Seven Conspiracy Theories

9/11 Was an inside job

Like most crackpot conspiracy theories, there is no unified theory among so-called ‘9/11 truthers’ as to why exactly the US government decided to orchestrate a fake terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre (possibly with the help of Mossad). But they know one thing almost for certain: the US government did it for some reason.

Perhaps it was because the Bush administration wanted an excuse to invade Iraq. But then again, Saddam Hussein was never blamed for 9/11 and the attacks were never used as a justification for the invasion which, by the way, did not occur until two years later.

Perhaps Afghanistan then. Though God knows why. ‘Truthers’ point the desire to build the Unocal gas pipeline through Afghanistan. But the desire to build a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan (on which construction did not start until 2015) seems like a pretty thin reason to spend years and hundreds of billions of dollars prosecuting a war against the vicious Taliban.

Still, truthers insist that “jet fuel can’t melt steel beams.” True, but it does burn hot enough to weaken them by about 70%, which would have been easily enough to bring down the towers. And being 95% air, they simply crumpled in on themselves.

Of course, it is simply impossible that this was an inside job. It would have taken thousands of people to orchestrate the attack, not one of whom has come forward and blown the whistle.

But if it was a conspiracy, then the mastermind who decided that at the time of the attack, President Bush should be reading The Pet Goat to school children in Florida was really a genius.


Princess Diana was murdered by the Royal Family

Even if we granted the assumption that the British intelligence services are at the beck and call of Prince Phillip, it seems like a pretty flimsy method of assassination.

If conspiracy theorists are to be believed, then the Lady Diana’s murderers decided the most watertight plan to extinguish the beloved Princess was to get a Ritz Hotel chauffeur (slightly) drunk and hope that he would drive recklessly (or employ him to do so, in which case he was presumably willing to sacrifice his own life to further the machinations of Prince Phillip). They would then hope that this reckless driving would result in a crash (which it always does), and that the Princess would not be wearing her seatbelt. On this last contingency, they could be assured, as comedy duo Mitchell and Webb explain succinctly: “she’s unprovably pregnant, remember? Women recently impregnated by the only man they’ve ever loved are notoriously slapdash about their personal safety.” Similarly, they were banking on her wounds being fatal, which they most likely only were because of France’s odd emergency response system.

As an aside, if Prince Phillip wanted to diminish the Princess’ popularity, then cruelly snatching her from an adoring public in a sensational car accident in Paris was hardly a guarantee that she would be forgotten overnight.


The Moon-Landing was faked

According to this theory, the Moon-Landing in 1969 was filmed on a set- probably in Nevada- in order to score a propaganda victory over the Soviet Union.

Of course, it is hard to see where NASA would have made any savings in terms of time, money and effort by faking it. After all, they presumably still had to build a gigantic rocket capable of launching into space and landing safely again in front of thousands of eyewitnesses. Moreover, employing an entire film crew fabricate the landing, as well of hundreds of fake engineers at Houston would have meant swearing hundreds of people to perpetual secrecy. To go to this supreme effort, and then no pay any attention to detail with regards to flags, stars and footprints would also seem rather incongruous.


Aliens landed at Roswell and the US government covered it up

It is not entirely clear why the US government, upon discovering aliens, would want to keep it a secret, thus depriving themselves of the ability to enlist any help in researching them or preparing for an imminent invasion. But they did so nonetheless, according to many ufologists.

Well, given that the US government likes to cover these things up, it was extremely fortuitous that the alien spaceship happened to crash into a top-secret US military base in New Mexico (where secret and theretofore unseen aircraft were routinely tested). However, it was pretty unwise of the government to squander this good luck by performing an autopsy on the stereotypical humanoid alien and then filming it.

Still, if it wasn’t a spaceship, what could it be?

Spoiler: a US military balloon.



The grand Jewish conspiracy

Of all the conspiracies, this is probably the  broadest and most pervasive, as well as the most ugly, hate-filled, and pseudo-intellectual.

Although unjust suspicion of the Jewish people has a long history in Europe, the notion of a global conspiracy of world domination has most of its roots in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a crude forgery published in Tsarist Russia in 1903, purporting to be the minutes of a meeting of Jewish ‘Elders’, exposing their plans for world-domination.

Ever since, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories have found a terrifyingly large audience and proliferated: Jews use central banks to control the global financial system; Jews control the media; Jews were behind the rise of communism, Jews orchestrated the Holocaust to justify the creation of Israel.

Most conspiracy theories provide us with a reliable chuckle, but this is a terrible example of why conspiracy-style thinking can be so dangerous.



Big Pharma has discovered a cure for cancer, but is suppressing it because there is more money to be made treating cancer than curing it.

This sounds superficially evil enough to seem plausible to many people, but it is total nonsense. The University of Oxford estimates that it would require at least 700,000 people across at least eight drug companies to keep this secret in perpetuity, as well as employees of smaller companies, charities, the FDA and academia. The notion that that many people keeping mum about this- particularly given that tens of thousands of those people will get cancer in their lifetimes and could presumably benefit from the treatment- is simply inconceivable.

Moreover, there would be far more money to be made by the company that invented the cure than they could make simply selling current treatments. That is why the pharmaceutical industry has released cures for plenty of other diseases, instead of just peddling ongoing treatments. There is no reason why cancer should be a special case.


The Phantom Time Hypothesis

Unlike every other conspiracy on this list, it would be kind of cool if this one were true. Essentially, the Phantom Time Hypothesis posits that the years AD614 to AD911 simply did not exist. Instead, a cabal comprising Holy Roman Emperor Otto II, Pope Sylvester II, and possibly Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII, conspired to fabricate almost 300 years of history because they wanted to live in the year 1000AD, in order to legitimize Otto’s claim to the Holy Roman Empire, doing so by forging historical documents and falsifying history.

If this were the case,  it would mean that figures like Alfred the Great and Charlemagne were simply inventions of Otto and Sylvester.

Unfortunately, there is far too much discrediting evidence to take this hypothesis seriously, but if it were true, we would be living in the 18th Century, not the 21st.

John Hajek

John Hajek is the IPA Campus Coordinator at the University of Melbourne.

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