6 Famous Unsolved Mysteries (With Really Obvious Solutions)
The world is a magical place, full of mysteries science may never understand. It's also full of bullshit that people just make up to draw attention to themselves.
At the heart of pretty much every "paranormal" phenomenon you find some lonely, attention-seeking soul, or several of them, willing to put a spooky little twist on an otherwise boring story. But it usually doesn't take a whole lot of examination to find the truth.
The Dyatlov Pass Incident
On February 2nd, 1959, during the cold winter on Kholat Syakhl ("Mountain of the Dead") in Russia, nine intrepid ski hikers decided to do what they do best, which is ski hike, whatever the hell that is. On February 26th, the first of their very dead bodies turned up. Man, who would have thought such a tragedy could strike on "The Mountain of the Dead?"
Image courtesy of Noah Scalin
It probably didn't look like this, but can you imagine?
But it was the discovery of the campgrounds that added the icing to the creepy-as-fuck cake. The ski hikers' tent was shredded. The skiers were scattered around the grounds wearing either very sparse clothing or just their underwear. Three of them were found with crushed ribs and fractured skulls, but no visible defense marks or other signs of a struggle.
Oh yeah, and one of the bodies was missing a tongue.
In case you weren't already on the phone with Mulder and Scully, trace levels of radiation were supposedly found on their bodies. The official statement on what happened was about as vague and ass-covering as possible, saying it was caused by an "unknown compelling force." In laymen's terms this means, "fuck if we know."
The story has become an internet sensation over the years, with many people blaming aliens, and then ghosts, and then the yeti, or possibly all of them working in tandem.
"So we're agreed then: We tear up their tents, take a lady's tongue, and never tell a soul."
The Obvious Answer:
So there's six things that freak people out about this one:
1. The no-tongued woman
2. A mysterious orange tan on the dead bodies
3. The ripped tents
4. The hikers' lack of clothing
5. The crushing damage done to three of the hikers
6. The traces of radioactivity
The big fact that gets lost in the re-telling of this story is that the bodies weren't found until weeks later. It's not like somebody turned their back, then five minutes later all their friends were dead and half naked.
That makes the missing tongue a lot easier to explain. As disturbing as it may be, the first thing a scavenging animal is going to go for is probably the soft tissue of an open mouth, especially if it still smelled like the burrito the hiker just ate. Laying out in the sun surrounded by white snow for days also accounts for the weird tan.
The trauma and the destroyed tent points to an avalanche. Their state of undress can be explained by paradoxical undressing, a known behavior of hypothermia victims when their brains start to freeze and malfunction. In other words, it's the kind of behavior you'd expect from a group of injured avalanche victims wandering around in the middle of the night in the freezing cold.
What about the radioactivity? Or stranger details that turn up in some accounts, like orange lights in the sky? Well, there's the fact that none of that stuff turns up in the original documents from the incident, and appears to have been added later by people who just can't resist making things spookier than they are.
It's those later accounts that have stuck in the public memory, because so many of the original reports were destroyed (this was the Cold War-era Soviet Union, which treated casserole recipes as state secrets).
So none of the details on their own prove anything other than a tragic hiking accident. The conspiracy-loving public widely reject this, too busy lighting their torches and getting their pitchforks to go hunt down an, "unknown compelling force."
Otherwise known as "snow."
The Lost Roanoke Colony
The Roanoke Colony was either the first permanent settlement in America, or an elaborate practical joke. Walter Raleigh sent the colonists there and then left them without supplies for three years, perhaps just to see what would happen.
What he probably didn't expect was for the colony to just vanish. When new settlers finally arrived, none of the original colony remained at the settlement (except for the old skeleton of one guy) and the mysterious word "Croatan" was carved into a tree, right under, "Metallica Rules".
So, was it a UFO abduction? Perhaps the colonists were held in some kind of suspended animation and are still being anally probed to this very day.
The Obvious Answer:
That second group of settlers didn't really get the chance to investigate what happened to the original bunch, because a few years later an even bigger mysterious phenomena occurred: Blue-eyed, pale-complexioned Indians began showing up on nearby Croatan Island.
So what to make of these mysterious children, who looked like they might have been the descendents of white/Indian mixed race parents? On CROATAN island?
It's almost as if, we don't know, a certain group of settlers realized their colony sucked, and went and found some natives nearby who seemed to know how to live off the land. And that they then left their shitty colony forever to go live happily ever after on Croatan Island, and to have impressive amounts of sex with the natives.
"Hey, like the nearby island. Whatever, I'm sure that's just a coincidence."
The Hopkinsville Goblin Case
In 1955, members of the Sutton family were out on their porch enjoying a relaxing visit/drinking binge with their good friend Billy Ray Taylor. Billy Ray decided to go out and get a drink of water from the well, when shit started getting weird.
He ran back in to tell everyone he'd seen some bright lights in the sky and that everyone should come look. According to one member of the Sutton clan, upon stepping outside the Suttons-plus-one encountered:
"... a luminous, three-and-a-half-foot-tall being with an oversized head, big, floppy, pointed ears, glowing eyes, and hands with talons at their ends. The figure, either made of or simply dressed in silvery metal, had its hands raised."
After seeing these figures coming out of the woods, showing the universal sign of surrender, the Suttons did the only thing they could do: try to kill their asses.
As they shot at the defenseless creatures with rifles, they claim to have heard clangs and ricochets as if the aliens were wearing some kind of metal armor. They said the aliens "flipped over and fled into the darkness when shot at."
The Obvious Answer:
This is a sketch of one of the aliens.
This is a great horned owl.
Look at the head of the "creature" then look at the head of the owl. Now, get really, really drunk. We're talking "mid-1950s rural Kentucky" drunk.
Ufologist Renaud Leclet admitted, "It could be a misidentification of a pair of Great horned owls, which are nocturnal, fly silently, have yellow eyes, and aggressively defend their nests."
Oh, and that sound of metal clanging and ricochets during the shooting? Get drunk and shoot towards a target in front of your tin chicken coup.
So it's either that, or there may still be an interstellar invasion force on the way to retaliate.
The Mad Gasser of Mattoon
In Mattoon, Illinois in the early 1930s, reports started popping up of a man or woman deliberately spraying poisonous gasses into people's homes via the windows, and in some cases, building crude barricades to keep the victims inside. The barricade thing may seem weird, but people in the 30s were the trusting type, and apparently didn't go out to investigate when they heard the sound of sawing and hammering right outside their front doors.
Anyway, the victims complained of nausea and sore throats, and sometimes would catch a glimpse of something moving outside in the distance. The town was gripped with panic, terrified that the villain would attack again with his arsenal of pretty much harmless chemicals.
Finally an official inquiry was started into the matter, to solve it once and for all. They gathered eye witness reports and wound up with descriptions of the perpetrator as a tall, short, male, female, fat, thin, human, ghost, Nazi, dinosaur ... pretty much the whole spectrum of life past and present on planet earth.
Investigators filed the incident under "What the fuck?" which just happens to be conspiracy theorists favorite question to answer.
The Obvious Answer:
Two weeks after it all started Thomas Wright, the commissioner of public health came and said:
"There is no doubt that a gas maniac exists and has made a number of attacks. But many of the reported attacks are nothing more than hysteria. Fear of the gas man is entirely out of proportion to the menace of the relatively harmless gas he is spraying. The whole town is sick with hysteria."
Yes, good job calming the hysteria with the phrase "Gas Maniac."
The town police chief, on the other hand, came out and said there was actually no gasser at all, that the people were freaking out because they heard a noise, checked the window, and smelled something funny. Not unusual seeing as how their town was filled with factories and the town itself was constantly awash in chemical fumes (back then environmental regulations were pretty much done on the honor system).
After the reassuring statements from Wright and the chief of police, the public decided maybe it was time to calm down. Oh wait, no they didn't. They decided it was time to fucking freak out more. There were countless more reports, none of them ever confirmed.
Oh, there may have been an actual gasser at some point, a recent book points to a local medical student who could have carried out the few actual attacks that led to the hysteria. When asked why, he reportedly stated, "Because I'm fucking insane."
Related: Who'd They Vote For: 'Mad Men'
The Starchild Skull
Found in a mine tunnel in 1930, this odd-shaped skull is believed to be that of an alien or other magical creature (Goblin? Leprechaun?) After carbon dating, the skull was found to be about 900 years old.
Paranormal researchers were quick to tell anyone who would listen that it was the skull of an alien human hybrid, or just alien, or anything paranormal. They were just happy someone was talking to them.
A paranormal researcher (probably).
The Obvious Answer:
Well... look at it. We only have three full-time archeologists on the staff here at Cracked, but it's pretty obvious that that is a human skull. Luckily skull experts agree that it's from a young child, 3 to 5 years old, with some type of physical deformity. The list of diseases and defects can cause this kind of abnormality is extensive. The list of paranormal reasons that have been proven to cause this isn't a list at all, it's more of a napkin smeared with Cheetoh smudges and crazy.
This one goes back to Ufologists' rather bizarre belief that aliens would look exactly like us (two eyes, a mouth, a nose, etc.) with only tiny variations (they're grey or have a weird bone in the middle of their face). Why would beings that evolved on different planets under totally different conditions look alike? If you believe the conspiracy theory that often accompanies the Starchild Skull, you'd know it's because aliens planted humans on earth thousands of years ago!
So either we're just a giant colony of sea monkeys for extremely bored aliens, or 900 years ago at least one kid had a weird-shaped head.
The Bermuda Triangle
Well for one thing, that's not even a triangle.
This is the granddaddy of supposed paranormal phenomena. You know the story: you go into the Triangle, you don't come out. It's some kind of magical black hole around Florida, Puerto Rico and Bermuda where ships, planes and probably countless confused whales have disappeared. According to paranormal "experts" this is easily attributable to either aliens, interdimensional portals, demons, ghosts, Bigfoot, ghost Bigfoot, sea monsters or stargates.
Or Bigfoot riding a Sea Monster. Aaaaahhh
Even Christopher Columbus claimed he saw weird shit there more than 500 years ago. To read books about the subject, you'd think ships disappear by the hundreds every week.
So what's the deal? Are the boats getting sucked through a time portal? Being sunk by savages from the mystical lost city of Atlantis? Or is it Cthulhu? It's Cthulhu, isn't it?
The Obvious Answer:
Again we must refer to the scientific phenomenon called People Making Up Bullshit. As experts have pointed out, the entire Bermuda Triangle mystery is based around people taking routine disappearances and spicing them up in the retelling. So for instance, part of the legend is a plane inexplicably vanished off the coast of Daytona on a sunny day in 1957. A search of the newspaper that day revealed that either it didn't happen, or all the witnesses signed a pact of silence in their own blood lest the triangle take them too.
They like to describe missing ships as having "disappeared" or saying they "were never seen again", which immediately brings to mind magic. In reality when a boat sinks you're probably not going to see it again because, you know, it's on the bottom of the fucking ocean.
Believers often fail to mention that many of the disappearances happen during storms and rough seas, when you'd pretty much expect ships to sink. Other times ships would be reported missing and thus added to the Triangle's tally, then nobody bothers to correct it when the ships turn up later unharmed (like because the Captain was drunk off his ass and accidentally sailed to Portugal).
But the final stake into the heart of the Dracula that is the Bermuda Triangle mystery is the fact that the number of disappearances is no larger than any other well-traveled part of the ocean (the Triangle includes some of the busiest waters on the planet).
Once again, the only magic at work is the mystical human hunger for bullshit.
The REAL Bermuda Triangle.
If you're planning on watching the VP Debate tonight, why not watch it with us? Just head over to Cracked.com Liveblogs the VP Debate! LIVE!!! at 9PM EST tonight. Or, for another spooky article, check out The 5 Creepiest Urban Legends That Happen to be True.