Just because you're paranoid...
May 10, 2011 5:52 AM   Subscribe

What are some interesting conspiracy theories -- and websites and communities that support them? There are the classics like the Templars and Flat Earth and Elvis Is Alive, and newer ones like 2012 and chemtrails. What are some other interesting ones you've found? Please no current political conspiracy theories (though older stuff like the Kennedy Assassination is okay). I'm especially not interested in conspiracy theories centered around Obama or Bush. They're boring and will just start a political argument, which I'm not particularly interested in.
posted by empath to Society & Culture (40 answers total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
Educate Yourself is my one-stop shop for conspiracy madness. They only seem to get into current political conspiracy theories as the logical conclusion of their Illuminati and Reptilian assertions. For example, it's not enough that Obama is a Secret Muslim - he's also Indonesian and, of course, a reptilian hybrid with psychic powers (that he's not very good at).

Be sure to check out the Don Croft Chronicles, which details how some dude in a home made camper van saved us all from chemtrails/cellphone death towers by throwing dixie cups full of resin and metal shavings at them.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:00 AM on May 10, 2011

Paul Is Dead. Really.
posted by anagrama at 6:06 AM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Fluoride! The communists put it in the water, people!!!

(Also, here's wikipedia's list of conspiracy theories, put together by some kind of cabal no doubt, and definitely not to be trusted.)
posted by Ahab at 6:15 AM on May 10, 2011

A smattering from my archives:
Clicking noises, originally on data4science.net (now available only via WayBack Machine)
Jeff Rense and colleagues
Was Obama in the 1993 music video for Whoomp There It Is

Somewhere, I have a text file describing how Switzerland is just a toxic waste dump for a chemical byproduct from decaffeination of coffee. I am going to quit googling for this at work before my IT guys get the wrong idea.

Have you seen Zeitgeist: The Movie?
posted by knile at 6:17 AM on May 10, 2011

Paranormal News, is just that.
posted by timsteil at 6:23 AM on May 10, 2011

I like the Hollow Earth theory, for its pure bizarreness. Wikipedia has a bad article about it. A much better one was written by Paul Collins. I didn't read a longish one by Duane A. Griffin. Some primary sources if you're into that.

Them: Adventures with Extremists is an excellent book that exposed the kernel of truth behind several conspiracies.

Lobster is a British magazine that specializes in conspiracy theories, especially more likely ones.
posted by shii at 6:26 AM on May 10, 2011

Skeptoid is a podcast that looks at a lot of things, including conspiracy theories, and discusses what truth (is any) exists. Brian Dunning, the podcaster, tends to avoid politics. He generally dismisses conspiracy theories, but then, most of them are probably wrong anyway. Still, its a good place to go to see what people are talking about. There is also an email discussion list- I am not on it, but they might be able to point you in some good directions.
posted by jenlovesponies at 6:26 AM on May 10, 2011

Here's a bunch of crazy in one place.
posted by Splunge at 6:30 AM on May 10, 2011

WAS KURT COBAIN MURDERED? (justiceforkurt.com)
posted by cashman at 6:32 AM on May 10, 2011

Franklin Delano Roosevelt knew about the Pearl Harbor attack and let it happen anyway. Special bonus: the New Yorker "Deadly Double" ads that eerily predicted the exact time and date of the attack. Coincidence, or coded message?
posted by googly at 6:37 AM on May 10, 2011

Somewhat relevent.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:43 AM on May 10, 2011

Some folks believe that Lyme disease, carried by ticks, originated at the Plum Island bioweapons research lab that's not too far from Lyme, CT.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:56 AM on May 10, 2011

Zeta Talk
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 7:06 AM on May 10, 2011

If you want to get really old school, Jean Hardouin believed that almost every piece of evidence of Classical civilization was a forgery created as some elaborate 13th century monk conspiracy.
posted by oinopaponton at 7:10 AM on May 10, 2011

oinapaponton - those theories aren't confined to the old school: see Anatoly Fomenko's New Chronology.
posted by misteraitch at 7:15 AM on May 10, 2011

There's this one that states that the assassination of JFK was part of a grand alchemical working.
posted by adipocere at 7:15 AM on May 10, 2011

Oh, I've never seen an actual antiquity-denial website, though. That idea died out well before the internet.
posted by oinopaponton at 7:16 AM on May 10, 2011

Annnd, I should preview
posted by oinopaponton at 7:17 AM on May 10, 2011

Steve Lightfoot asserts that John Lennon was actually murdered by Stephen King.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 7:20 AM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

My favorite historical conspiracy is the death or not death of Marshal Ney. Napoleon's favorite general, dashing and reckless, supposedly the last Frenchmen to leave Russian soil. Quite the swashbuckler.

After Napoleon's abdication, the restored Bourbon dynasty forgave most of the upper level officer corps because they needed them. But they actually rewarded Ney, who had urged Napoleon to accept abdication. When Napoleon escaped from Elba and returned to France, Ney volunteered to lead the army to stop him, vowing to bring Napoleon back to Paris in an iron cage.

However, when his forces met with the growing horde of former troops who were rallying to Napoleon's banner, Ney instead joined his force with the Emperor's and back to Paris they went and out went the Bourbons once more.

Next time the Bourbons were restored, they again had to suck it up and forgive most of the Generals, but Louis XVIII was determined to make an example of someone, and that was Ney. The military, apparently including the Duke of Wellington, was generally outraged, but Ney was executed by firing squad at the Tuileries in December of 1815.

Or was he? A persistent legend swears that the military, and possibly the Masons of which Ney was one, faked his death and smuggled him to the United States. Supposedly Ney gave the command to fire himself, striking his chest as he did. The conspiracy theory argues that the squad fired blanks and Ney burst a bladder of pig's blood to make it look good.

The final chapter says that a schoolteacher named Peter Ney turned up in the Carolinas in 1816 . This Ney apparently spoke French, was surprisingly good with a sword for a teacher, and collapsed in a faint upon hearing news of Napoleon's death. This Ney's legacy lives on at Davidson College, where he supposedly taught, and even designed the school seal. Was he actually the Marshal Ney? If you like this sort of stuff, then of course he was.
posted by Naberius at 7:38 AM on May 10, 2011 [4 favorites]

We've just had the 235th anniversary of the founding of Adam Weishaupt's Bavarian Illuminati (May 1st, 1776) so this post is perhaps a little late...

This is kind of my bread and butter as I find the subject of conspiracies both hilarious and interesting and so I read a lot of this sort of thing. I'm not sure how much will be of use however. The important thing is to distinguish between actual conspiracies and that which is lunacy masquerading as fact behind a thin veneer of fact. There's a mixture of both in the suggestions below.

Kenneth Hite's Suppressed Transmission column in the gaming magazine Pyramid was (and is!) full of awesome conspiratorial stuff that is just a blast to read for anyone interested in conspiracy theories and has possibly the best bibliography of the strange that I have ever read. It's unfortunately not available online but the first two collections are available from e23 as pdfs.

I've just finished reading "The Reckoning" by Charles Nicholls about the death of Christopher Marlowe - there's further "Marlowe was Shakespeare" musings on the web and competing groups claiming one of the Bacons, Walter Raleigh or the Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford wrote as Old Will.

I'm currently reading about two dozen other books - including Frances Yates' "Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition" in which she suggests that the Italian monk was responsible for the formation of Raleigh's Durham House set (aka the School of Night) who studied alchemy and atheism and have ties to virtually every conspiratorial event that occurred during the late Elizabethan period.

Bruno was also suspected of being a spy in the French embassy during this period and has been (less than tentatively) suggested by John Bossy as a spy known as "Henry Fagot", planted by Sir Francis Walsingham in an effort to keep Mary, Queen of Scots from the throne. There are a load of other conspiracies from this era - the Babington plot, the Throckmorton Plot etc but most of them were set up by Walsingham himself (or Burghley, Essex or any other Privy Council member you care to substitute).

I'm certain you're already aware of HAARP but there's plenty of conspiracies online relating to it. From there you've the Montauk Project, Project Philadelphia (that last link goes to "abovetopsecret.com" which is a mecca for bullshit theories) and so on.

Wilhelm Reich is a fun subject - there's plenty of websites about the the FDA/Orgone conspiracy on the internet and this has the double benefit of leading you to Hawkwind's Orgone Accumulator which is great fun to listen to.

I have metric tons of other recommendations but most of it isn't on the internet and exists only in pnakotic manuscript, guarded by squamous, gibbering creatures from your nightmares.

If there's a specific period you are after or you wish to know more about real vs. bizarre/imagined conspiracies please let me know as that'll obviously affect my suggestions.
posted by longbaugh at 7:46 AM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

The death of Diana. There are a lot of people - the Daily Express among them - who believe it was a plot by the Royal Family.

I'd also recommend looking at David Icke's website - if you can handle reading it for ten minutes without wondering whether, indeed, the world IS run by shape-shifting lizards.
posted by mippy at 7:55 AM on May 10, 2011

I love how they trotted out David Icke to interview during the wedding of Kate and Wills recently -

"There's the bride, beautiful in her dress and here comes William Thakzorp, 4th Lizardking of RRRRRrarland and I'm sure we all wish them well for the future, so long as in that future they both die screaming at the hands of myself and my perfectly sane followers. DIE ILLUMINATI LIZARD SCUM!"
posted by longbaugh at 7:59 AM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Some guy has been covering ads in my subway station in NYC with scrawled graffiti claiming that the Jesuits are the secret power behind the throne - "Mayor Bloomberg takes his orders from the Archbishop of New York and the Jesuits at Fordham University."

I'm sure there's plenty of crazy surrounding the Jesuits historically but this current graffiti is very on-message - makes me wonder if there's a larger community of true believers dedicated to exposing the Jesuit plot or if the graffiti artist is a lone gunman.
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 8:19 AM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'll second Skeptoid but I'd amend the above recommendation to say that Brian Dunning tends to avoid overt politics. After being a fairly steadfast listener for several months, I've found that he does have a subtle political viewpoint underlying some of the topics which he presents as being completely based on fact. I have on a few occasions found him to say things that were factually wrong. When called on his mistakes he's fairly good about making public corrections in subsequent podcasts but nonetheless, caveat emptor.
posted by fuse theorem at 8:40 AM on May 10, 2011

Anti-Catholic people have often focused on the Jesuits as a source of conspiracy on part of the RCC. There was a brief period where Opus Dei caught it in the neck after the execrable Da Vinci Code but the Jesuits have been whipping boys for centuries otherwise. It's a bit light-hearted of me to refer to them as whipping boys actually since it was common practice for them to be tortured to death during the 16th Century as they were seen as centre of virtually every plot against the queen.

One of the men allegedly involved in the Gunpowder plot to kill James I was a Jesuit, the head of the order in the UK iirc.

The Jesuits are extremely interesting for a whole bunch of reasons, as is St Ignatius of Loyola, their founder. He has ties to the Alumbrados aka "The Illuminated", a heretical sect later persecuted by the inquisition.
posted by longbaugh at 8:44 AM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Roberto Calvi - God's Banker (Conspiracy Archive) intersects with the Gladio Network
posted by adamvasco at 8:59 AM on May 10, 2011

Lost Cosmonauts is one of my favorites, in that it's both macabre and semi-plausible (relative to, say, Reptile People). There are a number of variants or specific claims made by different groups, including that Sputnik 7 (a failed Venus probe) was actually a manned capsule that either failed or was an intentional suicide mission, etc.

I swear that I read an article in Wired about the "Torre Bert recordings" a few years ago, which is central to some theories. Basically a couple of amateur radio listeners in Italy claimed to pick up a number of doomed cosmonauts last transmissions, mostly in the early 60s. However I can't find the article online now. Maybe it wasn't in Wired.

More information (from actual believers in the theory) at LostCosmonauts.

There was also an FPP about it a while back.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:38 AM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

More innocuous than most of the above: Some people believe that Comissioner Stern rigged the 1985 NBA Draft to give the Knicks Patrick Ewing.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:42 AM on May 10, 2011

Similarly, when Michael Jordan retired (for the first time) in order to go play Minor League Baseball in 1993, it wasn't voluntary, he was suspended by the league for gambling, a well-known habit of his.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 10:01 AM on May 10, 2011

I'm not sure if it qualifies as a conspiracy, exactly, but if you want crazy, there's always TIME CUBE.
posted by tau_ceti at 11:54 AM on May 10, 2011

Chemtrails is my all-time favorite conspiracy theory.

The chemtrail conspiracy theory holds that some trails left by aircraft are actually chemical or biological agents deliberately sprayed at high altitudes for a purpose undisclosed to the general public in clandestine programs directed by government officials.

Wikipedia article
posted by DWRoelands at 12:14 PM on May 10, 2011

I'm a sucker for the Mayerling conspiracy theories regarding the suicide (or was it.... MURDER? dun-dun-dun!) of Crown Prince Rudolf and his mistress, Mary Vetsera. (Bonus conspiracy fun: most of the books in English on the case that talk about the conspiracy are long out of print, so you either have to do a little rare book sleuthing or you have to know German to read everything!)
posted by scody at 12:47 PM on May 10, 2011

There's the one about the moon landings being faked...
posted by DarkForest at 2:14 PM on May 10, 2011

Second (or more if I missed the props) for Educate Yourself. It's great because it takes conspiracies old and new and attempts to consolidate them into a complete narrative. I've always thought of doing something like that, but I just don't have the crazy to make it happen at that level.

Expanding earth was mentioned on mefi a little while back and has a nice crypto-science thing going for it.

Don't know if it's a conspiracy per se, but the John Titor time travel stuff is pretty fun.
posted by bionic.junkie at 4:32 PM on May 10, 2011

I've lost many hours to the
Rigorous Intuition Discussion Board. Canadian host Jeff Wells is a thoughtful, lyrical author but writing for a living has kept down the frequency of his blog posts. But oh! The discussion boards. Less about traditional conspiracies and more about finding patterns, but the usual subjects come up. The thing is, no one seems to drink the same koolaid, so there can be some terrific analyzing, digging, and unpacking. Until I found Metafilter, no other website provided so many departure points of wildly interesting things to research and learn about. Heavily focused on current events.

A glance at the first page (of four hundred) of the General Discussion forum of the RigInt Discussion Board reveals posts/discussions about the following right now:

Huge floating radar on its way to Seattle

Steve Pieczenik is about to be "disappeared" from Wikipedia

What constitutes Misogyny?

national emergency alert system

Will Lars von Trier's Melancholia make us laugh or cry?

Non-Time and Hauntology

If you don't comply at sobroiety checkpoint

FBI: Surveillance "going dark" or obsessed with porn

Melinda Leslie - MILAB Abductee & Researcher 2009 vid

Millions of gallons of Carcinogens injected into wells

Economic Aspects of "Love"

Former Accused Iraqi Agent Reveals Facts about 9/11

How Provocateurs Made a “Terrorist"

Sometimes I miss those discussions, but what a time suck. I definitely recommend the blog's archives for Jeff's writing.
posted by Jezebella at 6:02 PM on May 10, 2011

Stuff They Don't Want You To Know is a weekly video podcast by some of the folks from howstuffworks.com. Each episode is 5-10 minutes long and discusses a possible conspiracy, starting with "here are the details" and then moving into "here's where it gets crazy." For example, if the conspiracy is UFOs, "here are the details" might just detail how many sightings happen each year and what they are typically like, and "here's where it gets crazy" might be the military acknowledging the sightings. (Just a very simple example I made up off the top of my head.)
posted by IndigoRain at 11:44 PM on May 10, 2011

I agree with Jezebella about Jeff Wells. He is by far the most interesting conspiracy theorist on the web. I don't believe a lot of the stuff he writes, but he certainly spins up an interesting story. He doesn't blog much anymore, though you can find his blog here. A lot of it is political, but he also has a grand theory of high weirdness that ties in everything from UFO sightings, to why the government is so interested in the paranormal. An overview of his theories is here. Here's a description of his non-political conspiracy theory from 4chan's /x/ wiki:
Well's theory on "high weirdness" is similar to the UFOlogist Jacques Vallee and Charles Fort's idea that humanity is "property". Namely, that many of the paranormal phenomenon we perceive in the world -- such as Ghosts, UFOs, weird sightings etc -- is from a 'control system'. It's not that we are trapped inside a system, like a computer or an intergalactic zoo, but that there is some substrate of reality that influences and plays with our belief systems, particularly mythological and religious beliefs.
The military-occult complex has also discovered this control system and has tried unsuccessfully to control it. Instead the military-occult complex seek to mimic the control system's power through techno-occultic means e.g. government research on UFOs, psychic spies, CIA-MKULTRA mind control, and the influence of esoteric secret religious societies on the government.

Part of this control system appears to be biophotonic in nature i.e. the part of the electromagnetic spectrum that we see and hear on plays a major part in manipulating how we perceive reality. This is partly a reason why scientists have found various frequencies on the EM spectrum can induce fear, and also why Brazil has some of more bizarre UFO-human interactions (due to the South Atlantic Anomaly in the ionosphere).
Random interesting post from his blog:

What would a weather control experiment look like?

BTW, the rigint boards was mentioned in this conspiracy post on the blue. The female discussed in the story is a poster on those forums.
posted by ollyollyoxenfree at 3:13 AM on May 11, 2011

Conspiracy of Silence - Illuminati Pedophiles in Washington D.C. (documentary)

"Conspiracy of Silence, a documentary listed for viewing in TV Guide Magazine was to be aired on the Discovery Channel, on May 3, 1994. This documentary exposed a network of religious leaders and Washington politicians who flew children to Washington D.C. for sex orgies.

Many children suffered the indignity of wearing nothing but their underwear and a number displayed on a piece of cardboard hanging from their necks when being auctioned off to foreigners in Las Vegas, Nevada and Toronto, Canada.

At the last minute before airing, unknown congressmen threatened the TV Cable industry with restrictive legislation if this documentary was aired. Almost immediately, the rights to the documentary were purchased by unknown persons who had ordered all copies destroyed.

A copy of this videotape was furnished anonymously to former Nebraska state senator and attorney John De Camp who made it available to retired FBI Agent Ted L. Gunderson. While the video quality is not top grade, this tape is a blockbuster in what is revealed by the participants involved."
posted by cashman at 1:17 PM on May 11, 2011

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