Mens zijnde observeren we voortdurend de wereld waarin we leven en proberen we er wijs uit te worden. Dat is waar we goed in zijn. Maar van oudsher verzinnen we - als we iets tegenkomen wat we niet kunnen doorgronden - een verhaal om het te verklaren. Verrassend genoeg zijn we daar nog goed in ook, zelfs al moeten we er aliens bij betrekken.
Waarom worden er zoveel schepen en vliegtuigen vermist in een denkbeeldige driehoek bij Bermuda? Het moeten die buitenaardse wezens zijn, nietwaar!? Jarenlang waren zulke populaire 'verklaringen' meer dan voldoende. Maar naarmate we evolueren, vordert ook de wetenschap, en die levert voortdurend feitelijk bewijs over onderwerpen die zo belangrijk voor ons zijn. Het probleem is dat we niet altijd (willen) luisteren. Zeer veel mensen blijven zich dan ook op een hardnekkige manier op de meest stompzinnige verzinsels vastklampen: alsof zij het écht weten.
Velen van ons geloven nog steeds de mythes in plaats van de ware feiten aan te nemen. En ik snap het: mystieke verhalen zijn véél interessanter en belevendigen verbeeldingswerelden. Maar dat maakt ze nog niet legitiem. Hieronder vind je een lijst van beroemde 'mysteries', die helemaal niet meer mysterieus zijn. Sorry: in het Engels... Haal dus jouw woordenboek boven - of, gebruik indien nodig een vertaalprogramma. Een beetje medewerking mag wel, hé! :-)
1 - Why The Mayans Vanished
It's one of the most prominent societal collapses in human history. The Mayans seemingly abandoned their complex civilization and disappeared into the Central American jungle. For centuries, people puzzled over the disappearance, theorizing everything from an internal peasant revolt, to conquest by an outside and unknown people, to a UFO holocaust.
It wasn't until 2005 that a legitimate theory was put forward to explain what happened, a theory confirmed in 2012. The Mayan civilization collapsed due to a self-created environmental disaster. The Mayans chopped down too many trees, which reduced the land's ability to absorb solar radiation. This made rainfall more scarce, which caused a crippling drought. The Mayans abandoned their land not due to aliens or revolt, but to find food.
2 - The Death Valley Sailing Stones Don't Move On Their Own
The Racetrack Playa is a flat, dry lakebed in the middle of a desert with the lowest elevation in North America. It's also home to mysterious 'sailing stones' that have baffled visitors since the early 1900s. To an untrained observer, it looks like these stones have moved across the surface of the lakebed entirely on their own, leaving tracks up to 1,500 feet long without any sign of human or animal interference. Many theories have been offered to explain this phenomenon, including strong winds, the pull of the Earth's magnetic field, a clever prankster - or, once again...: aliens.
But thanks to a devoted team of scientists, we now know why these stones move. In 2011, researchers from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography attached GPS devices to 15 rocks and left to monitor them. Two years later, they returned to the site and were lucky enough to witness the phenomenon in person. When Death Valley receives a rare winter rainstorm, water can pool on the flat lakebed and freeze overnight, creating large panes of ice around the rocks. In the morning, the ice thaws and cracks into large sheets, and a light gust of wind is all that's needed to move the ice across the lakebed's surface. The ice sheets push the rocks across the lakebed and then melt, leaving nothing behind but the rock's tracks. The scientists called the phenomenon "ice shoving." One of them jokingly described the study as "the most boring experiment ever."
3 - Aliens Are Not Responsible For This Ancient Iron Pillar Not Rusting
Likely built sometime around 450 CE, the 23-foot-tall iron pillar found in Delhi's ancient Qutb Complex amazed both locals and scientists because of its seeming resistance to rust. Theories about the 'out-of-place artifact' abounded, with one explanation being that it was built by aliens, since local people at the time couldn't have built such an element-resistant object.
But recent scientific analysis showed that not only was such a feat well within the capabilities of ancient people, it also revealed exactly why the pillar doesn't rust. It's coated with a thin layer of iron hydrogen phosphate hydrate (also called misawite), which keeps the elements out. The film likely ended up on the pillar through a combination of impurities in the iron and the primitive ovens the metallurgists were using. No ancient astronauts needed.
4 - The UFO That Crashed Near Roswell In 1947
The 'UFO' that crashed near Roswell, New Mexico in 1947 wasn't alien at all. It's actually a high-altitude balloon designed to monitor Soviet atomic tests. However, the government's commitment to secrecy during the Cold War left the explanation as vague as possible, allowing decades for conspiracy theorists to spread their 'work'.
5 - Ships Disappear In The Bermuda Triangle At About The Same Rate As They Do Anywhere Else
For decades, sailors, pilots, and travelers have feared the Bermuda Triangle. This area lies in the Atlantic Ocean, and at least 50 ships and 20 airplanes have 'mysteriously' vanished there. Stories about disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle area date back centuries but the name 'Bermuda Triangle' was coined in 1964 by pulp science-fiction writer Vincent Gaddis, who wrote an article about it for 'Argosy magazine'. Over the years, many theories have attempted to explain these disappearances, including Earth's magnetic field interfering with navigational instruments; enormous bubbles of methane gas bursting on the surface of the ocean; cryptids like sea monsters or aliens; and something to do with the lost city of Atlantis.
The point is not to debunk these explanations, because the real flaw in the Bermuda Triangle theory is the premise that an unusually high number of mishaps involving ships and planes happen there. Pilot and author Larry Kusche spent years researching these disappearances, and he found that many of the reported disappearances didn't actually occur within the Bermuda Triangle. As for those shipwrecks and plane incidents, Kusche and others like the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration have pointed out that maritime disasters occur at about the same rate within the Triangle as they do everywhere else.
6 - The ‘Shroud Of Turin’ Was Carbon-Dated To A Thousand Years After Jesus's Birth
For millions of Christians, the Shroud of Turin is one of the most revered religious icons in the world. The shroud is a 14-foot piece of linen fabric that was purportedly used to wrap Jesus's body for burial. Most remarkably, the shroud features a negative image of an adult male, supposedly Jesus himself. The image, some have suggested, is actually an incredibly detailed bloodstain left by Jesus's body. Since 1578, the shroud has resided in the cathedral of San Giovanni Battista in Turin, Italy, where it attracts thousands of visitors each year.
To some, the validity of a religious icon is a matter of faith, not science. But thanks to modern carbon-dating techniques, scientists have been able to prove that the Shroud of Turin couldn't have been Jesus's actual burial shroud. The Bible doesn't specify exactly what year Jesus perished, but most scholars agree it was the year 33 AD. In 1988, carbon-dating showed that the Shroud of Turin originated in the Middle Ages. Forensic scientists also examined the blood spatter patterns on the shroud and concluded they were made by someone sitting in a variety of positions, not lying flat like a cadaver.
Traditionally, churches and cathedrals like San Giovanni Battista have displayed holy relics purportedly belonging to Jesus, the saints, and other important religious figures. These holy relics weren't just objects of worship, but also big moneymakers that attracted thousands of pilgrims, just like they do today. Like the Shroud of Turin, the provenances of these relics are impossible to prove. In more recent years, the Vatican has officially classified the Shroud of Turin as 'an icon' rather than a literal holy relic.
7 - Crop Circles Can Be Created With Simple Ropes And Boards
Crop circles aren't evidence of aliens visiting Earth - the explanation is far more mundane. Reports of crop circles actually appear as early as the 16th century, however, they became an object of public fascination only in 1978, when one appeared in a field near Warminster, in Wiltshire, England. It was then that hundreds of crop circles appeared throughout southern England and all over the globe. As you could have expected, aliens were blamed by some for making them.. It was believed that crop circles were actually 'flying saucer nests', or sites of UFO landings.
However, crop circles are all a hoax. Sorry, alien fans! Back in 1991, friends Doug Bower and Dave Chorley came forward and admitted they had created the original Wiltshire crop circle. They admitted they'd been inspired by a letter published in a 1963 issue of New Scientist about 'flying saucer nests', and decided to have some fun and see if they could make one themselves. They even showed the BBC exactly how they made it: They used a contraption called a 'stalk stomper', or a simple board with ropes tied on each end. One of them stood holding one end of the rope, while the other stretched the opposite end of the rope as far as it would go and walked in a circle, allowing the board to gently push over the plant stalks. Bower and Chorley admitted to making hundreds of crop circles across England, always working under the cover of darkness. Despite their admission, some people still believe that crop circles are UFO landing sites.
8 - The Loch Ness Monster Is Probably A Large Eel
For almost 1,500 years, people have reported seeing an enormous, mysterious creature living in Loch Ness, a freshwater lake near Inverness, Scotland. The earliest reference to a Scottish lake monster dates back to the biography of Saint Columba, which was written in 565 AD. Reports continued periodically afterward, but they kicked into high gear in 1933, when a road was built along Loch Ness's shore.
One year later, British doctor Robert Wilson shared the infamous Loch Ness Monster photograph, which purported to reveal the monster in its natural habitat (and in no way looks like a plastic dinosaur toy in a bathtub). Though Wilson later admitted the photo was a hoax, belief in the legend persists to this day. As of 2012, a quarter of Scots believed Nessie was real, or at least told a pollster they did. Some think the Loch Ness Monster is a prehistoric holdout, a dinosaur that somehow survived to the present day. Others think it's a cryptid.
There has never been concrete proof of a lake monster living in Loch Ness, not even a washed-up carcass. So why do so many people still believe it? As with a lot of these popular myths, it's not because people are delusional, or that they're seeing something that isn't really there; it's more likely they are seeing some kind of creature and misunderstanding what it is. Skeptics have suggested that many supposed Nessie sightings are really just large fish native to the area - possibly a wels catfish, a sturgeon, or a Greenland shark.
In 2019, a team of researchers from New Zealand analyzed water samples from Loch Ness and studied the DNA of every type of living organism found within it. They found no evidence of dinosaurs, sturgeon, catfish, or sharks, nor did they find the DNA of a previously unknown organism. However, they did find plenty of eel DNA. Like many freshwater lakes in Europe, Loch Ness is home to the European conger, a species of eel that spawns in the Sargasso Sea near the Bahamas and migrates to European bodies of water. European congers can grow up to 7 feet long and weigh up to 130 pounds, making them the likeliest Nessie candidate. If there is a bigger animal living in Loch Ness, it hasn't left any DNA behind.
9 - The 'Flying Dutchman' Ghost Ship Was Likely The Result Of A Common Optical Illusion
Practically since sailing was first invented, sailors have reported seeing mysterious floating objects on the horizon. The most famous of these is the 'Flying Dutchman', sightings of which likely originated in the 1600s - but persisted into the 20th century. Usually, these sightings had similar details: A ghostly ship appears just over the horizon, appearing to be lit by some kind of unearthly light, usually during a storm. Sailors theorized that this ghost ship was a former Dutch trading vessel doomed to sail the ocean for eternity, and whenever it appeared before living sailors, it was a bad omen. Poems about ghost ships helped spread these legends even further, like Walter Scott's Rokeby or Samuel Taylor Coleridge's 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner'.
Ghost ships are just one type of unearthly object people have spotted at sea. In 1643, the Jesuit priest Domenico Giardina reported seeing a floating city over the strait of Messina, just over the horizon. In 1810, cartographers Yakov Sannikov and Matvei Gedenschtrom reported seeing a floating land mass among the New Siberian Islands.
In reality, reports of ghost ships, ghost cities, and ghost islands are all examples of a common optical illusion called 'Fata Morgana'. (The name derives from the character Morgan le Fay, a sorceress from the legend of King Arthur who could create beguiling illusions.) A Fata Morgana is caused by the way our eye perceives light when it passes through spaces with different densities. At the ocean's surface, the water keeps the air relatively cool. Above that layer of cool air is another layer of warmer air. These differences in temperature create atmospheric layers with different densities. When light passes through them, it refracts, or bends. The human eye assumes the light it can see travels in a straight line, so from a distance, refraction can make an object on the water's surface appear as if it's floating above it. Most likely, superstitious sailors probably were seeing real ships. They just looked like they were floating in the air.
Fata Morganas are convincing enough that even though we now know their cause, we can still fall for them. In 2015, residents of Foshan and Jiangxi reported seeing a floating city in the sky. Once again, it was just a mirage.
10 - The Egyptian Secret To Moving Stone Blocks For The Pyramids Wasn't Aliens
Aliens seem to get a lot of credit from conspiracy theorists! Aliens didn't help build the Egyptian pyramids, even though the stones would have been difficult to move. In 2014, physicists from the University of Amsterdam dispelled rumors by putting a method found on an ancient tomb drawing to the test. They determined that the workers hauled the massive stone blocks on a sort of sled. By pouring water on sand or slippery clay as a type of lubricant, the workers reduced the friction of their path and drag the large blocks to construct the pyramids.
11 - The Mysterious 'Starchild Skull' Came From A Human With Congenital Hydrocephalus
Back in 1999, paranormalist and former Magnum, P.I. writer Lloyd Pye introduced the world to a misshapen skull he claimed as proof of extraterrestrial life. The so-called 'Starchild skull' is child-sized and features an enlarged cranium, a flattened back, and no sinuses. Pye also claimed the skull's teeth were much more worn down than a child's would be, and that it was made of organic materials supposedly unknown to science. Pye believed the skull belonged to an alien-human hybrid with a human mother and extraterrestrial father, resembling the 'little grey men' that were depicted by sci-fi author Whitley Strieber and the TV show The X-Files.
However, scientists who examined the Starchild skull didn't agree. A dentist who examined the skull's teeth concluded that it belonged to a child aged about 5 years old. A neurologist found that the skull's deformations are consistent with congenital hydrocephalus, and DNA tests concluded the remains were entirely human in origin, not alien.
12 - The Source Of Blood At Blood Falls Is Iron Oxides
In 1911, explorer and geographer Thomas Griffith Taylor stumbled upon a bizarre sight at the edge Taylor Glacier in East Antarctica. Taylor noted the occurrence of red blood-colored water flowing out of the glacier. At first, scientists thought it was some sort of algae that gave the water the reddish color. They eventually realized iron oxides were the reason, but how this occurred remained a mystery for over 100 years. In 2017, scientists finally discovered the source. Using radio-echo sounding radar, they were able to uncover that the waterfall was connected to an iron-rich source of water trapped under the glacier. The briny water source is believed to be over a million years old - making Blood Falls one very strange and very old waterfall.
13 - The Cause Behind The Great Potato Famine
The Great Potato Famine was devastating to Ireland in the mid-1800s and resulted in one million deaths. Scientists new that a potato blight was to blame for the mass starvation, but the precise strain of the pathogen that triggered it was unknown until fairly recently. "We have finally discovered the identity of the exact strain that caused all this havoc," study co-author Hernán Burbano said. The study named the deadly strain HERB-1 and its discovery was the work of 11 historic samples of potato leaves that were collected about 150 years ago throughout Europe and North America. It's believed that HERB-1 didn't originate in Ireland, but emerged out of Mexico before arriving in European ports.
14 - The 'Yeti' Is Most Likely A Rare Species Of Bear
For thousands of years, native Himalayans and visitors have been convinced that the Himalayas are home to a mysterious, bipedal, apelike creature called the Yeti. (Just like Pacific Northwesterners have believed in Sasquatch.) Stories of the Yeti date all the way back to the Lepcha culture in modern-day Bhutan and Nepal, and they've persisted into modern times. But like most cryptids, there has never been concrete evidence of the Yeti's existence, like a living specimen or even a carcass. The best Yeti enthusiasts have been able to offer is shaky proof like footprints or samples of doubtful origin.
In 2016, a documentary film crew gathered some of these 'Yeti' samples and asked a team of biologists at the University at Buffalo to examine them. The team examined a collection of hair, bone, skin, and excrement supposedly belonging to a Yeti. DNA analysis revealed the samples mostly came from either Himalayan brown bears or black bears.
Like the Loch Ness Monster, it's most likely that people have been mistaking a relatively common animal sighting for something fantastical. The fact that so many cultures around the world have reported seeing cryptids like the Yeti means one thing: brief encounters with apex predators can confuse pretty much anyone.
15 - Chemtrails Are Caused By Hot Plane Exhaust Quickly Freezing In The Cold Upper Atmosphere
Conspiracy theories linked to health are nothing new. One of these theories has to do with chemtrails. Some people believe that the US government is secretly dumping chemicals on the American public using jet engine exhaust. Some conspiracy theorists believe chemtrails control the weather. Others think the government uses chemtrails to test how harmful certain chemicals are. While still others think it's a way to weed out the sick and feeble. There are also some who think it's a form of mind control, or even mass sterilization.
However, chemtrails are actually called 'contrails', and they're simply hot air and water vapor from a jet engine that freezes on contact with Earth's very cold upper atmosphere. Just like any engine exhaust, contrails aren't entirely harmless. They contain carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfate particles, and soot - all forms of pollution that contribute to climate change. But there's no proof contrails have ever contained any kind of unusual chemical or substance. Even if they did, any chemicals released at such high altitudes would be dispersed by the winds. So, if a shadowy and clandestine organization really did want to dose the public, chemtrails would be the least effective way to do it.
16 - The Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot Film
You've probably seen this image of 'Bigfoot' from the 1967 Patterson-Gimlin Film, shot in Northern California. It's the most well-known piece of footage that supposedly proves the existence of Bigfoot.
However, a 2004 book by Greg Long proved that it was all a hoax: a local man, Bob Heironimus, told Long that he wore a suit. However, the stunt may not have been done with ill intentions. Even though Roger Patterson never paid anyone involved with the film and had charges filed against him to get him to return the camera he used, he likely did the whole thing as a stunt to provide for his family, as he was sick with cancer.
17 - Will-O’-The-Wisps From Folklore Were Likely Inspired By Methane Gas
European folklore is full of fantastical creatures, from leprechauns to boggarts to the Baba Yaga, and one of the most enduring folk myths is the 'will-o'-the-wisp'. Throughout history, people have reported seeing mysterious flickering lights floating over marshes and swamplands at night. Witnesses have speculated these lights are spirits stuck in limbo and wandering the Earth. Often, a will-o'-the-wisp sighting is considered a bad omen. Although the term originates from Great Britain, will-o'-the-wisps appear in different cultures around the world.
'Comparative mythology' is a term used when different societies have similar myths. Different cultures can have nearly identical folklore either because their folklore reflects a universal human concern (i.e. a belief in the afterlife) or they're all inspired by the same natural phenomenon.
In this case, it's the latter. Most likely, will-o'-the-wisp reports are really just swamp gas sightings. Usually when organic matter perishes, it decomposes. But in swamps, lifeless organic matter gets submerged and decomposes underground, without exposure to the air. This decomposition creates 'swamp gas', a combination of methane, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, phosphines, and other chemicals. When swamp gas does get exposed to the air, it can spontaneously ignite and cause a flickering effect like the will-o'-the-wisp.
18 - The Underground Secret Of The Easter Island Heads
It was proven that the Easter Island statues could have been made with the tools used by the people of that time. Thor Heyerdahl launched an expedition to explore the island that led to the unraveling the secrets of the stone idols. Among the other things that the researchers discovered was that the Moai heads had bodies and that some of them even reached 20 feet in height.
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