Exploring the Depths of the Infamous “Conspiracy Iceberg”
Hello, explorers of the esoteric. I’m Rob, someone who spent decades learning about weird nonsense instead of learning how to play an instrument or something. This is Day Four of what will be a nearly 100-day trip down the increasingly bizarre depths of the massive “Conspiracy Iceberg”. This first Tier has been largely pretty mainstream and common stuff, but today we start to see our first glimpses at the weirder things to come.
SATANIC RITUAL ABUSE — Generally speaking, it’s the idea that people(usually but not always children) are being abused in some sort of ritualized manner with heavy occult or satanic overtones — either for show or as part of a genuine ritual. Sometimes the abuse is the point, sometimes it’s just a part of some Satanic(or equally spooky) rite. This one comes and goes, with its first major incursion on the modern world being the ‘Satanic Panic’ of the 80s. Back then, it was more the idea that sketchy stereotypical bad-movie Satanists were actively recruiting in Small Town America to do dark rituals with drugs and blood. As time went on, it became more common to accuse politicians and other world leaders of being secret Satanists. Lots of conspiracies of the last 40 years have drawn on Satanic Panic with minor tweaks; PizzaGate and its spiritual successor Qanon are basically built on Satanic Panic, just with a bunch of frills and the ‘preying on children’ aspect cranked all the way up.
SHAKESPEARE — It’s alleged that he didn’t write any/all of his attributed plays. Sometimes he has undiscovered manuscripts hidden here or there, like at Oak Island. If there’s some hidden deeper conspiracy, I’m unaware of it. Not very spicy. NEXT!
MAX HEADROOM — ‘Max Headroom’ was an 80s television character; a sort of AI tv host. The character had a certain cult following and is still pretty recognized in the modern day, albeit as a niche pop culture memory at best. In the mid-80s someone dressed/made up to resemble Max Headroom managed to briefly hijack television station signals in Chicago. This occurred twice in one evening and was mostly just the person wiggling around and babbling. After an accomplice swats “Max” on the bare ass with a flyswatter, the signal goes away and that’s that. No one was ever caught, though there doesn’t appear to be a deeper conspiracy to it. In a way, that was kind of the first shitpost.
HYPERSIGILS — I wasn’t expecting to see something like this so high up. A sigil is a symbol generally used for occult/magical practices. Any time you’ve seen a character draw strange symbols along the perimeter of their magic circle in some tv show, those were sigils. They can represent entities, can be a sort of condensed spell, or can be imbued with other powers. They’re a popular, big topic in occult circles. The concept of Hyper-Sigils is the next step — in which the sigil isn’t just a symbol etched on a wall or page, but an entire piece of music or a book or an entire series of books. This is, of course, something much harder to pull off and also much more powerful. Occultists will often compare modern branding to hypersigils — the use of specific logos and carefully curated ‘Brand Personalities’ and color schemes and ‘experiences’ and so on, all put together purposefully or accidentally into a self-perpetuating magical force. As a result, a lot of occult(and conspiracy) theory leaves one wandering what is and isn’t part of some grand hypersigil playing out in real-time right in front of us.
TSUKI — Tsuki(and “System Space”, which they created) is, or I guess was, one of those weird internet phenomenon that’s hard to pin down. The main website was very ‘old school internet’ in design, and featured imagery from the anime “Lain”. The site has the feel of an ARG(Alternate Reality Game) with a lot of strange writing, links to seemingly garbled images, and so on. It first appeared on 4chan(where else?!) and garnered a lot of attention, soon gaining a cult vibe.
The basic thrust was that everything we know and see is a simulation-theory style program, and the universe consists of a great many of these programs. Our universe has faulty programming, but Tsuki claimed to be able to help people ascend to a kind of…cyberpunk heaven dimension. The website allowed you to ‘sign up’ and had a prominent countdown clock. There was a heavy but not implicit ‘suicide cult’ vibe, as you have to die in this world to go to ‘LFE’, the cyberpunk heaven dimension. The sites are all gone now except for Wayback Machine captures. The countdown ended and a new site appeared and then also went away. The cult seems to have more or less moved on. Tsuki as a whole appears to have fallen off the radar, but these things always reappear at some point. Mark my words.
MJ-12 — ‘Majestic 12’ is one of the oldest conspiracies on this list. It’s allegedly a shadowy pseudo-governmental organization set up by the US in the 40s to investigate UFOs. There are some leaked documents that have been floating around for decades, which is more or less the root of the conspiracy. Some people think they’re a hoax, some don’t, some think they’re a hoax that is meant to distract us but MJ-12 is real, and the government unsurprisingly says it’s all made up. MJ-12 was a cornerstone of pre-Internet UFOlogy.
MCFLY CODE — There’s a fairly popular conspiracy trope in which a given film or show is said to have predicted future events. The McFly code is a “Back To The Future” flavored version of this, with the film allegedly containing various dates like 9/11 and 10/4. Sorry it isn’t more fun; I know this one probably sounded like it would be way cooler than it is.
WRESTLING IS FAKE — Preposterous nonsense. Not going to validate this BS with a writeup. Next!
WICCA — It feels weird to see Wicca up here at all unless we’re going to do every slightly-not-mainstream religion, but I guess it deserves a place for how often it gets blamed for things. A modern sort of catch-all Pagan belief system focusing on nature and magic, Wicca was less a brand new thing and more a recontextualizing and reorganization of all sorts of scattered pagan traditions into a modern style of witchcraft. Appearing in the 60s, it was heavily demonized during the Satanic Panic of the 80s — which certainly wasn’t helped by Wicca’s regular use of the upright pentagram(as opposed to the inverted one associated with Satanism). Later, it experienced a big popularity boom with the growth of the internet. Wicca is a generally peaceful, nature-based belief system and is often a starting place for young pagans, though there are lots of ‘traditions’ within it that can sometimes get very catty with one another about whose lineage traces back in what way.
JUNGIAN ARCHETYPES — A principle of psychology that suggests certain archetypes(like ‘hero’ or ‘trickster’) are innate pieces of collective unconscious that we are simply born with. I think. It’s very complicated and not really a conspiracy so don’t yell at me! Not every ‘weird psychological/philosophical theory’ is a conspiracy! More cryptids instead! NEXT!
MYZIAM — “Myziam” was a person(?) on 4chan claiming to be an extraterrestrial currently stuck on earth. Now, people showing up on imageboards and sort of roleplaying as this or that is not a particularly unique phenomenon — and at first, Myzia’s performance seemed weak. But as people played along, they started to ask Myziam to fly their ship to various coordinates and take pictures as proof. In some cases, Myziam actually came through — posting grainy images of various places on earth and, allegedly, the moon. One user even claimed to see Myziam’s ship. The thread FELT like it was all a goof and yet, I mean, Myziam was posting those pictures! To my knowledge, they never returned.
HOTEL CALIFORNIA — I didn’t know of anything beyond a ton of “the song actually means ____” things, and dug into this to see if I was missing something. Doesn’t seem I am. I don’t see this being mentioned anywhere online but I definitely remember this being one of the “if you play it backward you summon the devil” songs when I was a kid in the 90s. Virtually every very famous song has some kind of conspiracy attached to it, but I think the iceberg mostly avoids that.
ARKEOLOGY — A general term for studying or conjecturing about Noah’s Ark. A lot of, sigh, “arkeologosists” think it wound up in Turkey — but people have been arguing about the location and actively looking for it since not long after Christianity picked up steam.
That’s all! We’re still ticking off the obligatory stuff, but some obscure bits are finally starting to appear. We’re about halfway through Tier One; see you tomorrow!