The Mammoth Book of Conspiracies


Edited by Jon E. Lewis

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The Mammoth Book of Conspiracies uncovers 100 cover-ups “they” really don’t want you to know about. This collection delves into some of the biggest lies in history.



Ever wonder how two tech geeks like Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak made their billions?

Conspiracists know the answer. Jobs and Wozniak built the first Macintosh computer in a California garage and when it failed to raise interest they did a deal with the devil, selling their souls in exchange for success on earth. The proof was on the price tag of the first Mac: $666.66. The mark of the Beast. Rounding off the evidence is the Apple logo. There’s a bite taken out of the apple, the forbidden fruit.

Alternatively, Apple did a deal with Big Brother. Take a look at an iPhone. It plays, unknown to its owner, iSpy on you. A secret file stores latitude and longitude, complete with a dater. The file is unencrypted and is transferred to any device the iPhone syncs with. Thus anyone with access to the owner’s computer can track his or her movements. Invasion of privacy anyone? Apple’s snooping habit doesn’t end with the locator file. The “Hackintosh hacker” alleged that Apple has stuck a code into the iPhone that tracks keyboard use, so every time the user taps in information this is relayed to Apple HQ. The claim has never been verified but Apple’s appetite for gathering personal information is infamous; in 2010 the company applied for a patent (“Systems and Methods for Identifying Unauthorized Users of an Electronic Device”) that could record the heartbeat of iPhone users, as well as covertly photograph them and their surroundings. If Apple collects information, as sure as God made little green apples, law enforcement agencies will one day come calling to use it. All of which has made dark rooms full of pale conspiracy theorists wonder if Apple is not doing the CIA/FBI’s job for them.

Apple justified the patent application as a security measure to prevent thieves using stolen phones, but as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EEF) watchdog pointed out the technology also enabled Apple to cut off customers who pimped (quite lawfully) their devices. Improper use would also be reported to the Orwellian sounding “proper authorities”. The EEF christened the patent “traitorware”. Apple’s inclination to control is almost as great as its inclination to spy. On prudishly deciding that cartoonist Mark Fiore’s NewsToons app was too satirical for its taste Apple rejected it. When Fiore won a Pulitzer though they installed the app. Never one to miss a commercial opportunity, Apple.

Of course, Apple likes to keep its own secrets very close to its chips: the company is heavily controlling of image and market share. When Consumer Reports had the brazen gall to say it couldn’t recommend the iPhone 4 until the antenna was improved, threads discussing the issue on forums mysteriously disappeared overnight. And only an absolute cynic would claim that Apple’s 2010 litigious spat with internet mag Gizmodo about its review of an iPhone 4 prototype left in a bar and passed on to the website was a staged publicity stunt, what with the new phone getting oodles of free publicity, and security at Apple HQ being Fort Knox tight.

Byte into an Apple. Indeed.

Further Reading


“Warning. Restricted Area. Photography of This Area is Prohibited”.

So read the signs staked around Area 51, a high-security military base in the Nevada desert, 90 miles (145 km) north of Las Vegas. Also known as Groom Lake, the facility, which comprises thousands of acres, is surrounded by security fencing and intruder detection systems, and is regularly patrolled. A no-fly zone operates above it. The US Government, you get the feeling, wants to keep peeping eyes away from what happens in Area 51.

Why? There is a long-standing belief by conspiracists that Area 51 houses the UFO disc found at Roswell, as well as other crashed alien spaceships. At Area 51, the theory goes, the recovered UFOs are back-engineered so that their technology can be utilized by the US military. The latter are helped – either willingly or unwillingly – by captured alien pilots.

Few of the human government employees who work at Groom have ever talked about their work, but two who did were Leo Williams and Bob Lazar. Williams claimed to have worked in alien technology evaluation, the results of which informed the design of the B-2 stealth bomber. In 1989 Lazar announced on local TV that he too had been involved in “back-engineering” at Groom’s S-4 hangars complex, including assessment of the Roswell craft’s propulsion system. He had even uncovered “Gravity B”, a force arising from the manipulation of a new nuclear element, “ununpentium”.

Neither Williams nor Lazar proved very convincing witnesses. Lazar had invented his purported MIT physics qualification and before working in back-engineering had been engaged in the rather less than cutting edge employment of managing a photo shop. A steady stream of sightings of strange lights and craft at Groom, however, kept alive the notion of Area 51 as a top-secret UFO lab, perhaps the manufacturing plant of Black Helicopters.

Certainly, Area 51 has been the testing ground for weird and wonderful aircraft. The U-2 spy plane was flown there; so was the SR-71 Blackbird, the B-2 stealth bomber, the F-117 stealth fighter, and the unmanned aerial vehicle known as the “Beast of Kandahar” (and officially as RQ-170 Sentinel) that spied on the Abbottabad compound of Osama bin Laden. And these are only the craft the public has been informed about. It’s reasonable to suppose that other prototype and avant-garde aircraft have taken to the air at Groom, less reasonable to suppose that they have been developed from alien technology.

There was, though, one conspiracy taking place at Area 51. Bill Sweetman, editor-in-chief of defence technology for Aviation Week, maintains that the government absolutely encouraged “deliberate disinformation campaigns to generate a lot of noise about UFOs back in the 1950s and 1960s to cover secret flights of planes like the U-2, and then again in the late 1970s and early 1980s to link area 51 to UFOs through ‘fake’ documents and eye-witness accounts of alien technology and even alien bodies”.

The object of the disinformation was to mask the real reasons for the building of the base, namely the R&D of air-machines to best the Ruskies.

The Government, in other words, conspired to create a conspiracy theory.

Further Reading

David Darlington, Area 51: The Dreamland Chronicles, 1998

Eric Elfman, Almanac of Alien Encounters, 2001

Annie Jacobsen, Area 51: An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base, 2011

Phil Patton, Dreamland: Travels Inside the Secret World of Roswell and Area 51, 1998


During 2010, the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks released troves of classified US cables. They made fascinating reading, and Joe and Josephine Public learned a thing or a hundred it never knew its government and allies were up to, from the US CIA’s 3,000-strong secret army in Afghanistan to Saudi Arabia’s plea for a missile strike on Iran. WikiLeaks justified the release of the information as being in the “public interest”, while embarrassed establishments in the West complained about the endangering of national security. Julian Assange, the Australian founder of WikiLeaks, became, depending on your point of view, a hero or an Osama bin-Laden-style bogeyman. In the latter camp, Sarah Palin called for the “anti-American” Assange to be pursued “with the same urgency we pursue al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders”. But Palin had a particular hard spot for WikiLeaks; the site had published her emails from her unsuccessful run for VeePee of the USA, one of its highest profile coups since its foundation in 2007.

Not long after Palin blew her hunting horn, the US Government announced its intention to try Assange under the Espionage Act of 1917. Then there were cyberspace sabotage attacks on WikiLeaks, the US Air Force started blocked access on its computers to any website which posted the cables (including the New York Times), and PayPal, Mastercard, Visa, Amazon and Bank of America all refused to handle donations to WikiLeaks.

To put the cherry on the conspiracy cake, Julian Assange was then arrested in Britain, at the request of Swedish prosecutors, on a completely unrelated matter. The Swedes maintained that Assange was guilty of rape, unlawful coercion and molestation in their bailiwick. Assange directly accused the US of smearing him on trumped-up charges; meanwhile, the two Stockholm women allegedly assaulted by Assange – who were left-wing fans of his – explicitly denied being “set up by the Pentagon or anyone else”. In a prime case of wheels within wheels, WikiLeaks staff apparently blocked Assange from using the site to claim he was a victim of a conspiracy in the Swedish case. Citing Assange’s autocratic style and courting of publicity, other staff left, others called for his replacement. Some defectors allied with a new site that published leaks about – WikiLeaks.

All, clearly, was not well down in WikiWorld. As WikiObservers sagely noted, the US might not need to conspire to destroy Assange and his operation. He might do that himself.

For his part Assange uploaded an “Insurance File” onto the internet, which is reputed to be bursting with more top secret government information. Only Assange knows the password, and this is to be released posthumously – should he suffer an “accident”.

Further Reading

Daniel Domscheit-Berg, Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World’s Most Dangerous Website, 2011

David Leigh and Luke Harding, WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy, 2011


Nipponese yoga teacher Shoko Asahara founded the Aum Shinrikyo (“Supreme Truth”) sect in 1984 on a religious programme that combined Buddhism with Nostradamus and End-is-Nigh Christianity. A standard issue cult leader, Asahara boasted a beard, plus messianic powers (the ability to make the sick rise from their beds) and supernatural abilities. He couldn’t quite walk on water, but he could walk through walls, a feat made difficult for his followers because he made them scald their feet. Despite – or maybe because of – Asahara’s certifiable lunacy, Aum Shinrikyo attracted over 50,000 members. In the material world of Japan, it did at least offer something more than the pursuit of the yen. That said, like many a cult leader, Asahara was an accomplished businessman, raising sect funds through software enterprises and outright extortion at gunpoint.

Asahara promised the faithful that one day Aum Shinrikyo would rule Japan. When an electoral bid for power failed miserably in 1989, Asahara determined on a terrorist takeover instead. Representatives of Aum travelled to the HQ of the International Tesla Society in New York looking for documents detailing Tesla’s weapons of doom (see Free Electricity and HAARP) but the FBI had long before seized the brainbox’s research notes. Frustrated in their search for advanced sci-fi weaponry, Aum settled on buying arms from Russia (including a military helicopter), making an Ebola bomb and the building of chemical weapons. After murdering and assassinating individuals not to its taste, in 1994 Aum launched a mass sarin gas attack in the city of Matsumoto. Eight died. On 20 March 1995, Aum committed the deed by which it became internationally infamous: the attack on Tokyo Subway System with sarin nerve gas in which twelve people died and thousands were injured. Asahara was apprehended by the Japanese police and, after a lengthy trial, was sentenced to death. To date the sentence has not been carried out.

To no great surprise, the reviled Aum rebranded itself in 2000, becoming “Aleph”.

Further Reading

D. W. Bracket, Holy Terror: Armageddon in Tokyo, 1996


It is the conspiracy whose name hardly dare be spoken. Through front organizations such as the Freemasons and the Bilderberg Group, the Bavarian Illuminati are poised to usher in the New World Order.

Such is the fear of serried ranks of conspiracy theorists. The Illuminati, then, have come a long way since their foundation in the smallsville Bavarian town of Ingolstadt on 1 May 1776 by Professor Adam Weishaupt, a lecturer at the local university. Like other intellectual groups which flourished in the Enlightenment, the Ancient Illuminated Seers of Bavaria (a.k.a. the Illuminati, a.k.a. the Order of Perfectabilists) flirted with progressive and subversive ideas, not least atheism and republicanism. Initiates were required to undergo a rigorous study of philosophy, beginning with the Ancient Greeks and ending with contemporaries such as Helvetius; graduates, enlightened and eager, would then – went Weishaupt’s plan – enter leading positions in Bavarian government and society, and so transform Catholic Bavaria into a utopia of liberalism and rationality. Like other such groups, the Illuminati adopted esoteric rituals and signs, partly for reasons of security, partly for the excitement of clubability. Each member had a code name: Weishaupt was Spartacus, and his right-hand man Zwack was Cato.

The Illuminati soon attracted the unwelcome attention of the state’s autocratic ruler, the Elector Prince Karl-Theodor, who in 1784 banned all secret societies in an attempt to halt the tide of Jacobinism (republicanism). In the following year the 650-strong Illuminati were proscribed by name and Weishaupt quit Bavaria in a hurry. His hopes of rebuilding the Illuminati were dashed when a police raid on Zwack’s house seized hundreds of Illuminati documents and membership lists. Besides, the Illuminati’s main recruiting ground, the Freemasons, had wised up to Illuminati methods and had begun blocking infiltration. Weishaupt himself settled down to a quiet life as a university lecturer in Saxony.

Ironically, just at the moment the Illuminati project failed, the paranoid myth that it was an omniscient, omnipotent secret society was born. In 1797, Augustin de Barruel published the first of his two volume Memoires pour server a l’histoire de Jacobinisme (“Memoirs serving as a history of Jacobinism”). An ex-Jesuit, de Barruel blamed the recent French Revolution on an inner sanctum of Masons – the Illuminati. A year later, Professor John Robison fingered the Illuminati in his Proofs of a Conspiracy Against All the Religions and Governments of Europe, Carried on in the Secret Meetings of Free-Masons, Illuminati and Reading Societies. In the febrile atmosphere of late eighteenth-century Europe, de Barruel and Robison’s claims caused a furore, and the Illuminati became the favourite bogeymen of conservatives on the continent.

That there was no hard evidence for the continued existence of the Illuminati troubled not one of these writers, just as it failed to trouble the British author Nesta Webster a century later. Webster’s colourful Secret Societies and Subversive Movements, published in 1924, detected the fingers of the Illuminati in the French Revolution (see Document, p.12) and the Russian Revolution just gone by. Webster’s book enjoyed only modest influence in her home country, but in America it became the conspiracy gospel of the Far Right. Today, the Illuminati are Public Enemy Number One for the John Birch Society, survivalists, the patriotic militias and Christian fundamentalists, who all claim to have detected the Illuminati’s real goal: a single, authoritarian, satanic global government – a New World Order. As an alert on the Christian Science University website in 2000 had it: “A diabolical and Satanic … scheme has been designed and is being prepared for global implementation by anti-Christ agents of an organization called ‘The Illuminati’.”

There is a secret sign of America’s special role in the Illuminati’s plans: the Latin motto Novus Ordo Seclorum (translated as “New World Order”) on the US dollar bill. Unfortunately for conspiracists, the actual translation of the Latin tag is “New Order of the Ages”, or, colloquially, “a fresh start”. The desperate mistranslation of Novus Ordo Seclorum is typical of the “evidence” Illuminati-watchers hold up as evidence of conspiracy. Free of the constraints of actual evidence, contemporary conspiracists speculate wildly. David Icke considers the Illuminati to be a front for shape-shifting Reptilian Humanoids from planet Draco, while one major Illuminati conspiracy theory claims that the order was founded in Mesopotamia around 300,000 BC. That is, before the Neanderthals staggered around the Earth, dragging their knuckles on the ground. In the archetypal Illuminati conspiracy theory, however, the pyramid of power is, from the top down: Lucifer, or the All-Seeing Eye; the Rothschild Tribunal, being the inner circle of the Rothschild banking family; the Great Druid Council; below them, the Council of Thirty-Five, consisting of leading Freemasons; the Committee of 300, which is led by the black nobility, notably the British Royal Family.

That whirring sound you can hear? That is Adam Weishaupt, who believed that Illumination was about moral and intellectual perfection, spinning in his grave.

Further Reading

William Cooper, Behold a Pale Horse, 1991

John Robison, Proofs of a Conspiracy Against All the Religions and Governments of Europe, 1798


Illuminism in reality is less an Order than a principle, and a principle which can work better under cover of something else. Weishaupt himself had laid down the precept that the work of Illuminism could best be conducted “under other names and other occupations”, and henceforth we shall always find it carried on by this skilful system of camouflage.

The first cover adopted was the lodge of the “Amis Réunis” in Paris, with which, as we have already seen, the Illuminati had established relations. But now in 1787 a definite alliance was effected by the aforementioned Illuminati, Bode and Busche, who in response to an invitation from the secret committee of the lodge arrived in Paris in February of this year. Here they found the old Illuminatus Mirabeau – who with Talleyrand had been largely instrumental in summoning these German Brothers – and, according to Gustave Bord, two important members of the Stricte Observance, the Marquis de Chefdebien d’Armisson (“Eques a Capite Galeato”) and an Austrian, the Comte Leopold de Kollowrath-Krakowski (“Eques ab Aquila Fulgente”) who also belonged to Weishaupt’s Order of Illuminati in which he bore the pseudonym of Numenius.

It is important here to recognize the peculiar part played by the Lodge of the “Amis Réunis”. Whilst the “Loge des Neuf Soeurs” was largely composed of middle-class revolutionaries such as Brissot, Danton, Camille Desmoulins, and Champfort, and the “Loge de la Candeur” of aristocratic revolutionaries – Lafayette as well as the Orléanistes, the Marquis de Sillery, the Duc d’Aiguillon, the Marquis de Custine, and the Lameths – “the Loge du Contrat Social” was mainly composed of honest visionaries who entertained no revolutionary projects but, according to Barruel, were strongly Royalist. The rôle of the “Amis Réunis” was to collect together the subversives from all other lodges – Philalèthes, Rose-Croix, members of the “Loge des Neuf Soeurs” and of the “Loge de la Candeur” and of the most secret committees of the Grand Orient, as well as deputies from the “Illuminés” in the provinces. Here, then, at the lodge in the Rue de la Sordière, under the direction of Savalette de Langes, were to be found the disciples of Weishaupt, of Swedenborg, and of Saint-Martin, as well as the practical makers of revolution – the agitators and demagogues of 1789.

The influence of German Illuminism on all these heterogeneous elements was enormous. From this moment, says a further Bavarian report of the matter, a complete change took place in the Order of the “Amis Réunis”. Hitherto only vaguely subversive, the Chevaliers Bienfaisants became the Chevaliers Malfaisants, the Amis Réunis became the Ennemis Réunis. The arrival of the two Germans, Bode and Busche, gave the finishing touch to the conspiracy. “The avowed object of their journey was to obtain information about magnetism, which was just then making a great stir”, but in reality, “taken up with the gigantic plan of their Order”, their real aim was to make proselytes. It will be seen that the following passage exactly confirms the account given by Barruel:

As the Lodge of the “Amis Réunis” collected together everything that could be found out from all other masonic systems in the world, so the way was soon paved there for Illuminism. It was also not long before this lodge together with all those that depended on it was impregnated with Illuminism. The former system of all these was as if wiped out, so that from this time onwards the framework of the Philalèthes quite disappeared and in the place of the former Cabalistic-magical extravagance [‘Schwärmerei’] came in the philosophical-political.

It was therefore not Martinism, Cabalism, or Freemasonry that in themselves provided the real revolutionary force. Many non-illuminized Freemasons, as Barruel himself declares, remained loyal to the throne and altar, and as soon as the monarchy was seen to be in danger the Royalist Brothers of the “Contrat Social” boldly summoned the lodges to coalesce in defence of King and Constitution; even some of the upper Masons, who in the degree of Knight Kadosch had sworn hatred to the Pope and Bourbon monarchy, rallied likewise to the royal cause. “The French spirit triumphed over the masonic spirit in the greater number of the Brothers. Opinions as well as hearts were still for the King.” It needed the devastating doctrines of Weishaupt to undermine this spirit and to turn the “degrees of vengeance” from vain ceremonial into terrible fact.

If, then, it is said that the Revolution was prepared in the lodges of Freemasons – and many French Masons have boasted of the fact – let it always be added that it was “Illuminized Freemasonry” that made the Revolution, and that the Masons who acclaim it are illuminized Masons, inheritors of the same tradition introduced into the lodges of France in 1787 by the disciples of Weishaupt, “patriarch of the Jacobins”.

Many of the Freemasons of France in 1787 were thus not conscious allies of the Illuminati. According to Cadet de Gassicourt, there were in all the lodges only twenty-seven real initiates; the rest were largely dupes who knew little or nothing of the source whence the fresh influence among them derived. The amazing feature of the whole situation is that the most enthusiastic supporters of the movement were men belonging to the upper classes and even to the royal families of Europe. A contemporary relates that no less than thirty princes -reigning and non-reigning – had taken under their protection a confederation from which they stood to lose everything and had become so imbued by its principles that they were inaccessible to reason. Intoxicated by the flattery lavished on them by the priests of Illuminism, they adopted a religion of which they understood nothing. Weishaupt, of course, had taken care that none of these royal dupes should be initiated into the real aims of the Order, and at first adhered to the original plan of excluding them altogether; but the value of their cooperation soon became apparent and by a supreme irony it was with a Grand Duke that he himself took refuge.

But if the great majority of princes and nobles were stricken with blindness at this crisis, a few far-seeing spirits recognized the danger and warned the world of the impending disaster. In 1787 Cardinal Caprara, Apostolic Nuncio at Vienna, addressed a confidential memoir to the Pope, in which he pointed out that the activities carried on in Germany by the different sects of Illuminés, of Perfectibilists, of Freemasons, etc., were increasing:

The danger is approaching, for from all these senseless dreams of Illuminism, of Swedenborgianism, or of Freemasonry a frightful reality will emerge. Visionaries have their time; the revolution they forebode will have its time also.

A more amazing prophecy, however, was the “Essai sur la Secte des Illuminés”, by the Marquis de Luchet, a Liberal noble who played some part in the revolutionary movement, yet who nevertheless realized the dangers of Illuminism. Thus, as early as 1789, before the Revolution had really developed, de Luchet uttered these words of warning:

Deluded people … learn that there exists a conspiracy in favour of despotism against liberty, of incapacity against talent, of vice against virtue, of ignorance against enlightenment … This society aims at governing the world … Its object is universal domination. This plan may seem extraordinary, incredible – yes, but not chimerical … no such calamity has ever yet afflicted the world.

De Luchet then goes on to foretell precisely the events that were to take place three and four years later; he describes the position of a king who has to recognize masters above himself and to authorize their “abominable régime”, to become the plaything of an ambitious and fanatical horde which has taken possession of his will.


On Sale
Mar 6, 2012
Page Count
512 pages
Running Press