A conspiracy theory is an explanation for an event or situation that invokes a conspiracy by sinister and powerful groups, often political in motivation, when other explanations are more probable. The term has a pejorative connotation, implying that the appeal to a conspiracy is based on prejudice or insufficient evidence.
Conspiracy theories resist falsification and are reinforced by circular reasoning: both evidence against the conspiracy and an absence of evidence for it are re-interpreted as evidence of its truth,whereby the conspiracy becomes a matter of faith rather than something that can be proved or disproved
Research suggests that conspiracist ideation—belief in conspiracy theories—can be psychologically harmful or pathologicaland that it is correlated with psychological projection, paranoia and Machiavellianism.
Conspiracy theories once limited to fringe audiences have become commonplace in mass media, emerging as a cultural phenomenon of the late 20th and early 21st centuries
This conspiracy theory emerged in the U.S. in the 1960s. The John Birch Society originally promoted it, asserting that a United Nations force would soon arrive in black helicopters to bring the U.S. under UN control.
The theory re-emerged in the 1990s during the presidency of Bill Clinton, and has been promoted by talk show host Glenn Beck. A similar theory concerning so-called "phantom helicopters" appeared in the UK in the 1970s.
Korean Air Lines Flight 007
The destruction of Korean Air Lines Flight 007 by Soviet jets in 1983 has long drawn the interest of conspiracy theorists. The theories range from allegations of a planned espionage mission, to a US government cover-up, to the consumption of the passengers' remains by giant crabs.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370
The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in southeast Asia in March 2014 has prompted many theories. One theory suggests that this plane was hidden away and reintroduced as Flight MH17 later the same year in order to be shot down over Ukraine for political purposes.
Prolific American conspiracy theorist James H. Fetzer has placed responsibility for the disappearance with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Historian Norman Davies has promoted the conspiracy theory that hackers remotely took over a Boeing Honeywell Uninterruptible Autopilot, supposedly installed onboard, remotely piloting the aircraft to Antarctica.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over Ukraine in July 2014. This event has spawned numerous alternative theories. These variously include allegations that it was secretly Flight MH370, that the plane was actually shot down by the Ukrainian Air Force to frame Russia,
that it was part of a conspiracy to conceal the "truth" about HIV (seven disease specialists were on board), or that the Illuminati or Israel was responsible.
A theory claims that The Coca-Cola Company intentionally changed to an inferior formula with New Coke, with the intent either of driving up
Demand for the original product or permitting the reintroduction of the original with a new formula using cheaper ingredients. Coca-Cola president Donald Keough rebutted this charge: "The truth is, we're not that dumb, and we're not that smart.
New World Order
The New World Order theory states that a group of international elites controls governments, industry, and media organizations, with the goal of establishing global hegemony. They are alleged to be implicated in most of the major wars of the last two centuries, to carry out secretly staged events, and to deliberately manipulate economies.
Organizations alleged to be part of the plot include the Federal Reserve System, the Council on Foreign Relations, Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg Group, the European Union,
The United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, Bohemian Grove Le Cercle and Yale University society Skull and Bones.
The Discordian hoax has resulted in one of the world's foremost conspiracy theories, which claims that the "Illuminati" are secretly promoting the posited New World Order.
Theorists believe that a wide range of musicians, including Beyoncé and Whitney Houston, have been associated with the "group". Prominent theorists include Mark Dice and David Icke
Hungarian-American investor George Soros has been the subject of conspiracy theories since the 1990s. Soros has used his wealth to promote many political, social, educational and scientific causes, disbursing grants totaling an estimated $11 billion up to 2016.
However, theories tend to assert that Soros is in control of a large portion of the world's wealth and governments, and that he secretly funds a large range of persons and organizations for nefarious purposes, such as Antifa, which the conspiracy theorists claim is a single far-left militant group.
Such ideas have been promoted by Viktor Orban, Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani,Joseph diGenova, Bill O'Reilly, Roy Moore, Alex Jones, Paul Gosar, Ben Garrison. Soros conspiracy theories are sometimes linked to antisemitic conspiracy theories.
Conspiracy theories concerning the Freemasons have proliferated since the 18th century. Theorists have alleged that Freemasons control large parts of the economies or judiciaries of a number of countries, and have alleged Masonic involvement in events surrounding the sinking of the Titanic and the crimes of Jack the Ripper.
Notable among theorists has been American inventor Samuel Morse, who in 1835 published a book of his own conspiracy theories Freemason conspiracy theories have also been linked to certain antisemitic conspiracy theories.
Israel animal spying
Conspiracy theories exist alleging that Israel uses animals to conduct espionage or to attack people. These are often associated with conspiracy theories about Zionism. Matters of interest to theorists include a series of shark attacks in Egypt in 2010,
Hezbollah's accusations of the use of "spying" eagles,and the 2011 capture of a griffon vulture carrying an Israeli-labeled satellite tracking device.
Harold WilsonNumerous persons, including former MI5 officer Peter Wright and Soviet defector Anatoliy Golitsyn, have alleged that British Prime Minister Harold Wilson was secretly a KGB spy. Historian Christopher Andrew has lamented that a number of people have been "seduced by Golitsyn's fantasies".
Conspiracy theories concerning Malala Yousafzai are widespread in Pakistan, elements of which originate from a 2013 satirical piece in Dawn.
These theories variously allege that she is a Western spy, or that her attempted murder by the Taliban in 2012 was a secret operation to further discredit the Taliban, and was organized by her father and the CIA and carried out by actor Robert de Niro disguised as an Uzbek homeopath