What is the biggest exposed conspiracy?

Not sure if it belongs on this board or not so if mods need to move it then please do.

I’m curious about what the biggest exposed conspiracy is. These days, with extremists left and right shouting about conspiracies, the easy retort is to call them a conspiracy theorist and laugh at their arguments. Are conspiracies so difficult to pull off and keep secret that merely associating an argument with the term is enough to silence its proponents?

I think about what some people are calling conspiracies nowadays, like Obama being a secret Muslim and born in Kenya, or Bush and co. being responsible for 9/11. Either one of these would take a lot of time, effort, and require a lot of people to keep silent. More recently, we can look at JFK’s assasination as something people think has been covered up.

Natural phenomenon can be conspiracies too. Are there aliens abducting people from the Bermuda triangle? Are crop circles really made by these visitors? What about Tunguska? Was that really a comet, or an exploding flying saucer?

Throughout history, we have even more examples. Do the Freemasons really control the world? What about the Illuminati? Was there something shady going on with the Knights Templar? Could Dan Brown have been right? Was Shakespeare really just a pseudonym?

I’m curious about any real life conspiracies that have been exposed, the bigger the better. Ideally, such a conspiracy would have been kept secret for a while, affect many people, possibly change how history was viewed.

The Holocaust.

Does the Holocaust count as a conspiracy? IMO a conspiracy requires a government cover-up and I don’t think the Nazis cared about who knew.

In the US two conspiracies stand out to me, the Tuskege syphilis experiment and Watergate.

I don’t think they’re part of a conspiracy, but crop circles have been pretty well documented as hoaxes by pranksters and drunk kids (one group even showed how to do it with a board and a cord on the BBC, I think).

The two that immediately came to mind for me were the Gulf of Tonkin Incident (where the 2nd attack never actually happened, which was only recently disclosed) and Iran-Contra. Also, the CIA’s mucking around in Iran and reinstalling the Shah, which didn’t work out so well, and is still influencing the Mideast.
In fairness, it must also be said that manufacturing evidence to justify invading a sovereign nation ranks pretty high on the conspiracy meter, but that’s recent enough that it may need to simmer a while before history can get an accurate read on it.

I’d be interested to hear what international Dopers have to say, as the only non-US one I’m all that familiar with is the Gunpowder Plot.

The Diebold and republican stealing of the elections.

My Lai

Does it have to be a government conspiracy? Does the al-Qaeda plot for the attack on the WTC and Pentagon count? it was a criminal conspiracy, after all. Or would it not count as an “exposed” conspiracy, as it became known only after it was carried out?

Project Jennifer

In short, the U.S. wanted to recover a Soviet ballistic missile submarine which had sunk in the Pacific Ocean in 1968. In the early 70s, under the direction of the CIA, the U.S. built a 619-foot-long ship (the Hughes Glomar Explorer, with the cooperation of Howard Hughes) designed to raise the submarine under the cover story that they were conducting undersea mining of manganese nodules.

The salvage was attempted in 1974, but the submarine broke up and only a 38-foot section was recovered. The New York Times knew about it in advance, but were convinced to delay publication until after the operation. They broke the story in 1975.

The biggest exposed conspiracy is the one to explain all complex and hard-to-grasp issues by means of conspiracy theories.

The subject of conspiracy theories of all kinds, from JFK to 9/11 seems to come up on this board every few days. There have also been recent threads on why people believe in this stuff, of which this is one example. There are many more which I could not immediately find.

Obviously, They don’t want you to know.

Bush & Co.'s Iraq War II.

Clearly, it was Obama’s birth in Kenya. Think of how many people had to plan so far in advance for him to get to the Oval office with that little secret. It’s mind blowing, I tell ya!

Was that a conspiracy? Or just a case of officers and troops on the ground, under ambiguous orders and a buttload of stress, going crazy-wild?

How about the Dreyfus Affair? It was a genuine conspiracy (to frame a Jewish army captain for spying) and its uncovering led to huge political consequences in France.

Edit: and had a formative impact on Zionism as well (with all that implies for history).

Given that 1974 is the year the project was underway, I’m not sure that this counts as a large conspiracy that held for any time before being exposed.


CIA Mind Control experiments for real. Hookers dosing Johns with LSD without their knowledge. Got exposed when they dosed an agent without telling him and he jumped out a window of the Plaza Hotel.

The nazis tried to destroy evidence of the holocaust near the end of the war.


Other big exposed conspiracies include

Operation northwoods:


The CIA was supposed to commit terrorism against US citizens and blame them on Cuba, to justify a war in Cuba.
Iran Contra:

Selling weapons to Iran to free hostages and channel arms to terrorist groups in Nicaragua.

USS LIberty incident:


No idea if people consider this a conspiracy theory or an exposed conspiracy theory. But basically Israelis attacked a US ship and tried to sink it while killing all people who attempted to get into lifeboats. The goal was supposedly a backroom agreement between the US and Israeli governments for Israel to sink a US ship and blame it on Egypt so the US could enter the six day war on Israel’s side.

The Manhattan project:


This was a huge conspiracy at the time. Physicists just disappeared and weren’t allowed to talk about what they were working on.

Coverup of war crimes, immediately failed.

From your own cite: “It was never officially accepted or executed”

Secret operation, exposed within relatively short time frame.

No conspiracy ever demonstrated.

If you’re going to include this, you’ll have to describe every secret military project as a “conspiracy”. Is the planning for D-Day a “conspiracy” in your book?

The real question is, what true conspiracies have remained hidden for long periods of time, with the truth postulated by conspiracy theorists but ridiculed/put down by most observers, and then been shown to be true?

In that case, the list is very, very, very short. The Dreyfus Affair is one of the few examples.

Criminal conspiracies: relatively common. As in Wall St. shenanigans, conspiracy to commit murder etc.

Business plot: attempt by several leaders of the business community to use unemployed WW1 veterans to overthrow the US government.


Also when Stalin and Mao were conducting domestic purges they tried to cover them up. The truth eventually came out though.

The makers of cigarettes and aspestos tried to cover up the health risks of these products. Those are large conspiracy theories.

Seeing how thousands of investigative journalists make a living exposing conspiracies, they are not that uncommon.

While I don’t in general buy Freemason CTs, there is the well documented case of Propaganda Due or P2, the Italian Masonic lodge that some say operated as a shadow government for several decades.