What Lies Below, Day Nineteen

Exploring the Depths of the Infamous “Conspiracy Iceberg”

A badly drawn MS Paint image depicting items from the article

Hello again and welcome back; I’m Rob and the ‘Conspiracy Iceberg’ is a notoriously massive collection of conspiracies, cryptids, urban legends, and other oddities. We’re going to explore the whole thing, 13 items at a time. Good selection today; enjoy!

AQUATIC APE HYPOTHESIS — The idea is that the apes we evolved from wound up along rivers/seas for one reason or another and slowly adapated. It’s uhhhh kinda cool I guess, like I am definitely interested in water apes. Unfortunately it is probably not correct and even if it is, it’s not really that weird. But I hope it is true.

B.E.K.S — I think this is probably referring to “Bulk Encryption Keys” but I really don’t know. If it is, BEK is complicated cryptography stuff that I don’t properly understand enough to explain! There are lots of encrypted files around the internet that allegedly contain all sorts of big secrets and are just awaiting a BEK to be released, or so go the stories. Sometimes a BEK is allegedly attached to a dead man’s switch somewhere or broken into parts and scattered around like a treasure hunt.

CATTLE MUTILATIONS — A worldwide phenomenon going back hundreds of years. There’s all sorts of cases, but USUALLY livestock are found with organs seemingly surgically removed and no blood anywhere. Sometimes, though, animals are found partially skinned or just torn apart but seemingly not partially eaten or anything. The government has investigated this a few times and never offered much real explanation beyond suggesting it’s just people doing it for ??? reasons, whereas other researchers try to say it’s all due to a mixture of natural causes. There’s also the occasional theories about it being the work of various cults(this was pushed hard during the Satanic Panic era). Obviously, we know it is either aliens doing experiments, the government testing weapons, or chupacabra and similar cryptids feeding. (Also a band) (Also what Daniel Bryan used to call his submission finisher)

I’m not posting pictures of cut up dead cows, so here’s Daniel Bryan applying ‘Cattle Mutilation’ to the Miz.

ONIONTOWN — ‘Oniontown’ is a small, rural community in New York. It is economically depressed, a bit run-down, and seemingly perpetually many years ‘behind the times’. There are a lot of places like this scattered throughout Appalachia and elsewhere in the country, but this one got the internet’s attention for some reason and became poverty porn for a whole lot of folks who’ve never seen this sort of thing before. There were lots of urban legends about the scary “hillbillies” who lived there and how backwards it all was, and some derogatory videos wound up on YouTube which led to increased harassment. Eventually, some residents chased off some the youtubers and this earned an even more scary reputation for the place. And so it goes. I’ve been to a lot of places like this; they have more soul than just about any of the boring suburb communities that make up most of the US. Human beings live there and there’s more places like this than you think, don’t be an asshole.

A red box of white candy cigarettes, a distinctive drawn face is the logo
A red box of white candy cigarettes, a distinctive drawn face is the logo

PHANTOM CIGARETTES — This is sadly not ghost smokes. It’s just a candy cigarette brand that were once popular in the US. Candy cigs kind of vanished, though you can still find this brand online. I guess it turns out these things were made of pure sugar and could give you diabetes. Whoops! I’ve heard people say candy cigarettes were a ploy by big tobacco to get kids hooked early, which I guess is believable but isn’t something I really have any evidence for beyond ‘this is a thing I heard people say’.

CHERNOBYL CATFISH — A type of catfish live in the abandoned cooling ponds around Chernobyl and are thriving. They’re also real real big, leading to the expected ‘mutant!’ stories. But that kind of catfish is known for getting huge and far bigger ones have been caught elsewhere. They’re probably just doing so well in Chernobyl because they eat literally anything and have no predators there.

WECHAT MURDERS — “WeChat” is a very very popular social media app in China, used for everything from chatting to paying for things. There’s a lot of sketchy things going on in regards to how the app handles data it collects, but a lot of crime as well. Due to a feature that lets you track the location of people, at least one person was targeted and murdered. Beyond that, other people have been victimized or killed by those they met on the app. I guess this could also refer to chatbot AIs which have been released onto the app and then ‘killed’ by authorities for saying the wrong things. WeChat is worth doing a little reading up on in its own right; it’s the biggest social media platform on the planet and yet a ton of people don’t even know it exists.

DEROS AND TEROS — Okay uhhh where to begin? Starting in the 40s, a guy named Richard Shaver published a bunch of stories about an ancient civilization that had lived beneath the Earth’s surface and done all sorts of things before ditching the planet. It was published in sci-fi/fantasy magazines, but he sincerely believed it. By the end of his life he believed he could glean messages from this civilization in rocks he’d find. Anyway, part of the lore(and he wrote a LOT about all this) is that the ancients left behind remnants of themselves who were divided into two groups. The Teros were good guys and humanlike and the Deros were monstrous bad guys who could and did prey on surface people. While these stories were being run, a lot of other people claimed they had experienced various things that backed this up — and the publisher who’d initially run the stories continued to find ways to print them long after the primary magazine(‘Amazing Stories’) closed up shop.

STREETLIGHT INTERFERENCE — This is the official term for people who believe they have an ability, either conscious or subconscious, to turn streetlights(and sometimes other lights) on and off. Virtually everyone experiences a streetlight going off as they pass it, and some people decide this makes them officially the least useful member of the X-Men. Testing this and trying to prove it is an occasional hobby on various paranormal discussion sites. Also a good band name IMO.

CLOUDBUSTERS(REICH) — Remember Wilhelm Reich from a bit further up the iceberg? The ‘orgone energy’ guy who thought you could harness people’s mojo by putting them in special boxes for a while? Well he thought that stuff was up in the sky, too, and built devices that could allegedly channel it in order to create or break up clouds. This idea has spread and broadened a lot and now, kind of like with the Streetlight Interference above, it’s a superpower people try to convince themselves they have. I distinctly recall some old viral videos of people claiming they were able to ‘bust’ clouds up.

This well-known painting depicts an Umibozu

UMI-BOZU — Umibōzu(I don’t know why they wrote it separated like that) are Japanese sea-spirits(or sometimes considered as cryptids) that range in size and can do anything from harass ships to sink them. They sorta-kinda have a humanoid appearance in that they are usually seen as a head emerging from the water, but sometimes they can shapeshift. Popular in fiction but there’s not a lot of contemporary real-life accounts.

FEMA CAMPS — FEMA(Federal Emergency Management Agency) is, in theory, just a disaster response organization created by the US government in the 70s; it later became a part of the DHS(Department of Homeland Security) — something that didn’t exactly help dismiss the conspiracies surrounding it. FEMA Camps are a conspiracy as old as I can remember, and every modern US president has been theorized to be only weeks away from throwing us all in one such camp. The idea is that FEMA is basically given control in areas where a state of emergency is called, and so the government will use some sort of false-flag situation in order to create a backdrop in which they can sweep up anyone they don’t like and put them in FEMA-operated ‘shelters’, which theorists imagine as anything from prisons to concentration camps. FEMA camps are an interesting study in how politicized(and possibly infiltrated) the modern conspiracy community is. While inherently conservative, most members of that scene were always wary of such camps regardless of who was in office — after all, anyone powerful/elite/rich enough to be a President or Congress member couldn’t possibly be trusted. In the last few years, however, more than a few folks(many from the Qanon crowd) pulled a 180 and decided that FEMA camps were good, actually, and where all the Bad People(anyone to the Left of Mussolini) would be placed when Donald Trump, Jesus, JFK Jr, and the rest of the Qanon Justice League saved the world.

ORFORD MERMAN — Not a merman! Very misleading! This is folklore from the 12th century so who knows what it’s actually based on, but fisherman pulled a strange hairy man from the ocean in brought him to Orford castle in England. He couldn’t speak and freaked people out, then he escaped. Could have been anything from a lost person they found to a fae, who knows.

Welp, that’s it! Good mix. It was a little weird to see something like Oniontown side by side with FEMA camps side by side with Teros and Deros. Good variety. Still the occasional thing that isn’t very weird or obscure, but definitely trending in a stranger direction. See you tomorrow!

DAY EIGHTEEN ← → DAY TWENTY