Conspiracy Theories in History

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, a conspiracy theory is “an attempt to explain harmful or tragic events as the result of the actions of a small, powerful group. Such explanations reject the accepted narrative surrounding those events; indeed, the official version may be seen as further proof of the conspiracy.” Read more: what is a conspiracy theory?

Today, you will examine multiple events from our unit on Living With Great Turmoil that have been subject of controversial discussion for many years: is the declared version of the truth rooted in reality, or secret conspiracy? Be prepared to discuss these theories in class.


President John F. Kennedy’s Assassination

Click here to read the Encyclopedia Britannica’s description of the Warren Commission. Scroll down to the section on Conspiracy Theories related to JFK’s assassination.

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4 minute video: National Geographic shows the day of JFK’s assassination

2 minute video: The famous “Zapruder Film,” a color video shot by a home video camera by a bystander who captured the assassination as it happened (CAUTION- GRAPHIC IMAGES)

3 minute video: “The Magic Bullet”: Jesse Ventura tries to duplicate Oswald’s shooting sequence

Click here to read an article from History.com published this November, detailing the Trump Administration’s decision to continue withholding some information from the assassination if John F. Kennedy from the public, despite promises made to release certain materials.


The Moon Landing

The Moon has its share of conspiracy, including people who think NASA faked the Apollo Moon missions in the 1960s and ’70s. Click here to read more about the supposed “Great Moon Hoax” on NASA’s website.

2 minute video: Footage of the moon landing on July 20, 1969

4 minute video: Mythbusters test the moon landing hoax

3 minute video: Mythbusters test the flag waving hoax


More to explore:

Image result for john f kennedy and abraham lincoln

This is a famous comparison often made between Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy. While much of this comparison is rooted in fact, Snopes.com dives deeper into the comparison here.

Other Conspiracy Theories of the ’60s and ’70s

Click here to read descriptions of a few more conspiracies from this time period regarding Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, and Counterculture/Hippie culture

5 Compelling 9/11 Conspiracy Theories

Click here to read History.com’s collection of theories that it finds “compelling,” or somewhat plausible.

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Conspiracy Theories Abounded in 19th-Century American Politics

Rumors of secret alliances, bank deals, and double-crossings were rampant in early American elections.