Fact: there’s definitely a lot our government isn’t telling us. We’re not talking about conspiracy theories, like who really shot JFK or that Area 51 is really populated by little green men. We mean the secrets hiding in plain sight, some of which we’ve found out about, and some of which are still mysterious. Speaking of Area 51—whatever is going on there the government is still weirdly secretive about. As that old saying goes, if you’re not a little bit paranoid, you’re not paying attention.
Here are 5 secrets that the U.S. government has tried to keep from its citizens, and what we do (and don’t) know about them so far. And for more fun trivia, check out these 20 Secrets Disney Employees Won’t Tell You.
Could drugs and hypnosis be used to control people’s minds and turn them into unwitting assassins for the CIA? That’s what the agency attempted to discover in the 50s, with a top-secret research program called Project MK-ULTRA. Turns out, LSD just makes people want to listen to 45 minute guitar solos.
There were a lot of crazy attempts to assassinate Cuban dictator Fidel Castro during the 70s, from booby-trapped cigars to poison milkshakes, but none quite so nutty as the exploding seashell. The CIA knew that Castro was a big fan of scuba-diving, so they plotted to plant a brightly colored conch shell in one of his favorite dive spots, triggered to explode when he touched it. They never followed through on it, although the CIA director did purchase two books on Caribbean mollusks. And for more great trivia, check out the 28 most enduring myths in American history.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt didn’t want the public to see him using a wheelchair, so to keep that secret during his visits to New York, his train didn’t stop directly at Grand Central Station, but rather a secret station called Track 61 that was never listed on any train map. Although it’s now abandoned, the station was used by wealthy travelers and high-profile politicians who wanted to come and go to New York without being noticed. And for more historical facts, here are 30 things you never knew about royal weddings.
No, this isn’t a joke. The CIA seriously spent millions in the late 60s investigating whether domesticated cats could be trained to spy on the Soviet Union. The project was named Acoustic Kitty, because of course it was. It didn’t work out, much to the surprise of nobody, but we still have this memorandum, published by the National Security Archive, to prove that spy kitties was almost a real thing. Oh, and speaking of cats: Here are 15 Amazing Benefits of Adopting a Pet.
Listen, if you need to test what happens to human bodies during radioactive fallout and you need around 900 human cadavers to do so, you can’t be expected to “ask” all the deceased’s families for their permission. Or at least that’s what researchers for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission thought during the 50s. Decades later, in the mid-90s, President Bill Clinton formed an advisory committee to investigate and learned the whole staggering truth.
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