10. U.S. Government Invented Crack Cocaine
It’s no wonder that 60 percent of black New Yorkers in 1990 believed the government intentionally infested their neighborhoods with crack cocaine — they had some prominent people saying just that. This theory was presented in movies like Boyz ’N’ The Hood and by leaders such as Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakhan. The notion that the government was plotting to wipe out blacks with the drug scourge became so prevalent that leading publications, including the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, investigated these claims in the mid-1990s and came up short on proof to support such a diabolical master plan.
9. U.S. Government Developed AIDS Virus
Prominent figures such as former South African President Thabo Mbeki also pointed fingers at the U.S. government for the AIDS epidemic sweeping his country. Instead of acknowledging the commonly held belief — that the virus first spread from chimps to humans, probably when these animals were killed by hunters — Mbeki and others claimed the feds purposely infected thousands of blacks worldwide under the guise of administering “smallpox inoculations.” The black community isn’t alone in leveling these charges; it’s been suggested that gay men were also intentionally infected by a military lab-created virus when they thought they were getting Hepatitis B vaccines. The methods may not be exactly the same but theorists agree, the ends are identical: to eradicate what some powerful people deem less-than-desirable populations.
8. The Philadelphia Experiment
Transport yourself back to Oct. 28, 1943 (as some people believe you really can do). Imagine your surprise when an otherwise calm night on the seas around Norfolk, Virginia, is disturbed by the sight of a Navy destroyer appearing out of nowhere. That’s how some crewmen of the merchant ship SS Andrew Furuseth recalled an incident in which the USS Eldridge allegedly disappeared from the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, only to reappear for several moments some 200 miles away in Norfolk. Believers argue the military had been conducting experiments to make their ships invisible to enemy devices, and there have also been claims that sailors involved in the experiments went back in time — even got “stuck” in time. The Navy asserts it’s just a wild legend, noting there are no logs or reports to support either ship being anywhere near Norfolk during that time period.
7. Black Helicopters
Very well one of the most mysterious conspiracies on this list, as even proponents of it offer few details about the masterminds behind these strange craft and their motivations for deploying them in the first place. The only certainty, according to the believers, is that these helicopters are up to no good. Sightings of these aircraft go back to the early 1970s. Since then, they’ve developed quite a following with militia groups and have, most often, been associated with the New World Order — an alleged plot crafted by a powerful elite to seize control of the world. These helicopters have come to be linked with other theories involving the NWO’s tactics, including the development of a Gulag-like prison system in the states and mind-control techniques.
6. Operation Northwoods
Imagine a scenario in which the U.S. plots to start a war with Cuba by “framing” the Communist country — staging assassinations of Cuban citizens living in the U.S., sinking a U.S. vessel in Cuba or faking the crash of a U.S. airliner. This scenario is not the product of an overactive writer’s imagination; the Joint Chiefs of Staff actually proposed these actions to then-Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in 1962 as a means of justifying an attack on the island country. The proposal is full of bold ideas, with proposals such as this: “It is possible to create an incident which will make it appear that Communist Cuban MIGs have destroyed a USAF aircraft over international waters in an unprovoked attack.” President John F. Kennedy nixed the plan, but think about this story before you laugh off accounts about aliens being held in captivity and other alleged conspiracies.
5. "Fake" Moon Landings
The conspiracy theory that Moon landings were faked gained ground again in 2009, during the 40th anniversary of the historic achievement. For the most part, the allegations seem to be the same: American astronauts never made it to the Moon. NASA didn’t even have the technical capabilities to do so at that time. They shot the whole production at a movie studio, effectively cutting corners to beat the Soviets in the race to the Moon. Proponents say the landing had to be shot on Earth, because the flag appears to move — and there’s no wind on the Moon to blow it around. Or, they contend, no stars can be seen in the footage, which must have been an oversight during the production of the “movie.” NASA has explained away these reasons for the most part with common sense (the pole, for example, was light and flexible, which caused the movement you see with the flag). The conspiracy got an unexpected boost from Hollywood in 1978 with the release of the movie Capricorn One, about a government conspiracy to fake a landing on Mars.
4. John F. Kennedy Assassination
Long before Oliver Stone entered the picture by making the 1991 movie JFK, many Americans were not satisfied with the claim that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in Dallas Nov. 22, 1963. How could a small-time Communist with a 10th grade education bring down one of the most popular political figures in history? Stone’s film portrayal of the assassination brought some of these same doubts about the Warren Commission’s findings to the surface yet again. The film touched on most of the key alleged perpetrators, implicating Vice President Lyndon Johnson and other high-ranking officials (Kennedy’s approach to diplomacy didn’t jibe with the profitable military-industrial complex these officials promoted), as well as mob leaders (who supposedly conspired to kill JFK after Robert Kennedy cracked down on organized crime syndicates). Professor John McAdams of Marquette University teaches a course on the subject, and contends this was all Oswald’s doing, but he’s in the minority; 81 percent of Americans in a 2001 Gallup poll indicated they thought Oswald did not act alone.
3. FDR Knew About Pearl Harbor Attack Beforehand
It’s been more than 70 years since the USS Arizona and seven other battleships were attacked by the Japanese, claiming the lives of more than 2,400 Americans and signaling the start of U.S. involvement in a global war that would go on to claim another 60 million lives. Though survivors of the attack itself are in their late 80s or older, many remain fervent in their belief that the government knew the Japanese planned to attack Oahu on Dec. 7, 1941 — and did nothing about it. The popular theory is that President Franklin D. Roosevelt or British leader Winston Churchill (or both) kept the imminent attack under wraps from the commander in Hawaii so the tragedy would occur and public opinion would dramatically swing toward U.S. military intervention in the war. Though military officials and historians have explained away the various conspiracy ideas, many Americans still believe FDR knew about the pending attack; USS Arizona Memorial staff trains rangers on how to answer conspiracy-related questions because it is such a hot topic of conversation — not just from “youngsters,” but from people old enough to remember the day, some very intimately.
2. U.S. Government Planned 9/11 Attacks
A 2006 Scripps Howard survey found nearly a quarter of Americans suspected the Sept. 11 attacks that killed almost 3,000 people were government-orchestrated. The most preeminent theory is that our highest-ranking leadership was responsible for bringing down the towers as part of a controlled demolition. It’s also alleged that Flight 93 didn’t go down because of the actions of hostages onboard, but was rather shot down by a “mystery jet.” The motives seem to be as abundant as the means allegedly employed by the government to wreak such havoc — ranging from justification for the U.S. to go to war against Muslim countries to the protection of oil interests in the Middle East. With more than 70 consultants and nine researchers in tow, Popular Mechanics in 2005 investigated and debunked each argument made by theorists. Some elements of the conspiracy were proven false with minimal research, such as reviewing live newscasts from 9/11.
1. U.S. Officials Are Hiding Evidence of Aliens
What happened near Roswell, New Mexico, the night of July 8, 1947 may very well be the epicenter of all modern conspiracy theories. Although the Roswell incident has inspired too many books, shows and movies to count, the initial government stance offered conflicting information and probably contributed to the intense speculation that continues to this day. The government’s official explanation, that what crashed at Roswell was a simple weather balloon, is widely disregarded by the public; a CNN poll taken to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Roswell incident found that 80 percent of Americans believe the government is covering up knowledge about aliens. Through the years, many individuals have come forward, alleging that they had contact with aliens or saw the dead beings that were later popularized in a fake video featuring an “alien autopsy.” The alien conspiracy theory begins with Roswell, but certainly doesn’t end there. Further speculation surrounds a top-secret government site in Nevada known as Area 51 where the aliens were allegedly taken. And for those skeptics who believe that only Americans are gullible enough to believe in alien conspiracies and the like, consider this — a 2010 Reuters Ipsos poll of 23,000 adults in 22 countries found that more than 40 percent of people in some countries believe that aliens live among us disguised as humans.