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Freemasons open their archives and unleash a barrage of conspiracy theories.

Express Newspapers / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

The sinking of the Titanic? Freemasons. Jack the Ripper? Probably a freemason. Winston Churchill and Edward VIII, the Nazi symapthizer who abdicated the British throne in 1936? Both freemasons. The Telegraph is reporting an explosion of fresh conspiracy theories, drawing on records of more than two million names made available for the first time by London’s Library and Museum of Freemasonry

This is a lot of data, though not necessarily a lot of evidence. There’s nothing in the records that actually incriminates any of the men involved in the inquiry into the sinking of the Titanic; the only new information is that almost all of them were freemasons. More intriguing is the speculation that Jack the Ripper was “an obscure singer whose identity was shielded by fellow masons.” 

Freemasons don’t seem too troubled by the unsavory associations. “As freemasonry approaches its 300th birthday in 2017,” a representative commented, “we are pleased to be able to provide access to details of past members.”