No matter what their supposed purpose, there’s something inherently sinister about a secret society. Though most are formed with relatively realistic political and religious goals in mind, their focus on mystery and secrecy has made them the target of countless criticisms and conspiracy theories involving everything from aliens and the occult to world domination. Of course, the reality is usually much more innocuous, but that doesn’t mean that the groups don’t have some fascinatingly weird practices, or that they haven’t had an impact on world events.
Skull and Bones
George H.W. Bush, George W.Bush, John Kerry
Ivy League Colleges are known for their many secret societies and student organizations, and of these Yale’s Skull and Bones is probably the most famous. The society taps new students for membership every spring, and the only real prerequisite for membership is that the initiate be a campus leader. As such, athletes, members of the student council, and fraternity presidents are often considered. Skull and Bones counts among its membership U.S. Presidents, Senators, and Supreme Court Justices, which has lead many to argue that the group works as some kind of underground organization for the high-powered political elite. There is no denying that the club is well funded: an alumni organization called the Russell Trust Association bankrolls its activities, and the group supposedly owns an island in upstate New York.
Skull and Bones’ membership is no longer kept secret, but their practices still are. The order meets twice a week, but just what goes on at their meetings has never been revealed. To the disappointment of conspiracy theorists, what rumors have come out are relatively innocuous. The group has supposedly taken part in a number of pranks, and was once even sued by chairman of the Apache tribe, who claimed the Bonesmen were in possession of the skeleton of Geronimo. Beyond this, the group is known for allegedly forcing new members to relate their sexual history to the rest of the society, and for giving out nicknames to each initiate. In a widely reported rumor, President George H.W. Bush was supposedly known as “Magog,” a name given to the Bonesman with the most sexual experience
Go here to read about the other nine secret societies.