5 Unsolved Mysteries That Aren't As Unsolved As You Think
Mysteries are a wonderful thing. They keep our curiosity going, and they're what we all secretly or not-so-secretly aspire to ruin thoroughly by revealing the smoke and mirrors that no one can ever unsee after learning about them.
Incidentally, that's precisely what we're going to do today. We've been down the mystery-solving road before, and, somehow, we're still alive. So, for one more time, come and join me as we set out to reveal the secrets of all the world's unsolved creepiness, and hope like hell that the Illuminati doesn't catch u-
The Voynich Manuscript May Be Just An Elaborate Hoax
The Voynich manuscript.
Oh, man, the Voynich manuscript.
Out of all the un-crackable codes in history, this 15th-century codex takes the cake. From its elaborate, fantastical illustrations to its 240 pages of batshit insane, seemingly indecipherable gibberish, this exercise in nigh-impossible cipher has baffled even the toughest cryptographers ever since its emergence to public consciousness in 1912, when a Polish book dealer named Wilfrid Voynich purchased it. No one knows who made it, or how, or why. All they know is that it's a giant fuck you to the sharpest code-breakers the world has ever known. Here, look at it:
Yes, yes. Now, look closer:
Now, grab the nearest jug of bathtub-grade moonshine, ingest it, wait for 15 minutes, and look at those pages again while screaming to the uncaring skies about the snake demons currently vying over the control of your head. That is how every cryptographer feels like when they're looking at this thing.
The Likely Solution:
There are two ways we could go here. We could look at the University of Bedfordshire professor, who says he managed to identify several names of stars and plants in the manuscript in 2014. This may well be true. He's a professor of applied linguistics, and I'm some fucker with an Internet connection -- who am I to question him?
Even so, seeing as we're talking about a piece of work literally no one else has come even close to cracking, I feel like bringing up an alternative point, from way further back in history. Back in the dark ages of 2004, a researcher called Gordon Rugg came across a novel idea: What if the Voynich manuscript seems like total bullshit because it is total bullshit? Rugg started tinkering with several era-appropriate forgery techniques and found that a ciphering method known as Cardan grille, an old favorite of a certain Cardinal Richelieu, could, when used with a sufficient table of syllables, easily produce scores of ciphered-language-seeming gibberish.
"Dude, you can't turn me into the villain of every story
just because Tim Curry played me once."
Sure, the Voynich manuscript still had several sections that differed from Rugg's Cardan grille method, but come on: It also has several J.R.R. Tolkiens' worth of random-ass, yet painstakingly created, imagery. According to Rugg's estimations, a Cardan-grilled Voynich manuscript would take about four months to create, and ancient Europeans did have the time and the inclination for some serious trolling. After all, wacky literary pranks have created things ranging from crusades to freaking Mongol invasions. Is it really so hard to believe that Richelieu (yes, we all know it was you, Cardinal) scored some 100-year-old vellum and hired some expert scribe to punk Athos? No. No, it isn't.
There's a Good Reason D.B. Cooper Was Never Caught
If you've ever given a passing glance at the concept of unsolved crimes, you've heard of D.B. Cooper, heist-master extraordinaire and a possible Tommy Wiseau in disguise. The 1971 criminal mastermind who courteously hijacked a plane with a "Got a bomb, ma'am"-type note, ransomed the crew for $200,000, and jumped into terror weather while still wearing street clothes is the stuff of legends, and his status as a Cracked article alum will forever defend his reputation as such.
But, seriously, who the shit was the guy?
Yeah, probably not Tommy Wiseau.
The Likely Solution:
Right from the beginning, the FBI had an extremely good description of the man. Over the years, they've had more than 1,000 suspects, nine of whom are even good enough to warrant their own Wikipedia mentions. Yet, out of these hordes of suspects, they haven't been able to make a single convincing case. Why is this?
I would say it's because they haven't seen him. Because the real D. B. Cooper died jumping.
As we stated in the article I linked to above, the FBI has always stated that Cooper is almost certainly dead. However, many Cooper-romantics forget that the Feds actually have plenty of reason to assume so. They know for a fact that the hijacker was no expert skydiver. They used to think the guy was a paratrooper or something, what with his chosen method of escape. However, after a few years, they realized that his skydiving chops were in fact closer to a potato than an experienced parachute guy: he'd jumped in pitch-black, stormy conditions, over harsh terrain, in the worst possible gear short of actually having his dick hanging out with a lightning rod strapped to his balls. Also, there was the minor fact that he hadn't even checked his gear, and jumped with the worse of the two main parachutes provided -- one that even had its reserve chute sewn shut. But maybe someone on the ground was ready for him? Nope! Guy didn't coordinate his jump with the crew at all, and jumped above a thick cloud cover. Even if he had a bouncy castle full of lustful supermodels set up to catch him, the chances for him to find it were roughly the same as the chances for you to bump into that same bouncy castle outside your house.
Wait, what were we talking about?
I fully get that many people like to think that Cooper waltzed away in the sunset, gave all of his heist money to the nearest orphanage's whiskey tasting fund, and returned to his day job as Don Draper. He was the very epitome of courteous cool -- at least, as much as you can be while robbing shit off people. Hell, I kind of want him to be reading these words somewhere in the Bahamas, quietly smirking at yet another idiot who pretends to know his fate. But, that's not how the laws of probability work when you're jumping from an airplane over shitty terrain, in absurdly shitty weather, in loafers and a trench coat, while attempting to hang on to a giant bag of money, and using the shittiest parachute available to you in the circumstances. That's not a criminal mastermind. That's a stuntman for Wile E. Coyote.
Even so, the case continues to fascinate people. The FBI may largely keep the file open because it's a blemish -- the single unsolved skyjacking in their history -- but, that's not to say some of its agents aren't still diving headfirst in the case. For instance, elderly ex-agent Richard Tosaw took time to physically search for Cooper every year -- at the river where some of the ransom money was found in 1980 and where he's sure the hijacker's body lies, buried by time in a sand bank or some mud.
Related: 4 Famous Crimes Everybody Gets Wrong
The Loch Ness Monster Is Probably A Damn Fish
The Loch Ness Monster is a mysterious hominid that stalks the forests of the Pacific Northwest. Large, hairy, and bipedal, it has been captured on many (generally questionable) photos and videos, and its rather suspect tufts of hair, fangs, and pelts remain the chief attraction of many an otherwise unremarkable roadside log diner.
"I see what you did there."
The Likely Solution:
The Loch Ness Monster -- Nessie herself -- actually exists. Too bad it's this fuckin' guy:
Holy dingleberries, that's actually worse! I would rather take my chances with a random plesiosaur bumbling about a lake than risk that giant turd with an underbite hovering right below me with that creepy look on its face.
Still, that right there is the Loch Ness Monster, at least if you listen to Steve Feltham, one of the most dedicated Nessie researchers out there. The 52-year-old Feltham has sacrificed pretty much everything in his life to research the Loch Ness Monster, only to finally reach a conclusion earlier this year: It's a damn catfish. The Loch Ness Monster is a catfish.
"You'll hear from my lawyer."
Although Feltham himself makes no claims to having conclusively solved the mystery, here's some history to back his case up: Wels catfish are carnivores that are largely nocturnal and prone to lurking in dark places. They can grow up to 13 feet long and weigh up to 880 pounds, so the "around the size of a car" descriptive commonly used for the "monster" matches. They can live at least 50 years, so sightings over the years could well be attributed to the same few individuals.
Oh, and the fish may very well have been introduced to the Loch by the noblemen of the Victorian era. Coincidence?
Sky Trumpets Are Likely Even More Awesome Than They Sound
Roughly this creepy.
If you didn't watch that video with sound on, that's around the time when you'd better dust off your pet Legolas, because, judging by the noise, that horde of oliphaunts is coming at you pretty damn fast. So ... what was that unholy noise of your kid brother's first trumpet lesson times 2 million? Was it aliens? Was it the end times? The Bible says something about trumpets and the apocalypse, doesn't it? Shit, we're all doomed, just like when the Mayan calendar conclusively and world-destroyingly ended!
The Likely Solution:
Did you know that our planet actually constantly screeches and groans? Our pathetic ears are just too weak to hear its song most of the time.
Wait, is that what dogs are hearing all the damn time?
Let's hear it from a little-known institution called fuckin' NASA, who chalk the whole thing up to a phenomenon known as ambient Earth noise. If our precious planet is a butt, this is the civilized fart to the full-on diarrhea blasts of earthquakes and volcanoes. Of course, NASA admits this is just a potential explanation. The agency uses words such as "potentially" and "could," because that's what you do when you're a trained scientist debunking shit in people's YouTube videos, especially when lacking 100 percent scientific confirmation.
Still, just the fact that the NASA bothers to step in and say, "Eh, it's probably nothing," tells me that our lives are probably not about to turn into the "Invasion of the Trumpet Gods" episode of Doctor Who. I've said this once, and I'll say it again: Whether it's E.T. who comes knocking or the Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse, there's no one on Earth that would quicker knock themselves out with a glee-boner than NASA, if only because its budget is about to quintuple in a hurry. If NASA is saying, "Yeah, that's probably just some natural phenomenon," it's likely followed with a mental sigh and an asterisked liner note that states: " ... this time."
Well, that, or NASA could be covering some nasty-ass HAARP experimental weapon searching to mentally control us all. It's your call, really.
The Lead Masks Case Victims Were Most Likely Dumbass Cultists
Long-time Cracked readers may remember reading about the Lead Masks Case right here on this site. A short summary: In 1966, two Brazilian electricians dropped dead on a hill. They were both wearing raincoats, business suits, small towels, and, you guessed it, creepy-ass lead masks. On the scene, a notebook was found. It told them to "be at the scene" at 16:30 and, two hours later, ingest "the pills" and wait for their effects in order to "protect metals wait for mask signal." Did they die because of the pills? Maybe! We don't know, because the authorities fucked up the toxicology report. But, it almost certainly wasn't a planned double suicide, because -- apart from their weird-ass clothing and mysterious notes -- they had bought some water before, and one of them still had the receipt to return the bottle.
Aaaaaaaaaand that's what we know.
Here, let me save you that Google image search about the masks. Disappointing, no?
This wonderfully insane story has been a personal favorite of mine ever since I saw that piece I'm just going to go ahead and link to again because fuck you, I like it. To this day, I periodically visit the case, stare at the wall for a while, and go: "Huh." Then, I either locate a bottle of whiskey or run repeatedly at said wall until the neighbors get tired of the noise and grab their official Pauli Pitchforks, just to get my mind off the indecipherable madness that lies behind the thin veil of reality. So, you know what? Maybe we should just leave this one be. Some stories are best left unsolved and gawked at a respectable distance.
Yeah. Just this once, let's do that.
The Likely Solution:
Aaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh! Why do I keep doing this to myself?
Ah, fuck it, here we go: They were cultists. Boring, random, creepy-yet-explainable-by-everyday-lunacy cultists.
Oh, there were many weird aspects to the story and so, so many ways I could bring this to the Twilight Zone ... zone. The whole "protect the metals, wait for mask signal" thing. The fact that someone reported seeing an actual UFO at the scene (though, shockingly, a couple of days after the bodies were found, almost like they were desperate for attention or something). The ... everything.
"Look, leave us out of this. We just popped down to gawk at the
masks of those two dudes when they suddenly dropped dead."
It should be a perfect mystery. Yet, I find myself aligning with Skeptoid investigator Brian Dunning, who peered into the Lead Masks abyss in 2014. Tracking down former research and evidence, he learned that the two victims were friends with a local man called Elcio Gomes, and the three had been tinkering with some gadget that had exploded in one of the victim's garden two months prior to the deaths. He also found out that police had brought Gomes in for at least two questionings, and he revealed that the trio had been part of a scientific-spiritual group looking to establish contact with -- wait for it -- Martians. The exploding device had been a part of that kooky mission. A local guru guy also revealed that the area's spiritualists had been in the habit of ingesting all sorts of drugs. Oh, and the trio had originally been a quartet, and the fourth guy had been found dead on a different hill wearing the exact same attire four years before the incident.
So, yeah. As much as it kills me, and as much as I realize one guy's research is all I have to support any of this, I can't help but feel that my favorite mystery can be solved with an average raver's Friday night: stupid beliefs, awful clothes, and bad drugs.
Gas mask killer or harmless S&M enthusiast? You decide in 5 Creepy Unsolved Mysteries (That Have Totally Been Solved), or learn how the Shroud of Turin is a hoax in 7 Famous Unsolved Mysteries (Science Solved Years Ago).
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