Is there anything to debunk about Skull & Bones? Maybe. It depends on to whom you listen.
Skull & Bones is an exclusive Yale club which admits only fifteen members every year. Many conspiracy theories place the secret society as either the dominant organization or one of a few linked subgroups which secretly rule America, the Western World, or the Earth (depending on the theory.)
The group leaped from the back bench of conspiracy theory to prominence during the 2004 U.S. Presidential election, when it was noticed that both George W. Bush and John F. Kerry were members of Skull & Bones.
They weren’t the only ones. So were William F. Buckley and George H.W. Bush. So is historian David McCullough, author of John Adams. So, reportedly, are Dana Milbank, Austan Goolsbee and Steven Mnuchin.
Skull & Bones is rumored to guarantee success for life in exchange for membership and a portion of a member’s estate upon the member’s death. They are also rumored to have been part of many devious plans… but the members admit to being encourage to spread rumors to add to the mystery associated to the group, with the result of the sourcing of stories about the group being difficult to pin down.
So, rather than look at the exact rumors, I’d like to take a look at the exact facts.
The group has been in existence since 1832. During that entire time, Yale has been a prominent university in America… but it is far from the only Ivy League school. If it were truly the source of all key power, any of the rich and famous who had the opportunity would attend Yale rather than matriculate from Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, or any other prominent college.
This does not happen.
Also, the math does not bear out. At a rate of fifteen new graduates per year there would have been 1500 Bonesmen through the 20th century. These people would be influential throughout society. Instead, there are a few dozen who are particularly noteworthy and a couple hundred who are prominent.
Bonesmen are selected from a talent pool of wealthy and powerful students at one of the oldest universities in America, one with a prominent Law program. It is only reasonable to extrapolate that wealthy, politically and socially connected people are going to have a greater chance to reach a position of influence in government or the private sector.
As noted in the piece on the Council of Foreign Relations, it’s easy to find conspiracy when people are seeing large numbers of the elite congregate out of the public eye. And it must be noted that it is possible that S&B is behind some intricate plot.
But it’s also a bunch of college kids born to wealth and power, who get to hang out in a private club. I may be too cynical or not nearly cynical enough, but I find it more plausible to believe that it’s a place for drinking and gossip in an arena far more exclusive than standard fraternities.
This would also explain why some Skull and Bones members never seem to amount to much, yet are never tempted to reveal the “great secrets” in exchange for power and prominence. There just isn’t much that’s going to rock the world in “one time John scored some high-end pot.”