History is full of crazy conspiracy theories, from Roswell to the Kennedy assassination. But hey, paranoid plots aren’t just a thing of the past. Thanks to the internet, modern-day conspiracy theories are popping up practically every minute, and 2017 has been one doozy of a year for people worried about the Illuminati, aliens, and the executive office. From body doubles to hurricanes, here are some of the conspiracy theories that blew minds in 2017.
The Melania Trump body double
In October 2017, internet conspiracy theorists began wondering if something weird was going on inside the White House. And no, we’re not talking about the obvious questions that have been swirling the entire time. We’re talking about the first lady using a lookalike to get out of her executive duties.
This bizarre theory got started when people like Andrea Wagner Barton (on Facebook) and Joe Vargas (on Twitter) shared a video featuring Donald and Melania Trump. In this clip, the president draws attention to his wife by saying, “My wife, Melania, who happens to be right here.” It was an odd line, one that made a lot of people suspicious, especially since Melania looked kind of unusual in the video. The color of her hair and lips were a bit off, and there was something a bit different about her nose.
So naturally, that meant Melania was using a body double — possibly a Secret Service agent who bears a striking resemblance to the first lady. But as Snopes points out, the weird-looking video is probably just somebody’s recording of a malfunctioning television, as you can find video clips of the same event online in which Melania looks perfectly normal. Plus, there are plenty of Getty and AP photos from the same event, and you can clearly see it’s the first lady. In other words, the evidence totally trumps the conspiracy theory.
Child trafficking on Mars
Alex Jones has never met a conspiracy theory he didn’t like. The guy behind the website Infowars, Jones believes that 9/11 was an inside job and Sandy Hook was a false flag operation. He was a big promoter of Pizzagate and has claimed that juice boxes can make kids gay. So it should come as no surprise that in June 2017, Jones interviewed Robert David Steele, a completely rational man who claimed Mars is home to a colony of child sex slaves.
See? Perfectly reasonable stuff.
According to Steele, these kids were sent to the red planet “on a 20-year ride,” and once they arrived, they would be sexually assaulted and forced into performing slave labor. But why send them into space? Well, as Steele put it, “Once they get to Mars, they have no alternative but to be slaves on the Mars colony.” Worse still, the shadowy figures running this sex ring allegedly murder the kids after “terrorizing them to adrenalize their blood.” The victims are then harvested for bone marrow and body parts which are then used for their “anti-aging” properties.
Of course, Jones was totally onboard with the idea, saying it makes sense because NASA routinely turns off their probes every time they fly over the red planet. You uh … shouldn’t need a lot of evidence to declare this theory bogus, but just to make sure everybody was on the same page, a NASA official told The Daily Beast there’s no need to worry. There are no slaves on Mars except the poor robot rovers we’ve stranded there to work until they die.
The hurricane conspiracy
North America had a pretty rough time in 2017, meteorologically speaking. Hurricane Harvey flooded the city of Houston, Hurricane Irma devastated Florida, and Hurricane Maria crippled Puerto Rico. Caribbean islands got slammed each time. The destruction left a lot of people angry, confused, and looking for answers, so naturally, they decided to blame the U.S. government. And according to one particular theory promoted by fake news site YourNewsWire, the feds are responsible for creating all these killer storms via a top-secret research base headquartered in Alaska.
The High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program site (better known as HAARP) has been the center of conspiracy theories ever since Nick Begich stirred things up with his 1995 book, Angels Don’t Play This Haarp. And honestly, HAARP is a pretty great target for people with paranoid minds. It was founded in 1993 by the U.S. Air Force (today, it belongs to the University of Alaska), and the site is covered in antennae that blast radio frequencies into the ionosphere. Spooky!
In reality, the scientists in charge of this program are interested in improving the field of communications technology, not making monster hurricanes. Plus, as pointed out by The Daily Beast, hurricanes don’t form in the ionosphere, so HAARP’s radio waves couldn’t possibly have any effect on these tropical systems. Still, despite the evidence, HAARP will continue to be the epicenter of countless conspiracy theories, but we’re pretty sure the research base will weather this storm.
Chipotle corporate sabotage
When it comes to restaurants, you won’t find a more unfortunate franchise than Chipotle. In 2015, the chain suffered outbreaks of E. coli and salmonella, not to mention a norovirus outbreak. And in July 2017, a Virginia location made headlines after that nasty norovirus returned and infected more than 100 customers, according to Business Insider. Needless to say, all this disease was bad news for business, and as a result, stocks started dropping and conspiracy theories started rising to the surface.
In July 2017, Aaron Allen of the consulting firm Aaron Allen & Associates shared some controversial opinions on LinkedIn. Allen claimed these virus outbreaks were totally intentional, saying someone infected the restaurants with various germs, hoping to close down multiple locations. In turn, this would cause stocks to plummet. And who was behind these alleged attacks? According to Allen, it was actually the work of Chipotle stockholders, hoping to short the stock in order to make some serious cash.
Of course, this was all just conjecture, and there’s no solid proof that anyone is trying to bring Chipotle down, except maybe a whole bunch of angry customers who are tired of getting sick every time they buy a burrito.
Hillary Clinton, Marilyn Monroe and extraterrestrials
Directed by Michael Mazzola and narrated by Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad), Unacknowledged was a documentary that had some very unusual ideas about UFOs. The film focuses on Dr. Steven Greer, an “alien expert” who founded The Disclosure Project, and throughout the doc, he explains how the government captured a living alien from Roswell and how ETs first showed up on Earth after noticing all our atomic bombs. On top of that, there are some pretty powerful people involved in the cover-up. As Greer put it, “There’s no question in my mind that Hillary’s aware of the issue.”
But the biggest bombshell came when Greer claimed that Marilyn Monroe was murdered as part of the conspiracy. As the good (?) doctor tells it, Monroe was having affairs with JFK and Bobby Kennedy, and when the brothers tried to push the actress away — hoping to avoid a scandal — she threatened to release some top secret stuff … like the existence of aliens. Evidently, she’d learned a thing or two from the president while entertaining him, and as Greer puts it, she was a major liability and had to go. To back up his claims, Greer cites actor Burl Ives, the guy who sang “Holly Jolly Christmas.” If you can’t believe Burl Ives, who can you trust?
The Chester Bennington-Chris Cornell-Pizzagate connection
The year 2017 was a particularly sad one for the music world. In May, Chris Cornell of Soundgarden committed suicide, and just a few months later, Chester Bennington of Linkin Park followed suit. Both ended their lives by hanging, leaving friends, family, and fans devastated. But some people couldn’t accept the simple suicide explanation, and instead, latched onto a truly offensive conspiracy theory involving pizza and pedophiles.
The theory seems to have started when The Detroit News interviewed blogger Randy Cody of “The Metal Den.” Cody claims he investigated Cornell’s death and said the rocker was actually murdered because he was about to blow the lid wide open on the (totally fake) pedophile ring operating out of Comet Ping Pong in Washington, D.C. Yeah, it’s all about Pizzagate, and according to Cody, the powers that be killed Cornell and then strung him up to fake a suicide.
Next, the fake news site YourNewsWire took Cody’s interview and threw Chester Bennington into the mix. After the Linkin Park singer committed suicide, the site claimed both Cornell and Bennington were killed because they were about to expose a massive pedophile ring in the music industry. Obviously, the idea of a beloved star being murdered is easier to accept than suicide. That way, there’s a bad guy to blame. But despite the conspiracy theories, the truth is a lot simpler and far more heartbreaking.
Julian Assange and the eclipse
Julian Assange is certainly no stranger to controversy. However, when Assange finds himself in hot water, it’s usually because he’s leaking emails or top-secret documents. But in August 2017, Assange found himself involved in a new conspiracy, one involving the total eclipse of the Sun.
On Twitter, the Wikileaks founder claimed that looking straight at the 2017 eclipse was perfectly fine. “There’s no danger staring directly at the moon during a total eclipse,” he wrote. He then went on to say that once the Sun starts coming out from behind the Moon, “You look away when you see it ending. Eyes also move to protect themselves. The hysteria seems to be sustained by glasses company profits.”
In other words, Assange is saying that staring at the eclipse is perfectly fine, and the greedy corporations that want you to buy cardboard glasses are involved in a massive marketing lie. In fairness to Assange, there is an extremely brief period of time where the Sun is covered completely by the Moon, and it won’t hurt you to look then. But that kind of total eclipse only appears to a brief fraction of the people watching in exactly the right spot. Everyone else will need glasses to keep their eyes from turning into fried eggs.
The juiced baseballs
In 2017, the Houston Astros made sports history when they beat the LA Dodgers and won the World Series for the first time ever. The two teams also set a record by hitting a ton of home runs: there were more homers during the 2017 World Series than any other Fall Classic. And that made quite a few people suspicious, including players and coaches on both teams. Pitchers reported that the balls felt extra slick, thus affecting their throwing abilities, and sluggers on both teams were knocking pitches out of the park at an astronomical rate.
These incredible feats of athleticism have led some to suspect that players might be juicing themselves or perhaps temperature changes are having some sort of impact on the baseballs. However, most conspiracy theorists suspect the MLB of using juiced balls. As Ben Lindbergh of The Ringer explains, if a ball has been juiced, that means its coefficient of restitution (COR) has been altered. In layman’s terms, it’s a lot bouncier. As Lindbergh writes, “The higher the COR, the faster and farther the ball travels after it’s hit by a bat.” He also writes the size and seams on the ball can make a big difference too, so maybe somebody has been doing a bit of redesigning on the down-low.
In fact, according to Lindbergh, some tests have shown the makeup of the balls started to change around 2015, lending some credence to the whole juicing angle. On the flip side, the MLB has done its own tests, showing there’s nothing weird about their baseballs. And while some have suspected that perhaps the mud — the substance rubbed on each ball to help pitchers get a better grip — might’ve been altered, the company behind the traditional treatment categorically denies the accusation. In other words, while juiced balls could be possible, there’s no definitive proof one way or another, and that’s probably just fine with the Astros.
The civil war that didn't happen
For members of the alt-right, November 4, 2017, was an incredibly scary date. Months before that Saturday rolled around, there were rumors online that something was going to happen — something bad, something bloody. YouTube videos, talk shows, and forums were filled with dire warnings that on the 4th, left-wing Antifa was going to kick-start a civil war.
The rumors started when a leftist group called Refuse Fascism staged a protest in September, shutting down an L.A. highway while holding signs that read, “NOV 4 IT BEGINS.” Granted, that sounds a tad ominous, and it didn’t help that Refuse Fascism was associated with an organization called the Revolutionary Communist Party. Of course, Refuse Fascism said it was just going to stage peaceful protests across the country in hopes of getting Donald Trump impeached. But certain conservative groups thought something more violent was underway.
In fact, the internet was buzzing with rumors that this was actually an Antifa revolution. Conspiracy theorists were positive that leftists were going to arm themselves, kill some cops, and execute a bunch of white people. Some even believed Antifa was going to use super soldiers bred specifically for this occasion. Infowars (which has never met a conspiracy theory it didn’t like) claimed liberals planned to “overthrow the government,” and the John Birch Society cautioned people to keep their kids at home. One fake news site even said the Antifa rebels wanted to “kill every single Trump voter, Conservative and gun owner.”
But November 4 came and went, and while there were a few protests and counter-protests here and there, the revolution wasn’t televised because it never happened.
The Las Vegas shooting conspiracies
On October 1, 2017, Stephen Paddock opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest music festival from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas. By the time Paddock finally killed himself, he’d murdered 58 people and wounded over 500. It was the deadliest shooting in U.S. history, and similar to Sandy Hook, it generated some pretty insane conspiracy theories involving everything from ISIS to the Illuminati.
That’s right — finally, the Illuminati. There are people out there who genuinely think Paddock was working for that dreaded secret society. One conspiracy theorist said the shooting was all part of an Illuminati “blood sacrifice,” pointing out the massacre took place “in front of this sphinx, this pyramid, this obelisk,” saying the proximity of these occult objects was “no coincidence.”
Of course, not everyone is onboard with the Illuminati idea. Others think the shooting was actually perpetrated by radical Islamic terrorists, and that the government is trying to keep that connection quiet. Some also blame Antifa for the killings, while other say it was a government operation to inspire new gun control laws. But seeing how the Second Amendment is still intact, it looks like the conspirators failed when it came to taking our guns.
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