The political scientist Michael Barkun once claimed that the fundamental logic of conspiracy theories is reliant on one thing: the person (or persons) who share the theory have to believe that world is governed by design.
That is, according to Barkun, conspiracy theorists tend to believe that everything happens for a reason. Sheer chance, argues Barkun, is not enough to satisfy a conspiracy theorist. World-changing events must be the machinations of someone with a plan. In their worldview, nothing is as it seems, and everything is connected.
With that insight, it's easy to understand why so many seemingly insane conspiracy theories take hold in the wider population. When life on Earth is so prone to tragedy, death, and disaster, it's oddly comforting to believe that at the very least, such calamities are always somebody's doing. It's like a response to the lack of control which we all sometimes feel. After all, it can be difficult for any of us to accept the truth that sometimes, bad things happen to good people... and there isn't necessarily a direct cause. Luck is a powerful force in all of our lives—but not one that most of us feel entirely comfortable with. It flies in the face of our own sense of importance.
So maybe it's worth looking at some conspiracy theories as almost a collective form of self-preservation. Rather than embrace the somewhat cold and foreboding prospect of randomness, we cling to the idea that the story we've been told just isn't the real thing. Easier to blame somebody, then nobody at all.
All of that being said, though, it's also worth remembering that sometimes, just sometimes, what we thought was a conspiracy theory turns out to be true. There's a genuine value to cultivating a skeptical mind... and so with that being said, here are 43 freaky facts about common conspiracy theories.
Hope you enjoy.
Conspiracy Theories Facts
43. Poisoned by the CIA
Bob Marley, the world-famous reggae musician, died of cancer. It started in his foot, and spread all the way up to his brain. His death was painful and drawn-out.
However, despite the man's ongoing illness, there was an assassination attempt against his life just one year before he died. A group of men broke into his house, and tried to shoot him. That’s not even the conspiracy--that’s a real, credible, and established fact. Somebody tried to kill Bob Marley.
The conspiracy starts with another, absolutely not established, assertion: that one of those attempted killers was an agent for the CIA. It's a pretty far-fetched claim, which only comes across as even mildly believable due to the other extenuating circumstances surrounding Marley's death. Jamaica's political situation was incredibly heated, and Marley's support of the current Prime Minister, Michael Manley, did fly directly in the face of American interests. After all, Michael Manley's party had ties to Cuba and Fidel Castro. So, goes the theory, the CIA was tasked with murdering Bob Marley, in order to squash support for Jamaica's socialist politicians.
No credible evidence has surfaced... but I suppose you have to admit that the circumstances were suspicious.
42. Flat Earth Theory
There are people out there who still believe the world is flat. Those people exist.
Some, it seems, are basically pranksters: their supposed "proof" for a Flat Earth conspiracy is in-and-of-itself, a joke. Fair enough.
But there remains a loud minority who do actually believe the story. Their claim? Not only is the Earth flat... but there is a worldwide conspiracy in place to obscure that fact from everyday people. It's an absolutely stunning claim. If that were true, the amount of collusion at the highest levels of power would need to be absolutely astonishing.
Think of it like this: what would it take to institute and maintain such a gobsmacking lie? It would mean almost everything we take to be true has been fabricated. Space images are fake. Zero-gravity astronaut footage is filmed in a plane doing loops in the air. Astronomy teachers all over the world are being duped into spreading lies to their students.
It would be, without a doubt, the biggest lie ever told in human history. And leaving aside the mountains of scientific evidence which conclusively demonstrate the truth... isn't it enough to just ask how such a massive scoop would be kept secret? There are a few examples of large-scale conspiracies in the annals of human history... but none even hold a candle to how large this would need to be. And if anyone knows anything, it's that keeping a secret between even two people is basically a coin-toss. Once you've added a third person in on it? Ooooof, the odds of that secret staying between you all seem to get preeeeeeeeeety low.
41. The Royal Family Killed Princess Diana
The much-beloved Princess Diana of Wales tragically died in a car accident in 1997. Some people believe that this was done on purpose.
Diana died sitting next to a man named Dodi Fayed, who was an Egyptian millionaire. This was not unusual, since princess went on many diplomatic meetings.
However, some believe she was having an affair with him and was planning on leaving Wales to marry Dodi. And, not to fuel the flames of conspiracy here, but they are almost certainly right. Even Fayed's fiance, the American model Suzanne Gregard admitted as much.
But where the conspiracy theory really takes off is in the belief that it was Diana and Dodi's affair which led to their being killed. There are a host of theories regarding “how” and “why”, but one thing stands out: as of yet, there is no conclusive evidence to support these conspiracy theories.
40. Jesus and Mary Magdalene Got Married
Some people believe that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were more than just friends. This conspiracy theory has been around for a loooooooooong time (think, as long as the Church has been around) but it really found the limelight once it was featured in Dan Brown's worldwide best-selling novel, The DaVinci Code.
It's easy enough to see why the theory has gripped the imagination of so many people: Jesus is not only one of the most recognizable figures in the world (arguably in human history), but the Catholic Church is also an organization that is absolutely ripe for conspiratorial speculation. Few institutions have wielded such monumental power for so long. And, as no doubt many of you are thinking, the scandals involving Catholic priests in recent years have poked a hole in the Church's credibility. It would appear the authorities of the Church are not as incorruptible as many of us would like to believe...
39. Lorde is Lying About Her Age
When Lorde’s music started playing on the radio, nobody could believe that “Royals” was sung by a 15-year old girl. Her voice is so deep, and her lyrics are very mature for someone her age. You can call her a genius, but some people find it easier to believe that she is actually much older than she claims, and that lying about her age was part of what made her stand out and become famous. People were so skeptical that they demanded to see her birth certificate. After a while, it was finally released, just to get people to stop. The creators of SouthPark thought this conspiracy theory was hilarious, so they decided to take it to the next level, and make Stan’s Dad the secret identity of Lorde.
38. The Super Humans of MK-ULTRA
This is another conspiracy that has roots in the truth.
From the 1950’s to the 1970’s, the US Government was conducting experiments on human beings. Their goal was to use mind control to create “sleeper agents,” or assassins who had no idea they were killing people. They were given LSD, and essentially tortured. When they were found out, they began to destroy all of their documents on their experiments. This is where the rumors began. The CIA was also known for studying people with alleged psychic powers. The experiments conducted on the young girl, Eleven, from TV show Stranger Things seems to be inspired by MK-ULTRA, since the truth of what happened behind closed doors leaves so much to the imagination.
37. The Megan Fox Clone Army
Over the years, Megan Fox has looked a little bit different. It could be because of aging, plastic surgery, makeup style, weight loss...Or she could be a CLONE?! One conspiracy theory believes that there is no real Megan Fox. She is just a series of perfect-looking clones that end up slightly different each time.
36. Operation Northwoods
This is a conspiracy that actually turned out to be true. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Joint Chief of Staff plotted a fake Cuban bombing, in order to get America’s support in a war against Cuba. President Kennedy stopped it from happening. This lead to the rumors that the CIA planned to kill JFK, and it also gives some weight to the next rumor on the list.
35. Terrorist Attacks on 9/11 Were an Inside Job
Some people believe that the US government knew about the 9/11 attacks ahead of time, and yet chose to let it happen. Others believe that it was completely orchestrated by the government, and that bombs went off inside the building in order to make it fall, and they blamed it on the plane. So, why would any President do this? Some believe that Bush wanted an excuse to go to war with the Middle East, because his family profits a huge amount of money from oil. But would this get the support of the government? Unlikely.
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34. Hollywood Actors are Immortal
In 2011, an antique photograph emerged of a man that looked a heck of a lot like Nicholas Cage. Over time, more and more old photos have emerged that look a lot like celebrities. There is a conspiracy rumor that they can either time travel, or that actors are actually vampires. However, there are apparently 7 people who look like any single person currently living in the world. So it’s not surprising if there are old photographs of anyone’s “twin."
33. The Moon Landing
During the Cold War, the United States and Russia were in a race to see who could get to the moon first. Russia was winning by a long shot in the space race, and yet, somehow, the US got to there first, and Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon. This has caused some people to believe that the US Government filmed the whole thing in a studio, and that it was all fake. Many of them are not denying that space exploration is real today. They just think that particular moon landing was orchestrated simply to beat the Russians.
32. William Shakespeare?
William Shakespeare lived during the 1600’s, so not many records have been found about the man’s actual life. There is a grave in England where he is buried, but it still leaves doubts in some people’s minds. Since theater was seen as being disgraceful at the time, some theorists believe that Shakespeare was a pseudonym created by members of the aristocracy who wanted to write plays. For eye-witness accounts of the playwright, conspiracy theorists say that he must have been an actor hired to be “William Shakespeare,” and that any man outside of the nobility could not have possibly written such groundbreaking plays. There are multiple theories of the “true identity” of William Shakespeare, including Sir Francis Bacon, and the Earl of Oxford.
31. Hollow Moon Theory
This is the idea that the moon is actually hollow, and an ancient alien civilization lives inside of it, like one giant space station. While this may sound extremely far-fetched, there are actually a lot of people out there who believe they have “evidence” of this being true.
30. Katy Perry and Jonbenet Ramsey
The unsolved murder mystery of child beauty pageant star Jonbenet Ramsey has been a topic of conspiracy for years. One of the newest ideas was that she never actually died, and she grew up to be Katy Perry. Why, exactly, would parents do this? Theorists believe that the motive would be to get their beautiful daughter thrust into the spotlight, which would capture the public’s attention, and help her get into show business. The two look very much alike, but that’s pretty much the only “evidence” supporting this conspiracy theory.
29. A Door to Another Dimension
The children’s book series and TV show of the Berenstain Bears was a big favorite for kids who grew up in the 90’s. However, for those of us who have grown up and gone back to Google search for the show, we noticed something a little weird...Was it always spelled with an “a” in “Berenstain”? This may seem sort of small and innocuous, but thousands of people have come forward, swearing on their life that they remember it being spelled “BerenstEin” with an “e”. This is a product of what’s called “The Mandela Effect”, which got its name when a large group of people can vividly remember Nelson Mandela dying in prison...But in reality, he survived. Conspiracy theorists believe events like this are a door into another dimension, and some people remember their parallel-life experiences, while others don’t.
28. "Paul is Dead"
Can you imagine how different the world of music would have been if one of the Beatles died in the 60’s? Well, lots of people do, actually. There is a conspiracy theory that Paul McCartney died in 1966, and a look-alike replaced him. Theorists see “signs” of “proof” everywhere--like how on the Abbey Road cover, Paul is the only one out of step from the others.
27. Water Fluoride and Mind Control
In the United States, fluoride is added to the drinking water, because it was thought to reduce tooth decay. Some people aren’t buying that excuse, because fluoride has been known to have medicinal side effects of “dumbing people down,” which could make them more complacent and less likely to revolt.
26. Plastic Coffins Are Ready For You
In Atlanta, Georgia, FEMA is an organization that gets prepared for natural disasters. During the Obama Administration, the group ordered 500,000 “plastic coffins.” There are so many that it creates a gigantic wall that is visible from the highway. FEMA claims that they’re not coffins, they’re actually liners to go around a coffin to prevent seepage from the dead going into the ground, and possibly getting into drinking water. Conspiracy theorists aren’t buying it. They think the government knows something we don’t know--and they’re going to need those coffins for thousands of dead Americans.
25. Bigfoot, Can You Hear Me?
Thousands of people go missing from National Parks, and some of their disappearances defy explanation. The CANAM Missing Project is lead by David Paulides, who is the author of the Missing 411 books. His organization is dedicated to figuring out what is going on to make this people simply vanish. While Paulides refuses to give his own theories, many fans of the Missing 411 stories believe that the answer is Bigfoot. If it was, in fact, Bigfoot, then the National Parks and the government would know about it by now, and keep it a secret.
24. HAARP Makes it Rain
In Alaska, they are housing what is called the High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program. The government claims that they are using radio waves to generate heat, and they are also studying the atmosphere. It’s true that they are studying a lot of stuff--but conspiracy theorists go one step further, because they believe that HAARP is a project attempting to control the weather.
23. "You're a wizard, Harry."
Jo Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, is very beautiful. She is so pretty, in fact, that some people find it hard to believe that she could be nerdy enough to write a story like Harry Potter. Some people believe that the woman we have seen in interviews is actually an actress paid to pretend that she is JK Rowling, and that the true author is hidden from the public eye. So pretty much their entire line of reasoning is "pretty girls can't write about wizards."
22. The CIA and AIDS
Since the disease didn’t really seem to be an issue until the 1980’s, some people believe that the CIA created AIDS in a lab in order to get rid of “undesirable” people. Even a Nobel-Prize winning ecologist named Wangari Maathai used her newfound fame to try to let the public know what the CIA was doing. In reality, many scientists think that it used to be a disease that was only found in monkeys, and around the 1930’s, people somehow started to catch it too? This theory is not confirmed, but it’s true that scientists have accidently let diseases free, even without evil intent.
21. Chemtrails Are Poisoning Everyone
When planes fly, they leave behind “contrails” from the exhaust of their engines. The moisture crystallizes, and form clouds that are long and thin. Conspiracy theorists believe that these clouds are not “contrails.” They believe they’re “chemtrails”--toxic chemicals trying to poison people through the tailpipes of airplanes.
20. Junkie Jesus
Throughout history, Biblical imagery is riddled with mushroom-like images. Some people believe that Jesus was on ‘shrooms, and that’s part of what gave him so many visions where he apparently spoke to God. While this is a conspiracy theory, it’s actually true that many cultures use drugs as part of their meditation rituals. Since they grow on the Earth, these ‘shrooms could have been seen as like a gift from God to seek a higher truth...In theory.
19. Where's the Proof? Shut Up, Irma.
There are so many right-wing politicians publicly denouncing the existence of global warming that some people actually consider this to be a true fact, rather than a conspiracy theory. They think that it’s a big lie to raise taxes, or distract people from other issues.
18. Hitler Lives On?
Adolf Hitler killed his wife, and then committed suicide. However, a few people believe that he actually escaped to Argentina, and body doubles were put in the place of him and his wife. There are many eye-witnesses who claim to have met Hitler when he lived in Argentina. Considering how conniving he was with the Nazi party, it’s actually not too difficult to believe that he had some kind of escape plan when he knew it was all coming to an end.
17. Tupac Forever
In 1996, the famous rapper Tupac Shakur was shot while in his BMW. However, many theorists believe that he never actually died. They believe it was an elaborate way for his record sales to go up, and get him out of the public eye. Some people say he started a new life in Cuba.
16. George Bush Hired Britney Spears to Distract People?
We all remember when Britney Spears went a little bit crazy shaving her head. Everyone was talking about it. Some people believe that the Bush Administration paid Britney to cause such a ruckus to distract people from the shady things they were doing.
15. We’re all in The Matrix
Elon Musk publically said that it’s totally possible that we are all living in a simulated reality, like The Matrix. Conspiracy Theorists go wild with this, and find “evidence” everywhere. It's pretty tough to prove or disprove anything when your theory discredits the laws of reality.
14. The Government and Pearl Harbor
For years, the United States did not join World War II. People didn’t want to get involved...Until Pearl Harbor happened. Theorists believe that the military actually knew that the Japanese were on their way, because the US technology should have been more advanced than theirs, and they should have had the capacity to see them coming. If this is true, the government allowed the attacks to happen so that the US would have an excuse to join WWII. One of the key pieces of evidence pointed to is that several US aircraft carriers were assigned to Pearl Harbour, but they were stationed elsewhere on the day of the attacks.
13. JFK Assassination
We all know that President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed, but the motivation behind his death is a huge topic of speculation. There are multiple conspiracy theories out there, and no one really knows which one (if any) is true.
12. The Reptilian Elite
The "Reptilian Elite" is a conspiracy theory that all of the biggest leaders in the world are secretly a race of Reptilians who are planning to control humans and take over the world. Some people even claim to have seen it happen for a split second, where a person turns into a giant humanoid lizard, and suddenly turns back again. If these people are truly seeing this, it sounds like a terrifying experience, at the very least.
11. The Government is Hiding Aliens in Area 51
Roswell, New Mexico is home of the Area 51 secret government base. If you search for video footage on YouTube, you will see footage of security patrols stopping citizens venturing near the area, and even an incident of stopping them at gunpoint. Whatever is in there, the government sure doesn’t want you to find out. Many people believe that they are keeping an alien spacecraft, and trying to reverse engineer it for the US military. Thousands of tourists visit Area 51 each year. Of course, others are quick to point out that it's pretty reasonable for a secure military base to be, well, secure.
10. The Men in Black Are Real
Everyone loves “Men in Black," but many theorists take it much more seriously. Apparently, people have seen these “Men in Black” shortly after claiming that they witnessed a UFO. Anyone who believes that the government is hiding aliens would also find it easy to believe this conspiracy theory.
9. Holocaust Denial
“Holocaust Revisionists” believe that the Nazis imprisoned people, but they have a hard time believing the gruesome stories of the gas chambers and the millions of Jewish people who died. There would be no logical motivation for all of the Holocaust survivors to lie about these facts, or for Germany to publically acknowledge and apologize, if it hadn’t happened. For whatever reason, people still deny it, and believe it’s some big conspiracy.
8. The Global Elite...They're Takin' Our Jobs!
Many of the US Presidents and other people in power are said to have been apart of the “Skull and Bones Society,” or the Freemasons. Apparently, they are just puppeteering the whole world to do whatever they want in order to keep themselves rich.
7. The American Prohibition Poison
In the 1920’s, the US government made alcohol illegal. People who believed that the government put poison into barrels of alcohol were once called conspiracy theorists, but this one holds water. The Federal Poisoning Program was real, and it targeted industrial alcohol, which was commonly stolen by bootleggers for recreational drinking. Some estimates states that 10,000 may have died as a result of this lethal law enforcement.
6. The Vril Society
There is a conspiracy theory that the Nazis were a part of this secret society of higher beings called the “Vril,” who had access to deeper knowledge and understanding of the Universe. For some people, this was justification for why the Aryans were so much “better” than everybody else. To most people, it just sounds like a thin veil to justify racism and horrific brutality.
5. Ancient Aliens Created Humanity
In many ancient stone drawings and etchings, people look a little weird--maybe they have wings, or animal heads. Their eyes may be huge, and their bodies may be disproportionate compared to real people. Rather than attributing this to symbolism or an artistic style, some people believe that these weird humanoid creatures were actually aliens who are the origin of humanity.
4. The Nazi Bell
Apparently, the Nazis were planning a “wonder weapon” that has been nicknamed “The Nazi Bell.” There is no physical evidence that this weapon ever actually existed, but it has theorists running wild with their imaginations.
3. Monsanto Conspiracy
Monsanto is a company that is responsible for genetically modified food. Many people hate the corporation, and believe that they are responsible for a lot of issues going on in the world, including pollution that has contributed to global warming, and illnesses spreading. The conspiracies on Monsanto run so deep that it’s impossible to list them all.
2. The Philosopher’s Stone is Real
The Philosopher’s Stone is a fictional object that was what alchemists were aspiring to make for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. If an alchemist figured out how to create the stone, they could make gold, and live forever. There are rumors that a few alchemists actually succeeded, and lived forever. They include (reportedly, of course--we're talking about conspiracy theories here!) Nicholas Flamel and The Comte de Saint-Germain. Chinese alchemists have also claimed to find the “elixir of life.”
1. The Illuminati: Confirmed
The Illuminati is apparently a secret group that controls everything on the planet. Some of the rumored members are celebrities. Some believe they're a bunch of Satanists trying to do bad things to everyone, which makes them an easy group to blame whenever something bad happens. Others claim they're dedicated to the survival of the human species, which doesn't sound so horrible at face value, but the truth is that no one really know much about them... which is perhaps the strangest thing about them.