No, the Earth still isn’t flat, the Illuminati have yet to emerge from the shadows, and if you really think you were abducted by aliens back in the ’60s, chances are the CIA just spiked your drink with LSD. But don’t throw that tin foil hat in the trash just yet; some of the most outlandish and unlikely conspiracy theories ever posited have actually turned out to be frighteningly accurate over time. The foundations of society are still relatively intact, but the following conspiracy theories should still be enough to have you suspicious of everything from the talking heads you see on TV to that cold glass of beer in front of you.
“I stumbled upon a major company conspiracy, Mack, how’s that for stress?” PRISM NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden dropped a bombshell on conspiracy hounds and regular folks alike in mid-2013. His revelations were vast and wildly complex, but here’s the only thing that matters: The U.S. government has been spying on its citizens for years – yes, plural. years… The big, writhing mass at the center of this can of worms was PRISM, a secret espionage program under which the NSA had been monitoring the digital communications of American citizens. With PRISM, the government can pull private user data from companies like Google, Microsoft, and Apple.
The agency had also been collecting detailed phone records from the public since 2001, intercepting millions of text messages, and even potentially spying on foreign governments and world leaders. But despite Snowden’s revelations and the burning glare of public scrutiny, the government hasn’t really backed off all that much. According to a Facebook transparency report, 78,890 account information requests were made by governments around the world in the first half of 2017 an all-time high. MK-Ultra The U.S. was steeped in a heavy fog of fear and paranoia at the height of the Cold War, and the government was determined to keep up with Soviet advancements in psychological warfare by any means necessary.
According to witness testimony and classified papers released in 1977, the CIA had been investigating the effects of hallucinogenic drugs like LSD in a series of behavioral modification studies known as Project MK-Ultra. Between 1953 and 1964, drugs were administered to U.S. citizens without their knowledge or consent, and usually without medical supervision, just to see what would happen. Universities, prisons, and hospitals were among the testing grounds, and addicts and terminal cancer patients were among the victims. But this is merely the tip of an iceberg still submerged in darkness the mass destruction of documents relating to MK-Ultra by CIA director Richard Helms in 1973 means the full extent of the project may never be known. Operation Northwoods As bonkers as some conspiracy theories tend to sound, they often take root largely because of very real historical precedent. Operation Northwoods is a frequently cited example of this kind of thing a chilling reminder of the U.S. government’s willingness to deceive and potentially harm its own citizens for political gain. The threat of communism loomed large in the U.S. in the ’50s and ’60s, and Fidel Castro in nearby Cuba was a primary concern.
So much so, in fact, that the government planned to launch a fake Cuban terror campaign on American soil in order to drum up support for an invasion against Cuba. Plans included the fake bombing of a naval base, plane hijackings, and the sinking of boats carrying Cuban refugees to Florida according to a 1962 document revealed in 1997. The operation was ultimately quashed by JFK once he caught wind of it, and conspiracy hounds have latched on to this as a possible motive for his assassination the following year.
Naturally. Canada’s failed “gaydar” experiment Canada was among the first nations to officially recognize same-sex marriage, but the country wasn’t always setting progressive precedents. The government’s development of this machine in the ’60s is a shameful case in point. During the Cold War, the Canadian government hired a university professor to develop a technological method of detecting homosexuality in people, according to CBC. Thousands of dollars were poured into this research, and the so-called “fruit machine” was the result. Subjects were shown pornographic images while cameras monitored their pupils for dilation, which apparently indicated arousal. The intention was to use this method to keep gay people out of public service and the military. Funding was pulled in 1967, but thousands had already lost their jobs.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered an apology to LGBT Canadians in the House of Commons in 2017 for having gone through all this: “For state-sponsored, systematic oppression and rejection, we are sorry.” Hoover’s COINTELPRO FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s Counterintelligence Program also known as COINTELPRO was launched in 1956 and ran in secret until 1971. Federal paranoia was dizzyingly rampant and the program aimed to, quote, “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” any groups or individuals that threatened the status quo. Pro-labor, anti-war, black liberation, and civil rights groups were heavily targeted. The list of public figures monitored as part of COINTELPRO is a who’s who of 20th-century cultural influencers. Among them were Martin Luther King Jr., who was sent an anonymous letter by the feds urging him to commit suicide, and John Lennon, whose radical views and affiliations started a 12-month investigation in an attempt to have him deported. Many of the victims were dismissed as needlessly paranoid conspiracy theorists at the time, but those FBI files are now a matter of public record.
The truth wins out eventually or at least it’s comforting to think so. Prohibition’s spiked moonshine You might want to think twice before cracking open that 90-year-old bottle of moonshine you’ve been setting aside for a special occasion. There’s a good chance it was poisoned by the U.S. government during Prohibition. During Prohibition, industrial alcohol became an indispensable source of booze for bootleggers, and around 60 million gallons annually were stolen, treated, and renatured by the bootleggers’ chemists by the mid-1920s. It was then sold in speakeasies around the country to the public, most of whom had no other means of procuring alcohol at the time.
In a hopelessly misguided effort to curb this practice once and for all, President Calvin Coolidge pushed industrial manufacturers to add lethal toxins like methanol to their products but the public’s thirst for booze showed no signs of abating. Bootlegging continued, and plenty of tainted alcohol wasn’t successfully renatured, and the public suffered greatly. “Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit drinkin.” People got terribly sick, some went blind, and many died. The death toll was said to be around 10,000 by the time Prohibition finally came to an end. .
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