Six of the best conspiracy theories, from Elvis Presley is alive to Justin Bieber is a shape-shifting lizard
Did Paul McCartney die in the 1960s? Is the Earth really flat? Is Katy Perry a member of the Illuminati? There are many conspiracy theories out there that sound mad but still have plenty of believers – here are some of our favourites
Why are people so ready to believe outlandish theories?
During times of social upheaval, conspiracy theories seem to gather strength. The death of a celebrity or government figure is almost guaranteed to start a new alternative theory.
The advent of social media has poured fuel on the fire. Anyone can post their theory online and gain an audience. Once a few people agree, then a celebrity weighs in with their opinion or a “scientist” adds some “facts” the conspiracy is underway.
A good conspiracy theory has to have a more complex explanation than reality. Here are some of the best.
Since his rather undignified death on a toilet in 1977, the “King of Rock ’n’ roll” has been seen all over the world, usually doing something mundane, and occasionally wearing his jumpsuits and rhinestones.
A year after his death, he was seen in his pool house at Gracelands in 1978 and a photo was taken.
He was spotted in 1988 by a woman in Michigan, the US, at a supermarket wearing (of course) a white jumpsuit. The woman’s daughter later saw the King in the local Burger King, which amazingly happened to be Presley’s favourite fast food chain.
He apparently appeared as an extra in the Macaulay Culkin film Home Alone in 1990.
Rumour also has it that he faked his own death to escape the mafia. He was put into witness protection after infiltrating a criminal organisation for the FBI. This theory has been given strength by the fact that Presley’s name is spelt wrong on his tombstone.
A poll in 1977 found that 4 per cent of Americans believed Presley was still alive. A Facebook page dedicated to the living King has more than 25,000 followers.
He was regularly spotted around Hong Kong’s Lan Kwai Fong entertainment hub in the 1990s, where his outfit, hair and his name being painted on his guitar were giveaways for many fans.
Paul McCartney is dead
After “Elvis is Alive” there was the “Paul is Dead” theory, which has been ongoing since the 1960s. The Beatles’ bassist Paul McCartney was supposed to have died in a car crash in 1966 or 1967. Obviously this would have been bad for Beatles business, so they hired a replacement.
Having got away with the impersonation, the surviving Beatles decided to leave clues and hints scattered through their lyrics and photographs.
In 1969 a Michigan University student called a Detroit radio station to talk about the rumours.
He asked DJ Russ Gibb to play Revolution 9 from the “White Album” backwards and the words “Turn me on dead man” could (not exactly) clearly be heard. McCartney was supposed to have died on November 9.
This led to other songs being examined (played backwards) and Strawberry Fields Forever eventually yielded: “I buried Paul.”
In yet another example, the cover of the Abbey Road album was supposed to depict a funeral procession and the fact that McCartney was barefoot meant that he was the corpse.
Obviously Paul McCartney denies the theory (well he would), even going as far as naming his 1999 album “Paul is Live”, so at least he has kept his sense of humour through it all.
Other rock’n’roll conspiracies involve Avril Lavigne, who died aged 18 and was replaced by her body double Melissa. The proof of this lies in her red carpet photos, it has been alleged.
Lavigne wore jeans and Melissa prefers skirts and dresses. During one photo shoot Lavigne is seen with the word Melissa written on her hand.
Her face has changed shape and she sings different music. It’s so obvious when you think about it, right?
The shape-shifting lizards
Justin Bieber was said to have carelessly shifted his shape at an Australian airport in 2017. Eye witnesses claimed they saw the Canadian pop star transform into a lizard.
His bodyguard threatened onlookers with violence if they used their phones to take pictures.
Although this turned out to be fake news, other rich and powerful people including the Clintons, Queen Elizabeth, Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg and even Bob Hope have been accused of being reptilians or their descendants, here on earth to enslave us.
In his book The Biggest Secret, David Icke, the English ex-snooker commentator and modern-day prophet, has accused the lizards of perpetrating 9/11, the Holocaust and the Oklahoma bombing. He also claimed that the aliens are members of the Illuminati.
The classic secret society theory. This theory takes in world domination, the fixing of capitalist markets and controlling puppet governments.
The Illuminati actually did exist. They were formed in 1776 as the Bavarian Illuminati, a secret society that was dedicated to oppose superstition, abuses of state power and the influence of religion on society. Encouraged by the Catholic Church, the group was outlawed in the 1780s along with other secret societies such as the Freemasons, and were blamed for the French Revolution among other things.
The Illuminatus Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson published in the 1970s brought the society back into the public eye.
According to the theory, the modern day Illuminati control the world through their manipulation of the media and governments. According to a poll in 2013, 28 per cent of Americans believe in the existence of the Illuminati. The secret society even has a Facebook page (what’s the use of a secret society that no one has heard of after all) with four million followers.
Previously bankers, politicians and industrialists including the Rockefellers, Rothschilds, Henry Kissinger and Queen Elizabeth were rumoured to be in the secret gang, but in today’s celebrity obsessed culture, supposed members include Katy Perry, Madonna, Beyoncé and Jay Z, Rihanna, and Kanye West.
It’s not clear whether they are also shape-shifting lizards.
In another startling revelation, aliens are alive and well in Nevada, staying at the top secret airbase that the whole world knows about.
Also known as Groom Lake, Dreamland and Paradise Ranch, the airbase is either used for testing top secret experimental aircraft (such as the U-2 reconnaissance plane in the 1950s and the Lockheed F-117 stealth plane in the 1980s) and weapons, or (as the conspiracy theory has it) it is the location for storing, examining and reverse engineering alien tech, especially from crashed UFOs.
Ex-employees have come forward over the years claiming to have studied alien technology there and even to have worked with extra terrestrials.
Other theories point to research into time travel, teleportation, weather control and exotic energies.
Signs around the base warn that deadly force will be used against trespassers. The airspace around the base is also restricted.
Flat Earth Society
A growing number of people believe that the earth is not a sphere, but a disc. The other planets and stars float above our planet in a dome. The edge of the disc (Antarctica) is a 45 metre high wall of ice, that presumably stops the water falling off the earth.
The North Pole is at the centre of the disc. The sun and moon are both 52km in diameter. This makes our planet something like a cute little snow globe, a comforting thought for some in these troubled times.
For thousands of years people believed the earth was flat and the centre of creation, which at the time would have made more sense than living on a ball that floated through a vacuum in an infinite universe.
The Ancient Greeks discovered the earth was round through mathematics and observation in the third century BC. Astronomers throughout the Middle Ages continued the belief in a round earth. Circumnavigation of the earth by sailors in the 16th century and beyond further strengthened the idea. Meteorology, space travel and air travel are all dependant on the fact that the earth, like all stellar bodies, is round.
However, the modern age of flat earth theory started in the 19th century when Samuel Rowbotham (who dropped out of school aged nine) put forward his Zetetic Astronomy theory after finding a lack of curvature in ditches dug in his native Fens in England. This was enough to convince him the earth was flat and he expounded his theories to crowded halls of people who paid sixpence to listen to him.
His book Zetetic Astronomy: Earth Not a Globe was published in 1864 and championed by a Lady Elizabeth Blount who published a magazine the Earth Not a Globe Review. His theory had thousands of followers until the first world war when it fell out of favour. It was revived in 1956 as the Flat Earth Society.
After a fire in 1997 destroyed the society’s records and membership details, the society dwindled until it became an online group in 2009. The society split in 2013 with some members forming a new group.