The Illuminati Conspiracy
by Koinonia Yn-ofynnol
Type "Illuminati conspiracy" into Twitter, YouTube, or any search engine and you'll get a ton of results that show how hardcore people are about the theory and getting to the bottom of it.
- What do they want?
- Who's in it?
It's all complicated, and when you take into account most of what's been said about the Illuminati, there are a lot of moving parts that stretch many, many years. As you might expect, not all that's been said about them is verifiable.
Because the Order of the Illuminati got so big at its peak, other splinter groups formed. And as those groups came to an end, people throughout the following decades and into the next centuries would take it upon themselves to create other Illuminati-linked groups. The offshoots include the Ordo Templi Orientis that founder Theodore Reuss tried to make a successor to the Illuminati in 1880 (they use "Illuminati" as a rank in their group), the Illuminati Order in 1988, and Orden Illuminati in 1995. Secret and quasi-secret societies are claiming to have ties to or that they are 'the Illuminati' are still being created today (Order Of The IlluminatiOrder of the Illuminati in 2017.
But none of these groups held the power over society that conspiracists claim the modern Illuminati have.
Illuminati Is A Name
Illuminati is a name given to several groups, both real and fictitious
Historically, the name usually refers to the Bavarian Illuminati. an Enlightenment-era secret society founded on 1 May 1776. Many influential intellectuals and progressive politicians of the that era counted themselves as members. "Illuminati" has also referred to various organizations which have claimed or have been claimed to be connected to the original Bavarian Illuminati or similar secret societies, (though these links have been unsubstantiated).
Origin of the Bavarian Illuminatis
Adam Weishaupt (1748–1830) became professor of Canon Law and practical philosophy at the University of Ingolstadt in 1773. He was the only non-clerical professor at an institution run by Jesuits, whose order Pope Clement XIV had dissolved in 1773. The Jesuits of Ingolstadt, however, still retained the purse strings and some power at the University, which they continued to regard as their own. They made constant attempts to frustrate and discredit non-clerical staff, especially when course material contained anything they regarded as liberal or Protestant. Weishaupt became deeply anti-clerical , resolving to spread the ideals of the Enlightenment (Aufklärung) through some sort of secret society of like-minded individuals.
Do You Believe?
Whether you believe in the Illuminati or not, you cannot deny that it is one of the most popular conspiracies out there currently. The problem with this belief is that it reifies stereotypical beliefs that a shadow organization controls the world, and it creates a sense of fear and panic in society to propose that we will all be controlled in an authoritarian government some day. Other conspiracies include that the Illuminati want to enslave and/or kill off a large portion of the human population.
The psychological explanations for the belief system, including confirmation bias, logic errors, stereotype heuristics, and herd mentality help to create a more holistic view of this conspiracy theory. By understanding why people have this belief and how it is maintained psychologically, we can attempt to educate the world to think more critically about unverified conspiracy theories, as well as analyze the world around us in a more scientific way.
“For about four thousand years, as far back as our history goes. We humans have, on this earth, thought, acted, believed, taught and governed. Despite all this, it is widely and generally believed that we remain unchanged, and not one iota better than before. If this belief has ground, then thinking, believing, teaching, and governing are the most unnecessary things in the world (…)”
[ A. Weishaupt, Diogenes’ Lamp, p. 28 ]
No Stone Left Unturned
Leave it to the conspiracists to leave no stone unturned when it comes to the rich, powerful, and global elite. According to some conspiracy theorists, the Illuminati, New World Order or extraterrestrial satanic Zionist cabal — or what have you — has many international organizational fronts to further their conquest of the world and your mind.
Most of these absurd conspiracies sound like fodder for some hack superhero film plot. You can really only pity them, after all the Illuminati conspiracy started from a humble satirical book. Though, the existence of such organizations can't be entirely ruled out — people in power may very well scheme to stay in power.
There are many different theories as to who runs the illuminati, but the general consensus is that celebrities and government officials alike are part of it. Information about the illuminati is heavily prevalent on the conspiracy theories section of Youtube, in documentaries, and on websites such as www.illuminatiofficial.org. This theory enjoys popularity today, as most people are somewhat aware of the Illuminati, even if they don’t believe in it. This theory is extraordinary because its claims are extraordinary—they go against everything we know about our world currently.
When every piece of ambiguous information shown to you is interpreted by you to be evidence for the illuminati, this reifies the strength of the belief you hold.
There is no one specific community that illuminati believers come from, but there are certainly characteristics that are common between subsets of the population. One characteristic is conservative beliefs. The illuminati and conservatives share a critical belief that government is heavily involved in the lives of its citizens.
Many of the current Illuminati theorists are right wing, including Mark Koernke, David Icke, Pat Robertson, and Donald Marshall (Bergara & Medej, 2016).
Another characteristic that stems from right-wing extremism is anti Semitism. The Illuminati conspiracy is inherently anti-Semetic because a large part of the population of believers think that Jews control the world (similar to the propaganda touted during Nazi Germany). To believe that any one group controls the world is in line with the idea of the illuminati and the New World Order. Finally, I would say that generally, Illuminati proponents are people that have a great deal of cynicism and mistrust of the world around them. To believe in conspiracies is to believe that what you see around you is not objective reality, but rather a reality created to somehow dupe you. The social influences that help sustain their beliefs involve a sense of community. When you have a deep mistrust of the world around you, this ideology goes against our major beliefs of reality. This may isolate you from the larger community, but when you find people who are like you and who believe what you believe, this justifies your commitment to the belief. If you were alone in your belief, you might give into the pressure of societal norms. But with a strong community of believers, you have people to back up your point of view.
Proponents of Illuminati conspiracy theories believe that there is an elite and secret organization called the “Illuminati” who is seeking to create a dominant world totalitarian government (Bergara & Medej, 2016). This “New World Order,” so named, involves a single government (made up of Illuminati members) that would rule over the entire planet. According to a survey done about the Illuminati, 23% of Americans believe in the Illuminati and New World Order (Bergara & Medej, 2016).
There are two major cognitive contributions that are influential in people’s propensities to believe in the illuminati—confirmation bias, and the error of logic discussed in FiLCHeRs. For confirmation bias, much of the proof that is used to verify the existence of the illuminati is popular culture—videos, news, celebrity behavior, etc.. When people see these ambiguous sources of information, they will often find a way to construe the evidence in a way that supports their belief.
The issue of logic is a cognitive contribution
Ryan Bergara and Shane Medej (2016) interviewed a professor of conspiracy theories who discussed how many illuminati supporters use a “trail of evidence” to support their beliefs. They start in small steps where their logic sounds rational, and then suddenly make a crazy leap to where their evidence starts to sound irrational (Bergara & Medej, 2016). This fits into an issue with logic because while the premises may be true, the conclusions do not follow from the premises. For example, they may start by discussing how the government is overly involved in people’s lives (rational, especially after the Patriot Act) and then make the jump that all of government is made up of lizard people that control the world.
Finally, there are many claims that the illuminati is “killing celebrities and replacing them with clones” in an attempt to brainwash society (Bergara & Medej, 2016). These claims are backed up by video footage showing certain celebrities looking confused or staring off into space, to suggest that they are “glitching”. For example, there are clips of Beyonce, Eminem, and Al Roker staring off into space or freezing for prolonged periods of time in news clips (Bergara & Medej, 2016).
I believe that those who believe the such theories are misinformed because they believe that there are these complex meaningful patterns in randomness (apophenia), and it is easy to fall into this level of mistakenness when the information starts small as a “foot in the door” and spirals into these huge unbelievable conspiracy theories.
- Bergara, R., & Madej, S. (2016, July 29). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3C9wZf88y4Q
- Hahn, J. D. (2018, September 27). So, What Exactly Is the Illuminati Conspiracy? Are the Illuminati real? Retrieved February 7, 2019, from https://www.complex.com/pop- culture/2018/09/what-is-the-illuminati-conspiracy-and-who-are-its-members/are-they- real
- Santoro, M. (2018, July 28). Retrieved February 07, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3C9wZf88y4Q