Think For Yourself: The Illuminati

By | | comments |

Is the world controlled by a secretive organisation, whose members may or may not be lizards? IA critical thinker, John Turnbull, takes a look at the history and mythology of that most secret of secret organisations, the Illuminati.

A FEW DAYS ago, my nine year old son asked me if I’d heard of the Illuminati. When I replied in the positive, he asked if they really controlled everything in the world. I told him that it didn’t sound likely to me, but I didn’t know enough to give him a comprehensive answer.

The following article is the result of that conversation.

Who are the Illuminati?

While some claim that the origins of the Illuminati go back “thousands of years”, the term was first used in the late 1700’s, when philosopher Adam Weishaupt formed the Bavarian Illuminati. Contemporary to Freemasonry and banned by the Roman Catholic Church, the stated purpose of the Bavarian Illuminati was to fight the oppressive and corrupting influence of superstition and religion, to “put an end to the machinations of the purveyors of injustice”.

After a few years of networking, politicking and infighting, the Illuminati were officially disbanded in 1785, but it didn’t take long for tales of ongoing conspiracies to emerge. In 1798, John Robison published Proofs of a Conspiracy, which claimed that the Illuminati were behind the French Revolution. This hypothesis was originally proposed by Leopold Hoffman, a Freemason convinced that the highest levels of the masons had been infiltrated by Illuminati and corrupted to do their bidding.

The legend was propagated via the publication of the Illuminatus Trilogy, which is somewhat akin to Dianetics in that to most it comes across as science fiction, but is taken by some as a gateway to hidden truths, and referenced frequently by proponents as “proof” of their beliefs. Another favourite reference is Fritz Springmeier’s Bloodlines of the Illuminati, which spends almost 600 pages naming almost every wealthy family from modern history and drawing wildly unsubstantiated conclusions about their activities if you’re rich, you’re probably a member of the illuminati … whether you know it or not!

What do the Illuminati do?

Depending on who you listen to, the Illuminati either control the world by engineering wars and financial crises, seek to bring about the end of the world via the coming of the Anti-Christ, or want to introduce a worldwide cashless monetary system. Or maybe all of the above. Consistency isn’t exactly a strong point among most Illuminati proponents.

The one thing that most people seem to agree on is that the Illuminati seek to bring about the New World Order.

So what is the New World Order?

The conspiracy website states:

‘There is a worldwide conspiracy being orchestrated by an extremely powerful and influential group of genetically-related individuals (at least at the highest echelons) which include many of the world's wealthiest people, top political leaders, and corporate elite, as well as members of the so-called Black Nobility of Europe (dominated by the British Crown) whose goal is to create a One World (fascist) Government, stripped of nationalistic and regional boundaries, that is obedient to their agenda. Their intention is to effect complete and total control over every human being on the planet and to dramatically reduce the world's population by 6.5 Billion people to 500 million.’ 

Right wing broadcaster Pat Robertson released a book called New World Order in 1992, taking a distinctly biblical look at the issue. In a wildly condescending fashion, Robertson claimed that with rise of a One World government was foretold in Revelations, and only people as smart and as Christian as he is could see what was happening.

Illuminati symbols

Like many secret societies, the Illuminati have a bunch of secret symbols that they use to show how secret they are. Many readers would be familiar with the pyramid and the all-seeing eye, the image on the US one-dollar bill that conspiracy fans love to use as “proof” that the government is controlled by the Illuminati. Somewhat amusingly, other pagan and satanic symbols have also been associated with the Illuminati, including 666, pentagrams, snakes, fire, the sun and an inverted cross.

Once you’re familiar with the symbology of the Illuminati, chances are that you’ll start seeing them everywhere. This less due to the fact that the Illuminati control everything, and more due to the human brain’s talent for pattern recognition. As an experiment, count how many times you see fire or an image of flame in the next 24 hours. Once you’re looking, it’s everwhere.   

Illuminati symbols

What about the Bilderberg Group? They’re like the real Illuminati …

Established in 1954, the Bilderberg Group is an annual private meeting of industry leaders, originally formed to foster stronger relations between the United States and Europe. While somewhat secretive in their activities (attendance is by invitation only) Bilderberg are far from a secret organisation, with a public website, a list of attendees and even a published agenda.   

Wait, did you say something about lizards?

Ah, yes. This is where a possibly plausible worldview takes a drastic left turn, leaving more reasonable proponents shaking their heads in disbelief. There exists a subset of Illuminati believers who also subscribe to the Reptilian hypothesis, which states the highest levels of government and royalty have been infiltrated by reptilian aliens. A good example of people who believe this is David Icke, whose website is either hilarious or terrifying depending on your views of fanaticism.

Without a hint of satire, here are some recent articles on the subject;

  • Justin Beiber’s ‘Where Are U Now’ is full of Quickly Flashing Illuminati Imagery
  • Kanye West: Tidal is not the Illuminati
  • The 2014 American Music Awards were Littered with Illuminati Symbolism
  • The Illuminati Depopulation Agenda

There is also a deep layer of anti-seminitsm running through most Illuminati arguments, with many fans espousing the familiar “Jews run the world” point of view.

Throw away all your Disney movies. Here's why.

But Conspiracies Exist!  What about the lies told by the tobacco industry? The support of fascist governments and international drug trafficking by the CIA? WHAT ABOUT MONTSANTO!!!!

It is indeed accurate to say that conspiracies exist, and government and big business have been known to collude against the best interest of the general population. The problem with global conspiracies is not that of intent, but rather ineptitude.

As the frequent leaks from both U.S. and Australian parliaments attest, it is very difficult to keep a secret in politics. Big corporations also struggle with this issue, particularly as junior and mid-level staff leave the organisation or move to a competitor. Searching the massive WikiLeaks database reveals almost nothing that mentions Illuminati, although this hasn’t stopped motivated individuals from linking international arms and intelligence companies and drawing their own conclusions.

Simply put, it is implausible that nobody in a massive international conspiracy has broken ranks and leaked sensitive documentation to the public.


While it is exceedingly difficult to prove a negative, the evidence for a global Illuminati conspiracy is thin at best. Consider the number of people who have left Scientology over recent years and the secrets they have revealed, often at great personal and financial cost, yet not one person has ever left the Illuminati and gone to the media with proof of their existence?

Or perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps I’m conditioned to believe that the Illuminati don’t exist, and all of my searching for evidence and critical thinking is for naught. Either way, I doubt I’ll be able to convince anyone who truly believes:

“In the paranoid mind, the Illuminati succeeded in their goals, and have now infiltrated every government and every aspect of society. They are responsible for every evil and every unjust act that ever occurs anywhere; the fact that absolutely no evidence of their existence can be found only serves to make them stronger and more frightening. They are the demon in the closet, and will probably never disappear from the paranoid fantasy world of right-wing conspiracy theorists.” (New England Skeptical Society, via

When it seems like the world is conspiring against you, take deep breath, consider that we live in a random universe with no grand plan, and think for yourself.

Like what you just read? John’s books are now available on Amazon and Kindle. For about the price of a cup of coffee you can take a journey deep into the disturbed psyche behind columns including Screen Themes, Think For Yourself, New Music Through Old Ears and JT on NXT. There’s supernatural thriller Damnation’s Flame, action/romance Reaper, black comedy City Boy and travel guidebook Bar Trek: Europe. Check them out!

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License

Monthly Donation


Single Donation


Support independent journalism. Subscribe to IA for just $5.

Recent articles by John Turnbull
The tragic comedy of Clerks III

Drawing from his own life story, Kevin Smith has jammed gum in the locks of his ...  
Screen Themes: Nomadland is Easy Rider for the 2020s

John Turnbull checks out the multi-Academy Award-winning film Nomadland and its ...  
Screen Themes: Nobody vs Mortal Kombat

In the wake of the least-watched Oscars in recent history, entertainment editor ...  
Join the conversation
comments powered by Disqus

Support Fearless Journalism

If you got something from this article, please consider making a one-off donation to support fearless journalism.

Single Donation


Support IAIndependent Australia

Subscribe to IA and investigate Australia today.

Close Subscribe Donate