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Monday, August 8, 2016

‘Stranger Things’: The Secret CIA Programs That Inspired Hit Series...

Rolling Stone
August 8, 2016
The hit Netflix series Stranger Things was clearly influenced by Steven Spielberg and Stephen King, with a heaping helping of The X-Files and Twin Peaks thrown in for good measure. But some of its creepiest source material comes from the real world. Past the plot points about the Upside-Down and the slime monsters among us are references to government mind-control programs and covert experiments in telepathy that actually took place in the U.S. throughout the 20th century – like MKUltra and Stargate Project.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Matt and Ross Duffer, the brothers behind the show, mentioned some of this inspiration: “We wanted the supernatural element to be grounded in science in some way,” Matt says. “As ridiculous as it is, the monster [in the alternate dimension] doesn’t come from a spiritual domain and it’s not connected to any religion. It made it scarier. I don’t believe in ghosts, but I believe in aliens and alternate dimensions.”
But which elements are more fact than fiction? Here are five examples from the show that had real-life equivalents – some of them freaky enough to make monsters look like an appealing alternative. Obviously spoilers abound, so come back later if you’re not done with the show yet.
Government-Funded Drug Experiments
When Chief Hopper tracks down Terry Ives, the woman who attempted to sue the government for abuse after what happened to her at Hawkins, he and Ives’ sister talk about “Project MKUltra.” Though it sounds like what conspiracy theorists’ wet dreams are made of, MKUltra was a real government program funded by the CIA that went on from the 1950s to the early 1970s. It tested countless subjects at over 80 institutions, many of which were fronts funded by the government and filtered to schools, private hospitals and even a couple jails.
Most of the documents relating to the project were destroyed by the CIA in 1973 because of course they were, but what we know comes from witness testimony, a couple congressional investigations and a cache of 20,000 incorrectly-filed budgetary documents found during a Freedom of Information Act request in 1977. It’s enough to paint a terrifying picture of a wide-ranging government project that sought to capitalize on mind-control techniques that could, theoretically, be used against enemies during the Cold War.

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