Conspiracy theories are hogwash, right? Because, let’s be honest, all but an eccentric few know that Elvis really is dead, that global warming is definitely happening and that Paul McCartney wasn’t killed in a car crash back in the ’60s. Such theories, of course, are dreamed up by fantasists. But the following ten carry a little more weight. They’re so plausible, in fact, that they’re believed by some pretty high-profile figures. Read on to make up your own mind.
10. Presidential hopeful Richard Nixon sabotaged the Vietnam peace talks
In an interview with the National Archives’ Timothy Naftali, Tom Charles Huston, a former White House aide, made quite a startling allegation regarding the Vietnam peace talks. In fact, it was claimed that aides working for Richard Nixon – who at that time was still a Republican presidential hopeful – pledged favorable terms for the South Vietnam government if the Vietnamese blocked the negotiations. It was this, it was further claimed, that landed Nixon in the White House.
You see, everyone was desperate to see the Vietnam War come to an end, and if it was prolonged then it meant that Democrat Lyndon Johnson’s administration, which was overseeing the discussions, had failed – and badly. It is claimed that this failure could then have resulted in electoral success for Nixon. If Huston’s claims are true, however, then Nixon could be directly linked to the deaths of an additional 20,000 Americans – something that would arguably constitute treason.
9. Roosevelt knew about Pearl Harbor before it happened
On December 7, 1941 Japanese forces launched a surprise aerial assault on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Almost 2,500 Americans lost their lives, while four ships were plunged to the bottom of the harbor. The following day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt called for the U.S. to declare war on its Far East aggressor, and thus America’s entry into the Second World War was secured. But did F.D.R. know that the Japanese attack was going to happen?
This is the theory put forward by some conspirators, who argue that the president was actually looking for an excuse to jump to the aid of the British, who were facing an existential threat from the Allied forces. Even Thomas Fleming, a historical novelist and military historian, has argued that Roosevelt did indeed want Japan or Germany to attack the U.S. – although not with the ferocity of the Pearl Harbor offensive.
8. Yuri Gagarin wasn’t the first man in space
In April 1961 Russian astronaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to enter space and orbit the Earth. At least this, according to conspiracy theorists, is what the Soviet Union wanted people to believe during the Cold War-fuelled Space Race with the U.S. But in actuality, some have argued, Gagarin may have been preceded by the so-called “Lost Cosmonauts” – most of whom didn’t survive their out-of-this-world missions.
Yes, it’s been alleged that at least three Soviet astronauts entered space before Gagarin did, two of whom died. Another, Vladimir Ilyushin, is said to have fallen into the hands of the Chinese after veering off-course while landing. But conspiracy theorists argue that this information was kept confidential by the Soviet Union, which was understandably keen to keep any evidence of failure away from the eyes of its arch enemy.
7. Throwback Thursday is a covert NSA scheme
Everyone loves Throwback Thursday or #TBT – the social media phenomenon that sees a plethora of old photos surface for others to poke fun at or get all sentimental about. It’s an innocent enough thing, right? Well, not according to conspiracy theorists, who reckon the hashtag was actually dreamed up by the National Security Agency (NSA) to keep tabs on unsuspecting citizens.
It may sound a bit far-fetched, but think about it – the more you post pictures of yourself at various stages of your life, the more the NSA can build a picture of not only what you once looked like, but also what you might look like in years to come. In fact, in 2014 classified documents released by Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA had been scanning “millions of images” daily from social media and email accounts for “precision targeting” purposes.
6. Donald Trump is trying to get Hillary Clinton elected
In early 2004, during an interview on CNN’s Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump made the admission, “In many cases, I’d probably identify as more of a Democrat.” Add that to the fact that, in previous years, “The Donald” was photographed getting all chummy with Bill Clinton. Is it any wonder, then, that some have questioned exactly where Trump’s political allegiances lie?
Some, in fact, have pondered whether or not Trump is a stooge who’s deliberately trying to get his Democratic rival – but alleged pal – Hillary Clinton elected, while damaging the Republican Party’s reputation at the same time. It’s a theory that some fearful Republicans seem to believe, while even Democratic congresswoman Marcy Kaptur has hinted that it might just have an element of truth.
5. Russia’s FSB arranged the 1999 apartment bombings
In September 1999 four apartment buildings in the Russian cities of Moscow, Buynaksk and Volgodonsk were blown up. The chief culprit, Russian authorities concluded in 2002, was Chechen separatist Achemez Gochiyayev – a man who is still on the run today. But because the bombings sparked the Second Chechen War – which allowed Russia to assume control of Chechnya – some have questioned whether the domestic Federal Security Service (FSB) was actually behind them.
It’s a theory that’s been supported by the late high-profile FSB defector Alexander Litvinenko, Russian-American historian Yuri Felshtinsky and Russian dissident Boris Kagarlitsky. And there may well be some truth to it. Consider the fact, for example, that the war ended up boosting the popularity of Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister and former FSB boss. And that such bombings were also a tactic deployed by the KGB, the FSB’s predecessor.
4. The Lockerbie bombing was arranged by Iran
On December 21, 1988 Pan Am Flight 103 was en route from Detroit to Frankfurt when it was blown up over the skies of Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 259 people on board and 11 on the ground. Libyan national Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, an intelligence officer, was later jailed for the bombing – although he always protested his innocence. And former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who claimed to have had no involvement in the atrocity, later accepted responsibility for it on behalf of his country. Many, however, believe that Libya wasn’t involved at all.
Ex-CIA agent Robert Baer, for example, claimed in a 2014 Al Jazeera interview that his colleagues knew “to a man” that it was actually Iran that had organized the bombing. And he further claimed that the attack was committed in revenge for the U.S. Navy’s downing of an Iranian flight earlier in 1988. In addition, Abolghassem Mesbahi, an Iranian intelligence operative who later defected to Germany, concurs with Baer’s assertion. And he’s even gone as far as to claim that the bombing was ordered by Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran’s former supreme leader.
3. Gary Webb’s Dark Alliance report was true
In 1996 journalist Gary Webb published a serialized report in the San Jose Mercury News that would, eventually, be the death of him. His Dark Alliance investigation claimed that U.S.-supported Nicaraguan rebels were running cocaine lines to America in the mid 1980s. Moreover, he argued that the drug, which was then being converted into crack in frightening quantities, had overwhelmed certain parts of L.A. Incredibly, Webb also suggested that the CIA knew exactly what was happening.
When L.A.’s black population reacted in anger to the allegations, the government was forced to go on the defensive. The mainstream media, meanwhile, dragged Webb’s name through the mud rather than building on his investigations (other journalists were, the theory goes, jealous of his scoop). Tragically, the resulting turmoil was ultimately too much for Webb, and in December 2004 his body was found at his Californian home. The coroner ruled that the journalist had taken his own life, but because there were two gunshot wounds in his head, some have suggested foul play.
2. Robert Falcon Scott took his own life
On March 29, 1912 British explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott penned the final-ever entry in his Antarctic diary. “We shall stick it out to the end,” he wrote. “But we are getting weaker, of course, and the end cannot be far.” The Royal Navy officer was returning from the South Pole with four others when things started to go spectacularly wrong. Not only did it get far colder than expected, but Scott and co. also failed to meet with a supply-laden dog team from Base Camp. And to add to their plight, there was less fuel than planned in their support depots.
It’s for these reasons that some later questioned Scott’s reputation. Was he really a tragic hero, or was his alleged incompetence to blame for the exploration’s failure? Moreover, Scott had already been beaten to the South Pole by Roald Amundsen, his Norwegian rival. So others have suggested that the British explorer was so distraught at losing the polar race that he deliberately froze to death. Moreover, they claimed that the storm he alluded to in his journal was all just one big cover up.
1. Shergar the racehorse was kidnapped by the IRA
In 1981 Irish-bred racehorse Shergar won the U.K.’s Epsom Derby by a record-breaking ten lengths. But a couple of years later, the horse – then the world’s most valuable – was stolen from its stud in County Kildare, Ireland, by masked armed robbers. And no one ever saw him again. But strangely, the horse’s kidnapping wasn’t reported for a full eight hours, by which point the champion could have been anywhere in the country. So what exactly happened?
Apparently, the captors said they were only prepared to enter into phone negotiations with a trio of London-based horseracing journalists, who were subsequently flown over to Northern Ireland for talks. However, the police, despite monitoring the calls, weren’t able to ascertain the alleged culprits’ location. Moreover, the talks ended once the kidnappers revealed that Shergar had died. Strangely, though, IRA defector Sean O’Callaghan later claimed that the terrorist group was responsible for the horse’s theft.