By Estelle Thurtle via Listverse
10 • Brittany Murphy
In late 2009, celebrity blogger Perez Hilton predicted that Brittany Murphy would be the next shocking Hollywood death. Less than a month later, his prediction came true as the actress passed away after going into cardiac arrest. The official autopsy report ruled that the actress’s death was natural, resulting from a combination of pneumonia and anemia. Just three months later, Murphy’s husband, Simon Monjack, also passed away. The coroner found that he also died of a combination of pneumonia and anemia, although some believe that drug abuse or toxic mold were the real culprits.
In 2012, a much stranger conspiracy theory reared its head in the form of a controversial documentary featuring a friend of Murphy’s named Julia Davis. A former employee of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Davis alleges that DHS began trying to silence her after she became a whistleblower over immigration failings on the Mexican border. According to Davis, the government decided to target Murphy as well after she publicly defended her friend, even trying to have the British Monjack deported from America.
An American journalist, Alex Ben Block, also jumped on the conspiracy bandwagon, claiming that Simon Monjack relayed fears to him about being under constant surveillance. According to Block, Brittany Murphy died just a few days after her husband spoke to him. The craziness doesn’t stop there—Asif Akbar, the director of the documentary, claims that he and his family were also targeted by Homeland Security. Murphy’s estranged father is on the record as saying he believes his daughter was poisoned. Murphy’s mother, on the other hand, remains skeptical, calling the allegations an “inexcusable” attempt to cash in on her daughter’s death.
9 • Paul Walker
In 2013, the world was shocked to hear that Fast & Furious star Paul Walker had died in a tragic car crash. Walker and his friend Roger Rodas were driving through Santa Clarita in a Porsche GT when Rodas lost control of the vehicle and collided with a tree. Both men were killed after the car burst into flames.
But online conspiracy theorists quickly decided that there was more to the story than that. Walker had worked tirelessly to raise funds for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan, and a series of online postings soon began alleging that he must have discovered some terrible secret about the relief effort. The slightly saner version involves “dirty money” being laundered through aid donations, while the original posters insisted that Walker had learned of a secret plan to slip permanent birth control drugs into shipments of food and medicine to the Philippines.
Either way, Walker naturally leaped into his friend’s Porsche and raced to warn the world of the dastardly conspiracy. But “they were betrayed and someone rigged their car’s brakes to malfunction after a certain speed.”
If only Walker had watched Family Guy the week before, he would surely have been warned. According to one conspiracy theorist, the show predicted Walker’s death by killing off Brian Griffin (the dog) just a few days before the accident. The name of Walker’s character in the Fast & Furious movies? Brian. Q.E.D.
8 • Robin Williams
The death of beloved star Robin Williams is one of the saddest Hollywood tragedies in recent memory. The man who made the world laugh in such classics as Mrs. Doubtfire and Aladdin took his own life on August 11, 2014.
It was heartbreaking news, but the Internet’s finest conspiracy theorists knew there was no time to mourn. Within hours of his death, claims had begun to emerge that Williams had been murdered by the Illuminati . . . for some reason. Probably as a “sacrifice” for some sort of “ritual to the devil.” Then, weirdly, Family Guy was brought into the mix again.
Shortly before the news of Williams’ death was announced, the BBC had rebroadcast an episode of the animated show in which main character Peter Griffin gains the power to turn everyone he touches into Robin Williams. Naturally, this couldn’t be a coincidence, with Twitter users insisting that the show was being used to “predict” the death. The only question remaining is just why the Illuminati love Family Guy so much.
By Debra Kelly via Listverse
Regardless of anyone’s religious or spiritual beliefs, or lack thereof, Aleister Crowley is an incredibly fascinating figure. There’s as much myth and legend surrounding him as there are facts, and sifting through the stories is a strange, strange look into one of the most notorious lives of the 20th century. He left behind an incredibly rich history of teachings and beliefs, not to mention more than a few outrageous claims.
10 • Claimed To Have Developed The ‘V For Victory’ Sign
There was some pretty powerful symbolism going on in World War II, and according to Crowley, the Allied “V for Victory” sign was his creation. Since we know what happened at the end of the war, it goes without saying that he was right—if, that is, he did do what he claimed.
At the time, he was friends (or at least acquaintances) with real-life super-spy Ian Fleming. Just what kind of impact Crowley had in the war years is up for debate. There are some claims that he was a spy and some saying that, even going back to World War I, he was posing as a German supporter to drum up a significant amount of crazy in order to help sway the Americans to join the war on the side of the British.
Aleister also said that he had the ear of Winston Churchill, and when it came time to develop a symbol that would rally the Allied troops, he was the one that came up with the “V for Victory” salute. More than just an inspirational sign, it was also designed to strike fear in the hearts of Nazi occultists. The swastika, which gained its power from the Sun and solar energy, was a powerful thing; that’s why the Nazis chose it, after all. Crowley stated that the “V for Victory” sign was just as powerful in its opposition. Supposedly, it was a magical, mystical sign that invoked the power of Apophis and Typhon and channeled their destructive forces to fight for those who wielded it.
9 • Crowley And The Hermetic Order Of The Golden Dawn
Once a major player in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Crowley’s falling-out with the secret society within only a few years of his 1898 induction set a pretty good precedent for just how many different stories have been developed around him. According to Crowley, his disillusionment with the organization came when he realized that the people who were initiated didn’t necessarily know what they were dealing with when it came to mysticism, rites, and rituals. He stated that while the founder, S.L. MacGregor Mathers, did have some mystical powers, he had essentially bitten off more than he could chew and had started mucking about with evils over which he had no control. His actions had destroyed the Order, and Crowley left.
The Order tells a very, very different story. According to their official biography of Crowley, his rather over-the-top personality and his sexual orientation were already causing problems when there was a falling-out between two opposing factions within the organization. Ultimately, Crowley didn’t actually leave the Order, not as he described, but finished off his alienation of the group by publishing some of their secret documents. To add insult to injury, he wasn’t just revealing secrets, but he was giving himself credit for works that Mathers had written. Crowley claimed to be doing it because Mathers was actually under the influence of the evil that he couldn’t control.
Lawsuits soon followed, but since Mathers hadn’t copyrighted the works outside of the organization, Crowley won.
8 • Invisibility And The Lamp Of Invisible Light
After his falling-out with the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Crowley fled first to Paris and then to the Americas. While in Mexico, he was absolutely inspired by what he found there and established his own order—The Lamp of the Invisible Light.
According to Crowley, his time in the Order of the Golden Dawn was just a warm-up. He likened his exodus from the Order to putting away “childish things” and went out to learn on his own. Once he was freed from the shackles of the already organized society, he did a lot of things with inspiring names.
He learned to wield the “all encircling chain of the Great Brotherhood” and the “Sword of Flaming Light,” killing the serpent that had started the downfall of Christ, while taming good and evil bulls, sowing dragons’ teeth, and acquiring the Golden Fleece. It was while he was writing his self-initiation ceremonies for his new order that he also discovered how to make himself invisible, which is apparently pretty easy once you know the tricks. Crowley says that it doesn’t have anything to do with truly making yourself invisible but just controlling everyone else around you and making them completely uninterested in making eye contact with you or noticing you in any way. He says that once he figured out how to do it, which he could gauge by the faintness of his own reflection, he could don his red robes and golden crown and walk the streets of Mexico, where no one would ever, ever make eye contact with him or initiate a conversation.
Clearly, this was because he was invisible.
7 • Aiwass
Aiwass meant several different things over the course of the evolution of Crowley’s beliefs. In 1904, Crowley wrote The Book of Law, supposedly with guidance from the otherworldly Aiwass. At the time, Crowley painted him quite clearly as something that existed outside of himself rather than as a part of him. It was necessary, after all, as The Book of Law was designed to be the new religion that he had hoped would make all other religions obsolete. This religion, Thelema, was to be world-changing, and for that, it needed to come as a message from something outside the world. Aiwass was painted as the messenger, but as the doctrine developed, so did Aiwass’s role.
By Debra Kelly via Listverse
Scientology’s hatred of everything psychiatric is well-known due to Tom Cruise’s infamous, controversial statements on the subject. Those statements just scratch the surface, however, and there is much, much more to the cult-like religion’s absolute condemnation of anything and everything that has to do with the mental health industry. It’s ironic, really.
10 • Psychiatric Meds Cause School Shootings
The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) was formed in 1969 with the sole goal of exposing abuse and practices that put the lives and mental well-being of patients in danger. Founded by the Church of Scientology and Dr. Thomas Szasz, the commission claims to be a nonreligious organization that doesn’t force any opinion on anyone. It supposedly exists only to provide all possible information on a particular subject, in order to allow people to make educated choices and decisions for themselves.
It seems like a pretty legit organization, and one that’s probably needed—until you take a closer look and find things like their belief that school shootings are largely the result of psychiatric interference and medications. According to the CCHR, school shootings are mostly the fault of psychiatrists who are prescribing drugs with side effects like violence and “homicidal ideation.” An article published by CCHR International points the finger at 35 school shootings, where the perpetrators were found to have prescriptions for medications such as Prozac, Xanax, Zoloft, ADHD medications like Vyvanse, and plenty of unnamed medications.
The link between school shootings and medication has been so loudly shouted that it’s been investigated by groups like the Treatment Advocacy Center, the Clinical Research Unit for Anxiety Disorders, and the School of Psychiatry in Australia. The former study concluded that the annual murder rate in patients undergoing treatment for psychosis is 0.11 per 1,000. The latter concluded that mental illness was involved in between 5–10 percent of all homicide cases, and the overwhelming majority of those incidents involve people who weren’t being treated properly or were also abusing other substances.
But according to Scientology’s Los Angeles–based museum known as Psychiatry: An Industry of Death, psychiatrists are the reason that schools are no longer places for learning, but for controlling children with drugs that are prescribed not for the benefit of those taking them, but for the pockets of the psychiatric industry.
9 • Anti–Mental Health Laws
In 2005, the CCHR and the Church of Scientology made an attempt at getting legislation passed that would have helped to further their crusade against both psychiatry and specifically child psychiatry. Bills HB209 and SB1766 were put before the Florida state government in the hopes of tying the hands of schools when it came to even suggesting that a child might have some problems that need looking into.
The bills, which were fought wholeheartedly by organizations like Florida’s Office of Suicide Prevention, would have required schools to tell parents that any medication, treatment, or diagnosis of a mental health–related issue would follow the child for the rest of his or her life—which was only true because that was written into the bill, too. Parents would also be told that there was no medical basis for diagnosing mental illness, they would be entitled to refuse any and all treatment or evaluation, and the child wouldn’t be removed from classes in any way if treatment was refused. The bills would have covered anything and everything, even counseling through difficult times like divorce or a death in the family. They also specified that school officials would be forbidden from making any sort of referrals in mental health matters, and they had the backing of a handful of politicians.
Florida’s governor, Jeb Bush, vetoed the bill, and it wasn’t the only Scientology-sponsored bill that he stopped, either. There was also a bill on the table for $500,000 in state funding to be directed toward a prison rehabilitation program based on the principles of Scientology, making it clear how Bush felt about the “weird little group.”
8 • Psychiatrists Caused The Holocaust
This one’s a pretty roundabout theory, but at least we can give them points for creativity.
According to the CCHR, the Holocaust was engineered by psychiatrists. They point the finger first at a 19th-century psychologist named Francis Galton, who was one of the first to put forward the idea that the “best” specimens of the human race should be the ones to reproduce. And since humans clearly can’t control what they’re biologically programmed to do, a medical solution was called for. (Even in the United States, the results of the eugenics movement were terrifying. We’ve talked about them a few times.)
According to the theory, while there were eugenics movements in a frighteningly large number of countries, Germany’s movement was particularly dangerous because of the number of psychiatric professionals that were involved in the development of the doctrine. They were writing books on inferior races and on racial hygiene, and they weren’t shy about specifying who needed to be cleansed from the world’s population. The use of accepted psychiatric practices turned Hitler’s movement into something scientific, rather than just the rantings of a madman. Psychiatry gave him credibility, and a match made in Hell was formed. The Nazis needed official, accepted, medical justification, and the psychiatric community wanted money. It was only in Germany, where psychiatric input became key, that sterilization turned into murder. Once the groundwork was in place, the CCHR says, it was easy enough to expand the list of people that were unworthy.
By Debra Kelly via Listverse
The main goal of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is to, theoretically, keep us safe from all those nasty diseases that they have locked away in their labs, their clean rooms, and their biohazard vaults. But, people are people, and people are naturally suspicious of anyone with that many nasty tools at their disposal. This has led a some pretty wild theories about just what’s going on behind the closed doors of the CDC.
10 • The Coffin Stockpile
The CDC is located in Atlanta, Georgia, and that didn’t go unnoticed by people who had also seen what looked like a huge stockpile of coffins sitting in a field along Interstate 20, outside Madison, Georgia. Throw in proximity to the airport, and the rumor mill started turning.
According to the conspiracy theorists, the field was the site of coffins that the CDC was stockpiling in preparation for what they were calling a “high-casualty event.” Most recently, that was the massive Ebola outbreak, when conspiracy theorists realized that not only were the coffins still there, but there was also a page on the CDC website dedicated to the handling and disposal of the bodies of people who had died from Ebola. The site absolutely does specify that special caskets were required for burial. (Originally, they were called “hermetically sealed caskets,” a term that was replaced with “metal” caskets in a January 2015 update.)
There are a couple of huge problems with the whole theory. For one, the caskets are not actually caskets; they’re burial vault liners, which are placed inside the grave in areas that are prone to ground conditions like flooding. The heavy liners keep soil from shifting and collapsing into a wooden casket. Also, the burial vaults don’t belong to the CDC, FEMA, or any other government agency; they belong to the company that manufactures them, Vantage Products. The field in Georgia is just where they store them, and there’s nothing fishy about it, as their manufacturing facilities are located nearby.
9 • The Man-Made AIDS Virus
The idea that AIDS was a man-made virus unleashed on an unsuspecting population really got its start in an East German publication, allegedly sponsored by the KGB, called AIDS: USA Home-Made Evil. The 1986 work of two scientists, the pamphlet argued that the American government had used their Fort Detrick, Maryland, laboratory to combine a sheep virus with a human one to create AIDS.
The whole idea was taken a step further by Dr. William C. Douglass, who wrote AIDS: The End of Civilization and claimed that the German scientists were right, and the World Health Organization (WHO) and the CDC were responsible for the introduction of the virus into the human population. He claimed it wasn’t hard because it was spread through pretty much any kind of casual contact that you could think of, including mosquitoes.
Strecker Group head Dr. Robert Strecker also jumped on the conspiracy bandwagon with some even more impressive theories. According to him, the CDC is actively spreading the AIDS virus, which is actually a hybrid between a cow virus and a human one, and there are six different types of AIDS viruses all engineered in what he vaguely suggested might be a partnership with the Communists. His theories, works, and poorly made amateur videos went on to inspire Dr. Alan Cantwell, who pointed the finger at the CDC for what he believed were clear political motivations for their active spread of AIDS.
According to Cantwell, the CDC is the instrument of a genocide targeting America’s gay population. One of his fellow theorists goes, amazingly, a step further and suggests that this incredible attempt at genocide calls for nothing less than martial law and a revocation of civil liberties while the whole problem is sorted out.
8 • The CDC, Mercury-Tainted Vaccines, And Autism
The battle over whether parents should or shouldn’t vaccinate their children is an ongoing one, and there’s a pretty fascinating story on the conspiracy theorists’ side. In 2005, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. published an article in Rolling Stone linking the big pharmaceutical chains with the government’s tendency to hide potentially dangerous effects.
According to Kennedy, the CDC held a meeting at the Simpsonwood Conference Center, that he described using words and phrases like “isolated” and “complete secrecy.” It was invitation-only, and only top officials from various parts of the government were invited—from the FDA, the WHO, and everyone from a who’s-who list of drug companies. They were under strict orders not to discuss anything.
The whole meeting allegedly had to do with findings released by a CDC epidemiologist that linked mercury-based vaccines with a high rate of autism and other developmental problems like delays in speech and hyperactivity. According to the data, vaccines were responsible for raising the instances of autism to one in 166 cases—up from the normal one in 2,500.
The rest of the conference, Kennedy says, was spent discussing how to cover everything up. He says that the transcripts of the super-top-secret meeting (which he acquired through the Freedom of Information Act) detail the damage control mode that all the representatives went into. Data was reworked, and the CDC was more than happy to lend a helping hand in getting rid of the mercury-based vaccinations, not by destroying them but by selling them and exporting them to other countries.
The transcripts convinced Kennedy that the dangers of vaccinations were real, pointing out that other countries, including Russia, had banned the mercury-based additive from vaccinations decades ago. He goes on to say that the clear conflict of interest and the connections between the CDC and the financial interests of the drug companies make it clear that something needs to be done.
The story hasn’t had an easy run of it. Originally, it first appeared in both Salon and Rolling Stone. Salon retracted the story, while it remained up on the Rolling Stone site in a pay-only section, until disappearing in what they called a “redesign error.” The article then reappeared, and Rolling Stone denied that they had purposely removed it, even though there were no links to the article anywhere, and search terms turned up nothing.
According to Kennedy, there are two doctors that have had access to the information he did: Mark and David Geiers. The Geiers themselves are controversial at best, promoting what they call a cure for autism that involves chemical castration. Mark Geier’s medical license was suspended for promoting this “cure,” and David Geier, who wasn’t even a doctor, was charged with practicing medicine without a license.
By J. Francis Wolfe via Listverse
There is very good reason for all of humanity to have a healthy curiosity relating to near-death experiences. Death is the one experience we are all guaranteed to ultimately share. The field of science has therefore made numerous attempts to explain the near-death phenomena that so many people have independently described.
10 • The Temporoparietal Junction May Be Responsible For Out-Of-Body Experiences
Among the more common elements of near-death experiences is the distinct feeling of an individual having left their worldly body. Those who have had an “out-of-body” experience often report floating above themselves while being able to see their body and the people surrounding them. There have even been a few reports in which those who have had an out-of-body experience can identify objects and events occurring during times in which they were considered clinically dead, but there have also been studies demonstrating that this all could be due to damage in the temporoparietal junction of the brain.
The temporoparietal junction is responsible for assembling the data collected by the body’s senses and organs to form the perception of an individual’s body. When this part of the brain is damaged, it is possible that this results in the “out-of-body” experience that so many people have reported.
Though the experience may appear to be incredibly vivid and real, scientific studies have been able to reproduce this phenomenon without bringing the subject close to death, simply by electrically stimulating the temporoparietal junction of the brain.
9 • Excess Carbon Dioxide May Create The Tunnel And White Light
Nearly every individual who has had a near-death experience discusses the existence of a bright, white light and a tunnel that seems to lead to the afterlife. The white light seems to take on an otherworldly quality and is often accompanied by an overwhelming sense of peacefulness and welcoming.
A 2010 study of patients who had heart attacks revealed that there may be a correlation between this type of near-death experience and the level of CO2 in the blood. Out of the 52 cardiac patients studied, 11 reported a near-death experience. The levels of CO2 in the blood of those 11 patients were significantly higher than the patients who did not report having a near-death experience.
The feeling among researchers is that the excess CO2 in the bloodstream can have a significant effect on vision, which leads to patients seeing the tunnel and the bright light.
8 • Lack Of Oxygen To The Brain Causes Hallucinations
Many near-death experiences include the presence of long-dead friends and relatives appearing and perhaps even guiding the individual as they pass from the world of the living to the afterlife. Memories from every part of life are recalled in rapid succession, and there is an overwhelming sense of comfort, yet it appears that scientific research has provided an explanation for this phenomenon as well.
While excess CO2 has an effect on vision during a near-death experience, a lack of oxygen to the brain also plays a contributing role. It is well known that oxygen deprivation can lead to hallucinations and may even contribute to the feeling of euphoria that is often reported. While the sample size available to researchers is limited, studies have indicated that individuals who reported a near-death experience during cardiac arrest also had lower levels of oxygen.
Researchers believe that oxygen deprivation could well result in people “seeing their lives flash before their eyes” or being transported to a place where they are surrounded by friends and relatives who have long since passed on. This remains just a theory, however, as the other available research seems to indicate that multiple factors contribute to the near-death experience, which include the aforementioned CO2 levels as well. It makes sense in this regard that near-death experiences are commonly reported by those resuscitated following a heart attack, as a heart attack occurs when blood is blocked from reaching the brain.
By Debra Kelly via Listverse
Science is something of . . . well . . . an inexact science. Throughout history, there have been countless explanations of natural phenomena that we’ve considered true, only to discover decades later that we were really off the mark. There are some scientists, though, whose theories seem so far out in left field that they’re not even playing the same game.
10 • Wilhelm Reich Orgone
Born in 1897, Wilhelm Reich was a psychiatrist enamored of the works of Sigmund Freud. He briefly worked with Freud and later started his own practice in 1922. By 1940, he had moved to the United States and fully developed his theories.
According to Reich, he had scientifically proven the existence of a compound that he described as a form of energy in the body that was the physical manifestation of the libido, building up in the body until it was successfully discharged through an orgasm. Reich built a machine that would allow him to study this energy, crossing the threshold between not only psychology and biology, but also between Eastern ideas and Western methods. He named the energy “orgone,” as he had first discovered it while researching the mechanics of the orgasm, but he soon was looking at orgone in areas outside of human biology. It formed a crucial part in his theories about everything from gravity to the weather.
Reich and his supporters have done a massive amount of research and experimentation on the properties of orgone. In 1947, he wrote a book called The Cancer Biopathy based on his experiments injecting cancerous cells in mice with what he called “bions,” or the most basic element of the energy of life. According to Reich’s theories, cancer was largely the result of the breakdown of these elements, and he claimed to have been able to extend the lives of his mice by weeks—and even longer when he used the energy collected from his orgone accumulator.
Today, there are still organizations (like the American College of Orgonomy) that formally study Reich’s work and offer Medical Orgone Therapy as an option for the treatment of disorders including post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, anorexia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
9 • Frederic Petit Another Moon
According to astronomer Frederic Petit, Earth has a second moon. Working in 1846 from an observatory in Toulouse, France, Petit claimed that the presence of the second moon explained away all the astronomical irregularities that other astronomers were having difficulty with. He claimed this second moon had an orbital time of only 2 hours, 44 minutes, and 59 seconds. At its farthest point from Earth, Petit’s second moon was about 3,570 kilometers (2,218 mi) away.
No one took his findings seriously when he made them public, but he continued to release new findings about his moon and its effects on the real Moon and the Earth for 15 years after his initial discovery. Petit’s theory might have gone completely unnoticed by the scientific community if it hadn’t been picked up by Jules Verne in From the Earth to the Moon.
The reference is a brief one, but Verne comments about this second moon and names Petit as the man who discovered it. Instead of fading into scientific obscurity, amateur astronomers started searching the skies for evidence of this second moon, which has caused many other discoveries about the celestial bodies in the Earth’s orbit. In 1989, a man named Georg Waltemath claimed to have discovered that the planet was orbited by not only a couple of moons, but a whole network of mini moons. Some of these moons illuminated the sky with the same strength as the Sun, he claimed. Waltemath also released a series of dates and times at which people would supposedly be able to see these mini moons passing in front of the Sun. A lot of people spent several days in February 1898 staring at the Sun, but no one saw anything out of the ordinary.
My Michael Van Duisen via Listverse
Most of the treatments on this list are prescribed by proponents of so-called “natural medicine.” However, more often than not, they are simply quacks, a term derived from the Dutch word quacksalver, which means “hawker of salves.” Tim Minchin, an Australian comedian and musician, summed it up best: “Do you know what they call alternative medicine that’s been proved to work? Medicine.” That’s not to say that research into alternative medicine shouldn’t be done; rather, once a form of alternative medicine has been proven ineffective, it should be discarded as a viable treatment.
10 • Laetrile
A chemical sibling of amygdalin, a substance commonly found in the pits of apricots and other fruits, as well as almonds, Laetrile is often purported to greatly assist in the treatment of cancer. First created in the middle of the 20th century (the exact origins are unknown), it was allegedly synthesized by a man named Dr. Ernst T. Krebs Jr. However, at least a dozen separate experiments have been done on the substance, with no anti-tumor evidence produced.
The most common rationale for the reason for Laetrile’s “effectiveness” is that cancer cells have a certain enzyme which is not as present in regular, healthy cells. Therefore, the medication, which basically consists of cyanide poisoning, affects only the cancer cells. However, this is categorically false, and a number of cases of death due to cyanide poisoning have been documented. Because of this danger, and due to the fact that it is ineffective as a treatment, Laetrile has been banned from being transported into the US, though it is still used throughout the world.
9 • Colloidal Silver
Colloidal silver is a popular treatment for a number of serious illnesses, such as cancer, HIV, herpes, and other bacterial and viral infections. Basically, a colloidal substance consists of microscopic particles suspended in a liquid. It’s usually taken orally, although some colloidal silver products are salves or injections. (In fact, topical drugs containing silver have been shown to actually benefit burn victims.) Research has been done to examine the claimed effectiveness of oral colloidal silver treatments, but so far no benefits have ever been observed.
The most common side effect of the oral ingestion of colloidal silver is the buildup of silver in a person’s body tissues, which normally results in a condition known as argyria. Usually untreatable and irreversible, argyria doesn’t pose a serious health risk, but it does create a cosmetic problem: The sufferer’s skin, eyes, and internal organs will all become discolored, normally a sickly blue. Excessive amounts of colloidal silver can also result in kidney damage and various neurological problems.
8 • Yohimbe
Extracted from the bark of a species of evergreen tree native to western Africa, yohimbe has long been a traditional aphrodisiac for the local inhabitants. Touted by “experts” as having beneficial antioxidant properties designed to prevent heart attacks, it can actually lead to medical complications, including increased heart rate or kidney failure. Brought over to Europe at the end of the 19th century, Western medicine used the extract for treating impotence, a popular idea which persisted until other medications, such as Viagra, were introduced.
Unfortunately, the evidence for whether or not it even helps with impotence is spotty at best. Numerous trials have come up with either inconclusive or contradictory data. That not only makes it worthless as a treatment for its primary use, it turns it into nothing more than a potentially life-threatening placebo.
By Marc V. via Listverse
Since there now seems to be a conspiracy theory for even the most mundane of topics, it’s not surprising that the medical profession is currently swimming in them. In a field rife with accusations of corporate profiteering, poorly understood diseases, and so-called deadly vaccines, conspiracy theorists have found themselves a fertile home.
10 • HIV Doesn’t Exist
Closely connected to the crazy theory that HIV is man-made is the belief that the virus that causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) does not exist at all. According to this theory, AIDS is really caused by a combination of sexual behavior, recreational drug use, poor sanitation, and a number of unrelated diseases. The denial movement was pioneered by molecular biologist Peter Duesberg, who became the one of the earliest and most vocal proponents of HIV’s non-existence. Even when comprehensive research proved otherwise, Duesberg merely modified his claims to posit that HIV was a “harmless passenger virus” and that other diseases caused AIDS.
While it would be easy to write off the theory as the ramblings of a lunatic fringe group, the damage they’ve done has been extensive. In South Africa, thousands of AIDS sufferers have lost their lives thanks to President Thabo Mbeki making AIDS denialism an official government policy. Incidentally, Peter Duesberg was one of Mbeki’s advisers.
9 • Fluoridation Is Suppressing Our Third Eye
Aside from the countless conspiracy theories linking water fluoridation to mind-control experiments, some conspiracy theorists have blamed the substance for damaging our pineal gland and leaving us unable to open our Third Eye. As a result, fluoridation has left us unable to reach the next stage of human evolution. The theory’s proponents believe that the pineal gland plays a much more important role than just producing melatonin (the hormone responsible for regulating sleep). According to them, having full control of our Third Eye would allow us to fully access our psychic and spiritual powers.
But who could be behind such a nefarious scheme to stop us from evolving? Apparently, it boils down to the list of the usual suspects including the New World Order, the Illuminati, world governments, and the religious establishment, all of whom supposedly want people to remain in the dark about their true potential.
8 • The Obesity Epidemic Is A Myth
Although we know that obesity is one of the fastest-growing health problems in the world, some have claimed that the whole epidemic is nothing more than a myth. Despite research revealing that obese people now officially outnumber the world’s malnourished and hungry, conspiracy theorists have derided talk of an epidemic as an obvious ruse to sell more weight-loss drugs.
Collaborating with public health agencies and the media, pharmaceutical companies have supposedly tricked people into believing that diet pills are the only way for them to lose weight. Apparently, they’ve also managed to dupe governments into advocating anti-obesity and “fat shaming” so that people will be conditioned into buying their products. Interestingly, some of the most active voices fighting against anti-obesity measures include advocacy groups funded by the food industry.
7 • Chemtrails Are Behind Morgellons Disease
Some of the most popular conspiracy theories out there concern “chemtrails,” condensation trails left by planes which supposedly contain chemical or biological agents. Depending on the theory, contrails are either used to control the population or alter the weather. They’ve also been blamed for causing the controversial dermatological condition known as Morgellons disease.
The current scientific consensus is that Morgellons does not actually exist and that those who claim to have it are either delusional or suffering from some other known condition. However, conspiracy theorists have insisted that contrails are the true culprits behind the spread of the condition. Mysterious fibers found on supposed sufferers have subsequently been identified as harmless cotton from their clothing, but that hasn’t dampened the conspiracy theory. In fact, believers now claim that contrails contain nanotechnology which burrows into the human body, thereby causing the condition.
By Marc V. via Listverse
As we’ve mentioned before, conspiracy theories can be found anywhere on the planet and can encompass just about any subject matter under the Sun. They are used to explain any mysterious event, albeit with a reasoning that can only be described as certifiably insane. Of course, the conspirators are almost always identified as belonging to a cabal of rich and powerful individuals, which brings us to the topic of depopulation. Overpopulation, exhaustion of natural resources, or evil designs are but a few of the reasons why depopulation conspiracy theories still occupy a special place in the minds of the paranoid.
10 • Pacte De Famine
Contrary to the popular notion that they are products of the American mind, depopulation conspiracy theories and their beginnings should actually be credited to the French, with their infamous Pacte de Famine (Famine Pact) in the late 18th century. During that period, a combination of unfavorable weather and relatively poor farming methods produced a severe food shortage across many regions of France, resulting in the raising of the prices of food and other basic commodities.
Due to this unfortunate event, many of the middle and lower classes—especially the peasants—believed that the aristocracy or some other shadowy group was secretly controlling the price of grains to control their burgeoning population. The paranoia led to the Flour War, a collective term for the series of riots and revolts that broke out in the affected areas. Incidentally, this atmosphere of fear and distrust helped to kick-start the French Revolution.
9 • The Human Genome Project Is A Eugenics Program
We’ve previously discussed the Human Genome Project and the innumerable benefits it has brought to the human race. However, such a massive, well-funded program is not without its controversies. For one, there is a conspiracy theory which says that the project is actually nothing more than a cover for eugenicists to develop better methods of exterminating those people whom they have deemed inferior and unfit for this planet.
According to this conspiracy, the end goal of the project is the identification and elimination of “bad genes” across the world. Mapping out the human genome would allow the supposed conspirators to build better diseases and other biological weapons to subtly sterilize and wipe out inferior races. Even drugs would be customized to eliminate the targeted groups around the globe. As to the identity of the conspirators, it’s anyone’s guess. Of course, the usual suspects would include the CIA, the military, the Illuminati, or any other “evil” group.
8 • Global Warming Is An Excuse To Depopulate The World
By itself, global warming is already a very controversial topic. Its very existence is a constant subject of heated debate between affirmers and deniers. As if that isn’t enough, a few crazies in the deniers’ camp have stated that the campaign to stop global warming is really just a ruse to implement a depopulation program.
According to them, the crusade to cut back on fossil fuels and substances harmful to the environment would actually mean decreasing large-scale food and energy production throughout the world. This man-made famine and poverty would then result in a worldwide genocide and the destruction of the global economy, making it easier for whoever is behind the scheme to implement a New World Order. They claim that the ban on DDTs has already resulted in the deaths of more than 100 million people, while the ban on CFCs is killing 40 million people annually.
By Pauli Poisuo via Listverse – August 15, 2013
Some say alien life forms have visited Earth throughout history. However, such claims are difficult to prove. Most UFO sightings and abductions are easy to dismiss as hoaxes or simple misunderstandings.
But what about the times when the little green men actually leave something behind? Or the artifacts people from ancient times have constructed to honor what could only be visitors from other planets? There are many strange objects in the world, both enigmatic and man-made, that are said to be proof of alien life.
10 • The Russian UFO Tooth Wheel
A Russian man found a strange piece of machinery from Vladivostok, the administrative capital of the Primorsky Krai area. The object resembled a piece of tooth wheel and was embedded in a piece of coal he was using to light a fire. Although discarded pieces of old machines are not uncommon in Russia, the man became curious and showed his find to some scientists. Testing revealed that the toothed object was almost pure aluminum and almost certainly artificially made.
Also, it was 300 million years old. This raised some interesting questions, as aluminum of this purity and shape can’t form naturally and humans didn’t figure out how to make it until 1825. Curiously, the object also resembles parts that are used in microscopes and other delicate technical devices.
Although conspiracy theorists have been quick to declare the find a part of an alien spaceship, the scientists researching it are not willing to jump to conclusions and wish to run further tests in order to learn more about the mysterious artifact.
9 • The Guatemala Stone Head
In the 1930s, explorers found an enormous, eloquently made sandstone statue in the middle of a Guatemalan jungle. The face carved in the stone didn’t resemble the facial features of the Maya or any of the other people known to have populated the lands. In fact, its elongated cranium and fine features didn’t seem to belong in the history books at all.
Researchers have claimed that the statue’s unique features depict a member of an ancient alien civilization that was far more advanced than any of the pre-Hispanic races of America we know about. Some even speculated the head might just be a part of a much larger construct underneath (this was found to be untrue). Of course, there’s a chance that the statue might be the work of a more recent artist or even a complete hoax. Sadly, we will probably never find out for sure: The head was used for target practice by revolutionary troops and its features have been destroyed to near obscurity.
8 • The Williams Enigmalith
In 1998, a hiker named John J. Williams noticed a strange metallic protrusion in the dirt. He dug up a strange-looking rock which, upon cleaning, turned out to have a weird electrical component attached to it. The electric device was clearly man-made and somewhat resembled an electrical plug.
The rock has since become a well-known mystery in UFO enthusiast circles. It has featured in UFO Magazine and (according to Williams) Fortean Times, a famed magazine devoted to mysterious phenomena. Williams, an electrical engineer, says the electronic component embedded in the stone has not been glued or welded into the granite. In fact, the rock probably formed around the device.
Many believe that the so-called Williams Enigmalith is a hoax, as Williams refuses to break it (but is willing to sell it for $500,000). Also, the stone device does bear a certain resemblance to heat rocks that are commonly used to keep tropical pet lizards warm. Still, geological analysis has apparently determined that the stone is around 100,000 years old, which (if true) would mean the device inside can’t possibly be of human creation. Williams is confident enough to let anyone research the Enigmalith on three conditions: He must be present, the rock must remain unharmed, and he will not have to pay for the research.
7 • Ancient Aeroplanes
Incas and other pre-Columbian people left behind some extremely puzzling trinkets. Some of the strangest are probably the so-called Ancient Aeroplanes, which are small, golden figures that closely resemble modern jet planes. Originally thought to be zoomorphic (meant to resemble animals), the statues were soon found to have features that look very much like fighter planes’ wings, stabilizing tails, and even landing gears. They were aerodynamic enough that when ancient astronaut believers (allegedly) made model planes with their proportions and fitted them with propellers and (again, allegedly) jet engines, they flew perfectly. All of this has led to speculation that the Incas may have been in contact with (likely extraterrestrial) people who were able to build advanced jet planes, and who perhaps even possessed the technology themselves.
Well, that, or these wonderful statuettes might just be artistic representations of bees, flying fish, or other winged creatures. As always, the beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
By K.Fane via Listverse
Humankind has long dabbled in the supernatural, lured by the promise of obtaining power and enlightenment. Several texts have been devoted to this practice, outlining complicated and mysterious rituals that were presented as the key to achieving communion with otherworldly spirits.
10 • Greek Magical Papyri
The Greek magical papyri from the second century B.C. listed spells, rituals, and divinations. These included instructions for how to summon a headless demon, open doors to the underworld, and protect yourself from wild beasts. Perhaps most tantalizing of all, they describe how to gain a supernatural assistant, an otherworldly entity who does your bidding.
The most commonly found spells in the Papyri are divination spells—ceremonies that offer you visions of the future. One of its most well-known passages provides instructions for how to forecast upcoming events using an “iron lampstead,” “an offering of frankincense,” and an “uncorrupted and pure” child. After being placed into a deep trance, the child sees images flickering in the flame.
Among the Papyri’s most famous components is the Mithras Liturgy. This ceremony describes how to ascend through seven higher planes of existence and communicate with the deity Mithras.
9 • The Black Pullet
Originating in France in the 18th century, The Black Pullet focuses on the study of magical talismans, special objects engraved with mystical words that protect and empower the wearer. It was reportedly written by an anonymous officer in Napoleon’s Army, who claimed to have received the contents from a mysterious mage while on expedition in Egypt.
The Pullet includes detailed instructions for how to construct talismans out of bronzed steel, silk, and special ink. Among these invocations is a spell to call upon a djinn, a creature made of smoke and fire who will bring you true love. If your ambitions are slightly more cynical, then the Pullet also provides talismans that will force “discreet men” to tell you their secrets, allow you to see behind closed doors, and destroy anyone who is plotting against you.
The apex of the book’s mystical teachings is acquiring the Black Pullet itself—a hen that can find buried treasure.
8 • Ars Almadel
The Ars Almadel is Book Four of the Lesser Key of Solomon, also known as the Lemegeton, a significant grimoire of demonology compiled in the 17th century by an unknown author. This particular book of the Legemeton provides a blueprint for constructing an Almadel—a magical wax altar, somewhat like a ouija board, that allows you to communicate with angels.
The Almadel is composed of four Altitudes, or “Choras,” each of which corresponds with a unique set of angels with different domains. The text provides the names of the angels of each Chora (Gelomiros and Aphiriza, for example), the proper way to direct your requests to them (ask only what is “just and lawful”), and the best calendar dates for invoking them. It also includes brief physical descriptions of these angelic manifestations. The Angels of the Third Chora, for example, come in the form of “little women dressed in green and silver” wearing crowns made of bay leaves.
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By Jo Rodriguez via Listverse
Is there life elsewhere in the universe? It’s becoming increasingly likely that life must exist somewhere out there, but theories on aliens closer to home have ranged from misguided to idiotic.
10 • Viking Landers Finding Life On Mars
During the ’70s, NASA’s Viking landers probed Martian soil, eagerly looking for signs of life on the Red Planet. While the landers did not find actual microorganisms, traces of carbon dioxide turned up in the collected samples. Some scientists looked at the results and concluded that living organisms had to be on the planet, producing the compound.
The findings have been disputed for decades. Recently, some scientists have concluded that iron particles in Martian soil could have oxidized carbon compounds that exist naturally there.
Though evidence from Viking may not point to current Martians, carbon in the soil may still indicate that life once existed on the planet. Today’s research focuses less on finding living organisms there and more on investigating if the atmosphere could preserve traces of life even after long stretches of time.
9 • Arthur C. Clarke And Martian Vegetation
Beloved author and screenwriter Arthur C. Clarke long believed in life on Mars. In 2001, Clarke downloaded several photos from NASA’s website captured by the Mars Global Surveyor and was delighted to see what he thought were trees.
Clarke spoke to a crowd in his home in Sri Lanka, saying that the pictures showed things that were growing on the planet’s surface. Clarke said, “I’m quite serious when I say I have a really good look at these new Mars images. Something is actually moving and changing with the seasons that suggest, at least, vegetation.” In another interview, he joked, “I’m now convinced that Mars is inhabited by a race of demented landscape gardeners.”
The images were actually simply sand dunes, covered in or affected by frozen carbon dioxide. Over time, dark sand cascades down the dunes, leaving streaks that may look like trees to the less educated eye.
8 • Crazy Experiments To Contact Martians
In 1820, German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss sought to incorporate the work of Pythagoras in his quest to communicate with alien life on Mars. Gauss suggested clearing a large patch of Siberia and planting wheat for miles in a shape that geometrically illustrates the Pythagorean Theorem. By harvest season, the bright yellow crop-filled areas would contrast with the forest’s darker coloring. Gauss believed that Martian observers could spot this gigantic triangle on Earth with a small telescope.
Other odd ideas were also popular during the 19th century. Astronomer Joseph Littrow suggested digging trenches measuring 30 kilometers (20 mi) in length and shaped in various geometric patterns across the Sahara. We’d then fill them with kerosene and light them up. A Frenchman, Charles Cros, suggested building a huge mirror that could focus sunlight and burn messages into the very surface of Mars.
7 • Martians Contact Nikola Tesla
Nikola Tesla may have been one of the most brilliant scientists in human history, but he also falsely claimed to have received artificial signals of extraterrestrial origin—he said they were from Mars or Venus.
In a letter to the New York Times, Tesla wrote of how Mars, of the two planets, could support life. He viewed the distance of the planets from the Sun in terms of evolution. Venus was at a youthful stage, perhaps unable to fully sustain humanoid life. Earth was at full growth. Mars had reached old age, yet it had passed through prime biological and technological evolutionary stages.
Tesla suggested ways to improve our means to communicate with Mars, first by relocating our observatories to send clearer signals through the atmosphere. In 1937, Tesla’s work led him to believe that he could win the Pierre Guzman Prize of 100,000 francs for “the first person who will find the means of communicating with a star and of receiving a response.” The prize rules excluded contact with Mars, however, because that would have been “too easy.”
The public has never had a chance to analyze Tesla’s supposed observation, but it is likely that he actually detected the pulsing of distant stars. This was far from the intelligent transmission he had claimed to see, but it was still an impressive accomplishment.
Nikola Tesla has become something of an Internet hero. According to legend, he was a mad genius who almost never got the credit he deserved in the money-hungry world of science. It’s easy to argue that Tesla didn’t make it further because of his eccentricities: He hated everything, suffered from severe obsessive-compulsive disorder, and might have been autistic. The truth, however, is far simpler: Many of his ideas just weren’t viable. Although many people would like to believe otherwise, Tesla was far from perfect.
10 • Alleged Eidetic Memory
It’s often claimed that Tesla never needed to write anything down because he had either a photographic or eidetic memory. While scientists have not ruled out the claim, the researchers who have studied the phenomenon have admitted that they can’t even prove its existence, although others have pointed out flaws in their methodologies.
As a brilliant scientist and inventor, it’s quite possible that Tesla had excellent visual memory, but it was never tested. It’s certainly not true that he never needed to write anything down—Tesla kept copious notes on his inventions and ideas, many of which have survived to this day. Scientists were thrilled by the possibilities they might contain, but upon examination, these notebooks were found to be highly speculative and contain no useful scientific knowledge.
9 • Irresponsibility With Money
Many people claim that Tesla died penniless, and some go so far as to say he always was. This is decried as a great injustice against such a brilliant mind. The truth, much like the man himself, is a little more complicated. There is some evidence that he could have made more money if his patents had been secured better or he had not been exploited by people like Thomas Edison. Tesla never cared much for the business aspect of his work, though, and even if he had made a fortune, he likely would have blown it.
Tesla had a reputation for hemorrhaging money. He lived in fancy hotels and sunk the rest of his money into increasingly ambitious—and expensive—projects. He had a history of borrowing money from friends and getting evicted from those hotels. He would sometimes even leave some of his notebooks behind as collateral for the debt when he moved out.
Tesla once commented on his poverty when the city tried to force him to pay a tax bill, admitting that he had no money and “scores” of other debts he owed. He explained that he had been living on credit at the Waldorf for several years. He had plenty of opportunities to pay off his debts and keep his patents from lapsing, but instead, he maintained his lavish lifestyle until the day he died.
8 • Wild Claims
Thanks to the Tesla revival, every absurd claim he made to newspapers back in the day is now being repeated as fact. The truth is that Tesla made many claims so far out of left field that they would destroy a scientist’s credibility even today, often with no evidence or results to back them up. But if Tesla was crazy, he was crazy like a fox. Oftentimes, his claims were reported shortly before the historical experiments of other scientists.
For example, when Marconi was gearing up for some important radio signal tests, Tesla told the media that he had already received radio transmissions that he believed were from Mars. With his technology, he claimed, we would soon be able to communicate with other planets almost instantaneously. Other projects he claimed to be working on included a torpedo that could be recalled even after being fired and a powerful death ray.
As bizarre as these claims sounded, they gave the impression that Tesla was light-years ahead of everyone else. But if the general public was impressed, the scientific community was decidedly not, regarding Tesla as being mostly full of hot air. While this is an overreaction—Tesla certainly did contribute to our body of scientific knowledge—the plausibility of many of Tesla’s inventions is greatly exaggerated.
7 • Strange Visions
Tesla’s tall tales weren’t confined to his inventions or supposed interactions with Martians. He also believed that he received a variety of important visions. The first occurred when he was walking in the park with a friend after suffering a nervous breakdown due to his constant lack of sleep.
According to Tesla, he had a vision of the entire model for his AC motor and started drawing it in the dirt. Considering that he had already stated that he had been thinking about the idea for about six years, he probably wasn’t being entirely truthful.
His second “vision” occurred much later in life, involving his beloved pigeons. He claimed that he was alone in his hotel room one night when a white pigeon for whom he harbored particularly great affection came to see him. He was then suddenly blinded by two powerful beams of light that communicated to him that he had finished all of his life’s work and would die soon.
6 • Insomnia And Addiction To Work
Tesla’s visions could probably be more reasonably attributed to his lack of sleep than any mystical properties. He was known to be a workaholic, to the point that any kind of rest was inconceivable. He claimed that he went to bed at 5:00 AM and rose only five hours later, and only two of those hours were spent sleeping. Once a year, he indulged himself and actually slept all five hours. He never stopped thinking about his work, even when he was snoozing.
There’s no doubt that Tesla’s insomnia had a profound impact on his physical and psychological health for his entire life, but it’s likely that its extent was another of his exaggerations. Humans simply aren’t capable of maintaining such a lack of sleep and remaining alive. However, it is possible Tesla had simply deluded himself. The hotel employees who attended his room said they often found Tesla standing silently, apparently awake but totally unaware of his surroundings. It’s likely that he slept more than he realized, falling into these nap-like trances as a natural reaction to that level of sleep deprivation.
The 887 giant moai statues on Easter Island have turned one of the most isolated islands in the world into one of the most well known—and most mysterious. With each year, more theories arise concerning the island, the statues, and the Rapa Nui people who once lived there. Here are some of the most fascinating ones.
10 • The Moai Walked
A longstanding point of contention over the years has been just how the moai statues on Easter Island got to their final resting places. The tallest of the statues, “Paro,” stands at almost 10 meters (33 ft) and weighs in at 74 metric tons (82 tons). All of them are immensely hard to move.
In the early ’80s, researchers tried to recreate some of the statues and move them using only tools that the islanders had to their disposal. They found this almost impossible to do. Then in 1987, American archaeologist Charles Love managed to move a 9–metric ton (10 ton) replica. He put it on a makeshift vehicle consisting of two sledges, and he and 25 men rolled the statue 46 meters (150 ft) in just two minutes.
Ten years after this feat, Czech engineer Pavel Pavel and Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl built their own statue of the same size. They tied one rope around its head and another around its base. With the help of 16 people, they rocked the statue from side to side. They cut the exercise short because they were damaging the statue, but Heyerdahl estimated that they could otherwise have moved the statue (or one twice as big) 100 meters (330 ft) per day.
Americans Terry Hunt and Carl P. Lipo have recently investigated the sensational theory that the Rapa Nui people tied ropes around the massive moai statues and moved them into place with a walking motion. Their team managed to move a replica 100 meters (330 ft) in this manner. They also argue that this explains Rapa Nui folklore, which tells of the statues walking, animated by magic.
9 • Ecocide
A well-known theory states that the island natives cleared large forests to make room for agriculture, mistakenly thinking the trees would grow back fast enough to sustain the environment. The growing population just added to the problem, and the island eventually just couldn’t support its inhabitants. This theory was especially popularized by Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by UCLA geographer Jared Diamond. Diamond names Easter Island as the most prominent example of resource misuse destroying an entire society.
Now, however, a new theory suggests that there is very little evidence this happened. The Rapa Nui people were in actual fact very intelligent agricultural engineers. Intensive study shows that the islanders’ agricultural fields were deliberately fertilized by volcanic rock.
Terry Hunt and Carl Lipo, in their continuing study of Easter Island, also theorize that even though the islanders cleared most of the forest, they replaced it with grasslands. The pair do not believe that any self-inflicted catastrophe killed the islanders. Anthropologist Mara Mulrooney supports Lipo and Hunt in the matter. Her radiocarbon data indicates that Easter Island was inhabited for many centuries, and its population only dropped after Europeans started frequenting it.
8 • The Rats Did It
Lipo and Hunt offer an alternative explanation for the population drop. The lack of predators and an overflow of food on the island have provided a paradise for rats hiding in the canoes of the island’s earliest settlers. Though the natives cut and burned trees, it was the rats that prevented regrowth by feasting on the new plants.
But while rats may have hurt the island’s ecosystem, they gave the islanders a new food source. The discovery of rat bones in rubbish dumps on the island indicates that the natives dined on the rodents. This kept them fed while they worked at building their fields to sustain themselves long-term.
7 • Alien Transport
A popular goofy theory about the Easter Island moai says that the massive statues were created (or, alternatively, influenced) by aliens.
Author Erich von Daniken helped spread this theory with his book Chariots of the Gods?: Unsolved Mysteries of the Past. Daniken also believes the ancient Egyptians could not possibly have built the pyramids by themselves as they lacked the intelligence and strength. Similar theories explain the Mayan pyramids and the Nazca line drawings.
The stone used to build the moai was actually taken from the island itself, from an extinct volcano on the northeastern side, not from another planet. There’s no actual mystery about who built the statues. The only real mystery is why they did so. Many island researchers fully believe that each of the statues represent the head of a family. This, however, remains speculation.
NASA predicts that we’ll find life outside our planet, and possibly outside our solar system, within a generation. But where exactly, and what type of life? Is it even wise to make contact with extraterrestrials? The search hasn’t been easy, but these questions may not be theoretical much longer. Here are 10 ways the quest for alien life is getting real.
10 • NASA Predicts Alien Life Will Be Found Within 20 Years
In the words of Matt Mountain, director at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, “Imagine the moment when the world wakes up, and the human race realizes that its long loneliness in time and space may be over . . . It’s within our grasp to pull off a discovery that will change the world forever.”
Using ground and space-based technology, NASA scientists predict that we’ll find alien life in the Milky Way galaxy within the next 20 years. Launched in 2009, the Kepler Space Telescope (pictured) has helped scientists find thousands of exoplanets (planets outside our solar system). Kepler discovers a planet when it crosses in front of a star, causing a small drop in the star’s brightness.
Based on data from Kepler, NASA scientists believe that in our galaxy alone, 100 million planets may be home to alien life. But it’s the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope (scheduled for a 2018 launch) that will first give us the capability to indirectly detect life on other planets. The Webb telescope searches for gases in a planet’s atmosphere that are generated by life. The ultimate goal is to find Earth 2.0, a twin to our own planet.
9 • The Alien Life We Find May Not Be Intelligent
The Webb Telescope and its successors will search for biosignatures in the atmospheres of exoplanets, such as molecular water, oxygen, and carbon dioxide. But even if a biosignature is detected, it won’t tell us whether the life on that exoplanet is intelligent or not. Such alien life may be single-celled organisms like amoebas, rather than complex beings that can communicate with us.
We’re also limited in our search for life by our prejudices and lack of imagination. We assume there must be carbon-based life like us, and that we’re the standard by which intelligence is judged. Explaining this failure in creative thought, Carolyn Porco of the Space Science Institute says, “Scientists don’t go off and think completely wild and crazy things unless they have some evidence that leads them to do that.”
Other scientists such as Peter Ward, coauthor of Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe, believe that intelligent alien life will be short-lived. Ward assumes that other species will have global warming, too many people, no food, and eventual chaos that destroys their civilizations. He foresees the same for us.
8 • Mars May Have Supported Life Before—And May Again
Mars is currently too cold to house liquid water and support life. But NASA’s Opportunity Rover—an all-terrain vehicle that collects and analyzes rocks on Mars—has shown that about four billion years ago, the planet had fresh water and mud that could have supported life.
Another past source of water and possible life sits on the slopes of Mars’s third-tallest volcano, Arsia Mons. Around 210 million years ago, this volcano erupted beneath a vast glacier. The volcano’s heat caused the ice to melt, forming lakes in the glacier like liquid bubbles in a partially frozen ice cube. The lakes may have existed long enough for microbial life to have formed there.
It’s possible that some simple organisms on Earth may be able to survive on Mars today. Methanogens, for example, use hydrogen and carbon dioxide to produce methane, and don’t need oxygen, organic nutrients, or light. They’re able to survive temperature extremes such as those found during Martian freeze-thaw cycles. So when scientists found methane in Mars’ atmosphere in 2004, they questioned whether methanogens already inhabit the subsurface of Mars.
As we travel to Mars, though, scientists are concerned that we may contaminate the planet’s environment with microorganisms from Earth. That may make it difficult to determine whether life forms found on Mars originated there.
Although conspiracy theories can pop up anywhere in the world, they’ve become an integral part of American culture and history. Even the founding of the country was steeped in conspiracy theory, specifically that King George III planned to deprive the colonies of their rights. There’s nothing more American than not trusting your government, especially considering the number of conspiracy theories that turn out to be true.
10 • The US Government Turned Its Citizens Into Collateral
According to this conspiracy theory pushed by members of the so-called “redemption movement,” the US government turned its own citizens into collateral in 1933 when it stopped using the gold standard so it could keep borrowing money. Supposedly, this made all American citizens unwitting slaves of international Jewish bankers.
As movement leader Roger Elvick explained, every time a new citizen is born, the government awards his “straw man,” or twin, with a secret bank account worth $630,000. He also claims that citizens have the right to access their twins’ bank accounts, which can be done by performing certain legal maneuvers.
Of course, members who attempted to access their secret bank accounts often found themselves in trouble with the law. Elvick himself did prison time during most of the 1990s for issuing more than $1 million in bad checks and filing falsified IRS forms. He found himself in trouble again in 2005 when he was charged with forgery and extortion.
9 • The North American Union
In another nutty conspiracy theory involving the New World Order, there are those who believe that insidious forces are working behind the scenes to turn the US, Canada, and Mexico into one superstate called the North American Union (NAU). The system will be modeled after the European Union and eventually lead to a one-world government.
Adherents believe that this conspiracy includes building a superhighway that would stretch from Yukon to the Yucatan, the promotion of a consolidated currency called the “amero,” and the installation of Spanish as the primary language. They also claim that the existence of legitimate groups like the North American Free Trade Agreement and Council on Foreign Relations is proof that the creation of the NAU is already in full swing. As to who the culprits could be, it is said that industrialists are behind this scheme, since they stand to benefit the most from a free market.
8 • Black Genocide
Given the oppression and discrimination that the black population of the US has faced for hundreds of years, it was not hard to see this coming. This conspiracy theory refers to an alleged institutionalized policy by the US government to decrease or wipe out the African-American population using a variety of medical and other methods. Aside from implementing harsh socioeconomic conditions, this also includes promoting birth control, performing abortions and sterilizations, and abetting lynchings and murders against the black community.
The term first came into existence in the 1950s, when the Civil Rights Congress presented its petition to the United Nations for relief from what it called the government-sponsored genocide of black people. It later entered the popular lexicon after the introduction of the birth control pill and subsequent legalization of abortion. It has since become a favorite rallying cry for activists and conspiracy theorists alike any time widespread persecution of the black community is perceived.
7 • The US Government Is Operating On Maritime/Military Law
Proponents of this theory, including the notoriously litigious “sovereign citizens movement,” contend that a massive conspiracy changed the original government, which operated on common and constitutional law, into one that observes maritime/military law. Unlike the first government, which allowed its citizens complete freedom, the second stripped them of all rights and only conferred upon them privileges designed to make them dependent on the government.
They also believe that the judicial system has been fully aware of the insidious changes all this time but prefer to keep silent to continue enslaving the people. The proof of its complicity is supposedly validated by the presence of gold-fringed US flags that fly over courthouses and other federal buildings. According to theorists, this is a military flag, an assertion that the Flag Research Center has refuted. This outlandish belief has led to numerous run-ins with the law for believers, with occasionally deadly results.
6 • The Constitution Has Been Suspended Since 1933
According to prominent patriot movement member Eugene Schroder in his book The Constitution: Fact or Fiction, President Franklin Roosevelt allegedly suspended the Constitution when he signed the Emergency Banking Relief Act in 1933, which amended the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917. This supposedly allowed him considerable power to oversee trading and the flow of gold even when the country was not at war.
Schroder contends that Roosevelt, who later outlawed gold-hoarding, essentially declared war against his own people and used the new law to benefit a secret cabal inside the White House. His successors went on to discreetly increase the executive powers of the federal government even more, using World War II and the Cold War as excuses. As a result, the government apparently now has unlimited control over the economy. Schroder also claims that since Roosevelt supposedly never relinquished his powers, the people have been unwittingly living under martial law for decades.
By Marc V. via Listverse
Thanks to never-ending reports of encounters and sightings, UFOs are easily one of the most recognized and well-known icons of modern pop culture. In fact, the fascination has even spawned whole religions with UFOs and aliens as the centerpiece. Of course, we also mustn’t forget the different UFO conspiracy theories being continuously peddled by people who either really want to know the truth or are just plain wacko. In any case, it’s certain that these conspiracy theories will never go out of style, especially when most of them are just downright insane.
10 • There Is An Alien Satellite Hovering Over Earth
This conspiracy theory states that a 13,000-year-old satellite called the Black Knight is orbiting our planet. As the story goes, Nikola Tesla was the first man to discover its existence after he began receiving radio signals in 1899 which he believed came from space, a claim also made by amateur radio operators in the early 20th century. Later on, newspaper reports in the 1950s and ’60s detailing the discovery of a mysterious object in space coupled with supposed photographic evidence helped to fuel belief in the Black Knight’s existence.
If this supposed satellite really does exist, then why is it there? According to Scottish writer Duncan Lunan, the Black Knight satellite is actually a space probe that contains a map to a faraway alien planet called Epsilon Bootis, and the unidentified radio signals are in fact an attempt by those inhabitants to communicate with humans. Although skeptics have sought to debunk the alien satellite as nothing more than space junk or debris, believers have continued to insist otherwise.
9 • MacArthur And Alien Warfare In The Future
Did Douglas MacArthur, the man who led the US against the Japanese and later the Koreans and Chinese, foresee a future war against aliens? According to a supposed speech he made in 1955, MacArthur warned that all countries of the Earth should unite, because the next war would involve humanity against aliens from other planets. Conspiracy theorists closely tie the general’s statements with his alleged involvement in the creation of the ambiguous Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit, a government agency supposedly tasked with investigating mysterious UFO crashes in the 1950s and which was later absorbed by the Air Force. As the story goes, the IPU’s findings that UFOs constituted a threat to national and global security was what prompted MacArthur to render his speech.
MacArthur’s statements, although somewhat sensationalized later on by the media, nonetheless manifested his belief that someday in the future, all of us might experience a real-life version of Independence Day.
8 • The US Government Secretly Sent Astronauts To Another Planet
According to this conspiracy theory, the administration of President JFK—and, later, Johnson—allegedly sent astronauts to a faraway planet called Serpo. The ambitious project began after the US government supposedly saved the life of an alien whose spacecraft crashed in Roswell. In return, the grateful alien established an exchange program with the government and made arrangements for two spaceships to pick it up along with a dozen specially trained astronauts in 1965. After 37 light-years, the astronauts finally reached Serpo and spent more than a decade learning about the planet and its inhabitants, a race called Ebens.
According to them, the Ebens numbered more than 600,000 but lived in a peaceful, government-free community. After 13 years, the team finally returned to Earth four members short after two of them died and another two chose to stay on Serpo. Unfortunately, there are no surviving members of the team today, as all of them supposedly succumbed to the high radiation levels brought on by the two suns of Serpo.
7 • Jesus Was An Alien
Remember the belief that the gods that ancient people worshiped and revered were actually aliens? If that theory is to be believed, then Jesus might have also been one, a fact that is supposedly being suppressed by the Church. As the theory goes, all the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ life hinted at extraterrestrial origins. His “virgin birth,” for instance, could be attributed to aliens artificially inseminating Mary, which in turn would explain why he could perform miraculous feats as well as communicate with otherworldly beings such as angels (who themselves were actually aliens).
Believers also point to Jesus’ statements that he was “not of this world” as hints of his real heritage. The theory goes on to say that after his resurrection, Jesus was beamed up into a spaceship and that the Catholic Church later suppressed the rest of the details by marking books such as the Epistles of the Apostles as apocryphal.
In legal parlance, a conspiracy is when two or more people form a plan together to engage in criminal behavior, but in modern days, a “conspiracy theory” has come to mean an alternative explanation for the accepted consensus of a controversial or unusual event or belief. Most proponents of these often easily debunked plots are eccentric and harmless, but a few go beyond the boundaries of free speech. The behavior of these dangerously obsessed few ranges from the merely criminal to the outright deadly.
10 • Jim Garrison Conducted A Witch Hunt Against Clay Shaw Over JFK
Whatever truly went down at 12:30 PM CST on Friday, November 22, 1963, the movie JFK made a hash of it. One thing it didn’t get wrong, though, was its portrayal of Jim Garrison as an obsessive, increasingly paranoid demagogue who bullied witnesses, harassed “suspects,” and conducted a full-on witch hunt in the city of New Orleans.
Garrison’s list of transgressions is too long to fully detail, but the worst of his behavior was the way he almost destroyed the life of Clay Shaw, a respected New Orleans businessman. Garrison publicly outed him as gay (which could have had serious consequences in the 60’s), accused him of CIA connections, and of course, accused him of one of the greatest crimes of the 20th century, all on the flimsiest of evidence.
Many accounts of the trial have downplayed the homosexual element, but there is plenty of evidence that Garrison actually believed in some kind of rainbow-colored plot, attributing the assassination to a gay club thrill kill. He named a total of six people whom he believed were “in on it” as homosexuals, including Jack Ruby and even Lee Harvey Oswald himself. In an interview with James Phelan, Garrison called Oswald a “switch-hitter who couldn’t satisfy his wife.”
It took almost two years for Garrison’s case against Shaw to go to trial and another three weeks of testimony and arguments before a jury acquitted Clay Shaw of all charges after less than an hour of deliberation. Shaw himself ably deconstructed the JFK “conspiracy” in a 1967 interview.
9 • Thabo Mbeki, President of South Africa, Enacted AIDS Denial As Policy
Thabo Mbeki, former president of South Africa, is almost certainly the AIDS denier who has done the most direct harm in the world. In a 2008 study, a team of Harvard researchers estimated that as many as 330,000 people died needlessly because of Mbeki’s policies.
Mbeki didn’t start out as a denier. His views hardened after a complex series of political and economic negotiations. They were further solidified by the bogus claims of an African university about having discovered a cure, prompting hope for an African solution to the problem, and the discovery that the apartheid government had conducted germ warfare tests that included searching for killer bugs that targeted specific ethnic populations and the state-sponsored spread of AIDS via black prostitutes. Negotiations to bring AIDS medications into South Africa at prices the poor could afford were marred by suspicions of conspiracy between Western governments and drug manufacturers.
By the mid-1990s, Mbeki had fallen under the influence of prominent AIDS denier Peter Duesberg. He even invited Duesberg to be part of a conference on the AIDS problem held in 2000, much to the outrage of the rest of the conference. Later that year, he publicly denied the scientific consensus that AIDS was caused by a virus. Instead, he claimed the disease was the result of a combination of general bad health, lack of nourishment, and poverty. Thanks to international pressure and the work of AIDS activists and NGOs, the situation did improve, but Mbeki’s delays caused many unnecessary deaths and condemned many children to live shortened lives.
8 • Bart Sibrel Confronted And Harassed Buzz Aldrin
In 2002, Bart Sibrel lured former astronaut and American hero Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon, to a Beverly Hills hotel for an “interview.” When Aldrin arrived on the scene with his stepdaughter, Sibrel revealed his true colors. He was a proponent of a long-standing conspiracy theory that claims the Apollo 11 Moon landings were faked. Proponents of the theory claim that the landings were produced in a Hollywood studio to fool the Russians into believing that the US had won the space race. This is one of the most laughable and easily debunked conspiracy theories out there, but Sibrel was working on a documentary that he believed would prove his case and wanted to include a confrontation with Aldrin in the film.
What happened next is as infuriating as its conclusion is satisfying, and it was all caught on film. When Aldrin realized the real reason he was brought to the interview, he got up to walk out on Sibrel, who then became aggressive, taunting the national hero who took time out of his busy schedule to see him. He followed Aldrin, calling him a “thief, liar, and coward,” thrusting a Bible into Aldrin’s face with demands that he swear upon it.
Finally, after every one of Aldrin’s attempts to leave peacefully had failed, Sibrel started poking him and his stepdaughter aggressively with his Bible. That’s when Aldrin lost his patience and punched Sibriel right in the jaw. Aldrin never faced any criminal charges, and if he had, no jury in the world would have convicted him.
Sometimes, we want other people to do things, but those people don’t want to do those things. In many cases, people have tried to solve this problem with violence or other forms of direct coercion, but some craftier people have looked into the idea of mind control. Science has found little evidence that such techniques work, although conspiracy theorists would tell you that those scientists are in on the plot. Whether it is the Illuminati, the mysterious powers that be, or your nation’s government, there is someone out there with incredible, malevolent power working to control your every move, theorists claim, and there is nothing you can do to stop it.
10 • Facebook Is A Mind Control Plot
To many people, Facebook is just an annoying—if somewhat necessary—social tool, but some are convinced that it is far, far more than that. They believe that sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Digg came to prominence a little too easily. As such, they must have had backing from powerful media moguls like Rupert Murdoch as well as faceless government benefactors. In turn, the media promotes these sites to encourage the masses to publicly post about their lives, making it easier to spy on them. This theory also claims that part of the point of social media is to brainwash you into silence, so you will slowly conform to what those lurking in the shadows would prefer you to be.
Some people even think that the Facebook plot goes beyond simple social engineering. The Weekly World News claims that they talked to some “anonymous men” from the CIA, who divulged details of an operation planned for 2012. These nameless sources claim that data gathered from Facebook was being used to create mind-controlling applications that would compel users to do the CIA’s bidding, leading to total enslavement of the world’s population.
9 • Brainwashing During The Korean War
During the Korean War, many US soldiers were captured and kept as prisoners of war by the North Koreans. The North Koreans were known for being incredibly cruel to their prisoners, either killing them or simply letting them die from neglect. After the Chinese took over the prison camps, they maintained an iron grip on their prisoners but halted the unnecessary killing. Instead, they attempted to undermine prisoners’ beliefs in democracy and capitalism, often holding sessions with prisoners for the purpose of indoctrination.
After the war, many people were concerned about defectors, and the specter of Chinese brainwashing was raised. However, researchers found that the number of defectors was greatly exaggerated. Very few people collaborated with the Chinese in any meaningful way, and most of those who did were already sympathetic to their cause. In fact, experts believe that these so-called “brainwashing” techniques were merely a strategy for keeping prisoners busy, preventing them from organizing. Once the Chinese got their hands on the prison camp, no one escaped.
Despite this explanation, the conspiracies theories that the Chinese were experimenting with turning prisoners against their own country for dark and sinister purposes have persisted to this day. It could be argued that this conspiracy was the inspiration for many future theories about supposedly compromised former soldiers and spies.
8 • Jonestown Was A CIA Experiment
You already know that the Jonestown cult ended with an incredibly tragic mass suicide. Shortly before the events (which were caught on tape) that created the expression “don’t drink the Kool-Aid,” a congressman named Leo Ryan had arrived to investigate the cult but was gunned down shortly after disembarking his plane. Official sources claim that the attack was perpetrated by cultists from Jim Jones’s group, who chose their own destruction under his enigmatic influence, but some theorists are convinced that something far more shocking occurred.
The theorists claim that there were signs that the body count was initially inaccurate, leading them to believe that some tried to run away. Others claim that many of the cultists were murdered by cyanide poisoning, citing injection marks on the bodies that couldn’t have been reached without help. Along with the likelihood that the CIA had infiltrated the group for the purpose of investigation, this evidence has led to some very strange theories, such as the claim that the entire Jonestown cult was a camp set up by the CIA to test mind-controlling techniques. The theorists claim that the congressman was actually gunned down by the CIA, after which the camp was quickly cleansed so that the truth of their gruesome experiments didn’t get out.
It might seem odd to believe that the CIA was present after the recording of the massacre came to light, but some theorists think the audio tape was heavily edited. One theorist claims that the lack of proof is itself evidence of a conspiracy, explaining that the rumors about the CIA’s involvement in Jonestown are so crazy and unbelievable that the CIA must have planted them so you wouldn’t know the actual truth about what they did.
7 • Fluoride In Water Turns You Into Lobotomized Zombie
If you’ve ever watched Dr. Strangelove, you’ve heard the conspiracy theory that fluoride in the water is designed to sap and pollute all of your precious bodily fluids. Many people insist that fluoride is an attempt to poison the water, but the origins of these myths are stranger then you might think. The conspiracy theorists claim that the plot began in Nazi Germany, where Hitler and his top cabinet were looking for a strategy to control minds on a massive scale. They decided that fluoride would be great because, according to the theorists, it erodes your mental function and free-will as it slowly builds up in your body. Over time, you become a pawn for the powers that be.
Of course, as fluoridation spread, conspiracy theories and myths spread along with it. This has culminated in many conspiracy theorists pushing two theories that seem totally incompatible with each other. For instance, one theorist explains his theory of subtle mind control, going on to explain that fluoride quickly poisons your body as well. It seems like zombies aren’t very useful if they’re dead.
The assassination of John F. Kennedy remains one of the most controversial events of the 20th century. While the most widely accepted theory is that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing Kennedy, a huge number of conspiracy theories have arisen about that fateful day in Dealey Plaza. But what if the President’s death was actually a terrible accident? First popularized by the ballistics expert Howard Donahue, an intriguing theory holds that after Oswald opened fire on the motorcade, a panicking Secret Service agent accidentally discharged his rifle, firing the shot that killed Kennedy.
This list is not intended to accuse anyone other than Lee Harvey Oswald of having anything to do with the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Donahue’s theory is just that—a theory. The following is merely an examination of the evidence for (and against) one of the most fascinating “What Ifs” in American history.
10 • Multiple Witnesses Described the Last Two Shots As Very Close Together
Oswald used a bolt-action Carcano rifle, which requires the shooter to make four movements after each shot in order to cycle the spent case and chamber the next round. The Warren Commission found that the minimum time required to fire the rifle, cycle the bolt once, and fire a second shot was 2.3 seconds. The most commonly accepted theory is that Oswald fired three shots, one of which missed, requiring him to cycle the bolt twice. Based on footage from the Zapruder Film, the Commission concluded that the two shots that hit Kennedy were fired 4.8–5.6 seconds apart.
If the second shot missed, then all three bullets must have been fired in that time. If, however, the first or third shot missed, then the minimum timespan increases to 7.1–7.9 seconds for all three shots. Neither scenario is impossible, although 4.8–5.6 seconds would be a remarkably short time to fire accurately on a moving vehicle.
But the Warren Commission’s calculations are only important if the shots are assumed to have occurred at equal intervals. If, instead, the last two shots were to occur almost simultaneously, then a single bolt-action rifle could not fire them both. Interestingly, some witness testimony seems to support that scenario. Notable is the testimony of Secret Service agent Bill Greer, who drove the Presidential limousine, when asked: “How much time elapsed, to the best of your ability to estimate and recollect, between the time of the second noise and the time of the third noise?”
Greer answered: “The last two seemed to be just simultaneously, one behind the other, but I don’t recollect just how much, how many seconds were between the two. I couldn’t really say.”
District Clerk James Crawford, who was standing at the intersection of Elm and Houston streets during the shooting, stated: “As I observed the parade, I believe there was a car leading the President’s car, followed by the President’s car and followed, I suppose, by the Vice President’s car and, in turn, by the Secret Service in a yellow closed sedan. The doors of the sedan were open. It was after the Secret Service sedan had gone around the corner that I heard the first report and at that time I thought it was a backfire of a car but, in analyzing the situation, it could not have been a backfire of a car because it would have had to have been the President’s car or some car in the cavalcade there. The second shot followed some seconds, a little time elapsed after the first one, and followed very quickly by the third one. I could not see the President’s car.”
Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig was standing in front of the Sheriff’s Office on Houston Street, having watched the motorcade pass and turn onto Elm. Once it was out of sight, Craig heard three shots and started running toward the scene. Here is part of his testimony, as taken by Commission staffer David Belin:
CRAIG: The first one was—uh—about three seconds—two or three seconds.
BELIN: Two or three seconds between the first and the second?
CRAIG: It was quite a pause between there. It could have been a little longer.
BELIN: And what about between the second and third?
CRAIG: Not more than two seconds. It was—they were real rapid.
None of this conclusively disproves that Oswald was the sole shooter. But it does raise an interesting possibility—if the second and third shots were fired so close together, is it conceivable that one of them wasn’t fired by Oswald at all?
9 • George Hickey Was The Only Secret Service Agent Armed With A Rifle
There were 12 Secret Service agents assigned to guard Kennedy on the day of the assassination. Special Agent in Charge Roy Kellerman rode in the front passenger seat of the Presidential limousine, with Special Agent Bill Greer driving. Win Lawson and Verne Sorrels rode in the lead vehicle and Agent Sam Kinney drove the rear vehicle, with the President’s limousine in the middle. Also in the rear vehicle were Special Agent Emory Roberts in the front passenger seat, George Hickey in the left rear seat, and Glen Bennett in the right rear seat. Special Agents Clint Hill, Tim Mcintyre, Jack Ready, and Paul Landis stood on the rear car’s running boards.
The lead vehicle was a hardtop, the other two were convertibles with their tops down. All of the agents were armed with 4-inch-barreled revolvers. As per standard procedure, one agent, Hickey, was also armed with an AR-15 rifle. Thus, assuming Oswald did not fire the headshot, then Hickey’s rifle was the only other one available.
8 • Hickey Did Produce The Rifle During The Shooting
Hugh W. Betzner, Jr., an eyewitness who had been standing at the intersection of Elm and Houston when the motorcade turned left onto Elm, reported that: “I also saw a man in either the President’s car or the car behind his and someone down in one of those cars pull out what looked like a rifle.” Betzner also described seeing a “flash of pink” somewhere in the motorcade, which has occasionally been interpreted as a muzzle flash. This flash could have come from Hickey’s rifle, or any of the agents’ handguns, although an AR-15 creates a much more noticeable flash. However, it is much more likely that the “flash of pink” referred to Jackie Kennedy, who was dressed in pink, reaching out to Special Agent Clint Hill, who had jumped from the rear car onto the back of the Presidential limo. Betzner actually specifically describes the flash as resembling “someone standing up and then sitting back down,” so the muzzle flash theory seems relatively dubious.
However, Hickey himself confirmed Betzner’s report that he did “pull out” the rifle during the shooting, testifying: “At the end of the last report I reached to the bottom of the car and picked up the AR-15 rifle, cocked and loaded it, and turned to the rear. At this point the cars were passing under the overpass and as a result we had left the scene of the shooting. I kept the AR-15 rifle ready as we proceeded at a high rate of speed to the hospital.”
Right now, the best candidates we have for finding alien life are some sort of fossilized bacteria on Mars. If we’re lucky, there might be microbes on Europa, though it won’t be easy to get to them.
In centuries past, people knew a lot less about space, so they came up with significantly more elaborate possibilities about the aliens we might find there.
10 • Camille Flammarion’s Alien Afterlife
French astronomer Camille Flammarion supported Percival Lowell’s theories about canals on Mars. When some scientists did an experiment suggesting Lowell was seeing an optical illusion, Flammarion repeated the experiment to try and prove them wrong.
He believed Martians would be superior humans, due to how low a bar we’d set through our habit of war and how “we cannot even agree on a universal calendar.” He suggested creatures on the red planet may have tried to communicate with us when we were still hunting mammoths, but they got no response and gave up. He concluded, “I would like to go to Mars, it must be an interesting place.”
He believed the Moon was likely inhabited. He speculated about aliens in light of Darwin’s groundbreaking theories and came up with the idea of a race of sentient plants that combine digestion and respiration into one process. A mystic, he believed that after death, the soul would travel from one planet to another in pursuit of perfection. That belief had started in the Enlightenment, and Flammarion kept it alive into the 20th century.
This belief is reflected in a piece of fiction he wrote, in which he describes a dead man named Lumen finding himself on a far world. Lumen arrives at a mountain, covered with palaces woven from trees, from which he can see the Sun and planets as distant stars. At the summit of the mountain town, 20 or 30 old men stand staring into the sky, criticizing the terrible human violence their magical eyes can see going on in Paris.
9 • Mormon Moon Men
Many tales relate to Mormon beliefs of life on other worlds, some more reliable than others. The most common, often put forward by critics of the church, is that Joseph Smith claimed that the Moon was inhabited. These Moon-men dressed like Quakers and lived for 1,000 years. The story was first told by a Mormon named Oliver Huntington, who’d written it in his journal in 1881.
It’s not a reliable record of what Smith believed, but it’s not implausible. Sermons from Joseph Smith’s brother Hyum in 1843 said: “Sun and Moon is inhabited.” Brigham Young, the church’s second president, preached in 1870 that there was “no question” that the Sun was made to give light to its own inhabitants, as well as to those on Earth and elsewhere.
8 • William Herschel
British scientist William Herschel is one of the most important astronomers in history. Among his discoveries were Uranus, several of Saturn’s moons, infrared radiation, and binary star systems. He was also obsessed with the idea of extraterrestrial life, particularly on the Moon.
In the 1770s, he wrote in his journal that he’d seen forests and pastures on the lunar surface. He later believed he’d seen canals and patches of vegetation. Yet it was craters that most caught Herschel’s imagination. He built the largest telescope in history to that point, and he saw perfectly round structures unlike anything anyone had seen before. He called them “circuses” and pondered “perhaps, then on the Moon every town is one very large Circus?”
Herschel’s thoughts on Lunarians (as he called them) weren’t known until after his death. Some of his contemporaries were less shy. Franz von Paula Gruituisen published three papers in the mid-1820s detailing the colossal buildings, animal tracks, roads, cities, and temples he’d found. Yet they all paled in comparison to the discoveries attributed to William Herschel’s son John, himself a famed astronomer, who was said to have built a telescope powerful enough to study lunar insects. Sadly, those claims were part of one of history’s most infamous hoaxes.