We all know the old trope of the tinfoil hat-wearing conspiracy theorist who believes crazy things like “the government is spying on us” and “the military is spraying things in the sky” and “the CIA ships in the drugs.” Except those things aren’t so crazy after all. Here are five examples of things that were once derided as zany conspiracy paranoia and are now accepted as mundane historical fact.
For those with limited bandwidth, CLICK HERE to download a smaller, lower file size version of this episode.
For those interested in audio quality, CLICK HERE for the highest-quality version of this episode (WARNING: very large download).
We all know the old trope of the tinfoil hat-wearing conspiracy theorist who believes crazy things like “the government is spying on us” and “the military is spraying things in the sky” and “the CIA ships in the drugs.”
Except those things aren’t so crazy after all. As it turns out, many of the old “conspiracy theorist” fantasies are actually true.
Here are five examples of things that were once derided as zany conspiracy paranoia and are now accepted as mundane historical fact.
#1 – The CIA Ships in the Drugs
The Central Intelligence Agency, the most well-known branch of America’s shadowy intelligence community, features in a number of popular conspiracy theories. One of the theories about the CIA’s dirty dealings that has been around for decades is that the agency helps bring illegal drugs into the United States.
But this isn’t just a theory. In fact, the CIA has been involved in drug-running from its very inception.
Just months after its creation in 1947, the agency began a relationship with the Corsican mafia that controlled the Old Port of Marseille in post-war France. That relationship involved a quid pro quo: The CIA would protect the mafia if the mafia would keep the communists from taking control of the port. In this case, “protecting the mafia” meant protecting their most lucrative business, which just happened to be smuggling heroin into the United States. This “French Connection” thrived for decades, with the majority of the heroin in the US in the post-war period coming via France under the watchful eye of the CIA.
From the Korean War to the Vietnam War and beyond, CIA-supported warlords used CIA-run airlines like Air America to ship heroin from the “Golden Triangle” at the borders of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar. As even The New York Times reported, the agency prevented the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs from monitoring drug trafficking in the region. They even stopped an investigation into “an Air America DC-3 loaded with heroin packed into boxes of Tide soap powder” that had been seized on its way to the US.
In the 1980s, yet more agency involvement in drug smuggling rings came to light. This time it was drug traffickers connected to the Contras in Nicaragua that received help from the agency. After the Contra-connected trafficking came to light, a Senate investigation headed by Senator John Kerry confirmed government complicity in the drug trade.
BOB MCKEOWN: As for the CIA, it’s denied ever aiding or condoning drug smuggling.
JOHN KERRY: Reports were reaching the highest councils of our government, in the White House and in the Justice Department. There is no question of that. I can document that.
MCKEOWN: The White House and Justice Department disputed Kerry’s report at the time. But he still believes some government officials turned a blind eye towards drug dealing in the mid-1980s, after the time at the heart of Gary Webb’s stories.
In the 1990s, award-winning journalist Gary Webb traced the Contras’ CIA-protected backers to cocaine shipments into the US, and, ultimately, to the crack epidemic of the 1980s.
Stories of CIA drug-running continue to be covered up almost as quickly as they are exposed, from the CIA Beech 200 that was apprehended in Nicaragua with 1100 kilos of cocaine to the crash of a Grumman Gulfstream II that had been used for CIA rendition flights that was carrying 3.3 tons of Columbian cocaine. Then there’s the CIA’s relationship with Afghan drug warlord Ahmed Wali Karzai in Afghanistan and the admission that the Sinaloa cartel was aided by US agencies and the recent confession that famed Columbian drug king Pablo Escobar worked for the CIA.
At this point, the fact that the Central Intelligence Agency has facilitated drug-running into the United States is one of the worst kept secrets in history.
MICHAEL RUPPERT: I will tell you, Director Deutch, as a former Los Angeles police narcotics detective that the agency has dealt drugs throughout this country for a long time.
#2 – The government is spraying us from the skies
It is incumbent on everyone who wishes to remain in the respectable, polite circles of society that they deride all chemtrail theorists as kooky fringe-nut wingbats (or whatever the ad hominem du jour is). I mean, who could actually believe that the government would ever coordinate a program to spray toxic chemicals on unwitting citizens?
Except, of course, for the pesky little fact that the US government has done precisely that. Repeatedly, in fact.
Like in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1950. The US Navy conducted an experiment they code-named “Operation Sea-Spray,” in which they secretly sprayed the population with Serratia marcescens, a “rod-shaped gram-negative bacteria” that just happens to be a human pathogen.
And what did the Navy hope to accomplish with this experiment? Why, to “determine the susceptibility of a big city like San Francisco to a bioweapon attack by terrorists,” of course.
And what did they actually accomplish? The death of at least one person and the hospitalization of many others.
Which, I suppose, answers the experimenters’ question, doesn’t it? Are San Franciscans susceptible to a bioweapon attack by terrorists? Well, yes, evidently . . . assuming by the word “terrorist” you mean the US Navy.
So surely this type of thing was just a one-off. They never tried something like this before or since, right? . . . Right?
. . . Oh, of course they did.
Like in 1953, when “the US Army secretly dumped a carcinogen on unknowing Canadians in Winnipeg and Alberta” as part of a cold war weapons test.
In fact, in 1977 the US Army confirmed that they “conducted 239 germ warfare tests in open air between 1949 and 1969,” using the public as human guinea pigs in New York, San Francisco, Key West, and numerous other cities.
But don’t worry, everyone. I’m sure the government wouldn’t be doing anything like this to the unaware masses today. That’s just crazy talk.
JEFF FERRELL: KSLA News 12 discovered chemtrails are even mentioned by name in the initial draft of House Bill 2977 back in 2001 under the Space Preservation Act. But the military denies any such program exists. Jeff Ferrell, KSLA News 12 reporting.
ANCHOR: And you know it turns out [that] until nine years ago the government had the right under US law to conduct secret testing on the American public under specific conditions. Only a public outcry repealed part of that law, with some exceptions.
#3 – Governments stage terror attacks
Over the last decade internet conspiracy analysts have brought the term “false flag” to the public consciousness.
In naval warfare, a “false flag” refers to an attack where a vessel flies a flag other than their true battle flag before engaging their enemy. It is a trick, designed to deceive the enemy about the true nature and origin of an attack, and it has been used over and over by government after government for hundreds of years in order to motivate their people for war.
In the 1780s, Swedish King Gustav III—looking to start a war with Russia in order to shore up his own domestic political power—dressed some of his own troops in Russian military uniforms and ordered them to attack a Swedish outpost on the Russian border. The ruse worked, and the Swedes, outraged at this supposedly “Russian” attack, gave the king the authority to launch a “defensive” war.
In 1931, the Japanese were looking for a pretext to invade Manchuria. On September 18th of that year, a lieutenant in the Imperial Japanese Army detonated a small amount of TNT along a Japanese-owned railway in the Manchurian city of Mukden. The act was blamed on Chinese dissidents and used to justify the occupation of Manchuria just six months later. When the deception was later exposed, Japan was diplomatically shunned and forced to withdraw from the League of Nations.
In 1954, the Israelis hired a number of Egyptian Jews to plant bombs in American and British cinemas, libraries, and other civilian targets, to be blamed on the Muslim Brotherhood or other malcontents. The plan, known as the Lavon Affair, was part of an effort to convince the British to retain their military presence in the occupied Suez Canal zone. Several bombings took place, but the British were ultimately forced out after Nasser nationalized the canal in 1956.
In August 1964, the USS Maddox, a US destroyer on patrol in the Gulf of Tonkin, believed it had come under attack from North Vietnamese Navy torpedo boats, engaging in evasive action and returning fire. The incident led to the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution authorizing President Johnson to begin open warfare in Vietnam. It was later admitted that no attack had occurred, and in 2005 it was revealed that the NSA had manipulated their information to make it look like an attack had taken place.
In June 1967, the Israelis attacked the USS Liberty, a US Navy technical research ship conducting maneuvers off the coast of Egypt. The ship was strafed relentlessly for hours in an attempt to blame the attack on Egypt and draw the Americans into the Six Day War, but amazingly, the crew managed to keep the ship afloat. In 2007, newly released NSA intercepts confirmed that the Israelis knew they were attacking an American ship, not an Egyptian ship as their cover story has maintained.
In the fall of 1999, a wave of bloody apartment bombings swept through Russian cities, killing 293 people and causing widespread panic. Although blamed on Chechen terrorists, later that month FSB agents were caught planting the exact same type of bombs as in the other blasts. The government claimed that the FSB bomb was part of a “security exercise,” but the terror hysteria of the apartment bombings was used to justify Russian aggression in Chechnya and win public approval for a full-scale war. Russian troops entered Chechnya the next month.
In 2001, attacks in New York and Washington are blamed on Al Qaeda as a pretext for invading Afghanistan. In the months leading up to the event, American negotiators had warned Afghanistan’s Taliban that they were interested in securing right of way for proposed pipeline projects, and the US would achieve this with either a carpet of gold or a carpet of bombs. The Bush administration’s first major national security directive, NSPD-9, a full-scale battle plan for the invasion of Afghanistan, including command and control, air and ground forces, and logistics, was drafted and sitting on the President’s desk to be signed off on September 4, 2001, seven days before the 9/11 attacks. The invasion proceeded as planned in October.
Naturally, mainstream commentators have to pretend that “false flags” and staged terror incidents are ludicrous flights of fancy that have no historical precedent . . . unless they’re talking about one of their enemies, like Russia, staging a false flag incident. Then it’s perfectly acceptable.
#4 – The CIA ran mind control experiments on unwitting Americans
Ever hear the “theory” that the government abducted people against their will and experimented on them to study mind control techniques and mind-altering chemicals? Well, it isn’t a theory, it’s a documented fact. The US government did run just such a program, dubbed Project MKULTRA, and it was exposed in the 1970s. . . or at least parts of it were.
What we don’t know about Project MKULTRA and its affiliated subprojects could probably fill several warehouses with books, but what we do know is voluminous (and scary) enough. The formerly top-secret program was as horrific as any dystopian fantasy ever devised . . . and is now openly acknowledged and documented.
Even the Wikipedia article on the subject admits that the project was completely illegal, employed unwitting test subjects, and attempted to “manipulate people’s mental states and alter brain functions” through the “surreptitious administration of drugs (especially LSD) and other chemicals, hypnosis, sensory deprivation, isolation, verbal and sexual abuse, and other forms of torture.”
Some aspects of the MKULTRA nightmare are relatively well-known by now.
One series of experiments, presided over by Sidney Gottlieb, involved administering LSD to unwitting Americans, including mental patients, prisoners, drug addicts and prostitutes. This included “Operation Midnight Climax” in which unsuspecting men were drugged and lured to CIA safe houses by prostitutes on the CIA payroll. Their sexual activity was monitored behind one-way mirrors and used to study the effect of sexual blackmail and the use of mind-altering substances in field operations.
Another experiment, dubbed MKULTRA Subproject 68, was overseen by the esteemed psychiatrist Dr. Ewen Cameron. This subproject involved Dr. Cameron using LSD, paralytic drugs, electroshock therapy and drug-induced comas to attempt to wipe patients’ memories and reprogram their psyche. When brought to light, the program was identified as an attempt to refine methods of medical torture for the purpose of extracting information from unwilling sources and condemned. Lawsuits regarding the blatantly illegal experimentation conducted by Cameron continue to this day.
Yet despite CIA assurances that the program was scrapped in 1973 (“Would the CIA ever lie to us?”), documentary evidence continues to emerge that the program was far more extensive and horrific than the public was ever told.
But simply pointing to the documented horrors that took place during the officially acknowledged period of the officially acknowledged program’s officially acknowledged existence is enough to make even the most stubborn conspiracy deniers squirm in their seats.
MELISSA DYKES: MKULTRA would mostly be remembered for its drug experiments.
DOCTOR: I’m going to give you this cup that contains lysergic acid 100 micrograms. Will you drink it.
NARRATOR: That’s “acid.” Characterized by hallucinations, illusions, distortions of perception and thinking.
NEWS ANCHOR: John Gittinger, recently retired chief psychologist for the CIA.
GITTINGER: You could disable a whole city by putting a very small amount in our water supply.
DYKES: Everything from prostitution studies to poisons to top-secret weapons like the heart attack gun grabbed headlines with sensational accounts of the CIA’s sketchy techniques.
SENATOR: You’ve brought with you some of those devices which would have enabled the CIA to use this poison for . . .
CIA REPRESENTATIVE: We have indeed.
SENATOR: . . . for killing people?
NEWS ANCHOR 2: Good evening. The White House disclosed today that the CIA’s drug testing program on unsuspecting Americans had been more expensive than the agency had admitted.
SPEAKER: . . . CIA secretly funneled money through scores of research foundations, colleges, hospitals, and clinics, including a $375,000 grant through the Geeshickter Research Fund here in Washington.
DYKES: The complex and compartmentalized management of such a large project through front groups and with the participation of countless agencies and institutions to carry out secret research should be a testament to just how sophisticated and shadowy government science had become.
SPEAKER 2: They’re names of doctors, they’re names of officials, they’re names of former and present CIA officials who were involved, they’re names of hospitals. And depending on how you treat it, it could be sensational.
#5 – Chemicals are turning the friggin’ frogs . . . female
You’ve probably seen the memes about it. It’s one of the best known and most parodied conspiracy memes of recent years, constantly held up as an example of how utterly deranged and off base-online conspiracy theorists are. *MEME. After all, everyone knows that chemicals in the water aren’t turning the frogs gay. They’re turning them female.
Reports began to emerge on this phenomenon a decade ago, like this one from LiveScience: “Pesticide Turns Male Frogs into Females,” which points out that scientific research is demonstrating that “a commonly used pesticide known as atrazine can turn male frogs into females that are successfully able to reproduce.”
Atrazine, it turns out, is a weed killer used primarily on corn crops, and can cause “sexual abnormalities” in frogs, such as hermaphroditism (having both male and female sex organs). The study from 2010 further discovered that atrazine’s effects are long-lasting and can influence reproduction in amphibians.
The results suggest that atrazine could have potentially harmful effects on populations of amphibians, animals that are already experiencing a global decline. And despite the steady flow of funny memes this observation has generated, this is no laughing matter. As study author Tyrone B. Hayes of the University of California, Berkeley, explains, the study suggests that atrazine—which is banned in Europe—could have potentially harmful effects on populations of amphibians, animals that are already experiencing a global decline.
Though there’s no mention of the frogs’ sexual preferences, pesticides are admittedly bending the genders of amphibians. And to top it all off, since atrazine interferes with the production of the sex hormone estrogen, present in people and frogs, the findings could have implications for humans as well.
But it isn’t just atrazine. Over the last century, mass manufacturing of plastics and other products have meant that our environment is now awash in chemicals called “endocrine disrupters,” which, a growing body of research suggests, interferes with sperm production and may impair human fertilization. These chemicals may be one of the reasons that sperm counts are undergoing a dramatic drop in developed countries and other issues with men’s health, including “testicular cancer, undescended testes and low sperm count.”
That’s actually a pretty big deal. But I guess if you want to make trendy hipsters laugh, just tell them these completely admitted scientific facts about the pesticides that are wreaking untold havoc on our environment and then do your best impression of a loud-mouthed Texan ranting about gay frogs. You’ll have your friends in stitches. Just don’t say it’s a theory.
In Conclusion . . .
In truth, there are many more examples of conspiracy “theories” that turned out to be true, from the US government knowingly injecting poor black sharecroppers with syphilis to the CIA heart attack gun to the “anonymous” letter that the FBI wrote to Martin Luther King urging him to kill himself. So, what other not-so-theoretical conspiracy theories do you know of? Let us know in the comments below!