Alongside the conspiracies that the original moon landing was fake, the USA government orchestrated 9/11, and the idea that the C.I.A invented and planted the deadly AIDS virus to wipe out homosexuals and African Americans, is the age-old favourite - that secret societies rule the world.
I've been listening to scare stories about the Freemasons for over two decades in the music industry, and have had a vague interest and intrigue about the group.
Coincidently this past the month, the Freemasons put on a Ball, a white tie charity ball that revived a 150-year-old masonic social tradition. I was invited to both the ball and their building at Great Queen Street in Covent Garden.
The ball was as grand and opulent as expected and 1,000 guests turned up at the HAC - a very grand venue flanked in burning flames and sports cars, in the heart of Moorgate- to experience ''the best of English tradition, entertainment, and hospitality'' and all money raised on the night went to two charities- Combat Stress and the Royal College of Surgeons.
Hosted by the Masonic lodges of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and with guests from several London lodges, the University Lodges' Ball was open to members of the public too.
The ballroom was filled with gentlemen in White Tie and ladies in magnificent evening dresses for what I was promised would be ''a night of sparkling conversation, entertainment, and dancing''. Whilst mingling pre-dinner and taking in the champagne reception and string quartet, all I could think of and smile about, was the e-mail a friend has sent me the night before, warning me not to attend as ''they are blood-drinking, flesh-eating, shape-shifting extra-terrestrial reptilian humanoids. They are our leaders, our corporate executives, our beloved Oscar-winning actors and Grammy-winning singers, and they're responsible for the Holocaust, the Oklahoma City bombings and the 9/11 attacks ...''
I put this to a few of the guests I mingled with, who laughed and warned me to prepare for the drinking from skulls part of the evening post dinner. Others giggled and said the rumours were silly and that you could see by this evening that ''we provide more charity than any other group on the planet''.
It seems like a funny, yet uber cool fixation. On one hand its as if the Masons are a bit like Boy Scouts for middle-aged men. In the 1950s, if you wanted to get on in the law, banking or politics, being a Mason was obligatory so on went the suit and the winking eye with secret handshakes they were all proud of.
On the other hand imagine setting up a group or gang that is global, has the reputation of power, yet so many amazingly dangerous misconceptions. A pretty secretive, strong brand that's not even trying to sell us anything! Perhaps they should consider selling mason branded golf clubs, aftershave, cigars, whiskey, shooting apparel, an airline and clothing.
Whilst they may not be trying to sell us anything, others are eager to hang onto their coat tails. This month a new nightclub has replaced the old Movida club and calls itself Mason House with all the visual hints at being associated with the fraternity, but the Freemasons I met were quick to distance themselves from it.
The ball committee told me that there were three reasons for the ball to be held aside from the historical; to have fun, to raise money for their charities and to contribute to the developing openness of freemasonry and help with the general public opinion of it.
I spoke to a female Mason, Natasha Lorraine Victor, who is part of the Order of Women's Freemasons in Notting Hill, London. NB: Natasha's viewpoint as transcribed, are her own subjective opinions and does not represent the Order in this interview.
"I am here today as a Lady mason, so I can talk to some females who have a genuine interest in Masonry, to understand what it is about and how they can get involved. I was fortunate to meet some young male masons on the social circuit, who made me aware of a lecture, taking place at Freemason's Hall on the theme of Dan Brown's book, 'The Lost Symbol'. As I had been reading the book at the time, I was intrigued and went along to the event. At the drinks reception afterwards, I met my future mentor, who enlightened me that his mother had been a Lady mason. He thought I would find Masonry enlightening, given I had expressed my deep interest in ancient civilizations particularly, Egypt. This was a ground-breaking piece of information, as I had been reminded many times, by male Masons that the fraternity was only for men; and that 'gender rules' would unlikely change in the future. My mentor had an entirely different approach, given he had joined Masonry because his mother had inspired him to do so!''
Unsurprisingly, it seems that females fight for equality and diversity in the free mason world too...
''The United Grand Lodge of England, although it doesn't officially recognize the Order of Women's Freemasons, many of the higher members and superior officers acknowledge us. So they will talk to us about certain things, they might not discuss ritual and they won't usually respond with the handgrip because they don't acknowledge us as a 'Brother' basically. But hopefully in time, the chaps will come to see that the women are operating from pretty much the same workings, that we are doing the same things. A substantial number of Lady Mason's in my Order are above and beyond many of the younger UGLE mason's I encounter, in terms of the Orders they have joined and their Masonic rank. So hopefully we can teach them a thing or two in the future, and vice versa!''
The chat with Natasha had my head spinning. So many questions with PR friendly answers. However I didn't have time to dwell on that as the pre-ball banquet was beginning with a special toast to Her Majesty The Queen in celebration of the 60th anniversary of her Coronation. On the menu were no human organs or sacrifices. Instead we were treated to regular foodstuff like smoked salmon, oven braised lamb shank and classic hot chocolate fondants with ice cream.
Post dinner we were invited to adjourn to either the grounds to take in the lawns and cannons,or the grand ballroom with the Oxford Uni band directing us in some traditional Irish Rockall Ceilidh dancing, or for a freshly rolled cigar and shot of Remi Cognac in the outside Davidoff Cigar Marquee, where members of the SOAS Cuban big band were leading a Mariachi sing-along to ''I love rock & roll'' whilst the public school boys got stuck right in.
I was able to ask a few more questions as we all waltzed around.
''The only requirements for membership are that you are adult, choose to enter freely, and believe in a higher power of some sort - after all, there's not much point seeking spiritual betterment if you don't believe in a spiritual dimension to the world''.
After attending their functions it seems to me that the only secret Freemasonry still has, is the ways Masons can recognise each other - everything else, including detailed ritual scripts is freely available - and those are all easy to find on the web.
The hilarious thing is also its not especially secret, either. Lodges tend to be listed in phone books, and have dedicated web pages.
Like most of life's secrets, there are multiple layers and corridors the majority don't get to go down, but if you look at this link below where Freemasons openly debate, it's clear they too are fed up of the rumours circulating about their group.
The Ghostwoods site concludes that masonry is '' a cooperative effort to improve the world, by taking responsibility for yourself and the world around you, and working alongside like-minded people to make things a little better''.
My searchings' so far conclude that this certainly seems to be the top line. If you're interested then why not take a visit to their hall yourself, you can get a guided tour and ask whatever you like, and then make your own mind up.