Beware the Bilderberg Group!

Once a year, the world's top power brokers meet. Are they really planning Global Domination?

by Brian Dunning

Filed under Conspiracies

Skeptoid #225
September 28, 2010
Podcast transcript | Listen | Subscribe

Once a year, the world's top power brokers gather behind closed doors for several days in a plush luxury hotel. The Bilderberg Group is an annual meeting of approximately 125 heads of state and leaders from business, politics, military, and economics from Western Europe and the United States. They discuss all the headlining topics: political, environmental, economic, and strategic issues facing the West. And when the meeting breaks up and everyone returns to his home nation — according to the conspiracy theorists — the "Bilderbergers" are armed with fresh orders, and each does his part in their master plan of World Domination. For the story goes that the Bilderberg Group is not a gathering of leaders for the purpose of discussion and the exchange of ideas, as it claims to be; but is in fact the secret world government. Sounds like a fine place to point our skeptical eye.

The Bilderberg Group was formed in 1954, and is named after the Bilderberg Hotel in Holland where the first meeting took place. The world had just come out of World War II and was entering into a new war of a much different character, the cold war. Malevolence was rising in the East, and many noted that anti-American sentiment in Europe was counterproductive to the shared goal of defending against the Communist Bloc. Polish politician Józef Retinger rallied support from Prince Bernard of the Netherlands and Belgian Prime Minister Paul Van Zeeland, who in turn contacted other leaders from Europe and the United States. The idea was to get one conservative and one liberal representative from each nation to get as broad a perspective as possible. Since the meeting was strictly unofficial, it was felt that discussion could be far more efficient and productive without the concern of binding resolutions or any sort of red tape. Fifty delegates attended the first meeting at the Bilderberg and discussed ways to improve cultural, economic, and strategic relations between the United States and Western Europe. The meeting was considered successful enough that a steering committee was formed to turn it into an annual event, with Prince Bernard as its first chairman.

Since then they've met about once a year, usually in May or June, at some 5-star hotel, usually in Europe but sometimes in the United States, and always in a different place. That first meeting was the only time they actually met at the Bilderberg Hotel.

There is nothing secret about the attendees. Part of the deal is that if you go to a conference, your name, title, and country are published on their web site and included in a press release. Every year, they've sent out a complete list of everyone who attended. Generally, if you're going to wield power from behind the scenes, you have to be behind the scenes. The Bilderbergers are not.

However, the content of their talks is a bit murky. Their meetings are held under the Chatham House Rule, which is a principle under which records can be kept of meetings without noting the identity or affiliation of any speaker. Each attendee is thus guaranteed anonymity. They have their own reason for doing this: By assuring their attendees some privacy, they encourage free, uninhibited discussion. However the use of the Chatham House Rule, quite obviously, appeals to the conspiracy theorists, as it could be seen as being consistent with secrecy.

Following this rule, the minutes are said to be taken down, but as they are the private property of the group they are not made public (see Wikileaks for leaked copies of their actual private minutes). This also throws fuel onto the fire of the conspiracy theorists. All that's made public are the general topics. For example, here is the information provided by the Bilderberg Group about the subject of their 2009 meeting in Greece:

Governments and Markets
After the G-20: Role of Institutions
Protectionism: How Serious
Cyberterrorism: Policy and Strategy
Sustainability: Post Kyoto Challenges
Iraq: Role and Responsibilities in the Region
Pakistan and Afghanistan
A New Order: US and the World
Lessons from a Crisis
Challenge to Market Economies and Democracies
New Imperialisms: Russia - China
Current Affairs: How does Industry see the Future

In short, basically the usual politicial/economic stuff that you'd expect such a group to discuss. But conspiracy theory radio host Alex Jones and other believers consider the information provided by Bilderberg to be just a front, and that they're actually there to plan the conquest of the world. They have two primary pieces of evidence to support this idea. The first is an article written by Fidel Castro, and the second is a radio interview given by a gentleman named Willy Claes. Let's look at these one at a time.

Castro, of course, was the President of Cuba for most of his career, and anytime a world leader speaks, one assumes he knows what he's talking about. On August 18, 2010, Castro devoted nearly 3 of the 8 pages of the Communist newsletter Granma to an article quoting the claims made in the 2006 book The True Story of the Bilderberg Group by conspiracy theory author Daniel Estulin. So in fact, Castro did not reveal any personal knowledge, he merely quoted from a book he'd read. As Cuba is not among the nations represented in the Bilderberg Group and Castro has never attended a meeting, there's little reason to suspect that he would have any particular insight, beyond having read that book. I don't see that Castro's article is evidence of anything.

The Willy Claes radio interview is more interesting. At the time he attended the 1994 Bilderberg meeting, Claes was the secretary general of NATO. A transcript of his radio interview, in Dutch, was reported on the conspiracy theory blog website Zonnewind. It was a very short, informal interview, taken during the 2010 meeting in Spain which Claes did not attend, and described by listeners as being in a humorous and jovial tone. Claes explained that each session consists of a rapporteur, who is usually either Henry Kissinger or current Bilderberg chairman Étienne Davignon, who speaks on a topic for exactly ten minutes, with each topic being an important problem faced by the West. Following this is group discussion, during which the rapporteur takes notes and attempts to form a consensus opinion, or "synthesis", among the group. The conspiracy theorists latched onto the following statement made by Claes, and have widely trumpeted it as proof that Bilderberg does indeed set world policy and that attendees are required to follow its orders:

"...And everybody is supposed to use those conclusions in his circle of influence."

Sound suspicious? I had five different Dutch speakers translate that, to be sure it was accurate, and that's the consensus translation. But it's still ambiguous. Claes certainly did not say they're required to carry out orders, in fact it could mean nothing more than the attendees hope to gain some useful insight that they'll be able to put into practice. It could also mean anything between the two. I'm leaning more toward the latter, because Alex Jones and the others give the quote without context and omit the rest of what Claes said. When asked if decisions are made at the meetings, Claes said:

"No, no voting, no resolutions put to paper."

And regarding the way attendees are asked to sit next to different people at each meal, Claes explained:

"I think it is really meant to accomodate the exchange of different and even contradictory opinions."

Tip Skeptoid $2/mo $5/mo $10/mo One time

An exchange of ideas, with no decisions made. This from the interview that the conspiracy theorists put forth as the strongest evidence that the Bilderberg Group forces its members to carry out its plans of World Domination. Class, this is what we call "quote mining".

One reason it would be difficult for the Bilderberg Group attendees to control the world is that it's a different group of people each year. The core group, the steering committee, only changes gradually over the years, but the majority of attendees are invited only once or a few times. Bill Gates attended the 2010 meeting. What would be the point of inviting Bill Gates to just one of your secret World Domination planning meetings? Do you threaten him into secrecy? Are all attendees threatened into secrecy every year? It would probably not be a very popular event if this were the case. If I were Bill Gates and received a threat as soon as I walked in the door, I'd tell them where they could kiss me and turn around and walk out. Most of these people probably have better things to do than attend someone else's World Domination meeting where their own opinions are ignored and they have to enter into some kind of bizarre obedience pact to attend.

It's also important to note that Alex Jones thinks that virtually every congregation of powerful people is gathered for the purpose of planning World Domination. Not only is the Bilderberg Group setting world policy, but so are the Bohemian Club, the Freemasons, and the alleged Illuminati. What if these groups come to different decisions? Do they fight it out? Is this the true cause of world wars? I've double checked my history book, but I don't see any wars between the Bohemians and the Bilderbergers.

All things considered, I wouldn't say that the charge that the Bilderberg Group "runs the world" is an entirely unfair one. I think it's overstated, and I think the conspiracy theorists' version suggests paranoia far more than it represents reality, but the Bilderbergers are influential people coming together to discuss mutual problems in an open forum. They don't do it for their health or for grins; they're hoping to find solutions and opportunities for cooperation. I don't see any rational reason for such people to voluntarily enter into a threat-driven obedience pact or to plan World Domination. I do see good reason why a person in a position of responsibility would want the opportunity to have open, unfettered, off-the-record discussion with others facing similar issues. Any leader should consider his or herself lucky to have access to such a resource.

The Bilderberg Group tells us who they are, when and where they meet, what their purpose is, and in broad strokes what they discuss. Referring to it as some sort of secret society strains credibility. Their stated purpose obviously makes very good sense for people in their position. Which is more likely: They are what they say they are and what we'd expect them to be, or everything we see about them is an illusion and they're actually running our lives and planning our destruction? Beware any conspiracy theory that claims to predict future events. Not one has ever been right.

Brian Dunning

© 2010 Skeptoid Media Copyright information

References & Further Reading

Burnett, T. Conspiracy Encyclopedia. New York: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2006. 108-109.

Editors. "Conferences 2009-1954." Bilderberg Meetings. Bilderberg Group, 1 Jan. 2009. Web. 22 Sep. 2010. <>

Estulin, D. The True Story of the Bilderberg Group. Walterville: TrineDay, 2009.

Huntelaar, W. "Bilderbergers decide indeed the policy for the coming year." Zonnewind. Willem Huntelaar, 4 Jun. 2010. Web. 22 Sep. 2010. <>

Marshall, A. "Barack O’Bilderberg: Picking the President." Global Research., 9 Jun. 2008. Web. 27 Sep. 2010. <>

Radford, B. "Fidel Castro's Conspiracy Theories: Worth Considering?" LiveScience., 19 Aug. 2010. Web. 21 Sep. 2010. <>

Reference this article:
Dunning, B. "Beware the Bilderberg Group!" Skeptoid Podcast. Skeptoid Media, 28 Sep 2010. Web. 6 Oct 2015. <>


10 most recent comments | Show all 357 comments

"We are grateful to the Washington Post, the New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost 40 years...It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world of we had been subjected to the lights of publicity during those years. But, the world is more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national autodetermination practiced in past centuries"
David Rockefeller, 1991 Bilderberg conference

Dee Ball, North American Union
August 5, 2012 6:19pm

@Dee Ball

Wow. You posted a disputed quote. My mind is changed and now I'm on board. *eyeroll*

Government Goodies, Secret Government Lab
August 6, 2012 9:50am

"Don't f#ck with the wu-tang clan" -Benjamin Franklin

dude, canada
August 6, 2012 5:13pm

The elite leaders do not sit around PLANNING world domination. They do not need to scheme to take control of this world. They ALREADY HAVE IT...

Lumbergh, Chicago, IL
September 24, 2012 10:52am

To the person who said the "moppet masters live south of the international date line," not sure if that was some kind of joke, but the International Date Line runs north to south. Unless I missed my guess, you can only be east/west of it.

Dave, Chicago, Il
November 27, 2012 6:32pm

Lizards I tell you, I see Gila monsters everywhere.

Trust no-one (well except me)

Klaatu, Nibiru
December 11, 2012 5:08am

Mayor Thornhill: “The importance of it (Bilderberg) was clearly rammed home to me when I had to sign the official secrets act before I could be briefed.”
Dorothy Thornhill (Photo: Explosive Reports)

Dorothy Thornhill (Photo: Explosive Reports)

By Jurriaan Maessen
June 11, 2013

In a heartwarming and revealing evaluation of the successful Bilderberg protests organized to counter the 60-year veil of secrecy, the elected mayor of Watford says she became aware of Bilderberg’s importance when she “had” to sign the UK Secrets Act before she could be briefed on the subject. Mayor Thornhill wrote on her official website:

“Until I was briefed by the police I only knew it was a controversial meeting of big wigs but beyond that nothing more. The importance of it was clearly rammed home to me when I had to sign the official secrets act before I could be briefed. It was then revealed that the police would have to be prepare for all eventualities from a full blown terror attack (so many world VIP’s in one place together) to potential disruption from protestors who may or may not cause trouble or who may or may not be provoked by saboteurs and infiltrators!!”.

Being briefed on a highly secretive affair, as one can imagine, is crucial for an elected mayor of a town about to be swamped by protesters and media. The Secrets Act, according to Wikipedia, “can only be enforced by persons who are crown servants or government contractors.” In the case of Bilderberg descending on Hertfordshire, it’s strange that a highly official Act is being used to make an elected official swear she will disclose no information to the public about a private party.

Reporting on her blog today, the mayo

fringe dweller, no fixed address
June 21, 2013 1:00am

As to the last para..Reading wiki is no way to become familiar with the secrets act.

If you want to familiarise yourself with legislation and the why's and wherefores, look up the act in your national law society collections.

I hope the line you quoted is correct and you have interpreted it correctly.

"enforced by persons" is key here and different to the intent of the paragraph..

Wiki is an encyclopedia and no place to form a view..

I think this is indicative here..

Mud, sin city, Oz
August 8, 2013 3:34am

This has to be the worst and most disgraceful excuse for internet activity imaginable. The whole purpose of this evil blog is to run cover for mass murderers.

Graeme Bird, Sydney
June 17, 2014 6:29am

Conspiracy theory worshippers are essentially just recreational victims of conditions that never seem to rise beyond the conspicuous effect of the parsimonious explanation. The Easter Bunny is responsible for the war in Iraq because he met with the tooth fairy in Bern in 1981. The tooth fairy being a well known socialist, the connection must therefore warrant the causality of the event.

DHume, California, USA
June 25, 2014 11:25pm

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