Which is the most underrated conspiracy theory?

I offer my take at the bottom of this Bloomberg column, but here are some reasons for the ones I reject:

To approach such an investigation, you might ask how much you believe improbable testimonies from witnesses who give every indication of being normal people. If you find sane witnesses persuasive, you might think there is some chance of UFO accounts being true (perhaps with a conspiracy-based coverup). There have been a variety of sober accounts of UFO visitations, most notably the story of Betty and Barney Hill.

Unfortunately for this nomination, psychological research on self-deception and the literature on the unreliability of witness testimony suggest that our minds can talk us into believing all sorts of things happened that actually didn’t. So witnesses don’t sway me much. I notice also that UFO claims have plummeted since the advent of mobile phones with cameras (“Oh, did you get a photo of them?”). And so I must look elsewhere for the most plausible conspiracy theory. The Bigfoot and Yeti tales take a tumble for similar reasons, and I don’t think anyone actually saw Elvis or Jim Morrison walking around in the 1990s.

Another way to search for true conspiracies is to scour history for deathbed confessions. Did any Cuban or Soviet agents, shortly before dying, blurt out that they knew the true story of President John Kennedy’s assassination? As far as I know, these admissions are hard to come by. That’s another reason for not believing in most conspiracy theories.

There is much more at the link., including on Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 and the Trilateral Commission, not to mention sports betting.


"Putin bombing his own populace to cement his position as Prime Minister" seems up there in terms of plausible conspiracy theories.

Though I wonder if we change the definition if something has enough evidence, similar to how Hispanics are more likely to identify as white the longer they've been in the US.

I was thinking in "the airplane crash that killed the Portuguese Prime Minister in 1980 and some members of his government was a deliberate murder"; but the problem is that the evidence of that claim are strong enough to classify it as a "real possibility" and not as a "conspiracy theory".

Thanks to decades of propaganda, any kind of conspiracy theory involving Russia, no matter how ridiculous on its face, seems plausible to many people. "Plausible" is not even the right word here. "Absolutely certain" is more like it.

Of course there is a flip side. Things that were once longshots are now facts in evidence ..


It is amazing. In the same breath acknowledging the indictments, and then doubling back and calling it a lie.

(I understand of course that "conspiracies" here are unproven, but neither are they resolved. Wheels grinding slowly.)

Maybe I should explain that I doubt a secret conspiracy here. I think billionaires were chummy. And when the Russian billionaires were oligarchs, they might have spread a little "oligarchy is fun" among the jet set. But it isn't illegal to be chummy. It will be up to Mueller to find places where it led to specific blunders of the illegal type.

"It will be up to Mueller to find places where it led to specific blunders of the illegal type."

So, it's a fishing expedition then?

That would be stretching the term. Remember the Papadopoulos report for one thing. That is the kind of thing law enforcement should investigate, that Wikileaks cybercrimes had US co-conspirators. Of course it may turnout that Papadopoulos was talking nonsense.

True, to be fair, it's no more a fishing expedition than Kenneth Star's investigation back in the day.

Regardless of what comes out of Mueller's probe, the country is better off having the probe. Either Mueller finds evidence that Trump did something significantly illicit, thus vindicating his critics (and potentially leading to impeachment); Or Mueller fails to find anything significant, thus vindicating Trump and his supporters.

While that is pretty generous JWatts, even after "exoneration" we would be left with this:


Not a cogent thought in the mix.

Yeah, Muellor has found what nearly any fair-minded observer could have guessed in Nov 16.

A Kremlin-sponsored troll farm on a modest budget, no "hacking", no collusion, and no effect on the election.

And THIS is the outcome of the last year of hysteria? Frankly it's embarrassing they are even charging the non-resident Russians responsible (Hello? Extra-territoriality anyone?). It makes them look far more capable that they were.

You have been listening to spin, not Mueller.

Mueller has never commented on the effect on the election.

lol, could there be such things as "conspiracies not to believe facts in evidence?"

You can't wear a #MAGA hat and a tin foil hat at the same time.

Challenge excepted:



Point conceded.

Russian pundits have always been well represented by the "blame America" crowd. Retired Admiral Woolsley remarked recently that the Russians have been trying to influence U.S. elections since the Russian Revolution.
We fear their weapons, not their propaganda.
Given the revelations of the Steele dossier, I remain convinced that Hillary was always a greater concern to national security (see Ghost Stories spy ring swap) with her private operations - especially as she always had her hand out.

Are you talking about the Moscow apartment building demolitions or the two airliners which were blown out of the sky? Or both?

The apartment building demolitions.

In general, high quality conspiracy theories aren't considered "conspiracy theories."

For example, Wikipedia has a massive article on Operation Condor, which apparently was a huge rightwing South American conspiracy involving multiple dictatorships in the 1970s to murder leftists, such as Orlando Letelier in D.C. in 1976:


I'm pretty well informed, and I was aware of some various individual crimes that are now attributed to the conspiracy, but I had never heard of Operation Condor until I stumbled upon this Wikipedia article a few years ago.

In other words, practically nobody in the U.S. is interested in arguing about the Operation Condor conspiracy theory.

Deathbed confessions aren't common if you still have a family you need to protect.

Depends on the change in political circumstances over the decades.

Imagine a German former official involved in some NSDAP crime unknown to history. He might keep it secret out of personal shame even though the officials of the day are aren't trying to cover up the old crimes. This sort of dynamic doesn't even require something as dramatic as WWII -- the same thing might go for a Stalin Era officer under later communist rulers.

Watergate figure E. Howard Hunt, who was William F. Buckley's boss at the Mexico City CIA post, is said by his sons to have made a deathbed confession of his involvement in the JFK killing:


Hunt's widow denies the claim. The L.A. Times looked into it and deemed the evidence "inconclusive."

We don't know all the truth about the JFK issue. We do know that evidence points to two or more shooters and likely that Oswald was not one of them. We do know that various officials, commissions and government three letter departments went out of their way to explain away unexplained problems with the official version of the shooting. Why? Why wouldn't those in charge, those at the top want the truth?

We do know that evidence points to two or more shooters and likely that Oswald was not one of them.

No, we don't know that, because it's false. (Even Cyril Wecht will concede the President and the Governor were shot from the rear).

But Oswald was on the first floor during the shooting and the gun he was supoosed to have used was incapable of firing rounds that fast not to mention only two shell casings were found. There are more unresolvable issues with the single shooter theory.

As for JFK shot from behind. Simply review the tape and see which way the bullet pushes his head. Check the original autopsy report stating the exit wound was in the back of his head. Ask why the doctor was browbeaten into changing his report to coincide with the governments favored theory.

The governor may have been shot from behind but it too two bullets to do the damage to him and "magically" the one bullet they claim hit Connelly left small amounts of lead behind BUT when the bullet was checked for weight it had not lost that much lead. Hmmmm!

But Oswald was on the first floor during the shooting

He wasn't.

As for JFK shot from behind. Simply review the tape and see which way the bullet pushes his head.

The bullet doesn't push his head. The President was having neuromuscular reactions. The bullet generated front spatter and back spatter. The former was in large quantities and landed on the Governor and his wife. The latter was in small quantities and landed on the police escort traveling to the limousine's right.

Two witnesses put him in the stairwell on the first floor.

"The President was having neuromuscular reactions." Yeah, that's the spin. Contradicts physics and common sense but that's what the had to say to support the single shooter theory. Wouldn't you be embarrassed to be forced to make that claim publicly to support the fake theory?

I think you do not know the meaning of "know".

I think that you believe it means "faith". I have faith that someday we may know Oswald was not the shooter or maybe even who was the shooter. You have faith that the FBI and the Secret service told the truth. But even the Warren commission report was DOA because of all the misinformation it contained. But, keep the faith.

You've been reading low quality literature. If you want high quality conspiracy literature, read Josiah Thompson and Cyril Wecht, neither of whom trade in your howlers.

Thompson cites four shots that hit JFK or Connelly but there was also a bullet that hit the street and one left on a gurney at the hospital.

My favorite is that the Black Hand deliberately engineered WWI though the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in order to create a greater Serbia encompassing all the Southern Slavs.

That the government of Serbia back before WWI wanted a greater Serbia is no great mystery. However it would have taken oracular powers to discern that precisely that result, war at all, would come from assassinating Franz Ferdinand.

Littlefinger and Game of Thrones here. The 'conspiracy' may have a very small purpose but have set off something much larger than anyone ever expected.

I think they engineered WWII to be sure the new Souhern Slav state would be socialist and federative, to lessen the insatisfaction of the other groups.

The assassination that set off WWI was likely a large scale conspiracy run by the head of Serbian military intelligence through his Black Hand night job. I doubt if "Apis" conceived of how big the war was going to be, but it was definitely a conspiracy.

I prefer to see this event as a very rare example of successful terrorist attacks rather than a conspiracy. The people killing Ferdinand certainly were ethnic Serbs aiming at the creation of a state encompassing the all or most of southern slavs. In fact, four years after their assassination, and after a series of non-predictable and dramatic events set by it, they got what they wanted with the creation of the kingdom of Yugoslavia. The morale is: terror works, sometimes...

But its purpose was not to terrorise the population of Bosnia-Herzegovina nor the populations of Austria or Hungary. So they weren't terrorists, they were indeed conspirators.

One I’m inclined to believe is that there was a third conspirator in the Oklahoma City bombing. The fbi covered this up so as not to jeopardize their case against mcvey and nichols.

There was: his name was Michael Fortier, he had been a close friend of McVeigh for years, and both he and his wife helped McVeigh with the preparations for the bombing. Fortier however agreed to cooperate with the prosecution in exchange for a reduced sentence and immunity for his wife.

Michael Fortier is one of the two Perpetrators, I assume you mean that his wife is the third conspirator.

As to a completely different unknown third conspirator:

"When McVeigh was asked if there were other conspirators in the bombing, he replied: "You can't handle the truth! Because the truth is, I blew up the Murrah Building, and isn't it kind of scary that one man could wreak this kind of hell?" On the morning of McVeigh's execution a letter was released in which he had written "For those die-hard conspiracy theorists who will refuse to believe this, I turn the tables and say: Show me where I needed anyone else. Financing? Logistics? Specialized tech skills? Brainpower? Strategy? ... Show me where I needed a dark, mysterious 'Mr. X'!""


Michael Fortier is one of the two Perpetrators, I assume you mean that his wife is the third conspirator.

No, the perps were McVeigh and Terry Nichols. The Fortiers were aware of what McVeigh and Nichols were up to but did not alert law enforcement.

Duh! Yes, of course that's right.

However, Fortier is listed as a perpetrator/accomplice. He served over 10 years in prison for his role in the bombing.

"Michael and Lori Fortier were considered accomplices for their foreknowledge of the planning of the bombing. In addition to Michael assisting McVeigh in scouting the federal building, Lori had helped McVeigh laminate a fake driver's license which was later used to rent the Ryder truck.[41] Fortier agreed to testify against McVeigh and Nichols in exchange for a reduced sentence and immunity for his wife.[183] He was sentenced on May 27, 1998 to twelve years in prison and fined $75,000 for failing to warn authorities about the attack.[184] On January 20, 2006, after serving ten and a half years of his sentence, including time already served, Fortier was released for good behavior into the Witness Protection Program and given a new identity.[185]"



Why did Terry Nichols turn himself in rather than flee (to Mexico?) if he was guilty.

Yea i meant a third, different conspirator. Im not that surprised that he wouldn't finger a third guy, why would he? Nothing to be gained by it, plus if he is going to die anyway, why diminish his own notoriety?

I see no reason to attribute any great degree of veracity to the word of a mass murderer whose goal was nothing less than the overthrow of the US government. On a list of people I'd trust to tell the truth, Tim McVeigh is somewhere below every politician who ever drew breath.

I've lost all respect sorry this is absolutely rigged for money... Or ratings in not sure which. I won't be silent . Just saw it live sry.

Chemtrails will always have a special place in my heart.

Whoa, there! You know we're not supposed to talk about this. That and the mind-control radiation from cellphone towers.

Don't forget the Weather Machine!


Oh God, you know about the cloudbusters!

Didn't Umberto Eco write an entire book on this subject?


"Wells Fargo & Co. will create millions of phony accounts for profit"
Actually, it was the employees who created the accounts for financial gain through a poorly conceived bonus system, although execs did benefit from the inflated numbers. But I've read that Wells actually lost money in the end,

The NSA collects and records all phone conversations and emails. p-value is so high, it's probably not even a proper conspiracy anymore. What about various accusations of "planned obsolescence" by tech companies? Isn't the ultimate conspiracy theory that we're living in a simulation? If you do the math, that one actually seems surprisingly likely. Or various explanations of the Fermi paradox, like intelligent civilization is actually common throughout the galaxy but they all keep radio silent to avoid some super-dangerous predator.

I recall having a conversation with a friend and co-worker about this back in 2010. I said that my best guess was that essentially all voice communication that did not travel exclusively over local land lines and was not strongly encrypted was collected and at least analyzed algorithmically. He was very skeptical at the time.

After the Snowdon stuff came out, and he’d had had a chance to look at some other evidence he gave me a call and said “Sorry for doubting you. I now think you were correct.” But even in 2010 I’m not sure I’d consider it a conspiracy theory. It was obvious to me and a lot of other people even then.

"The NSA spies on millions of American citizens who are not suspected of crimes."

"The Bush-Cheney White House conspired with Tony Blair to fabricate the case for invading Iraq."

"The CIA colluded with Central American drug smugglers aligned with the Contras to facilitate the importation of crack cocaine into the US."

"Innocent Iraqi and Afghan citizens are being tortured to death in American dungeons on the basis of unsubstantiated accusations by the bounty hunters who turned them."

People who believed these things were consistently called crazy, radical conspiracy theorists until the truth of the allegations was proved to everyone's satisfaction on the public record, at which point the stories were dismissed as old news. As a result, most Americans would dismiss these allegations as crazy even today.

On that basis, they all strike me as pretty severely underrated.

Regarding the veracity of sasquatch and UFO sightings, I employ my beer can index. Add the number of empty beer cans in the pick-up truck bed and the number of missing teeth observed when the subjects smile; then divide by 100.

We annually hunt deer in the Adirondacks (six miles off road), which area has reported sasquatch sightings. When I told one my partners, I'd shoot one if I had the chance, he said, "Don't do that. You'll piss-off the UFO ET's." Truth.

Jerry Sandusky is innocent. He was railroaded by crooked cops, quack psychologists and money-hungry "victims."


Almost certainly not innocent. It's a reasonable wager that much uttered about the case has been humbug, however.

yeah, the UFOs thing struck me as being something very USA-centric from the beginning. The fact they would concentrate their visits on Vegas instead of going, you know, to the real Paris, seems laughable.

They had a thing for Elvis, which is why they took him away and substituted a fake corpse when he "died". :)

Wait a minute. What about the green fireballs over Los Alamos. Edward Teller was one of the witnesses.


Weather balloons!

Hardly USA-centric, especially in the early years. UFO "contactees" were a big thing in Latin America during the 1950s, including one dude who claimed to have seduced a space lady. Sweden had its "ghost rockets" in the late Forties, and Russia had a UFO "flap" and reported landing in the Seventies. Americans have no monopoly on hoaxes and hallucinations.

Which is the most underrated conspiracy theory?

Who is doing the rating? When? Does anyone you care about ever tell you this sort of question is vacuous?

Looks like you got that last bit covered. Still doing God's work there, Art.

Do you fancy Cowen sees your endless empty rudeness and goes 'oh that Art Deco is right, I will change now'? Because he doesn't.

What's your excuse?

........"stories are too complicated to be true."
Occam's Razor ?

McCartney's alive? That's what they want you to think

He's very alive, still does an entertaining live show in fact. It's Daltrey and Townsend who are dead but still somehow charging for shows.

There is a very large talent difference between Daltrey and Townshend.

Of course I just meant they are both corpses compared to McCartney today.

Neighbor friends of mine are convinced that the govt controls the weather from some secret weather station

What's their explanation for the weather in New England when Democrats controlled the government?


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venona_project revealed that, perhaps coincidentally, conspiracy theories about Soviet spies were correct:

The messages show that the U.S. and other nations were targeted in major espionage campaigns by the Soviet Union as early as 1942. Among those identified are Julius and Ethel Rosenberg; Alger Hiss; Harry Dexter White,[13] the second-highest official in the Treasury Department; Lauchlin Currie,[25] a personal aide to Franklin Roosevelt; and Maurice Halperin,[26] a section head in the Office of Strategic Services.

We know now that both sides were wrong with Soviet espionage. The McCarthy side saw well placed agents everywhere and policy failures the direct result of their interventions. The anti-McCarthy side might have said all of this was made up (except, of course, actual cases of espionage which were demonstrated in court with convictions). I don't think learning that Hiss and the Rosenberg's were really guilty was all that shocking. I do think you could say it was surprising that espionage was both more and less than what people imagined during the moment. Even more surprising places where it was more than expected tended to be in our espionage and counter-espionage agencies. Perhaps the surprise would be that despite being pretty good at espionage, it didn't really help the USSR all that much.

General purpose statement to self as well as conspiracy theorists: you're worrying about _the wrong things_.

During the Cold War, a lot of people on the right were convinced the USSR was a master at remote social engineering. The Civil Rights movement, anti-war movement, hippies, LSD, pornography all were coordinated by the Soviets to weaken the US. Yet while some key figures in all of these movements had communist ties, fact is none of these happened because of the USSR. It is ironic that the economic argument against the USSR was that economic planning is unworkable but a small division of Soviet intelligence experts could coordinate the cultural shifts of a huge foreign society remotely!

Yet, ironically, modern Russia seems to have pulled it off to some small degree generating dissension and division between people in multiple countries with their Tweetbots and fake grassroots campaigns....pulling off what they couldn't even begin to really pull off generations ago.

"Yet, ironically, modern Russia seems to have pulled it off to some small degree generating dissension and division between people in multiple countries with their Tweetbots and fake grassroots campaigns….pulling off what they couldn’t even begin to really pull off generations ago."

Or maybe you are doing the same thing the people on the right were doing back during the cold war. Might be something to learn from history here.

I think what we know already from Russian tweetbot farms not just buying ads but actually setting up rallies of conflicting groups (Trumpsters on one side, Bernie people on the other and even some Jill Stein) is heads and tails more sophisticated than anything they did in the Cold War.

Two words: Social Media. That's the difference between then and now.

50 years ago social media didn't exist but I don't see a theoretical reason why a social chaos strategy wouldn't have worked even then (i.e. funding both radical hippie groups and America love it or leave it). Ultimately I suspect the USSR simply were too conservative themselves to really understand culture and exploit it.

Social Media allows agents provocateurs to communicate directly with the great mass of people and implant propaganda in their minds or inflame disagreements that already exist. Fifty year ago Big Media reigned supreme and apart from letters to the editor and boozy barroom debates most people had little ability to make their voice heard in the public square let alone amplify it.

Did the Weather Underground or John Birch Society get airtime on major media outlets or did they use letters to the editor to push their movements? Social media is much more effective but it's not like the past was absent counter cultures.

Something to keep in mind, demonstrating merit for the Soviet Department of Propaganda would be sewing dissension in the US. For the individual working in the department it would be arguing for the Soviet point of view. Would some cog want to write damming denunciations of communism because part of the plan is to push the John Birch Society in liberal areas while someone else promotes leftists in conservative areas? Or would they want to demonstrate themselves good and loyal workers by touting the ideological line.

Since today the Russian gov't cares less about ideology and more about supporting its kleptocracy there's a more free hand for their agents to operate.

The Weather Underground and the John Birch Society were far fringe groups (especially the former). They may have been slightly amplified by the media (that which is outrageous tends to get more notice than mere numbers would suggest) but the great bulk of the people were far removed from them.

I don’t think learning that Hiss and the Rosenberg’s were really guilty was all that shocking.

Shocked the Shneir's.

As recently as 10 years ago, characters in Victor Navasky's circle were floating another gambit meant to exonerate Hiss. That one took one trivial discrepancy in some correspondence as a basis for contending that the spy was actually one Wilder Foote, who'd been on the staff of Edward Stettinius (the Secretary of State). Foote spent the 1930s running small town papers in Vermont, so he was some sleeper agent. He ended his career working in the publications department of the United Nations. His family were less than pleased with the antics of this Navasky minion (who'd interviewed them under false pretenses).

Not sure Navasky has to this day admitted Hiss was guilty.

I don't really believe any conspiracy theory.

However, as time goes by, I can believe more in conspiracies-after-the-fact; that a community of alike-interest can conspire to severely distort a narrative in one direction by ignoring/supressing inconvenient facts. It's not even malice; just natural mood affiliation and human tendency to harmonise their stories.

To work as a conspiracy the community must actually know the truth. Covering up the moon landing, say, would require scientists, astronauts, engineers and others to know the truth and work to ensure the narrative never goes where the truth might be uncovered or if it must there's a plausible cover story in place. Mood affiliation, though, leads to those inside the community looking like nuts or fools to the outside world (example, tweeting about Obama's birth certificate).

"Another set of candidates are claims that a semi-secret group actually is controlling the world..."

So, ... the Fed?

A conspiracy in the legal sense is an agreement between two or more persons to commit a crime at some time in the future. The conspiracy theory Cowen is referring to is an unproven explanation for unusual events, such as UFO accounts or the JFK assassination. By conflating the two, one might come to the conclusion that Cowen is promoting a conspiracy theory about something topical. What might that be? Mr. Mueller is investigating a conspiracy in the legal sense, but Mr. Trump (and Cowen?) wants to conflate it with a conspiracy theory for an unusual occurrence. When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that's all.”

Obviously, Tyler is an agent of influence for Russia, seeking to sow discord in the United States by promoting conspiracy theories. Remember, his wife is Russian.

The most plausible conspiracy theories, to my mind, involve cover-ups of gross mistakes that would make a lot of important, powerful people seem criminally incompetent. People go to desperate extremes to hide their mistakes, or bad behavior that had far graver consequences than they intended. So military accidentally shooting down a commercial airline flight, like the TWA one in the 90's, is a contender in my book.

You mean the NTSB is under the thumb of the Navy?

I agree. Another data point favoring cover up theories is the discovery of cover ups of priest abuse in the Roman Catholic Church.

The 'cover ups' in question consisted of bishops not publishing the personnel files of their priests, something no employer does. You could complain the bishops in question didn't report the priests to law enforcement. The trouble with that complaint is that the accusations against priests were typically lodged at least a decade after the supposed incident and were often accompanied by an attorney negotiating for a pay day. The odd minority which were not time-barred could just as easily have been reported by people who say they were molested.

The Straussian reading of the column is that Tyler believes in the "Michael Jordan's hiatus to play baseball was a suspension" conspiracy theory.

How about David Stern rigging the draft for the Knicks and Lakers?

The frozen/bent envelope theory for Ewing to the Knicks is definitely plausible.

Courtney Love killed Curt Cobain!

Yes. This one is underrated, and plausible. People do kill people and get away with murder fairly regularly.

How do you know?

FBI statistics for national homicide clearance rate peg it at ~61%. Google is your friend.

That stat tells us how many murders remain unsolved. It tells us nothing about how many murders are misclassified as deaths from other causes, which is what Kurt Cobain;s death would be if it were in fact a murder.

So, let's say someone I know knew a guy whose girlfriend was supposedly killed in a murder suicide some 25 years ago. Her mother was supposedly depressed and shot her before shooting herself in the head. Said guy was supposedly waiting outside in the car while all this was happening, and goes in to discover the bodies. Then sits in car for two hours before calling the police. Police rule it a murder suicide.
Several years later same guy starts dating a different woman. Different woman breaks up with him. Same guy starts stalking different woman. Different woman gets a restraining order against him, which he tries to fight in court. Different woman starts getting threatening emails from disguised addresses. Threatening emails says things like "I killed _______, I killed her and then her mom shot herself.". Not once but several such emails. The case was recently reopened.

The overwhelming majority of unsolved homicides happen in slums and they're unsolved largely because those in the social circle of the deceased won't co-operate with the police. Outside of slum zones, > 90% of all homicides are cleared by law enforcement.

The idea that you can fool the King County coroner but you can't fool some random dude on public access cable is an idea plausible to the sort of person who offers up rot on public access cable.

Fooling the King County coroner is easy since faking a suicide of a depressive drug addict is pretty easy especially when the body isn’t found for days. This is really on the police investigation not the ME. They and the coroner need some sort of evidence, especially in a high profile case.

A cable access show doesn’t need any of those things, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t true.

I'm not saying I necessarily believe it, but it's plausible enough that it deserves more attention. Hence the "underrated". It's hard to think of a reason why Love would have a piece of paper with random letters handwritten all over it if she wasn't trying to practice forging someone else's handwriting. Maybe she was trying to cash a check that didn't belong to her?

People who shoot themselves will have bullet entry and exit wounds in certain places and at certain angles, and additionally will have material traces on their hands. If you're going to shoot someone and fake it as a murder you have to get those things very, very right.

The problem with this (and I would have expected TC to be a bit too sophisticated than to wallow in this mud) is in the definition of Conspiracy Theory. Fundamentally, it is like most narratives; it is an attempt to explain events which usually attributes motivations to "bad" people consistent with the narrators expectations. Is racial profiling a conspiracy? Was red-lining a conspiracy? How about not allowing (many) women into college? As far as "the most" underrated (whatever the heck that means), how about the collusion between the Justice Department and the FISC court? or, more generally, the collusion between prosecutors and law enforcement - a "conspiracy" which selects some of its 'victims' based on political considerations rather than the severity or impact of the crime. Business as usual or conspiracy??

e Howard hunt’s son, St. John, recorded his dad implicating himself and other cia agents in the jfk assassination. For what it’s worth you can hear it yourself on YouTube.

I think that new video evidence regarding a great many cases of police framing suspects or engaging in an unjustified use of force and then lying about it, has increased the credibility of wrongful conviction conspiracy theories relative to what would have been reasonable to believe in the pre-SmartPhone era.

I agree but this is actually a negative for conspiracy fans IMO. How many cases are there where people who should know they are on tape then turn around and brazenly lie about what they did only to be so easily exposed? If people so easily forget what is and isn't being recorded, then what hope is there for a sophisticated conspiracy theory being true?

It favors conspiracy theories that are "spent" (e.g. the JFK assassination conspiracies) over those that are ongoing.

No not quite. My point is how many times do we see stupid things like cop saying guy turned on him when the cam is showing the opposite. People often forget very basic things like, their own dash cam recorded what went down so whatever story is told needs to be consistent with that or the footage needs to be deleted first. For a sophisticated conspiracy to be true those loose ends have to be anticipated and accounted for by those trying to pull the conspiracy off. More often than not it seems people overlook the most basic of things.

My vote for most likely type of true conspiracies:

1. Popular judgments on guilt or innocence of old cases. OJ Simpson, Jon Benoit, Scott Peterson.

2. Most likely a conspiracy that is not a theory at the moment. I could see something suprirising and shocking being revealed that eluded both the cooks and less cooky conspiracy theorists. For example, I could imagine the worse theories about Benghazi actually being the case for those soldiers killed in Africa at the start of Trump's Presidency, but since there's no buzz among theorists, it makes no waves when it comes out.

3. Less likely, the theory is true without the conspiracy. For example, UFO's might have been written off as radar glitches or malfunctions that were then lied about to protect big ticket contracts. IF the players had put it all together they might have realized they had something huge on their hands, but instead since they thought small they never realized what the true big picture was.

Some stuff that seems plausible:

The USA intentionally provoked Japan into attacking (though the location and date were likely a surprise and worse than expected)

The cia, the mass media and various text exempt foundations colluded from the 50s through at least the 70s to serve various social engineering purposes, perhaps most importantly the destruction of the unity and power of the Catholic Church in America as epitomized in the catholic ethnic neighborhood.

I think the US knew Japan was likely to strike, but is that the same as saying 'intentionally provoked'?

Unity and power of Catholic Church - you have something of a boundary problem here. The Catholic Church was very powerful in ethnic neighborhoods in the 50's. So if you were going to make bets in 1950 what would you bet on? That it would increase in power or decrease in power? I would say in 1950 the Church has little room to keep increasing power but a lot of room to go down in power.

In both these cases what might look like a conspiracy in hindsight might simply be the dynamics of political gravity.

Looking at every catholic country in the world in the 1950s except Ireland and I wouldn’t be so sure. Quite a large number of Catholics in that era were clearly in agreement.

The decline of the Catholic Church from the 50's to the 70's had much more to do with the unpopularity of its stand against birth control than with anything else. The child-abuse scandals came much later.

The cia, the mass media and various text exempt foundations colluded from the 50s through at least the 70s to serve various social engineering purposes, perhaps most importantly the destruction of the unity and power of the Catholic Church in America as epitomized in the catholic ethnic neighborhood.

E. Michael Jones got so crazy he never realized the degree to which his argument made no friggin' sense.

My mom believes that one. There's a book, Day of Deceit by Robert Stinnett on that subject.

To what end? To oppose Japanese expansion? To get into WWII? But how did the US know for sure Hitler would go along and declare war on the US?

My mom believes the second one -- to drag the country into WW2. This is actually a widely held belief, especially in Hawaii where my mom is from, and I have been hearing it all of my life.

But Boonton is right. This belief is absurd because Pearl Harbor would just draw the US into the war with Japan, a separate war than the war between UK/USSR against Germany/Italy. It is the German's declaration of war against the US (four days after Pearl Harbor), and their submarines attack on New York, who made the US involved in the war in Europe, and created a unified WWII.

Here is a good webpage about this theory:



Catholic ethnic neighborhoods were destroyed by cheap mortgages and parishioners moving to the suburbs. Add the FHA to the co-conspirators!

actually, fha is a major part of the conspiracy

The old ethnic Catholic (and often, Jewish, Orthodox, etc.) urban neighborhoods broke up because the residents got rich enough to buy places in the suburbs, with larger houses and yards, less crime and pollution, and, well, no black people near by. That's the alpha and omega of it.

There have undeniably been many cases of a bogus justification for war being presented to the public. FDR’s navy day speech is pretty ridiculous. Gulf of Tonkin was at least pretty misleading. Iraq May have just been incompetence. Didn’t we try to pin some bogus gas attacks on Assad (this may be wrong, I don’t py much attention).

Watergate may have been a plot AGAINST Nixon.

Watergate may have been a plot AGAINST Nixon.

You fancy Gordon Liddy was working for Mark Felt and Larry O'Brien? OK....

The conspiracy in the Watergate story comes from the fact that the complex was home to several Republican heavy hitters, such as Bob Dole and John Mitchell. Conspiracy theorists ask, "Why would the Democratic Party chose the Watergate for its headquarters unless it was for some nefarious purpose?"

I'm not saying there was a conspiracy, but that is the basis for the theory.

OK, except the nicest office to rent in DC probably appeals to heavy hitters of both parties. If, say, Bob Dole and the DNC wanted to set up something to get rid of Nixon by letting his less intelligent goons do a break-in why would it be necessary for the DNC offices to be in the same building as 'heavy hitters'?

I didn't say I believed it. You provide the rationale right there.

I'm sorry, I misread your reply. The conspiracy is the DNC wanted to spy on people like Mitchell and Dole. The theory goes the burglars were really looking for evidence of a Democrat conspiracy. Nixon once claimed they bugged his airplane.

That could be true, except wouldn't the DNC rather spy on the Nixon Campaign (Committee to Re-elect the President)? Also even if true breaking into an office is still breaking into an office. Doing it because you're motivated to play Scooby-Do to collect evidence of wrong doing isn't a defense. That wouldn't make it a conspiracy, just maybe blunt the charges slightly by claiming a less evil motivation. But since it was the Watergate coverup that brough down Nixon that would largely be moot.

I was thinking the theory would be something along the lines of Dole & Co. wanted Nixon brought down for some reason (perhaps they thought he was too nuts to be President...this being pre-the age of Trump). So they let the idea of breaking into the DNC be floated among Nixon's more crazy underlings but made sure the underlings were caught when they actually did that. They then trusted Nixon to go full paranoid and coverup which then enabled them to set the ball rolling for eventual impeachment.

I was thinking the theory would be something along the lines of Dole & Co. wanted Nixon brought down for some reason (perhaps they thought he was too nuts to be President…this being pre-the age of Trump). So they let the idea of breaking into the DNC be floated among Nixon’s more crazy underlings but made sure the underlings were caught when they actually did that. They then trusted Nixon to go full paranoid and coverup which then enabled them to set the ball rolling for eventual impeachment.

See John Dean's memoirs. You might find some passing reference to Dole. And you might not.

That aside, people who worked for Nixon (e.g. Henry Kissinger) found his emotional outbursts and peculiar memos an irritant. Nixon spoke that way to subordinates, not to peers.

Nah, the theory is that it was a deep state thing, not a partisan thing.

Why would the "deep state" be out to get Nixon?

Not all of it, just one side

Because Deep Throat, Mark Felt, felt he should inherit J. Edgar Hoover's job.

So, Mark Felt Jedi-mind tricked Gordon Liddy, Howard Hunt et al into burgling the DNC offices, tricked John Dean into badgering Liddy for information to be found in DNC offices, and tricked Jeb Magruder and John Mitchell into greenlighting Liddy's espionage operation, and tricked them both into cutting Dean's budget so he had to use the CRP's chief of security on the burglary because he didn't have the cash to pay another Cuban contractor.

Cutting Liddy's budget.

Shakespeare authorship, IMHO in the direction of the "passive collaboration" theory that Shakespeare (the real genius) was given rights to "strike the second heat" on materials by Oxford as part of a deal by which the Crown bailed out one and sponsored the other. Passive except for the poetry...a relevant starter question: Why would Lord Burghley engage a complete-unknown (Shak.. in 1590, three years before "upstart Crow" status) to write a 17-sonnet birthday cycle to entreat a marriage of his granddaughter into the royal line, a job the girl's father was most competent and even more motivated to do?

Rem acu tetigisti, but it was not Oxford (who left enough biographical details to allow us to know that he was not a deep-souled thinker, not, in Aristotle's terms, a free and active soul) who came up with the best early lines, it was Oxford's fool (last name Wood, first name lost to history). The later lines were mostly from the Arden genius, with of course lots of help from his genius friends.

The collaborations between Bellini and Titian are the best contemporaneous example: alternatively, imagine how good Tolstoy would have been if he were born a dozen years earlier, and if Pushkin had been born a dozen years later, and they were friends. Such was the collaboration between Shakespeare and Oxford's fool Wood (First name unknown): in a world where fame was non only not pursued but was fled from, with all the force that a man of verbal genius could flee from such vanity!

That crowd was full of persecuted Christians who knew that they had to be very circumspect in a world where the state was the religion, and they were experts at leaving very few clues for their contemporaries, and only a few more clues for us, who have been born so much later.

Because Shakespeare was not nearly so obscure at that point to contemporaries as is widely believed. Stratford was a lot more sophisticated and worldly than is usually recognized given the amount of recusancy in the area, in his own household for example, and such family ties would have given him entre into all sorts of places where a man of his talents would become obvious.

Of course there is another conspiracy here and Shakespeare a possible conspirator...

Lord Lucan is alive.

(Or at least was for some time after disappearing)

Probably doesn’t register high on the Yankee conspiracy infamy scale though.

Philby was never third man. The third man is still at large.

As an amusing aside there is a theory that the movie 'Frozen' was created by Disney purely to ensure that searches for 'Disney Frozen' would bring the movie up as the first result, and not the associated conspiracy theory that Walt Disney was cryogenically preserved. Of additional note is one of the movies songs - 'Let it go'.

I love this. I am immediately an adherent.

+1, add me to that list


Nick_L: this is gold hahahahha

Here is my totally underrated JFK conspiracy theory:

Oswald did it, but was acting as an agent of the Cuban government, which wanted revenge for the Bay of Pigs, among other CIA interventions in Cuba. And that is why the Cuban embargo remained in place for so long - and why the US government had to keep it a secret. They couldn't just publicly disclose that the Cubans had assassinated the US president, because that would lead to a nuclear war. And they couldn't just let it go either.

Also, the JFK conspiracy theories were deliberately invented and designed to distract attention from the real culprit. With everyone pointing fingers at the CIA and/or the mafia (or whatever), nobody was going to see what was hiding in plain sight - Oswald's connections to the Cubans.

But what would be the motive for keeping that secret after the fall of the Soviet Union, through both Republican and Democrat administrations? Why wouldn't Trump bring that out to own the news cycle when bad news comes out, or is he just keeping it in his pocket until he really needs it?

Bureaucratic inertia. Let sleeping dogs lie. The President doesn't need to know. And the usual not wanting to reveal intelligence methods, some of these people are still alive.

"Why wouldn’t Trump bring that out to own the news cycle when bad news comes out, or is he just keeping it in his pocket until he really needs it?"

Nah, he's keeping the UFO's bunkered in Nevada to counter the really bad news cycle. I mean you don't think the US government spent billions of dollars on a highly secured facility and never actually used it, do you?


Little know fact, Area 51 is adjacent to the Yucca Nevada Test Site.

Quincy Jones already spelled it out. "...The connection was there between Sinatra and the Mafia and Kennedy. Joe Kennedy — he was a bad man — he came to Frank to have him talk to Giancana about getting votes." Quincy knows all. He knows too much!

Trivially disprovable, because Quincy Jones is still alive.

Oswald did it, but was acting as an agent of the Cuban government, which wanted revenge for the Bay of Pigs, among other CIA interventions in Cuba.

One of the Secret Service agents who investigated the assassination in the days immediately after published a book on his time in the Service a few years ago. He addressed this hypothesis. The burden of his argument was that Oswald was too erratic and incompetent for any secret intelligence service to trust him, just about the last person you'd hire.

The DA in New Orleans tried to sell a jury on the idea that the military-industrial complex took out Pres. Kennedy by subcontracting the job to a bunch of French Quarter homosexuals. What makes for entertaining detective fiction is frequently ridiculous when you take yourself out of the narrative and summarize it.

The burden of his argument was that Oswald was too erratic and incompetent for any secret intelligence service to trust him, just about the last person you’d hire.

We're talking about the government of Cuba, post communist revolution here. During the time period when Che Guevara was still involved. Shortly before he left Cuba to foment revolution abroad.

I suspect Castro would have:

1. Used a more passionate and loyal follower to kill JFK.

2. Would have distrusted Oswald for two reasons. One he was erratic. Two he might have really been controlled by the USSR. Castro wanted the USSR to attack the US with a first strike during the Cuban Missile Crises. Cuba would have worried that if Oswald was really stable enough to do it, he was actually more loyal to the Soviets who were less eager for conflict with the US than Cuba was.

We will never know the name of the first human in space.

Bridgewater Associates is CIA.

Does "carbs are bad for you" go here?

Tyler's headline is the type of dumb question that we see on Quora -- but like Quora, even dumb questions can sometimes have interesting answers.

My vote: the biggest users of illegal performance-enhancing drugs in the sports world are US track and field athletes. The hundreds of people getting caught -- Russians, road-racing bicyclists, other track and field athletes -- are merely amateurs at the pharmaceutico-athletics game. The top practitioners are using drugs and protocols that keep them two steps ahead of the drug-testing labs, so they cannot be caught by drug testing. The only way they get caught is the same way that Marion Jones and Lance Armstrong got caught -- a co-conspirator squeals on them.

Not only US. Look also at UK and their Olympics performance. Norway on cross-country skiing.

And obviously China.

The terracotta army is a hoax and was created by the PRC in the 1970s to make money and perhaps to make up for the thousands of real historic artifacts destroyed in the Cultural Revolution. When North Korea "discovered" the grave of Tan'gun (Korea's mythical founder) a few years ago the world laughed at the obvious fraudulence of it, yet people insist on taking the Qin Emperor's grave seriously. The circumstantial evidence for the burial site being a fraud is pretty good - the statues have never been independently carbon dated, after thousands of years a farmer just happened to find the grave of the Qin Emperor - Mao's role model - under Mao's reign (hmm), the statues resemble nothing else ever found from that period, and the official story of the discovery is riddled with contradictions. Fortuitously further excavation at the site has been stalled for 40 years now because of "100 rivers of mercury", how convenient. I am surprised this conspiracy theory hasn't got more traction.

I tend to think they would have had a more mass produced, identical look in that case? Also China would have been more resistant to letting any travel to museums overseas.

And - for the time - you could be sure that each one of those 8000 figures would have resembled Chairman Mao, to an astonishing degree..

i have been told that the presence of the army and its location was known to certain cadre since the early 1950s and rumored long before. As to Mao’s involvement look at his glorification of Qin, contrary to most of Chinese history, he would have no objection.

Another popular conspiracy theory that seems somewhat plausible is that one or more of the big epidemic diseases was a lab creation as a bio-weapon that escaped and was disavowed.

Huh? What modern epidemic disease remotely compared with the 'normal' ones? Is there anything that's new to the last 70 years that's as bad as the flu? If there is an escaped bio-weapon running around loose, then apparently that type of illegal weapons research is a victim of The Great Stagnation.

"But in the United States alone, 36,000 people die and more than 200,000 are hospitalized each year because of the flu. "

"According to new estimates published today, between 291,000 and 646,000 people worldwide die from seasonal influenza-related respiratory illnesses each year, higher than a previous estimate of 250,000 to 500,000 and based on a robust, multinational survey."

It's a little bit more than a conspiracy theory.


And it was a strain of the flu, touche!

Okay that was chilling reading. The article is trying to reassure us that lab accidents are not something to worry about in terms of causing epidemics because the 1977 epidemic was more likely caused by vaccination experiments gone astray, attenuated viruses in a vaccine regaining their potency, or (least likely) a deliberate bioweapon attack.

That's a little like being told that the Africanized bees weren't accidentally released from their cages and spread across South and North America, instead they dug a hole in the cage and made their escape. Not exactly reassuring.

OTOH, I lack the expertise to judge the plausibility of this article. E.g. the genetic resemblance between the 1977 and 1950 flu viruses does look high -- but maybe it's not uncommon for flu viruses to have such high resemblance. They're all H1N1. How similar is this year's flu to earlier strains?

In india , its probably that subhas Chandra Bose ( who unlike gandhi advocated violence against and fought against the British in WW II) lived to a ripe old age ....( and may still be alive?)


Hi Tyler, is the data on witness testimony good enough to discount the NT, and is this a reason you are not a Christian? Do you think seeing lights in the sky differs from healing the sick/walking on water/etc?

The reason we've allowed unfettered immigration from Central and South America is our government knows the Yellowstone Caldera will blow soon. They have an agreement with Central and South American governments to allow future US refugees to head south in return for current immigrants heading north.

So wait Central and S. American gov'ts want to get rid of some of their population now but then take on population fleeing south from the US in the future?

Remittances from Mexican workers in the US are Mexico's largest source of income, so yes.

A specific conspiracy doesn't come to mind, but after reading more about J. Edgar Hoover's FBI, I think I previously underestimated the likelihood of conspiracies involving politicians and law enforcement.

"Did any Cuban or Soviet agents, shortly before dying, blurt out that they knew the true story of President John Kennedy’s assassination?"

A Cuban aget dying in Havana or Miami?

No mention of 9/11? Or is the topic too "sensitive"?

No, the conspiracy-mongers are too stupid.

How on earth would that one qualify as "underrated" ?

I tend to think that there might be some real and significant orchestrated conspiracies at work in the world, but that they are dwarfed in significance by cases in which many actors spontaneously act in accord to achieve an outcome (sometimes not even all specifically desiring that outcome, but simply pursuing their own interests.) The knowledge and co-ordination problems are at work here just as they are in the economy as a whole, with the additional fact that a conspiracy that isn’t orchestrated or broadly communicated about is harder to unmask, especially when there are many conspirators. Which is just another way of saying “by their works ye shall know them.” And yeah, I likely borked that quote. I’m not much of a Bible scholar.

A related notion I find interesting is the human tendency to look at that sort of spontaneous action and find orchestrated conspiracy where there is none. I hesitate to bring up Jewish control of the media here, because I could easily be misunderstood, but... I think any honest observer must admit that Jews really are extraordinarily disproportionately powerful in Hollywood and television, and are so to a notable extent in most other forms of national mass media.

The conspiracy theorist looks at this and thinks “This can only be explained by vast orchestration dating to the court Jews of Europe and the Rothschilds.” I look at it and think it can mostly be explained by the fact that American Jews had a great deal of their own social capital, but were barred from exercising it in the most respectable professions until well into the post-war period. So of course they went into professions that were at the time not very reputable, and of course they engaged in some nepotism once established in them. It could hardly be said of the respectable Wasp institutions of the time that nepotism was not an important factor- another conspiracy in plain sight, requiring no more collusion from its participants than the ability to recognize their own.

That said, I would be very surprised to find out that no one had been assassinated for political reasons in DC during my lifetime. I believe very much in small conspiracies, the kind that take a couple of people to carry out. But how are we to know when they occur, and when someone co-incidentally suffers from a bout of fatally bad luck at a convenient time?

It is incredibly banal to point out that Jews are disproportionate in certain professions, including the media, and for the reasons you state. OK, that's true. And then what? What does it mean? There's a lot of Irish cops and firemen too, so what?

You don't need too much of a formal conspiracy when there are all sorts of volunteers to explain how "incredibly banal" it is to notice Jewish influence in media, finance, and, increasingly, tech because, after all, there are lots of Irish cops and firemen, not to mention how the donut business is dominated by Cambodians.

Again, if we stipulate a lot of Jews are in those professions, what does it mean exactly? It's a factoid, but what else are you saying? They are people just like you, they want to make money and have families and achieve things just like the rest of us. In other words, again, so what?

“Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity.”

― George Orwell, 1984

Nah, you're wrong.

Like most conspiracy-minded people, you overestimate your adversary. There's no sinister cabal, the US and most governments are mainly incompetent, etc. But I suspect both of our priors are way too cemented in place to see either of us change them.

Conspiracy theory: the government is the originator of most conspiracy theories in order to make itself appear far more powerful and competent than it actually is.

I have a conspiracy theory that as far as I know is unique to me.

The Microsoft antitrust case was wound down when Microsoft explained what it could actually do with backdoors, the world over.


There is a ton of match fixing going on in tennis. Sportsbooks refuse to pay out sometimes.

Purely from a Bayesian standpoint I have strong suspicions about the Germany-Brazil 7-1 World Cup semifinal.

7-1 is a huge outlier, but consider the Brazilian team are all millionaires, that they'd all have to be involved for a fix to be in like that, the difficulty of arranging substantial bets on, say, Germany -5 without publicity, the "shame" of a home loss, etc.

Also important to note that, based on "expected goals" - a metric based on shot quantity and quality, which is much more predictive than whether a goal was scored or not - the expected outcome was 3.1-1.7. Germany scoring more than double their expectation is almost pure stochastic variance.

I'm not sure that the alleged Boston Bombers did it. It crossed my mind only when the FBI murdered their witness to the brothers' lives. So I suppose I ought to suspect an FBI conspiracy. After the FBI's treatment of Hillary and Trump that no longer sounds preposterous.

I suppose that means that because Ruby murdered Oswald I should also wonder about the JFK assassination, but that's been done to death.

One of my conspiracy theory: the Tsarnaev Brothers were in America because their Uncle Ruslan was seen by his former father-in-law, CIA insider Graham Fuller, as a potential Minister of Energy of an independent Republic of Chechnya.

Another one: The CIA winks at the Gulen Cult of the Poconos skimming hundreds of millions of dollars annually from the 150 or so charter schools it runs in the U.S. because Gulen is seen by Deep Staters, such as Graham Fuller, as a potential pro-American president of Turkey.

Both of those are far too plausible to be true conspiracies. Every smart empire keeps potential alternative rulers at hand.

Okay, but if the biggest chain of charter schools in America really is a CIA-backed front to subsidize a potential pro-American government for Turkey by skimming a few hundremd million dollars per year off of local school budgets, why isn't that a "conspiracy?"

Why isn't that interesting to anybody?

Edward II wasn't murdered in 1327 either escaped from prison or was secretly released and lived in exile. That is to say that the Fieschi Letter written circa 1337 is a broadly accurate account.


Not that I necessarily think it's correct just that, unlike most conspiracy theories, it seems fairly plausible.

A bunch of Italian Deep State theories, going back to the U.S. military bringing the Mafia back into power in Sicily in 1943, followed by massive foreign (i.e., U.S.) meddling in Italian elections, and possible connections to rightwing terrorism, such as the 1980 Bologna train station bombing.

Operation Condor, a pan-Latin American governments conspiracy to kill leftists in the 1970s, that brought Otto Skorzeny out of retirement.

Most things involving Turkey ...

It's pretty much a known fact that in Japan the US during the occupation had under-the-counter dealings with the Yakuza organized crime gangs.

RFK and LBJ immediately assumed JFK's assassination was part of a conspiracy. The assassinations of Julius Caesar, Abraham Lincoln, and Archduke Franz Ferdinand were all products of big conspiracies, so it was reasonable to initially assume the same about JFK.

As far as I can tell, Oswald very much wanted to be a part of a conspiracy, but his potential co-conspirators would generally figure out that he was mad, bad, and dangerous to know.

I don't think "conspiracy theory" was really demonized in the US until about when Oliver Stone's "JFK" looked like it might sweep the Academy Awards. Then there was big pushback from the respectable news media.

but his potential co-conspirators would generally figure out that he was mad, bad, and dangerous to know.

He had no 'potential conspirators' and he wasn't mad, bad, or dangerous to know. He was just what his wife told him he was: an incompetent who couldn't keep a job but fancied himself a person of consequence.

Oswald's wife, whom he met while he defected to the Soviet Union, was the niece of a colonel in the Soviet Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Oswald sure had met a lot of people.

Here's a conspiracy theory I've put forward: that the Housing Bubble was tied into George W. Bush's "Ownership Society" and "White House Conference on Increasing Minority Homeownership" pushes in which the President warned his federal regulators that it's not nice to enforce traditional credit standards about down payments and documentation because those get in the way of racial equality in homeownership. The President wanted to boost Hispanic home ownership to win Hispanic votes, both for himself and his nephew George P. Bush, whom he saw as a potential President. (In general, the Bush dynasty's big strategic idea going back to George H.W. Bush illegally getting into the Mexican oil business around 1960 was to break down barriers between the U.S. and Mexico.)

Interestingly, Bush apologized for his "Ownership Society" in his memoirs, but nobody seems to have noticed.

So George W. Bush unaware that most of the really risky loans were being made by non-bank lenders who were not federally regulated beyond basic fraud protection and KYC protocols? Moreover a lot of those loans did not go to low income minorities but to middle class speculators buying up properties, plural, on a wing and a prayer in hopes of flipping them for a big profit. The banks only lowered their standards at the end of the bubble when they were losing too much business to the likes of Countrywide and New Century.

Here's Angelo Mozilo of Countrywide's Harvard Address of 2003 quoting George W. Bush on the need to knock down barriers (such as down payment and income documentation requirements) for Hispanic and blacks to buy enough homes to close the race gap in homeownership:

As President Bush said last October: “Two thirds of all Americans own their homes, yet we have a problem here in America because fewer than half of the Hispanics and half of the African Americans own their home. That’s a homeownership gap. It’s a gap that we’ve got to work together to close for the good of our Country, for the sake of a more hopeful future. We’ve got to work to knock down the barriers...”


Mozilo went on in his Harvard address to pledge that if regulations were loosened, Countrywide would lend $600 billion to minority and lower income borrowers by 2010. In early 2005, right after Fannie Mae agreed to buy Countrywide's loans, Mozillo upped his pledge to a trillion dollars.

A trillion dollars here, a trillion dollars there, pretty soon you are talking about real money.

Nobody was holding a gun to Mozillo's head to make him lend a trillion dollars. He thought he was being brilliant because he thought that Hispanics were unfairly discriminated against by the lending industry, so Countrywide was going to make a fortune and grow to dominate the mortgage industry by lending more to Hispanics.

What could possibly go wrong?


Where did these half trillion efforts happen? Ownership rates for minorities and the difference between overall US ownership rates and minority rates did not move dramatically at all since 2004.

If you wanted to paint this as a conspiracy theory, why not really follow the money? Those that benefited the most were not people buying homes but *homeowners*. Namely older Baby Boom and 'Greatest Generation' homeowners cashing in on a housing price bubble with reverse mortgages, home equity loans and selling.

What some CEO and a bunch of politicians said by way of feel-good propaganda is irrelevant. Both had good cause for a self-congratulatory spin at the time.

Look, I had a ringside seat for the bubble and and bust. Not only did I live in Florida in those years (where I knew people, family members even, who were in houseflipping big time) I also worked in the mortgage purchase and securitization unit of a major Wall Street bank. The underlying problem was never loans to poor people. It was A) imprudent house flipping, which practically required telling blatant lies about one's income and intentions, and B) home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) which allowed people to rack up huge consumer debts on inflated and unrealistic property values. The idea that somehow loans to the poor and minorities caused the meltdown is (warning, bluntness ahead!) a piece of ugly racist bullshit invented by rightwing ideologues who cannot bear to think that their false god Free Market could lay such an ugly, putrid egg in their laps. Let the lie be anathema: Let it buried at a lonely crossroad with a stake through its heart.

Harvey Weinstein ran a big operation to hush up his sexual abuse of actresses, going so far as to contact a former PM of Israel to put him in touch with an Israeli deep state firm to help him intimidate his enemies and victims.

Robert Wagner ; Clark Gable ; Hitchcock ; the list goes on.

The Kennedy kids and Lawford; Sean Penn; Mel Gibson.

You don't want any of them near your daughter or any other woman you care about.

I'm surprised there are so few comments were about sports fixing -- the conspiracy theory Tyler gives most credence to. As a Cleveland sports fan, I've seen the Browns win ridiculous games that had no business winning (in years and decades past), and seen the CAVS of the last few seasons lose games, it appeared, simply because they didn't feel like winning. And then there's the guy I met who was a race track announcer for 20 years who told me, yeah, the outcomes of horse races were determined in advance.

Sports fixing in boxing and soccer isn't even a conspiracy. But my guess is that wouldn't be worth the effort to fix most NFL games, the bookmakers generally know how to set the odds to fleece the public and everyone involved makes too much money to jeapordize the endeavor. That is not to say that point shaving doesn't go on, and I would not be surprised to learn that refs deliberately make calls to keep games from turning into blow outs, especially playoff games.

When this topic came up earlier elsewhere (I think on a Twitter thread), the one that I read that seemed most plausible was that Michael Jordan’s stint in baseball was actually a suspension from the NBA due to gambling.

- USS Liberty was purposefully sunk by Israelis. This is obvious. Daytime, repeated hits for hours, radio communication picked up, etc.

- Vela Incident was covert Israeli (and likely South African) nuke test. they didnt count on old satellite flying overhead picking it up nor Arecibo. oops.

Rather, repeatedly ATTACKED. they didn't sink it. (though they tried their damned best, and strafed survivors)

Nick Berg/Moussaoui/Al Qaeda in Iraq

Most celebrity rapists and creeps are still being protected by the entertainment industry. The handful who have been in the news either made an enemy of the wrong person (Spacey, Tambor) or outed themselves on purpose so that they can float into retirement with a golden parachute.

Easy: the Patrick Ewing NBA lottery frozen envelope theory: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2468653-the-frozen-envelope-the-nbas-greatest-conspiracy-theory

I read somewhere (on the internet, I think) that the winners of some pro wrestling matches are determined in advance. It's controlled by Big Pharma to get kids hooked on pills.

The demise of laserdisc was orchestrated by the VHS mafia.

I think a more interesting question is what conspiracy theory *was* most underrated? In other words, which ones were viewed by right-thinking people as nutty but turned out to be correct?

Asking what are currently underrated conspiracy theories is just an invitation to conspiracy theorists to spout off on their favorites, as the 200 comments above show.


And let's not forget the moon landing hoax, which can be demonstrated by photographic evidence from NASA itself.


I think there has got to be at least a 1% chance that Justin Trudeau's father is Fidel Castro.

How many famous guys in history have been the secret sons of other famous guys?

There is a pretty plausible theory that the painter Delacroix was the secret son of the French foreign minister Talleyrand.

But I can't think of that many others.

Marcus Junius Brutus (the one who assassinated Caesar) may in fact have been Caesar son, as he had a long running affair with Brutus' mother. Servilia.

The article mentions the Volkswagen emissions software cheating. That cheating was detected by carefully measuring emissions. But cheating that replaces numbers is often detectable using statistical analysis of the generated data, because the cheater does not create a data set with plausible variability. For instance, a person who is asked to generate, from their imagination, a sequence of coin tosses, will not generate enough streaks of heads, or of tails. A person who is asked to generate a random set of integers will tend to produce numbers ending in digit 0 or 5 too often.

I wonder if the VW emissions cheating could have been detected by mere statistical analysis of the emissions test data (which was produced by fraudulent software).

"In this work, we establish a simple mathematical model for conspiracies involving multiple actors with time, which yields failure probability for any given conspiracy." http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0147905

1. John Roberts was blackmailed into voting to uphold Obamacare.

2. Scalia was assisinated.

Two of my favorites. I think #1 is more likely than #2.

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