Stuff You Should Know | Podcast Review | October 12, 2015 | By

Stuff You Should Know: “What was the Philadelphia Experiment”

I think deep down, most of us like to imagine there’s at least some degree of magical and fantastical elements in our increasingly scientific and empirical world. It’s a definitively human trait.

People are imaginative. People are easily fooled. And most people actually want to believe crazy shit. The hoax/conspiracy of the Philadelphia Experiment highlights all of these attributes rather well.

Before I begin this review, I’ve got a confession. I did not read the episode preview description prior to listening to this episode. And that made for a confusing start. Sorry Josh and Chuck, but you jumped right in to some of the details of the back story and I wasn’t sure what was really going on.

I soon realized this was no fault of Josh or Chuck—this week’s story is just downright absurd. But stick with it—it pays off.

In the 1950’s, Morris K. Jessup (author/astronomer and UFO investigator) told the world of a story brought to him by the enigmatic Carlos Miguel Allende (resident time traveler and/or conspiracy theorist). Carlos Miguel Allende who purportedly had experienced a grand military experiment in the waters near Philadelphia, way back in 1943. Allende claimed that the military had worked with Albert Einstein to teleport an entire US war ship through time. Allende alleged that Einstein had manage to complete the UFT (Unified Field Theory), a theory whcih had eluded him for the latter part of his storied career. In layman’s terms, he had developed the Theory of Everything, tying together all areas of physics together.

Naturally, the military (allegedly) used this to defeat the Nazis via some teleportation device. And then attempted to keep everyone quiet. Some sailors disappeared one evening. That entire warship disappeared and reappeared overnight. We find out there’s all plausible explanations for the outlandish claims made by Mr. Allende (real name Carl Allen). Interestingly, the story takes does some some further, stranger turns—that I won’t spoil here—which did cause some questions to be raised. Because, what’s a compelling conspiracy without a few loose ends?

At first, and early on in this podcast, I wasn’t that interested in learning about this hoax. The lack of credibility of both Allende and Jessup—which Josh and Chuck (rightfully) harp on—makes it difficult to even accept a shred of the story this as fact.

But if you’re one of those people who religiously watched the first season of Finding Bigfoot 1 and have your tinfoil hat at the ready: you might find this week’s topic impossible to get out of your head.

For me, I think it takes longer for me to get engaged with some of the “Stuff” I don’t know anything about. But in this case, I managed to become a little more intrigued as time went on. The more and more crazy the story sounds, the more interesting it gets. By the end, I want to believe . 2

I think deep down, most of us like to imagine there’s at least some degree of magical and fantastical elements in our increasingly scientific and empirical world. It’s a definitively human trait, which we’ve displayed at least as long as we’ve looked to the heavens and dreamed up the great tales of Thor and Ragnarok or Zeus and the battle with the Titans. Even just on our planet, between Stonehenge, Easter Island and  the Great Pyramids, most of us only half-jokingly claim that least one of them had to be constructed by aliens? (Right?)

Just like crazy fan theories surrounding the status of Game of Thrones least knowledgeable member of the Night’s Watch, the anatomy of a hoax fascinates me. Certain key elements make some wild theories stick and spread much more pervasively than others, but I’d love to listen to a deeper analysis. Josh and Chuck, I think we’ve got a new topic request for you. (They’ve indirectly touched on hoaxes and conspiracies when discussing Moon Landing deniers and what’s the deal with Crop Circles.)

Watch the loosely related movie at your own risk, but tune in to Josh and Chuck for a more historically accurate account of the story of Carl Allen; find “What was the Philadelphia Experiment” here.

(Last week’s other episode: How Lobbying Works)


  1. It’s actually entertaining when you make a drinking game out of it. Also, it’s inexplicably on its 6th season. ^
  2. The third search result for “x files sound” is this video, which does contain the sound I’m looking for, but it also is titled “Illuminati Confirmed Sound Effect (X-Files theme).” I’ll take that as a sign. ^

About the Author

Nick Wade is a founding writer at Audiologue, where he writes about The Sporkful and Stuff  You Should Know. You can find him at

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