Does a conspiracy theory have to be right to be good? By definition it can’t be. Conspiracy theories are unproven. So what really sets a good conspiracy theory apart is how much fun it is to talk about, and whether or not believing it leads to anti-social behaviors or a deeply flawed world view. There is, as this might suggest, a paucity of truly good conspiracy theories, ones that trade on genuine insight and logic to make the case for the improbable or covered up. These are, in a broader sense, fan theories about reality. And they can be fun as hell if you’re in the right headspace and, again, not hurting people or voting for liars.
There are plenty of conspiracy theories out there, with the internet proliferating all the places people can read these zany ideas. But not all theories are created equal. Some are much more believable than others, and frankly, some are much more fun to believe than others. Here are eight conspiracy theories that are genuinely fun to buy into and don’t necessitate a broader rewriting of history, or logic itself.
Talk about these at a party and you’re the fun one, not the crackpot.
8. William Shakespeare Was a Pen Name
The legitimacy of William Shakespeare’s authorship has been called into question over the years. There’s a theory that the 17th Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere, is the true wordsmith, writing the classroom classics under a pseudonym. Shakespeare doubters point to long stretches of his life that remain undocumented, just adding to the mystery. There’s even a whole movie about this theory, 2011’s Anonymous.
There are numerous other theories, casting Sir Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe, and William Stanley as Shakespeare, but none of them have been proven in a truly convincing way, or seem capable of making sense of the consistency of Shakespeare’s language and its divergence from his contemporaries’ work.
7. There’s More Than One Andrew W.K.
Andrew W.K. is probably best known for his singles “We Want Fun” and “Party Hard,” but around the early 2010s, the artist has gained some buzz on the internet thanks to a conspiracy theory that there’s more than just one of him. Some fans suspect that the performer known as Andrew W.K. is actually a piece of performance art created by a secret organization and is executed by several different people.
Someone named Steev Mike had been credited on W.K.’s album as an executive producer, and cryptic messages involving Mike began popping up on the Andrew W.K. website, which appeared to be clues that Mike had been cut from the upcoming album, and that he was going to reveal W.K.’s true secret. Then, at an Andrew W.K. concert in New Jersey, fans believe an imposter took the stage, who also abruptly left the show halfway through and never returned. This was the first hypothesized doppelgänger, with a slew of others popping up over the years. With all the shady deals that happen behind the scenes at record labels, this theory is pretty damn feasible, especially with how different he looks post 2005. Andrew W.K. kind of just looks like another basic, white dude with long hair, but that doesn’t mean people wouldn’t notice another white dude with long hair.
6. Fidel Castro Is Justin Trudeau’s Real Dad
“A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in remarks given on the occasion of Fidel Castro’s recent death. Naturally, rumors immediately began flying that Trudeau was secretly the Cuban dictator’s son.
As Motherboard pointed out, Trudeau looks startlingly like a young Castro. And the Canadian PM’s family was close with Castro. Combine that with the fact that Trudeau’s mother was involved in several extramarital affairs before separating from Justin’s father Pierre, and you get a fun hypothesis: Margaret Trudeau slept with Castro during a trip to the island and had Justin nine months later. It all seems pretty convincing (except for the fact that Justin was born in 1971, years before the Trudeaus hung out with Castro in Cuba).
5. Russia Lost Some Cosmonauts
It’s fairly well-known that Russian astronaut Yuri Gagarin was the first human to travel into outer space, completing an orbit around Earth in 1961. However, there’s a theory that there was another group of Russians who tried blasting off into space, but died trying: the lost cosmonauts. Theorists believe that the Soviet government covered up the failed attempt. There’s not a lot of evidence supporting the idea of the lost cosmonauts, but there is proof that the Russians concealed some of their space race initiatives. Valentin Bondarenko, who died during an experiment on low pressure’s effects, was only publicly acknowledged as a casualty in 1980, 19 years after his demise.
The Soviets weren’t exactly known for transparency so the lost cosmonauts theory sounds plausible enough. After all, the space race was on, and the Kremlin might have determined that early fatalities would have tarnished the glory of the endeavor.
4. Katy Perry Is JonBenét Ramsey
A twisted theory from 2014 that “California Gurls” singer Katy Perry was actually the believed-to-be dead pageant girl JonBenét Ramsey gained steam in early 2016 after media outlets began to pick up on the crazy notion. It appears to have originated from Dave Johnson’s YouTube video, in which he claims Ramsey never actually died, and that Ramsey and Perry’s parents look eerily similar.
However, there was some discrepancy concerning the two’s ages. Perry was born on Oct. 25, 1984, while Ramsey was born on Dec. 25, 1990. Could a six-year difference be that obvious? Perhaps Perry has been playing older this entire time. And Ramsey’s killer was never found. If she wasn’t actually killed, then that would explain the lack of a murderer. Oh, and then there’s the really creepy GIF of Ramsey’s face almost too-perfectly transforming into Perry’s.
3. A Monsanto Larvicide Causes Microcephaly
During the height of the Zika virus panic, there were various conspiracy theories surrounding the disease. But the most believable one came along because of not enough information known about the link between Zika and microcephaly. After the University Network of Environment and Health blamed microcephaly cases on contamination from a major chemical company’s larvicide, conspiracy theorists incorrectly linked it to the agrochemical company Monsanto.
It was so believable that even the likes of George Takei and one Brazilian state — the latter, which banned use of the mosquito pesticide — promoted this theory. However, the lack of evidence proved there wasn’t any scientific merit to these claims. It appears that so little was known about Zika, that people were willing to believe anything that sounded even a little bit right.
2. Beyoncé Was Never Pregnant
In August 2011 at the MTV Video Music Awards, Beyoncé performed “Love On Top,” and revealed to the world her baby bump. The songstress stood there, belly out, proud to soon be ushering a child into the world. Blue Ivy Carter was born a few months later, in January 2012. But some people are convinced that Beyoncé was never actually pregnant herself.
As early as the VMAs, where she announced the pregnancy, and again following the birth of Blue Ivy, rumors circulated that she was faking the pregnancy and had a surrogate carry her child. Much of the conspiracy theory was fueled by a fold in her belly when she sat down for an interview. It made sense — the famous performer could have a kid without having to worry about losing the baby weight and didn’t want to deal with being judged for having a surrogate. It definitely seems possible considering all the photo evidence, but at the end of the day we may never know. But we do know that the kid is definitely Jay Z’s.
1. The Beef Industry Is Hushing Up Global Warming
Based off the documentary that shares a name, Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, the cowspiracy takes a critical look at the lack of awareness when it comes to animal agriculture’s impact on the environment. It’s a lot less ridiculous than the likes of lost astronauts or multiple people behind a performance art identity, which allows the conspiracy to be much more plausible. But it’s not like there’s a complete cover-up of the information about the negative effects of agriculture — it’s just largely overlooked.
And some of the data in the documentary has been debunked. The filmmakers claim that 51 percent of global greenhouse gases are brought on by animal agriculture, a figure that comes from an outdated and unreliable source. Union of Concern Scientists’s Doug Boucher highlights in a review that the general scientific consensus is that livestock is responsible for only 15 percent of greenhouse gas, with most of the problem coming from the burning of fossil fuels. There’s some truth to what the cowspiracy is trying to put out there, but it breaches into conspiracy territory due to the fudging of reality.