You’ve finished the favorite board game, wooden stacks, with your friends at camp, and you are looking for something to talk about. Perhaps one of the most popular points of conversation that never bring a dull moment are conspiracy theories. Whether you are traveling on a road trip with your family for several hours, waiting for the professor in class, or a carefree coffee conversation an afternoon, if not gossiping about someone else, ranting about life, or talking about the NBA, one of your friends will bring up a piece of history that you’ve never really remember memorizing in your history quiz in high school or college. What is a conspiracy theory? These are stories that explain a set of events, usually with themes on secret plots, powerful conspirators, and biggest mysteries in history that give the chills. Expect to hear gasps and shrieks in the room or in whichever space you are discussing about it. In the next articles in this page, you’ll be presented with various perspectives in history that never existed nor discussed with you in class. These are tidbits of information you wished were part of your school books instead of the mainstream ones.
Hearing these conspiracies is part of human nature
One of the associate professors at Amsterdam’s Vrije Universiteit, Jan-Willem van Prooijen, once wrote in an essay published on a website known as Aeon, “Conspiracy theories have always been with us, powered by an evolutionary drive to survive. How’s that working for us now?” True enough, these theories are most than just conversations to kill time, but they somehow satisfy human thinking. If the environment, let’s say with your friends doing a holiday vacation in the mountains, becomes very monotonous, bringing up something you’ve heard from your older cousin or in a drinking session — possibly a conspiracy theory, we bet — breaks the ice.
Second, it is human interest that you have interests in. In other words, hearing stories of plotting and secret societies, or revelations of Titanic not being the ship that sank, concerns you as an individual. It is similar to knowing that you have been pranked. What is your reaction if you found out there is cheating in a nationwide election? For sure, you’ll raise your ire. Similarly, a person would continue to listen to these theories because they are certainly part of the scenario. The 90s generation knows they grew up glued on their sofas watching the movie inspired by the Titanic sinking, only to find out there are mistakes about the story? Third, yes there’s another one, historical conspiracies trend differently and in a unique pace than other topics online. It is rare for stories of this kind not to gain the attention of the community. Having said this, before we jump into specific historical shock values, here are the biggest conspiracy theories you must know.
History's biggest conspiracy theories
1. The Moon Landing Hoax
Still considered the biggest breakthrough in science, particularly in astronomy, is the Moon landing in the 1960s, headed by astronaut Neil Armstrong. It is called the “giant leap for mankind.” Footages and clips of the landing were shown live on television, remember this is also the decade that TV was as popular as Facebook today (mass media was quite young), in front of millions to billions of people watching. However, a few years after, 1978, movie “Capricorn One” claimed that these astronauts collaborated with NASA to fake the landing. This was followed by Fox Network’s “Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land On The Moon?” which disproved the authenticity of the 1969 Apollo mission. One of the strongest points conspiracy theorists raised was the movement of the American flag, seemingly in the presence of wind. Scientists argue that wind’s existence is impossible if in a vacuum which, they say, is the environment on the Moon.
2. Princess Diana's Death
The world was surprised the moment they heard the car Princess Diana was in suffered into an accident in a highway tunnel in Paris, France last August 31st, 1997. The British royalty then was one of the most followed celebrities across the globe. She was cover of various magazines, headline of television news, and all over the radio. What’s the twist? They say that it was not a car accident, but a successful assassination plot by British intelligence officers at the request from the royal family themselves. You might think it was because of a common issue regarding Diana being an in-law. It is today considered case closed, a driving incident due to pursuing paparazzi. However, more stories unfold even until this very day. It is one of the saddest moments in British history, which you know has several family-related issues, scandals, and controversies even from the Tudor era, for instance, and Queen Elizabeth I’s reign.
3. The Illuminati
Talk about religion and faith, one of the long-standing theories will be the Illuminati. Among the alleged part of this “cult” include politicians, Hollywood celebrities, pop singers, and even religious leaders. They include Nicki Minaj and Katy Perry, to name a few. Being part of a circle like this isn’t a big subject, but the principles of the group are what critics are after. The Illuminati allegedly is a mysterious group that aims to set up a so-called totalitarian worldwide government known as the “New World Order.” This type of group isn’t really too contemporary but founded in the 18th century by an anti-clerical professor named Adam Weishaupt. This professor advocated against the intervention of the church in public life. His beliefs were based from the Freemasons secret society, and accounts reveal he named it “The Order of Illuminati.” Theorists state that even photos of U.S. presidents, say for instance Barack Obama or Donald Trump show symbols of the cult. And, even in music videos of artists Taylor Swift or Madonna, there are images that associate to the rituals. However, contemporary history says this is simply a counter-culture.
4. The 9/11 Attacks
Several accounts say that the strongest evidence to a conspiracy may be that of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Even the media angled it in such a way that conspirators carefully planned and executed the attacks. Among the alleged perpetrators include Osama Bin Laden, former president George Bush, and his vice-president Dick Cheney. Even top presidential advisors Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld were being blamed. Each year that the world commemorates this day, new evidence and ideas are presented, adding to the plot that thickens the story of the American people day after day.
5. The sinking of the Titanic
In the early 1900s, not even during the two World Wars, the biggest ship Titanic sailed from Europe all the way to the United States. This maiden sailing had several important people in society on board — socialites, journalists, political activists, millionaires and billionaires, and more. Many depictions can be seen from the 1990s movie that goes with the same title. However, there are also many conspiracy theories that open up conversations about the Titanic sinking which will make one feel uncomfortable. One of these includes the idea that it was not really Titanic that set sail from Western Europe but another vessel. Another one was the theory saying that it was allegedly a mass murder plot. There are more in Pandora’s box that you may or may not want to hear.
6. The Simpsons can predict the future
Moving forward with modern-day history, Business Insider reports that there are more than 15 times “The Simpsons” accurately predicted the future. This includes the censorship of Michelangelo’s “David” revealed in a 1990 episode and happened in the news in 2016; the horsemeat scandal from a 1994 episode to a 2003 actual event; the presidential campaign of Donald Trump; and technological advancements like the smart watch, the auto correct, and more. Conspiracy theories are meant to tickle the imagination and become interesting. It already depends on the person listening or reading about them whether they take it as a grain of salt, or work on uncovering more about what they found. Life will go on, McDonald’s crew will continue to serve meals, the Yellowstone National Park will keep opening its doors to the public, and there will be more UNO deck varieties to be unveiled.