The Hot List 2017: The People and Trends We're Talking About the Most

From Cardi B to future A-list actors to the thinkers and creators who could save the world, here's who and what made Rolling Stone's annual list

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Hot Relic: Pre-Trump Conspiracy Theories
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Illustration by Sacha Lecca21/27

Hot Relic: Pre-Trump Conspiracy Theories

Remember conspiracy theories? You know, the sinister secrets our government used to hide from us, back when we believed our government would bother to hide things? It already seems strange to recall the old-school conspiracy culture 
from the days before Trump. Chemtrails or FEMA camps
 or the Loch Ness Monster 
seem downright quaint compared to what this administration does in plain sight.
 Comeygate? There's no secret tape. There's Trump on network TV telling Lester Holt
 he fired the head of the FBI 
because of his Russia investigation. This White House gang makes vintage conspiracy theories look like basketball stats from the 1950s, when the NBA was full of slow white guys, or baseball records before the steroid era. People used to worry whether the moon landings were faked, just as they used to wonder if anyone would ever break Roger Maris' home-run record. People were easier to impress back then.

These days, real life is a conspiracy theory. People used to get bent out of shape about rumors that Obama's paperwork was out of order with regard to his birth certificate. But the loudest and angriest birther of them all is now the president – and when it comes to paperwork, he won't even release his tax returns. This White House's public shenanigans are so much crazier than anything people used to whisper about in hushed tones. Remember the shadowy plots of yesteryear? Did the CIA kill Bob Marley? Did the FBI kill Martin Luther King? Did the CIA, the FBI, the Cubans, the Bush family, the Secret Service, the New Orleans Mob, the Chicago Mob, the Rosicrucians and the 1962 Mets kill JFK? Does the Illuminati have a New World Order headquarters beneath the Denver airport? Is Paul dead? Is Tupac alive? Is Stevie Wonder blind or just faking it?

There used to be an element of fun in conspiracy hunting – a frisson of "The Truth Is Out There" bravado. Now the average citizen has enough trouble just trying to keep track of all the White House crimes we already know about, the ones nobody attempts to deny. That's the root of conspiracy nostalgia: We used to believe the powers that be took us seriously enough to hide nefarious secrets. We Americans flattered ourselves that we were worth lying to. We were wrong about that. R.S.

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