It's easy to color conspiracy theorists as a tin-foil hat-wearing whackjobs, probably because so many of them are. But the truth is that without them, we may have never uncovered some of our most troubled history.
Thanks to legions of unclassified government documents and vigilant investigative journalists, it's been confirmed that some of the most seemingly outrageous hypotheses turned out to be 100% true, including these 10.
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1. The U.S. military invented a bomb that could turn enemies gay
Thanks to a Freedom Of Information Act request, it was revealed that back in 1994 researchers for the U.S. Air Force were developing a new weapon intended to cause soldiers to stop fighting and start having sex each other. It's unclear if it got much further than early development phases, but the basic idea was to spray female sex pheromones above broad swaths of enemy combatants, wait for them to get, uh, distracted, and move in.
2. There's a secret society of the world's most powerful people
Unfortunately, there's no proof that the Illuminati is real (yet!), but the Bohemian Grove in upstate California may be the next best thing. The "private club," whose members have included former U.S. presidents, business tycoons, musicians, and industry barons, comes together every July on a wooded 2,700-acre compound to let loose. Membership is extremely exclusive, but a couple of journalists have managed to infiltrate the gathering over the years, revealing some of the weirder activities that take place there, including drunken revelry, high-ranking officials lecturing about information unavailable to the public, and druidic tree-worship. Seriously.
3. The government wanted to poison us all
As if the lack of legal alcohol during Prohibition weren't awful enough, the government went ahead and found a way to poison bootleggers' hooch. One of the biggest methods used to make black market booze during our nation's dark dry period was to steal industrial, denatured alcohol and chemically reverse-engineer it to make it palatable for tipplers. Once the feds got wise to their ways though, they decided to up the stakes by adding lethal chemicals to the denatured supply, hoping it would scare off people from ever drinking again. It didn't work. People were drinking as much as ever, and the government ended up helping to kill and/or seriously injure an estimated 10,000 people.
Thanks to a cache of declassified documents released in 1997, it was revealed that at the height of the Cold War in 1962, a plan was hatched within the Department of Defense and the Joints Chiefs to get the CIA to plan and execute a series of terror attacks against American civilians. The batsh*t insane strategy was to blame the tragedies on the Cuban government, then use them as justification to go to war with Cuba. Thankfully President Kennedy flat-out rejected the idea, but it goes to show you just how some of the higher up military brass might be thinking.
6. The government is controlling the media
Beginning in the 1950s, the CIA began recruiting a network of prominent journalists in an effort to help them spread propaganda to further American interests. Known as "Operation Mockingbird," the program had influence over some 25 major newspapers and wire services. News of what was happening first leaked a bit in the '60s, though the bulk of the troublesome activities were revealed by the Church Committee's investigation in 1976.
7. The government pays people to lie to justify wars
In 1990, a woman who would only identify herself as Nayirah testified in front of a Congresional Human Rights Caucus about the acts of atrocities she allegedly witnessed by the Iraqi forces when they invaded Kuwait, including removing newborn babies from incubators and leaving them to die. Her emotional testimony was repeatedly cited by Senators and the President as further rationale to back Kuwait during the Gulf War. However, two years later, it was shockingly revealed that she was actually the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the U.S., and the whole stint had been organized as part of an elaborate PR campaign run by the Kuwaiti government.
8. The government deceitfully got us into the Vietnam War
Thanks to a deluge of formerly top secret documents that were released in 2005, it was uncovered that the “repeated” unprovoked attacks on the USS Maddox destroyer were blown horribly out of proportion in an effort to justify the retaliatory action, an aggressive bombing campaign on North Vietnam that essentially started a quagmire of a war. While it’s true that there was a single torpedo attack on the destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkin, the second was a mistaken case of both bad weather and bad intel.
9. Scientology is out to get everyone
While Scientology's weird and wicked ways have made headlines in recent years, one of its biggest scandals was uncovered back in the '70s after a journalist wrote a critical article about the organization, including its harassment of dissenters. Known as "Operation Snow White," the "church" organized a clandestine criminal enterprise that involved infiltrating hundreds of government agencies (and private international organizations) in order to steal and destroy any and all records that were unfavorable to it or its founder L. Ron Hubbard. To date, it's still the largest infiltration of the U.S. government, involving an estimated 5,000 covert agents.
10. The military tests chemical and biological weapons on US citizens