Top 10 Scientific Conspiracy Theories That Turned Out to Be True
VOICE OVER: Peter DeGiglio
WRITTEN BY: Joshua Garvin
When it comes to this topic, expect the unexpected. For this list, we'll be looking at modern conspiracy theories with a scientific twist that wound up being true - though they may not be what you think. Our countdown includes Weather Control Programs, The US Government Poisoned Alcohol During Prohibition, The CIA Ran Mind Control Experiments, and more!
Top 10 Scientific Conspiracy Theories That Turned out To Be True
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Scientific Conspiracy Theories That Turned out To Be True.
For this list, we’ll be looking at modern conspiracy theories with a scientific twist that wound up being true - though they may not be what you think.
Did the Illuminati keep a conspiracy theory off this list? Let us know in the comments below!
#10: Weather Control Programs
The history of the US governments’ attempts to control the weather began after the Civil War. In the late 1800s, an American engineer collected dozens of stories of rain following large battles. To recreate the effect, a general set off $9,000 worth of explosives in Texas. The results were inconclusive. The better part of a century later, the Pentagon incorporated weather control into their strategy for the Vietnam War. Operation Sober Popeye lasted for five years. Using planes, the military tried to seed rain clouds over Vietnam. If they could extend the monsoon season, it could provide a strategic advantage. A series of news stories revealed the program. Six years later in 1978, weather-based environmental warfare was banned around the world.
#9: Canada Tried to Create Actual Gaydar
In the mid-twentieth century, gay men and women had to keep their orientation secret or risk losing their social standing, jobs, or even their lives. In an attempt to ferret out gay men in the military and other government institutions from the 1950s on, the Canadian government hired professor Frank Robert Wake. Wake invented what they would ultimately call “The Fruit Machine.” Today, we’d call it ‘gaydar.’ Wake would strap men into a chair, force them to look at pornography, and measure their physical reactions. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigated thousands of government employees as a result. Many men lost their jobs due to the dubious test results until it was discontinued.
#8: The US Government Poisoned Alcohol During Prohibition
Ratified in 1919, the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibited alcohol. The period of prohibition would last until 1933, ending with the ratification of the 21st Amendment. Despite the law, illegal smuggling, manufacturing, and distribution of drinking alcohol was rampant. In an attempt to curtail drinking, the U.S. government tried something radical. Even before 1920, they’d mandated that extra contaminants be added to industrial alcohol to prevent its consumption. In 1926, they added new regulations, requiring the inclusion of more toxic poisons. Manufacturers added benzine, mercury, and methanol. Unsurprisingly, this stopped neither the bootleggers nor the drinkers. An estimated 10,000 people died and many others were blinded.
#7: Big Tobacco Hid Evidence Linking Smoking to Cancer
Today, the connection between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer is well known. Packs of cigarettes sold in the United States must now have Surgeon General warning labels. It wasn’t always that way. Big Tobacco spent years fighting the government on this decision, claiming innocence and a lack of evidence. As it turns out, that was a decades-old lie. The cigarette companies had internal studies dating back to the 1950s on the effects of smoking. Cigarette smoke contains harmful substances like tar, cyanide, lead, and arsenic. However, Big Tobacco knew in 1959 that it also contains a radioactive isotope: Polonium-210. Cigarette companies could have removed it, but doing so would have made absorbing nicotine harder, and affected their profits.
#6: The US Government Investigates UFOs
The truth is out there! For years, conspiracy theories about aliens have filled newsletters and online forums. Aliens exist and the government is secretly studying them! As it turns out, that’s half true. The U.S. Government admitted in 2017 that from 2007-2012 there was a $22 million investigation. The Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program collected data on UFOs. Also in 2017, several remarkable videos were leaked from US Navy sightings of UFOs, which were eventually confirmed by the Pentagon as authentic. In 2020, a successor program was formed, the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force, replaced in 2022 with the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office.
#5: The US Government Experimented on Black Men
For four decades, the CDC and the United States Public Health Service conducted the Tuskegee Study, enlisting 600 impoverished Black men in Alabama in 1932. The men, mostly sharecroppers, were deceived about its real purpose: to study syphilis. Two thirds of the men had latent syphilis, but rather than informing them, or treating them with penicillin, researchers monitored them and gave fake treatments for ‘bad blood.’ Over 100 died of syphilis-related medical problems. 40 of their wives contracted the disease and 19 children were born with it. A whistleblower revealed the true nature of the study, which was shut down in 1972. President Clinton offered an official apology from the U.S. Government in 1997.
#4: The United States’ Human Radiation Experiments
At the dawn of the Nuclear Age in the 1940s, governments were desperate for data. In the US, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) turned to human experimentation, commissioning dozens of studies. In one, an MIT professor fed radioactive material to mentally disabled boys. Researchers at Vanderbilt University gave pregnant women radioactive pills. US soldiers were exposed to radiation, patients at hospitals were injected with plutonium, and prisoners had their testicles irradiated, leading to birth defects. In Operation SUNSHINE, the AEC and US Air force enlisted agents to steal tissue samples and body parts from 1,500 cadavers, many of them children, whose remains were pillaged without the consent of parents. In 1994, President Bill Clinton oversaw the release of classified records and made a formal apology on behalf of the government.
#3: Bayer Spread HIV
Many conspiracies tend to focus on governmental cabals. Oftentimes though, some of the worst secrets come from the private sector. German pharmaceutical company Bayer has been selling aspirin since 1899. Since that time, they’ve expanded to all kinds of drugs and medicines. In the 1980s, the Bayer-owned company Cutter Biological was selling blood-clotting factors for hemophiliacs, but recruiting high-risk donors to manufacture it. That clotting factor became contaminated with HIV. When the problem was discovered, Cutter declared the response “irrational” but switched over to safe, heat-treated products for the Western market. Then, they shipped the contaminated product to Latin America and Asia to make a buck. Roughly 20,000 patients were infected by Bayer’s products.
#2: The Government Is Spying on You
The United States has a long history of mass surveillance. During the Civil Rights Movement, intelligence agencies targeted and sought to silence political dissidents through a program known as COINTELPRO. But leaked information from whistleblowers has revealed surveillance systems in the 21st century that beggar belief. After 9/11, President George W. Bush empowered the NSA to conduct mass surveillance, both foreign and domestic, on an unprecedented scale. This included warrantless-wiretapping of telephones. But it’s much worse than that, with programs that suck up emails, text messages, and video chats via tech giants, or straight from undersea cables! Combined with their collection of cellular metadata, the NSA has constructed a full-blown digital panopticon.
#1: The CIA Ran Mind Control Experiments
The CIA is a conspiracy bogeyman, and for good reason. Their fearsome reputation owes a lot to the infamous MKUltra program. The program was meant to pioneer biochemical and psychological techniques. The CIA wanted to manipulate people in influential positions and to develop a truth serum for interrogation. They gave LSD to volunteers, students, Johns at CIA-funded brothels, doctors, civilians, and even their own employees. Usually, they did so without anyone’s informed consent. They tested hypnosis and interrogation techniques. They tested on Canadians using brutal electroshock methods. They tested on Danes. The horrible program may have never ended if not for the Watergate Scandal, which caused widespread panic in Washington D.C.. CIA director Richard Helms ordered that all records be destroyed in 1973, and only 20,000 escaped destruction.