Former Cuban president Fidel Castro recently published an article in his Communist Party newspaper "Granma" quoting a man named Daniel Estulin, author of "The True Story of the Bilderberg Group." According to Estulin, the Bilderberg Group is a clandestine organization comprised of the world's elite businessmen, politicians and inventors who control governments and have joined forces to achieve world domination.
Though Castro did not explicitly endorse Estulin's conspiracy theories as fact, the 84-year-old former world leader was clearly impressed by Estulin's book, devoting nearly one-third of the newspaper to his claims. (The newspaper is eight pages long.) Castro is no stranger to conspiracy theories, and has suggested that the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks may have been an inside job.
It is perhaps not surprising that Castro would embrace conspiracy theories; after all, for decades he was targeted for assassination by conspirators. The CIA, for example, is known to have tried to kill Castro several times — often employing elaborate or outlandish methods, such as explosive cigars and poisoning him with thallium to make his iconic beard fall out.
Castro, of course, isn't alone in entertaining conspiracy theories. Former pro wrestler and Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura touts them (including the Bilderberg Group) on his TruTV cable show, and even infomercial king Kevin Trudeau claims that as a teenager he was inducted into a secret, global organization called "The Brotherhood," founded and run by the world's most powerful men to control global power. (Oddly, Trudeau's powerful associates could not prevent his 1991 felony conviction for larceny.)
The Bilderberg Group does exist, and is secretive, but that doesn't mean that their activities are as nefarious or far-reaching as Estulin and other conspiracy theorists suggest. For example, Yale University's Skull and Bones is also a secret society with powerful members (including former U.S. presidents and senators of both political parties), but is not necessarily planning global domination — or are they?
You can't prove they're not.
Benjamin Radford is managing editor of the Skeptical Inquirer science magazine. His new book is Scientific Paranormal Investigation; this and his other books and projects can be found on his website. His Bad Science column appears regularly on LiveScience.