Most of the individuals in our society fall into one of two categories: skeptics and believers. In the age of false news and the spread of misinformation on social media, it’s easy to discount most conspiracy theories. However, you could be surprised to discover specific conspiracy theories that came true. Although many conspiracy theories have no factual grounds, a conspiracy that turned out to be true is validated later on through criminal justice testimony or confessions from government officials.
Even if a claim doesn’t turn out entirely legitimate, some truth about illegal government activity has come to light. Alarmingly, not all government officials face accountability after their actions. Despite the illegality of their behavior, charges are often not filed against agencies despite their treatment of civilians.
The following are the most significant conspiracy theories that turned out to be real. Although the list may include claims sounding far-fetched, the events would transpire. A majority of conspiracy theory events took place during the Kennedy and Nixon administrations. Following the Watergate scandal, the public called for an investigation into organizations controlled by the presidents. Special committees interviewed top officials to determine what programs were created under direct orders from the president. Government organizations investigated during the 1970s included the CIA and the FBI. Legislation following Watergate outlawed certain activities permitted by CIA and FBI agents.
Heart Attack Gun
One of the conspiracy theories that turned out to be real is the admission that the CIA designed and built a heart attack gun. The claim came about after rumors in the 1970s of rogue activities by CIA members. One of these activities involved weapons containing a newly developed poison. The gun’s operation caused the target to suffer a fatal heart attack with only a small mark left behind as evidence when the dart pierced the skin.
The design of the gun made it capable of injecting the person through clothing pieces. The poison included inside the gun was frozen and directly injected into the dart. Once the poison was inside the bloodstream, the chemical would melt and cause the person to enter cardiac arrest. A notable feature of the poison was that most pathologists would not detect the toxin during autopsies. Instead, the cause of death listed on autopsy reports was a heart attack.
After suspicion of President Nixon’s activities following the Watergate scandal, Congress launched an investigation into potential non-sanctioned actions committed by the CIA. The probe became known as the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities. During the 1975 testimony, the CIA revealed the secret development of the heart attack gun during the 1960s and 1970s.
Another inclusion on the listing of which conspiracy theories are true is Operation Mockingbird. At the heart of the conspiracy is the idea that the CIA spies on American journalists to control the media. The unique project aimed to eliminate anti-American views amid the Cold War. The CIA would spy on members of the press through the 1960s and 1970s. Operation Mockingbird was another CIA activity unearthed post-Watergate based on secret recordings President John F. Kennedy made inside the Oval Office.
The most notable fact unearthed during congressional testimony is that Operation Mockingbird involved wiretapping of civilians. Wiretapping any civilians is a direct violation of the CIA Code. Not only were vital members of the Washington press corps wiretapped through the 1960s and early 1970s but also the CIA paid journalists to publish propaganda pieces. The number of journalists paid off or intimidated by the CIA was extensive and included Pulitzer Prize Winners.
Many of the involved parties were uncovered during a Rolling Stone expose from Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein. If journalists refused to participate in the CIA program and publish propaganda pieces, they were blackmailed and threatened by agents. The scope of Operation Mockingbird would go on to foreign countries and reduce the spread of communism ideals. Notably, Operation Mockingbird was never officially disbanded by the CIA.
One of the most alarming conspiracies that turned out true was the poisoning of alcohol during Prohibition. The federal government included toxic chemicals in industrial forms of alcohol. These industrial chemicals used to make drinking alcohol proved toxic to those who consumed it. The toxins added were due to the government’s frustration with the continued use of alcohol despite the 1920 ban.
As a response to the disregard of the law, the federal government reformulated alcohol to include kerosene, gasoline, benzene, iodine, zinc, mercury salts, nicotine, ether, formaldehyde, chloroform, carbolic acid, quinine, and acetone. Also, a mandate passed that 10 percent of the formula would be poisonous. By the time prohibition laws went through appeal, more than 10,000 died due to the poisoned alcohol program.
The poisoned alcohol program was a conspiracy that turned out to be true when top medical and government officials spoke out against the deterrent strategy. New York City medical examiner Charles Norris ordered toxicology tests on whiskey and found the poisonous chemicals included in the formulations. During his tenure, he noted that in 1926 alone, over 1,200 people in the city became ill from the poisons, and 400 died. In 1927, the number of New York City fatalities from the poisoned alcohol increased to 700. Along with Charles Norris, other public health officials and anti-Prohibitionists like Missouri Senator James Reed made a call against using poisons to dissuade alcoholic consumption.
A conspiracy that turned out to be true is the idea of vaccines spreading a virus linked to various cancers. Specifically, the vaccine contained what is known as the SV40 virus. People infected with the virus received the polio vaccine during the mid-1950s to the early 1960s. Scientists first discovered the SV40 viruses in monkeys. In humans, the infection can potentially cause cancers, including leukemia, lung cancer, bone cancer, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The polio vaccine included monkey kidney cultures in the ingredients. These cultures had the potential to contain SV40. Researchers were unaware that polio vaccines contained SV40 because the virus was unknown to the scientific community until 1960. In 1963, all polio vaccines would no longer include SV40.
The polio vaccine’s impact on society is far-reaching, with an estimated 10 to 30 million children and adults infected with SV40 during the 1950s and 1960s. Before the revelation of the contaminated virus, more than 98 million people received the polio vaccine. As a result of the polio vaccines’ contamination, human tissue became a significant ingredient instead of tissue derived from monkeys. According to the National Academies of Sciences Engineering Medicine, more data can determine the number of cancer patients that trace their diagnosis to the polio vaccine. There is evidence linking the SV40 virus to a rise in cancer diagnoses from individuals who received tainted batches of the vaccine in the 1950s and 1960s.
Although the Centers for Disease Control admitted the contamination occurred, the organization abruptly took down the fact sheet on the SV40 virus in 2013 with no explanation given at the time for the removal of information from the website. The polio vaccine incident has received credit for being the start of numerous anti-vaccination movements.
Another truly outlandish example of conspiracy theories that were true is the military development of bombs that turn targets homosexual after exposure. The proposal involved a bomb releasing pheromones to make enemy soldiers develop a sexual attraction to their comrades. Unlike other conspiracy theories that turned out to be real, this event was not decades ago, but during the 1990s. The proposal submitted by the Wright Laboratory was a part of the United States Air Force.
The basis of the military proposal was to research pheromones for use against enemy troops. When the forces would receive dousing from female pheromones, a biological reaction could occur. The physiological response would lead to the soldiers finding each other sexually irresistible with the potential of homosexual coupling. The final goal would be soldiers getting so caught up in their sexual behavior that effectiveness would decrease on the battlefield. The proposed grant requested $7.5 million in funding over six years.
The proposal uncovered by a military spending watchdog group would receive a confirmation via a Freedom of Information request. Although the military received the application through the Wright Laboratory to finance the gay bomb project, funding for the study was never approved. The Wright Laboratory would eventually disassemble and become part of the Air Force Research Laboratory in 1997.
Who’s Conspiring Now?
Although many other conspiracy theories that turned out to be real may exist, the preceding are the most well-documented. Each conspiracy has undergone confirmation after an investigation by either government officials or criminal justice representatives. Although most conspiracy theories make unsupported claims, not all ideas should be discounted.
All citizens should remain vocal about the need for transparency in government activities. Conspiracy theories can prove dangerous if misinformation is widespread, but if the claims prove true, it shines a light on potential injustices against American citizens. Many reform policies have come about due to the FBI and CIA’s internal investigations.