Once-Crazy Theories That Turned Out To Be True

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Vote up the theories that seemed too unreal to be true.

For centuries, the world has been full of people claiming outlandish theories that many times proved to be untrue. However, this is not always the case.

Some theories have no opposing evidence, so they must be assumed true, while others have facts and years of data that really delve into how and why they are deemed correct. Some of these zany ideas that turned out to be true may seem obvious. But others may blow your mind when you learn the stories behind them.

  • 1
    2,488 VOTES

    A Scientist Claimed He Was Targeted Because Of His Discovery; It Turns Out He Was Right

    In 1994, biologist Tyrone Hayes joined the biology faculty of the University of California, Berkeley, and conducted research for Syngenta, one of the largest agribusinesses in the world. Syngenta asked Hayes to carry out experiments on the herbicide atrazine, which is applied to more than half of the corn in the US. While studying the herbicide, Hayes discovered atrazine might impede the sexual development of frogs. Once he identified this, his relationship with Syngenta fell under distress, and in 2000, he ended his relationship with the company.

    As Hayes continued to study atrazine and its effects on his own, he began to believe Syngenta representatives were following him around the world to conferences he attended. He was convinced the company was working against him to discredit his findings, and years later it turned out his accusations were correct.

    In 2012, two class-action suits brought by 23 Midwestern cities and towns revealed that Syngenta was “concealing atrazine’s true dangerous nature” and contaminating their drinking water. The company's internal communications were released, and Syngenta’s communications manager Sherry Ford, who referred to Hayes by his initials, wrote that the company could “prevent citing of TH data by revealing him as noncredible.”

    2,488 votes
  • 2
    1,442 VOTES

    CIA Research Into Mind Control And Psychological Torture Sounded Like Fiction, Until MKUltra Came To Light

    In 1953, the CIA's director Allen Dulles officially approved project MKUltra, which operated until the early 1960s to keep the US government on par with the Soviets in mind-control technology. The project blew up much larger than its original intent, and resulted in illegally testing thousands of Americans with a drug the CIA believed could control minds.

    The experiments were headed by CIA chemist Sidney Gottlieb and were covertly funded at universities and research centers, with American prisoners as the main test subjects. They endured psychological torture ranging from electroshock to taking high doses of LSD, many dying and others damaged for the remainder of their lives. 

    In the end, Gottlieb concluded it was not possible to achieve mind control, and MKUltra shut down. Details of the illicit program didn't become public until 1975 during a congressional investigation into widespread illegal CIA activities within the US and around the world.

    1,442 votes
  • After Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech in front of thousands of people at the National Mall in 1963, the FBI decided to run a massive surveillance operation on him. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover became obsessed with proving King had communist ties, and wanted him to become completely discredited.

    The surveillance operation failed to show King was a communist, but Hoover continued to publicly denounce him, labeling him “the most notorious liar in the country” at a Washington news conference. Just a few days later, William Sullivan, one of Hoover's deputies, decided to write an anonymous letter and had an agent mail it to Atlanta.

    The letter focused on King's sex life, discussing in graphic language what the FBI thought it knew, and urged King to step aside and let other men lead the civil rights movement. After repeatedly describing King and his behavior as "evil," the letter threatens to out him as a womanizer. It ends with a strong insinuation that King should take his own life: "“There is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is.”

    1,326 votes
  • Giant Squids Were Thought To Be Made-Up Sea Monsters
    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
    863 VOTES

    Giant Squids Were Thought To Be Made-Up Sea Monsters

    Before Norwegian naturalist Japetus Steenstrup named it the giant squid in 1853, the creature was identified as a sea monster. On one occasion in 1848, Captain Peter M’Quhae was setting sail on the HMS Daedalus between the Cape of Good Hope and the island of St. Helena off the African coast, when the crew spotted what they described as a gigantic sea serpent.

    They claimed the beast was unlike anything they had seen: “full of large jagged teeth... sufficiently capacious to admit of a tall man standing upright between them.” 

    As sightings of these "monsters" continued, Steenstrup, a known zoologist at the University of Copenhagen, was determined to put an end to the wild theories. He was able to combine 17th century reports of sea monsters, tales of many-tentacled giant creatures washed up on European beaches, and one very large squid beak to determine the reality of the giant squid (Architeuthis dux).

    863 votes
  • Gorillas Were Once Believed To Be Mythical, Man-Eating Monsters
    Photo: Mira Meijer / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0
    772 VOTES

    Gorillas Were Once Believed To Be Mythical, Man-Eating Monsters

    Just a few hundred years ago, the primate the world knows as the gorilla was thought to be a mythical monster that fed on humans. For centuries, explorers told tales of finding hairy, human-like creatures that had 10 times the strength of a man. This wild theory dates back to the 5th century BCE, and wasn't proven incorrect until 1847, when scientists officially identified the species.

    The fables about the man-eating beasts began to heat up in the 1800s, as scientists and the public alike wanted to see the monsters for themselves. This began an effort to transport live gorillas from Africa to Europe - and in 1876, the first specimen arrived in England. The young gorilla, named Pongo, was taken to an indoor zoo where hundreds of people lined up to catch a glimpse.

    However, once the public saw the small gorilla playing with a stuffed dog in the cage, the wild beast expectations were not met, and the theories were debunked.

    772 votes
  • Apple Really Was Slowing Down Older iPhones
    Photo: Cullen Steber / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0

    For years, many Apple users suspected that their iPhones' battery lives and functions were being made to significantly worsen over time. This wild theory was confirmed in a 2017 statement that Apple provided when questioned about the power profile people were seeing when testing iPhones with older batteries. 

    The statement details how Apple worked out an algorithm to reduce performance to protect the phone's electronic components, to lessen the chances of aged batteries, low charges, and cold weather shutting down a phone. According to Apple

    Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components.

    This explanation did not placate all iPhone users, however; Apple accepted a hefty €25 million fine (around $28 million) from a European watchdog group.

    1,029 votes