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Conspiracy theories are either unnecessarily convoluted explanations for perfectly normal phenomena or (if you're fun*) the secret to understanding the true meaning of the universe.

Was the moon landing faked? Was Lee Harvey Oswald a lone shooter? In this highly suspicious episode of The List Show, we break down (and debunk) 22 bizarre conspiracy theories.

A weekly show where knowledge junkies get their fix of trivia-tastic information. This week, John looks at some bizarre conspiracy theories that people actually believe!

*Generally misinformed.
Read about conspiracy theories that turned out to be true:

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John: Hi, I'm John Green, welcome to my salon.  This is mental_floss on YouTube.  Did you know that around 6% of Americans believe the moon landings were faked?  There are a lot of conspiracy theories about how the US government faked them in order to win the space race against the Soviet Union.  Some believe that Hollywood helped the government with this, in fact, Stanley Kubrick is often cited as the director of the moon landing, since he had finished 2001: A Space Odyssey in the 60s.  He was clearly capable of the special effects.  Anyway, that's the first of many bizarre conspiracy theories I'm going to share with you today, well, Meredith calls them conspiracy theories, I like to think of them as 'established facts'.

(mental_floss intro)

Some of the most common conspiracy theories are about John F. Kennedy's assassination because so many people are suspicious about the circumstances of it, like, some polls have found that around 68% of people don't believe that Lee Harvey Oswald was the only person who committed the crime.  People in groups most commonly blamed include the CIA, the Soviets, the Mafia, Lyndon Johnson, and of course, large shape-shifting reptiles, but more on them in a minute.  

There's also a theory, of course, that Shakespeare didn't write the plays attributed to him.  Many people are referred to as the "real Shakespeare", including playwright Christopher Marlowe.  The Marlovian theory claims that Marlowe's stabbing death was faked in 1593 and then he went on to write many of the most famous plays and poems attributed to Shakespeare.  People point out similarities between their works and that the sonnets are a better reflection of Marlowe's life than of Shakespeare's.

The term 'Illuminati' actually refers to several groups but the modern conspiracy theory is that an 18th century group known as the Bavarian Illuminati survived and now controls the planet by causing historical events.  They've been blamed for most of the things on this list, in addition to the London Bombings, trapped miners in Chile, LeBron James joining the Miami Heat (no, that's not a joke), and people accused of being members include LeBron James, Barack Obama, Beyonce, Britney Spears, and the cast of Boy Meets World.  

People have similar theories about the Skull and Bones secret society at Yale.  Confirmed past members include former presidents William Howard Taft, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush.  Some believe that Skull and Bones leads the CIA, others think that it's a side group within the Illuminati.  

Subliminal advertising is an interesting conspiracy theory, because companies actually have used it.  Companies like Coca-Cola, KFC, and McDonald's have used sexual or money-related images in their advertising.  Studies have shown that subliminal advertising isn't actually effective, but, I mean, is any advertising effective really?  I'm just kidding, advertisers, we love you and you're very relevant.  By the way, thanks for watching the pre-roll before this video, everybody.

There's a theory that Paul McCartney has been dead since 1966 and that the Beatles replaced him with a look-alike.  Evidence: He's pictured without his shoes on the cover of Abbey Road, there's a bass guitar and yellow roses on the cover of Sergeant Papper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and you can hear John Lennon say, "I buried Paul" in Strawberry Fields Forever.  By the way, the Beatles say that John isn't saying "I buried Paul", he's saying "Cranberry Sauce", or maybe he was saying "mental_floss".  

On the other hand, many people believe that Elvis is still alive.  He's been sighted post-death in many places including Michigan, Canada, and Graceland, plus his grave reads, "Elvis Aaron Presley", two A's in Aaron and he often spelled his middle name with only one A, so some theorists believe that this was a purposeful misspelling because he was clearly still alive.  

And speaking of people who are also allegedly still alive, let's talk about Tupac, whose name also got misspelled on his gravestone, at least according to the conspiracy theorists.  They claim that he went to Cuba to spend time with his godmother, and their evidence is that his godmother was on the FBI's most wanted list.  
And then there's the theory that Princess Diana's death wasn't an accident, it was a plot by the British military.  Her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, also died in the car accident, and his father maintains that they were killed to prevent their marriage, possibly because Dodi was a Muslim.  He has even alleged that Diana was pregnant at the time, although there's no evidence of that.  

There are many conspiracy theories about Kurt Cobain's death, including that he's still alive and, in fact, playing with the band Weezer.  The main evidence?  Weezer's breakthrough Blue album was released very soon after Cobain's death.  Counterpoint, I'm not sure that Kurt Cobain would have participated in the creation of the Blue album.

People have been suspicious of the Denver International Airport for a long time, and it doesn't help that from a bird's eye view, the runways look like a swastika.  Some believe that the markings on the floor, which are actually Navajo words, contain Satanic messages.

Now let's get back to those reptiles.  According to public policy polling, 12 million Americans believe that lizard people run our politics.  Basically, this group of theorists believe that reptilian aliens came to Earth thousands of years ago and started breeding with people, and now these reptilians control Earth.  

Among the more destructive conspiracy theories out there is the claim that AIDS is a bioweapon designed by the government that's distributed to humans under the guise of things like vaccinations and doctor's appointments.  

A more plausible conspiracy theory is that electric cars were intentionally kept from the public by car companies for a long time.  There's actually a 2006 documentary about this called, "Who Killed the Electric Car?"  It claims that many groups worked together to prevent the commercialization of the electric car, including the oil industry, the US government, and car companies.

According to public policy polling, about 21% of Americans believe that a UFO crashed at Roswell, New Mexico in 1947.  Many think this UFO, in addition to others, is currently being stored at Area 51 near Las Vegas, and the US government doesn't help things by just saying that everything about Area 51 must remain confidential for reasons of national security.  

Some say the government puts fluoride in our drinking water because it contains mind altering chemicals that make us a more obedient population.  Plus our teeth don't fall out anymore as they naturally should.  

There's also a theory that Bill Clinton can be connected to the deaths of about 50 of his colleagues, and it's true that a handful of people who were connected to Bill Clinton died under bizarre circumstances, but experts claim that you could pretty much write a body count list for any prominent figure who interacts with a lot of people on a regular basis.

Unsurprisingly, there are many conspiracy theories about the events of 9/11.  These include that it was connected to inside trading of airline stocks, that the government knew it was going to happen, and that it was predicted on the $20 bill.  

One theory that's fun to debate because it's impossible to disprove is that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene.  Many lost gospels have been found and translated over the years, but scholars continue to debate which ones actually belong in the Bible, and some gospels tell of Jesus being married and possibly even having kids, meaning that his bloodline might have continued.  

There's also a conspiracy theory that all professional sports are fixed, and it doesn't help that some players have said this, too, like Colts player Bubba Smith about losing Superbowl III.  People also accuse the NBA draft of being fixed, especially since sports experts don't seem to have much trouble predicting who will win the draft lottery.

And finally, I return to my salon to tell you about the grand unified conspiracy theory, which claims that every conspiracy theory is connected.  Usually, the explanation is that there is one evil being who is controlling all of the things I have mentioned in this episode, whether that's Satan or the Illuminati is up to you to decide.  This is also known as the "Super-conspiracy".  

Thanks for watching mental_floss here on YouTube, which is made with the help of all of these nice people.  I just cannot wait to read your comments on this video.  Mark, please get me some popcorn.  As we say in my hometown, don't forget to be awesome.