5 Icons Who Believed The Exact Opposite Of What You'd Guess
Even the most cartoonish humans you know are complicated on the inside. Smart people can hold some very dumb opinions, and vice versa. (Thus, a U.S. president known for his skills in diplomacy believed the center of the Earth was teeming with mole people.)
We're not saying that any of the famous people on this list were frauds, or that their shocking opinions reveal what they were "really" like. It's just that it's amazing how many contradictory ideas can float around inside a single person's brain.
An Apollo 14 Astronaut Was A Hardcore UFO Conspiracy Theorist
Edgar Mitchell -- Doctor of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT, accomplished pilot, and later an astronaut -- was the sixth person to walk on the Moon, as part of the Apollo 14 mission. (You know the one -- it's when Alan Shepard whacked a few golf balls from the lunar surface and probably accidentally bashed out a window of the Justice League's Watchtower satellite). That's about the last person you'd expect to be overflowing with more alien conspiracy theories than a Roswell gift shop, but Mitchell had a pocketful of goddamned moon rocks to pelt at anyone who spouted off at him about failed expectations.
He kept them after overcoming the initial disappointment of them not being made of cheese.
Mitchell was absolutely convinced that we are not alone in the Universe. But plenty of people would own up to that belief -- considering the staggering number of galaxies, stars, and planets that we know to exist, that's called playing the odds. Mitchell, however, took it one step further. He was an avid devourer of UFO sightings and any and all speculation of alien activity. Furthermore, he was 100-percent convinced that the sheer volume of such reports was concrete evidence that not only have we been visited on multiple occasions by otherworldly tourists, but also that the fact that said visitations were not common public knowledge indicated a government cover-up on a massive scale.
Slap a multi-million-dollar spacesuit on Fox Mulder, and you've got yourself a pretty good approximation of Edgar Mitchell. Except replace the crippling obsession with uncovering evidence with a crippling reliance on batshit supposition.
It's less "I want to believe" and more "Fuck you, I will believe."
Oh, and in case you're thinking all this came about in his later, more senile years: Even back in 1971, while riding a fiery trail of human ingenuity to the Moon, Mitchell conducted a set of unsanctioned experiments with ESP. Basically, he came up with a series of random numbers and thought them real hard toward Earth, while his cohorts back home tried to pick up his think-signals. (You have to admit, if he had gotten results, it'd have been a much bigger discovery than anything we found on the Moon.)
Perhaps overexposure to cosmic radiation pummeled Mitchell's gray matter with crazy beams. Or perhaps, him having stepped closer to the cosmos than damn nigh 100 percent of humanity and all, we should skip any such speculation and grant him a pass on this one.
One small step for a man, one giant leap of logic.
Salvador Dali Had A Literal Hard-On For Fascism
If we were to ask you to picture an eccentric artist, there's approximately a bajillion percent chance that you'd imagine the pointy visage of Salvador Dali. If we were to then ask you to make an assumption on Dali's political views based entirely on his wacky mustache, you'd likely assume he leaned to the left. It'd be a safe bet -- most of his compatriots in the Surrealist movement subscribed to some degree of Marxism -- but it turns out that Dali instead had a thing for the far right.
And by "a thing," we absolutely mean he jerked it to fascism. Dali noted in his autobiography that Hitler "turned him on in the highest," and he unabashedly admitted to dreaming of the Fuhrer in the way other men dreamt of women.
So much for "I am not mad."
This, um, infatuation even found its way into Dali's artwork. He maintained some modicum of subtlety in 1939's The Enigma Of Hitler:
Try to see that big, gooey droplet the same way ever again.
But any trace of restraint went straight out the window with his later work, Hitler Masturbating. Yes, it's precisely what it sounds like (except add tiny horses, because Dali):
Playing pocket pool is easier with only one cue ball.
While that's entirely bad enough, it seems Dali's fascism boner went far beyond a bizarre sexual obsession with tiny mustaches and pressed khaki. Long after Captain America put a decisive end to the Nazis' bullshit by punching Hitler square in the jaw, Dali continued to suckle the ideological teat of the much-hated Caudillo of Spain, Francisco Franco -- a dictator responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths of those who had the severe bad luck of possessing ideologies that conflicted with that of Francisco Franco. While this later obsession didn't result in any paintings of the Caudillo himself, Dali did paint a portrait of his granddaughter. Thankfully, it's dick-free.
By which we mean Franco isn't in it.
Michael Crichton Thought Global Warming Was Bullshit And That Secondhand Smoke Didn't Cause Cancer
Michael Crichton was the best-selling writer and Harvard-trained physician responsible for using plausible science to clone dinosaurs, and for making everyone itch to repopulate the world with little scrubs-wearing George Clooneys. Lesser-known footnotes in his biography include how he thought global warming was an overhyped scam and that secondhand cigarette smoke never hurt a fly.
So it's probably a good thing he decided to start leaving the medical work to the imaginary doctors.
Back in 2005, Crichton was called to testify before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works by none other than Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, who once famously called global warming "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people." Why would a guy who wrote about dinosaur gonads be chosen as an expert witness for such a hearing? Probably because he had recently published State Of Fear, an eco-thriller in which his characters discover that climate change is at best an inaccurate conclusion reached by way of shoddy science, and at worst an elaborate scam concocted to line the pockets of Big Hippie.
And lest you think this was simply a work of fiction intended to employ controversy to help Crichton reach the top of yet another best-seller list, the text was rife with footnotes pointing to real "studies" which went against the overwhelming scientific consensus. All to convince those in charge that less money should be thrown toward reeling in human-induced climate change, presumably in favor of more velociraptor-based science.
Nuttier yet were Crichton's views on secondhand smoke. The author's aforementioned medical expertise apparently qualified him to tour our nation's universities and inform the up-and-coming generation that, despite the opinion of the entirety of the medical community to the contrary, spending prolonged periods in nightclubs with thick, tobacco-flavored air couldn't possibly hurt you.
Proof that breathing in secondhand bullshit can be harmful, too.
Now, to be fair, Crichton was always clear that he was in favor of anti-smoking legislation, and that smoking did in fact cause cancer ... but only for those actively doing it. So we're honestly not sure what his endgame was here, other than to demonstrate that he -- a scientist who chose to make shit up for a living -- was smarter than all the collective scientists who actually science for a living.
Al Jolson, The World's Greatest (Blackface) Entertainer, Fought For The Inclusion Of Blacks In Entertainment
Yeah, sometimes famous people can hold pleasantly surprising beliefs.
Al Jolson, star of The Jazz Singer (the film which heralded the arrival of movies with sound), was once deemed "The World's Greatest Entertainer." (He was deemed that by himself, true, but no one exactly argued against it.) There's a damned good chance his name doesn't fill you with reverence today, though, and that's all because he chose to go a bit too heavy on his stage makeup.
Yep. That heavy.
At the height of his fame, Jolson's popularity dwarfed that of later stars such as Frank Sinatra, and his captivating stage presence and infectious singing voice brought heaps of Broadway audiences to tears. However, due to his career having hit at a ... oh, let's say "tumultuous" time in our nation's history, and his heavy reliance on blackface, his true impact is difficult to gauge today.
Another thing that's difficult to gauge? The monumental leaps and bounds he made for civil rights in the entertainment industry.
And not in the "I totally have a black friend" way other assholes cite when caught in blackface.
As early as 1911 -- the same year Nebraska outlawed interracial marriage -- Jolson was fighting like hell for the inclusion of a black dance team in his show on the aptly named "Great White Way." It was thanks to Jolson's support (plus an assist from then-POTUS Calvin Coolidge) that African-American playwright Garland Anderson was able to mount the very first all-black production on Broadway in 1925. As a result of his efforts, Jolson was reportedly the only white man permitted to enter Leroy's (a popular Harlem nightclub), and he returned the favor by integrating his own private parties.
It seems it's important to keep things in perspective, even when said perspective feels icky. Though we tend to look back on The Jazz Singer's reliance on blackface with disgust, at the time of its release, Harlem newspaper Amsterdam News highly praised the film and said that "every colored performer is proud of [Jolson]." It's like America said, "Okay, we'll let you expose us to black culture, but you have to do something weird and racist at the same time, it's only fair."
Fred Phelps Of The Westboro Baptist Church And Jim Jones Of Jonestown Both Fought For Civil Rights
Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps spent his life trying to convince the world to believe in some sort of Bizarro Jesus who taught that love is hate and hate is the path to salvation. And unfortunately for the world, he succeeded ... or at least, he did inasmuch as it concerned the congregation of a single Kansas church with one hell of a travel budget. This is a man who built his life on a foundation of unimaginable bigotry. But before he laid a single giant-asshole-stone of said foundation by raising his first "God Hates Fags" protest sign, he spent the 1960s battling for civil rights.
It was that weird "love" thing everyone else insists God's all about.
That's right: As a civil rights attorney in Topeka, Kansas -- one of the most important battlegrounds of the Civil Rights Movement -- the man who spent the latter half of his life teaching humans to hate other humans spent his younger years defending the victims of similar hatred. Not only that, but he was the go-to civil rights attorney in Topeka. The "first lawyer blacks would call when they thought they were being discriminated against."
He went from that to a guy so hateful, even fucking Bob Jones University pretends he never went there.
Phelps tackled the cases that everyone else in racially charged Topeka shunned, earning scads of African Americans their God-given rights and earning a shitload of money doing so ... money which, sadly, must have come in handy for the founding and expansion of a certain church that will forever be his legacy. While his defense of black rights seems at odds with his utter disdain for gay rights, according to his daughter, it all makes sense because blacks never chose to be black, while gays choose who they're attracted to on a multiple-choice exam at puberty or some shit.
Phelps' ability to whip his followers into a destructive frenzy -- as well as his startling racial equality track record -- shares a disturbing parallel with Jim Jones of "drink the Kool-Aid" fame. Long before he was luring his followers to his remote eponymous cult-city and convincing them to commit mass suicide, Jones was such a radical integrationist that it cost him his first preaching gig. Before he ever thought of cutting grape drink with cyanide, he helped desegregate schools and hospitals as the director of the Indianapolis Human Rights Commission.
He had the "future cult leader" face down pat from the start, however.
He was also the first white man to adopt a black child in the state of Indiana -- and he did so the same year civil rights activists were fighting simply to sit wherever they wanted on the goddamned bus. His ultimate dream was to father a rainbow family to head up an entire rainbow congregation ... a dream which he arguably accomplished, right before he fucking murdered them all.
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