When the world appears depressingly rational, and science can seemingly explain away anything you thought had an impressive mystique to it (they even know why orange juice tastes like death after you brush your teeth!), one can take solace in the conspiracy theory. So sit back, refuse to accept simple explanations for ANYTHING, and enjoy some of the best conspiracy theories ever!
Paul Is Dead
That’s Sir Paul McCartney, of Beatles, Wings and Heather Mills fame. As the story goes, McCartney actually died in 1966 in a nasty car crash. But, when the Beatles discovered that their friend had died, they decided not to disband. After all, the Beatles were at their creative peak, and were working on Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. So, instead of allowing McCartney’s death to become public, manager Brian Epstein bribed a local reporter who had seen the incident, and a policeman who had identified the mangled white Austin Healey car as belonging to Paul, to keep shtum.
With the Beatles and Brian remarkably managing to suppress any grief they may have felt at Paul’s death, and two professionals having been easily paid off to help cover it up, there remained another difficult obstacle. How do you replace a hugely popular member of your band without incurring the wrath of your fans? The answer, of course, and you’ll kick yourself, dear reader, when I tell you, was brilliantly simple: arrange a Paul McCartney ‘look-a-like’ contest, and stick the winner in the band, in place of Paul.
Thus, Canadian policeman William Campbell was persuaded to undergo speech therapy (to give his accent a more authentic Scouse twang), and plastic surgery (to make him facially indistinguishable from the real Paul). Naturally, having put into place a devilishly deceptive cover-up, it was obvious what the band would do next: plant subtle clues in their lyrics, and album artwork, hinting at this very cover-up. Playing certain lyrics backwards reveal eerie messages such as ‘Paul is dead’ (or incoherent distortion, depending on what you really want to hear), and on certain albums Paul is shown in a different pose to the others, clearly symbolising his death.
Credibility: I’d like to give Paul’s friends and family enough credit to assume that they’d notice if their beloved had been replaced with a look-a-like. This is a real-life human being, not a hamster. Many of the ‘album-cover’ clues appear tenuous, particularly as the Beatles apparently had the foresight to plant some ‘clues’ on albums released before McCartney’s alleged death. 3/10
Entertainment Value: The people who’ve developed the Paul is Dead theory have clearly gone to great pains to make it plausible, and whilst they’ve failed on this count, it’s a genuinely engaging and amusing (even though it’s about a fatal car crash) story. 9/10
The Royals/MI6/Anything but an unfortunate car accident killed Diana
Admittedly, this one has been done to dea…to saturation point, and Diana conspiracy theories will continue to be circulated as long as the Daily Mail and Daily Express remain in existence. But, given its now almost legendary status as a cultural reference point of the 20th and 21st century, I felt it was important to give it (yet another) mention.
One of the main suggested motives for MI6’s ‘murder’ of the Princess was that she would be imminently converting to Islam (upon becoming engaged to boyfriend Dodi Fayed), and that the inherently racist Royal Family could not stomach a relationship between a Muslim and the mother of Prince William, future King. A quick browse through some of Prince Phillip’s quotes regarding ethnic minorities may support the ‘racist’ suggestion, although it’s a considerable leap to propose that the Royals’ racism extended to killing someone for wanting to marry a Muslim. There are also various claims from people close to Diana that she had no intention of getting engaged in the near future.
The problem with this conspiracy theory is that there is very little in the way of evidence to support claims that Diana was murdered. In fact, from what I can see, the vast majority of the ‘evidence’ is based on the fact that Diana’s relationship with the Royal Family was tepid. Which isn’t quite the breakthrough needed to prove the conspiracy.
Credibility: Whilst there is a staggeringly vast amount of speculation raising doubts as to how Diana died, a disappointingly tiny amount of it is, in any way, convincing. 4/10
Entertainment Value: Thanks to the Mail and Express, who eagerly dig up a new, and depressingly tedious Diana-related detail every day (on the day she died… her favourite colour was blue, etc), there is now no fun, and there hasn’t been for a good while, in debating how and why the Princess of Wales died. 1/10
A significantly smaller step for man than originally thought…
1969. The year man walked on the moon. Or not? One of the most prominent conspiracy theories of all time suggests that the moon landing was faked, in movie studios.
The motives are there. Embroiled in the Cold War with the Soviet Union, if America could win the space race, it would appear strong in the face of its enemy It also provided a welcome distraction from the Vietnam war, which was getting people down somewhat.
To back up their claims, conspiracy theorists declare that the photos taken of the moon landing are littered with inconsistencies. For example, the photo of the American flag stuck on the moon shows the flag waving in the breeze – but, as the moon has no atmosphere, there should not be any wind. Or, the stars do not seem to appear in any of the photos – was this an oversight on the part of the government, who was in fact faking the photos?
The theorists also raise suspicions that some of the photos taken of the landings are simply too clear, given that they were supposed to have been taken in very difficult conditions.
Unfortunately, for eager proponents of the Great Moon Hoax, they have chosen to base their argument on pseudo-science. Naturally, real scientists have quashed these arguments, by, surprisingly enough, using science. Unlike the Diana and Paul McCartney conspiracy theories, the ‘faked moon landing’ can be pretty much disproved outright.
Credibility: If you’re going to make up a conspiracy theory, a general rule of thumb should be, create one that is impossible to disprove. See David Icke’s theory that politicians are reptiles, for example. There is little point in making pseudo-scientific claims like ‘Why can’t you hear the rockets when Apollo 11 landed’, when even the most basic of science can tell you that this is because there’s no atmosphere on the moon. 1/10
Entertainment Value: Although it is initially exciting to consider the implications if the moon landing was genuinely faked, as with everything in life, the scientists have to come along and ruin it by proving beyond all reasonable doubt that a giant leap for mankind really was achieved in 1969. 6/10
Barcodes were invented to control people
What? You thought that the purpose of barcodes was to make the process of buying groceries faster and more efficient? Why, you gullible fool! Can’t you see that a ‘secret world government’ is using them to control the population? Or, at least, that those funny black lines hide the mark of the devil? Z-list ‘psychic’ Sollog can, and consequently has refused to allow his books to be marked with barcodes.
Credibility: If you’re still not convinced by a dearth of evidence, Sollog’s opinion should surely sway you. He predicted the death of the Pope, you know. Who would have thought that old people tend to die? 9/10
Entertainment Value: Is held back by the failure of theorists to identify the disappointingly vague ‘secret world government’ who are using barcodes for mischievous ends. I’m hoping to discover that the SWG consists entirely of super-intelligent zebras, which would, of course, tie in perfectly with the black and white theme. 6/10
Spice Girls reform motivated by money
Clearly insane, as Geri has explicitly stated ‘it’s about celebrating the past’ and ‘enjoying each other’. Besides, the tour will only net the girls around £10 million each, and besides, they’ve stayed friends after the split; it’s not like they were recently slagging each other off in the press or anything, is it?
Entertainment Value: N/A
By Shaun Livingston