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Top 10 Most Shocking Conspiracies That Ended Up Being True

by Iyla Anderson
fact checked by Jamie Frater

We’ve all heard about those wacko conspiracy theories that go around, spread through a never-ending web of rumors and gossip. No one really trusts them, as they seem so far-fetched and frankly pretty unrealistic. But what if some of them were actually true?

We’re not saying they’re all true; in fact, most of them aren’t. But every once in a while, someone hits it right on the nose, and a whole slew of secret and previously classified information is revealed to the public. From scientific studies to consumerism to mind control, here are the top ten conspiracy theories that actually ended up being true.

10 Sex-Changing Frogs

Alex Jones, a notorious conspiracy theorist, revealed his idea that chemicals in the water “turn the fricken’ frogs gay.” Even though this isn’t exactly what happened, Jones got pretty close to the truth. In fact, a 2010 paper released by the University of California revealed how pesticides in bodies of water led frogs to change sex.[1] Even though the frogs did not follow Jones’s original proposal, they did, in fact, change their biological functions. Male frogs were now able to lay eggs, something only characteristic of female frogs.

This confirmation sparked large amounts of panic among the public, who wondered what other chemicals there were in the water and how they would affect public health for humans in general. This link between unfiltered water and chemically induced sex changes may be why everyone is so obsessed with their beloved Brita filters.

9 Poisoning Alcohol During Prohibition

Photo credit: Wikimedia

During Prohibition in the 1920s, the US government was trying to stop the public consumption of alcohol. Even though there was a heavy restriction on alcohol, many people were still buying it. The plan the government hatched was to poison the alcohol to scare the public, therefore stopping them from buying any more. Things like methanol, known as wood alcohol and found in fuel and formaldehyde, were added to hard liquors.[2] Previous formulas for alcohol had been made to make the booze less appealing to the public, but this was not successful or drastic enough.

The new formula, which drastically increased the toxicity of consumer alcohol, lead to the deaths of many people. The counter-argument in favor of the “legalized murder” was that the new formula would kill fewer people than legalized alcohol had in the past, therefore it was a necessary evil.

8 The Collaboration For Lincoln’s Assassination

Photo credit: Wikimedia

We all learned about the assassination of President Lincoln back in middle school and how John Wilkes Booth shot him at Ford’s Theater. That may seem like the start and end of the entire story, but in fact, there was actually a much larger group of co-conspirators who assisted in carrying out the plan as well as helping Booth in hiding from federal government officials. At first, it was unknown that Lincoln’s murder was the product of a conspiracy, as opposed to Booth acting independently. It was actually a meticulously strategized plan that involved many people and aspects.

Among the people involved was Mary Surratt, who owned the house where the conspirators all met to discuss their treasonous plans. She was the first female to be executed by the US government, stirring up a lot of controversies herself. In total, about ten people were part of the group and had specific jobs, including transporting Booth and planning to assassinate other figures of the government, including the secretary of state and the vice president.[3]

7 Woodrow Wilson And The Secret President

Photo credit: Harris & Ewing

In October 1919, during his second term in office, President Woodrow Wilson suffered a stroke that had serious effects on his abilities to continue as president. The US government did not want to scare the public so far into his presidential term, so they decided that since there wasn’t that much time left in his presidency, Wilson could continue his role, and the public would not know about his medical issues. This meant that his wife, Edith Wilson, made most presidential decisions for the remainder of the term.

After his time in office was over, they released a statement confirming Wilson’s stroke and his wife’s role in presidential matters. To avoid public scrutiny, Edith Wilson described her position as overseeing which issues of importance were seen by her husband.[4]

6 John Lennon Seen As a National Threat

Photo credit: Michiganensian

John Lennon’s influence in the music industry was revolutionary—maybe a little too revolutionary for the Nixon administration’s liking. Lennon’s songs preached anti-war theology regarding the Vietnam conflict. His songs like “Give Peace a Chance” and “Bring on Lucie (Freda Peeple)” were seen as too radical and as threatening the basis of national security. They were seen as anti-war, and since the US was involved in the Vietnam War during that time, they were also seen as anti-America.

When Lennon came to New York on a visa, he was immediately put under FBI surveillance to ensure that no funny business was going on. Lennon met up with a group of anti-war enthusiasts and was seen as even more of a threat to national security. A year after his arrival, Immigration and Naturalization tried to deport him.[5] Although their attempts were unsuccessful, Lennon continued to be investigated.

Because of the popularity and public nature of the government’s suspicion, many documentaries and articles were written regarding the complication and seriousness of the issue. Interviews were conducted with people close to Lennon, including Yoko Ono, Angela Davis, and Gore Vidal. They were asked about their opinions on the situation and how Lennon’s career changed because of it.

5 MKULTRA Testing

Stranger Things is a popular Netflix TV show and a new backbone to American pop culture that was recently released. It features a young girl in 1980 who was put through a wide range of mentally straining tests to study a form of mind control and other seemingly supernatural features. This may seem like science fiction, but it’s actually based on real studies performed by the CIA that were approved back in 1953. They ran tests to study the abilities of the mind when exposed to various drugs, like LSD. Some of the subjects were not aware of the tests being done on them, so the studies were deemed unethical and abusive. A Senate hearing in 1976 revealed that two people died as a result of the experimental testing.[6]

Project MKULTRA was done supposedly to keep up to speed with competing nations, including the Soviet Union, which claimed to have new advances in mind control and brainwashing technology. The people tested were unwilling participants like terminally ill patients and prisoners. There were 80 institutions working on the research, most of which were unaware of the ties to the CIA. Most of the documentation of the studies were destroyed to avoid conflict, but financial documents were forgotten about, leaving significant evidence of the illegal studies.

4 Fixed Prices Of Lysine

The 1990s was a dark time for the up-and-coming business world, especially for the Archer-Daniels-Midland Corporation. They were a highly successful international agricultural processing company with a significantly high net worth. Because of their high position in the industrial world, it was shocking when they pleaded guilty to fixing the price of lysine to boost profit.[7] Lysine is an additive used in animal feed, which was a high market for the agricultural industry. The corporation leaders faced fines and jail time as their sentencing.

It’s instances like these make people question how much of our daily lives are altered by big corporations. The Informant! was a movie that based its plot off of this scandal and generated a lot of talk about the power dynamic between industry and consumers.

3 Project Sunshine

Don’t let the name fool you; there’s nothing sunny about this research assignment. Project Sunshine was a government-run research study duirng the 1950s where samples of recently deceased babies and children were taken for government testing. These samples were used to study the effects of nuclear radiation. The thing is, parents of these kids did not consent to these testings, so they wouldn’t know what had happened until they saw their deceased baby was missing a leg.[8]

These “body snatches” were not only for young children, though. More than 900 samples were taken from human cadavers, most of which were taken without any permission or information being given to the next of kin. President Clinton made sure that the description of the project was no longer kept secret, so the files were revealed to the public, accepting the fact that the contents were both unethical and overall unjust.

2 Operation Northwoods

Photo credit: Department of Defense

At the time of its original proposal, there was not much public support for a war against Cuba. To boost this public support, Operation Northwoods was proposed. The plan was to perpetrate domestic attacks and then blame Cuba for them. Some of these attacks included plane hijackings and sinking boats of Cuban refugees. The project also proposed creating fake victims and holding fake funerals to stir public emotions, therefore calling on the people to want action against Cuba, the supposed threat.

The proposition of this project was rejected by President John F. Kennedy, but it is argued that some of its concepts were used to lesser degrees in order to achieve the same results.[9] When this proposal was leaked to the public, people were concerned with the government’s priorities and what they believed was a sacrifice for the greater good.

1 Military Recruitment Through The Sports Industry

Photo credit: Football Scoop

We all know the rundown of the beginning of an American football game. A big flag is brought out, and some girl starts singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” It all seems second nature to Americans because they can’t remember a time when they weren’t sitting next to some middle-aged guy wearing his American flag-patterned cargo shorts or when small American flags weren’t being sold at every booth. Singing “The Star-Spangled Banner and displaying massive American flags is tradition before a big NFL game or really any big sports event. These massive patriotic acts were really funded by the Department of Defense.

The concept was to boost patriotism among the American public to increase enlistment in the military. In 2015, it was revealed that millions of dollars were being given to the NFL for displays of patriotism.[10] Before 2009, players weren’t required to be out on the field during “The Star-Spangled Banner.” But then, once the major sports companies saw money on the table, they decided that they would start a new tradition that would mark a signature moment in sports all over the country and throughout almost all popularized aspects of sports gatherings.

I’m a young writing writer with a passion for random tidbits of information, especially science and history.


Read about more times when the conspiracy theorists were right on Top 10 Conspiracy Theories That Were Actually True and 10 Nefarious Conspiracies Proven True.

fact checked by Jamie Frater