Large-Scale Paranoid Conspiracies That Turned Out to Be True

Everyone has an irrational fear of something. Maybe you're skeptical about the number 12. Maybe you believe every cop has it out for you and is simply biding their time before they lock you away. Maybe it's so bad that you never left the house out of fear of being mugged or trampled by wild horses or being crushed by a falling satellite. 

The point is, paranoias are irrational and exaggerated thoughts that often take control of people's lives in ways they never expect. But what happens when they collectively begin to believe these fears? And moreover, what happens when they actually come true? 

There are – and will be – countless events that will go unexplained in a person's lifetime. They're strange coincidences that seem to have invisible strings pulling at them, but most rational minds will find ways to keep them in check.

Below is a list of paranoias that not only proved to be true, but also true on a massive scale, and with global implications. 

Photo: Goodfellas

  • People Can Watch You Remotely Through Your Webcam

    People Can Watch You Remotely Through Your Webcam
    Photo: Simon Wedege Petersen / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0

    If Mark Zuckerberg is afraid of it, it must be true, right? In 2016, Facebook's CEO made headlines after it was reported he is among those who fear hackers could be remotely watching him via his laptop's webcam. His solution? Stick a piece of tape over it.

    Does this sound a little paranoid? Maybe not. 

    Imagine waking up in the morning. Checking your email. Clicking through as usual – only to find an image of yourself staring back. Only it's not a glitch in your webcam; it's a screenshot, taken the night before via a remote location and emailed back to you.

    That's what happened to a 27-year-old Toronto woman named Chelsea Clark, who in 2015, said that hackers tapped into her laptop and secretly took photos of her and her boyfriend watching Netflix. 

    And webcam hacking is just the tip of the iceberg. Among other hacked personal items include cell phones, gaming consoles, and even baby monitors. 

  • The US Government Poisoned Its Own Citizens' Alcohol

    The US Government Poisoned Its Own Citizens' Alcohol
    Photo: Archives of Ontario / Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

    Christmastime. New York. 1923. Over the course of two days, a total of 23 people died under mysterious circumstances, and another 60 fell gravely ill. Doctors claimed the cause was alcohol poisoning, but the sheer amount of victims was enough to raise more than a few eyebrows. 

    While Prohibition was in effect, would-be party-goers would often find their own ways of procuring alcohol – most of which was created illegally from hidden stills. These concoctions often contained metals and various other pollutants that didn't exactly make it healthy to consume, which is why most doctors initially believed their cases to be nothing more than the result of a bad batch of basement moonshine. 

    Turns out, they were only half-right. 

    Doctors were at a loss in explaining the epidemic, until it was eventually revealed that the United States intentionally poisoned certain supplies of alcohol, most of which was intercepted by rum-runners, and spiked it with methanol and potassium cyanide in an effort to scare Americans away from drinking.

    The total number of deaths at the hands United States government? An estimated 10,000 by the time Prohibition ended in 1933. 

  • Ernest Hemingway Thought The FBI Was Spying On Him

    Ernest Hemingway Thought The FBI Was Spying On Him
    Photo: Lloyd Arnold / Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

    Widely regarded as one of the finest writers of the 20th-century, the world was shocked to discover that, at age 61, Ernest Hemingway decided to take his own life. 

    The reasons behind his suicide were baffling: some thought he owed debts; others thought he felt his best work was already behind him. Either way, depression played a large factor in Hemingway's passing. 

    But according to AE Hotchner, a close friend of Hemingway's, depression was insignificant compared to the swelling paranoia the famous author held about the FBI. 

    On several occasions, Hotchner said, Hemingway grew agitated, complaining that his house and car were bugged to record his conversations. That he had to get rides from friends because his car was marked, and would ultimately follow him wherever he went.  

    He even claimed that his phone calls were being recorded, and his mail was being intercepted. 

    However, many simply dismissed Hemingway's complaints, believing that he was in the throes of an early personality disorder mixed with severe depression, all of which ultimately culminated with his suicide in 1961.

    But it wasn't until 1983 that Hemingway's claim was posthumously vindicated. Here, it was revealed that under the direct supervision of none other than J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI had indeed been keeping track of Hemingway's movements since the 1940s, and a 127-page dossier contained large amounts of his personal information. 

  • The US Government Attempted Covert Mind Control In MK-ULTRA

    The US Government Attempted Covert Mind Control In MK-ULTRA
    Photo: Erald Mecani / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    If you've heard of mind control at all, then you've likely heard of Project MK-ULTRA.

    An initiative that began in the early 1950s, the goal of MK-ULTRA was first designed to enhance CIA operatives' abilities to extract information from their subjects. But as experimentation continued, focus shifted to the possibility of perhaps controlling human behavior via a combination of drugs (including LSD) and extreme rounds of hypnosis.

    While undergoing their "treatments," subjects reportedly hallucinated, suffered extreme anxiety, paranoia, and, in some cases, died as the result.

    During this time however, the United States government vehemently denied any wrongdoing, and it wasn't until the late 1970s that the project was brought to federal courts, and ultimately abandoned. 

    Because of these experiments, a sense of distrust – of paranoia – grew in America about what their own government is capable of.

  • Big Brother Was Proven Real With Edward Snowden's NSA Whistleblowing

    Big Brother Was Proven Real With Edward Snowden's NSA Whistleblowing
    Photo: 1984 / Amazon

    In the old days, folks could easily find out if they were being spied on: glance out your window, maybe there's a strange man in a black trench coat going through your garbage. Or listen for those three click-click-clicks on the other end of the phone line for a wiretap. Or check your rearview mirror to see if you've got an unmarked Crown Vic following you home. 

    The signs couldn't be missed. 

    But as technology progressed, American citizens became increasingly paranoid that their own government was somehow spying on them. Perhaps tracking IP addresses? Maybe logging phone calls? Or how about maintaining public surveillance feeds?

    Those who spoke up about their fears were often seen as crazy. 

    But, eventually, all of the above came to light, thanks in part to former CIA contractor, Edward Snowden. 

    In June of 2013, scandal erupted in the United States after it was revealed that the NSA had been gathering not only phone information, but also internet search data from sites such as Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, and funneling it directly through into an expansive surveillance program known as Prism. 

  • Nazis Were Recruited To Work In America

    Nazis Were Recruited To Work In America
    Photo: United States Holocaust Museum / Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

    Human experiments. Surface-to-air missiles. Jet-powered bombers. 

    As for what Nazi scientists and engineers were capable of during World War II, the list goes on, which led to many fearing that Nazis could eventually move elsewhere to continue their work. 

    So what happened to them after the Axis powers fell? 

    The answer was simple: America just happened to be hiring. 

    In the aftermath of WWII, the JIOA (Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency) initiated a program under direct order of President Truman called "Operation Paperclip." In this system, Nazi scientists, engineers, and basically anyone who could be of value and wasn't a complete war criminal was brought to the United States to assist in the development of similar programs.  

    Ultimately, not only were thousands of Nazis now living in the United States, a fear held by many Americans at the time, but they were actually working for the US government, helping to develop some of the same technologies still in use today.