25 Conspiracy Theories That Turned Out to Be True.
It may sound crazy—especially when you’re talking about investigations into flying saucers, nefarious government programs, and ultra-secret, fire-lit gatherings of the world’s richest men—but not every conspiracy theory ever uttered is something to scoff at. In fact, many of them have turned out to be completely true. For proof, grab your tin-foil hat and read on, because here we’ve gathered all of the wildest conspiracy theories that have turned out to be 100 percent rooted in fact.
Prohibition was introduced in 1920 to control the country’s alcohol consumption, but that only resulted in widespread speakeasies and bootlegging, which is the illegal production and distribution of alcohol. The prohibition law proved it wasn’t enough to curb drinking habits, so the government took more drastic measures. They decided to poison the country’s illegal liquor supply by adding toxins, including highly-lethal methanol, to alcohol in the mid-1920s. In total, it is estimated around 10,000 people died as a result of the government’s poisoning.
In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson suffered from a massive stroke, so the first lady, Edith Wilson, began making decisions on his behalf. She prevented news of the seriousness of Wilson’s condition from getting out to the public. Instead, all that was said was that he needed rest and would be conducting official business from his bedroom suite. To prevent her husband from resigning, Edith became the de facto president. Historians estimate that she led the country for a year and five months.
In the 1950s, the United States Atomic Energy Commission started testing tissue samples from newly-deceased children and babies to test radioactive strontium-90, the most severe threat to humans in the event of nuclear fallout. Throughout “Project Sunshine,” they gathered more than 1,500 samples throughout Europe and Australia—often without the parents’ knowledge or consent—to test the hazardous effects on young human tissue. Years later, a British woman named Jean Prichard reported that she hadn’t been allowed to dress her stillborn daughter’s body for the funeral in 1975, because (as she later found out) her baby’s legs had been removed by British doctors and shipped to the U.S. government. “No one asked me about doing things like that, taking bits and pieces from her,” she said.
From 1953 to 1964, the CIA secretly dosed individuals with LSD to test the potential effects of mind control. During this practice—called Project MKUltra—thousands of U.S. citizens were given LSD without their knowledge or consent. In 1973, CIA Director Richard Helms ordered the destruction of all records related to MKUltra. So now there is very little evidence that remains, but this immoral research was likely responsible for some resulting deaths.
One of the most notable was that of Frank Olson, a United States Army biochemist and biological weapons researcher who was given LSD without his knowledge or consent in November of 1953.
In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson told the public that U.S. ships were attacked by the Vietnamese—known as the Gulf of Tonkin attack—to gain the support of American citizens for the Vietnam War. However, a year later, Johnson admitted there was no attack and was quoted as saying, “For all I know, our Navy was shooting at whales out there.” In 2005, official documents from the National Security Agency were released that confirmed that the whole Gulf of Tonkin attack never happened and was fabricated to gain support the war.
The Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program was a government-backed program, which received $22 million between 2008 and 2011. Researchers examined civilians and military personnel who claimed to have seen and interacted with mysterious aerial phenomena for signs of physiological changes. The program also analyzed video and audio recordings of reported UFOs. The efforts and funding for this program were kept hush-hush, and the program was shut down in 2012 due to the lack of findings. Its funds were redistributed to other efforts of higher importance.
Because of his anti-war songs like “Give Peace a Chance,” John Lennon was considered a threat under the Nixon administration. In 1971, the FBI put Lennon under surveillance, and the Immigration and Naturalization Service tried to deport him the following year. According to CIA records, they feared he would disrupt the 1972 Republican convention, so the CIA joined with the FBI in gathering intelligence on him.
About 1,600 Nazi scientists were sent to work in the U.S. in 1945 following Germany’s defeat in WWII. The program, called Operation Paperclip, was exposed in media outlets, including the New York Times, in 1946. Some of these scientists were involved in Project MKUltra. Wernher von Braun was one of the well-known former Nazi participants in this program, and he was put to work as director of the Development Operations Division of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency. He was involved in the moon landing and developed the Jupiter-C rocket used to launch America’s first satellite.
In 1975, the CIA revealed a secret weapon that could cause fatal heart attacks. It worked by shooting a small poison dart that could penetrate clothing and left behind nothing but a tiny red dot on the skin. The dart disintegrated on impact, and the target would only feel a small prick, similar to a bug bite. Since the poison denatured quickly, it could not be detected in an autopsy. Therefore, the CIA could carry out assassinations that wouldn’t be traced back to them. Many believe the CIA still uses this weapon today.
The CIA project known as Operation Mockingbird spied on members of the Washington press corps, starting in the early 1950s. As part of this operation, they paid journalists to publish CIA propaganda, wiretapped their phones, and monitored their offices to keep tabs on their activities and visitors. The CIA paid student and cultural organizations, as well as magazines to serve as front organizations. The covert operation was finally uncovered in Senate hearings in the mid-1970s.
This conspiracy theory, which is actually true, gives a whole new meaning to the phrase make love, not war. As the U.S. Defense Department considered various non-lethal chemicals meant to disrupt enemy discipline and morale, one of them was the “Gay Bomb.” The research, which was conducted in 1994, was intended to create a bomb that would douse enemy troops in female pheromones. The objective was to make soldiers sexually attracted to one another and negatively impact their effectiveness in combat. However, it was never pursued.
In the 1960s, the CIA provided the Tibetan Resistance with $1.7 million a year to aid in guerrilla operations against China, which included an annual subsidy of $180,000 to the Dalai Lama. In 1998, the Dalai Lama’s administration acknowledged that it did receive these funds from the CIA, but denied reports that the Tibetan leader benefited personally from his subsidiary. Instead, they insisted that it went toward setting up offices in Geneva and New York, as well as some money spent on international lobbying.
The government is using its vast resources to track its citizens via their online activities. In fact, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), in 2016, government agencies sent 49,868 requests for user data to Facebook, 27,850 to Google, and 9,076 to Apple. EFF is a major nonprofit organization which defends civil liberties in the digital world and advises the public on internet privacy matters.
Operation Popeye was a five-year project in which the U.S. government used a technique called cloud seeding to increase precipitation during the rainy seasons over the North Vietnam Army’s moving of vehicles, weapons, and rations across the trail. The general idea of cloud seeding is to send an airborne object, typically an airplane, flying through a cloud while releasing small particulates that give water vapor something to cling to so that it can condense and become rain.
In 2015, Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake published a report saying that the Department of Defense had spent millions of dollars to have sports organizations put on large shows to display American pride. This included several teams in the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL, and others, including the athletic departments of several universities. These shows were meant to drive up military recruiting. In 2016, the NFL agreed to reimburse U.S. taxpayers more than $720,000 of this so-called “paid patriotism” money.
Approved by the Pentagon chiefs, the Department of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the CIA, Operation Northwoods was a proposed plan to fabricate acts of terrorism on U.S. soil. If carried out, it would’ve killed innocent citizens to trick the public into supporting a war against Cuba in the early 1960s. The operation even proposed blowing up a U.S. ship and hijacking planes as a false pretext for war. Luckily, John F. Kennedy, who was the President at the time, put a stop to this planned operation.
For decades, it was believed that Hitler took his own life after World War II ended. Unsurprisingly, there were also many who believed that it was a setup and that he had actually sneaked away. Supposedly, Hitler’s skull was in the custody of the Russian government. In 2009, tests were finally performed on the skull. The shocking results revealed that the skull was actually that of a young woman. Ironically, the tests were done to lessen the credibility of the conspiracy theorists who believed he had gone into hiding.
The CIA ran a fake vaccination program which eventually led to the capture of Osama bin Laden. They had bin Laden’s DNA on file, thanks to his sister who lived in Boston. The goal was to obtain DNA from one of his children who was living at the compound with him and match it to his sister’s DNA. Then they could confirm with certainty that bin Laden was indeed inside. A Pakistani doctor went through the city under the guise of the vaccination program and collected DNA samples. They identified bin Laden’s DNA through his children, which successfully led to his capture in 2011.