American Oddities – WIF Fun Facts

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Facts About

America

That Make

No Sense

to Foreigners

America. It’s one of the biggest countries on Earth, both in terms of population and sheer size. It’s the planet dominating superpower; the heaviest hitter where culture is concerned; a place known by nearly every single human on the planet… and, to all but the 4-5% of humanity who live there, it makes absolutely no gosh darn sense.

 See, despite its cultural clout, America still seems deeply weird to foreigners. And we don’t just mean people who come from repressive kingdoms and tin-pot dictatorships. Europeans, people from Southeast Asia, Australians and Brits all find yuge chunks of life in the good ol’ US-of-A beyond comprehension. If you were born stateside, the following might not seem super crazy to you. But trust us, every single foreigner is reading this with their jaw dangling open and their eyeballs popping out.

10. US Toddlers Shoot One Person a Week

Americans sure love guns. The US has the highest rate of gun-ownership on planet Earth, and the least-restrictive gun laws (only Switzerland comes close). That’s all thanks to the 2nd Amendment, which has been the subject of near-constant debate since being written.

But it’s not the sheer number of guns in America that really astounds foreigners. It’s the crazy things that leads to. Things like US toddlers shooting one person a week.

There’s literally no other country on Earth you could write that sentence about. Even countries that are swimming in guns, like Serbia, Norway, and Switzerland, don’t have toddlers blowing one another away. To be fair, they have tiny populations, but, to be even fairer, c’mon buddy. US toddlers have shot on average one person a week (including themselves) for the past two years. Even war zones don’t have numbers like that.

More bizarre still, America keeps on arming its toddlers. In 2016, Iowa made it legal for babies to handle loaded guns. That’s right. The guys in the Hawkeye State elected to arm the very babies that are trying to shoot them. How’s that for hubris?

9. Bestiality is Still Legal in 9 US States (but premarital sex is outlawed)

Despite this being 2017, plenty of US States still have sex laws on the books that are… unenlightened, to say the least. And by that, we mean they were seemingly written by two guys named Festus and Bubba while necking with their pet hog Clancy.

Incredible as it may seem, there are nearly ten US States where it is still legal to have sexual intercourse with animals. We say ‘nearly’ ten, because one’s the District of Columbia (not a state, kids!). The other nine are Hawaii, Kentucky, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming. In addition, plenty of states still only consider bestiality a misdemeanor.

This would be odd enough if the US was a spectacularly licentious place, but it’s not. In addition to allowing you to marry your best-est sow, four states still outlaw either premarital or extramarital sex, or co-habiting with your partner prior to marriage. While the laws are effectively never enforced, the fact they’re still on the statute books attests to America’s unique mix of religious piety and deep-seated desire to mimic the guys from Deliverance.

8. The Highest Paid Public Employee in 39 States is a Sports Coach

Go to any other country in the Western world – Canada, Germany, the Czech Republic, New Zealand, wherever – and the highest-paid public employee will be someone working in a selfless capacity. They’ll be the guys and gals running universities, or public hospitals, or the local council. America, though, laughs in the face of such devotion to the public good. Instead of rewarding headmasters or doctors or teachers, the highest public pay package in 39 states goes to sports coaches. Specifically, guys coaching football or men’s basketball.

We’re not talking comparatively small sums, either. The salaries involved would be enviable in the private sector. University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban, for example, rakes in over $7 million, plus bonuses, likely making him one of the highest-paid public employees not living in a corrupt dictatorship. For those from outside the states, this seems less extravagant, and more like an absolute inability to get priorities right.

Only Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New York, Nevada, New Hampshire, Vermont and both Dakotas refuse to award their highest public pay packet to a football or men’s basketball coach. Interestingly, both Hawaii and Vermont, as you’ll remember from a second ago, still technically allow bestiality. We’re really not sure what to make of that.

7. Over Half of All Americans Don’t Hold a Valid Passport

In 2014, polling company YouGov revealed only 8% of Britons had never left their country of birth to travel abroad. While this is maybe not all that super-impressive (Britain is tiny and France is close), it puts the US to shame. The same poll found only 50% of Americans would admit to ever having left the country. That’s nearly 160 million people who have never been to Canada or Mexico, let alone Europe or Asia.

For people who were born in Europe, that’s almost like saying you’ve never seen a glass of water. The idea of not going abroad from time to time is alien. In places like Germany, over 90% of the population hold a valid passport, and you better believe they use it.

But that’s Europe, we hear you cry, it’s a small continent with, like, a bazillion countries. Well, first, we’re pretty sure you’re exaggerating there, bud. Secondly, look at Australia, a country nearly as big as the US, and more cut-off from the rest of the world. According to official data, one third of the population goes abroad every single year. That compares to 50% of Americans over their entire lifetimes. Clearly, the US is a travel-averse country.

6. 30% of Americans Prefer Saving Money to Vital Medical Treatment

Compared to other developed nations, healthcare in the US is expensive. You can blame that on too much Obamacare, or not enough of it, but the fact remains that public systems, private systems, and public-private systems elsewhere in the world all deliver better service at lower cost. This alone can seem staggering to foreigners. Then there’s the American attitude to health. Faced with a serious illness or injury, around 30 percent of Americans would rather walk it off than pay for treatment.

 This… simply doesn’t happen elsewhere. Norway has the second most-expensive healthcare in the world, and pretty much no-one there avoids necessary treatment. Japan has an insurance-based, private system with payments often covered by employers, just like the US, and people don’t skip out on medical care. To find other people choosing money over hospitalization, you have to leave the developed world behind and start poking around in poorer countries where wages are low and healthcare unaffordable.

We’re not trying to rag on American healthcare here. America has some of the best doctors and hospitals going. But the idea that you’d choose money over health (or that you’d have to choose)? To non-Americans, that’s insane.

5. 7 States Have Custody Rights for Rapists

OK, let’s turn to some really, really dark stuff now. There exists a certain subsection of guys who like to rape women. Occasionally, this results in their victims getting pregnant. Depending on where they live and their religious convictions, the women may then decide to carry the baby to term. Now, here’s where it gets creepy. In around 7 states, it’s perfectly legal for the rapist-father to sue for custody of his newborn child.

Imagine that for a second. You’ve been violently assaulted, gone through the hell of guilt and self-recrimination, been courageous enough to bring the resulting baby into the world… and now you’re forced to watch as the D-bag who hurt you decides he wants to be a father to your son/daughter. Well, if you live in Alabama, Mississippi, Maryland, New Mexico, North Dakota, Wyoming or Minnesota, that can totally happen.

In addition, there are 20 more states where it might be legal. In Indiana, for example, you can only block the rapist from seeking custody if you remember to do so within 3 months of your baby being born. This is some seriously dark stuff, and we guarantee that if you mention it to anyone from elsewhere in the developed world, their jaws will drop so low they hit the ground. Sure, some Middle East states may have even-worse laws, but that’s not really a benchmark to aspire to.

4. America Has More Self-Identified Patriots than Anywhere Else on Earth

In July 2016, Gallup released the results of their yearly patriotism poll. They found 52% of Americans call themselves “extremely patriotic”, the lowest level in polling history. The news triggered a slew of introspective articles by American writers, wondering what had gone wrong. For those reading elsewhere in the world, it felt like stepping through the looking glass. 52% is such a good score it leaves other countries eating the USA’s dust.

Such levels of patriotism simply don’t exist in the rest of the developed world. In a similar survey by YouGov, only 13% of Brits thought their country was “the best in the world.” That was the highest score in the EU. Germany and France got only 5% each. The second and third highest-ranking countries globally, India and Australia, scored 34% and 36%. But the US? The US busted through the 40% mark, with an additional 32% claiming America was at the very least “better than most other countries.”

For the majority of foreigners, the idea of showing US-levels of patriotism is simply alien. You will never see a flag in every yard in any other country on Earth. But that’s the US public for you: optimistic to a tee. Even if they’re unhappy with their current government, folks still believe that the idea of America itself is worth believing in.

3. Americans are More Likely to Get Bitten by Other Americans than Rats

The stereotype is that Americans likes three things: football, fast food, and violence (often all at once). It’s true that America’s murder rate is crazy-high. It’s also true that the national sport is getting drunk and starting bar-fights. But surely it’s not as bad as all that?

Well, we hate to break it to you, but this arresting statistic says otherwise. If you live in America, you are more likely to be bitten by another American than you are by a rat.

To be clear, this isn’t because US rats are particularly docile or rare on the ground. Cities like New York are completely infested, and people get bitten all the freakin’ time. There are over 40,000 rat bites recorded in America each year. The only trouble is, there are at least 45,000 human bites recorded right alongside them.

Again, this is a freaky fact for Americans, too. But, also again, it’s just something that doesn’t happen in most other countries. Sure, drunks in Britain like to hit each other, and Italian soccer hooligans are violent as heck, but biting enough people to outstrip rats? It’s something we can’t imagine happening anywhere else.

2. Americans Take ‘Fast Food’ Extremely Literally

The US is the birthplace of fast food. It’s the nation that brought the world the drive-thru, perfected the snack, and coined the phrase “lunch is for wimps.” Foreigners know all this intellectually. But confront them with a statistic like the following, and it’ll still blow their minds. Americans, you see, are the 3rd fastest eaters on Earth. On an average day, Americans spend only 74 minutes eating, nearly the lowest in the world.

That’s only slightly over 20 minutes each for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and far less if you include time put aside for eating snacks. If you live in the USA, this probably doesn’t seem so weird to you (the working lunch is an American specialty), but if you live elsewhere… man, you’re probably wondering how the heck they do it. In France, the average eating time is 135 minutes a day. In Turkey, it’s 162 minutes. Even in Japan, where people work far longer hours than in the US, they still manage to put aside 117 minutes a day for chow. The only other countries to spend as little time eating are Canada (72 minutes) and Mexico (under 70 minutes).

This is probably to do with both the American hard work ethic and fast food culture, which prioritizes productivity over relaxation. The same can be seen in a related statistic on cooking times. Nowhere else on Earth do people spend as little time cooking each day as in America.

1. Government Departments Have Official Advice for Reporting Elvis Sightings

One of the things foreigners know about the US is that it’s full of wackos seeing wacko things. There’s a reason The X-Files was so popular 20 years ago. But it’s one thing to hear about guys filming shaky footage of Bigfoot on their cell phone. It’s another entirely to hear that actual US government departments have official advice for reporting Elvis sightings.

Here, for example, is a link to the Federal government’s official website for copyright. Hover your mouse over the link. See that it ends .gov? It’s impossible for anyone not representing a government entity to register a .gov address. This site is legit. It’s part of the Federal government, and paid for by taxpayers’ money. And it includes official advice on how to copyright your sighting of Elvis.

 This isn’t a joke section put up by some lighthearted bureaucrat indulging a whim. It’s completely, mind-bogglingly serious. Which means the government was getting deluged with enough requests about Elvis sightings that they went to the trouble to post official advice about it. OK, say it with me now, altogether: only in America.

American Oddities

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– WIF Fun Facts

Not Your Granddad’s Christmas – WIF Customs and Traditions

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Unusual Christmas

Traditions From

Around the World

In the United States, Christmas is celebrated in ways that are, at least to Americans, fairly banal by now. America and a lot of Western countries with extremely similar traditions (many of which are provide the origin of US traditions) have a Santa Claus figure who brings gifts to the good children, many people go to church, and of course, there’s all the delicious food and time spent with family. However, while these traditions are perfectly enjoyable, many other countries or cultures have Christmas celebrations and traditions that many Americans might find quite zany, but would also likely consider to be a lot of fun.

10. The Japanese Eat KFC On Christmas

In America and many Western countries, Christmas dinner is usually an absolutely ridiculous affair. Aside from a giant turkey being fairly traditional, people will also go to great lengths to make side dish after side dish, sometimes spending the whole day (or even days before) preparing the meal. However, in Japan, things are done a bit differently. Now, people in Japan don’t really celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday (most Japanese people are Shinto), but over the past few decades, they have made up their own Christmas tradition that they are now quite wild for.

It started out in 1970, when the manager of the first KFC in Japan, Takeshi Okawara, heard some Americans talking about how hard it was to get a turkey in Japan for Christmas and how much they missed that, and he had a light bulb moment to bring Americans who had moved to Japan a taste of Christmas. He created what he called, at the time, the KFC Party Barrel, and it took off with the Japanese public — even those who knew little or didn’t care about Christmas. Nowadays, people reserve their KFC Christmas order weeks in advance, and lines on the day of stretch out the door, often reaching 10-times usual sales. These are not your normal KFC boxes, either, as they often contain things like chocolate cake and champagne as well.

9. The American Jewish Tradition Of Eating Chinese And Going To The Movies

In recent years, a meme has been passed around showing a sign written — supposedly by the Chinese Restaurant Association of America — saying they don’t understand why Jewish people eat at Chinese restaurants on Christmas, but that they appreciate the business all the same. While the meme is of dubious veracity, the tradition itself is certainly real. It stretches all the way back to 1899, when Jewish newspapers would criticize Jewish people for eating at Chinese restaurants, for fear of breaking Kosher.

Today, most American Jews do go out for Chinese on Christmas, and often go to see a movie as well. This isn’t because Jewish people have a religious reason that forces them to eat Chinese on Christmas, as the alleged meme suggests, but because it’s the only thing that is ever open. Of course, when it comes to doing something besides eating, you are pretty much just left with going to the movies, which has also become a very common tradition for American Jews. It’s a way for them to not feel entirely left out, or at least stuck inside, on a day where most places shut down.

8. The Catalan Poop Log

Some people may think Mr. Hanky from South Park is bizarre and gross, but oftentimes truth is actually both stranger, and grosser, than fiction. In the Catalan region of Spain, people still celebrate the holidays with a traditional poop log. The log isn’t made out of actual poop — it is made out of wood. However, the log is made up to look kind of like a sentient poop log, and is brought out on the feast of the immaculate conception. Children spend the days up until Christmas Eve ritually “feeding” the log every night, and even go so far as to make sure it’s tucked in with a nice warm blanket.

On Christmas Eve, the children beat the fake poop log with sticks and sing songs about having good bowel movements, before finally removing the blanket to find treats and gifts underneath the log. This is may sound disgusting to most people, but to the people of Catalan, it is a tradition that goes back a long way, and has its roots centered in wishing(s) of good health. Another strange tradition in Catalan is a man named Caganer, who is depicted as a statue of a man squatting and defecating, often by the nativity scene. While some may consider this disrespectful, it is really just a ritual to bring fertility in farming for the next year.

7. The Chinese Sort Of Celebrate Christmas, But In A Very Different Way Than Most Countries

As many people know, China isn’t exactly all that friendly to religious people. While laws restricting religion have relaxed somewhat over the years, it is still not easy to be religious. If you want to join the Communist Party, and have any real power in the country, you have to entirely denounce religion. Christmas is observed by many non-Christians in China, but the observation is much more secular, as China has had a real war on religious celebrations for quite some time.

However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a fun time; you just cannot expect it to have the religious solemnity or significance you are used to. Chinese people celebrate it more like a holiday where you go out and spend time with friends, instead of staying at home to be with family like many do on Christmas. In China, Santas will show up at the mall — typically in groups — with several of Santa’s “sisters” instead of the usual elves. The sisters are usually good-looking young women dressed vaguely like American “elves.” Giving away apples on Christmas is also a common tradition, often decorated with various well wishes since the word apple sounds close to the greeting for Christmas Eve in Mandarin.

6. In Venezuela, They Roller Skate To Church On Christmas Day

As a country, Venezuela is going through a rough patch right now, but their economy and government were in a much better position not even that long ago — they’ve recently had a dramatic drop in oil production that’s had an enormous impact on the nation. Despite the toll the oil drop has taken on their economy and political stability, the country still has a certain sort of whimsy about it, and there are some Christmas traditions that will likely live on even in the worst of times.

One of the strangest traditions in Venezuela is that they like to roller skate to church on Christmas Day. In fact, the government is so used to this happening that they close the streets until about 8 a.m. on Christmas morning to make the roads safer for the ridiculous amount of people who go to church as a family… on roller skates. Some of the priests are not particularly enthralled, and will attempt to get their congregations to refrain, but it hasn’t seemed to have slowed down the tradition in the least.

While no one knows what the reason behind the tradition is for sure, some suggest it may be an alternate to sledding or other winter sports often enjoyed around that season, as Venezuela does not have the climate. As well as riding around on roller skates, Venezuelans (if they can afford it) like to repaint their houses before Christmas, and firecrackers and other noisemakers and fireworks are a common sounds and sights on Christmas Day.

5. The Night Of The Radishes Is Celebrated The Day Before Christmas Eve In Oaxaca, Mexico

In Oaxaca, Mexico, every year on December 23 the town celebrates the Night of the Radishes, or Noche de Rabanos. This tradition sounds particularly bizarre, but it has roots (er, no pun intended) in practicality. Merchants back in 1897 were trying to find a way to attract shoppers going to and from church services, and started carving their radishes into crazy shapes, or making radish people or other ornaments. The mayor at the time was so pleased that he decided to make it an official celebration from then on.

People sometimes queue up for very long lines just to see and buy all the various radish sculptures and carvings that people have made. As the years have gone by, the radishes have become increasingly elaborate and large, but it isn’t size that really gets you the prize. The radishes are carved into figurines, or have scenes from the nativity or traditional Mexican culture carved in, and the very best artistic design gets a 12,000 peso prize. Now, these radishes aren’t really meant to be eaten, and go bad pretty quickly since they’ve been carved (you wouldn’t eat a Jack-o-Lantern, after all, right?, but the tradition has now become more about a celebration of art and culture than actual food.

4. La Befana — The Italian Christmas Witch

While some in the United States and other countries celebrate St. Nicholas Day or the Epiphany, only certain countries display particular reverence to them, and very few actually place more importance on either than Christmas. To most countries, these are sort of auxiliary holidays that are part of the “extended Christmas.” However, some countries don’t believe Christmas really ends until the Epiphany, and Italy in particular actually treats more Epiphany with more importance than Christmas itself, at least in terms of gift-giving traditions.

They do have a Santa figure named is Babbo Natale that is starting to catch on a bit more, and he’s pretty similar to most versions of Santa. However, their Christmas Witch, known as “La Befana” and the Epiphany Holiday she holds sway over is still much more popular. Her legend goes that the Three Kings were heading to the infant baby Jesus to give their gifts, and getting others nearby to go with them when she gave an excuse of being busy cleaning up her house. She realized her mistake the next day and rushed, still holding her broom to bring the baby a gift. But alas, it was too late. In order to make up for missing out on giving the newly born savior a gift, she has roamed the Earth ever since on her broom, giving toys to all the good little boys and girls, and coal to all the bad ones.

3. The Story Of “The Boy Who Ate Santa’s Cookies” Is Of Completely Unverifiable Veracity

Another tale that has been passed around is one the internet claims to originate from South Africa, and it tells the story of a boy named Danny who mischievously ate the cookies that were left out for Santa Claus. In the morning, his grandmother was so angry that she beat him to death. Seems a little harsh, but hey, she worked hard on those cookies. Anyway, now parents in South Africa tell this as a cautionary tale to their children so they won’t eat Santa’s cookies. In some versions of the tale, the boy comes back as some kind of ghost in order to haunt children who eat Santa’s cookies.

Now, while it’s an interesting (if horrific) story and definitely something that could be told by parents as a morality tale to their children, we were unable to find any verification online that the story is actually a real South African fable, or if it was made up whole cloth on the internet in order to troll people, or simply to amuse. Regardless, it is an interesting legend, and even if South African parents are not telling this story to their children, it does bring up some amusing questions. If Santa were real, what would he do if he found out you ate his cookies? Would you immediately make the naughty list? And just how naughty would Santa find you to be for your crime? And if you’re from South Africa, please let us now… is this a genuine fable? And do your grandmothers really get that made about cookies?

2. The Tradition In Spain Of Eating 12 Lucky Grapes And Wearing Red Underwear

While Spain has many normal Christmas traditions that, like many Western countries, place a great emphasis on the holiday, they also have some rather strange ones. Now, the strangest, and some of the oldest traditions in Spain technically occur during the New Year’s celebration, shortly after Christmas — but still during the days of Christmas. On Old Night, the day before the New Year, everyone gathers around their TVs or in Puerto De Sol in Madrid, and prepares for the clock tower to count down for the New Year. First, the bell rings four times, and then people wait for another twelve chimes that signal each month of the year. Fair enough, that’s pretty close to what Americans do on New Year’s Eve.

The quirky difference, though, is that on each chime people attempt to eat a grape, and the goal is to eat twelve grapes — seeds and all — before the last chime ends. If you can manage this feat, you will have good luck for the coming year. Another strange part of the tradition involves wearing red underwear under your clothes for luck, and it is said that if you got the underwear from someone else as a gift, it will make you even luckier. And we say if you’re getting red underwear from someone else, chances are you’ve already gotten quite lucky. High five.

While this tradition may seem strange, it’s completely harmless (well, unless you choke on the grapes), and helps everyone ring in the New Year, and enjoy the Christmas Season, in a festive and silly way.

1. The Ukrainian Story Of The Spiderwebs And The Christmas Tree

Ukraine and many of the surrounding areas of Eastern Europe have traditionally had less wealth and prosperity than their neighbors to the west (though that’s been changing a bit in certain countries). In fact, for most people living in Eastern Europe, much of their existence has been marked by a long and unending struggle. For this reason, it probably does not surprise many that the type of Christmas legends to come out of countries like Ukraine are often rather grim. One of the most famous stories from Ukraine tells the story of a spider, and how it saved one family’s Christmas.

In some stories the mother of the family is a widow, and in others there is still a father, but the family — which includes a boy and a girl — is always desperately poor. They are so poor that they cannot afford anything to decorate their Christmas Tree, and they lament it the night before. In order to give them a good Christmas and boost their spirits, a spider in the house hears their plea and overnight, spins webs on the tree in order to beautifully decorate it for the family. When the family wakes up, they go to the tree and it is decorated beyond their dreams. To make things even better, when the sun shines on the tree, the webs turn to silver and gold, and they never need to worry about money again. In some versions the webs turn to precious metals because of the spider, and in other versions because of divine intervention. But in every story, the spider is a benevolent figure trying to help a poor family have at least one good day.


Not Your Granddad’s Christmas –

WIF Customs and Traditions

The Night Before Christmas – WIF Holidays

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Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve

Julaftonen by Carl Larsson 1904 edit.jpg

Julaftonen (Christmas Eve), a 1904–05 watercolor painting by Carl Larsson
Also called Christmas Evening
Christmas Vigil
Day before Christmas
Night before Christmas
Observed by Christians
Many non-Christians
Type Christian, cultural
Significance Day or evening preceding the traditional birthday of Jesus
Observances Gift shopping, gift giving, goodwill greetings, Midnight Mass, other church services, meals, preparations for the arrival of Christmas gift-bringers, preparing for Christmas
Date 24 December (Western Churches and Eastern Orthodox churches that use the Revised Julian Calendar), 5 January (Armenian Apostolic Church), 6 January (Eastern Orthodox Churches that follow the Old Julian Calendar and most Oriental Orthodox Churches), 18 January (Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem)
Frequency Annual
Related to Christmas Day, ChristmastideNew Year’s Eve

Christmas Eve is celebrated in different ways around the world, varying by country and region. Elements common to many areas of the world include the attendance of special religious observances such as a midnight Mass or Vespers, and the giving and receiving of presents. Along with Easter, Christmastime is one of the most important periods on the Christian calendar, and is often closely connected to other holidays at this time of year, such as Advent, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, St. Nicholas Day, St. Stephen’s Day, New Year’s, and the Feast of the Epiphany.

During World War I in 1914 and 1915 there was an unofficial Christmas truce, particularly between British and German troops. The truce began on Christmas Eve, 24 December 1914, when German troops began decorating the area around their trenches in the region of Ypres, Belgium, for Christmas. They began by placing candles on trees, then continued the celebration by singing Christmas carols, most notably Stille Nacht (“Silent Night”). The British troops in the trenches across from them responded by singing English carols. The two sides shouted Christmas greetings to each other. Soon there were calls for visits across the “No man’s land” when small gifts were exchanged. The truce also allowed a breathing space during which recently killed soldiers could be brought back behind their lines by burial parties. Funerals took place as soldiers from both sides mourned the dead together and paid their respects. At one funeral in No Man’s Land, soldiers from both sides gathered and read a passage from Psalm 23. The truce occurred in spite of opposition at higher levels of the military command. Earlier in the autumn, a call by Pope Benedict XV for an official truce between the warring governments had been ignored.


The Night Before Christmas –

WIF Holidays

An Independent Russian Investigation from WIF

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 Ways that Russians

are Misunderstood

Around the World

Today, Russia is arguably one of the most controversial countries on the planet. Much is said about them one way or the other (primarily due to Vladimir Putin), and very few countries have as many stereotypes (especially negative ones) floating around about them. While it’s understandable for many Westerners to be worried about Russian influence on their governments or people, it’s also important to be able to separate the Russian people and culture from their government, and to understand who the Russians really are — and not just what we know from crude and often demeaning stereotypes… or potential meddling in United States politics.

10. Russians Don’t Look At Governance The Same Way Many Westerners Do

Many Americans and other Western countries have trouble understanding Russians’ idea of government, because Westerners cannot imagine a life where they could have so little personal freedom. To Westerners, personal freedom — or at least the appearance of it — is practically a life or death matter. Now, Russians see things differently. It isn’t that they are naturally submissive or something, but the Russian people have never really had anything like the Democracy that many Western countries enjoy… and the Russian people go back a very long way.

When you haven’t ever had something in the first place, you’re hardly going to find yourself missing it greatly or fighting for it. For this reason, personal freedoms are a much lower priority for many Russians, and they don’t entirely understand why so many countries are worried about those issues. Particularly when they haven’t fixed other problems yet. This doesn’t mean there’s no one in Russia interested in Democracy, but by and large, you aren’t likely to find many willing to risk prison for something they’ve never even had to begin with.

9. Russians Look European, But Are Also Sort Of Asian

Perhaps one of the things that makes it so difficult for Westerners to deal with Russians is that they look so similar to many of us, despite thinking so drastically differently. This likely stems from their cultural origins. The larger portion of Russia is, geographically, essentially in Asia, but the more populated part is in what some call “European Russia” — a portion of Russia that’s still considered part of Eastern Europe. This is all quite confusing, and borders are all, of course, man-made to begin with, but the overall issue is that the Russian people hardly fit in any normal cultural box.

Even the ones from “European Russia” are still much farther East than most people who are considered to be from Europe, and this likely changes their thinking. They’re also part of a country that has much of its territory in the actual continent of Asia, which means many people from the European part will still have their culture influenced by the more Asian part. For this reason, some in Russia have said they felt they have a more unique identity, which is actually part Asian and part Eastern European.

8. Napoleon Made Them Incredibly Paranoid Long Ago; Now Others Think Them Aggressive

Americans Tchaikovsky’s Overture of 1812 well, and some even confuse as being in reference to the American War of 1812. However, at that same time in history, there was a war going on basically all over the world because of a little guy named Napoleon. This titchy fellow had been stirring up the nest all over the place, and had even pushed his way into Russia. Now, today many people look at this as a folly of Napoleon, and talk about how Hitler later repeated the same mistake: Attacking the hardy Russian people during the harsh winter.

However, the truth was that Napoleon came far closer, at least in the Russians’ minds, to completing a successful invasion than they were comfortable with. They were absolutely terrified, and never forgot it. Well over 100 years later, the term “Bonapartist” would still be a fairly common term in Russia. They feared the idea of a warrior general rising up and going on a rampage so much that they immortalized Napoleon’s name with a specific word for his little invasion attempt into their country. Many people today think the Russians are just aggressive, but this near-miss so long ago drove them to shore up their borders, and it’s primarily for this reason they’ve been so hostile to those closest to them since. The truth is that the Russians only won with scorched earth tactics and great losses. Napoleon scarred them forever.

7. Russian National Pride Goes Back A Long Way, But Has Clashed With French Culture

Some people don’t understand why Russians are willing to forego so much comfort for the good of their country, and many people like to claim it’s Soviet propaganda. But the Russian people have been behaving this way for some time now. Considering the country of Russia is really one of the oldest surviving countries and cultures in the world, it’s not surprising that they have a gigantic wellspring of national pride, whether the situation warrants it or not. They also have a history of dictatorships, which means they’re used to simply being proud of their country and letting others run it.

Now, this doesn’t mean that Russians have always remained truly proud and obsessed with Slavic culture. A situation that still exists (to a smaller extent) today — but blew up shortly after the time of Napoleon — is the fight between the Slavophiles and the Francophiles. The Slavophiles wanted to keep Russia Slavic and focus on Slavic cultures, traditions, dress, and customs. However, enthralled and enraptured by the French, many young people were now dressing in French fashions, taking up their customs, and studying their culture and language. This has changed the Russian people even further over the years and, if anything, has made them even more incomprehensible to the rest of the world.

6. The Russian Concept of “Poshlost” Explains Why They Often Think Of Wealth Differently

These days you have people who like to make fun of people like the Kardashians, or joke about how they became famous for doing literally nothing at all. However, at the same time, many of those same people view being in a position like the Kardashians as something to aspire to. Now, despite misconceptions, the Kardashians still have a lot of work to do to maintain their empire of nothing. But many see their lifestyle as an aspiration because it’s perceived as a life where they can just chill and enjoy the finer things while not having to work or do… well, anything. In many ways this almost makes them the ultimate American dream, but Russians would find the whole thing ridiculous.

While there are some Russian billionaires today, and Russia has a lot of corruption, those who are at least in business or working are given a great deal of respect by the common person regardless of their ridiculous wealth. It’s only the playboys, who don’t really work or do anything, that get the true disrespect. In Russian literature, there’s a concept that many of the greats like Pushkin, or Lermontov, wrote about called “Poshlost.” Poshlost has been called untranslatable, but we will try our best to explain the concept: it’s used to refer to outer beauty, or empty wealth that is flaunted, while the individuals behind that wealth spend most of their time lounging, trying to look important, and contributing nothing of value to society at all. In a way, it was a backlash to the fashionable trappings of high society brought forth by the Francophile fad.

5. The Idea Of Struggle Is Entirely Embedded In The Russian Cultural Ethos

One of the things many people in America, in particular, understand least about the Russians is their willingness to accept a life without a lot of particular luxuries, and without a lot of options in general. This isn’t because the Russians are just masochistic and enjoy taking punishment, or are trying to prove some kind of specific point. Nor are the Russian people necessarily taking one for the team in order to advance the cause of the current government. The biggest reason most Russians are okay with things being that way is because, within in their ethos, the idea of struggle is deeply embedded.

In many ways, it may by their most important cultural value: Working hard and muddling through to get by is seen as extremely important. For a culture that’s often had to deal with poverty and want, even under their most benevolent leaders, this was something they had to learn as a people very early on. In many ways it has defined them, and explains why they are willing to accept what many in Western culture would consider unacceptable. They are simply far more accustomed to hardship, so they don’t act like everything is out of sorts when things get difficult.

4. The Origins Of Their Language, And Its Structure, Give Them A Unique Perspective

The Russian language, and most Slavic languages, use the Cyrillic Alphabet; however, the origin of their written language is rather strange. The people of the region had mostly used spoken-word and wrote little down when two Catholic missionaries named Cyril and Methodius traveled to the region. These two decided to help create an alphabet and written-word system for the language spoken by the people of the region, and something similar is in use today in most Slavic Countries. Now, this gives them a rather unique language structure and perspective.

The language itself was formed entirely by natives of the region, but the written form was made up mostly by outsiders who didn’t entirely understand their thinking. This has created a language system where the written word (and, as they’ve evolved together, sometimes even the spoken word) are hard to articulate the way the writer would want. Many writers like Pushkin took the written form of Russian to its limit to extract as much wordplay as possible, but they could only go so far, despite their genius.

3. Russians Are Generally Thought Of As A Drunk Country – But There Is A Lot More To It

One of the most famous stereotypes about the Russians is that they are huge drunks, and may even be bigger drunks than the Irish. People talk about teens using mouthwash, hand sanitizer, and other awful things, but in any country with poverty and bored children, things like that aren’t uncommon. And while people like to act like the average Russian just pounds alcohol like there’s no tomorrow, even among the heavy drinkers there are customs to drinking, and it’s only when you ignore them and actually do start pounding for no reason (which is relatively rare) that you have a real problem.

In Russia, drinking is a big social thing, but it is accompanied by lots of little bits of food, toasting to friends, and good conversation and camaraderie in general. Russians like to toast to things while drinking so they have a reason to imbibe, and it’s custom to eat a bit of food after each shot or drink — both for your health, and to avoid a hangover later. Many Russians will simply not drink if they don’t at least have a little bit of bread so they can have a little bite with each drink.

2. Internet Pirates Are Often Russian, But Due To Poverty – Not Inherent Cultural Dishonesty

The Pirate Bay, and other popular torrent sites, have always had a huge amount of torrents coming from Russian hackers. Many who pirate a lot are all too familiar with their written “Russian Accent” and have noticed that many torrent-ed movies have Russian subtitles. Now, some people have noticed this and come to the conclusion that Russians are inherently dishonest or thieves, but this is not really the case.

For starters, an incredible amount of Westerners use torrent sites — even middle class Westerners — so it’s a little bit hypocritical to brand Russians as thieves. However, more to the point, many common Russian folk feel compelled to do these things because they are desperately poor, and simply cannot afford the content otherwise. In many cases it may not even be available for legitimate purchase within their country, so they have to resort to piracy in order to get past government censorship. Russians aren’t generally a bunch of horrible cyber thieves; well, at least not any more-so than most other modern countries and people. Also, while Russians aren’t more dishonest, necessarily, they are better educated than many countries when it comes to IT.

1. The Russian People Usually Know Full Well When They Are Being Fed Propaganda

A lot of folks think that the Russian people are easily fooled, and that Ol’ Putin completely has the wool over their eyes. They believe that Putin’s propaganda machine has managed to get people under his spell, and that they are basically putty in his hands. However, the situation — and the Russian people by extension — are a lot more complex and complicated than that. The Russian people are well aware of the concept of propaganda, and have a word called “Pravda” (which some of you may be familiar with) due to the ironically named Soviet Propaganda paper of the same name.

Now for those who aren’t aware, Pravda means “truth,” but it can also mean a lot more (or less) than that. Some know that Pravda was used sarcastically as a phrase to subtly disagree with Soviet propaganda, but most Westerners don’t know how long this phrase has been in use, or how many things it can mean (and it can mean dozens of things). After all, Russians may not have as many words as some languages, so they often use the same word to mean many things.

Pravda can mean actual truth, but it can also mean that you know you aren’t being told the truth, and are very slightly sarcastically saying “Oh yes, of course I believe that,” when you both know it’s a lie. And this is the funny thing about the Russian propaganda machine: It often knows it isn’t really fooling anyone, and the people often know they aren’t being fooled, but everyone pretends the propaganda is working anyway in order to avoid any kind of confrontation with the government.


An Independent Russian Investigation

from WIF

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 103

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 103

…The funeral ruse, albeit necessary, is a cruel charade  especially for the hundreds of folks that have come to Chicago to pay their respects for Willard Libby…

Libby Funeral

So sad is his grieving Aunt Sister Mary Joseph Franks that she volunteers Tolentine as the location of his memorial service. She and Martin Kamen are the lone attendees that have the real skinny on Libby’s “passing” and his true fate. The ruse, albeit necessary, is a cruel charade  especially for the hundreds of folks that have come to Chicago to pay their respects, but in the grand scheme of things, they have no other choice.

  • Enrico Fermi: “He was a great scientific visionary and a brave supporter of the “nuclear age”…”
  • Billy Graham: “Willard Libby took the time to fully consider all aspects of his research, even those of God…”
  • Bernard Spencer (Daniels): “Pope Pius the Twelve extends his Holy blessing to a wholly innocent soul…”
  • Robert Maynard Hutchins: “As President of the University of Chicago, I express our profound sadness with the passing of a treasured educator…”
  • Walter Zinn (Director Argonne): “When the danger of nuclear research became critical, Willard Libby was the rock of the “Metallurgical Lab”…”
  • Vice-president Alben Barley: “President Truman mourns the loss of such a young, up and coming asset to the United States of America…”
  • Martin Kamen (crocodile tears): “He is my closest colleague and dearest friend. I will never look through my microscope the same way again…”
  • Mary Joseph (not tears – holy water): “I will miss my weekly tea with Will. He would talk about things, of which I had no clue, but we are family and I will see you soon in the Great Beyond…”

Sister Mary had pointed skyward implying a heavenly reunion… but she knows better.

Martin Kamen cleverly uses the present tense when referring to his friend… not a coincidence.

Libby Funeral-001

Pentateuch (has yet to shed a tear – ever): “He was a foolish man who dared to challenge the “Great Deception”…”

Pentateuch claims victory… but he is jumping the gun and is losing focus.

…The ruse, albeit necessary, has become a daily charade…


Constance Caraway P.I.

Daily Charade – Soren Grau

Forever Mastadon


page 93

WIF Mind Games – Psychological Phenomena

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Psychological Phenomena

The human brain is a fascinating and complex organ. Beyond its ability to help us reason, function and think, it plays some crazy tricks on us. All throughout history, humans have experienced things called psychological phenomena – mind tricks that sometimes defy explanation but are experienced by most people. Here are 10 of them, with a description of the phenomenon itself (when it has one!) and an example of it in action with a real, live human being.

10. Cryptomnesia

Why did Brian Williams, noted NBC news anchor, say he was in a helicopter that was attacked in Iraq? Was he lying? Or, was there something deeper at work. For that matter, why did George Harrison write “My Sweet Lord” to sound just like the Chiffon’s hit 1962 song, “He’s So Fine?” Did he plagiarize, or did he not notice the similarity between his song and the other? An argument can be made for the latter in both instances, all because of something called cryptomnesia. The term was invented by doctors Alan Brown and Dana Murphy, after conducting three experiments at Southern Methodist University in 1989. They discovered that people will unknowingly “borrow” the ideas of others, rather than thinking of new ideas. Rather than consciously stealing a song, or making up a story out of thin air, the human brain is capable of taking a story, song or idea and transforming it. In the person’s mind, it becomes new. Original. When really, it’s just a memory.

Studies have shown this phenomenon is pretty common, but it’s pretty hard to tell the difference between it and a lie. So, it’s possible that Brian Williams simply thought he was on that helicopter, or he might have been lying. In the case of George Harrison, however, a judge decided that cryptomnesia really was the culprit, and Harrison was charged with “subconscious plagiarism.” It’s scary when you think about it. How many of our ideas are actually our own, and how many are really memories?

9. Deja Vu

Have you ever visited a new place, only to get the feeling that you’d been there before? That’s called a deja vu, and it happens to almost everybody. Art Markman, Ph.D., explains deja vu as a device our brains use to create a sense of familiarity in a particular situation using source memories as context clues. He says that humans are good at remembering objects, so if we see a person wearing the same t-shirt that we saw our friend wear last week, we don’t get confused that the stranger in the same shirt is our friend. However, we are not great at recalling memories based solely on how objects are arranged. So, if you see a stack of those t-shirts in one store, and then years later go to a completely different store in a completely different city, you might not remember that you saw an identical stack of shirts, but instead feel a sense of familiarity, of knowing, and not know why.

In one extreme case, French psychiatrist Francois-Leon Arnaud wrote about a guy named Louis who lived in the 19th century. Louis was a soldier who suffered from amnesia, then headaches, irritability and insomnia. And, he suffered from almost constant deja vu. Everything he experienced felt like something he’d experienced before. At the time, his doctors diagnosed him with “illusion deja vu,” but today it’s suggested that Louis may have had a memory disorder like recollective confabulation, where people routinely think that all new information is familiar. For us, the occasional deja vu is a creepy and otherworldly feeling, so much that some people think it’s really a memory from a past life.

8. Bystander Effect

The Bystander Effect is a psychological phenomenon that is social in nature. It’s characterized by the unlikeliness of a group of people (the bigger the group, the more likely the phenomenon) to help during an emergency. The most famous example of this is the 1964 murder of young Kitty Genovese, when allegedly she was murdered on the streets of New York and the 38 bystanders who witnessed the murder did nothing to help. A great example of the phenomenon, if true. However, Kitty’s brother, Bill, decided to get to the bottom of what really happened to his sister and it turns out that only a few people actually saw the attack, and one actually shouted for the murderer to stop. Two people claimed to have called the police, though there are no phone records. Bill says that regardless of whether or not people tried to help, his sister’s story is an important lesson to those who might do nothing when they see someone in trouble.

Another disturbing example of Bystander Effect is that of Topsy the Elephant. Topsy killed one man, but was accused of being a “serial man killer,” and was therefore sentenced to death. Originally believed to be one in a long streak of electrocutions in that “War of the Currents,” it’s likely that electrocution was chosen for Topsy because it was more humane than the original form execution, which was hanging. The electrocution of Topsy occurred on Coney Island, in front of Luna Park employees, Edison’s employees, and many other witnesses. Nobody lifted a finger. A gruesome account of the atrocity can be found in in Michael Daly’s book, Topsy.  An Edmund Burke quote comes to mind: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

7. Placebo Effect

If you’ve ever participated in a clinical study (or studied science, for that matter), you know what a placebo is. It’s a pill or other treatment that has no physical effect, but can produce a psychological benefit called the Placebo Effect. In essence, if someone takes a placebo and experiences some sort of benefit, there you have this particular psychological phenomenon. One example of this is the case of MK-869, an experimental antidepressant developed by Merck in 2002. The drug tested exceedingly well at first, and Merck had high hopes for domination in the marketplace. Imagine how disappointed shareholders and analysts were, however, when data showed that while those who took MK-869 did feel better, so did the same amount of people who took the placebo.

This is a pretty common occurrence in the world of pharmaceuticals. In fact, about 50% of developing drugs fail in the trial stage because it’s found that the placebo is just as effective. Some medical professionals even claim that some people react well even when they know they are receiving a placebo. That the ritual of taking medicine or doing something healthy can make the brain think that the body is healing. Maybe there is something to the old adage, “Heal thyself.”

6. McGurk Effect

The McGurk Effect, a crazy psychological phenomenon that has to do with your eyes and your ears (and how they get confused) when perceiving speech. It happens when your brain associates the hearing part of one sound and pairs it with the visual appearance of another sound being spoken, which leads to the brain perceiving a nonexistent third sound. Whoa, right?

It happens especially when you can’t hear the sound that well (like in a crowded room, or when a person is speaking very softly) but you can see the lips move, making you think you “hear” something else. Think about that kid in class who mouthed “elephant shoe” at you. The phenomenon was first explained in 1976 by, not surprisingly, a guy named McGurk who studied how infants perceive language as they develop. It’s best described in video format, and there are a lot of examples out there. Like this one or, obviously, the one embedded above.

 5. Baader-Meinhof

You just heard about a new director from your film nerd friend. Later that day, you look up a movie with your favorite actor in it on IMDd and BAM, it’s that director. Then, you pick up the newspaper and there’s a profile on the same director – the one you had never heard of before. All of a sudden, this guy is everywhere. Is he the next Scorsese, or did your film buff friend plant all these references for you? Neither! You’re experiencing the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon.

Arnold Swicky, a linguistics professor at Stanford, named this phenomenon Frequency Illusion in 2006, because it was easier than calling it the “When you hear something one time and all of the sudden it’s everywhere syndrome.” He explained that it is caused by two psychological processes. In one, you learn a thing and then, without knowing it, you look for it other places. In the other, confirmation bias tells you that the thing is everywhere overnight, simply because you never noticed it before. The term Baader-Meinhof came about earlier than 2006, on a St. Paul Pioneer Press online forum, where a participant heard the name of the notorious terrorist group two times in the same day. The phrase got meme-ified and later Swicky gave it a medical name.

4. Cognitive Dissonance

You know that getting sunburned can cause skin cancer, but you skip the sunscreen anyway. Or you smoke, even when you know that smoking causes cancer. You’ve got yourself a great example of cognitive dissonance, a phenomenon that occurs when you experience a conflict of attitude, behavior, or belief. Your behavior (skipping the sunscreen) belies your cognition (the fact that you know that you could get skin cancer), creating a state of cognitive dissonance.

This was first studied by Leon Festinger in 1957, when a doomsday cult that believed a flood was going to end the world… well, they didn’t get destroyed by a flood (and neither did the world). He found that people who were on the fence about the flood felt pretty dumb for giving up their houses and jobs and chalked it up to a learning experience, while the devout cult members decided that it was their great faith and sacrifice that saved the world. There are also fun ways to explore this phenomenon, like this Prezi about the cognitive dissonance in Mean Girls.

3. Online Disinhibition Effect

Unless you avoid the internet altogether (and judging by the fact you’re reading this, that’s pretty definitively not the case), you’ve seen the Online Disinhibition Effect in action. It’s your sweet former teacher that turns into a hate-filled rage ball on a Facebook thread. It’s Roseanne tweeting herself into unemployment. It’s the internet user’s tendency to say (or type) things they wouldn’t usually say in real life. This is caused by a number of personality variables that cause a person to deviate from their “normal” behavior. Just like people who feel less shy when online, some people lose a lot more than shyness when they feel a sense of anonymity.

Even on social media, where your name and photo are attached to your profile, it’s possible to minimize authority, loosen your self-boundaries and pretend it’s all a game when nobody is responding to you in person. If only people could just do what we do and pretend their mother can see everything they post online. Hey, if it works, it works!

2. Reverse Psychology

If you’re a parent, you’ve likely used reverse psychology to get your kids to do what you want. For instance, if they don’t want to eat their dinner, and then you tell them they’re not allowed to eat dinner, odds are they will. Reverse psychology relies on reactance, where a person responds negatively to persuasion, and instead responds to the thing that they’re persuaded not to do. Even if you’re not a parent, you’ve likely used it on family members, partners, or coworkers.

Reverse psychology dates back as far as human behavior, with a notable example in the 1700s. Apparently, Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, while imprisoned during the Seven Years’ War, ate a whole lot of potatoes. In France, potatoes were frowned on, and only fed to animals. French Parliament even outlawed potatoes in 1748, because they thought that they caused leprosy. When Antoine-Augustin got back to France in 1763 he started thinking about overcoming the bias against potatoes, because he knew they were very nutritious. One story says that he planted a potato patch and hired a guard to protect it, spreading the rumor that he was growing something special in there. Of course, people snuck in to steal the potatoes, and they decided they were a-ok.

1. Overview Effect

The last entry on our list is a psychological phenomenon most of us won’t experience. It’s the Overview Effect – the sensation that astronauts feel when they see the Earth as a whole. Six astronauts were interviewed by Inverse, and the experience of seeing Earth from space made them change how they saw their planet, and their relationship to it. The term Overview Effect was created by Frank White to describe the experience of seeing the Earth as part of something bigger. Makes sense, since when we live on the Earth the Earth is plenty big for us to consider. What would the world be like if everyone could look at the universe in a different way? Read those testimonials from the six astronauts interviewed and you’ll get an idea.

Our brains are strange and wonderful places, capable of greatness and atrocity. An understanding of how the brain works might help us avoid the latter, but it will surely help us strive to the former.


WIF Mind Games –

Psychological Phenomena

Crazy But True – WIF Conspiracies

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Crazy Conspiracies

That Turned Out

to be True

Conspiracy theories will always fire up the imaginations of even the most reasonable of us. It’s fascinating to imagine a bunch of people in a dark room, controlling actions from their chairs and encouraging events that change the course of the world, with no one truly being the wiser. Now, most conspiracy theories are flimsy nonsense that are obviously full of holes and not true at all. However, some conspiracy theories have more truth than most people would ever imagine. In some situations, there really was a group of people in a dark room conspiring to massively pull the wool over the eyes of others, in order to change the course of the world.

10. The US Government Once Planned A False Flag Operation Against Their Own People

When most people hear about the 9/11 conspiracy theories, they have very similar reactions. Most people believe that the amount of complexity and manpower required to pull off such an operation would have meant that we would have had far too many people snitching about what happened for the conspirators to ever get away with it. People also seem skeptical that the government would ever even consider something so horrific. However, while it seems like something out of a dark fantasy, the truth is that the United States government has, at the highest levels, planned similar operations in the past.

During the Kennedy years, the United States greatest threat were the Cubans led by Fidel Castro, and some in the government were looking for an excuse to start an actual ground war with the Cubans — something they wanted to get public support for both at home and around the world. It was to achieve this goal that the joint chiefs of staff at the time came up with a plan, and proposed it to JFK, to attack United States citizens and property (while pretending to be Cubans) as part of a false flag effort to gain support for a war. Kennedy was very angry and told them it was a terrible, immoral idea and that they were to shelve it and never bring it up again. However, while Kennedy did not want to play ball, that doesn’t mean there weren’t ever any presidents who would consider taking part in a similar plot.

9. President Woodrow Wilson’s Wife Ran The Presidency For Over A Year

During Woodrow Wilson’s presidency, he was considered a very hard working executive, whether you liked the man and his politics or not. He was regularly traveling the world in his attempts to get the United States involved in worldwide political alliances, and also engaged in speaking tours across the country. Unfortunately, his habits of hard work eventually caught up with him and nearing the end of his presidency, he suffered from a stroke. Many people at the time wondered if something was wrong, and if there might be a conspiracy to keep the extent of the president’s troubles from the public.

In fact, the government tried so hard to cover it up that his stroke and general ill health was not known for months. Even after that the true damage was never really spoken about to the press and not known for years later. Many people suspected that his health was indeed worse than the government was letting on, and that his wife was actually making most of the decisions — basically being the first woman president, in a way. While Edith claimed that she was nothing but a steward, historians who studied the time period in later years are certain that she practically was the chief executive of our country for well over a year. For those who still doubt her influence, keep in mind that while Edith Wilson was running the show, women finally gained the right to vote.

8. HAARP Is Not A Weather Control Device, But Massive Weather Control Has Been Attempted

Many people like to go on about HAARP, a government science project that many people were convinced had a lot more going on than actually met the eye. The government claimed it was simply testing radio waves and their effects on the ionosphere and other mundane things that aren’t really that interesting. Of course, conspiracy theorists were certain that something boring couldn’t actually be boring; it had to be hiding something actually interesting.

Of course, all evidence points to the government telling the truth in this case, and HAARP being nothing more than a rather mundane research project that was shut down when the research had run its course. However, that doesn’t mean weather control attempts have never been made, or that the governments of the world aren’t trying to understand the science behind it better. We know that during the Vietnam war, the United States government tried to seed the clouds around South Vietnam with various substances in the hopes it would increase rainfall and make the war effort harder for their enemies. It certainly doesn’t stretch the imagination that technology of that sort has improved over time, if the government has decided to continue researching it.

7. The United States Government Has Experimentally Poisoned US Cities Multiple Times

Many people will claim that the government is secretly poisoning you in one way or another, whether through chemtrails, fluoride, or some other insidious means. Now, evidence has shown that most of these theories are total hogwash; however, that doesn’t mean the United States government has never poisoned its own people. According to records that were released years after the fact, from the 1950s through the early 1970s, the United States government conducted nearly 300 bacterial weapon attacks on various US cities in order to understand the results.

One of the most famous of these was in San Francisco, where the government wanted to see if the fog would help spread a biological attack, and if an enemy could stage such an attack from the sea. They used hoses to release the bacteria, and according to their own data, it reached essentially everyone in the city and effectively spread out enough that if it were a harmful bacteria, the damage could be horrific. While the United States government used bacteria that they thought were mostly harmless, multiple people were proven to be hospitalized because of the attack, and at least one person died because of it. The United States secret experiments were deeply against the Nuremberg codes they had just recently agreed to, which makes the entire thing all the more irresponsible and immoral.

6. There Is Some Small Truth To The Beliefs People Have In Government Spraying Chemtrails

One of the most oft recurring conspiracy theories is the claim that the government (or governments) are spraying chemicals in the upper atmosphere in order to do all kinds of terrible things. Some people claim that the chemicals are to slowly make people stupider, while other people claim the earth has an overpopulation problem, and world governments are releasing anti-fertility drugs into the upper atmosphere. Of course, there is no evidence for any of this, and scientists and other engineers in the know will tell you that the trails you see from planes are not out of the ordinary. Even if planes were secretly releasing chemicals, it would be impossible to sample properly to prove it.

However, while there is no concerted effort to poison the atmosphere, and no known plan to ruin peoples’ fertility or anything of the sort, the fact is that governments of the world have strongly considered and researched geo-engineering solutions to our current climate change problem, and if they thought they had a workable idea, they would almost certainly attempt it — and they may or may not immediately tell the public about such an attempt. Even back in the days of Lyndon Johnson, scientists have been proposing dealing with climate problems with massive geo-engineering, either with satellites in orbit, particles laced in our upper atmosphere — which sounds similar to chemtrail theories — or any number of other crazy solutions. Of course, while we know governments have attempted at least somewhat massive geo-engineering in terms of making it rain, there is no hard evidence that massive attempts to push back environmental damage are at anything more than the research stage as of now.

5. The Assassination Of Abraham Lincoln Was Not Just One Crazy Actor Acting Alone

Now, folks at the time of Lincoln’s assassination may or may not have immediately known or guessed that many different people were involved, however, most people today tend to not be aware of the scale of the plot. Many people today believe that the assassination of a president like JFK could not have been pulled off by one lone wolf, but don’t give much thought to the common belief held by most people that John Wilkes Booth acted alone when killing President Lincoln.

The truth is, though, assassinating a president is very hard work and Booth had a lot of help. There were several co-conspirators involved and they all had a role to play. If they had succeeded, they could have sowed horrific chaos in the highest levels of the United States government. The thing was, it was a much bigger conspiracy than most people know, and included most of his important cabinet members. One man was supposed to kill Vice President Johnson, but lost his nerve, and another man attempted to kill the Secretary of War, William Seward, but failed in his attempt. Booth also would likely not have managed to escape without help, as he had co-conspirators helping him along to freedom as well, after he murdered the president.

4. During Vietnam The US Government Fabricated An Attack To Gain Support For War

Many people consider the idea of the government actually lying to get us into war as unthinkable, and some are still convinced that the Bush administration was only mistaken when it came to Iraq, WMDs, and that country’s involvement in 9/11. People simply don’t like to believe that their government would lie to them just so they could start a violent conflict in another part of the world, or amp up one that was already ongoing. However, back during the days of the Vietnam War, that is exactly what happened.

There was an incident with a US ship called the Maddox, which supposedly reported a torpedo attack from the Vietnamese, which led to further involvement by the US in Vietnam. The truth, however, is that the entire thing was a total fabrication, designed from beginning to end in order to get us further into the war. The Johnson administration actually sent the Maddox to perform covert attacks for the express purpose of egging the enemy on to attack them, so they could get more support for war. On top of that, the torpedo was a false signal and the Maddox quickly told the higher ups it was a false alarm, but the top brass still used it as an excuse for more war funding.

3. The US Government Deliberately Poisoned Alcohol During Prohibition To Discourage Use

Prohibition was one of the strangest eras in the history of the United States. People who were convinced drinking was the worst thing ever pushed super hard to ruin everyone’s fun, and they succeeded for a time, but not before doing untold damage because they couldn’t mind their own business. The ban on one of the most popular things to ever exist in the history of the world backfired rather spectacularly, giving rise to all new organized crime groups, some of which took decades to break up to the state they are today. For a long time, the black market on drugs was very organized.

Of course, the government wasn’t happy with people not only openly flouting the law whenever possible, but also empowering criminal enterprises. So, the United States government went to great length to poison a bunch of alcohol that they knew would be making its way onto the black market, in order to make people less likely to drink it. This program adulterated the alcohol, making it unfit to drink and causing people to get sick, and some to even go blind. It would be many years after before the government admitted to their role in sickening people who dared drink some booze while it was illegal. While it sounds like an absurd conspiracy out of a very bad movie, it was a reality during prohibition and added countless deaths and hospital visits to those already caused by alcohol that was accidentally poisonous.

2. Joseph McCarthy’s Methods Were Wrong, But He Was More Right Than People Realize

Joseph McCarthy is considered to be one of the most wrong people who was ever wrong in politics, according to most of America. He is (in)famous for constantly and consistently decrying an incredible amount of people as Russian spies, and angrily grilling them in front of the senate. His paranoia about Russian agents was legendary, and his scorched earth tactics earned him the ire of the nation, and the senate, who eventually decided to censure him in 1954.

However, while McCarthy’s methods were almost certainly over the top, and put a lot of innocent people unnecessarily through the ringer, the truth was that his paranoia may have been more justified than many people realize. Historical proof shows that the administrations of Truman and FDR were full of Russian spies, that the communist party in America was funded by Moscow, and there were indeed several high profile Russian agents that were caught around that time period, including Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. McCarthy may have gone about things almost entirely wrong, but his fears were not entirely without justification.

1. The MLB May Have Changed The Baseballs For The 2017 World Series

Baseball has always had a bit of a problem when it comes to exciting crowds, and also tends to have a bit of a trust problem with its fans. For baseball nuts, it’s really exciting to see a pitcher pitch a perfect game, for example, but the sport is boring for a general audience. This means that if the MLB wants more people to tune into games, they need to make sure that more home runs happen, because it excites people’s passions and keeps their butts in the seats. When the steroid scandal first broke, it turned out the rabbit hole went far deeper than anyone thought, and it turned out that the MLB knew more than they were letting on and were trying to cover things up, because viewership was up.

More recently, things have become rather suspicious once again. The steroid era was starting to end and pitchers were getting control again — this meant not as much excitement, so something had to be done. The 2017 World Series set a record for having the most home runs in any World Series ever played, and players from both teams are 100% convinced that the balls used were significantly different. Both teams claimed that the balls were noticeably slicker, and this meant pitchers found it much harder to achieve proper control, which means more home runs. While the MLB officially denied it, they officially denied knowledge of the steroid issue as well, and with both teams agreeing there was a major difference, it’s hard to believe the MLB’s denials in this situation.


Crazy But True –

WIF Conspiracies