10 Conspiracy Theories That Turned Out To Be True

Everyone likes a good conspiracy theory. It's why shows like The X-Files have unlimited appeal (and, apparently, unlimited reboots).

But in most cases, conspiracy theories are just that — theories. They're fun to contemplate, but they're totally false.

Unless, of course, they turn out to be totally true...

1. The U.S. almost committed acts of terror against its own citizens.

Wikipedia | Public Domain

It was eventually rejected by JFK, but Operation Northwoods sought to commit acts of terrorism against American civilians as a false flag operation to justify further action against the Cuban government.

2. Canada actually tried to invent a gaydar.

Giphy | Giphy

Yeah...Canada really did this during the Cold War. In 1961, under the assumption that gay men were weaker and susceptible to easy manipulation, a Canadian university tried to invent an actual gaydar — as in a machine that could detect gay men.

Yeah, the gaydar program wasn't cool.

Canadian History Comes Out | Canadian History Comes Out

The goal of the program was to weed gay men out of Canada's government, and it resulted in more than 400 people losing their jobs. The whole thing has spurred many to call for an official apology.

3. Former Nazis helped the U.S. get to the moon.

Wikipedia | Wikipedia

Following WWII, Americans and Soviets divvied up many of the Nazi regime's top minds, including Wernher von Braun, who was instrumental in NASA's space program years later. His recruitment was part of a secret program known as Operation Paperclip.

4. Yes, the CIA wanted to control minds.

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CIA mind control sounds like something for the tinfoil hat crowd, but it's actually totally true. Whispers of a secret mind control program made the rounds back in the 1950s, but decades later turned out to be accurate.

Project MKUltra became declassified in the 1970s.

The CIA experimented on humans during the Cold War, trying to modify their behavior through mind control. The records, which the CIA tried to destroy, were revealed in 1977.

5. The auto industry killed public transit.

Wikipedia | Wikipedia

In the early 20th century, every little town seemed to have an electric trolley or streetcar system. What happened? With the rise of the car, some people said that the automakers were to blame.

Automakers took over as many transit systems as they could.

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There was actually a conviction of conspiracy to monopolize interstate commerce, but that's as far as legal actions went. Today, it's generally accepted that automakers conspired to kill public transit.

6. Tobacco companies lied to us.

Stanford Research into the Impact of Tobacco Advertising | Stanford Research into the Impact of Tobacco Advertising

Just a few decades ago, cigarette ads were commonplace, with some even touting the purported health benefits of smoking. Much of this was happening while the health risks of smoking were widely known.

They were straight-up convicted of conspiracy.

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It wasn't until 2006 that the judgment came down, but tobacco companies were found to have suppressed research, destroyed documents, and manipulated the public opinion when it comes to tobacco for decades on end.

Anyone else wondering if this happening right now with the vaping craze?

7. The U.S. poisoned its own citizens.

Wikipedia | Public Domain

During Prohibition, the government was so serious about preventing people from drinking that they actually poisoned the illegal liquor supply. They did this by increasing the amount of poisonous methanol in industrial alcohols. Around 10,000 (!) people were killed.

8. The classic true conspiracy theory.

University of Oxford | University of Oxford

Area 51 — a secret testing and possibly alien-filled base in the Nevada desert — was a conspiracy, never officially acknowledged by the government for decades. Then they admitted that yeah, it totally exists. No word on aliens, though.

9. North Vietnam didn't attack the U.S. — it was the other way around.

Wikipedia | Wikipedia

The Gulf of Tonkin incident has long been seen as the spark that led the U.S. to engage directly in Vietnam.

In 2005, files were declassified. 

Wikipedia | Wikipedia

The popular narrative had been that North Vietnam attacked a U.S. destroyer, but after the declassification of an NSA file in 2005, it was revealed that things happened the other way around.

10. When the U.S. injected black men with syphilis.

Wikipedia | Wikipedia

It sounds incomprehensible, but the U.S. Public Health Service injected impoverished black men from Alabama syphilis for four decades. It was part of a clinical trial to test penicillin.

It operated between 1932 and 1972.

Wikipedia | Public Domain

The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment only ended after a whistleblower, Peter Buxtun, came forward. The revelation led to widespread changes in the ethical standards of clinical experiments.