The moment the words “conspiracy theory” are mentioned, we start picturing Men in Black intimidating UFO witnesses or the assassination of JFK. However, there’s some conspiracy theories that have basis in fact, mostly because of the bizarre nature of everything involved. Bear with me while we discuss some (I will try not to mention Giorgio Tsoukalos nor Ancient Aliens, but that might be hard for one of them)…
- The Death of Karen Silkwood – Silkwood worked for a nuclear plant in Oklahoma. She was very very very very vocal about the mishandling of plutonium and the lack of real safety measures within the plant. All of it was done with good reason; respirators were found to be faulty, the facility did not have locker rooms big enough to accommodate showers for the staff they employed (for those who don’t know, plutonium is not just radioactive, it’s highly toxic and all employees working with plutonium is expected to shower before leaving a facility where it is handled, even janitors), and security was lax. It started when Karen went to leave the plant and was found to have 400 times the safe amount of plutonium on her body. She was decontaminated and the following day, when she returned to work, the levels were even higher. On the third day, she and her family were packed off to Los Alamos Labs and her house was gone through with a fine-toothed comb. The amount of plutonium in her house was horrifying and it was on everything, even the food in her fridge. However, the facility accused her of poisoning herself and pointed out that lab equipment was found in her house. Silkwood accused the facility of planting the equipment. After they were released from Los Alamos, she was expected to meet with the local union and she was carrying a binder full of papers that she claimed backed up all her complaints against the facility. After the meeting, her car was found off the side of the road, crashed into a highway barrier, with her dead inside. Her blood tested positive for barbiturates and there were barbiturates found in the car. Oddly, the binder with the papers, which she had been seen with earlier in the day, was not found. There were also skidmarks near the accident consistent with someone holding down their brakes while another car pushed theirs from behind. The facility had an on staff doctor do the autopsy, which ruled she had fallen asleep and crashed her car. The next year, an oversight committee found that at least 44 pounds of plutonium was missing from the facility… enough to build 4 nuclear bombs that could take out a large, US city. So, did Karen Silkwood fall asleep at the wheel from drug use or was she murdered?
- Odessa Theory – During the last year of the World War II, many high ranking Nazi officials committed suicide, at least, in theory. Some files found after the war and a few startling discoveries in South America give fuel to the Odessa theory. The Odessa was an escape route out of Germany, through Italy, and onto steamers that would take Nazi officials to South America. During the 1940s, Odessa was deemed not just impossible, but implausible. However, during the 1950s, some shocking things began to happen. First, someone found a secret map that led out of Germany, into Italy, then across the Atlantic to Argentina (a country sympathetic to the Nazis because of its large German population and totalitarian government). Second, Nazi hunters began finding “dead” Nazis in South America. Nazi hunters belonged to a group of humanitarians who were working to bring Nazi war criminals to The Hague to face charges of war crimes. Eventually, Nazi hunters uncovered even more files about Odessa and Nazis living in South America, including some interesting evidence that even the Fuhrer made it to Argentina. While no one has completely figured out if Odessa was real, it is true that lots of Nazis did indeed end up in South America (including the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele who set up a free medical practice and the town saw an enormous growth in the rate of twins), and there’s no denying that they were escaping Germany somehow… It’s the somehow that becomes conspiracy theory. Odessa required help moving Nazis from Italy through the Allied patrolled waters of the Atlantic and this was supposedly provided by none other than the OSS (which would become the CIA). The reason for the assistance in letting war criminals escape: money & information. It’s believed that the OSS worked with the Nazis to get spies into the Soviet Union, but in exchange, they had to let some (lots) of the head Nazi honchos flee before they were brought before war tribunals they all knew were coming.
- The Smiley Face Killer – Across the US there seems to be an epidemic of college-aged males who drown. Most admit that they and the friend have been drinking (usually at a bar or party and the male who dies, leaves the group). Two New York City detectives had decided that these are not accidental drownings fueled by fun and booze, but rather a serial killer and he leaves a calling card: a Smiley Face. All the drownings they have connected have had a smiley face somewhere near where the victim drowned. The detectives make a compelling case.*
- J. Edgar Hoover Smear Job – J. Edgar Hoover was to the FBI what the Black Plague was to Europe during the middle ages; disastrous. I know, that sounds weird since Hoover helped build the FBI, but Hoover abused the authority of his office and after his death in the early 1970s, we all got a lesson in just how much he abused his position. Hoover amassed a library of secret files on everyone from political dissenters to presidents to average citizens that annoyed him (yet, he didn’t bother with Zodiac, which might have actually been helpful). After his death, every reporter in the US was falling over themselves to reveal the dirty details of Hoover’s life (like him being a transvestite), because Karma’s a bitch. However, was the smear campaign justified? Researchers are beginning to think not. Instead, they think all published rumors and tabloid-esque stories were about discrediting Hoover and his secret files. If they could make Hoover look like a weirdo, then the information he collected might be called into question.
- The Riddle of the Sphinx – This is the hard one (there is one below this, feel free to skip as I will probably rant a little on this one). No, I don’t believe the Sphinx was built by aliens or that aliens had anything to do with it, but there are some serious questions about the Sphinx. And I’m not talking about whose face is on it. Archeologists believe that the Sphinx on the Giza Plateau was built at the same time as the Great Pyramids, which makes it approximately 4,500 years old. However, for some reason, a good portion of the Sphinx was buried in sand and the Great Pyramids were not. This was discovered to be the result of the Sphinx being built much lower than the pyramids that sit on the same plateau. While there is a wall around the Sphinx, indicating it was meant to be built into the ground, the top of the wall is also lower than the foundation of all pyramids. So, it was built in a pit, but the walls of the pit were still lower than the pyramids. This seems like a massive design flaw and for people that managed to build the Great Pyramid (which is almost perfectly centered, has concave sides that reflect light and shadow during the fall and spring solstices, and an interesting interior), this design flaw seems improbable. Also, the Sphinx shows water damage. Most archeologists theorize that the damage was caused when they flooded the pit to make the rock easier to carve, but that doesn’t explain why their is water damage to the carved body of the Sphinx. Quite the opposite actually, if they flooded the pit to make the stone softer, then the damaged stone would have been removed and water lines would not be visible, yet they are. Also, the pyramids on the Giza Plateau show no such damage. The Sphinx does sit closer to the Nile River than the pyramids, but it doesn’t sit that much closer and it isn’t exactly a flood plain, then there’s the pesky problem of how the plateau slopes which is up as it goes towards the Sphinx, but down as it goes towards the pyramids (the slope isn’t massive going up or down, but a slope of sand and a plateau covered in water, the pyramids are getting hit by that flood). Now, most of the exterior stones of the pyramids have been removed (they needed something to build Cairo out of), so it is possible that the stones that did show damage were removed, but why build houses out of those stones? Furthermore, it was limestone and limestone weathers well, meaning using water to soften it for carving doesn’t work all that great. Which brings up the question, why flood the pit around the Sphinx? And since limestone weathers well, why are there water lines and stains on it anyway? So what the heck is going on with the Sphinx? Some propose that it is much older than the pyramids and that it shows evidence of a flood (the Great Flood to be exact). Others propose that it was something else and turned into the design we see now to cover up some great mystery of Ancient Egypt (not mentioning flying saucers here, but I could) and the water lines were actually part of an attempt to bury it (which failed, so they recarved it, which probably wasn’t well received by the people, so they buried it in sand). And yet others believe that there are secret chambers under the Sphinx that hold all of human history that predates everything we know and putting it in a pit of water was a way to discourage people (tomb raiders, grave robbers, and miscreants) from entering the sacred library.
- The Teens in the Photo – Last, but not least, in June 1989 a Polaroid photo was discovered in a parking lot. The photo contained a teen girl and teen boy, both tied up, gagged, and looking at the camera. Both teens resembled open missing persons’ cases, but it was later verified that the boy in the photo was not the one suspected to be in the photo (his skeletal remains were found around and he’d obviously been dead longer than the girl had been missing) and that the girl, while she looked like the missing girl, also didn’t look like the girl. To make matters worse, as the year continued, a couple more photos of the same teens were found. They were not wearing the same clothes in each of the photos, but they were still bound, gagged, and looking at the camera (only one photo was ever released to the public, but inside sources say the positions were different and they appeared to be taken in different places). Aside from those couple of polaroids found in public places, no other photos surfaced and by 1990, they were almost forgotten about. It wasn’t until a few years later that public attention was back on them, with the birth of the internet. People wanted to know who the kids were and why they were bound and gagged. Were they a hoax or were they really photos of two kidnapped kids being held hostage? Who took the pictures? Why did they leave them to be found in parking lots like gas stations and malls in Florida? What about the white van that was reportedly seen, twice, when the photos showed up? The pictures brought more questions than answers. Twenty-five years later, no one has ever come forward to identify the teens or the van that dropped the pictures.
*The Smiley Face Killer will be discussed in its own article tomorrow. 🙂 (Creepy, right?)