A conspiracy theory is a belief, held by a significant segment of society, that is wildly at odds with accepted wisdom, evidence, and logic. For the bulk of society not to accept such a belief requires that society must be engaged in some kind of conspiracy to cover up the truth; hence the term "conspiracy theory". Conspiracy theories often involve a plot by multiple individuals to cause a major event having political consequences, as in the belief by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and other liberals that Russia somehow interfered with the presidential election in the United States in 2016, leading to Donald Trump's victory.
Liberals often ridicule conspiracy theories, except when they resort to them to excuse their own failure as when Hillary lost an election that she was heavily favored to win by the mainstream media. Indeed, many of the most extreme theories are pushed hard by liberals. Some of the most notable are:
There are many conspiracy theories in current or recent history, some much more widespread and important than others. In the following list, the more famous ones or focused ones are listed first.
- Various theories regarding President John F. Kennedy's assassination. There are a number of theories proposed here, generally along the lines that the assassination was not conducted by Lee Harvey Oswald acting alone, but was part of some larger murder conspiracy. This may be the first of the modern conspiracy theories.
- Apollo conspiracy theory: The theory that the Apollo 11 lunar landing on July 20, 1969, and indeed the entire Apollo program, was fake. Supporters analyze photographs and often claim that satellite photographs of Area 51 resemble a movie studio.
- Various 9/11 conspiracy theories. People who embrace these are called Truthers. The theories generally state that the World Trade Center buildings were not brought down by airplane collisions, but (typically) by detonation of explosives planted earlier. Truthers often ascribe the motivation for this to some kind of nefarious scheme by the George W. Bush administration. Among the websites promoting these theories are Infowars and We Are Change.
- The belief that President Franklin D. Roosevelt knew about the Attack on Pearl Harbor in advance, and allowed it to happen, so America could get into the war; that officers ignored evidence that the attack had started.
- The influence of secret societies, fraternal organizations, and various religious groups. Freemasons, the Illuminati, the United Nations, the Catholic Church, Judaism, and the Catholic "Society of Jesus" (Jesuits) are popular targets. Often these groups are accused of being behind so-called "shadow governments." FEMA has been accused of being a "shadow government" as well. These conspiracy theories have been around since the 1700's. At present, the phrase "New World Order" is often associated with them.
- The notion that Jews are conspiring to destroy civilization. This one is particularly serious. It has been going on in Europe for hundreds of years. It led to Anti-Semitism, and, more tragically, the Holocaust of the Nazis in 20th century Germany.
- Denial that the Holocaust happened, and/or claims of exaggeration. In a number of European countries, Holocaust denial is a criminal offense. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is among this theory's supporters.
- "Chemtrails"—this appears to be one of the "New World Order" conspiracy theories. It says that some entity (the U.S. government? the New World Order?) is seeding the atmosphere with chemicals for weather manipulation, mind control, or some other purpose. Evidence of this can be seen in what normal people would consider to be the condensation trails (contrails) of high-flying aircraft. Some variants of this have suggested that what normal people call cell phone towers are in fact put in place for some other sinister purpose.
- Highway signs—another one of the "New World Order" conspiracy theories. It says that the tiny numbers in the lower corners of direction signs on interstate highways are actually put in place to guide the military vehicles that will be used in some kind of invasion of the United States. The invasion is expected to come from the United Nations, some foreign government, or some other internationalist entity.
- That Queen Elizabeth II is/was running a drug cartel in England. This one dates back to the 1980's, and appears to have originated with Lyndon Larouche. It is currently embraced by Jacques Cheminade, a Larouche follower and current candidate for the presidency of France.
- If a president of his quality and insight has failed, it must be because his opponents are uniquely evil, coordinated and effective. The problem is not Bill Clinton or Barack Hussein Obama but an imaginary "conservative conspiracy" against them.
- Various theories surrounding UFOs, alien abduction, and governments "covering up" the existence of extraterrestrials. Usually this is associated with supposed alien sightings at Roswell, NM
- The George W. Bush presidential campaign conspired to rig the election in 2000. See also: Bush v. Gore
- The George W. Bush presidential campaign conspired with Diebold and other electronic voting machine manufacturers to rig the election in 2004. (See article: Diebold)
- The so-called "vast right-wing conspiracy" as described by Hillary Rodham Clinton.
- The "fake news" accusations leveled by the liberal mainstream media against conservative media outlets (which became a popular theory propagated by the MSM in the days following the 2016 presidential election).
- People (particularly scientists) who are skeptical of Global Warming are supposedly funded by Big Oil.
- The theory that a neocon cabal controlled the Bush Administration and was responsible for the War in Iraq.
- The idea that all paleontologists are falsifying evidence to make the Earth appear older than 6000 years
- The theory that the Iraq War was started by Big Oil in order to gain access to cheap petroleum.
- Various theories regarding population control, including a supposed deliberate conspiracy to make foods and the environment unsafe, legalization of abortion and contraception to prevent population growth, and jets spraying toxic "chemtrails" over rural areas. Usually supporters claim ease of controlling smaller groups of people.
- Various claims regarding the income tax, including the ratification process of the Sixteenth Amendment. The legitimacy of the Federal Reserve and the IRS are questioned by these people, and most favor a return to the gold standard.
- A supposed part-human, part-reptile (or part-alien) bloodline with politically- and financially-powerful members. Former British soccer player David Icke promotes these theories.
- People associated with the Clintons wind-up dead, Clinton Body Count conspiracy.
- Pat Tillman was killed by the government due to his antiwar/Noam Chomsky relationships.
- Middle East connection to the Oklahoma City Bombing.
- Sirhan Sirhan was complicit with the Arab world, RFK's staunch support of Israel would be the reason for his assassination.
- Diana, Princess of Wales was murdered by the British security service MI5 at the Duke of Edinburgh's orders to prevent her giving birth to a Islamic child by Dodi Fayed.
- The CIA is using Wikipedia® in a government-controlled disinformation campaign targeting the American public.
Conspiracy theories proven true
- Project MKUltra
- Operation Mockingbird
- Operation Northwoods
- The Mafia
- Manhattan Project
- Operation Snow White
- Operation Gladio
- Bohemian Grove
- Operation Paperclip
Common elements of conspiracy theories
The target blamed for everything may change, but most destructive conspiracy theories believe the same things:
- The world is divided into 'us' and 'them'. We are "good," and they are "evil."
- Our opponents are evil and subversive... possibly not even human.
- "They" are responsible for our troubles – We are blameless and without fault.
- Time is running out, and we must act immediately to avoid disaster.
Conspiracy theories provide an important element of certainty in a world that seems random and perverse. Believing that a small, evil group controls everything is actually more reassuring to some minds than believing things just happen by random circumstance. Often it can be entertaining, and many documentaries and TV specials have been produced about conspiracy theories.
- They claim that Jewish workers had been telephoned in advance and told not to come to work (false), that airplane collisions would have caused the buildings to topple over rather than collapse directly downward (false, ignorant of high-school physics), or that the heat of burning aviation fuel would not raise the temperature sufficiently to melt the girders (false, the temperature to make iron visibly bend is much higher than the temperature to make it lose the strength needed to hold up a building).
- From decrypts of Japanese communications, American intelligence expected a major military operation within that time frame, but believed it would take place in southern Asia.
- "ZOG Ate My Brains"
- Washington Post; Liberals resort to conspiracy theories to explain Obama's problems
- Google Search Clinton Body Count
- FILM REVIEW: Absurd Conspiracy Theories Abound in Agenda-Driven ‘Tillman Story’, BigHollywood.com
- MCVEIGH CITED AGAIN AS REASON FOR 'RIGHT-WING' WARNING; Atlas Shrugs, April 16, 2009
- Assassin Maintains He Can't Remember Shooting RFK, FoxNews, February 28, 2011
- "ZOG Ate My Brains", again