A sampling of the basic plot lines of popular conspiracy theories today:
* That AIDS is a "designer disease" created in top-secret laboratories by U.S. government scientists for eugenic purposes and for the genocide of homosexuals, drug users, blacks and the underprivileged.
* Popularized by Oliver Stone's "JFK": That John F. Kennedy's assassination was A) a CIA-fostered plot stemming from the President's interference with an all-out invasion of Cuba and his efforts to control the U.S. intelligence community; B) a Mafia hit, with or without the blessings of the CIA or FBI, in part as revenge for the President unleashing his brother, Atty. Gen. Robert Kennedy, on the mob; C) a conspiracy of a small corps of CIA renegades and anti-Castro Cuban operatives, D) all of the above.
* That George Bush is the "ultimate conspiracy President," as author Jonathan Vankin puts it. Bush is equally at home with the "Eastern Establishment," the Anglophilic, Ivy, Yankee elitists long tied to the Rockefellers and the Council on Foreign Relations that spawned the Trilateral Commission (always suspect in these circles), and with the "Southwestern Establishment" of Texas oil barons and anti-communist right-wingers suspected of playing a role in the Kennedy assassination.
* That the drugs-and-guns subculture threatening every major U.S. city and taking its biggest toll on black residents of poor neighborhoods is a genocidal plot. That's often coupled with the theory of a systematic assassination of black leaders, including Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Black Panther Fred Hampton and, most recently, Rep. Mickey Leland of Texas, who died in a mysterious plane crash in Ethiopia.
* That human beings are "property" of a superior extraterrestrial civilization manipulating events that we consider history. By comparison, the popular theory that the U.S. government is covering up instances of extraterrestrial contact is only a piece of the puzzle.
* That the disintegration of communism in the former Soviet Union is part of a sinister KGB plot to lull Americans into a foolish and false sense of security.