5 secret societies purported to be Illuminati fronts

Elite organizations tend to get conspiracy theorists going.

  • More than a few powerful men throughout world history have been part of the Freemasons and elite Skull and Bones society.
  • Organizations such as the Bilderberg Group and Trilateral Commission foster international cooperation, but stir discontent with the conspiratorial-minded populace.
  • Famous leaders and executives have routinely engaged with these groups, fueling only more intrigue over the years.

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.

This said, the following are the few organizations and secret societies that are supposedly involved in the shady dealings of the world's elite coterie. Some of their origins are shrouded in mystery or intrigue. Many famous leaders have cavorted around in their secret halls. For the most part, they're also not open to the public and have had a hand in major world historical decisions throughout the years.

Freemasons

Mural of George Washington in Masonic National Memorial Hall — Allyn Cox. Creative Commons Wikimedia

The Freemasons encompass one of the largest secret fraternal organizations worldwide. Spread through the conquest and advancement of the British Empire throughout the last few centuries, Freemasonry remains popular in countries that were once under British rule. Estimates of membership in this group number anywhere from 2–6 million. Anyone is allowed to join. If you're an American, you've most likely passed a Freemason lodge in your town or even went to some kind of local event there.

Freemasonry evolved from the guild culture that was flourishing during the Middle ages. As the name implies, it was originally for stonemasons and church builders. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the Masons began to take on a more religious and ritualistic role in their organization. It became a place for men to meet, philosophize, and deal with political issues. The first Grand Lodge opened up in England 1717.

There are numerous independent lodges around the world with millions of members. There is no controlling governance from a central lodge. While men like George Washington were Masons and held political sway back in the day, it's unlikely that the local boy scouts troop leader camped out in the lodge basement is involved with any elite plot of world domination.

The Bohemian Club

There are very few public comments about the the Bohemian Club from its many members. Mostly old Republicans and other conservative men. The existence of the club and its members is no secret. Every Republican president since Herbert Hoover has either been a member or visited the summer camp — the Bohemian Grove. It was said that in 1942, J. Robert Oppenheimer who headed the Manhattan Project, led a meeting in one of the clubhouses just a few years before the atomic bomb was set off over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The Bohemian Club was founded in 1872 and, in its earlier days, had more of a liberal and artistic flair to it back then. Mark Twain and Jack London were members. Over the years it's turned into what we know commonly know it as — a gathering where rich conservative men can let loose and put on bad theater… Supposedly, a number of low-level employees of the summer camp gave their experiences on the innocuous and somewhat boring retreat for the rich and powerful.

Oscar Wilde, who once visited the camp, snarkily remarked: "I never saw so many well-dressed, well-fed, business-looking Bohemians in my life."

Bilderberg Group 

Purported to be a wing of the shadowy world government, the Bilderberg Group is a secretive gathering where the elites of the world go to discuss a wider range of topics. An annual conference, the Bilderberg group was created in 1954 by Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. The goal was to create a better connection between Europe and North America.

Big tech CEOs, heads of state and other powerful people of the world are routinely invited to the yearly conference.

Though members of the media are allegedly also invited, the inner dealings of the Bilderberg conference are largely private. This said, not much has been reported on their discussions in detail — including who said what. Though it seems little leaves the rooms of these conferences, we can get an idea of topics they discuss from their public agenda. For instance, the group's members purportedly talked about populism in Europe, Russia, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and the future of work, among other things, at last year's conference.

Bilderberg abides by the Chatham House Rule, which means that anyone attending the meeting can talk about the information gained there, but cannot disclose who said it. Aside from the usual run of the mill conspiracies, there have been some valid academic critiques of this kind of organization.

Skull and Bones

Yale University Secret Society Skull and Bones Tomb. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

This not-so-secret secret society goes a few levels deep in the elite cadre of the ruling plutocracy. First, it's only open up to undergraduates of Yale University. And it's only open to the best in class. . . or to those with an established tie to the group. Nepotism.

Founded in 1832, the Skull and Bones selects 15 members of the junior class to join. Once accepted, members are called "Bonesmen."

The late President George H.W. Bush and his son George W. Bush were members, as well as John Kerry and a number of other highly connected and powerful alumni. Of course this has led to the reputation of the Skull and Bones being part of the Illuminati conspiracy. Some people believe that the Skull and Bones controls the CIA and others think it has some kind of connection to the Kennedy assassinations.

The club was also immortalized by F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1925 when some of his rich East Coast characters were described as belonging to the highly selective group.

Adding to the intrigue, Skull and Bones members meet in a crypt-like building called the Tomb. The number "322" is part of their insignia and is said to represent the year 322 BCE, when Athens lost the Lamian War and their democracy was destroyed.

Trilateral commission

The Trilateral commission was created by every conspiracist favorite scapegoat — David Rockefeller. Conspiracy theorists often lump this group together with the United Nations, Bilderberg Conference, and the aforementioned hoax — the Illuminati. These fronts or wings of the super conspiracy all help guide along the world controlled by a couple of elites.

Founded in 1973, David Rockefeller's initiative was to confront the challenges that grew from the new dependence on foreign allies that included the likes of Canada, Japan and Western Europe. Similar to the Bilderberg Group, the goal was to encourage greater international cooperation.

There are three regional chairs for Europe, North America, and the Asia-Pacific region. Meetings are held throughout the year, with regional headquarters in Paris, Washington, D.C., and Tokyo. Its members includes influential statesmen, politicians, business executives, and intellectuals. Membership is, as you'd expect, by invite only.

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What was it like to live in a Japanese concentration camp?

During World War II, the U.S. incarcerated over 100,000 Japanese Americans in concentration camps throughout the West.

Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Now that the issue of concentration camps in the U.S. has once again reared its head, it can be beneficial to recall the last time such camps were employed in the U.S.
  • After Pearl Harbor, the U.S. incarcerated over 100,000 Japanese Americans in camps, ostensibly for national security purposes.
  • In truth, the incarceration was primarily motivated by racism. What was life like in the U.S.'s concentration camps?

On February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which authorized and directed military commanders "to prescribe military areas … from which any or all persons may be excluded, and with respect to which, the right of any person to enter, remain in, or leave shall be subject to whatever restrictions the Secretary of War or the appropriate Military Commander may impose in his discretion." Under the authority of this executive order, roughly 112,000 men, women, and children of Japanese descent — nearly two-thirds of which were American citizens — were detained in concentration camps.

How did the camps get their start?

With the benefit of a nearly 80-year perspective, it's clear that the internment of Japanese Americans was racially motivated. In response to Japan's growing military power in the buildup to World War II, President Roosevelt commissioned two reports to determine whether it would be necessary to intern Japanese Americans should conflict break out between Japan and the U.S. Neither's conclusions supported the plan, with one even going so far as to "certify a remarkable, even extraordinary degree of loyalty among this generally suspect ethnic group." But of course, the Pearl Harbor attacks proved to be far more persuasive than these reports.

Pearl Harbor turned simmering resentment against the Japanese to a full boil, putting pressure on the Roosevelt administration to intern Japanese Americans. Lieutenant General John DeWitt, who would become the administrator of the internment program, testified to Congress

"I don't want any of them here. They are a dangerous element. There is no way to determine their loyalty... It makes no difference whether he is an American citizen, he is still a Japanese. American citizenship does not necessarily determine loyalty... But we must worry about the Japanese all the time until he is wiped off the map."

DeWitt's position was backed up by a number of pre-existing anti-immigrant groups based out of the West Coast, such as the Joint Immigration Committee and the Native Sons and Daughters of the Golden West. For many, the war simply served as an excuse to get rid of Japanese Americans. In an interview with the Saturday Evening Post, Austin Anson, the managing secretary of the Salinas Vegetable Grower-Shipper Administration, said:

"We're charged with wanting to get rid of the Japs for selfish reasons. We do. It's a question of whether the White man lives on the Pacific Coast or the brown men. ... If all the Japs were removed tomorrow, we'd never miss them in two weeks because the White farmers can take over and produce everything the Jap grows. And we do not want them back when the war ends, either."

Ironically for Anson, the mass deportation of Japanese Americans under Executive Order 9066 meant there was a significant shortage of agricultural labor. Many Caucasians left to fight the war, so the U.S. signed an agreement with Mexico to permit the immigration of several million Mexicans agricultural workers under the so-called bracero program.

Life in the camps

Japanese American concentration camp

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Circa 1943: Aerial view of a Japanese American relocation center in Amache, Colorado, during World War II. Each family was provided with a space 20 by 25 ft. The barracks were set in blocks and each block was provided with a community bath house and mess hall.

For the most part, Japanese Americans remained stoic in the face of their incarceration. The phrase shikata ga nai was frequently invoked — the phrase roughly translates to "it cannot be helped," which, for many, represents the perceived attitude of the Japanese people to withstand suffering that's out of their control.

Initially, most Japanese Americans were sent to temporary assembly centers, typically located at fairgrounds or racetracks. These were hastily constructed barracks, where prisoners were often packed into tight quarters and made to use toilets that were little more than pits in the ground. From here, they were relocated to more permanent camps — replete with barbed wire and armed guards — in remote, isolated places across the seven states of California, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, and Arkansas.

Many of these camps, also known as War Relocation Centers, were little better than the temporary assembly centers. One report described the buildings as "tar paper-covered barracks of simple frame construction without plumbing or cooking facilities of any kind." Again, overcrowding was common.

As a result, disease became a major concern, including dysentery, malaria, and tuberculosis. This was problematic due to the chronic shortage of medical professionals and supplies, an issue that was not helped by the War Relocation Authority's decision to cap Japanese American medical professional's pay at $20 a month (about $315 in 2019 dollars), while Caucasian workers had no such restriction. As a comparison, Caucasian nurses earned $150 ($2,361) a month in one camp.

The U.S. government also administered loyalty questionnaires to incarcerated Japanese Americans with the ultimate goal of seeing whether they could be used as soldiers and to segregate "loyal" citizens from "disloyal" ones. The questionnaires often asked whether they would be willing to join the military and if they would completely renounce their loyalty to Japan. Due to fears of being drafted, general confusion, and justified anger at the U.S. government, thousands of Japanese Americans "failed" the loyalty questionnaire and were sent to the concentration camp at Tule Lake. When Roosevelt later signed a bill that would permit Japanese Americans to renounce their citizenship, 98 percent of the 5,589 who did were located at Tule Lake. Some apologists cite this an example of genuine disloyalty towards the U.S., but this argument clearly ignores the gross violation of Japanese Americans' rights. Later, it became clear that many of these renunciations had been made under duress, and nearly all of those who had renounced their citizenship sought to gain it back.

Since many children lived in the camps, they came equipped with schools. Of course, these schools weren't ideal — student-teacher ratios reached as high as 48:1, and supplies were limited. The irony of learning about American history and ideals was not lost on the students, one of whom wrote in an essay --

"They, the first generation [of Japanese immigrants], without the least knowledge of the English language nor the new surroundings, came to this land with the American pioneering spirit of resettling. ...Though undergoing many hardships, they did reach their goal only to be resettled by the order of evacuation under the emergency for our protection and public security."

Potentially the best part of life in the camps — and the best way for determined prisoners to demonstrate their fundamental American-ness — was playing baseball. One camp even featured nearly 100 baseball teams. Former prisoner Herb Kurima recalled the importance of baseball in their lives in an interview with Christian Science Monitor. "I wanted our fathers, who worked so hard, to have a chance to see a ball game," he said. "Over half the camp used to come out to watch. It was the only enjoyment in the camps."

The aftermath

When the camps finally closed in 1945, the lives of the incarcerated Japanese Americans had been totally upended. Some were repatriated to Japan, while others settled in whichever part of the country they had been arbitrarily placed in. Those who wished to return to the West Coast were given $25 and a train ticket, but few had anything to return to. Many had sold their property to predatory buyers prior to being incarcerated, while theft had wiped out whatever else they had left behind. Many, many years later, the 1988 Civil Liberties Act mandated that each surviving victim be paid $20,000, though that seems like a small fine to pay for irrevocably changing the courses of more than 100,000 lives.