man in hospital
Mayukh Saha
Mayukh Saha
June 26, 2024 ·  9 min read

12 Disturbing Facts We Wish We Could Forget

Sometimes it’s fun to learn. Sometimes not so much. It’s not that disturbing facts aren’t interesting; what’s more interesting than the disturbing fact that the CIA faked proof of vampires to put down a rebellion? Or that your body can tell when it gets the wrong kind of blood? These creepy facts are sure to interest anyone with a twisted sense of wonder—we just wish they weren’t true. Some facts will shock, puzzle, and disturb you, like how Bayer sold a drug that contained HIV-infected human blood. They will make you wonder if you have ever really known this strange, wonderful, and sometimes scary world. Don’t say we didn’t tell you.

1. Some Tumors Can Grow Teeth and Hair

Tumor with teeth
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Many strange discoveries have shocked and perplexed scientists and doctors alike in the medical world. One particularly unsettling medical phenomenon is the teratoma. A teratoma is a rare germ cell tumor that can contain immature or fully formed tissues. This means these tumors can grow teeth and hair, with some even able to grow eyes, bone, and muscle. These tumors can be cancerous and non-cancerous and form in newborns, children, and adults, and they are most common in females. Teratomas are usually found in the testicles, ovaries, and tailbone, but they can grow in other body parts.

2. Disturbing Fact: Your Body Warns You If You Received The Wrong Type Of Blood

Blood transfusion
Image Credits: Flickr

A blood transfusion helps replace the blood a person loses during surgery or when they have suffered a serious injury. Although blood transfusions are nothing short of a miraculous invention that routinely saves lives, they can also place a person’s life in jeopardy. A transfusion of the wrong blood type can cause death, and commonly, people have reported feeling a sense of impending doom.” Technically, this sense of doom (or, disturbing fact) is known as an acute hemolytic transfusion reaction. It usually occurs within the first 24 hours of a transfusion and often during it. This sense of doom allows people and doctors to know the patient has been given the wrong blood type. Often, this sense of doom is accompanied by a burning sensation at the site of transfusion, fever, back pain, and chills.

Read More: 35 Maps That Show Us Lesser Known Facts About America

3. In The ’80s, Bayer Knowingly Sold A Medication Made Of Human Blood That Carried A Risk Of HIV

An HIV infected cell
Image Credits: Flickr

According to numerous medical professionals and medication recipients, Bayer knowingly sold a blood-clotting medicine made with human blood that carried a risk of HIV. During the mid-1980s, Bayer allegedly sold millions of dollars worth of the medication, Factor VIII concentrate, in Asia and Latin America, which caused thousands of people to contract HIV. This medicine was made from pooled plasma donations from approximately 10,000 people. At the time, scientific technology was less advanced, so these blood donations couldn’t be tested for HIV, resulting in thousands of hemophiliacs becoming infected. Perhaps the most alarming part is Bayer sold a new, safer version of its blood-clotting medicine to the US and other Western countries, leading some to accuse the company of ethnic discrimination.

4. Humans Wipe Out 100 Million Sharks Each Year

A bull shark
Image Credits: Flickr

Despite the fear sparked by films like Jaws or Open Water, sharks are a vital part of a healthy ocean ecosystem. And while sharks assaulting humans is statistically pretty rare, in the fishing industry, humans kill approximately 100 million sharks every year. That high annual number of deaths has led to an approximately 70% decline in shark populations globally in the last 50 years. All the major fishing countries that use destructive fishing practices have contributed to this decline. In recent years, the market for shark meat has rapidly expanded to include oil and cartilage trading. The exchange of these products has contributed to a global market worth nearly $1 billion each year. With such a high profit margin, sharks have now become an eagerly hunted commodity.

Read More: 10 Historical Facts You Probably Haven’t Heard Of

5. The Disturbing Fact Of Japan Bombing China With Plague-Fleas

A scale model of a flea (not the one used by Japan)
Image Credits: Flickr

Many cruelties committed during WWII have had far-reaching effects on people across the globe. One lesser-known disturbing act was committed by a once-secret scientific team known as Unit 731. This team acted on behalf of the Japanese government and, alongside the Japanese army, is believed to have bombed Ningbo, China, with plague-infected fleas in 1940. The Japanese reportedly assaulted China as part of a trial of germ warfare. Bacteriologists say the fleas carried a highly virulent, artificially created strain of the bubonic plague, which took the lives of approximately 109 people. In addition to the loss of life, the experiment’s lingering effects are still felt by the people of Ningbo. Eight decades later, the pathogens released by the germ bombs continue to return. Not only do some inhabitants still fear a fresh outbreak of the disease, but they have to demolish properties suspected of being infected.

6. The Ancient Roman Punishment For Patricide Was A Truly Disturbing Fact

An old depiction of the punishment being carried out.
Image Credits: Flickr

Ancient Rome is well known for its harsh and gruesome forms of punishment. Even so, not many are aware of the “Poena Cullei” punishment that directly translates to “penalty of the sack.” This ancient punishment was reserved for offenses like parricidium, which is the killing of a close relative, sibling, or parent. In 100 BCE, someone found guilty of such an offense would be placed into a sack with their feet weighted down by wooden clogs. The sack would then be sealed and the offender thrown in the river. However, this practice evolved during the early phase of the Roman Empire, and not in a fun way. Criminals were later sewn into a leather sack with live animals and thrown into the river, where the animals might eventually feed on the person in the sack while they tried to escape (but couldn’t).

7. The CIA Faked Vampire Assaults To Win Over The Philippines

A depiction of aswang
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons

After WW2, the Huks (a former allied Philippine guerilla contingent) began to feel marginalized once again and clashed with the American government. As the Cold War was heating up, the Philippines was a valuable asset to the US government. So, the CIA put one of its best officers, Edward Lansdale, on the job. Lansdale was an alleged expert in psychological warfare. Lansdale’s plan was to play on his enemies’ superstitions. In Filipino folklore, aswang are mythical creatures that can drain blood much like a vampire. In the 1950s, many rural Filipinos were strong believers in the aswang, so Lansdale plotted an aswang strike. Following Lansdale’s plan, the CIA offed Huk rebels, drained them of blood, and left their mangled corpses to be found with two puncture wounds to the neck. This not only frightened the Huks, but it also gave townspeople pause about supporting the Huks or their cause.

8. The Disturbing Fact That Mount Everest Climbers Use Dead Bodies As Trail Markers

The Mount Everest
Image Credits: Flickr

For many, climbing Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, is an ambitious bucket list dream. But it’s also an incredibly difficult and treacherous one – not everyone who sets out to conquer this mountain makes it back alive. Over the years, more than 200 people have perished while trying to climb Mount Everest, their bodies remaining on the mountain. They may have lost their lives to any number of Everest’s perils – falling rocks, lack of oxygen, or falling from dangerous heights, just to name a few. While the corpses may be a deterrent for some, more than 4,000 people have still chosen to undertake the trek, and those who have passed on the mountain sometimes serve as a macabre guide. Retrieving a body from Everest is a difficult endeavor; it costs thousands of dollars and requires six to eight Sherpas to risk their own lives.

9. Two Of The World’s Youngest Billionaires Are Heirs To A Third Reich Fortune

The sentencing of Friedrich Flick
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Twin siblings, Karl-Friedrich and Viktoria-Katharina Flick, are reportedly two of the world’s youngest billionaires. But perhaps more notable than their ages is the source of their fortunes which is also a very disturbing fact. Born into a wealthy family, their fortune dates back to the Third Reich, when Friedrich Flick (grandfather of Karl-Friedrich and great-grandfather of Viktoria-Katharina) worked closely with Adolf Hitler to make his wealth. Flick was an industrialist in Germany and was an ardent supporter of the Third Reich. He used his company’s wealth and influence to support Hitler’s rise to power and benefited greatly from Hitler’s policies. He profited immensely from seizing Jewish properties, using concentration camp labor to manufacture armaments, and producing coal, steel, and other essential war materials.

Read More: 30+ Facts That Will Probably Teach You Something New

10. The Oldest Animal On Earth Was Accidentally Killed By Researchers

Ming the clam
Image Credits: Bangor University

For years, the world’s oldest living animal was a clam named Ming. This clam was a member of the species Arctica islandica, known for its longevity, and it was found off the coast of Iceland in 2006. Scientists at Bangor University estimated the clam’s age to be around 405 years old when they discovered it. However, Ming met an untimely death at the hands of the very researchers who discovered it. While trying to determine its exact age, the researchers inadvertently killed the clam by prying it open. After this incident, they revisited their research and found they had initially miscalculated Ming’s age. The clam was actually 507 years old, making it the oldest known animal on earth.

11. The 584 Unlivable Sq. Miles Near Washington

The unlivable site near Washington
Image Credits: Wikiedia Commons

A 586-square-mile nuclear wasteland in central Washington State may surprise many Americans. The Department of Energy and US Department of Defense generated tons of plutonium at the Hanford Site for approximately 30 years. In 1943, the government compelled many people to evacuate so it could generate plutonium for its atomic weapons program. This program invented the WWII-ending device. The factory produced Cold War weaponry until 1987. However, these industrial procedures generated large amounts of toxic liquid and solid waste including hazardous chemicals and radioactive elements. Many of these harmful chemicals have seeped into the Area, particularly the Columbia River.

12. In 1518, A ‘Dancing Plague’ Sent Dozens Of People To Dance Themselves To Death

An engraving portraying 3 afflicted people.
Image Credits: Wikipedia

The year 1518 saw one of the most bizarre episodes in medical history, known as the “Dancing Plague” or Dance Epidemic.” It all began in July in Strasbourg, France (then part of the Holy Roman Empire), when a woman named Frau Troffea started dancing uncontrollably in the streets. Her compulsive dancing lasted for days, and soon, dozens of others joined in. Within a month, about 400 people were dancing non-stop. The afflicted individuals danced for days on end, with some reportedly dying from heart attacks, strokes, or exhaustion. The local authorities and physicians were baffled by this phenomenon and could not identify its cause. Modern theories suggest the dancers may have been victims of mass hysteria or a collective stress-induced psychogenic illness, possibly triggered by the harsh conditions and widespread famine of the time.

Read More: 7 Touching Facts About Blood Donation That’ll Make You Run To Your Nearest Giving Centre

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