No one knows what creates the thousands of fairy circles dotting southern Africa, but we now know that after mysteriously springing up, they live for approximately 41 years. Via ScienceNOW: Tens of…
As recently as one hundred years ago, in parts of the Eastern European countryside, fear of vampires ran so high that corpses had iron stakes driven through their hearts. One wonders what…
Via Boing Boing, for the no-longer-in-existence Anti-Superstition Society of Chicago, Friday the 13th was naturally the most important day of the year. In 1940, they rang the day in in December with…
This AFP piece on the intersection of morbid superstition and real estate piqued my interest. Local buyers typically shy from residences where gruesome, unnatural deaths occurred, so out-of-towners are swooping in to…
Trine Tsouderos reports in the Chicago Tribune:
Thanks to a $374,000 taxpayer-funded grant, we now know that inhaling lemon and lavender scents doesn’t do a lot for our ability to heal a wound. With $666,000 in federal research money, scientists examined whether distant prayer could heal AIDS. It could not.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine also helped pay scientists to study whether squirting brewed coffee into someone’s intestines can help treat pancreatic cancer (a $406,000 grant) and whether massage makes people with advanced cancer feel better ($1.25 million). The coffee enemas did not help. The massage did.
NCCAM also has invested in studies of various forms of energy healing, including one based on the ideas of a self-described “healer, clairvoyant and medicine woman” who says her children inspired her to learn to read auras. The cost for that was $104,000.
Surely a rhetorical question if ever there was one, but the Times of India takes it seriously: At 11.11.11 on 11.11.11, the time and date will be a perfect same-numbered palindrome, reading…
No biggie, just let it go to voicemail. Via the BBC: Nigeria’s authorities have been forced to reassure the public that a mobile phone number cannot kill, after rumors were spread…that several…
JERUSALEM — A Jerusalem rabbinical court condemned to death by stoning a dog it suspects is the reincarnation of a secular lawyer who insulted the court’s judges 20 years ago, Ynet website reported Friday.
According to Ynet, the large dog made its way into the Monetary Affairs Court in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood of Mea Shearim in Jerusalem, frightening judges and plaintiffs.
Despite attempts to drive the dog out of the court, the hound refused to leave the premises.
One of the sitting judges then recalled a curse the court had passed down upon a secular lawyer who had insulted the judges two decades previously.
Their preferred divine retribution was for the lawyer’s spirit to move into the body of a dog, an animal considered impure by traditional Judaism.
Interesting article from Cyriaque Lamar on io9.com on the history of “occult” warfare:
Military psy ops aren’t limited to leaflets, propaganda broadcasts, and Korean pop music. In the past, the US military has played on their opponent superstitions of vampires, ghosts, and astrology. Here are some strange examples.
In World War II, US forces exploited the Nazi’s predilection to put stock in superstitions and the occult. The Rand Corporation’s 1950 memorandum “The Exploitation of Superstitions for Purposes of Psychological Warfare” details how pseudoscience connoisseur Joseph Goebbels counteracted Allied attempts to strike fear into the superstitious strata of the German population.
Another curious incident noted in the Rand document occurs in Italy, where British military created a giant manikin to scare rural residents. A large, shambling creature was assembled to freak out superstitious locals…
Neil Keene writes in the Daily Telegraph:
It could be one of the most bizarre reasons ever offered by a speeding driver — “A ghost made me do it.” But that is exactly the story being put forward by superstitious motorists hitting speeds of up to 180km/h on a road north of Newcastle, supposedly to conjure a ghost.
Port Stephens police have issued a warning to drivers after it emerged that young people were driving at dangerously high speeds along a stretch of Lemon Tree Passage Rd to conjure the spirit of a 20-year-old motorcyclist killed in a crash with a speeding driver in the area three years ago.
A handful of videos have been posted on YouTube, allegedly showing a ghostly bright light appearing in the rear windscreen of cars that start driving at dangerous speeds.Some locals are convinced the light is that of the motorcyclist’s ghost, in pursuit of people who drive dangerously.
A 13-year-old boy was struck by lightning — at 13:13 hours on Friday the 13th, according to reports. The teen was watching an air show at Lowestoft, England, when he was struck and was later treated for burns to his shoulder, the UK’s Mirror newspaper said. He is expected to fully recover.
Rex Clarke, leader of the St. John Ambulance team that treated the child, described what happened. “Suddenly there was this huge crack of lightning really close to the seafront and really loud thunder,” he told the Mirror. “Seconds later we got a call someone had been hit. The boy was breathing and was conscious.”
“He had a minor burn to his shoulder and was taken to hospital as a precaution. It could have been a lot worse,” he said, adding: “It’s all a bit strange that he was 13, and it happened at 13:13 on Friday the 13th.”
Tom Odula writes on the AP: Attackers in Burundi chopped off the limbs of a 5-year-old albino boy and pulled out his mother’s eye, killing them over the belief that their body…