The most unforgettable moments in history almost always come with a conspiracy theory that provides alternative, and often outlandish, explanations for past events.
Although most conspiracy theories are rarely supported by conclusive evidence, they do have the ability to spark our interest and sometimes make us reconsider what we’ve been told. Here are 11 conspiracy theories that just won’t die:
- Barack Obama Birth Certificate Conspiracy: Since the 2008 presidential primaries, a rumor and soon-turned conspiracy theory spread that Obama is not a natural-born citizen of the U.S. and should not be eligible to be the President of the United States. These theorists, often called birthers, believe that Obama was either born in Kenya, was a citizen of Indonesia and lost his U.S. citizenship, or his birth certificate was forged. So, they wanted proof of Obama’s place of birth. The White House responded to birthers’ requests by releasing the President’s long-form birth certificate that once again proved his was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. Despite the tangible evidence, birthers and conspiracy theorists continue to doubt Obama’s citizenship.
- Princess Diana Assassination Conspiracy: Princess Diana died on Aug. 31, 1997, after the car she was riding in crashed in the Pont de l’Alma road tunnel in Paris, France. The French investigation of the crash indicated that Diana died from injuries sustained during the accident, but conspiracy theories began to surface with another story. In 1998, Mohamed al-Fayed claimed that Prince Philip and Prince Charles had Diana and his son Dodi killed because they were romantically involved. Fayed’s assassination conspiracy theory also indicated that Diana had previously told him about her fears of being killed and how the two princes wanted her gone. However, the jury ruled that Diana and Dodi were unlawfully killed because of reckless driving by the chauffeur and the paparazzi.
- 9/11 Conspiracies: After the tragic events of 9/11, conspiracy theorists began to scrutinize the details of the falling Twin Towers, the attack on the Pentagon and the United Flight 93 crash. Conspiracy theorists claim that al-Qaeda was not responsible for these attacks, but rather the U.S. government’s fault. The 9/11 conspiracy theories state that the U.S. federal officials carried out the attacks themselves in order to go to war in the Middle East and strengthen the Bush Administration. These calculated theories have been argued back and forth for years, but have gotten us nowhere.
- 1969 Moon Landings: Ever since Neil Armstrong became the first person to set foot on the Moon, conspiracy theorists have been arguing that the lunar landings were all fake. Theorists claim that NASA staged the 1969 Moon landings and the Apollo program was a hoax. They don’t believe Apollo astronauts ever walked on the Moon, and insist that the public was misled to believe this happened by NASA’s use of trick photography and tampered evidence. Theorists also cite that the technology in 1969 was not advanced enough to take a spacecraft all the way to the Moon.
- Michael Jackson Death Conspiracy: After Michael Jackson suddenly died from propofol intoxication in June 2009, conspiracy theories began to circulate the Internet that the King of Pop had staged his own death to get out of his mountain of debt. An unprecedented surge in album sales, memorabilia and success of his film This is It has earned Jackson more than $310 million since his death. Despite countless sighting claims, including a video of a Jackson lookalike exiting the back of an ambulance, the Los Angeles coroner’s office conducted an autopsy and ruled his death a homicide.
- The Titanic Sinking Conspiracy: After the famed Titanic ship sunk in April 1912, conspiracy theories began to swirl around that the unexpected disaster was actually part of one the largest acts of insurance fraud in history. Theorists believe that the Jesuits, a radical Catholic group, were responsible for the sinking of the Titanic. The Jesuits believed in a new world order and, according to conspiracy theorists, the Titanic disaster was the key to achieving a one-world government and establishing a new Federal Reserve Bank by eliminating the chance of opposition. The shipwreck was allegedly orchestrated by a loyal Jesuit member, Captain Edward Smith, who sailed directly into iceberg territory and ignored warnings from other ships.
- Hurricane Katrina Conspiracy: After one of the deadliest hurricanes ripped through the Southeastern United States and hundreds of thousands of people were left stranded without aid in New Orleans, conspiracy theories began to surface that the government purposely ignored the residents to fulfill a bigger plan. Theorists claim that the government ignored New Orleans in order to let as many African-Americans die as possible. Others believe that the levee system did not fail because of its design, but was instead bombed by the government to let the city flood.
- John F. Kennedy Assassination Conspiracy: The assassination of President John F. Kennedy will always carry a great deal of mystery and speculation about what exactly happened in Dallas, TX, on Nov. 22, 1963. Lee Harvey Oswald was charged with killing Kennedy on his own, but conspiracy theorists refuse to accept this conclusion. Many believe that Oswald did not carry out the assassination on his own, and had the help of a second gunman located on the grassy knoll of Dealey Plaza. Other theorists believe Kennedy was killed by CIA agents, or KGB operatives or possibly mobsters.
- AIDS Conspiracy: The AIDS conspiracy theory that U.S. government scientists created the deadly disease to wipe out African-American communities and control the size of the racial group is backed by a large number of African Americans, but could not be more wrong. According to the theorists, AIDS was produced in a government laboratory or created and spread by the CIA, and a cure for AIDS has been developed but is being withheld from the poor. This ongoing belief has only hurt the prevention efforts and increased the spread of HIV/AIDS among African-Americans.
- Indian Ocean Tsunami Conspiracy: The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami conspiracy theory is centered on the belief that the tsunami was not an act of Mother Nature, but was actually caused by an Indian nuclear experiment conducted by Israeli and American nuclear experts. Many theorists believe that the nuclear experiment was a calculated plot by Israeli and the U.S. government to kill as many Muslims in southeast Asia as possible. This alleged man-made nuclear bomb exploded in the ocean and triggered the 100-foot killer waves and aftershocks that killed more than 220,000 people in 11 different countries.
- The 2000 Presidential Election Conspiracy: The 2000 presidential election conspiracy came about when Republican candidate George W. Bush beat Democratic candidate Al Gore in the presidential election by one of the narrowest margins in history, precisely 271 electoral votes to Gore’s 266 votes. Even though Gore won the popular vote, the electoral votes put Bush ahead with Florida as the swing state. The conspiracy centered on the idea that Bush unfairly won the election because his brother, Jeb Bush, was the governor of Florida at the time, and the swing state’s notorious "hanging chads" made for inaccurate readouts. However, an independent study by The Miami Herald and USA Today discovered that Bush would have still won even without the Supreme Court decision