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The Illuminati?

Some thoughts on the Illuminati...
Well as far as a secret society goes the Illuminati haven't done a very good job at remaining secret in recent years have they?
As far as history is concerned I think it is true to say that the Illuminati were a secret society, said to have formed in the late 18th Century in Bavaria - well if we are trying to be correct a date of 1776 has been proposed. It is difficult to piece together any meaningful history of this 'society' as the whole subject has become tainted with poorly referenced conspiracy paranoia, pseudo-historical analysis and the odd fraud (hoax) or two.
Starting with the choice of name - Illuminati - it seems that the society professed to be in line with some kind of information or approach that made its members 'the enlightened'. It is likely that they had a republican political agenda which included the abolition of monarchies. It is further suggested that they tried to bring about change by means of subterfuge, secrecy, and conspiracy, including the infiltration of other organizations. They were not very successful and were destroyed, or at least outlawed, within fifteen years of their origin (Pipes 1997).
The founder is reputed to be Adam Weishaupt from the University of Ingolstadt and it appears that the society's aims were closely linked to ideas from the Enlightenment i.e. to combat religious thinking and promote and encourage rationalism. Wieshaupt was an anti-monarchist and secularist which, obviously, informed the nature of the society he created. In 1777, Karl Theodor became ruler of Bavaria and, in 1784, his government banned all secret societies including the Illuminati and they disbanded (or perhaps were imprisoned, 'destroyed' or otherwise dispatched!)
There is no empirical evidence that this society survived the 18th Century.
What we hear of today is a melange of conspiracy theories from which have at their core the notion of some kind of elite, powerful and probably wealthy 'secret society' behind veils of other 'secret' or at least 'clandestine' groups.
Like an onion skin, although conspiracy theorists would prefer the image of a pyramid, the outer layers are the lowest levels of the New World Order movers and shakers and at the core can be found the Illuminati.
Sometimes we are told that this inner core of is run by a number of key families (13 is often quoted for effect more than genealogy) whose 'bloodlines' are linked and perhaps manipulated by visitors from another world.
This inner core of people is so secret that the families are actually named on several websites...Their existence is so shadowy that they insist on leaving symbols of their very existence behind for us mere mortals to discover...
This then is the real Illuminati!
Seems like they're not doing a very good job at keeping their manipulative presence hidden!
I mean stop for a moment to consider some simple ideas.
The bloodlines of monarchy and aristocracy are very likely to be linked in any case, what with marriage being the vehicle by which alliances were made. Such links do not require the organising agents of 'secret' human societies let alone the interference from some passing aliens - or am I missing the point?
Of course there are 'symbols' which seem to survive and be repeated from time to time and place to place. As a species we are very good at creating symbolic language and meaningful patterns (you're reading some right now)... AND of course some 'magical symbols' will form part of our everyday society as they have been a part of our psyche for a very long time. Assuming these symbols need to have any other significance is a bit of a stretch. The 'Great Seal' on US currency is often quoted as being Masonic or Illuminati in origin having been designed by Illuminati, or at least High Degree Freemasons. If you really check this story out (see Skeptoid) there are more than enough questions raised which serve to question the key assumptions in the conspiracy theorists rhetoric.
What do Governments do?
They rule, they plan, they organize, they fight, they assert sovereignty!
There's no need to imagine a global conspiracy to explain the actions of Governments.
Now here's where there is, perhaps, an element of truth in all of the Conspiracy Theories you have ever heard. It seems obvious to me that Governments cannot tell us the truth all of the time, truth after all is a relative concept, and there are things that must be on a need to know basis. More importantly some major Governments have been shown to be involved with somewhat dodgy dealings and certainly individuals within Governments are not above corruption, error and simply being wrong.
The simple fact the 'the truth outs' from some of these accidental, and not so accidental, cover-ups seems to belie the existence of ability to 'keep' secrets of any real magnitude.
Perhaps there is a rule of thumb that is worth exploring - the more people who need to be involved in any form of cover-up or covert action the LESS likely it is to be possible.
Google returns over 34,000,000 results for a search on Illuminati and a mere 1,000,000 for a search on Illuminati + Sceptic. Surely that suggests something!