Who was hiding behind the grassy knoll in Dealey Plaza on the day that John F. Kennedy was shot? Theories range from masked gunmen operating at the behest of wealthy industrialists to Cuban exiles harboring a grudge over the outcome of the Bay of Pigs.
When a question is unanswerable, it creates a void in our consciousness. The imagination, ever skeptical in the presence of a void, swells to fill it. The results, while almost assuredly entertaining, typically have no basis in fact, reason or rationality.
The majority of us relish the opportunity to flex our creative muscles. We marvel at our ability to imagine loose ends tied together, bound and woven into an intricate web that explains everything. However, we understand the nature of the exercise; we know that our solutions are fabricated and — despite our best efforts — the void of inexplicability remains.
It is not always so easy, though, to strip fiction from fact. Some insidious fictions become so pervasive, so widespread, that they take root in our collective imagination, fill the void created by life’s unanswered questions and spread solely by virtue of their ability to placate our need to grasp the unknowable. Such fictions elevate themselves and transform into conspiracies which find themselves espoused by the grounded and misguided alike.
In the case of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, conspiracy theories have developed a life of their own. Through the years, they have evolved from simple, historically-minded explanations into grandiose networks of interconnected hypotheses that are intended to bring together and explain the whole of American history since the event occurred in 1963.
Here, we examine similar creatures who have developed, morphed and grown over time into virtually untenable belief systems. From the ludicrous teachings of a former footballer turned New Age guru to the vehicular ramblings of a man bent on exposing the malice hidden within the tangled plots of bestselling novels, we examine five totally insane conspiracy theories.
Lizard People Rule The World
Bill Clinton, Dick Cheney, Stanley Kubrick and the Rockefellers. What do these people have in common? According to New Age conspiracist David Icke, they all descend from an ancient, shapeshifting race of reptiles called the “Brotherhood,” who hail from the constellation Draco. Driven by an insatiable hunger for Earth’s hidden caches of “monatomic gold,” the Brotherhood has infiltrated every corner of international politics.
If one were to believe Icke — which is absolutely not recommended — the Brotherhood employ human strife as a form of energy. Feeding on our fears and insecurities, our reptilian overlords engage in the practice of “human genocide, […] sexual perversions which create highly charged negative energy, and black magic ritual.”
Of course, out of necessity, a certain hierarchy has evolved amongst the scaly doppelgängers, with — and this will surely surprise you — the Brotherhood’s highest echelons populated by what Icke calls, “Red Dresses.” According to Icke’s ham-fisted They–Live-meets-The–Matrix philosophy, the Red Dresses — who tend to the “reptilian software” — masquerade as society’s elite and spearhead the Brotherhood’s woeful quest for monatomic gold.
The primary evidence Icke offers in support of his intricate web of conjecture is a collection of unfortunately-timed photographs that capture politicians, scientists and news anchors mid-blink. However, despite the dearth of evidence, nearly four percent of Americans — 12 million people — believe that a mysterious reptilian race controls the world.
The Montauk Project
Al Bielek, Duncan Cameron and Preston Nichols have made a name — and a living — for themselves by perpetuating their claims that they were involved in a vast, secretive project at what is now Camp Hero in Long Island, New York. According to the trio, it began with the Philadelphia Experiment in 1943. At that time, the group, including Al Bielek — who was, somehow, incarnated as the “regressed essence” of Ed Cameron, Duncan Cameron’s brother — leapt forward in time to the site of the Montauk Project 1983.
Bielek, whose convoluted biography places a vague importance on a chance meeting with Star Wars’ Mark Hammill, states that shortly after leaping forward in time he was recruited to the Montauk Project and convinced by Hungarian polymath John von Neumann to destroy evidence of the Philadelphia Experiment.
Research at Montauk was purportedly guided by a cabal of scientists — both living and dead — and managed by Nikola Tesla himself, whose death was faked in order to surreptitiously insinuate him into the project. The group’s work at Montauk is claimed to have included a reality altering chair, the creation of the Jersey Devil, portals in time, and the formation of the Men in Black.
Vaccines Gave Your Kid Autism
This one is a little less funny. Andrew Wakefield, the perpetrator of the original “vaccines cause autism” fraud, will go down as one of the biggest knobs in history. Jenny McCarthy, Wakefield’s modern-day mouthpiece, will be known as his boneheaded Scrappy-Doo: an unnecessary, yipping crony whose sole purpose is to boost visibility by pandering to a witless audience.
It all started in 1998, when Wakefield submitted a paper to The Lancet, a peer-reviewed medical journal. The paper, which suggested a link between vaccinations and developmental disorders in children, should have been rejected on the basis of conflicts of interest, fixed data, and ethical misconduct. Unfortunately, The Lancet’s minor oversight came back and donkey-punched society in its collective intelligence.
Several years after Wakefield’s publication in 1998, celebrity do-gooder McCarthy — who dropped out of nursing school but did don a stethoscope for an FHM photo spread — launched a tireless campaign against the evils of vaccines that she claims are responsible for her son’s autism. Thanks in part to McCarthy’s efforts, nearly 20 percent of Americans believe that vaccines are linked to autism, despite the fact that Wakefield’s research was revealed to be fraudulent.
Glenn Beck’s “System X”
Glenn Beck, not exactly known for being a bastion of clarity, promoted a new theory in 2013 called, “System X.” According to Beck, who bolstered his theory with quotes from a Department of Education document abstrusely titled, “Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance—Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century,” the government was plotting to employ a number of underhanded techniques to spy on American schoolchildren.
The reason, Beck claimed, was so that certain members of the government — in collusion with massive corporations — could consolidate their power and rule the country as a single, unopposed entity. The methods of implementation utilized by this sinister entity were dubbed System X and included important steps such as, “creating a shadow government,” “allowing chaos,” “‘liquidating’ those who oppose,” and the especially ominous, “activate shadow system.”
Stephen King Killed John Lennon
According to self-proclaimed “truth hero” Steve Lightfoot, the murderer of music icon John Lennon remains free. What’s more, the nefarious villain has risen to the top of the bestseller list and used that position to taunt his unaware readership for years.
Horror author Stephen King, the conspiracist asserts, is Lennon’s true killer. So convinced is Lightfoot that he’s outfitted his vehicle — an otherwise suspiciously nondescript white van — with garish decals proclaiming “author; [sic] Stephen King, not Chapman, murdered Lennon. It’s true, or he’d sue.”
Peddling his $5 e-book, Lightfoot claims to have uncovered the heinous plot by decoding a complex array of dubiously bolded passages taken — or randomly selected — from major newspapers. The decrypted message, according to him, “prove that Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan arranged for the author Stephen King, then barley famous, to assassinate John Lennon.”