#2.The Illuminati and/or Freemasons
Who Are They?
We've arrived at basically the master conspiracy theory that overrides them all. The Illuminati is an ill-defined group of, well, every single prominent person in the world, from Barack Obama to Tony Hawk.
What does this have to do with Freemasons? After all, isn't that just like a Rotary Club made up of old people who do charity stuff? Well, yes, but lots and lots of prominent people have been members, including most of the Founding Fathers. And, again, they meet in secret. So who knows what depravity goes on in their dark chambers?
These days the mythology behind both groups overlaps to the point that they are often referred to as being one and the same. That's why when conspiracy types talk about that one-eyed pyramid on the dollar bill, some will refer to it as a secret Freemason symbol and others as a secret Illuminati symbol, depending on which they think sounds more ominous.
Who Thinks They Control the World?
This is kind of the umbrella that all the above theories fell under. The CFR, Bildebergers, all are ultimately just tools of the Illuminati. Go to any sites spouting theories about the above and search for the word "Illuminati." You'll usually find it in there somewhere.
Why People Believe It:
The historical Illuminati (yes, there was an actual organization called that) was an 18th Century group of Bavarian humanists and free thinkers, basically the 18th Century's version of pothead college professors. In 1777, they were banned for totally being too real, man, after which nobody really knows what happened.
The modern-day fascination with the Illuminati is mainly due to a trilogy of books by pair of Playboy Editors called Illuminatus and then Mr. Dan "Da Vinci Code" Brown started casting them as the villains in his novels.
As for the Freemasons, well, 14 American presidents were said to have been Freemasons, and there are claims that signs of the Freemasons were "left" across Washington D.C.
Oh, God! Someone took a geometric urban street grid and managed to find 14 interconnecting lines! WHAT MORE DO YOU NEED?
Why It's Retarded:
First, all of those books we mentioned above, including Illuminatus, are fiction.
But more importantly, this seems to be the ultimate product of the paranoid mind, in that depending on who you talk to, the Illuminati includes everyone. Not just governments and corporations, but also Hollywood.
So every single ideological difference you think there is between political parties, competing companies and even the makers of your favorite TV shows, is fake. In reality, they all meet behind the scenes, with perfect secrecy, with perfect cooperation, to control everything. They're having round-table meetings in the penthouses of five-star hotels where they decide that America needs a terrorist attack this year while using their sinister connections to implant secret messages into Hannah Montana songs.
The interesting thing here is that cumulatively, they're talking about groups--politicians, bankers, big media--that do control the world. But they control it in the sense that a group of squirrels can "control" how that meatloaf they found the trash gets eaten. It'll get eaten, all right, but the organization is what's lacking.
And yet, this is still not the most retarded conspiracy theory out there...