A conspiracy is defined by law as an agreement by two or more persons to commit a crime, fraud, or other wrongful act. While in the strictest sense a "conspiracy theory" is a theory about a conspiracy, the term usually refers to a theory that attributes the ultimate cause of an event or chain of events (usually political, social, pop cultural or historical events), or the concealment of such causes from public knowledge, to a secret and often deceptive plot by a cabal of powerful or influential people or organizations. Proven historical conspiracies (e.g. the conspiracy to assassinate U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and members of his cabinet in 1865) are not discussed in this article. This list of conspiracy theories is a list of some of the most prevalent conspiracy theories which have not been recognized as true by most mainstream academics. In some cases, rebuttals have been offered to counter the theories; in other cases the theories have merely been summarily dismissed.
New World Order
This conspiracy theory claims that a small group of international elites controls and manipulates governments, industry and media organizations worldwide. The primary tool they use to dominate nations is 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, primarily through carrying out false flag attacks to manipulate populations into supporting them, and they have a grip on the world economy, deliberately causing inflation and depressions at will. Operatives working for the New World Order are said to be placed in high positions in government and industry. The people behind the New World Order are thought to be international bankers, in particular the owners of the private banks in the Federal Reserve System and other central banks, and members of the Council on Foreign Relations, Trilateral Commission and Bilderberg Group. The New World Order is also said to control supranational and global organisations 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, first 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, and second by David Rockefeller in a statement to the United Nations Business Council in September 1994, sometimes cited as evidence that the New World Order had a motive for carrying out the September 11, 2001 attacks:
"We are on the verge of a global transformation. All we need is the right major crisis and the nations will accept the New World Order."
The concept of this shadow government pre-dates 1990; it is accused of being the same group of people who, among other things, created the Federal Reserve Act (1913), supported the Bolshevik Revolution (1917), and supported the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany, all for their own agenda. 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. Many conspiracy theorists believe that Denver International Airport is the western U.S. headquarters of the New World Order, and a massive underground base and city is believed to exist underneath the airport. Reasons for this include the airport's unusually large size (larger than some major cities), distance from the Denver, Colorado, city center, and the set of bizarre murals depicting burning cities, gas-mask wearing soldiers, girls in coffins, Masonic symbols and strange writing.
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, 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.
False flag operations
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. Numerous conspiracy theories have developed suggesting that false flag operations have been carried out throughout the 20th century, and the secrecy of the true nature of the events have been maintained by successful cover-ups. The following are some attacks that are believed by some to be examples of false flag attacks:
- On February 27, 1933, the Reichstag building was subject to an arson attack; as a result, it is seen as the pivotal event in the establishment of Nazi Germany.
- Pan Am Flight 103 conspiracy theories.
- The 1993 World Trade Center bombing was orchestrated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
- Martin Bryant, the perpetrator of the 1996 Port Arthur massacre, is said to have been framed, and that the massacre was engineered by the Australian government in order to facilitate gun control.
- Former GRU officer Aleksey Galkin , former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko  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.
- Many 9/11 conspiracy theories have been presented to explain the September 11, 2001 attacks, many of them claiming that individuals in the United States government knew about the attacks beforehand and purposefully allowed them to occur, or orchestrated the attacks themselves, as a pretext for the "War on Terror", wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, increased militarization, expansion of the police state, and other intrusive foreign and domestic policies by which they would benefit. Proponents point to the Project for the New American Century, a conservative think tank that argues for increased American global leadership, whose former members include ex-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, former Vice President Dick Cheney and several other key Bush administration figures. A 2000 report from the group stated that "some catastrophic and catalyzing event — like a new Pearl Harbor" would be needed as a pretext for carrying out their plans for "United States global hegemony" in the 21st century. The 9/11 Truth Movement is the self-bestowed name of those who seek the purported "truth" about 9/11.
- It is theorized that the 2004 Madrid train bombings were not carried out by a local group of Islamist radicals, as the judiciary indictment states, but by a group which in various versions includes the Basque terrorist group ETA, socialist government officials, police forces, foreign secret services, the Spanish secret service, a powerful media group and members of the judiciary in different combinations. A lighter version accuses the government and police forces of cover up.
- Rumours and conspiracy theories about the July 2005 London bombings allege that intelligence services were behind the attacks.
The motivations for nations starting, entering, or ending wars are often brought into question by conspiracy theorists. Munitions suppliers are often blamed for devising, coordinating and precipitating the events that lead nations into war, either in part or in toto. According to this view, there is always a party within a nation that benefits from war, on whatever pretext: the suppliers of weapons and other military material. President Dwight Eisenhower referred to this source of potential conflict of interest as the military-industrial complex. President Abraham Lincoln is known to have made a similar observation near the close of the American Civil War.
Related is the allegation that certain wars which are claimed by politicians to be in the national interest, or for humanitarian purposes, are in fact motivated by the conquest and control of natural resources for commercial interest. In the Spanish-American War, the explosion of the USS Maine prompted the United States annexation of Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam. Opponents of the war, such as Mark Twain and Andrew Carnegie, claimed that it was being fought for imperialist motives.
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. In many cases, critics have accused the U.S. of engaging in realpolitik in the cynical sense of political action without regard for principle or morals. A war planned for economic gain can be seen as a conspiracy in the conventional sense of a secret plot — particularly when the public is presented with false pretexts for war. It has been suggested that war is a perfect way of distracting citizens, as an electoral tactic, from difficulties facing the current administration. This premise is the basis of the film Wag the Dog, and the George Orwell novel 1984. Some have claimed that this was the motivation behind the Falklands War. At that time El Proceso de Reorganizacion Nacional, the right-wing dictatorship that ruled Argentina between 1976 and 1983, was facing increasing discontent among the population and this may have contributed to the decision to invade The Falkland Islands.
Governments, particularly the United States government, have been accused of carrying false flag coups d'etat, in order to install friendly governments in foreign countries. Some of these have since been acknowledged - such as Operation Ajax (1953), a covert coup to topple the democratically elected leaders of Iran. Some other coups that some believe may have been actively supported by the United States government include the following:
- 1963 - Within the United States, the Kennedy assassination
- 1975 Bangladeshi coup d'etat
- 1975 - Gough Whitlam - theory that the dismissal of Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam by Governor-General John Kerr in 1975 was brought about by U.S. intelligence operatives unhappy with Whitlam's economic, social and foreign policies.
- 1980 Turkish coup d'état
- 1991 Haiti coup d'etat
- 1992 Venezuelan coup d'état attempts
- 1998 Indonesian Revolution
- 1999 Pakistani coup d'état
Official Conspiracy Theories
Some conspiracy theories have been advanced by governmental organizations for transparently political reasons.
Conspiracy theories sometimes emerge following assassinations of prominent people. The best known is the assassination of John F. Kennedy (1963), which has caused a number of conspiracy theories to develop. Central to this theory is the claim that the injuries received by Kennedy and Governor John Connally could not have been caused by a lone gunman behind the motorcade and to the right. This theory was popularised by the Oliver Stone movie, JFK. Three polls conducted in 2003 suggest that there is widespread disbelief among the U.S. public about the official story of a lone gunman between 68% and 83%.
The assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X are also the subject of conspiracy theories. In many cases, it is asserted that a "Manchurian candidate" may have been used. Often evidence for such theories includes the reactions by individuals and government agencies following the events, such as the creation of biased commissions to conduct official investigations. The question of "Who benefits?" is also often asked, with conspiracy theorists asserting that insiders often have far more powerful motives than those to whom the assassination is attributed by mainstream society. Earlier examples of assassinations about which there are conspiracy theories include those of Abraham Lincoln and Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. The assassinations of historical figures, such as Eric V of Denmark, remain subject to conspiracy theories. More recent examples include those of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Carrero Blanco, Benigno Aquino, Jr., Olof Palme, Yitzhak Rabin, Alexander Litvinenko and Benazir Bhutto.
Some deaths that are officially recorded as accident, suicide or natural causes are also the subject of some conspiracy theories. Examples include the car crash that killed Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Fayed in 1997, the death of John F. Kennedy Jr. in a plane crash in 1999, and the death of Senator Paul Wellstone in a plane crash in 2002. Other examples include: the suicide of Deputy White House Counsel Vincent Foster; the plane crash that killed United States Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown; 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, Australian prime minister Harold Holt, James P. Brady, New Zealand prime minister Norman Kirk, Jimmy Hoffa and David Kelly. There are also theories about untimely deaths of celebrities, such as Marilyn Monroe, Sam Cooke, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Elvis Presley, Bob Marley, John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, The Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur, Anna Nicole Smith, Heath Ledger and more recently Michael Jackson.
There are also theories that some assassination attempts have been carried out by secret conspiracies, in some cases failures but in other cases entirely staged events. The motive for staging an unsuccessful assassination attempt can be to augment the popularity of the person involved; public opinion polls tend to be boosted by unsuccessful attempts on the life of a prominent politician. There have been numerous unsuccessful attempts to assassinate U.S. Presidents. Some of them, such as the attempted assassinations of Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush have aroused suspicion from conspiracy theorists that the events might have been staged.
Clinton Body Count
The Clinton Body Count, as it is popularly known, is a conspiracy theory that Bill Clinton, while he was president and before, was quietly assassinating his associates (ostensibly anyone who got in the way of his career, such as Vince Foster). The Clinton Body Count is a list of about 50-60 associates of Clinton who have died "under mysterious circumstance". The list began circulating over the Internet starting in the mid-1990s.  The list grew out of a 1993 list of about 24 names prepared by the pro-gun lobby group American Justice Federation which was led by Linda Thompson. The list was posted to the group's Bulletin board system. Snopes.com has debunked this list, noting 1) many of those claimed to be assassinated actually died from very well documented accidents that leave no possibility of assassination 2) a political figure who becomes President of the United States will have a loosely defined circle of "associates", and many of these associates are in dangerous positions (police officers, pilots, soldiers) or older men in high stress jobs (therefore at greater risk of dying of stress related disease or suicide).
Technology and weapons
Suppression of technologies
- Avro Arrow—Cancellation of this system.
- Termination of rocket experiments at Cuxhaven.
- Vril Society Conspiracy which suggests that a secret form of energy, called "Vril", is used and controlled by a secret subterranean society of matriarchal socialist utopian superior beings. The theory also claims than Nazi Germany used this technology to create advanced aircraft (flying saucers).
- A typical suppressed invention story is that of the incredibly efficient automobile carburetor, whose inventor was supposedly killed or hounded into obscurity by petroleum companies desirous to protect their business from an engine that would make their product obsolete. It has been claimed that the Elsbett diesel engine running on plant oil had to put up against unfair competition practices.
- The documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? alleged that electric car technology has been largely suppressed by big oil and gas firms. The first suppression of such occurred shortly after the turn of the 20th century (in 1899 the world's land speed record was set by an electric car at 65 mph); the second time was in 1913-1914 when the same interests sabotaged Henry Ford's and Thomas Edison's attempt to produce an 'inexpensive' electric car. This activity, and further industry conspiracies to rid the U.S. of the electric trolley system and electric trains, are documented in the book Internal Combustion, by Edwin Black.
- Nikola Tesla has been the object of several conspiracy theories, with claims relating to revolutionary energy generation and distribution technologies which may or may not have been utilised by "HAARP", an American military-funded research program. While the technology Tesla discovered was real and exists today, his discoveries have often been linked to such psuedoscience as Wilhelm Reich's "orgone"generator which was supposedly suppressed by the establishment.
- The Phoebus cartel set up in 1924 certainly seems to have stopped competition in the light bulb industry for some years, and has been accused of preventing technological advances that would have produced longer-lasting light bulbs. However, the Phoebus cartel also features in Thomas Pynchon's fictional Gravity's Rainbow, which has led some to blur fact and fiction.
- Free energy suppression
Development of weapons technology
- Montauk Project-A continuation of the Philadelphia Experiment, The Montauk Project would put government trained psychics (Duncan Cameron) into a program with the intent of mind control, time travel, and even mental manifestation. Although denied by the government, a few (Preston Nichols, Al Bielek) have given lectures and written books on the subject.
- High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program theory claims that HAARP could be used as directed-energy weapon, weather control, earthquake induction device and/or for mind control
- Philadelphia Experiment- An attempt to turn a ship invisible that allegedly caused severe harm to onboard crewmembers.
- It has been speculated that the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami may have been caused intentionally by a "tsunami bomb" - a nuclear weapon detonated in a strategic position under the ocean. Some reason that the technology is at least feasible since research into such technology has been conducted by the military as far back as World War II. According to declassified files, top-secret "tsunami bomb" experiments utilising explosions to trigger "mini-tidal waves" were conducted off the coast of New Zealand in 1944 and 1945. The U.S. Defense Department had even expressed concern about earthquake-inducing technology in warfare well before the 2004 disaster. In 1997 Defense Secretary William S. Cohen stated, "Others are engaging even in an eco-type of terrorism whereby they can alter the climate, set off earthquakes, volcanoes remotely through the use of electromagnetic waves. So there are plenty of ingenious minds out there that are at work finding ways in which they can wreak terror upon other nations. It's real, and that's the reason why we have to intensify our efforts, and that's why this is so important." 
- Chemtrail theory: Clouds behind aircraft, having the general appearance of contrails, but alleged to be chemical spraying performed for some secretive purpose.
- Peter Vogel's book The Last Wave from Port Chicago argues that the Port Chicago disaster was an accidental detonation or intentional test of a nuclear weapon on ships manned by (mostly African American) U.S. sailors.
- A ubiquitous and persistent rumour in Cameroon has it that the Lake Nyos carbon dioxide disaster of 1986 was caused by the U.S. or French (depending on the version) military testing a secret bomb in the lake.
- According to some theories the crash of Arrow DC8 and TWA800 was caused by a secret electromagnetic directed-energy weapon.
- Contention lingers over the continuing after-effects of secret British nuclear testing at Maralinga, South Australia during the 1950s.
- Shortly after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami took place, the Al-Osboa' newsweekly in Egypt alleged that the tsunami could have been caused by an Indian nuclear experiment in which Israeli and American nuclear experts participated. Al-Osboa' further alleged that India, in its heated nuclear race with Pakistan, has acquired lately sophisticated nuclear know-how from the United States and Israel, both of which "showed readiness to cooperate with India in experiments to exterminate humankind," beginning with the heavily populated Muslim regions of southeast Asia, where the bulk of casualties took place. This claim was reported by other newspapers, some commenting on its possibility and others dismissing it.
Surveillance, espionage and intelligence agencies
Particular technologies of surveillance and control arouse concern that has bordered upon, or crossed over into, conspiracy theory. These are technologies being developed by governments which are intended to intrude into the privacy or harm the persons of citizens, particularly dissenters. Conspiracy theories of this sort cast government agencies as pursuing vast technical powers in order to spy on people, control their minds, or otherwise suppress an alienated populace. The plausibility of establishing such surveillance capabilities, by technical means or by a widespread network of informants, should perhaps be viewed in the context of events in former Eastern bloc countries, particularly the activities of the East German Stasi before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The various services provided by Google have also been considered to invade people's privacy, thus enabling intelligence agencies to monitor their activities.
Many governments use intelligence agencies to promote national policies in secretive ways — in several cases including the use of sabotage, propaganda, and assassination. Intelligence agencies, such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), KGB, MI6, BND, Inter-Services Intelligence, Internal Security Act (ISA) and Mossad, are a common element of political conspiracy theories precisely because they are known to participate in some activities similar to those described in conspiracy theories.. Indeed, conspiracy theories about espionage agencies go back at least as far as the 1600s, with allegations the English spymaster Robert Cecil was responsible for the Gunpowder plot of 1605. Some examples include the Pine Gap satellite tracking system in Australia, which is believed by some to be a global database used to track individuals Big Brother style, and the Government Warehouse, which is a conspiracy that alleges that the government has secret warehouses which contain articles that they do not want people to know about.
Numerous theories have been put forward surrounding Korean Air Lines Flight 007, a Boeing 747 that was shot down by the Soviet military after it strayed into prohibited airspace in 1983. These theories started in a Cold War era of heightened tensions and mutual distrust, and have been fanned by subsequent misinformation, deception, suppression of evidence and political events.
Some theorists claim that forced transition to Digital television broadcasting is practical realization of "Big Brother" concept. They claim that miniature cameras and microphones are built in Set-top boxes and newer TV sets to spy on people. Another claim describes 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.
The subject of suppressed-invention conspiracy also touches on the realm of medical quackery: 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, to the extent that a legal decision may be relevant. Some medical conspiracy theorists argue that the medical community could actually cure supposedly "incurable" diseases such as cancer (like the noted Luigi di Bella's medicines) and AIDS if it really wanted to, but instead prefers to suppress the cures as a way of extorting more funding from the government and donors, as well as from the patients themselves. The costs for long-term treatment are generally higher than for a one-time cure. Other medical conspiracies charge that pharmaceutical companies are in league with some medical practitioners to 'invent' new diseases, such as ADD, ADHD, HSV and HPV.
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. 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. An extensive study on the subject has been done by Jack Herer in his book The Emperor Wears No Clothes.
This type of theory posits that, with the help of the food industry and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the medical industry is generating billions in drug and treatment revenue from consumers who have become unhealthy as a result of poor or incomplete diet guidelines from the FDA. It is claimed that as long as the medical industry's dietary research studies are accepted and enforced as the measure, they will continue to suggest a minimum calorie intake above the actual healthy level, and will also continue to suppress any findings of the greater benefits of fasting and other calorie restriction type diets, and as long as the consumer continues to eat at the level suggested by the FDA, the incidence of obesity will continue to rise and the medical industry will continue to profit. Thus, it would be self-defeating for the medical industry to produce a cure for the many services that they depend on to generate revenue from unhealthy dietary practices of their customers.
Creation of diseases
There are claims that AIDS is a man-made disease (i.e. created by scientists in a laboratory). Some of these theories allege that HIV was created by a conspiratorial group or by a secretive agency such as the CIA. 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.
It has been claimed that the CIA deliberately administered HIV to African Americans and homosexuals in the 1970s, via tainted hepatitis vaccinations. Groups such as the New Black Panther Party and Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam assert that this was part of a plan to destroy the black race. Others claim that it was administered in Africa as a way of crippling the development of the continent.
There have been suggestions that either the HIV virus or a sterilizing agent has been added to polio vaccines being distributed by the World Health Organization in Nigeria. Since these claims have been in existence, there has been a marked increase in the number of polio cases in the country, because Muslim clerics have urged parents not to have their children vaccinated.
Water fluoridation is the controlled addition of fluoride to a public water supply to reduce tooth decay. Although almost all major health and dental organizations support water fluoridation, or have found no association with adverse effects, efforts to introduce water fluoridation meet considerable opposition whenever it is proposed. Since fluoridation's inception in the 1950s, opponents have drawn on distrust of experts and unease about medicine and science. Conspiracy theories involving fluoridation are common, and include the following:
- Fluoridation is part of a Communist or New world order or Illuminati plot to take over the world. This notion is mentioned, with comical effect, in Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove
- Fluoridation was designed by the military-industrial complex to protect the U.S. atomic weapons program from litigation.
- Fluoridation was pioneered by a German chemical company to make people submissive to those in power.
- Fluoridation was used in Russian prison camps and produces schizophrenia.
- Fluoridation is backed by the sugar or aluminum or phosphate industries.
- Fluoridation is a smokescreen to cover failure to provide dental care to the poor.
Many writers have claimed that the theory of human-caused global warming is a deliberate fraud, perpetrated for financial or ideological reasons, most notably Michael Crichton in "State of Fear."
There are theories that the "Peak Oil" concept is a fraud concocted by the oil industries to increase prices amid concerns about future supplies. The oil industry is aware of vast reserves of untapped oil, according to these theories, but it deliberately refuses to utilize them in order to maintain the illusion of scarcity.
Parallels have been drawn between this and the diamond industry, where it is recognized that a monopoly cabal maintains an illusion of scarcity of diamonds in order to increase their value. Such an idea was featured prominently in the novel Shock Wave by Clive Cussler.
The alleged presence of large quantities of oil has led to increased interest in the Western world in a theory of the origin of oil that was popular in the 1950s and 1960s in the Soviet Union and Ukraine—the Abiogenic petroleum origin theory.
- 1001 Club
- Bilderberg Group
- Bohemian Grove
- Committee of 300
- Common Purpose
- Council on Foreign Relations
- Freemasonry (see Masonic conspiracy theories)
- The Illuminati—Thought of as a secret group attempting to control the world.
- Le Cercle
- Nine Unknown Men
- Pilgrims Society
- Skull & Bones—This Yale University fraternity is often thought of as being a secret society producing many financial and political leaders who have control or seek to gain control.
- Trilateral Commission
Ethnicity and race
Armenian International Conspiracy
Samuel A. Weems (December 12, 1936— January 25, 2003) was a writer and a disbarred lawyer in Arkansas, United States. In his book, Armenia: The Secrets of a Christian Terrorist State (2002), he stated that the Armenian Genocide was a gigantic fraud designed to "fleece" Christian nations out of billions of dollars. He also claimed that the Armenian Church was a "state owned" entity that organizes and funds terrorist (including ASALA) attacks and that Armenians had "infiltrated" the United States. That book states that Armenian Diaspora communities in the United States and throughout the world are actually "colonies:" political bases intended to gain money and support for Armenian Republic. The books also claims Armenia is founded on land stolen from Muslims and that Armenians have perpetrated enormous massacres against Turks and Azeris, both recently (in the Nagorno-Karabakh war) and in the past. He has been quoted as saying "The religion of the Armenians is fake" and that his research shows "that there is clearly an Armenian Master Plan that generates Armenian hate around the world." Prior to his death in 2003, he was preparing to write a second book claiming the international Armenian community collaborated with and supported Nazi Germany.
The book, along with essays and homemade videos by Weems, have been criticized as racist and Anti-Armenian by the Armenian Assembly of America. The book is available in several online bookstores in United States and Europe. It has also been translated in Turkish and distributed in Turkey. Belief in an "Armenian International Conspiracy," that ethnic Armenians are attempting to change history and hide certain facts for political gain, can also be encountered in Azerbaijan, which has clashed with Armenia over Nagorno Karabakh, a de facto independent republic, officially part of Azerbaijan. Many Azeris believe that the Sumgait pogrom, where ethnic Azeris massacred Armenians during the dissolution of the Soviet Union, was in fact intentionally provoked by Armenians for propaganda purposes. Actual proponents of the "Armenian International Conspiracy" are scarce, and said theories are rarely found outside Turkey and Azerbaijan, countries which have histories of conflict with Armenians. The conspiracy also garners little if any support from scholars, as there exists ample historical evidence that shows the existence of Armenia before the arrival of Turks into Anatolia.
Jewish world domination
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion are widely considered to be the beginning of contemporary conspiracy theory literature. The Protocols are an antisemitic literary forgery that purports to describe a Jewish plot to achieve world domination.
- 1905 Stolypin's investigation -A secret investigation ordered by the newly appointed chairman of the Council of Ministers Pyotr Stolypin came to conclusion that the Protocols first appeared in Paris in antisemitic circles around 1897–1898. Even though he himself was anti-Semitic, when Nicholas II learned of the results of this investigation, he requested: "The Protocols should be confiscated, a good cause cannot be defended by dirty means." Despite the order, or because of the "good cause," numerous reprints proliferated.
- 1921 Exposure in The Times - in 1920, the history of the concepts found in the Protocols was traced back to the works of Goedsche and Joly by Lucien Wolf (an English Jewish journalist); was published in London in August 1921; and was similarly exposed in the series of articles in The Times by its Constantinople reporter, Philip Graves, who took his information from Wolf's work.
- 1934-1935 The Berne Trial - In 1934, Dr. Alfred Zander, a Swiss Nazi, published a series of articles accepting the Protocols as fact. He was sued in what has come to be known as the Berne Trial. The trial began in the Cantonal Court of Bern on October 29, 1934. On May 19, 1935, the court, after full investigation, declared the Protocols to be forgeries, plagiarisms, and obscene literature.
- United States Congress, Senate. Committee on the Judiciary. Protocols of the Elders of Zion: a fabricated "historic" document. A report prepared by the Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws (Washington, U.S. Govt. Printing Office, 1964).
The text takes the form of an instruction manual to a new member of the "elders," describing how they will run the world through control of the media and finance, and replace the traditional social order with one based on mass manipulation. Scholars generally agree that the Okhrana, the secret police of the Russian Empire, fabricated the text in the late 1890s or early 1900s. Among the most notable early refutations of the Protocols as a forgery were a series of articles printed in The Times of London in 1921. This series revealed that much of the material in the Protocols was plagiarized from earlier political satire that did not have an anti-Semitic theme. Since 1903, when the Protocols appeared in print, its earliest publishers have offered vague and often contradictory testimony detailing how they obtained their copy of the rumored original manuscript.
The text was popularized by those opposed to Russian revolutionary movement and was disseminated further after the revolution of 1905, becoming known worldwide after the 1917 October Revolution. It was widely circulated in the West in 1920 and thereafter. The Great Depression and the rise of Nazism were important developments in the history of the Protocols, and the hoax continued to be published and circulated despite its debunking, becoming "a lie that would not die." Continued usage of the Protocols as an anti-Semitic propaganda tool substantially diminished with the defeat of the Nazis in World War II. It is still frequently quoted and reprinted, and is sometimes used as evidence of an alleged Jewish cabal, especially in the Middle East.
Daniel Pipes has written a book and many essays in which he asserts that there is a prevalence of conspiracy theories throughout the Arab and Muslim world. Conspiracy theories in the Arab and Muslim worlds, he claims, largely blame Israelis or Jews for many problems facing the world. Some of these include the following:
- The Islamist organization Hamas states in their charter that The Protocols of the Elders of Zion accurately describe the Zionist plan to take over Palestine, and that the Freemasons, Lions Club, and the Rotarians are organizations promoting "the interest of Zionism." It accuses those organizations, and the "Zionist invasion" in general, of being "behind the drug trade and alcoholism in all its kinds."
- On several occasions, Palestinians have claimed that the Israeli government has used nerve gas against them, and then suppressed the evidence of such.
- Some Arabs, mostly Egyptians, believe that Israelis engineered the crash of EgyptAir Flight 990 in 1999. Others insist that the US is covering up for Boeing, the airplane's manufacturer.
- The 1997 Asian Financial Crisis was popularly attributed to Jewish speculators by Malaysian and Indonesian commentators and some government figures.
- Like some others worldwide, many Arabs and Muslims believe that the September 11, 2001 attacks were allowed or caused to happen by parts of the U.S. government (e.g., CIA) and/or Jews.
Richard Landes and some other pro-Israel advocates maintain that Muhammad al-Durrah, a 12-year-old Palestinian boy reported to have been killed in the Gaza Strip by Israeli forces in September 2000, was not in fact killed and the entire incident was staged by Palestinian cameramen (see Pallywood for more on this conspiracy).
"Babylon" and racist oppression
Some Rastas maintain that a white racist patriarchy ("Babylon") controls the world in order to oppress the African race. They believe that Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia did not die when it was reported in 1975, and that the racist, white media (again, "Babylon") propagated that rumour in order to squash the Rastafari Movement and its message of overthrowing Babylon. Other Rastafarians, however, believe in peace and unity, and interpret Babylon as a metaphor for the established "system" that oppresses (or "downpresses," in Rasta terminology) groups such as Africans and the world's poor.
Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci and British-Egyptian writer Bat Ye'or, author of Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis, proposed a conspiracy 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.
Radio talk show host David Emory claims that Nazi leader Martin Bormann never died and has built a global empire involving, among many others, the Bush family, Hassan al Banna, Grover Norquist, Meyer Lansky, and Michael Chertoff.
A somewhat different version of this theory maintains that humanity is actually 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 devoted proponent of this theory. Reportedly 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. David Icke's theory, which encompasses many other conspiracy theories, is that humanity is actually under the reptillians; with evidence ranging from Sumerian tablets describing the "Anunnaki" (which he translates as "those who from heaven to earth came"), to the serpent in the Biblical Garden of Eden, to child abuse and water fluoridation. This theory has been the subject of several books.
Apocalyptic prophecies, particularly Christian apocalyptic and eschatalogical claims about the end times, the Last Judgment, and the end of the world have inspired a range of conspiracy theories. Many of these deal with the Antichrist. This Antichrist, also known as the Beast 666, is supposed to be a leader who will create a world empire and oppress Christians (and, in some readings, Jews as well). In apocalyptic conspiracy theory, some person from current events is alleged to be the Antichrist, and some supranatural organization is alleged to be the Antichrist's world organization of evil.
Countless historical figures have been called "Antichrist" in their times, from the Roman emperor Nero to Ronald Reagan to Javier Solana. At times, apocalyptic speculation has mixed with anti-Catholicism to yield the interpretation that the reigning Pope is the Biblical Antichrist. A more recent conspiratorial interpretation sees the Antichrist as a world leader involved with the United Nations, who will create a one world government (aka New World Order) and establish a single monetary system. The latter is identified with the Mark of the Beast, which the Bible states that people in the end times will need in order to conduct trade.
Two nations often involved in apocalyptic conspiracy theories are Israel and Iraq. The former is the location of both the Temple Mount and Armageddon (Megiddo), places seen as important in prophecy. The latter is the ancient location of Babylon, which also figures in the Book of Revelation. During the Gulf War, some suggested that Saddam Hussein had ordered the excavation and repopulation of the city of Babylon, thus casting Saddam as an Antichrist figure. Other interpretations have held that "Babylon" in the Book of Revelation refers to another mighty nation, such as the Roman Empire, the Vatican (in Rome) and the Catholic Church, or more recently the Soviet Union or the United States of America.
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 really had a wife, Mary Magdalene, and children, that a group such as the Priory of Sion has secret information about the bloodline of Jesus, the 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, that there was a secret movement to censor books that truly belonged in the Bible, or the Christ myth theory, proposed for example in Zeitgeist, the Movie as a means of social control by the Roman Empire.
Several theories are advanced regarding the cause and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Because of its ineffectiveness, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) is often jokingly referred to as "International Conspiracy to Catch all Tuna".
There is a theory that the famous "computer vs. human" chess game - between Russian grandmaster Gary Kasparov and IBM's Deep Blue computer - involved cheating by IBM, to ensure they would achieve a victory that would be widely publicized. This theory is argued by the documentary Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine.
Another conspiracy theory related to advertising is that The Coca-Cola Company intentionally changed to an inferior formula with New Coke with the intent of driving up demand for their classic product, later reintroducing it for their financial gain. Alternatively, people believe the switch was made to allow Coca-Cola to reintroduce "classic" Coke with a new formulation using less expensive corn syrup.
Theorists claim that some or all of the Apollo moon landings were "staged" in a Hollywood movie or other studio either because they never happened or to conceal some aspect of the truth of the circumstances of the actual landing.
Since the mid-1970s, a variety of conspiracy theories have emerged centering around British Labour Party Prime Minister Harold Wilson. These range from Wilson having been a Soviet agent, to Wilson being the victim of plots by right-wing members of the civil service. Żydokomuna is a theory that Communism in Poland during the Cold War was controlled by Jews. There is a theory that Lech Wałęsa was an informer of the SB, communist secret police in Poland.
In October 1969, a rumour began circling that Paul McCartney, one of The Beatles, died in a car crash in late 1966 and was replaced by a lookalike. Proponents of the theory, which is commonly referred to as the Paul is dead hoax, cite "clues" in the form of peculiar album covers, possible symbolism in strange lyrics, and backmasking. There have been many purported sightings of Elvis Presley over the years since his death in 1977. Several conspiracy theories have developed suggesting that he is still alive. Kurt Cobain, singer and guitarist of Nirvana was suggested to not to have committed suicide, but was in fact murdered. Some people believe that comedian Andy Kaufman faked his own death. Some believe Tupac Shakur also faked his death.
- Some New Chronology theories, such as the Phantom time hypothesis of Heribert Illig and the Fomenko-Nosovsky chronology, claim that the conventional dating of historical events is incorrect, and that the historical timeline has been purposely distorted by powerful interests.
The “Frozen Envelope Theory” suggests that the NBA rigged the 1985 NBA Draft Lottery so Georgetown University standout Patrick Ewing would land with the New York Knicks, who had the first pick in that year’s draft. Conspiracy theorists argue that the New York Knicks' envelope was placed in the freezer so that when NBA commissioner David Stern reached into a bowl containing the envelopes of all the teams participating in the draft lottery, he would be able to identify the Knicks’ envelope by its being colder than the others. The death of Phar Lap, the champion New Zealand and Australian racehorse, was purported to be a deliberate poisoning. There are also several theories concerning the disappearance of the champion racehorse, Shergar.
- Electronic banking conspiracy
The Theory of Electronic Conspiracy is said to be a variant of modern New World Order conspiracy theories. The theory consists of the belief that a secret group has attempted for centuries to reach worldwide dominion, even if the result by design would be world destruction. According to this theory, the worldwide dominion has been planned from antiquity and follows the following phases:
- The substitution of precious metal-based coin currency by paper currency. This process began in the Renaissance, with the beginning of the use of tickets which allowed for people to have a tangible good (such as silver or gold pieces) by paper—a more virtual, but comfortable, medium which the state was committed to provide the equivalent amount of precious metal if such was required.
- The appearance of virtual money, with credit cards: money approaches wholly virtual status. Money is no longer a tangible paper- or metal-based object but rather a series of numbers recorded in magnetic stripes.
- The proliferation of Internet and Electronic commerce: credit cards are no longer required in order to purchase or sell goods and services from an Internet-connected computer.
- The concentration of the worldwide bank into few hands, by means of continuous international banking fusions.
- The worldwide implementation of an electronic identity card.
- The great worldwide blackout. A tremendous disaster will take place when, after a great electrical blackout on a planetary scale, the data of all electronic accounts erase simultaneously. After this event, chaos and poverty will immediately ensue throughout the planet; and civilization will revert to its primitive forms of slavery to survive. This is the last aim of the "secret organization" which has spent centuries guiding this process. The worldwide blackout will be preceded by partial blackouts that would only be tests and "signals" to communicate that different phases of the process are being fulfilled. An example of these partial blackouts would be those that have been produced almost simultaneously in different parts around the world; and, at the beginning of the 21st century, shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks: the blackouts in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom.