Christmas is over, and that one weird relative that kept banging on about conspiracy theories over the turkey has finally gone home.
But don’t dismiss everything they said out of hand. A few long-running conspiracy theories actually turned out to be true.
Here are five stories that were once dismissed as conspiracy theories before being revealed to be true.
They are still hunting UFOs
In 1969, the US government shut down its UFO investigation programme Project Blue Book. That’s despite the fact that during the project’s 22-year lifespan, some 700 sightings were still classified as “unidentified.”
The official word was that there was nothing to investigate. Nevertheless UFO spotters were sure that there was something out there, and continued to believe despite the denials that the government must still be watching out for mysterious travellers in our skies.
And they were. In December 2017, The New York Times revealed the existence of a secret $22 million Pentagon operation called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. Officially closed down in 2012, the search for ‘anomalous aerospace threats’ still seems to be running in some guise or there – as the recent USS Nimitz encounter revealed.
The Roswell ‘weather balloon’
The most famous UFO story of them all – the alleged flying saucer crash in Roswell, New Mexico – has long been described as a cover-up by alien-hunters. And the truth is, it was a cover-up . But just not how the UFO-spotting community expected.
Official sources insisted that the wreckage found on Mac Brazel’s farm was from a downed weather balloon. There were several reasons why that explanation didn’t quite fit with the truth.
The truth was the wreckage was from a balloon – but something much weirder than an ordinary weather balloon.
Project Mogul was a top-secret project run by the US Army Air Force. Its purpose was to detect Soviet nuclear by flying specialised balloons at altitudes of some 30,000 to 40,000ft.
When one crashed, rather than reveal the secret the USAAF spun the weather balloon lie, and then when people disbelieved it, allowed the imaginations of UFO hunters to obscure the truth.
Roger Launius, former curator of space history at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C said: “Apparently, it was better from the Air Force’s perspective that there was a crashed ‘alien’ spacecraft out there than to tell the truth.“
The deadly demon drink
During the Prohibition era, word went around that the US government, as part of their bid to stop citizens drinking alcohol, had secretly poisoned all of the booze in America.
And they were. It wasn’t even a secret, they published a short book on the subject. But the ‘poisoning’ the purpose wasn’t to enforce Prohibition, but for tax purposes: Alcohol meant for human consumption would have to be taxed, while alcohol with added methanol – denatured alcohol – was tax-free.
We are controlled by the CIA
In 1977 Carl Bernstein, one of the journalists that broke the Watergate scandal, wrote an exposé of the CIA ’s extensive connections within the world’s most powerful media organisations for Rolling Stone magazine.
He revealed that the spy organisation trained agents as journalists and found them jobs at all of the major US newspapers, and also funded the publication of books that supported their operations.
The program, which began in the early days off the Cold War, was shut down by George Bush when he took over as head of the CIA in 1976.
He said: “Effective immediately, the CIA will not enter into any paid or contractual relationship with any full-time or part-time news correspondent accredited by any US news service, newspaper, periodical, radio or television network or station.”
So, you can trust us then.