In a world where the line between real and fake news has become increasingly blurrier, I thought we should take a moment to appreciate those crazy conspiracy theories which have survived throughout the years. Those who ascribe to these theories have stuck to their guns, sometimes despite a crippling amount of opposing evidence. While some of these conspiracy theories are enlightening or even comical (think Bigfoot or the D.C. Pizza Shop Sex Ring Scandal), others are downright scary.
As such, this list will countdown 15 conspiracy theories you better hope aren't true. Some of the conspiracy theories listed here are totally ridiculous, while others have some degree of tangible evidence attributed to them. All of these theories, however, if true would have incredibly devastating effects on how we view the world around us. With any luck, none of these conspiracy theories will ever be found to hold ground, but if they do, at least our readers will hold solace in the fact that they understand the theories workings from reading this article.
The stories and lore related to these conspiracy theories are taken from the first-hand knowledge of the author or are derived from websites solely dedicated to explaining and presenting these theories.
15 The Mothman Of West Virginia
I spent a few years living in West Virginia for school, so I can attest that the Mothman conspiracy theory is a pretty big deal down there. During the 60s there were several reported sightings of a large winged creature in the area of Point Pleasant, WV. Then, in December of 1967, the nearby Silver Bridge collapsed killing 46 people. Photos from that day reveal a strange creature perched on the bridge shortly before its collapse. This has caused people to draw some sort of connection (that he caused it, or was simply a warning of the impending doom) between the Mothman and the bridge's collapse.
This strange series of events is important for our purposes because of the appearance of Indrid Cold. Cold was a well-dressed man (assumed to be from some government agency) who was noticed during the time and place of the Mothman sightings. Due to his odd nature (and line of questioning) many conspiracy theorists have theorized him as a government agent involved in the cover up, or even an extraterrestrial being.
14 Withholding The Cure For Cancer
This is definitely one of the more heart-wrenching entries on this list. Those who adhere to this conspiracy theory believe that a cure for cancer (in its various forms) was developed several decades ago. However, this cure was subsequently buried by either a government or corporate interests. The reasoning behind this phenomenon is that more revenue can be produced by treating cancer than by curing it. Thus, the cancer cure has been locked away somewhere and is only available to those who are willing to pay an outlandish price to obtain it. This conspiracy theory is honestly unconscionable to me. How anyone could force a sick individual to undergo months of hellacious chemotherapy (with no guarantee of remission) in order to raise their revenue is frankly sickening. We hope that this conspiracy theory is exactly that, a theory.
13 Electronic Banking Scheme
Of all the conspiracy theories on this list, this is the one that is probably the most intricate. Those who ascribe to this theory believe that there has been a plot (essentially since the Italian Renaissance) to use financial manipulation to enslave the majority of the human race. According to this theory, this plan started with the switch from gold and silver to paper currency. From there, the puppet masters induced the world to slowly make the switch from paper currency to credit cards (this would be the part of the plan that we are still within today).
Finally, the world would make the switch from credit cards to a purely online form of monetization (I believe that this is akin to what Apple Pay is doing). With the idea of money being purely theoretical at this point, this theorist believes it would be easy for a small group of individuals to gain most of the worlds' wealth, thus leading to widespread enslavement.
12 Area 51 And The Roswell Landing
Almost everyone in America knows the rumor of the Roswell alien landing and the subsequent conspiracy theory of a government cover-up and the establishment of Area 51. According to some conspiracy theorist, the technology and lifeforms from the crash still reside in the secretive government facility. The reason that this conspiracy theory makes our list is that the Roswell landing supposedly happened in 1947, now 70 years ago. If there truly was an alien landing in 1947, imagine what they have been doing the last 70 years. Think about how much more advanced (and one could argue violent) our world has become in the past 70 years, now imagine a similar transformation being undergone by a civilization already able to travel across distant galaxies in the 1940s. My imaginings take the vague shape of an Independence Day sequel.
11 Flat Earthers
This is the sole entry on this list from which I actually know someone (actually, multiple people) who believe in this ridiculous conspiracy theory. This theory foregoes what most 2nd graders know and supports the notion that the Earth is actually flat (sorry Copernicus). Those who believe this theory believe that satellite images (or the very belief in satellites), global flights, and gravitational evidence are all a hoax to convince us that the world is round. I'm not sure what the reasoning would be behind this hoax, but I'm sure there is some dark master plan. I think the scariest part about this theory is that if it were true, it would require hundreds of layers of evidence to be false. If this conspiracy theory were found to be true it would undo hundreds of years of evidence and scientific research, a truly scary thought.
10 Jesus' Wife Theory
With the prevalence of the Christian religion in U.S. society, there would naturally be some conspiracy theories floating around with a biblical aspect. One of the more popular of these is the theory that Mary Magdalene (the prostitute who famously washed Jesus's feet with her hair in the New Testament) was actually Jesus' wife. Furthermore, this theory suggests that the two had children and that a bloodline of Jesus has managed to survive through the ages. They claim that this fact has been suppressed by the Catholic Church in an attempt to consolidate their power. This theory was touched upon in the fictional book The Da Vinci Code but had become popular among conspiracy theorist for many years prior. If true, this theory would undermine much of the Christian theology.
9 NSA Spying
Admittedly, I'm picking at the overall theme of the list with this entry because according to multiple reports this one-time conspiracy theory is actually true. It was revealed early last year that the National Security Administration (NSA) was using cell phones and smart TVs (and who knows what else) to spy on individual citizens. Claiming the necessity of preventing terrorist attacks, the NSA will listen for certain keywords and phrases in order to identify potential terrorists. To me, this seems like (among other things) a gigantic invasion of privacy. The NSA claims that it only uses the technology to root out terrorist activities, but history has shown us that it is only a matter of time until these methods are used for more nefarious means. Truly frightening.
I am unclear about what makes certain conspiracy theories more favorable to others and allows said theory to gain widespread notoriety. Take, for instance, the relative popularity of the Illuminati conspiracy theory. This theory appears to be a close relative to the New World Order conspiracy theory (discussed later) but for some reason has received much more notoriety than its more intricate counterpart. For those of you unfamiliar with the Illuminati theory, it is your typical "small group of people setting out to control all the world's resources" storyline. I would guess that a significant reason behind the Illuminati's popularity is the fact that its' proponents have claimed that several notable celebrities fall within its ranks (Taylor Swift, Kanye West). Whatever the reason, the idea of Kanye West helping to rule the world is pretty terrifying to me, so the Illuminati conspiracy theory makes our list here at #8.
7 Clean Car Suppression
I like to think of myself as fairly environmentally conscious, so this is the theory which would make me the angriest if it were found out to be true. There are several versions of this story, but basically, they all follow the same theme. That gas producing companies have buried the plans of a workable automobile engine which runs on some sort of sustainable energy (cold fusion, wind, etc.). While this seems somewhat ridiculous (especially in light of the relative prevalence of electric cars), remember that several Exxon executives are currently in prison because they paid groups of scientist to produce fake research saying that man-made climate change wasn't a reality. I don't think that it's too far of a jump to imagine other gas/oil companies doing something similar with something they thought would cut into their profits.
6 Bush Did 9/11
Ah yes, the conspiracy theory that launched a thousand memes. It has now become fairly commonplace to attribute (whether jokingly or not) the horrific 9/11 terrorist attacks to the U.S. President at the time, George W. Bush. The theory follows the logic that the Bush administration orchestrated the 9/11 terrorist attacks in an effort to gain popular support for the war in Iraq. Seeking to gain access to the tremendous oil reserves in the Middle East, Bush knew that the American public would not support a war based solely on a grab for resources. "Evidence" concerning the melting of steel beams and videos showing what looks like an explosion on the ground floor of the twin towers has added fuel to this frightful conspiracy theory. The idea that a U.S. President would kill fellow Americans for a political agenda is certainly scary enough to place this entry on our list.
5 Frozen Envelope NBA Theory
Some of the conspiracy entries recently listed have gotten pretty heavy, so I included our next entry to add a little levity to the list. The "Frozen Envelope Theory" suggests that the NBA rigged the 1985 Draft Lottery to ensure that future Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing could get drafted by the New York Knicks. The NBA does a draft "lottery" which chooses the order of the NBA draft bingo style in an attempt to prevent NBA teams from losing on purpose to obtain the 1st overall pick (it doesn't really work, but that's another story). There has long been speculation in the NBA that the league favors bigger market teams because their success leads to more sales which ultimately leads to more revenue for the league. As such, it was a little fishy when New York was able to gain the 1st pick in the 1985 draft with such a surefire talent as Ewing being the unanimous top choice. Conspiracy theorist claim that the Knicks' envelope was placed in a freezer just before the selection, allowing David Stern to feel for the cooler envelope and "randomly" select the Knicks with the first pick.
4 Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter
This is perhaps the most obnoxious conspiracy theory that I found, so I obviously had to include it on my list. Based on the movie Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter (or perhaps the movie is based on the conspiracy theory), this is the theory that the 16th President of the United States was actually a skilled vampire assassination. Most of us remember from our middle school history classes that the Confederacy was able to stretch out the Civil War for several years, despite having noticeable financial and numerical disadvantages. How did they do this you may ask, well through the help of vampires. If this was true, it would force Lincoln and his allies to personally duke it out the southern vampires in order to finally end the conflict. I wish that everyone who still insists on displaying Confederate flags was familiar with this crazy conspiracy theory.
3 New World Order
Most of the conspiracy theories on this list are related to a particular subject. The #3 entry on our list, however, encompasses the idea that all of society is a conspiracy theory. Those who adhere to this theory believe that there is a small group of people who control all aspects of the global society. This group, a New World Order (I refuse to give this conspiracy theory any respect until the name of their bad guy doesn't reflect a 90s wrestling stable), uses their money and influence to control governments, churches, and industrial groups. All with the ultimate goal of ensuring the rest of the population remains subordinate to them. This conspiracy theory is certainly depressing because, if true, it undermines all of the efforts that we undertake in our ordinary lives.
2 JFK Assassination
I don’t know if any conspiracy theory has had more books and scholarly articles written about it than the ones surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. During a rally near Dallas Texas, President Kennedy was shot in the head causing his death. Police eventually found the suspected shooter, Lee Harvey Oswald, but then he was shot in police custody by a local bar owner. This has caused widespread speculation that some other party had influenced Oswald to commit the shooting. The fervor for these theories has been increased by varying reports of a shooter on a "grassy knoll" and the speculation that the bullet would have had to curve to hit both President Kennedy and another man who was shot in the same car. The scariest part of the JFK conspiracy theories is that they often attribute either Vice President (and future President) Lyndon B. Johnson, or the CIA with orchestrating the shooting. Both of these institutions are trademarks of American government, making their involvement in the assassination of the President a scary one indeed.
1 Rewriting History Theory
Of all the entries on this list, this is the one that I find the most frightening. There are various conspiracy theories of historical revision, but they all center around the idea that some power has impacted the historical timeline to suit their own needs. That is, they have changed the order of (or simply erased) important events in order to further their political ideology. There are, for example, a small group of people who claim that the Roman Empire was actually formed prior to the revolutionary Greek City states. The reasoning behind this theory is that people believe the Greek city-state (a pure democracy) was a natural evolution of the failed empire (a Republic which is also more akin to what we currently have in the United States). It is easy to guess that the proponents of these theories often have their own ulterior motives.