Tuesday, August 14, 2012

10 Craziest Conspiracy Theories

Craziest Conspiracy TheoriesThere’s a definite line between hunting for the truth and letting yourself get played for a sucker, and when it comes to certain major world events, too many people fall into the latter category. It’s basically the difference between thinking your flat tire is an accidental inconvenience and a plot to keep you from getting to work so assassins can kidnap you. The conspiracy theories that made this list are by no means a definitive round-up of everything out there — seriously, start Googling — but they do provide a nice introduction to the world of paranoia and baseless worry. They’re all equally crackpot ideas, but they’ve all got their own special flair.
  1. The JFK Assassination: This one’s classic, so much so that movies have been made about the possible conspiracy theories behind the shooting of President Kennedy in November 1963. There are so many conspiracy theories floating around about JFK that going through them all would take quite a while. Most famous is the idea that there were more shooters than just Lee Harvey Oswald, thanks to the testing on the speed of Oswald’s rifle and witness accounts of hearing shots from multiple directions. This is the most plausible of the many theories, which include the idea that Kennedy was killed by a group of international bankers (seriously) determined to stop him from doing away with the Federal Reserve, which he was apparently going to do by allowing the Treasury to print silver certificates. Some also allege the CIA was involved. The stories will likely never die. People love a good mystery, and it’s a lot sexier than believing JFK was shot by a lone nut.
  2. Aliens at Roswell: The granddaddy of government cover-up stories (and fuel for “The X-Files” and countless other media), the theory that the U.S. government recovered an alien ship and corpses after a 1947 crash in the New Mexico desert has been the subject of intense speculation and debate for decades. Initial news reports said that military at Roswell Army Air Field had recovered a “flying saucer,” but subsequent military annoucements clarified that they’d only recovered a weather balloon. The story remained mostly forgotten until the late 1970s, when ufologist Stanton Friedman interviewed a man who’d helped clean up the debris in 1947 and who claimed it was alien-made. Internal investigations revealed that the debris was likely scrap from a military program that used balloons to test for sound waves from Soviet bomb tests, with the bodies a combination of bad info and mixed up memories about recovered test dummies. There’s no proof of alien hardware ever being there, but then, lack of proof is what makes a conspiracy theory so catchy.
  3. 9/11 Was an Inside Job: This is one of the many “false flag” conspiracy theories in which people posit that actions carried out by one government are disguised to look like the work of another body, which in the case of 9/11 refers to the belief that U.S. authorities were complicit in the attacks while letting them appear to be driven by al-Qaeda. The conspiracies fall into two basic camps: that the U.S. knew the attacks were going to happen and let them occur anyway, or that U.S. forces planned and executed the attacks and then pinned the blame on al-Qaeda. Conspiracy theorists also claim that the World Trade Centers were destroyed with intentional implosions and not solely the damage from being hit by the planes, and that this was a justification for the U.S. to go to war (again) in the Middle East. The 9/11 Commission Report and multiple independent news organizations have reported that such conclusions are highly implausible, if not downright insane.
  4. Global Warming Is a Fraud: Despite scientific research to the contrary, many critics believe that global warming is a myth cooked up to let the U.N. enforce a system of global government and to burden U.S. citizens with random taxes. Surveys have also found that some energy companies have bankrolled think tanks and columnists to speak out against global warming, or to shift the debate and settle for the compromise that it is occurring but isn’t necessarily influenced by humans. The issue remains a politically contentious one, but that doesn’t change the science underneath.
  5. The Moon Landing Was a Hoax: The short version is that some people think that the Apollo 11 Moon landing in July 1969 was a hoax shot on sets designed to look like the Moon. The ball got rolling in 1974, when Bill Kaysing self-published a book titled We Never Went to the Moon, listing his complaints and theories about why he thought the series of missions were fakes. Moon landing hoax believers tend to get lost when it comes to motive, though, claiming that the U.S. government rigged the fake landings as a way to gain prestige and beat the Soviet Union in the space race. Despite the existence of mountains of objective evidence, a few wingnuts continue to believe the whole thing was a hoax.
  6. The Philadelphia Experiment: An urban legend that would later inspire afeature film, the Philadelphia Experiment is the name of the alleged cloaking of a Navy destroyer in October 1943. The story goes that the experiment was dabbling with the Unified Field Theory and playing with radiation and electromagnetism, allowing the Navy to bend light around a ship and render it basically invisible to human observers. The legend goes on to say that the ship in question didn’t just become invisible but actually disappeared, only to reappear more than 200 miles away before whisking back to its original location. There is, of course, no evidence or research to support this story, merely the claims of people whose identities often went unproven. It’s a fun idea for a movie, but that’s about it.
  7. The Jews Run the WorldThe Protocols of the Elders of Zion first started showing up in print in Russia in the early 1900s, positing that Jews planned to achieve world domination. However, the text itself was reportedly the recreation of a stolen copy, and no original edition was found. The book was eventually revealed to be an assembled forgery drawing on generalizations and vague conclusions, but the damage was done, and the title became an important contribution to the groups of weak-minded individuals looking for race-based conspiracies everywhere.
  8. Secret Societies Run the World: Thanks in part to the potboilers of Dan Brown, the Illuminati have been getting plenty of press in recent years. The name refers to a secret society that acts as a nefarious and unseen force bent on conquering society and establishing a New World Order. The appeal of this theory is its utter vagueness and total flexibility based on location and government; basically, anyone in power is probably doing something super secretive and deadly right now that’s designed to increase the suffering of the masses and bring more wealth and power to the elite. It goes without saying that there’s no proof of any of this, but then, that’s the other appeal of conspiracy theories.
  9. Pearl Harbor Could Have Been Avoided: This theory is similar to the one attached to 9/11 in that it posits that the U.S. government had advance knowledge of the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack but let it happen as a way to force the nation to enter the war. Although subsequent investigations have shown that the U.S. knew about or at least expected some kind of attack from Japan — just as, decades later, George W. Bush would receive a memo about Osama bin Laden’s plans to attack the U.S. — it’s an odious and unsubstantiated claim to say that the attack was allowed to happen for political gain.
  10. AIDS Is Man-Made: There’s no shortage of scientific evidence about the origin of HIV and AIDS, but nobody ever let evidence get in the way of a good conspiracy theory. Proponents of these theories say that AIDS was invented in a lab for purposes of biological warfare. Some have said the disease was created to wipe out the gay population by a controlling government. All of these conspiracy theories have been debunked, but just like every other crackpot idea on this list, proponents of the theory say that the debunking is just further proof that the “truth” is being suppressed. AIDS is a humanitarian crisis, but not a weapon.

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