Humor Urban Legends 15 Crazy Conspiracy Theories That Some People Actually Believe The world is a strange place... but how strange is it? Share PINTEREST Email Print Via Getty Images/Matt Carr. Urban Legends Classic & Historic Legends Urban Legends in the News Rumors & Hoaxes Animal Folklore Scary Stories By Beverly Jenkins Beverly Jenkins is a humor and pop culture writer. She has published three web humor books and six calendars, including You Had One Job! and Photobombed. our editorial process Beverly Jenkins Updated April 24, 2018 In a world where "fake news" abounds, it's sometimes hard to tell the difference between what is real and what is patently false. As informed citizens, it's our duty to embrace a certain amount of skepticism, because you really can't believe everything you read. Yet there are times when the truth is definitely stranger than fiction. According to research conducted by the New York Times, even the most rational people believe some of the more "out-there" conspiracy theories. Theoretically, buying into these theories gives the powerless a feeling of power; granting believers a way of dealing with the uncertainty and lack of control that we all feel in the modern world. And of course, the internet just makes it worse: "The Internet and other media have helped perpetuate paranoia. Not only does more exposure to these alternative narratives help engender belief in conspiracies, but the Internet’s tendency toward tribalism helps reinforce misguided beliefs." While some of the conspiracy theories circulating around the internet are actually kind of plausible, some are so far-fetched that we can't believe anyone would ever think they're true! So put on your shiniest tinfoil hat and check out 15 of the weirdest conspiracy theories ever hatched. 01 of 15 The Earth Is Flat Via Getty Images/George Diebold. In spite of countless satellite images, the moon landing, and all of the data ever collected by NASA, there's a growing number of people who truly believe that the earth is flat. These flat earth theories have been around for ages, originating with English writer Samuel Rowbotham in the mid 20th century. In addition to claiming that the earth is not a sphere, believers contend that the planet is bordered on the north end by the North Pole and the southern end by a wall of ice (Antarctica). Sounds like something out of Game of Thrones, right? Many scholars blame a literal interpretation of the Bible for this theory, but why it still endures into the 21st century is a mystery. After all, we've seen the globe with our own eyes in countless photographs... or have we? The Flat Earth Society believes that these images have all been tampered with and/or created by the government to conceal the truth. Even though scientists like Neil DeGrasse Tyson spend a good amount of time shooting down these flat earth theorists on Twitter, there are still plenty of people who believe a spherical earth is just another way the global government is trying to pull a fast one on the people of the world. 02 of 15 The Moon Landing Was Faked Via Getty Images/Apic. Speaking of "it's all a big government hoax," let's talk about the historic 1969 moon landing. That "giant leap for mankind?" Well, a lot of people believe it never actually happened. Or, rather, that it happened... inside a sound studio in the Hollywood Hills. Some people believe that the moon landing was faked by NASA in order to beat Russia in the "space race." In spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, including the word of astronauts like Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, not to mention samples of moon rocks retrieved from the moon's surface, many believe that director Stanley Kubrick produced that famous black-and-white footage of one of the most incredible moments in the history of humankind. Come on now. Kubrick was good... but was he that good? 03 of 15 Poisonous Snow Via YouTube If you've spent any time on Facebook, chances are you've got a friend who breathlessly shared a viral video of a snowball that refuses to melt under the flame of a disposable Bic lighter. These videos are all over the web, and they all have a seriously disturbing implication: the U.S. government is slowly poisoning the public using fake snow. The people in the videos allege that when you hold a butane lighter to the "snow," it emits a nasty, chemical odor and refuses to burn. The poisonous snow videos originated in 2014, and a simple Google search brings up a Snopes study that disproves the theory in a few quick sentences. But your Facebook friends never Google something before sharing it, so the theory keeps spreading. 04 of 15 Chemtrails Via Getty Images/Kypros. Speaking of the government trying to secretly poison its people... welcome to the Chemtrail theory! You know how jets leave long, white smokey paths behind them as they propel across the sky? Scientists have proven repeatedly that these paths are normal, water-based contrails left by high-flying aircraft under specific atmospheric conditions. But chemtrail believers think that the government is secretly releasing chemicals in an effort to take psychological control of the public. Others believe that the government uses chemtrails to alter the weather or give us all incurable illnesses in order to control human population. Totally plausible, right? Wrong. Also, if this is the best way the government can come up with to control the population, they're doing a terrible job. 05 of 15 9/11 Was An Inside Job Via Getty Images/Robert Giroux. Having lived through September 11, 2001, it's hard to believe that anyone would ever theorize that the U.S. government was behind a tragic act of terrorism that killed 2,996 people. Yet that's exactly what 9/11 conspiracy theorists believe: 9/11 was orchestrated to secure oil reserves in the Middle East and retain the U.S.'s standing the top global superpower. Others think the owners of the twin towers were behind the attacks, simply because they stood to gain $500 million in insurance payouts. 06 of 15 Area 51 Via Getty Images/VICTOR HABBICK VISIONS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY. Many people think an alien spacecraft landed in the desert of Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. The U.S. military claims that a weather balloon crash landed in this location, but theorists weren't buying that simple explanation. Instead, they believe that aliens have been attempting to contact us for decades, and this crash instigated a government cover-up that continues to this day. Area 51 is a real military base, but there was no alien autopsy (that video was proven to be a fake), and only time will tell if the government is really hiding the preserved corpse of a martian inside the top secret bunker. But our money is on "no." 07 of 15 The Illuminati (Or Another Secret Group) Is Controlling the World Via Getty Images/Stefano Bianchetti. There are several conspiracy theories based on the notion that a secret society is running things behind the scenes, but none is as prevalent as the Illuminati. Some conspiracy theorists believe that many famous people, including several Presidents of the United States, are secretly members of an ancient group of leaders called the Illuminati. The Illuminati's goal is to create a "one-world" government, achieve a New World Order, dissolve national boundaries, and usher in an era of authoritarian control. Theorists even contend that certain historical events were caused by the machinations of the Illuminati, including the assassination of President Kennedy and the French Revolution. Hollywood players like Beyonce and Angelina Jolie have also been named as members of the secret society. 08 of 15 Justin Bieber Is A Reptile Via YouTube Thanks to a doctored article on Australia's Perth Now website, many people believe that singer Justin Bieber is a member of an elite cohort of reptiles who secretly rule the earth. Oh, and Rihanna is one of them, too—because of course she is! In the bogus article, the writer alleged that hundreds of people witnessed the Biebs shapeshifting into a giant lizard, complete with claws, scales, and a big black stripe running down his back. Uh huh. "There were girls hiding in toilets, crying. Guys were running for the exits, jumping in taxis to get out of there." As if that rumor weren't odd enough, video footage of Bieber during a court appearance seems to show the singer's eyes blinking in a very unusual way. You can see the video for yourself here, but we doubt it will make you a "Belieber." 09 of 15 Queen Elizabeth II Is A Cannibal Via Getty Images/Ben A. Pruchnie. "She must eat human flesh to be so vivacious," said British historian Hubert Humdinger—and with a name like that, how could we NOT believe him? Humdinger believes that the Queen's longevity is a result of cannibalism, and his theory was "confirmed" by a website alleging that servicemen at Windsor Castle once claimed to discover human remains inside the queen's private freezer. Now that's a humdinger of a theory. 10 of 15 The Ice Bucket Challenge Was A Satanic Ritual Via Getty Images/Angels Baseball LP. In 2014, the ALS society initiated a social media challenge to raise money for research into ALS, commonly known as Lou Gherig's Disease. The challenge entailed dumping a bucket of ice water over your head and tagging friends to do the same, and it succeeded in raising millions of dollars for charity and research. Many critics didn't believe the altruistic rationale behind the challenge, taking to YouTube to claim the Ice Bucket challenge was a ritual purification or cleansing for the impending "largest human sacrifice in history." Who's behind the ritual? Why, the Illuminati, of course! And maybe a smidge of Satan, just 'cuz. 11 of 15 Melania Trump Uses A Stand-In Body Double Via Getty Images/Mark Wilson. When Melania accompanied her husband, Donald Trump, to a press event at a U.S. Secret Service training facility in 2018, her appearance seemed a bit off to a few eagle-eyed internet dwellers. As the POTUS spoke to reporters, Twitter user Joe Vargas tweeted out: "This is not Melania. To think they would go this far & try & make us think its her on TV is mind blowing. Makes me wonder what else is a lie" 68,000 retweets later, a new era of "truthers" was born. Yet again, the driving force behind this theory is a mistrust of the government and a fear that they are trying to pull one over on the people. Why? Who knows! By the way, Melania isn't the only one who's said to employ a doppelganger; some truthers also claimed Hillary Clinton used a body double due to failing health on the 2016 campaign trail. 12 of 15 JFK Assassination Via Getty Images/Bettmann. In 2013, a large national survey revealed that over half of all Americans believe there is a government coverup surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. When President Kennedy was gunned down in broad daylight back in 1963, some felt the explanation—that Lee Harvey Oswald was the sole perpetrator—fell short of the truth. Dissatisfied with the explanation that Oswald acted alone, 51% of Americans think the CIA, KGB, or the mafia was really behind his murder. 13 of 15 The Government Is Withholding The Cure For Cancer Via Getty Images/Joerg Koch. Some people believe that the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and Big Pharma has actually had the cure for cancer for over a decade, but they're withholding it from the public for financial reasons. Cancer treatment brings in a lot of dollars, that much is true, but there is virtually zero evidence to support the claim that thousands of healthcare and laboratory workers would keep a secret this massive. Nearly everyone in the world has been touched by cancer in some way—could anyone really buy the silence of a Joe Schmo lab worker who stood to reveal a scandal this big? Nah. 14 of 15 Paul McCartney Is Dead Via Getty Images/BIPS /Stringer. ... and Elvis is alive! Beatles lore says that Paul McCartney died in 1966, at the height of the band's success, and the other three members covered up the death by hiring a lookalike to stand in for Sir Paul. As if anyone could fill Paul's shoes! Believers have a few "clues" that they claim support their theory: On Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, released the year of McCartney's "death," lines like "he blew his mind out in a car" allude to a suicide.When "A Day In The Life," is played backward, McCartney truthers claim "Paul is dead, miss him, miss him," can be heard.At the end of "Strawberry Fields Forever," John Lennon is said to mumble, "I buried Paul," although he later denied it and said he was saying "cranberry sauce." The biggest clue to support the "Paul Is Dead" theory is the famous cover of the Abbey Road album. John Lennon, dressed all in white, leads a "funeral procession" across the street. Ringo, in black, is the mourner, and George Harrison, clad in blue jeans, is said to be the grave digger. Finally, Paul brings up the rear—out of step with the rest of the band, and barefoot. Because he's dead, I guess? IDK, all I know is I've had the pleasure of seeing Sir Paul perform live, and if he was a fake, he was amazing. 15 of 15 Mass Shootings Are Staged By The Government Via Getty Images/John Lamparski. If you thought using a body double for the First Lady or a famous musician is far-fetched... wait till you get a load of this! In the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida school massacre in 2018, most Americans were focused on tightening gun control laws... but others believe that mass shootings like this one are actually orchestrated by the U.S. government in order to restrict the sale of guns. Wait, what? Oh, it gets better. The teenaged Parkland survivors were notoriously vocal about gun control, so naturally certain die-hard gun owners decided that these kids must be paid actors who work for anti-gun groups. They claim Parkland survivor David Hogg, 17, is a paid "crisis actor" who was coached on anti-gun rhetoric. Undeterred, Hogg told CNN that he's actually grateful to the conspiracy theorists, and he thanks them for drawing more attention to his cause: “These people that have been attacking me on social media, they've been great advertisers. Ever since they started attacking me, my Twitter followers are now a quarter of a million people. People have continued to cover us in the media. They've done a great job of that, and for that, I honestly thank them." There truly is no limit to what some people will believe! Be skeptical, friends... but not so skeptical that you create outrageous theories to explain ordinary events.