What exactly is the Illuminati? Conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones believe it is a clandestine, possibly satanic organization secretly controlling every aspect of the world as we know it. According to rumors, the Illuminati even orchestrated several celebrity deaths for the group's own societal gain. The organization's alleged ultimate goal is to implement the New World Order, described by New York Magazine writer Hua Hsu as "an all-powerful, possibly Luciferian, one-world government."
But is the Illuminati real? If we're going by the conspiratorial definition, probably not. A real secret society operated under this name for a brief period in the 18th century, but it bared little resemblance to the supposedly influential and nefarious organization we speak of today.
How did this small intellectual group of yesteryear become - at least in the eyes of conspiracy theorists - the single most insidious shadow network of all time? Here are the verifiable, undeniable Illuminati facts, from the society's quiet inception and swift disbandment, to its alleged resurgence as the rumored nexus of all evil.