Exploring facts behind conspiracy theories

Genna Bishop, Assistant Business Manager

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The Chemist’s War of Prohibition

About three years prior to Prohibition, manufacturers of industrial alcohol started mixing dangerous chemicals into their drinks. But from 1926-1933, the government pushed them to use stronger poisons in an attempt to discourage people from consuming alcohol. However, it did not stop drinking and 10,000 people died as a result. After many years of investigation, people realized that the government was behind all the deaths. New York City medical examiner Charles Norris was the first to publicly accuse the government by holding a formal press conference to address the issue, stating, “United States government must be charged with the moral responsibility for the deaths that poisoned liquor causes, although it cannot be held legally responsible.” This event was given the nickname “The Chemist’s War of Prohibition.” It remains one of the strangest and most deadly decisions in American law-enforcement history.

 

Operation Mockingbird

“Operation Mockingbird” was a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operation during the Cold War that enlisted hundreds of journalists to publish government propaganda and fake news. Over 400 journalists were recruited by the CIA to manipulate the public’s opinion. The agency also spied onthe press by wire tapping phones and observing offices. It started to promote the ideas of the government and undermine communist ideas. In 1977, Rolling Stone ran an article titled “The CIA and the Media,” written by Carl Bernstein. Bernstein said in the article that the CIA “has secretly bankrolled numerous foreign press services, periodicals and newspapers— both English and foreign language—which provided excellent cover for CIA operatives.” In the 1970’s the the United States Senate set up the Church Committee to investigate probable abuse by the CIA. Although there were never any real charges brought against them, classified documents proving these acts were released to the public. Because of the investigation, the CIA no longer works in paid or contractual relationships with journalists.

 

The Moon Landing

Soon after the first person stepped foot onto the Moon in 1969, claims arose from various people around the world that the “giant leap for mankind” had been faked, a hoax to put the Americans ahead of the Soviets in the space race. However, this claim was quickly proven false. Accusers claimed that in the first picture of the astronauts on the moon, the flag was waving as if there was wind in space. The explanation behind this was that the flag is not an ordinary flag. Several rods within the flag were used tocreate the look of rippling movement. They created this because, evidently, a regular flag would not look very appealing as it would just hang down due to the lack of wind. Accusers also claimed that in the picture, you could not see the stars. However, this is easily explained by the simple mechanics of cameras and lighting. The exposure on the astronaut’s camera was too short to capture the bright white space suits and the Moon’s surface while also capturing the comparatively dimmer stars in the background. So, when Neil Armstrong uttered those famous words, the horizon of the solar system really was surrounding him.