:

the Society was involved in and able to influence everything. [11]

These hostile views contributed so greatly to the campaign against the Jesuits (which resulted in the suppression of the Society of Jesus by Pope Clement XIV in 1773, [12] ) that historian Hamish Scott determined Étienne as the true "destroyer of the Jesuit Order", rather than the commonly alleged arch-nemesis of the Society, King Charles III [13]

In 17th Century France, the development of Jansenism, a Catholic theological movement emphasising original sin, led to intra-church rivalries between Jesuits and Jansenists. And although the pro-papal Jesuits ultimately prevailed, it cost them dearly with regard to their reputation in the largely Gallican-influenced French Church.

Many anti-Jesuit conspiracy theories emerged in the 18th century Enlightenment, as a result of an alleged rivalry between the Freemasons and the Jesuits. Intellectual attacks on Jesuits were seen as an efficient rebuttal to the anti-masonry promoted by conservatives, and this ideological conspiracy pattern persisted into the 19th century as an important component of French anti-clericalism. It was, however, largely confined to political elites until the 1840s, when it entered the popular imagination through the writings of the historians Jules Michelet and Edgar Quinet of the Collège de France who declared "la guerre aux jesuites", and the novelist Eugène Sue who in his best-seller Le Juif errant depicted the Jesuits as a "secret society bent on world domination by all available means". [14] Sue's heroine, Adrienne de Cardoville, said that she could not think about Jesuits "without ideas of darkness, of venom and of nasty black reptiles being involuntarily aroused in me". [15]

Many, since Albert Pike's Morals and Dogma was first published in 1871, have come to view the Freemasons as the lineal heirs of the Knights Templar, but other conspiracy theorists ascribe that role to the Jesuits, citing Pike in the aforementioned work:

Hugues de Payens himself had not that keen and far-sighted intellect nor that grandeur of purpose which afterward distinguished the military founder of another soldiery that became formidable to kings. The Templars were unintelligent and therefore unsuccessful Jesuits. [16]

Eight hundred Degrees of one kind and another were invented: infidelity and even Jesuitry were taught under the mask of Masonry. [17]

Others still place all three under the same umbrella, loosely or otherwise:

But before his execution, the Chief of the doomed Order organized and instituted what afterward came to be called the Occult, Hermetic, or Scottish Masonry. In the gloom of his prison, the Grand Master created four Metropolitan Lodges, at Naples for the East, at Edinburgh for the West, at Stockholm for the North, and at Paris for the South. [18]

Jesuit conspiracy theories found fertile soil in Imperial Germany, where anti-Jesuits saw the order as a sinister and extremely powerful organization which was characterized by strict internal discipline, utter unscrupulousness in its choice of methods, and undeviating commitment to the creation of a universal empire which would be ruled by the Papacy. Citing historian Friedrich Heyer's metaphor of the specter of Jesuitism (Jesuitengespenst) and similar imagery from other authors, Róisín Healey writes: "The Jesuit of anti-Jesuit discourse had what might be called an uncanny quality: he was both subhuman and superhuman. Jesuits were allegedly so extreme in their submission to their order that they became like machines and, in their determination to achieve their goals, drew on powers unavailable to other men, through witchcraft. The peculiar location of the Jesuit, at the boundaries of humanity, unsettled the producers and consumers of anti-Jesuit discourse. In this sense, the Jesuit specter haunted imperial Germany." [19] Healy observes that "feeling themselves haunted by the Jesuits, anti-Jesuits revealed themselves to be less rational than they believed." Their discourse, with its "skewed" perception of reality, "resembled, in certain respects, the 'paranoid style' of politics identified by the American historian, Richard Hofstadter". [20]

Anti-Jesuitism played an important part in the Kulturkampf, culminating in the Jesuit Law of 1872, endorsed by Otto von Bismarck, which required Jesuits to dissolve their houses in Germany, forbade members from exercising most of their religious functions, and allowed the authorities to deny residency to individual members of the order. Some of the law's provisions were removed in 1904, but it was only repealed in 1917. [21]

In the 1930s, Jesuit conspiracy theories were made use of by the Nazi Party with the goal of reducing the influence of the Jesuits, who ran secondary schools and engaged in youth work. A propaganda pamphlet, "The Jesuit: The Obscurantist without a Homeland" by Hubert Hermanns, warned against the Jesuits' "dark power" and "mysterious intentions". Declared "public vermin" [Volksschädlinge] by the Nazis, Jesuits were persecuted, interned, and sometimes murdered. [22]

A notable source of modern conspiracy theories which involve the Jesuits is Vatican Assassins by Eric Jon Phelps. [23] It is said to allege that Newt Gingrich is "one of the ten most dangerous, Jesuitical politicians of the Pope's 'Holy Roman' Fourteenth Amendment, Cartel-Corporate-Fascist, Socialist-Communist American Empire" and it also alleges that the Jesuits played a role in the Assassination of John F. Kennedy. [24] Skeptic Bob Blaskiewicz also claims that Phelps told him that the alleged "Grey aliens" are not aliens but creations of Jesuit science. [25]

In their book Titanic & Olympic: The Truth Behind the Conspiracy, historians Bruce Beveridge and Steve Hall debunk various conspiracy theories about the sinking of the Titanic, including one that the Jesuits were responsible, which they describe as falling into the category of the "completely ridiculous". According to that theory, in the early 20th century, the Jesuits were seeking a means to fund their schemes and wars. In 1910, at a clandestine meeting which was hosted by J. P. Morgan, seven major financiers, all of whom were either controlled by or in league with the Jesuits, came to an agreement on the need to eliminate outside competition in the banking world and create a central bank which would be backed by the United States Government, a bank which would later be known as the Federal Reserve. This scheme, however, was opposed by certain influential businessmen such as Benjamin Guggenheim, Isidor Straus and John Jacob Astor IV. In order to eliminate those three powerful "enemies", the Jesuits ordered Morgan to build the Titanic and arrange for them to board it for a pre-arranged fatal maiden voyage. [26]

The theory includes the claim that Captain Edward Smith was a "Jesuit temporal coadjutor". [27] The "accidental sinking" was arranged by having Smith's "Jesuit master", Father Francis Browne, board the Titanic and order Smith to run his ship at full speed through an ice field on a moonless night, ignoring any ice warnings including those from the lookouts, with the purpose of hitting an iceberg severely enough to cause the ship to founder and the three businessmen to drown. In other words, the Titanic was built and then sunk, and her crew and passengers sacrificed, to eliminate three men. As evidence of Conspiracy on Rome's part, the conspiracy theorists cite Browne asking permission from his Jesuit superior to proceed with some potential wealthy american benefactors, in which he received the reply telegram unambiguously saying "GET OFF THAT SHIP – PROVINCIAL", [28] and that after the sinking, all opposition to the Federal Reserve disappeared. It was set up in December 1913, and eight months later the Jesuits had sufficient funding to launch a European war. Beveridge and Hall note that the theory never considers "why conspirators in 1910 would feel sinking a ship was an economical way to eliminate 'enemies' or how they would arrange for all three victims to board a specific ship on a specific voyage two years later". [26]

1 The U.S. Government Actively Investigated Aliens & UFOs

Alien conspiracy theories have been around forever, and they tend to stick around, thanks to government secrecy. This is especially true of the United States government, which has fostered numerous conspiracy theories, including one that claims the government actively investigated UFOs and aliens.

Investigating UFOs is part of the job for the military, seeing as it just means Unidentified Flying Object. That doesn&rsquot mean UFOs are treated as alien in origin by the military. It only means that the military treats unidentified objects as possible threats, so it checks them out.

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