Conspiracy theories have existed throughout history, although the first use of the term “conspiracy theory” was coined in a 1909 article in The American Historical Review, about the repeal of the Missouri Compromise.
These days, conspiracy theories tend to be a bit more outlandish and have gained in notoriety and popularity, especially in the late years of the 20th century, thanks to like-minded believers finding each other via the internet.
The truth is, even some of the weirdest and wonderful conspiracy theories are believed by a significant percentage of the population. What’s even funny is that plenty of people still believe in conspiracy theories that scientists have managed to debunk completely, such as the link between childhood vaccinations and autism. Actually, despite overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary, 20% of US voters still believe that vaccinations can lead to children developing autism. The same percentage also believes that a UFO crashed at Roswell in 1947.
While the autism case is pretty clear, there are some scientific conspiracy theories that have not been completely disproved, and their supporters haven’t quite managed to prove them to be true, either! Nevertheless, the conspiracy theories in the list below have at least the ring of truth about them. Which ones do you believe and which do you think are too crazy to be real?
15. Deepwater Horizon Sunk By Eco-Terrorists
In April of 2010, the BP drilling rig, Deepwater Horizon, was sunk by an explosion that got 11 crew members killed. The disaster caused untold environmental damage and cost BP and Transocean, the rig’s owners, billions of dollars in fines and compensation payments. It also spawned a number of conspiracy theories, including that the rig was deliberately blown up by eco-terrorists, who wanted to discourage further oil exploration in the US Gulf. Why eco-terrorists would cause such widespread environmental damage in a bid to further their cause is one question the conspiracy theorists have never quite been able to answer.
14. Airplane Clouds Of Vapour Are “Chemtrails”
You must have seen the clouds of vapor left in the sky by airplanes passing overhead at high altitudes. These are clouds of condensation, formed when the heat from the airplane’s exhaust meets cold temperatures. Now, the fact that these contrails can often remain visible for minutes or even hours after the plane has passed has led to some people becoming convinced that they contain something more sinister than mere condensation, chemical or biological agents which can be used to affect plant, animal, or even human life on earth. While this theory has been rejected by many in the aviation industry, the difficulty of accessing the contrails, or “chemtrails” as conspiracy theorists have dubbed them, means that it is very difficult to disprove completely.
13. 9/11 Masterminded By The US Government
9/11 was a huge tragedy, and while there are some crazy conspiracies surrounding the events of that day, including some people who claim that the whole event was engineered by the US Government to justify them going to war in Iraq, there are some conspiracy theories that are a little more believable. Even respected scientific journals have published articles about the collapse of the Twin Towers and other buildings in the complex, which building experts say shouldn’t have collapsed even after the airline crashed. Theorists have speculated that the collapse was caused by a controlled explosion, perhaps to hide evidence of government interference in the disaster or to get rid of evidence that could have proven the government had advanced knowledge of the attacks.
12. Fluoride Added In Water To Control Citizens’ Minds
Cities across the US and Europe have been adding fluoride to drinking water for years, in a bid to improve dental health. However, conspiracy theorists don’t like the idea of governments adding chemicals to anything, in case the said chemicals are used for more nefarious purposes. In the case of fluoride, those opposed to the policy claim that governments are not adding fluoride to drinking water to help dental health but to control the minds of their citizens, or perhaps more believably, that the long-term health effects of adding fluoride to drinking water haven’t been properly explored and that it could cause cancer or behavioral problems in children.
11. Soviet Space Programme Failed Severally, Killing A Number Of Cosmonauts
In the 1950’s and 1960’s, the US and the USSR were engaged in a space race. The USSR won the first round, with Yuri Gagarin becoming the first man in space in 1961, but the US beat them to the punch with the first man on the moon (or did they?). There were rumors that the USSR covered up failed space flights, including many in which cosmonauts have died, in order to maintain the image that they were pushing the US when it came to scientific advancements. Given the secretive nature of the Soviet government at this time, this is one conspiracy theory which is not hard to believe.
10. Government Mind Control Using HAARP
Mind control by sinister government agencies is a favorite theme among conspiracy theorists. But HAARP, or the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program to give it its full name, was one particular government program that attracted more than its fair share of theories. Located in the Alaskan wilderness, it was set up to study the upper atmosphere, although its Top Secret status meant that many people were convinced that it was carrying out other experiments too, including manipulating the weather or even triggering earthquakes and tsunamis. Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez was one of those who bought into the HAARP conspiracy, accusing the US Government of using the facility to set off the devastating Haiti earthquake in 2010.
9. Philadelphia Experiment
The US armed forces are a great source of material for conspiracy theories fans. One of the most famous of these is the Philadelphia Experiment, a US Navy scheme which saw an entire warship disappear before the eyes of a witness, one Carlos Allende. In 1944, Allende wrote that while traveling on another US ship, he saw the USS Eldridge vanish from sight. Widely considered to be a hoax, there are still many who believe that it was true and that US armed forces are still even using the technology today. All the US government’s denials have failed to silence the conspiracy theorists, whose response is that, of course, the navy, army, and air force don’t want their enemies and their citizens to know what they can do.
8. Bigfoot, A Beastly Ape-Like Creature Exists
Bigfoot is one of the best known conspiracy theories of all time—the supposed existence of a mysterious ape-like creature in remote areas of the US, especially in Washington State. There have been thousands of reported sightings of sasquatches since they reached their peak in the 1970’s, and several bigfoot aficionados have even claimed to have taken photos of the secretive creature. Even though experts claim that many of these photos are fake, this has not put off the bigfoot believers, who argue that while they may not have conclusively proven the beast’s existence, no one has managed to prove that sasquatches don’t exist either!
7. Technology Suppression In Certain Industries
Conspiracy theorists have long maintained that certain industries have gone out of their way to suppress new technological and scientific advances so that they can continue to rake in dollars. Some believe that the energy industry is suppressing renewable energy technology, that Big Pharma is hiding vaccinations and cures for diseases such as cancer, and that the automotive and oil industries have gone out of their way to make sure that electric cars failed for as long as possible. Although electric cars are now becoming more popular, the technology to build and run electric cars has existed for decades. But early manufacturers were bought out by major car companies who instantly put electric on the back burner.
6. Microchip Monitoring On Humans
Radio frequency identification chips, or RFID for short, are already used in pets to help owners track down lost cats and dogs. Conspiracy theorists believe that it is only a matter of time before RFID chips are also used on humans, perhaps implanted at birth and updated with personal information or used by the authorities to track our movements. At first glance, this may all sound a bit Orwellian, but remember that 30 years ago, no one would have expected CCTV cameras to be as widespread as they are today or that governments would be able to monitor our telephone conversations and electronic communications.
5. Climate Change Is A Hoax
Despite 97% of scientific journals agreeing that climate change is real, that hasn’t stopped conspiracy theorists from claiming that the whole thing is nothing but a hoax. In fact, this position has some very important supporters, including President Donald Trump who said in 2012 that global warming was “invented” by the Chinese to hold back the US manufacturing industry. Climate change deniers point to things like past ice ages as proof that the earth’s climate has always changed over the course of its existence, saying that the role of humans and the pollution from industry in global warming has yet to be proven.
4. Microwaves Used By Obama To Spy On Trump
Ever since microwave ovens became a more common sight in our homes, they have been associated with conspiracy theories, to the extent that many people won’t even have them in their kitchens. While most people no longer believe that microwaves can cook your insides or give you cancer–or that Obama used them to spy on Donald Trump–there are still plenty of consumers who do believe that using this time-saving device removes a lot of the nutrients from your food. While it is undoubtedly better to steam foods like fresh vegetables to retain as many of their nutrients as possible, there is no proof that microwaves are any worse than other methods of cooking when it comes to eating healthy.
3. Artificial Diseases Created To Wipe Out Specific Groups
The disease HIV/AIDS was first reported in the US in 1981, and although enormous strides have been made in treatment and prevention since, it is still a death sentence for many people who contract it, especially in the Third World. One of the most enduring conspiracy theories about HIV is that it was a disease that was invented by the CIA in order to wipe out the homosexual and black communities. Even South African president Thabo Mbeki voiced his support for this theory, contradicting widely-held beliefs that the disease started in sub-Saharan Africa. Others have claimed that the US government created the virus in labs and injected gay men with the disease during a study into Hepatitis B in New York’s gay community in 1978. The fact that HIV really did seem to spring from nowhere has led many people to continue believing that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to this particular condition.
2. Neil Armstrong’s Moon Landing Was Faked
In July of 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon with the immortal line, “That’s one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.” However, many conspiracy theorists believe that Armstrong’s leap wasn’t as great as he and NASA made it out to be, and that the moon landing itself was faked with the footage actually being filmed right here on earth. Those who believe in this unlikely conspiracy point to all sorts of clues in the footage, such as shadows in the wrong place or unexpected objects in photographs. But perhaps the strongest evidence in favor of the conspiracy theorists is that no one has been to the moon since 1972. If humans made it to the moon in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, why have we not been back since?
1. Aliens Exist
The belief in alien life is one that is held by about 50% of the population in most western countries, although that figure falls when you ask people if they believe that these alien life forms have visited earth. There have been countless reports of UFOs or unidentified flying objects, but one of the most famous–and one of the most famous conspiracy theories of all time–revolves around the crash landing of an alien space craft in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. The fact that the US army also housed top secret Area 51 base in this area did nothing to dispel the widely-held belief that they had captured a live alien and had been experimenting on it and its spacecraft ever since, with many people believing that a lot of man’s most impressive technological advances of the 20th century actually stemmed from alien machines.
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