#2. Germs from Outer Space Infect a Remote Town
The '70s sci-fi classic The Andromeda Strain tells us space is packed with deadly germs, like a zero-G version of Australia. When a military satellite crashes in a small Western town, it infects a bunch of people with a space-plague that causes all their blood to clot. There are even sinister hints that this might be the work of the government.
The strain eventually fails due to unforeseen factors, so yeah, probably government work.
The Real Version:
But there's no such thing as space germs, right? The people of the remote Peruvian town of Carrancas probably disagree. In September 2007, a meteor crashed there, and people visiting the site got sick, complaining of headaches, vomiting, nausea, and (we're guessing) at least one spontaneous phallus monster bursting out of someone's chest. The sickness was originally attributed to the fumes the meteor gave off, but the official explanation was that the crash simply stirred up the sulfur and arsenic in the town's soil. So ... they were just living on a block of poison all this time with no consequences? Good cover story, Men in Black.
"And all your hemorrhoids are due to a low-fiber diet, not repeated nighttime anal probings."
Why are we suspicious? In September 2006, just a year before the Carrancas plague, NASA scientists brought back some germs they'd sent to space to test the effects space travel has on salmonella. When they tested the strains on mice, they found the germs were 300 percent deadlier than their earthbound counterparts.
#1. Scientist Raises a Chimp as a Human Baby, Then Dumps Him in a Cage
In the Ronald Reagan comedy Bedtime for Bonzo, a chimpanzee lovingly raised like a human baby is eventually sold by the cruel college president for scientific studies when the grant money runs out. In Rise of the Planet of the Apes, there's an evil animal shelter manager who dumps the intelligent Caesar with normal apes and mistreats him. In the end, however, it all works out for the best!
20th Century Fox
For the apes, anyway.
The Real Version:
In the 1970s, Columbia University psychologist Herbert Terrace had a baby chimp raised by a human family to see if it could learn to communicate through sign language. His name was Nim Chimpsky (after Noam Chomsky, who doubtlessly really appreciated the homage).
Here, Nim washes the dishes, because everyone in society must do their part.
But it wouldn't be like the movies unless there was great, heartbreaking tragedy. Nim learned more than 120 signs and used them in ways that suggested he actually understood the idea of language, as opposed to just aping it (wokka wokka!). Even still, when the grant money ran out and Nim became aggressive (to be fair, only after being abandoned and moved several times), Terrace declared the experiment a failure and sent Nim to a primate research center in Oklahoma.
This adorable little guy who had only lived with humans, could communicate in human language, grew up in a regular human house, wore human clothes, and self-identified as human was suddenly kept in a cage with other chimps. Because reality is a bigger bastard than any Hollywood writer, a year later the center was shut down and Nim was sold to an NYU lab doing animal research on tuberculosis.
"Technically, we hired him as an unpaid intern."
Now, if this were the movies, Nim would snap from the trauma and break out to start an uprising, viciously maul Ronald Reagan, or seize a blonde and scale a skyscraper. Luckily for your own struggling faith in humanity, some good folks managed to get Nim transferred to an animal sanctuary, where he lived for another 19 years and rarely, if ever, bit a U.S. president's face off.
Yosomono likes to think his life is based on a Japanese movie and writes about surviving in the land of the rising sun. You should like his Facebook page.
Related Reading: We've got more than one list about movie plots happening in reality. It turns out babies get "switched" at the maternity ward all the time. And by the way, that scene in Face-Off where the cop rams a bad guy's plane with his car? It totally happened. And there's more where those came from. Why not see how deep the rabbit hole goes?