I Want to Believe: Forgotten History?

Did you know that there’s a conspiracy about a monster that cries about its own ugliness? I bet you didn’t. Admittedly, I relate to that creature on an embarrassingly spiritual level.

Through the years, (aha, see what I did there?) a plethora of conspiracies and stories have been lost to time. There’s no telling how much we’ve forgotten in all of humanity’s (approximately) 200,000-some years on Earth, but we can definitively say that in that short span of time, thousands of beliefs have circulated the planet.

I know what you’re thinking. “Where are you going with this, Lana? 200,000 years, a short span?” Alright reader, I hear you. Granted, 200,000 is no small number, but time is a social construct and in terms of the billion-year-old universe (Happy Birthday, Big Bang!), humankind is fairly young. If you ask me, that’s plenty of time to create- and lose- thousands of conspiracies, stories, and beliefs. If you haven’t guessed already, I’ve gathered some for you- so, what are we waiting for? I hereby welcome you to the 6th installment of I Want to Believe: Forgotten History?

(Such speculation. I pronounce “History?” kind of like that “Bees?” card from Cards Against Humanity.)

A disclaimer: some of the theories I have gathered for you are nothing more than shadows of their former selves, and most of them aren’t ancient. Some of them are just old stories about creatures nobody remembers. Hey, I told you before; they’ve been lost to time- either in the Library of Alexandria (or something) or deep in the bowels of the Internet (or something). They’re difficult to dig up, but without further ado…

According to cryptozoology, there are hundreds of undocumented creatures that have been written off as fiction. What better place to begin than with the squonk?

Yep, you read that right- the squonk. The squonk, otherwise known by its scientific name Lacrimacorpus dissolvens, is a legendary creature that allegedly lives in the Hemlock forests of northwestern Pennsylvania- look at that, a local legend!

Supposedly, squonks are timid, hideous creatures. They are hairless, covered with warts, and- for lack of a better term- flabby, with ill-fitting skin. Because of their appearance, they weep constantly; so great is their grief that according to legend, squonks will dissolve into tears if they are threatened, cornered, or otherwise engaged by another living being… Hence their scientific name: Lacrimacorpus dissolvens. The term is derived from Latin, a combination of words meaning “tear,” “body,” and “dissolve.”

The elusive squonk, for your viewing pleasure. Photo Credit

Very little is known about the legend of Lacrimacorpus dissolvens, but apparently, they have an interesting history. Squonks were hunted for their valuable hides, but they were generally difficult to capture because of their elusivity. As the story goes, they are easiest to track during the full moon- surprise, surprise… How original, right?- because their tears create glistening trails on the ground, not unlike the slime left by a snail trail.

The very first presentation of the squonk in popular folklore is unknown. It is suspected that the tale of the squonk dates back to the late 19th Century, during the peak of Pennsylvania’s timber industry, which relied heavily upon Hemlock trees. If squonks were sighted in northwestern PA at all, it would’ve been at that time. The stories are, unsurprisingly, lost to history, with the exception of one novel. A man by the name of William T. Cox may have written the earliest known account of the squonk in his book, called Fearsome Critters of the Lumberwoods, With a Few Desert and Mountain Beasts. Published in 1910, Cox’s work is considered to be a noteworthy fantasy field guide; even today, it is referenced as a popular source of legendary North American creatures.

In the book, Cox told the story of a man named J.P. Wentling, a hunter who successfully captured a squonk circa 1900. Cox wrote that Mr. Wentling was tracking the squonk’s tear-stained trail when he happened upon one crying under a Hemlock tree. He lured the creature by imitating its wails, bagged it, and carried the squonk home. During his trek, it sobbed pitifully in its sack, but upon arrival at Wentling’s house, the bag seemed to lose its dense weight. When Wentling opened it, he found nothing but bubbles and tears.

Fearsome Critters of the Lumberwoods, With a Few Desert and Mountain Beasts is out of print and hard to find, but lucky for you, the 100th Anniversary Hypertext Edition is available online. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that squonks are probably not real, but then again, I exist.

I kid, people. Squonks: the next Bigfoot. There’s actually a song about them, called Any Major Dude Will Tell You by Steely Dan, so you can enjoy that musical masterpiece. If music doesn’t do it for you, read about squonks in Fearsome Critters. Decide for yourself if William T. Cox was telling the truth.

Next up are chemtrails– ring a bell?

Now this theory may or may not qualify as forgotten, but it has definitely faded in recent years, becoming nothing more than background noise. If you haven’t heard about it, the chemtrails conspiracy isn’t really a pleasant one.

Basically, believers in chemtrails theorize that the U.S. government is engaging in some diabolical scheme to release toxins into the air via airplane- and it’s not that unbelievable, although the reasons theorists suggest may be a little extreme.

The chemicals in chemtrails are allegedly sprayed to induce sterilization, shorten our life expectancy, control the weather, or even mind control. People feel very strongly about this.

I don’t think Zeus appreciates graffiti in his domain, good reason or not. In any case…

Not to be confused with contrails, chemtrails are viewed as a serious threat. Merriam Webster defines “contrails,” as “trails of condensed water from an aircraft or rocket at high altitude, seen as a white streak against the sky.” Chemtrails, on the other hand, are visible trails left by aircraft that are theorized to be composed of chemical agents, usually as part of some covert government organization. The difference between the two cannot be distinguished, which is in part why the concept of chemtrails is so terrifying.

Contrails or chemtrails? Photo Credit

The theory has garnered plenty of attention, nonbelievers and believers alike; vocal parties range from the Keith Group at Harvard University to a small spiritual-scientific community called Spirit Science. Although they disagree, there is one single fact they cannot dispute- there are wispy lines in the sky. The only matter in question is what those clouds are composed of.

I took this in stride, conducting a little more research to find definitive proof of chemtrails. It doesn’t take much digging to find details on a little-known activity called “cloud seeding.” I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve never heard of it. At the same time, I don’t consider myself to be a cloud-science genius by any means, so if this sounds familiar, go you.

Whether you’ve heard of it or not, cloud seeding is a form of weather modification. According to atmospheric sciences researcher Arlen Huggins (at the Desert Research Institute, look him up), the general premise is to create rain through some whacked-up scientific nonsense. That’s not a direct quote, by the way. He says,

“Clouds, whether in summer or winter, are not perfectly efficient at producing precipitation… In winter, the problem is that there aren’t sufficient ice crystals. If droplets fall in liquid form they generally evaporate. The idea is to add ice-forming particles.”

Alright, so the point is to affect precipitation patterns or trigger rain in drought-plagued climates. Quoth my friend Helen and our dear Editor in Chief, “Mhmm, sounds fake, but okay.”

The process itself is pretty straightforward, but the chemicals used in cloud seeding are what have the general public concerned. Poison in our air? Destroying the ecosystem? According to the Weather Modification Association, commonly used agents are silver iodide, dry ice, liquefied gases such as liquid nitrogen, calcium chloride, and chemical solutions that contain silver iodide dissolved in acetone. These substances are dispensed from aerosol generators that are often attached to aircraft.

Pretty sure that those health concerns are valid.

With all of this in mind, I bring to your attention the small matter of crop dusters- these planes were commonly used to fertilize, seed, and even distribute pesticides over large expanses of farmland, so I ask again: is the concept of larger aircraft spraying the air really so hard to believe? Some researchers cite these images as examples of proof of the lingering impurities left in the air- but do with them what you will.

“Proof,” or not, in recent years, the issue has been downplayed, reducing believers to little more than paranoid doomsday preachers. The theory is further examined in a documentary, called Why in the World Are They Spraying? So with that, I leave the pondering to you, readers… Chemtrails: fact or fiction?

Up next is ancient history- literally. The following theory isn’t intense, or shocking… It’s just a little bit sad. According to some historians, Julius Caesar was not murdered, but rather committed suicide. I know, I know, this challenges eyewitness reports of Caesar’s assassination- but it’s not the way Caesar died that historians explored, rather the circumstances surrounding the Roman leader before he passed.

It’s fairly common knowledge that Julius Caesar was assassinated at a senate meeting. In an attempt to avoid a dictatorship-like regime, Cassius and Brutus attacked Caesar, and he fell to knife wounds- however, one theory suggests that Caesar committed suicide by passively allowing the assassination to take place.

Although it’s strange, this assumption isn’t totally random; historian Richard Girling published a 2003 article to The Sunday Times Magazine in support of the theory. Girling believes that Caesar suffered from depression because of his severe epileptic condition.

We need to consider both Caesar’s age (at age 56, he is, by contemporary standards, an old man) and his state of health. Ancient texts make it clear that Caesar is by now suffering grievously from epilepsy.

-Richard Girling, The Sunday Times Magazine.

If Caesar had heard rumors of the treachery of the senators, it’s possible that he had decided to accept his fate. Caesar had a new will written up and named Augustus Caesar his successor, and on the day of his assassination, he left himself undefended after dismissing his Praetorian Guard. Whether he allowed himself to be killed or not, to be unguarded on the day of his death seems suspiciously convenient.

Near the end of his life, Caesar was reported to have suffered from fainting spells and diarrhea, not to mention seizures. By allowing the assassination to come to fruition, Julius Caesar would have avoided a possibly humiliating decline. If it were true, Caesar’s life ended on his own terms, and he chose to become a martyr.

Maybe it’s just me, but this theory doesn’t seem all that monumental. If anything, it makes Caesar seem more human and less godlike… Although nobody deserves to be stabbed by their advisors.

With that, we move onto the next little-known theory standing in line: the Phantom Time conspiracy.

I’m not sure how to feel about this one, because it messes with my head and with history and with other subjects that I prefer remain unaltered. The theory is messy, but the gist of it is this: according to phantom time, what we know of our own history has all been a lie, funneled to us through higher authorities who seek to control our view of the past.

Phantom Time is a hypothesis that was named by Bavarian theorist Heribert Illig, but the theory itself was first presented by French Jesuit Jean Hardouin, circa 1700. Hardouin believed that most ancient Greek and Roman art and literature were Jesuit forgeries, created around the 13th-century. He somehow harbored the belief that most Greek and Roman history never transpired… But even after his revelations, the theory dwindled out and was eventually ignored.

Hardouin’s beliefs weren’t furthered until Russian mathematician Anatoly Fomenko followed his example, using a variety of seemingly random observations (statistical analyses of ancient texts and astronomical studies). He believed that Hardouin had not been thorough enough, and came to his own conclusion that the Jesuits had not only forged Greek and Roman history, but all of ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and Arabic history as well. With this added 1,000 or so years of incorrect history, Jesus Christ would have walked the Earth only 900-some years ago.

This weirdness is passed along for a few years, then along comes Heribert Illig, who has a much more specific claim, timeline-wise. In accordance with the theory, Illig suggests that the early Middle Ages never happened, among other disconcerting things. He instead suggests that these dates (approximately 297 years between 614-911 A.D.) were added to the calendar either by accident or by deliberate falsification. This seems to be a very black-and-white way of looking at the theory, but the conspiracy is much more complex.

In addition to the problematic nature of, you know, living a lie, the prospect that a good chunk of our history would be considered falsified is daunting. The thought of it alone makes me uncomfortable, especially if you take into account the historical issues that arise. If the Phantom Time hypothesis proved true, this would mean that artifacts ascribed to those three centuries actually belong to another period, and that all of the events thought to have occurred during 614-911 A.D. occurred at other times, or are also outright fabrications.

It’s a huge claim, to say the least- especially for the historical community. Even with all of this in mind, if you really start to think about it, it also begs the question: why are Big Brother-like figures controlling our view of the past? There must’ve been some seriously incriminating alien sightings throughout 614-911 A.D., or God himself graced the planet because WHY. THE. LIES.

In 1986, Horst Fuhrmann oversaw an archaeological conference to discuss such discrepancies throughout history. Fuhrmann suggested that several documents attributed to the Roman Catholic Church circa 614-911 A.D. were actually created centuries before any of the events described. These documents had been previously registered as factual by much of the medieval community… So, if the documented dates didn’t add up, either the writer of the documents was clairvoyant and could see the future with incredible accuracy, or they simply lied and f*cked up pieces of our history. Big time.

Throw in a century here, a dark age or two there, maybe a plague… If this theory were actually correct, meddling at the hands of the Catholic Church resulted in us recording a span of 297 years that never happened. We could actually be living in the year 1720. How weird is that?

We have this déjà vu and this massive memory hole where we somehow have forgotten history, only to have it replaced with other history.

-Clyde Lewis for Ground Zero.

It gets a lot more complex with religious undertones, so if you’re interested, be sure to check it out. That’s a theory I’d prefer to have left forgotten.

I’ve saved the most bizarre theory for last, because I always go out with a bang. Honestly, the conspiracy is a little messed up, and it’s not so much forgotten, just unknown- for good reason. It’s absolutely wild, are you ready?

People think that JonBenét Ramsey was never murdered, and instead grew up to become Katy Perry.

First of all… What?

The similarities mean nothing. Photo Credit

The theory originated on the YouTube channel of a rather… intense conspiracy theorist named Dave Johnson. In his videos, Johnson either debunks random theories or expresses his own unpopular beliefs. Johnson is best described as a hoax blogger. He’s also an avid believer in the Flat-Earth theory (the conspiracy claiming that the Earth is flat. It’s not 1492, people. It’s 2017). His revelations about JonBenét were met with some serious backlash and criticisms- after all, the entire theory is in pretty poor taste.

For those of you who don’t know, JonBenét Ramsey was a six-year-old beauty pageant queen. She was found dead in the basement of her Boulder, Colorado home in 1996; ever since, the crime has remained unsolved. For 20 years, it has remained officially open, and from time to time the case resurfaces… But new explorations have yielded no results.

JonBenét’s family was the target of most of the suspicion throughout the case, but neither her parents John and Patsy nor her older brother Burke were ever convicted. Patsy Ramsey passed away in 2006, but in 2016, Burke Ramsey (now 29) broke his 20-year silence in an interview with Dr. Phil.

Burke Ramsey makes me uncomfortable. Photo Credit

After the interview aired, thousands of people found Dave Johnson’s JonBenét/Katy Perry conspiracy theory. In the video, Johnson claims that, “nobody got hurt, the sacrifice was in the name only,” and “JonBenét became Katy Perry, and that’s a fact.” He goes so far as to suggest that John and Patsy Ramsey are the same couple as Katy Perry’s parents; according to Johnson, the pair underwent a few changes (mom lost weight, dad shaved his head and became a pastor) to fit the role of the parents of a superstar.

Other comparisons between the singer and the six-year-old extend to similarities between their eyebrows and facial structure. Poking fun at the death of a six-year-old is pretty shitty, even if she passed away two decades ago. Maybe Johnson can sail to the end of the Earth and drop off the side.

There’s one thing I want to know: does Katy know about this?

Me too, Katy. Photo Credit

Watch Johnson’s theory on YouTube, and decide for yourself if Katy Perry faked her death in pursuit of a singing career when she was 6.

On that pleasant note… We’ve barely scratched the surface of forgotten theories and folklore, but I suppose the search for more is part of the fun. Out of everything you’ve read today, what theory was your personal favorite, or the most believable?

I’ll give you a hint at my favorite: it rhymes with donk (I liked the squonk).

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Resources, because I sunk into the bowels of the Internet for this:

“Squonk.” Cryptid Wiki. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.

Admin. “Cryptozoology: The Hunt for Unknown or Forgotten Animals.” Anomalies: The Strange & Unexplained. N.p., 12 Oct. 2016. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.

Ltd, Not Panicking. “H2g2 – Squonks – Mythical Animals – Edited Entry.” H2g2 – Squonks – Mythical Animals – Edited Entry. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.

You, Submitted By. “For The Last Time: Chemtrails Are Not A “Conspiracy Theory”.” Spirit Science. N.p., 14 Oct. 2016. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.

“Chemtrails Conspiracy Theory.” The Keith Group. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.

Beall, Stephanie. Weather Modification Association. N.p., 2001. Web. 01 Apr. 2017.

Moseman, Andrew. “Does Cloud Seeding Work?” Scientific American. N.p., 19 Feb. 2009. Web. 01 Apr. 2017.

Lewis, Clyde. “Ground Zero » 911 A.D.: The Phantom Time Conspiracy.” Ground Zero. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Apr. 2017.

Dunning, Brian. “The Phantom Time Hypothesis.” Skeptoid Podcast. Skeptoid Media, n.d. Web. 01 Apr. 2017.

Goldwag, Written By Arthur. “Heribert Illig’s Theory of Invented Time.” Arthur Goldwag. N.p., 19 Oct. 2010. Web. 01 Apr. 2017.

Tormsen, David. “10 Conspiracy Theories About The Ancient World.” Listverse. N.p., 03 Dec. 2015. Web. 04 Apr. 2017.

Baker, Neal. “Sick JonBenet Ramsey Conspiracy Claims Katy Perry Is the Murdered Six-year-old Beauty Queen.” The Sun. The Sun, 16 Sept. 2016. Web. 04 Apr. 2017.

“The JonBenet Ramsey Murder: Brother Burke Breaks His 20-Year Silence | Dr. Phil.” Dr Phil. N.p., 12 Sept. 2016. Web. 04 Apr. 2017.

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