The Illuminati is a supposedly secret group of celebrities, politicians, and business leaders that controls nearly all aspects of life on earth, from pop culture to government.
The conspiracy has gained popularity in the fringes, with internet sites espousing theories and identifying potential members.
So, just what is the Illuminati all about, and is it for real?
Well, there's no way to say for certain that it isn't. After all, secrect is the crux of the conspiracy. Its actions are supposed to be uber-secret, so the fact that there isn't enough evidence to prove it exists wouldn't sway believers. And denials from the supposed members aren't given much value, either.
So, the easiest way to evaluate the Illuminati is to look at who is supposedly involved and what they are supposedly doing. The society attracts a wide variety of powerful people, but for some reason seems to be tilted toward the world of pop music, especially hip hop. Jay-Z is considered a high-ranking member, as is Beyonce. Kanye West is also a member.
Rappers in turn love to further the theories, with emcees like Rick Ross and Dr. Dre making references to the group in their lyrics.
The rest of the list includes people you might expect to be running a shadowy, far-reaching organization: Barack Obama, Queen Elizabeth II, George Soros, the Pope.
According to believers, the Illuminati is responsible for manipulating currency, orchestrating the world's economy, and even carrying out assassinations. When young rapper Lil Snupe was shot dead earlier this year, conspiracy theorists believed that his death was orchestrated by his mentor, Meek Mill, as a blood sacrifice to the Illuminati.
Ultimately, believers think the Illuminati will one day institute a one-world government, though it's unclear even among them what would happen next.
It's difficult to tell where the Illuminati conspiracy starts or ends, as believers tend to attribute any strange circumstance to the group. When Beyonce made a triangle hand gesture during the Super Bowl halftime show last year, rumors said it was a secret message to the group of shadowy elite. They seemed to ignore the fact that the gesture was identical to the diamond thrown up by artists in husband Jay-Z's Rocafella label (or just think that's a front for the Illuminati, too).
The group was mentioned again this year when Miley Cyrus turned in a raunchy on-stage performance at the MTV Video Music Awards. Afterward, religious broadcaster Rick Wiles theorized that Miley had sold her soul to Satan and joined the Illuminati.
The strangest part about the Illuminati conspiracy seems to be its longevity. Though the idea of a secret all-controlling group actually dates back centuries to real-life groups of leaders in Europe, the modern theory of the Illuminati has been kicked around for decades.
Despite the baffling nature of its theories and the often bizarre tendencies of its followers, it appears the Illuminati conspiracy isn't going anywhere for a while.