10 Things People Believe About the Illuminati

The Skull and Bones Society Is an Illuminati JV Team
Students walk by the Skull and Bones Society building at Yale University in 2012. © MICHELLE MCLOUGHLIN/Reuters/Corbis

Yale University's Skull and Bones Society was founded in 1832 by William Huntington Russell, the offspring of a New England slave-owning and opium-trafficking family, and Alphonso Taft, the father of future president William Howard Taft [source: Goldwag]. Since then, the secret club has initiated scores of Yalies who, after reportedly engaging in rituals such as kissing a skull and wrestling naked in a crypt, have gone on to positions of great power in society, including Time magazine founder Henry Luce and former President George W. Bush [sources: Associated Press, McEnery, Goldwag].

That combination of secrecy, weird practices and influence has proven irresistible to Illuminati conspiracy theorists, who see Skull and Bones as something akin to an Illuminati training ground, where after being recruited, members just happen to end up in positions of vast influence. Prominent Illuminati conspiracy theorist author Robert Hieronimus claims that Skull and Bones founder Russell even modeled his group after a German Illuminati offshoot called the Brotherhood of Death, which "is said to have plotted an underground conspiracy to dominate the world."

So what is this organization really? Though members are sworn to secrecy, an Atlantic magazine article reported that 15 campus leaders are tapped each year for the society; in recent years, an effort has been made to attract diverse students. Skull and Bones members meet in a mausoleum-like structure called the Tomb twice a week, once for socializing and once to debate current affairs. They have no master plan to take over the world, apparently.