It's unsettling to believe that some evil cabal of nefarious supervillains controls the world, but consider an even more terrifying possibility: There are no Illuminati. There are no puppet masters. It's just a bunch of idiots like us, swinging and missing at political softballs and constantly pratfalling toward the apocalypse. Don't believe it? Still think there must be sinister organizations dictating the course of history in order for the world to be this screwed up? Well ...

Bohemian Grove Is Going Bankrupt

5 Groups You Think Control The World (Are Shockingly Weak)
Gabriel Moulin

According to conspiracy theorists, the Bohemian Club is the best evidence we have that all of the major players in American business and politics are part of the same demonic cult. Every year in July, the Bohemian Grove campground in California hosts a two-week party for the club, whose membership is extremely exclusive and private, and includes several former presidents, business magnates, and other assorted rich white men whom we have to assume are evil, based on the laws of '80s action movies. Suspicion about the club came to a head in 2000, when professional crazy person Alex Jones managed to infiltrate the party, and filmed the leaders of the free world worshiping a 30-foot owl statue.

He then died of a conspiracygasm and was replaced by one of the Alex Clones.

Considering how it has boasted members such as Reagan, Nixon, Hoover, Teddy Roosevelt, George H.W. Bush, Henry Kissinger, Henry Morgan, Rupert Murdoch, and William Randolph Hearst, you might be surprised to learn that the Bohemian Club is broke as hell. They can't even afford to pay their workers anymore. Whether or not said workers signed a blood pact to the Demon Owl God Moloch for their unholy service doesn't change the fact that a Sonoma County judge ordered the club to pay out around $7 million this year in compensation to the hundreds of cooks, bartenders, and valets who have been underpaid by the failing organization since 2011.

The Bohemian Club started reporting losses as early as 2006. And though the membership fees are outrageous, the club has always supplemented its income by logging the surrounding redwood forest ... until 2011, when its logging license was revoked for violating state environmental law.

Edward W. Carter

"In the future, we'll have to be more of a Bohemian Managed Forest."

Since then, the increasingly desperate club has stayed afloat by opening membership to the greater public and hosting live acts, such as known agents of Satan the Steve Miller Band and the slightly less Satanic but still solid comedian Conan O'Brien.

Alex Jones thinks he broke a giant story by sneaking into Bohemian Grove, when really, all he had to do was pay the cover charge.

The Freemason Society Is Dying Of Old Age

5 Groups You Think Control The World (Are Shockingly Weak)
Sailko/Wiki Commons

The Freemasons are perhaps the oldest secret society on Earth. Read any Dan Brown novel to get the rundown on how they've infiltrated every power structure humans have. Or don't, because those are in the fiction section for a reason. Even if the Masons held some kind of secret political power centuries ago, the biggest issue today for the world's oldest fraternity is that they're aging into irrelevance.

via Wiki Commons

This photo was taken in 2014.

Let's face it, convincing millennials that it's cool to dress up in weird costumes and refer to each other by stupid titles is a hard sell, and even if you manage it, Dungeons & Dragons doesn't charge a membership fee. Competition is harsh. Currently, new membership in the Freemasons is on the upswing, though suggesting that Masonry is on a rebound is kind of like saying that global warming is bullshit because it's cold outside. Between 2008 and 2009, the average age of Freemason membership dropped from 71 to 65. All that means is that your average Masonic booze-up is filled with fewer Mick Jaggers and more Paul McCartneys -- either way, very little difference for your average Justin Bieber.

5 Groups You Think Control The World (Are Shockingly Weak)
Wiki Commons

You can become a Mason to get a funny name and learn in-jokes, or you could become an internet commenter.

Membership numbers might be even lower if not for the fact that quitting the Freemasons is rather difficult. But that doesn't mean you're going to find a horse head on your pillow if you try. It's more like a gym membership -- stop paying your dues, and you'll get constant passive-aggressive spam emails begging you to come back.

In America, Masonic lodges are falling into disrepair, due to abandonment or all of their members being too damn old to climb a ladder and change a light bulb.

5 Groups You Think Control The World (Are Shockingly Weak)
Cory Seamer, via

They should hire some of those craftsmen who do stonework professionally.

As of 2000, 130 lodges in Britain closed over a period of five years, due to lack of interest, with 6,000 members quitting or dying per year. Many more of the remaining lodges continue with single-figure memberships, meaning that your local Masonic order could probably all fit in the same minivan.

How's that for a sinister picture?

Scientology Has To Resort To Sad Craigslist Ads

5 Groups You Think Control The World (Are Shockingly Weak)
Victor Grigas/Wiki Commons

Since Scientology was founded in 1954 by a terrible science fiction novelist, the terrible science fiction cult has completely infiltrated Hollywood. Why, as recently as the 1970s, they posed one of the greatest threats to American security, and that was when the Cold War was still a thing.

5 Groups You Think Control The World (Are Shockingly Weak)
Paramount Pictures

Surveillance footage seen here.

Since then, you can only assume that Scientology has grown even more powerful. A decade from now, we might have to amend the Constitution to add Lord Xenu to the Pledge of Allegiance.

But no, Scientology's rate of new membership is falling faster than your average Thetan's power level or ... however that nonsense works. In fact, this elite secret society is so desperate for members that they've taken to putting up ads on Craigslist, meaning that their main competitors these days are urine-soaked sofas and suspicious-smelling recliners.

5 Groups You Think Control The World (Are Shockingly Weak)
Church of Scientology/Craigslist


According to Scientology's official spokespeople, the Church is still experiencing "enormous growth," and more people than ever believe space ghosts rule from coast to coast. Former high-ranking Church member and Scientology marketing guru Jefferson Hawkins gives a different story. Church recruitment is so dire, he claims, that Scientology has more or less abandoned the effort to recruit more members and focused on desperately trying to retain the members it already has.

Hell, at this point, Scientology isn't even the most popular science-fiction-themed religion. In 2011, a British census recorded that around 70 times more people in Britain identified as Jedi than Scientologists.

For decades, conspiracy theorists have noted that a disturbing number of America's politicians, bankers, media personalities, and presidents are alumni of a Yale University fraternity ominously known as the Skull and Bones Society. Yes, they're called Skull and Bones Society, they meet in a building they call "The Tomb," and they reportedly drink out of human skulls. They're so blatantly, ridiculously, over-the-top evil that they'd give a standard GOP meeting a run for their money.

Yale Banner

Their logo is the goddamn poison warning.

But despite their reputation as an old-school white men's club whose entire mission is to keep the power structure of America as white and as male as possible, the Skull and Bones Society is now impressively inclusive. Or depressingly inclusive, depending on which side of politics you fall on.

Every year, Skull and Bones selects 15 seniors from Yale to be inducted into their club, and 2010 was the first year that the selection included more ethnic minorities than whites. If you're some asshole still rooting for the continuation of the straight white male status quo, then this story only gets worse -- in 2011, the recruitment drive led to the induction of two gay students, one bisexual student, and one trans student. And since then, the ratio of male and female has been pretty much equally split, making Skull and Bones one of the most egalitarian secret societies out there.

5 Groups You Think Control The World (Are Shockingly Weak)
Skull and Bones

"Our founders would be turning in their graves, if we hadn't dug them up to drink from their craniums."

Members of the Skull and Bones are still sworn into secrecy about what goes on in their Halloween-themed clubhouse, but at the very least, evil is making a point to give fair and balanced representation to all. Which, uh ... doesn't sound all that evil anymore?

DARPA's Supposed Weather Weapon Is Now University Property

5 Groups You Think Control The World (Are Shockingly Weak)
Michael Kleiman/U.S. Air Force

DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) is the American equivalent of Q from James Bond. While the regular military relies on run-of-the-mill guns, tanks, and airplanes to exert their will upon the world, DARPA focuses on more... unconventional warfare technology.

5 Groups You Think Control The World (Are Shockingly Weak)

Whenever a cyborg insect flies by, you can probably blame DARPA.

And this hasn't gone unnoticed by the paranoids, maniacs, and comedy writers out there. One hugely popular theory says that DARPA has a functional weather machine, like the one in Command & Conquer. The giant machine, situated in Alaska, is called HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program), and it's frequently blamed for creating hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, as well as the Japanese tsunami of 2011. Even Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez once blamed America's weather weapon for a tragic disaster -- the 2010 Haiti earthquake. That's ... weather?

Now, HAARP actually exists, but hold off on joining the resistance. Its only purpose was to bounce radio waves off the upper atmosphere in order to analyze boring physics stuff that we don't understand and therefore call boring. We put all of this in the past tense because the HAARP facility has been abandoned since 2014.

5 Groups You Think Control The World (Are Shockingly Weak)
U.S. Air Force

Because no one was willing to keep working somewhere essentially called "herp derp."

Despite conspiracy theorists who continue to blame DARPA's nefarious weather manipulation technology for every hurricane, earthquake, typhoon, tornado, and landslide that occurs in the world, the reality is that the sinister facility has been deactivated for two years. After DARPA decided that it had no financial incentive to keep the accursed thing, HAARP was sold to the University of Alaska, which hopes to save up the finances to boot up the facility again one day, and rule the world with an iron syllabus.

For more reasons stock in tinfoil is on the rise, check out 6 People Who Secretly Ruled The World and 6 People You've Never Heard Of (Who Secretly Rule The World).

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