Most conspiracy theories are, at best, exasperating. I mean, a fake moon landing? Thinking that we live on a flat earth? No, no, no. Some plain old science debunks most of those conspiracy theories...but not all of them. Turns out, those crazy conspiracy theorists you always scoffed at weren't wrong all the time.
As the saying goes, truth is often stranger than fiction. And these conspiracies have a base in truth, strange though they may be. When you find out which of these unlikely-sounding theories are true, you're sure to be surprised! Heck, you might not even have known some of this was possible. But as it turns out, some things really are more than they appear.
So read on to find out which unbelievable conspiracies out there are actually true!
Buckle up, everyone.It's time for some major revelations in the conspiracy department. No, we're not about to drop any truth bombs about JFK or the Illuminati, but these next conspiracy theories are still pretty insane!
The U.S. Government poisoned liquor.
via: GettyYes, you read that right. Remember Prohibition? That period of time in the 1920s and early 30s where alcohol was banned in the United States? Well, it turns out that the government took some unusually harsh actions to stop bootleggers.
During Prohibition, people still drank.
via: GettyMostly because bootleggers would make their own liquor (usually moonshine) from industrial alcohol and distribute it illegally. The government knew about them, but they weren't easy to catch; so to stop the bootlegging, another solution was put in motion.
Manufacturers were forced to add strong toxic chemicals to industrial alcohol.
via: GettyThe federal government made this push on manufacturers, and by the end of Prohibition in 1933, their poisoned booze had killed over 10,000 Americans.
The U.S. Air Force tried to make a "gay bomb."And here we thought that was just a joke from an episode of 30 Rock. But no; in 1994, one Air Force laboratory began exploring the concept of a "gay bomb."
They formed a strange hypothesis.
via: GettyThe scientists' speculation was based around the premise that being covered in female pheromones would make the soldiers sexually irresistible to each other -- and therefore make them less effective in combat (clearly, it didn't work out.)
One whistleblower said that the CIA had made a heart attack gun.
via: GettyDuring the 60s and 70s, the CIA developed a "heart attack gun" that was supposed to cause fatal heart attacks. The gun would shoot tiny poisoned darts, which could penetrate clothing and disintegrate on impact -- so as not to arouse suspicion.
The gun is believed to have been mentioned during the Church Committee probe into the CIA in 1975.
via: GettyFootage from a video of the probe ended up going viral after the CIA appeared to confirm the gun's existence. Senator Frank Church asks CIA director William Colby, "Does this pistol fire the dart?" Colby replies, "Yes it does, Mr. Chairman, and a special one was developed which potentially would be able to enter the target without perception."
One more creepy detail about the weapon:During the video, Colby also says that the poison in the dart wouldn't show up in an autopsy, so there would be "no way of perceiving that the target was hit".
The CIA had some control issues in the 70s.
via: Getty ImagesSure, conspiracy theorists are always screaming about how our media is being controlled by the CIA and a bunch of foreign countries at the same time. But turns out, the CIA did exercise quite a bit of control over the U.S. media in 1963, 1972, and 1973.
It was called Operation Mockingbird.
via: GettyThe CIA's operation led to Washington press corps during those years. They exerted even more control by paying journalists to publish CIA propaganda, wiretapping their phones, and monitoring their offices so as to know all their comings and goings.
We've already had a woman run the country.
via: GettyAnd maybe she wasn't voted into office, but she was President all the same. President Woodrow Wilson suffered a debilitating stroke near the end of his presidency...and the government decided that it would be best if the public didn't know about it.
The stroke was kept secret for well over a year.
via: GettyAnd during that time, President Wilson was in no state to be calling the shots -- so his wife Edith Wilson did instead.
She claimed to have been a "steward" only.
via: GettyBut historians have looked back on that period of time and agreed that, for all intents and purposes, Edith Wilson was the president.
Don't freak out...but mind control might be a thing.
via: GettyIt's true: the CIA has actually experimented on Americans with LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs in secret, to test behavior modification.
There was a program called "MK-ULTRA".
via: GettyThe CIA started out using volunteers, including novelist Ken Kesey. But then the heads of the program started dosing people without their knowledge or consent, and in the end, MK-ULTRA left many of its victims permanently mentally disabled.
This true theory isn't for the squeamish.
via: GettyEver heard of "Project Sunshine"? It's part of a theory claiming that in the wake of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the U.S. government stole dead bodies to do radioactive testing.
And so they did.
via: GettyIt's true that the U.S. began collecting dead bodies -- put only pieces of them. Because they needed to run tests on young tissue, they began to recruit a worldwide network of agents with one truly grim task: to find recently deceased children and babies.
Uh, yikes.Those agents were told to take samples and even limbs from the bodies they found. All of this was done without notification or permission from over 1,500 mourning families.
One former Beatle was spied on by the FBI.
via: GettyJohn Lennon, believe it or not, was actually considered a threat by the FBI. Of course, this was during the Nixon administration, and Lennon was vocal about his anti-war beliefs.
So he was put under surveillance.
via: GettyNPR reported on this back in 2010: "Anti-war songs, like “Give Peace a Chance," didn’t exactly endear former Beatle John Lennon to the Nixon administration. In 1971, the FBI put Lennon under surveillance, and the Immigration and Naturalization Service tried to deport him a year later."
Tobacco companies hid a nasty secret for decades.
via: GettyThat's because Big Tobacco knew that cigarettes caused cancer. As early as the 1950s, research showed an indisputable link between smoking and lung cancer.
But the general public didn't catch on for years.
via: GettyAll in the name of turning a filthy huge profit: tobacco companies chose to bury the evidence about smoking and cancer. Philip Morris, the largest cigarette maker in the country at that time, took until the late 1990s to admit that smoking caused cancer.
Canada tried to make a "gaydar" machine.
via: GettyYep, Canada wanted to replicate that natural talent some people possess. But the reason wasn't altruistic: paranoid over sexual orientation, the Canadian government wanted a machine made that could identify different orientations (so they could then fire any secretly gay employees).
A university professor developed the machine.
via: GettyIt was similar in concept to a lie-detector machine. The "gaydar" machine measured peoples' pupil dilation, perspiration, and pulse while they were shown same-sex pornography. The people tested were told it was simply an examination of their stress levels--but that obviously wasn't true.
And unfortunately, Canadian government employees did suffer the consequences of this machine.
via: GettyDuring the process, over 9,000 people were investigated. As a result of the testing, over 400 men were either fired or excluded from civil service, the military, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
One U.S. Navy ship faked a battle to start a war.
via: GettyThe Gulf of Tonkin incident was a direct catalyst for more U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. In the original American report, destroyer ship USS Maddox was attacked by three North Vietnamese torpedo boats on August 2, 1964. Another attack on the Maddox was reported on August 4, two days later, when Vietnamese torpedo boats engaged in a sea battle with the ship.
Now here's the truth:
via: GettyFirst, the August 2 incident: turns out, the NSA concluded (and kept secret) that America had been the aggressors, not North Vietnam. The USS Maddox had fired three warning rounds from its guns to ward off the ships--a decision that the Johnson administration failed to report.
And now for the second incident.
via: GettyYeah, that one never happened at all. But how best to stir up support for a war that the government wanted in on, while its people didn't? Back in the day, the NSA claimed that a second incident had taken place and that North Vietnamese ships attacked the Maddox.
A little investigation years later proved otherwise.
via: GettyIn 1995, former-United States Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara met with the former Vietnam People's Army General Võ Nguyên Giáp. McNamara asked Giáp what happened on August 4, 1964. Giáp's response? "Absolutely nothing." A historical study of the NSA was later declassified in 2005, confirming Giáp and McNamara's claim that the August 4 incident was faked.
The Dalai Lama made big money as a CIA agent.
via: GettyThat's the conspiracy: that the Dalai Lama is a CIA agent. And he did have a connection to the agency: he earned $180,000 from the CIA during the 1960s, in connection with the CIA's funding of the Tibetan Resistance.
Not to freak you out, but...the government might be spying on you.
via: GettyWe've probably all heard this conspiracy: that the government can use its technology to spy on citizens. It's lead to all that paranoia about computer cameras and sharing too much data on social media platforms.
Well, the paranoia may not be misplaced.
via: GettyIn truth, the government sent 49,868 requests for user data to Facebook, 27,850 to Google, and 9,076 to Apple in 2016 alone. Furthermore, there's a real chance that someone could use your computer camera to look at you--so consider one of those handy covers!
This information was courtesy of the EFF.
via: GettyElectronic Frontier Foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to defending civil liberties in the digital realm. It also advises the public on internet privacy, so you may want to follow some of the EFF's tips!