6 Famous Unsolved Mysteries (Are Shockingly Easy To Solve)
According to the denizens of /r/conspiracy and your wacky aunt on Facebook, there are terrifying mysteries unfolding all around us, all the time. From proof of Satanic cults to a government plot to exterminate half a million Americans to evidence of aliens touching down on Earth, the internet has photographic evidence of dozens of shadowy, bone-chilling conspiracies. Photographs that the government doesn't want you to see, but apparently can't stop thousands of Alex Jones fans from circulating on social media.
However, most (a term here meaning "all") of those "unexplained" photographs have totally rational and comparatively lame explanations behind them which anyone with 15 seconds and access to Google Image Search could uncover.
FEMA's "Coffin Stockpile" Preparing For A Massive Planned Disaster Is A Company's Storage Field
Get your surgical masks and Lysol ready, because FEMA is currently working in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control to make your funeral arrangements. Or at least, that's the case according to Alex Jones, an unending stream of quack "news" sites, and that one Facebook friend from high school you keep forgetting to hide. It seems the U.S. government -- in particular, the Obama administration -- is stockpiling plastic caskets in preparation for some mysterious event that will wipe out a significant chunk of the American populace.
Luckily, only Cartoon Americans are affected.
What makes this theory so convincing is the undeniable, evidence courtesy of Google Earth, showing a staggering number -- half a million, to be exact -- of black, human-sized Tupperware containers stored smack dab in the middle of Bumfuck, Georgia (the state which is home to the CDC).
Above: the last Tupperware party you'll ever be invited to.
This tells us two things: First, that FEMA and/or the CDC is preparing for a truly apocalypse-worthy number of sudden casualties, and second, they are inexplicably going to bury us all individually after said event rather than rolling us into a sinkhole and/or the sea.
The Stupid Reality:
The so-called "FEMA caskets" are in fact burial vaults, the plastic containers used in essentially every modern burial that takes place in the United States. They're the outer shells used to prevent moisture, creepy crawlies, and errant voodoo resurrection spells from ever reaching those ornate caskets that we drop five grand on before dropping them into the ground and covering them with dirt.
The gaping hole for illustrative purposes gets you a 10-percent discount.
Seeing as how they're designed to withstand an eternity six feet underground, the company that manufactured them -- Vantage Products in Covington, Georgia -- chose to skip the cost of a traditional warehouse and instead stacked their supply in a field, where they've been storing them for nearly 20 years. But take the advent of Google Earth, add the location's close proximity to the CDC in Atlanta, and multiply the result by the truly mind-boggling number of "caskets" involved, and suddenly Obama is planning to gas us all with the virus from The Stand.
Oh, and about that aforementioned mind-boggling number? That was a simple case of good old-fashioned internet hyperbole. The actual number of burial vaults on the property was around 50,000 -- a far cry from the half million claimed by conspiracy types. Though that's still enough to make us concerned for the general health and well-being of the citizens of Georgia. Who in their right mind keeps a stockpile of 50,000 casket-cozies at the ready?
JFK's "Umbrella Man" Was Some Guy Staging An Ill-Timed Protest
The JFK assassination undoubtedly holds some sort of world record for being the only true-life event to inspire more fan theories than Game Of Thrones. One such theory revolves around "Umbrella Man" -- an otherwise-nondescript man who inexplicably opened an umbrella near the president's motorcade route mere seconds before the assassination. Was Umbrella Man signaling the shooter(s) to begin his (their) assault?
A foolproof plan ... unless it rained that day.
Long before being popularized by Oliver Stone's Academy-Award nominated film, Umbrella Man captured the public's imagination from the moment the Zapruder film was released to the public in the mid-'70s. The mysterious figure zoomed like Mary Poppins onto conspiracy theorists' radars, with a young Bill O'Reilly positing in 1979 that Umbrella Man was not merely a signal man, but a full-fledged assassin armed with a weaponized umbrella. You know, like a fucking Batman villain.
While it's easy to write that off as the initial dribblings of the incessant geyser of shithouse crazy that's erupted from the mouth of Bill O'Reilly over the years, you can't deny that there's something bizarre and a little creepy about a guy who, on a sunny day without a cloud in the sky, when literally no one else had an umbrella, opened one up moments before one of the most notorious events of the 20th Century.
The Stupid Reality:
There's actually very little mystery surrounding the identity of Umbrella Man, considering he readily told the world who he was back in 1978.
As revealed in testimony before the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations, Umbrella Man wasn't a Soviet plant, a CIA stooge, a professional assassin, or a guy with a debilitating smoking habit and a criminal love of birds. He was simply Louie Steven Witt, and -- as was hilariously demonstrated right there in the courtroom -- his umbrella was sorely lacking any type of flechette shooter or rocket launcher or mechanized boxing glove.
Which would have made November 22, 1963 memorable for an entirely different reason.
But why the umbrella? It was Witt's way of protesting -- not JFK, but his pop, Joseph P. Kennedy, who was a former ambassador to the UK. See, back in the 1930s, Joe Kennedy was known to pal around with notorious Nazi appeaser Neville Chamberlain, who was in turn known for his propensity to lug around an umbrella at all times.
If only that umbrella had been equipped with a boxing glove boinger ...
Witt thought the ultimate form of protest would be to flash an umbrella at Joe Kennedy's son, the president. He wasn't part of some nefarious assassination conspiracy -- he was a random guy whose terribleness at staging a protest was only surpassed by his transcendentally shitty timing.
The Ghost Of Wem Town Hall Was A Picture Cut And Pasted From An Old Postcard
In November of 1995, the town hall of Wem in Shropshire, England burned to the ground, but not before one Tony O'Rahilly captured the event in glorious black-and-white. As firefighters held onlookers at bay, O'Rahilly zoomed in with his telephoto lens from across the street, snapping pictures of the event. Later, when he developed the photographs, he realized that he'd captured a little something ... extra.
Extra creepy, that is.
Peeking through a doorway in one of the photos was a young girl. Thing was, no one had seen a girl at the scene, and no bodies were recovered from the ruins. Any suspicions of the photo being faked were dashed when Dr. Vernon Harrison, former president of the Royal Photographic Society, examined it and said it had not been doctored -- though he opined that the girl was simply an optical illusion created by the smoke and flames.
It's like the infinite monkey theorem, but with smoke.
Needless to say, the internet was less than convinced by this explanation. The photo got imaginations flowing, mainly because Wem was no stranger to fires. Way back in 1677, a young girl named Jane Churm accidentally dropped a candle and sparked a fire that transformed a significant chunk of the town into Satan's wet dream. Locals have long claimed that this devastatingly clumsy girl haunts the town, and that her bumbling spirit appeared in O'Rahilly's photograph.
The Stupid Reality:
Experts can be fooled, even with whatever shitty Photoshopping technology was available in the mid-'90s. In 2010, 77-year-old Brian Leer happened across the photo of the Wem ghost and, exhibiting a memory for inconsequential details that only the elderly possess, thought he remembered having seen the girl's face before. Turns out he had ... in a 1922 postcard reprinted in his local newspaper. In the lower left corner of said postcard is a little girl who is in every way identical to the fire-starting apparition lurking in O'Rahilly's photo of Wem Town Hall.
In fairness, she is dressed like a phantom.
So yeah. O'Rahilly clearly happened upon this postcard, thought the girl looked all sunken-faced and creepy, and spliced her image into his pictures of the Wem Town Hall fire in a way that photographic experts of the 1990s couldn't detect. O'Rahilly died of a heart attack in 2005, so we may never know exactly how he pulled it off, but this steamingly fake photograph of her haunts the web to this day. Unless, of course, both pictures are being haunted by the exact same ghost.
And on a similar note ...
The Solway Spaceman Was The Photographer's Wife
One clear summer day in 1964, Jim Templeton snapped a few photos of his daughter sitting in a meadow in a pretty new dress. After retrieving the developed photographs from his pharmacist, Templeton discovered one shot in particular that's served as UFO enthusiasts' Shroud of Turin ever since. What appears to be a moon man is sprouting out of the back of the girl's skull like a dandelion.
So it's probably appropriate that she has an alien growing out of her head.
The so-called Solway Spaceman (named after the area where the photo was taken) is clearly visible in the background -- a tall, mysterious figure, clad in what appears to be an interstellar beekeeper's uniform, looming behind the little girl. Neither Templeton nor his wife or daughter could remember anyone else being there when the picture was taken. What's more, the silvery-white phantom astronaut appeared to be directing his gaze at the photographer, watching with his arms ominously akimbo, as if questioning why nobody had managed to notice him.
Kodak offered a reward to anyone who could debunk the photograph, which went unclaimed. To add further slices to this banana sandwich, Templeton claimed to have been questioned about the incident by none other than the Men in Black, who referred to themselves only as Agents Number 9 and Number 11. So you know what that means: Aliens and the Men in Black were behind 9/11.
The Stupid Reality:
The Solway Spaceman was Templeton's wife, Annie, and somehow neither one of them managed to figure this out for like half a fucking century.
After adjusting the colors to match up with other, less-publicized images taken that day, analysis of the overexposed image reveals that the figure in the background is identical to Annie, right down to the blue sleeveless dress she was wearing that day.
Also, she forgot her space helmet at home.
It's entirely possible that Templeton never realized Annie had stepped into frame, because the viewfinder of the camera he was using -- a Contax Pentacon F SLR -- obscured the outer third of the subject (a limitation that the manufacturer doubtlessly touted as a "feature"). Also, she's facing away from the camera, clearly unaware that she's in the shot. It's nothing more than a case of people projecting what they wanted to see onto a blurry image, which in this instance was a time-traveling Buzz Aldrin coming to warn us about Al-Qaeda.
The Secret Satanic Wedding Was An Art Project
Taken from either a drone or a balcony high enough to make Spider-Man shit his underoos, this image appears to be nothing more than a private wedding party getting crashed by some nosy neighbor. At first glance, that is.
Keep looking ...
Stop looking! STOP LOOKING!
Watching the party from a balcony, barely visible in the background of the photograph, is a group of terrifying hooded figures that look like nothing less than Satan's groomsmen. Their obviously evil presence casts the wedding below in an entirely different light. The fact that it's taking place in broad daylight adds an extra creepy touch to the whole affair.
The photo circled the web repeatedly, its mystery inflated by the fact that the unidentified wedding party and unspecified city left the details up to the viewer's imagination (which was still reeling after having spent a solid ten seconds staring at the photo before the hooded figures jumped out like Waldo's damned cousins). Are the cryptic beings there to curse the newly married couple and steal their unborn child in some kind of Omen situation?
The Stupid Reality:
The entire spectacle, stashed discreetly away in a narrow New Orleans' courtyard in the French Quarter, was a 2012 public art project celebrating John Kennedy Toole's famous New-Orleans-set novel A Confederacy Of Dunces. Artist Dawn Dedeaux, seemingly having read the novel's title and heard that it referenced the goddess Fortuna a lot, created her installation The Goddess Fortuna And Her Subjects In An Effort To Make Sense Of It All by gathering up 66 mannequins and fashioning them into a literal confederacy of dunces.
The fact that there are 66 of them was just a happy accident.
The public work was hosted by The Historic New Orleans Collection, which, as far as we know, has only minimal ties to the occult. In the center of the courtyard -- obstructed from view in the viral photo -- was a recreation of the bedroom of the novel's prodigiously masturbating protagonist, Ignatius J. Reilly, accompanied by a ghostly moving image of the aforementioned Fortuna. So, while a gang of hooded mannequins is unequivocally the creepiest thing you could accidentally capture in your wedding photograph, it is by no means evidence of a secret baby-stealing cult hiding out in the French Quarter.
Related: The Cracked Guide To Satanic Rituals
"Ever Dream This Man?" Was An Advertising Experiment
Hey, have you ever had a dream about this guy?
Besides looking like someone who has to notify a federal registry every time he moves to a new address, he's some kind of dream-haunting shadow being. According to the official account, sometime in 2006, an unidentified woman described a balding, moon-faced gentleman with a formidable eyebrow game to her psychiatrist. The man had been appearing to her in her dreams and giving her life advice, because he apparently had some kind of stake in whether or not she got that big promotion.
Soon, the psychiatrist's other patients were describing the very same dreamlands life coach. So he forwarded the description to his colleagues, and soon their patients were describing dreams starring the very same guy, ominously known only as This Man. The story picked up steam and posters seeking more information about This Man began popping up all across the world, demanding to know how many people's subconscious had been invaded by Andrew Lloyd Webber's astral projection.
This Man in Helsinki, Finland.
This Man in Rostov, Russia.
Shockingly, thousands of people around the globe reported seeing this guy's weird face in their dreams. Sometimes he was a helpful figure, lending people meaningful advice. Other times he was Freddy Krueger, murdering the shit out of dreamers' loved ones as they were forced to look on helplessly. Furthermore, many people claimed that This Man told them to "Go North," either hinting toward some sort of catastrophe or conveying his enthusiasm for Elijah Wood's North.
Who is This Man, and how did he slink into our collective unconscious as if it were his own personal Jacuzzi?
The Stupid Reality:
This Man was definitely a product of the imagination. Specifically, a product of the imagination of sociologist and marketer Andrea Natella, a self-appointed "subversive hoaxes" specialist at Italian marketing company Guerriglia Marketing. The whole thing was an elaborate social experiment in the field of "weird art projects exploring pornography, politics, advertising." It was literally created to see how many people would deliberately choose to be fooled by it.
"Ever dream this meme?"
According to Natella, the stunt was designed to gauge suggestibility and highlight the ability of the media and/or advertisers to implant false memories or manipulate thoughts. And judging by the slew of people who claimed to have seen This Man and the overwhelmingly receptive nature of the internet in general, the experiment was shockingly successful. Considering Natella's background, this probably means that we're only a year or two away from advertisers getting us to watch their commercials in our dreams.
Zoroastrianism used to be one of the biggest religions in the world, but their idea of heaven had a slight twist on it: To get there you'd have to cross a bridge, sometimes rickety, sometimes wide and sturdy. If you fell off, you'd go to the House of Lies for eternity. Fun! Not terrifying at all! This month, Jack, Dan, and Michael, along with comedians Casey Jane Ellison and Ramin Nazer discuss their favorite afterlife scenarios from movies, sci-fi, and lesser-known religions. Get your tickets here, and we'll see you on the other side of the bridge!
For more things that Google totally solved, check out 4 Famous Mysteries With Really Obvious Answers and 7 Hotly Debated Movie Questions That Totally Have Answers.
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