During World War II, the OSS (precursor to the CIA) hatched a plan to defeat General Rommel's Afrika Korps by using synthetic goat poop. The idea was to drop huge amounts of pathogen-laced pseudo-poop over African towns. Local insects would be attracted to the stuff and would then carry the pathogens to Rommel's troops. However, before the plan could be carried out, Rommel's troops were withdrawn from the area and sent to Russia.
In February 1942, General Rommel's Afrika Korps pummeled U.S. forces in North Africa, and the Americans became worried that their defeat would encourage fascist Spain to join the Axis alliance. Moreover, the Germans were amassing troops in Morocco, in preparation for cutting off the railroad from Casablance to Algiers — the sole supply line for Allied forces. A covert operation was needed to debilitate the German troops, break the momentum of the Axis, and save the Allied lifeline... This called for flies.
The plan was to weaken the enemy forces by using flies to spread a witch's brew of pathogens. Given the agency's inability to rear an army of flies, [OSS Research Director] Lovell decided to conscript the local vectors...
Lovell was a chemist, but he'd been out of the laboratory often enough to know that flies love dung. And with a bit of research, he discovered a key demographic fact: There were more goats than people in Morocco — and goat are prolific producers of poop. Lovell now had the secret formula: microbes + feces + flies = sick Germans. Now all he needed was a few tons of goat droppings as a carrier for laboratory-cultured pathogens.
The OSS collaborated closely with the Canadian entomological warfare experts to launch one of the more preposterous innovations in the history of clandestine weaponry: synthetic goat dung. Of course flies are no fools; they won't be taken in by any old brown lump. So the OSS team added a chemical attractant. The nature of this lure is not clear, but a bit of sleuthing provides some clues.
Allied scientists might have crafted a chemical dinner bell by collecting and concentrating the stinky chemicals that we associate with human feces (indole and the appropriately named skatole). While these extracts would have worked, the more likely attractant was a blend of organic acids, some of which had been known for 150 years. Two of the smelliest of these are caproic and caprylic acids, which, by no coincidence, derive their names from caprinus, meaning "goat." Etymologically as well as entomologically astute, Lovell named the operation Project Capricious. So with a scent to entice the flies, Lovell's team then coated the rubbery pellets in bacteria to complete the lures.
All the Americans had to do was drop loads of pathogenic pseudo-poop over towns and villages where the Germans were garrisoned, and millions of local flies would be drawn to the bait, pick up a dose of microbes, and then dutifully deliver the bacteria to the enemy. Lovell worried about keeping the operation clandestine. The Moroccans had to be persuaded that finding goat droppings on their roofs the morning after Allied aircraft flew over was a sheer coincidence. Presumably a good disinformation campaign can dispel almost any suspicion, or, as Lovell intimated, if the plan succeeded there would be very few people in any condition to raise annoying questions about fecal pellets on rooftops...
In the end, however, Lovell didn't have to worry about getting caught by either friends or foes, as the secret weapon was never deployed. Just as the OSS was gearing up to launch the sneak attack, the German troops were withdrawn from Spanish Morocco. They might well have preferred to take their chances with pathogen-laden flies, given that Hitler was sending them to the bloody siege of Stalingrad.
February 1966: Congressman Craig Hosmer unveiled his strange plan for victory in Vietnam. He suggested air-dropping playing cards, plastic cutouts of women and dogs, and owl hoots onto the Vietcong. His idea was that these would trigger the superstitious nature of the Vietnamese and cause them to surrender — with no shots fired.
Some of his suggestions may actually have been done. I’m not sure.
Hosmer also suggested dropping yellow dye on the Vietcong “to identify them upon infiltration into South Vietnam.” He noted, “Dyeing the Vietcong could, in the end, prove more effective than killing them.”
Back in 1975, Rev. Carl McIntire had the idea of bringing the Vietnam experience back to America by building a Vietnam theme park (to be called 'New Vietnam') in Florida, near Cape Canaveral. Needless to say, the idea didn't go over well. Some details:
The village hootches will be built on stilts, surrounded by rice paddies worked by refugees dressed in native garb.
Adjacent to the village will be a rectangular special forces camp encircled by a moat and guarded by machine gun nests, punji stakes and fatigue-clad "soldiers" hired from the county. Inside will be a war museum of Viet Cong and American memorabilia.
Orlando Sentinel - Sep 11, 1975 (click to enlarge)
Stanisław Szukalski was a painter and sculptor who also developed the pseudoscientific historical theory of Zermatism, positing that all human culture was derived from a post-deluge Easter Island and that mankind was locked in an eternal struggle with the Sons of the Yeti. He illustrated this theory in his works.
Briefly experimented with in 1969 as a way to motivate U.S. troops in Vietnam to stay alert, fight better, and avoid casualties. The idea was that combat would be turned into a game. Each platoon was awarded points for enemy troops killed, weapons captured, and rice caches discovered. But they lost points if they suffered any battle casualties. The winning platoon would receive two or three days off at a rest center.
Troops hated the stay-alert game, so it was quickly mothballed.
Books Selected and endorsed for Pure Weirdness by Your WU Team
Who We Are
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
Our banner was drawn by the legendary underground cartoonist Rick Altergott.