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This article is about a literary work. For the New Jersey Pine Barrens locality, see Ong's Hat, New Jersey.

Ong's Hat was one of the earliest internet-based secret history conspiracy theories created as a piece of collaborative fiction (aka Incunabula) by four core individuals, although the membership propagating the tale changed over time.



The threads of the story can be traced back as far as the 1980s on bulletin board systems and old xerox mail art networks. The aim was to create a false document, passing it off as a real account, for unspecified aims. It may have started as an in-joke, or the first alternate reality game, or as an attempt to see how far the meme could spread. It could have been inspired by the Montauk Project -- the links with Peter Moon and Sky Books (see further reading) would support such an interpretation.

The initial ground rules acknowledged the possibility that such an experiment could end up going down darker paths, and they specifically ruled out Ong's Hat being used for cult-like activity. This does not appear to have stopped some from claiming that the story really is a front for a cult, or that, even though it is a fiction, that the tale may contain a kernel of truth.

Joseph Matheny was intimately involved in the scheme (although his exact role remains unclear), and he eventually pulled the plug on the venture.


The urban legend (or alternate history) states that a facility manned by renegade Princeton professors conducted quantum physics experiments, and according to conspiracy theories, discovered a new theory for dimensional travel.

They were largely based in the ghost town of Ong's Hat, New Jersey, hence the name of the scheme.

See also

Further reading

  • Matheny, Joseph; Moon, Peter (2002). Ong's Hat: The Beginning. New York: Sky Books. p. 186 pages. ISBN 0-9678162-2-X.  
  • Szulborski, Dave (2005). This Is Not a Game: A Guide to Alternate Reality Gaming. Lulu Press. p. 384 pages. ISBN 1-4116-2595-1.  
  • Matheny, Joseph (1999). The Incunabula Papers: Ong's Hat and Other Gateways to New Dimensions. Santa Cruz: iMMERSION. ISBN 0-9674890-1-6.  

External links

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