Throughout history, explanations of shocking events have left people unsatisfied. Craving deeper sensibility and ‘logic,’ many take it upon themselves to create their own so-called truth. Some theories are as famous as the events themselves; whether you believe, or you just like a good story, conspiracies can indeed fascinate, more so when they (seem to) make sense out of randomness. Here are three down-to-earth — well, by comparison — conspiracy theories more difficult to dismiss than most. And here are three true conspiracies:
The 1919 Chicago Black Sox
Sitting through nine longs innings at the ballpark can be a somewhat torturous task, and gambling is a known aid. Cue the 1919 World Series between the Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago White Sox. Although many people are involved in this story, two gamblers stand out: William Thomas “Sleepy Bill” Burns (an ex-major league pitcher) and Billy Maharg. With money on their minds, they approached two White Sox players, Ed Cicotte and Arnold “Chick” Gandil, about fixing the Series. The two players were intrigued, but knew they couldn’t do it alone. After canvassing their dressing room, they had recruited at least six more known players: Lefty Williams, Happy Felsch, Swede Risberg, Buck Weaver, Fred McMullin, and one of the best and most popular stars ever, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson [pictured]. Each man agreed to help throw the series for a payoff of $100,000, which was more than many of their yearly salaries. It couldn’t have gone better; the Reds squeaked out a 5-3 series win (series were best-of-nine back then). The only problem was many men had told their friends and family about the fix so they too could reap the benefits, and word began to get out. During the next season, as the White Sox were making a charge for the American league pennant, the eight players involved were indicted.
With regards to baiting the public, from Pearl Harbour to 9/11, the United States has long been the centre of war-time controversy. In 1990, a testimony before Congress from a young girl helped gain major public support for the Gulf War. Nayirah, a 15-year-old who gave only her first name, told a horrific tale of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. (See the testimony here.) She earned backing from Amnesty International… which entered Kuwait and quickly determined her claims were completely false. After some investigation, Nayirah was found to be the daughter of Saud Nasser Al-Saud Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States. She had been hired by the public relation firm Hill & Knowlton, partnering with Citizens for a Free Kuwait committee, who had launched a $1 million campaign to raise awareness of the situation in Kuwait. No such thing as bad publicity? Not in this case.
Operation Snow White
At some point during the 1970s, the Church of Scientology decided it was fed up with all the criticism and laughter being sent its way. Instead of trying to prove their belief system, Scientology leaders decided to destroy every document that reflected badly on the religion. Operation Snow White was launched, wherein some 5,000 Scientologists wiretapped and burglarized several agencies worldwide. In the end, 136 agencies, embassies and consulates in more than 30 countries were infiltrated by these agents, who stole almost every piece of evidence that even questioned Scientology’s legitimacy. In the end, 11 Church executives, including Mary Sue Hubbard (wife of founder L. Ron Hubbard), were convicted of obstruction of justice and theft of government property. Eleven out of 5,000 — crazy right? Well, that’s the truth. And here’s the new conspiracy that followed it: It was rumoured that the Church kidnapped and “took care of” various operatives to keep them from testifying.
Image courtesy of John McNab.