There are many unproven conspiracy theories with varying degrees of popularity, frequently related to clandestine government plans and elaborate murder plots. Conspiracy theories usually go against a consensus or cannot be proven using the historical method and are typically not considered similar to verified conspiracies such as Germany's pretense for invading Poland in World War II. Conspiracy theory is often considered the opposite of institutional analysis.

Ethnicity, race, and religion

Antisemitic conspiracy theories

Main article: Antisemitic canard

First edition of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion

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. Forged evidence was manufactured to support this idea, the most notorious example of which is The Protocols of the Elders of Zion (1903). Such texts aided the rise of Jewish Bolshevism theories which alleged that the Jews were responsible for the propagation of communism.

Antisemitic theories persist today in notions concerning banking,[1][2][2][3] Hollywood, the news media and a purported Zionist Occupation Government.[4][5][6]

16th-century painting showing alleged host desecration by Jews in Passau, Germany

Holocaust denial is also considered to be an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory in its position that the Holocaust is a hoax designed to advance the interests of Jews and to justify the creation of the State of Israel.[7][8]

Anti-Armenian conspiracy theories

See also: Anti-Armenianism and Denial of the Armenian Genocide

Conspiracy theories involving Armenians are prevalent in Azerbaijan.[9] Azerbaijani journalist Arzu Geybulla has drawn attention to the way in which conspiracy theories involving Armenians are used by the government to stifle dissent.[10] Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has publicly described Armenians as enemies of the nation who wield financial power over certain politicians.[11][12][13] Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has claimed that the Russian media is run by Armenians.[14]

American writer and disbarred lawyer Samuel Weems[15] has claimed that the Armenian Genocide was a hoax designed to defraud Christian nations of billions of dollars. He has also claimed that the Armenian Church was a state-owned entity that organizes and funds terrorist attacks.[16] Azerbaijani filmmaker Davud Imanov, in a series of films called the Echo of Sumgait, accused Armenians, Russians and Americans of plotting together against Azerbaijan and claiming that the Karabakh movement was a plot by the CIA to destroy the Soviet Union.[17]

Anti-Catholic conspiracy theories

Anti-Catholic conspiracy theories in majority Protestant countries

See also: Anti-Catholicism, Anti-Catholicism in the United States, and Anti-Catholicism in the United Kingdom

Since the Reformation, majority Protestant states have made opposition to Roman Catholicism a major political theme, often rallying behind anti-Catholic sentiment by stoking fears of Catholic plots. These theories have taken the form, for example, of the 17th-century Popish Plot allegations,[18], claims by prominent persons such as Judge William Blackstone who suggested that Catholics constituted an enemy within who held allegiance to the Pope instead of to Britain, and numerous tracts and books of varying popularity by authors such as Rebecca Reed.

Fears of a Catholic takeover of the historically Protestant United States have been especially persistent.[19][20] Anti-Catholic fears in the U.S. reached a peak in the 19th century when the Protestant population became alarmed by the influx of Catholic immigrants.[21] Groups including the Know Nothings and the Ku Klux Klan have believed that the Irish and other Roman Catholic immigrants to the United States were controlled by the Pope.[22][23] The Panic of 1893 was blamed by American Protestants on a supposed Catholic conspiracy to destroy the financial institutions of the US.[24]

Branford Clarke illustration in The Ku Klux Klan In Prophecy 1925 by Bishop Alma White published by the Pillar of Fire Church in Zarephath, NJ

A fear of Catholic conspiracies has also featured in US presidential campaigns, including the 1928 campaign in which the Irish Catholic New York state governor Al Smith ran against the Protestant Herbert Hoover,[25] and the 1960 campaign of the Catholic John F. Kennedy.[26][27][28]

During the Troubles in Ireland, anti-Catholic conspiracy theories were frequent among Ulster Scot loyalists and Northern Irish unionists. Protestant Ian Paisley notoriously denounced Pope John Paul II as the antichrist.[29][30]

Guardians of Liberty 1943

Anti-Catholic, Vatican, and Jesuit conspiracy theories

See also: Vatican conspiracy theories and Jesuit conspiracy theories

Some conspiracy theories accuse the Catholic Church, Jesuits, or Knights Templar of suppressing important religious documents or evidence incompatible with Church teachings. Other theories claim that Catholics are actively conspiring to influence world events, or engage in secretive evil rituals. Such conspiracy theories may feature accusations that Catholics, Catholic groups, or the Church regularly engage in Satanic rites, ritual abuse and human sacrifice, or that the pope is the Anti-Christ. Other theories state that Catholic entities are seeking to create variously a state within a state, a strategy of tension, a shadow government, a concentration of media ownership, or a New World Order.[31] Recent theories posit the Church or the Pope as part of a reptilian conspiracy.

Anti-Catholic cartoon depicting the Church and the Pope as a malevolent octopus, from the H.E. Fowler and Jeremiah J. Crowley's 1913 anti-Catholic book, The Pope: Chief of White Slavers High Priest of Intrigue

Avro Manhattan's books Vatican Moscow Alliance (1982), The Vatican Billions (1983) and The Vatican's Holocaust (1986) advanced the view that the Church engineers wars for world domination.

Comic book evangelist Jack Chick also accused the papacy of supporting Communism, of using the Jesuits to incite revolutions, and of masterminding the Holocaust. According to Chick, the Catholic Church is the "Whore of Babylon" referred to in the Book of Revelation, and will bring about a Satanic New World Order before it is destroyed by Jesus Christ. Chick claimed that the Catholic Church infiltrates and attempts to destroy or corrupt all other religions and churches.

According to activist Alberto Rivera, Muhammad was manipulated by the Catholic Church to create Islam and destroy the Jews. Rivera also believed that Jesuits were responsible for the creation of Communism and Nazism, were the cause of both World Wars, the Jonestown Massacre, and the assassinations of Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy; that the Catholic Church wants to spread homosexuality and abortion; that the Charismatic Movement is a front for the Catholic Church; that the popes are Anti-Christs; and that the Catholic Church is the Whore of Babylon.[32] He has also claimed that the Jesuits were the masterminds behind the Medieval Inquisition in the 13th century, even though the Jesuits were in fact founded in 1534.[33][34]

Author David Yallop followed up his best-selling book, In God's Name (1984), which claimed that Pope John Paul I was killed by corrupt Vatican schemers (see Pope John Paul I conspiracy theories) with another conspiracy novel, The Power and the Glory (2007), which claimed that Pope John Paul II was in league with the Soviet powers.[35]

Catholicism as a veiled continuation of Babylonian paganism

Scottish theologian Alexander Hislop produced an anti-Catholic tract entitled The Two Babylons in 1853, which alleged that Catholicism is a secret continuation of the ancient pagan religion of Babylon.[36][37] It has since been entirely discredited by scholars,[38][39] yet the theory has featured prominently in the theories of groups such as The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord.[40][41] Similar ideas were also promoted in Charles Chiniquy's 50 Years In The Church of Rome and The Priest, the Woman and the Confessional (1885).

Pope John Paul I conspiracy theories

For main article, see Pope John Paul I conspiracy theories.

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 fostered several conspiracy theories. British author David Yallop suggested in his book In God's Name (1984) that John Paul died because he was about to uncover Vatican financial scandals.[42] Yallop's claims were rebuffed by John Cornwell's book, A Thief In The Night (1987).[43]

Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI

The elderly Pope Benedict XVI's resignation in February 2013, for given reasons of a "lack of strength of mind and body",[44] 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.[45][46]

Islam-related conspiracy theories

"War against Islam"

Main article: War against Islam

"War against Islam" is a conspiracy theory in Islamist discourse to describe an alleged plot to harm or annihilate the societal system of Islam, using military, economic, social and cultural means. The perpetrators of the conspiracy are alleged to be non-Muslims, particularly the Western world and "false Muslims", allegedly in collusion with political actors in the Western world. The "War against Islam" often refers to modern social problems and changes, but the Crusades are often seen as its start.

Eurabia

Main article: Eurabia

British Jewish writer Bat Ye'or, author of Eurabia: The Euro–Arab Axis, later followed by Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci, proposed an anti-Arab conspiracy theory they said was hatched between a cadre of French elites within the European Economic Community and the Arab League in the mid-1970s to form a strategic alliance against the United States and Israel, and to turn Europe into an appendage of the Islamic world.[47]

Love Jihad

Main article: Love Jihad

Interfaith marriage, especially between Hindus and Muslims, has often been a bone of contention and has resulted in communal riots in India. Love Jihad, also called Romeo Jihad, widely regarded as a conspiracy theory, is an activity under which young Muslim boys and men are said to reportedly target young girls belonging to non-Muslim communities for conversion to Islam by feigning love.[48][49][50][51]

Allah as Moon god

Main article: Allah as Moon-god

Robert Morey suggests that Muslims do not worship the Judeo-Christian God of the Bible, and that "Allah" is an alternative name for an ancient local moon god Hubal. Theorists may cite the use of the lunar calendar and crescent moon symbolism. Islamic scholars dismiss this theory as insulting, citing Quran 41:37 which instructs the reader not to indulge in worship of the sun or moon.

Anti-Baha'i conspiracy theories

Main article: Political accusations against the Baha'i Faith

Iran's Baha'i minority has been the target of conspiracy theories alleging involvement with hostile powers. Iranian government officials and others have claimed that Bahá'ís have been agents variously of Russian imperialism, British colonialism, American expansionism and Zionism.[52] 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-Bahá'í accusations have been dismissed as having no factual foundation.[53][54][55]

Theories of conspiracies against black people

Black genocide conspiracy theory

Main article: Black genocide conspiracy theory

In the United States, black genocide is a conspiracy theory[56][57] which holds that African Americans are the victims of genocide instituted by white Americans. The decades of lynchings and long term racial discrimination were first formally described as genocide by a now defunct organization, the Civil Rights Congress, in a petition to the United Nations in 1951. Malcolm X talked about "black genocide" in the early 1960s, citing long term injustice and cruelty by whites against blacks.[58] After President Lyndon B. Johnson pushed through his War on Poverty legislation including public funding of the Pill for the poor in the mid 1960s, family planning (birth control) was said to be "black genocide" at the first Black Power Conference held in July 1967.[59][60][61] In 1970 after abortion was more widely legalized, some black militants named abortion specifically as part of the conspiracy theory.[62]

"Babylon" and racist oppression

Some Rastafari maintain that a white racist patriarchy ("Babylon") controls the world in order to oppress the African race.[63] They believe that Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia did not die in 1975, and that allegedly racist media propagated reports of his death in order to quash the Rastafari movement.[64] Other Rastafari, however, may interpret Babylon as a metaphor for an established "system" that oppresses (or "downpresses", in the terminology) groups such as Africans and the world's poor.

The Plan

Main article: The Plan (Washington, D.C.)

In some U.S. cities that are governed by African American majorities, such as Washington, D.C., a persistent conspiracy theory holds that Caucasians are plotting to take over those cities.

White genocide conspiracy theory

Main article: White genocide conspiracy theory

White genocide is a white nationalist conspiracy theory that mass immigration, integration, miscegenation, low fertility rates and abortion are being promoted in predominantly white countries to turn them into a minority and hence cause white people to become extinct through forced assimilation.[65][66][67][68][69][70][71]

Technology-focused conspiracy theories

See also: List of topics characterized as pseudoscience

Media

DTV transition

Some theorists claim that forced transition to digital television broadcasting is a practical realization of the "Big Brother" concept. They claim that miniature cameras and microphones are built into set-top boxes and newer TV sets to spy on people. Another claim describes the use of mind control technology that would be hidden in the digital signal and used to subvert the mind and feelings of the people and for subliminal advertising.[72]

Predictive programming

This theory posits that media outlets regularly disseminate images of terrorist attacks, epidemics, and other natural or man-made disasters with the intent of programming the general population to accept such events as normal, so that when a government secretly undertakes such operations the people will be predisposed to believe the operations are genuine. (See false flag operations.)

HAARP

Main article: High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program § Conspiracy theories

HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) is an ionospheric research program funded by the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Navy, the University of Alaska, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Many conspiracy theories surround HAARP. Some theorists believe that it is being used as a weather-controlling device that can trigger catastrophic events, such as floods, hurricanes, etc. Others believe that the government uses HAARP to send mind-controlling radio waves to humans.

Medicine

The subject of suppressed-invention conspiracy also touches on the medical realm: proponents of more unlikely forms of alternative medicine are known to allege conspiracy by mainstream doctors to suppress their cures. Such conspiracies are often said to include government regulators, and some theorists claim that the medical community could actually cure supposedly "incurable" diseases such as cancer and AIDS if it really wanted to, but instead prefers to suppress the cures as a way of maintaining the medical industry. Other medical conspiracy theories charge that pharmaceutical companies are in league with some medical practitioners to create new diseases, such as ADD, ADHD, HSV, HPV and even HIV (see HIV/AIDS denialism).

Drug legalization

Some activists and spokespersons for legalization of drugs (especially marijuana) have long espoused a theory that government and private industry conspired during the first half of the 20th century to outlaw hemp, allegedly so that it would no longer provide inexpensive competition to pulp paper and synthetic materials.[73] William Randolph Hearst is often pointed to as one of the businessmen responsible due to his involvement in the printing industry and his eminence in the public eye.[73] An extensive study on the subject has been done by Jack Herer in his book The Emperor Wears No Clothes.

In his 1996 journalistic series and 1998 book, both titled Dark Alliance, Gary Webb asserted that the CIA had allowed Nicaraguan drug traffickers to smuggle cocaine into the USA and had allowed the subsequent crack epidemic in Los Angeles to help garner funds for the Contras efforts.[74]

Creation of diseases

Main article: Vaccine controversies § Conspiracy theories

There are claims that AIDS is a human-made disease (i.e., created by scientists in a laboratory). Some of these theories allege that HIV was secretly created by group such as the CIA.[75][76] It is thought to have been created as a tool of genocide and/or population control. Other theories suggest that the virus was created as an experiment in biological and/or psychological warfare, and then escaped into the population at large by accident. Some who believe that HIV was a government creation see a precedent for it in the Tuskegee syphilis study, in which government-funded researchers deceptively denied treatment to black patients infected with a sexually transmitted disease.[76]

It has been claimed that the CIA deliberately administered HIV to African Americans and homosexuals in the 1970s, via tainted hepatitis vaccinations.[77] Groups such as Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam assert that this was part of a plan to destroy the black race.[78] Others claim that it was administered in Africa as a way of crippling the development of the continent.[79]

There have been unfounded suggestions that either HIV or a sterilizing agent has been added to polio vaccines distributed by the World Health Organization in Nigeria, resulting in a marked increase in the number of polio cases in the country since religious leaders have urged parents not to have their children vaccinated.[80]

Water fluoridation

Water fluoridation is the controlled addition of fluoride to a public water supply to reduce tooth decay.[81] Although many influential health and dental organizations in the U.S. support public water fluoridation, or have found no association with adverse effects, efforts to introduce water fluoridation meet considerable opposition whenever it is proposed.[82] Since fluoridation's inception in the 1950s, opponents have drawn on distrust of paid-for experts and unease about double-blind study findings.[83] Conspiracy theories involving fluoridation may include claims that it is a Communitarian, Fascist or New World Order or Illuminati plot to pacify people so that they more easily trust authority; that fluoridation was used in Russian prison camps and produces schizophrenia.[82]; that it has been a way for the aluminium and phosphate industries to dispose of industrial waste;[84][85] and that it is a smokescreen to cover failure to provide dental care to the poor.[82]

RFID chips

Privacy concerns have surfaced regarding the use of RFID chips, which many states require to be implanted into pets as a means of tracking, will ultimately be used to track, spy on, or otherwise harass ordinary citizens; these devices' small size enable them to be discreetly installed into a variety of items someone may carry on their person.[86]

Suppression of traditional, natural and alternative medicines

Some proponents of traditional medicines claim that pharmaceutical companies and government agencies conspire to maintain profits by ensuring that the public uses only modern medicines. A variation on this conspiracy is claimed by Kevin Trudeau, author of Natural Cures "They" Don't Want You to Know About, who claims that pharmaceutical companies, the FDA and the FTC conspire to withhold natural remedies because greater profits are made by selling long-term non-curative treatments.

Weapons

Development of weapons technology

Weapons testing

Genetically modified crops

Surveillance by espionage and intelligence agencies

Throughout history, governments have used intelligence agencies to promote national policies in secretive ways. Consequently, conspiracy theories related to intelligence agencies abound, including theories on incidents of sabotage, propaganda, and assassination.

The 2013 global surveillance disclosures, particularly by Edward Snowden, revealed the extent of government surveillance projects that until then had been viewed by mainstream media as merely conspiracy theories. This disclosures indicated that government mass surveillance/computer surveillance systems track a significant percent of the world's telephone and internet traffic, using agencies that employ large numbers of agents. For example, according to The Guardian report on the Snowden leaks, 850,000 people have access to the Internet communications tracked by the Tempora system operated by the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).[98] Prism and XKeyscore are related systems that are operated by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) to track enormous volumes of communications.

Space exploration

Main article: Moon landing conspiracy theories

Alien invasion

Main articles: UFO conspiracy theory and Alien invasion

A sector of conspiracy theory with a particularly detailed mythology is the extraterrestrial phenomenon, including conspiracy theories alleging a government cover-up of the supposed Roswell UFO incident and activity at Area 51 and the Dulce Base. It is alleged that the United States government conspires with extraterrestrials involved in the abduction and manipulation of citizens. A variant tells that particular technologies, notably the transistor—were given to American industry in exchange for alien dominance. The enforcers of the clandestine association of human leaders and aliens are said to be the Men in Black, who silence those who speak out on UFO sightings.

Some versions of alien conspiracy theory maintain that humanity is under the control of shape-shifting alien reptiles, who require periodic ingestion of human blood to maintain their human appearance. David Icke has been a proponent of this theory.[101] According to Icke, the Bush family and the British Royal Family are actually such creatures, and Diana, Princess of Wales was aware of this, presumably relating to her death. Margaret Thatcher is also believed to have been an important figure in the reptilian army.[101] David Icke points to supposed evidence ranging from Sumerian tablets describing the "Anunnaki", to the serpent in the Biblical Garden of Eden, to child abuse and water fluoridation.

Another conspiracy theory is known as Project Blue Beam, supposedly a NASA and government psychological operation involving a fake alien invasion, along with light and laser shows in the sky, and false reports of UFO landings.

Suppression of technologies

Economic conspiracy theories

Main article: New World Order (conspiracy)

The reverse side of the Great Seal of the United States (1776). The Latin phrase "novus ordo seclorum", appearing on the reverse side of the Great Seal since 1782 and on the back of the U.S. one-dollar bill since 1935, translates to "New Order of the Ages"[115] and alludes to the beginning of an era where the United States of America is an independent nation-state; conspiracy theorists claim this is an allusion to the "New World Order".

This conspiracy theory states that a group of international elites controls and manipulates governments, industry, and media organizations worldwide, primarily through the system of central banking. They are said to have funded and in some cases caused most of the major wars of the last 200 years, to carry out false flag attacks, and to deliberately cause inflation and depressions. New World Order operatives are said to hold high positions in government and industry. The people behind the New World Order are said to be international bankers, in particular those associated with the Federal Reserve System and other central banks, and members of the Council on Foreign Relations, Trilateral Commission and Bilderberg Group.[116] The New World Order is also said to control supranational and global organizations such as the European Union, United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the proposed North American Union. The term gained popularity following its use in the early 1990s by President George H. W. Bush when he referred to his "dream of a New World Order" in his speech to the United States Congress on September 11, 1990. Claimed motivations behind the New World Order conspiracy vary but a commonly suggested end goal is the creation of a single world government.

The World Bank and national central banks are said to be the tools of the New World Order; war generates massive profits for central banks because government spending (hence borrowing at interest from the central banks) increases dramatically in times of war and distress.[117] Many conspiracy theorists believe that Denver International Airport is the western U.S. headquarters of the New World Order, with a massive underground base and city. Reasons for this include the airport's unusually large size, distance from Denver city center, the set of environmentally themed murals by artist Leo Tanguma which depict burning cities, gas-mask wearing soldiers and girls in coffins, and the capstone of the Great Hall which includes Masonic symbols and strange writing.[118]

Federal Reserve System

The New World Order is said to control the wealth of nations through central banks, via the issuance of currency. The Federal Reserve System is the central bank of the United States, though not a part of the government (with a significant share of private control and interests[119]), created in 1913. There is a theory that the Federal Reserve System is designed to transfer wealth from the poor and middle classes of the United States to the international bankers of the New World Order.[120]

Global warming

Global warming conspiracy theorists typically allege that the science behind global warming has been invented or distorted for ideological or financial reasons. President Donald Trump has several times claimed global warming to be a hoax, but has also prevaricated on this.[121]

Electronic banking conspiracy

A variant of modern New World Order conspiracy theories, this theory consists of the belief that a secret group has attempted for centuries to reach world domination through the discontinuation of metal coinage, the proliferation of credit cards and electronic commerce, and the concentration of the world's banks. A future 'great blackout' is sometimes cited, in which the data of all electronic accounts will be erased.

Conspiracies against particular countries

Turkey

In 2014, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan coined the term ust akil ("mastermind") to denote a alleged command and control institution, perhaps based in the US government, engaged in an attempt to weaken Turkey.[122][123][124] Erdoğan and the Daily Sabah newspaper have alleged that various non-state actors, including ISIL and the PKK, have attacked Turkey.[125]

In February 2017 Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek claimed that earthquakes in Çanakkale province could have been 'artificial earthquakes' designed to destabilize the Turkish economy.[126]

Political violence related conspiracy theories

Wars

Conspiracy theorists often accuse munitions suppliers of devising events that lead nations into conflict. Related is the allegation that certain wars which are said to be in the national interest, or for humanitarian purposes, are in fact motivated by commercial interest. Some critics have accused the U.S. of engaging in such unprincipled action. In recent times, wars in the Middle East such as the Gulf War and the invasion of Iraq have been described as wars for oil, as well as power, money and land.

False flag operations

The collapse of the two World Trade Center towers and the nearby WTC7 (in this photo, the brown building to the left of the towers) is a major focus of 9/11 conspiracy theories.

False flag operations are covert operations conducted by governments, corporations, or other organizations, which are designed to appear as if they are being carried out by other entities. Some allegations of false flag operations are verified; others remain subjects of legitimate historical dispute. The 1933 arson attack of the German parliament building is such an example where in 2001 four German historians argued that the fire had been a Nazi false-flag operation blamed on a communist. Other leading academics disagree and Der Spiegel published a 10-page rebuttal of the four historians' conclusions.[127] "Along with Communist propagandists, serious scholars have been ranged on the side of the proponents of the Nazi conspiracy theory".[128]

More controversially, former GRU officer Aleksey Galkin,[129] former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko[130] and other defectors from the Russian government and security services have asserted that the 1999 Russian apartment bombings, which precipitated the Second Chechen War, were false flag operations perpetrated by the FSB, the successor organization to the KGB.

Other accusations of false flag operations conspiracy theories include:

Assassinations and other deaths

See also: List of assassinated people

Conspiracy theories exist around the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963

Conspiracy theories sometimes emerge following assassinations of prominent people. The best known of these are the theories concerning the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963. Central to many of these theories is the claim that the injuries received by Kennedy could not have been caused by a lone gunman (Lee Harvey Oswald). This theory was popularized by the Oliver Stone movie, JFK. Since the Warren Commission report, the official U.S. governmental narrative from the 1976–78 House Select Commission on Assassinations is that JFK was murdered by multiple gunmen in a conspiracy. The United States House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) was established in 1976 to investigate the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The Committee investigated until 1978 and issued its final report, and concluded that Kennedy was very likely assassinated as a result of a conspiracy.

The assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X are also the subject of conspiracy theories. Other subjects include the assassinations of Eric V of Denmark, Tsarevich Dmitry Ivanovich of Russia, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Carrero Blanco, Benigno Aquino, Jr., Olof Palme[138] and Yitzhak Rabin.[139]

The circumstances of the Tate/LaBianca murders by the Manson Family have spawned many conspiracy theories, especially from those who reject the Helter Skelter theory used to prosecute the killers. [140]

Some deaths that are officially recorded as having resulted from accidents, suicides, or natural causes are also the subject of some conspiracy theories. Examples include Patton in 1945,[141] the car crash that killed Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Fayed in 1997,[142] the death of John F. Kennedy Jr. in a plane crash in 1999,[143] and the death of Senator Paul Wellstone in a plane crash in 2002. Unusual circumstances in a suicide or accident may be cited as evidence of a conspiracy, such as the case of Gary Webb who suffered 2 gunshots to the head. Deaths initially considered to be accidents may later acquire a conspiracy-theory following when new evidence emerges, as in the case of journalist Cats Falck.

Other examples of deaths that are not considered to be murders that later receive conspiracy theories include: the suicide of Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster; the plane crash that killed United States Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown;[144] the death of Dag Hammarskjöld;[145] the Mayerling Incident; and the deaths of U.S. Presidents Zachary Taylor and Lyndon B. Johnson, Władysław Sikorski, James Forrestal, British political leader Hugh Gaitskell,[146] Australian prime minister Harold Holt, James P. Brady, New Zealand prime minister Norman Kirk, French prime minister Pierre Bérégovoy, Jimmy Hoffa and British weapons expert David Kelly.[147] In the case of Salvador Allende, the former President of Chile, conspiracy theories regarding his suicide were so prominent in the public arena official investigations were opened into the matter. There are also theories about untimely deaths of celebrities, the number one example arguably being the death of Marilyn Monroe, but also those of Sam Cooke, Salvador Sanchez, Brian Jones, Tupac Shakur, The Notorious B.I.G., Jimi Hendrix,[148] Kurt Cobain, Jeff Buckley, Nancy Spungen, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Bruce Lee, Elvis Presley, Bob Marley, John Lennon,[149] Alexis Arguello, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, and Paul Walker.

There are also theories that some assassination attempts have been carried out by secret conspiracies. Certain attempted assassinations of, for example, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush have attracted conspiracy theorists, as well as attempts on the lives of former Presidents of Taiwan and Ukraine.

In other cases the perpetrators of murders and assassinations are not found and conspiracy theories even become part of official police investigations, as in the case of the Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme or in the case of Diana, Princess of Wales. In cases like this, further public conspiracy theories can exist about why the cases are not closed. In the case of another prominent Swede, Bernt Carlsson, who died in the Lockerbie bombing, theories exist that contend that the larger crime was committed to hide a more targeted assassination, which therefore has also not been solved. In the case of Aldo Moro, an assassinated Italian former Prime Minister, a conspiracy to encourage his kidnappers to kill him has been admitted to and is largely accepted as fact, yet theories exist as to the nature of the secrets he was killed to protect. In more extreme cases it has been alleged that some people have been assassinated without acknowledgement of their deaths, assuming that they were replaced by a double or alternatively that their deaths never occurred when it has been claimed that they did.

In India there are several conspiracy theories circulating about the 1945 death of pro-Axis Indian nationalist leader Subhas Chandra Bose. These allege one of two possibilities: either he did not die in an accident, as officially claimed, but was assassinated; or he did not die at that time, but was still alive and hidden somewhere.

Miscellaneous

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Apocalyptic prophecies

Apocalyptic prophecies, particularly Christian apocalyptic and eschatalogical claims about the End Times, have inspired a range of conspiracy theories. Many of these deal with the Antichrist (Arabic: المسيح الدجّال/ Masih ad-Dajjal). The Antichrist, also known as The Beast 666, is supposed to be a leader who will create a world empire and oppress Christians (and, by some accounts, Jews as well). Countless historical figures have been called "Antichrist" in their times, from the Roman emperor Nero to Napoleon Bonaparte to Adolf Hitler to Ronald Reagan to Javier Solana to Barack Obama to Prince William. At times, apocalyptic speculation has mixed with anti-Catholicism, believing that the reigning Pope is the Antichrist or the False Prophet.

Bible conspiracy theory

Bible conspiracy theories posit that much of what is known about the Bible, in particular the New Testament, is a deception. These theories variously claim that Jesus had a wife, Mary Magdalene, and children, that a group such as the Priory of Sion has secret information about the bloodline of Jesus, that Jesus did not die on the cross and that the carbon dating of the Shroud of Turin was part of a conspiracy by the Vatican to suppress this knowledge. Theories also allege that there has been a secret movement to censor books that originally belonged in the Bible.

US Presidency

Some conspiracy theories have concerned presidents of the United States.

Zachary Taylor assassination theory

Following his death on 9 July 1850 due to a short digestive illness, the 12th President of the United States Zachary Taylor immediately began to draw the attention of conspiracy theorists who posited that he had been assassinated. These theories persisted as late as 1991, when the novelist Clara Rising persuaded his descendants to exhume Taylor's body to test for arsenic poisoning; a theory for which there was found no evidence.[158]

Lyndon B. Johnson conspiracy

Main article: John F. Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories § Lyndon B. Johnson conspiracy

Clinton Body Count

A theory has circulated which posits that Bill Clinton was, prior to and during his presidency, secretly assassinating his associates. The theory began as a retaliation to the Bush Body Count (which ostensibly had various members of the Bush family responsible for events like JFK assassination and the October surprise).[159] The Clinton Body Count is a list of about 50–60 associates of Clinton who have died allegedly under mysterious circumstances.[160] The individuals named originated from a list of 34 suicides, accidental deaths, and unsolved murders.[161] prepared in 1993 by the pro second amendment group American Justice Federation[162] which was led by Linda Thompson Snopes.com has discounted this theory, arguing that many of the deaths had detailed records and that assassination was unlikely. Snopes also pointed out that a political leader is likely to have an abnormally large and loosely defined circle of associates.[163]

Barack Obama 'Birther' conspiracy theories

Main articles: Barack Obama citizenship conspiracy theories and Barack Obama religion conspiracy theories

A closely related cluster of conspiracy theories are associated with Barack Obama, concerning allegations that his claim to the Presidency was illegitimate due to the circumstances of his birth. These theories have been tenacious despite the early release of Obama's Hawaiian birth certificate, and the April 2011 release of a certified copy of his long-form birth certificate.

A notable promoter of the theory was President Donald Trump, who later acknowledged that President Obama was a US citizen by birth. Trump went on to blame Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for starting the so-called 'birther' movement.[164] In partial confirmation, former bureau chief of McClatchy, James Asher, reported that Hillary Clinton confidant, Sid Blumenthal, communicated the birther rumor to him in 2008 during the Democratic nomination campaign, and encouraged him to publish stories relating Obama to Kenya.[165]

Pizzagate

Main article: Pizzagate conspiracy theory

Exterior of Comet Ping Pong in Northwest, Washington, D.C.
"Pizzagate" connected Comet Ping Pong (pictured) to a non-existent child-sex ring.

Pizzagate is a debunked conspiracy theory that emerged during the 2016 United States presidential election cycle alleging that John Podesta's emails contained coded messages referring to human trafficking and connecting a number of restaurants in the United States and members of the Democratic Party with an alleged child-sex ring. It has been discredited by a wide array of sources across the political spectrum, described as a "fictitious conspiracy theory" by the District of Columbia Police Department and determined to be false by multiple organizations including Snopes.com, The New York Times, and Fox News.[166]

Other groups said to be involved in conspiracies

Adam Weishaupt founded the Illuminati, who some conspiracy theorists believe control the world

The past or present existence of these groups is not disputed, and a variety of theories regarding hidden plots and/or agendas actively guarded from the general public have been proposed. There is dispute as to whether any of these theories are true.

See also

Notes and references

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Further reading