|llustration of a zombie in a sugar cane field in Haiti. (Jean-Noël Lafargue)|
Zombies in Real Life: A Man’s Horrific Experience
In 1980, Clairvius Narcisse checked himself into a hospital in Deschapelle, Haiti, almost 20 years after his family had buried him in their village’s cemetery.
His family knew his grave had been disturbed shortly after his death, but they didn’t know that a local bokor (vodou sorcerer) had stolen his body and effectively turned him into a zombie.
Harvard-educated ethnobotanist Dr. Wade Davis explained the case in an interview with Canadian national broadcaster CBC in 1986.
A combination of drugs are used in making someone a zombie. Tetrodotoxin, a neurotoxin 160,000 times stronger than cocaine, is rubbed into the skin, into a wound. This substance creates a comatose state that is sometimes mistaken for death. When a bokor turns someone into a zombie, this substance is used, followed by a hallucinogen, Datura stramonium, commonly known as Jimson weed.
Narcisse was first poisoned with tetrodotoxin by the bokor, the doctors pronounced him dead but his mind was still active. The bokor then used the Jimson weed and kept Narcisse for years in a servile state, working on a plantation, without control over his own faculties. When the bokor died, Narcisse wandered away and eventually ended up back in his home town with a horrific tale to tell.
In 1980, eminent scientists Dr. Lamarque Douyon and Dr. Nathan Klein declared Narcisse’s case the first confirmed case of zombie-ism. A couple of years later, Davis was sent to Haiti to research the herbal substances said to produce zombies.
He said he was not predisposed to believe: “I myself never would have thought that zombies could exist.”
Yet, upon studying tetrodotoxin and Haitian culture, Davis became a believer.
The cultural belief in zombies is key, he said. This is also a sensitive issue; the Haitian vodou beliefs, and in particular a belief in zombies, has been said to be widely misunderstood, contributing to a misconception of Haitian society. Zombies are a fringe belief in vodou and not part of its core practices.
Davis explains that the effect of the drugs is in part a placebo effect, reliant on a belief in zombies.
In Japan, people are often poisoned with tetrodotoxin by ingesting puffer fish. Expert chefs must carefully prepare the fish so as not to release the toxin it contains. Nonetheless, poisoning—sometimes fatal—occurs annually.
“The victims of the fish in Japan do not become zombies, they become poison victims,” Davis said. “In Haiti, though, a zombie is a whole set of beliefs.”
Under the effect of hallucinogens, a person’s thoughts and beliefs can especially have a strong effect on his perception. Some Haitians may believe in zombies and thus when they are in that situation, especially under the effects of hallucinogenic drugs, they may become zombie-like.
Davis said zombie-making is very rare, but it is a form of deterrent in a community. He said it is a social sanction against those who transgress the norms or laws of the community. Like capital punishment, he said, the concept that one could be made into a zombie for breaking the rules is an effective deterrent even if it is not often done.
Many scientists have rejected Davis’s research, but Yale African art historian Robert Farris Thompson defended him. A University of Michigan article, titled “Haiti and the Truth About Zombies,” quotes Thompson’s introduction to Davis’s book “Passage of Darkness”: “I would never have been steered in the right direction, taught to take the zombie phenomenon seriously as a social sanction of the greatest import, had I not come into contact with the research distilled in this volume by Wade Davis.” - The Epoch Times
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Half of American fans say 'supernatural' forces are in play during sports events
So do you say a little prayer during a pivotal play or wear lucky socks during a big game? You are not alone.
“Just ahead of the 2014 Super Bowl, 50 percent of sports fans see some aspect of the supernatural at play in sports, meaning they either pray to God to help their team, have thought their team was cursed at some point in time, or believe that God plays a role in determining the outcome of sporting events,” reports a new survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, a nonpartisan, non-profit group based in the nation’s capital.
A fervent 26 percent of the respondents say they have prayed that “for God to help their team”, while an equal number have entertained the notion that their team was “cursed.”
The gridiron tends to bring out this behavior.
“Football fans are also more likely than other fans to say they pray for their team (33 percent ), perform pre-game or game-time rituals (25 percent), or to believe that their team has been cursed (31 percent).
White evangelical Protestants (38 percent), white mainline Protestant (33 percent) and minority Protestant (29 percent) sports fans are considerably more likely than Catholic (21 percent) or religiously unaffiliated (15 percent) fans to say they have prayed for their team, the survey found.
Twenty one percent have either a special ritual or a lucky item of clothing they associated with a big game. Another 22 percent say that God “plays a role in which team wins a sporting event.”
And interesting: 48 percent agree that “God rewards athletes who have faith with good health and success.” Forty seven percent disagreed with this idea, however.
“More than 6-in-10 white evangelical Protestants (62 percent) and minority Protestants (65 percent) believe that God rewards athletes. Half of Catholics, 44 percent of white mainline Protestants and only 22 percent of religiously unaffiliated Americans believe that God rewards athletes who have faith,” the pollster says.
The survey of 1,011 adults was conducted Jan. 8-12. - Washingtontimes
Lyubov Orlova: Ghost ship carrying cannibal rats ‘could be heading for Britain’
Well, here’s a story that sounds made-up. According to “experts,” a 1,565-ton8rbjBX3 cruise liner carrying disease-ridden rats is out there, somewhere, and could very well be headed for Britain.
—The ship, which went missing a year ago, has presumably been drifting across the North Atlantic ever since. The Independent‘s account of what happened next is based in some true facts, and then fluffed up with a lot of conjecture. Here’s what appears to be going on:
—Not made-up: ghost ships. That’s just the term used for ships with no living crew aboard, and according to Quartz, they’re not that rare — sailors have spotted at least seven such ships in the past 15 years.
It’s possible that this specific ghost ship, the Lyubov Orlova, sank — which would pose environmental problems of its own. But its lifeboats are designed to send off signals when they make contact with the water. Only two such signals have been received, presumably from lifeboats that fell off the ship’s side. The rest haven’t been heard from; ergo, the ship may very well still be out there.
Also not made-up: Canada did it. The Lyubov Orlova was seized by Canadian authorities after its owners racked up $250,000 in unpaid debts. En route to being sold for scrap in the Dominican Republic in January 2013, a storm snapped her tow line. Transport Canada decided not to pursue the ship, declaring that it “no longer poses a threat to the safety of [Canadian] offshore oil installations, their personnel or the marine environment.”
Also not made-up, probably: cannibal rats. “Experts” believe the ship could still contain hundreds of rats, which naturally would only have been able to survive this long by feeding off one another. “There will be a lot of rats and they eat each other,” Belgian salvage hunter Pim de Rhoodes explained. “If I get aboard I’ll have to lace everywhere with poison.”
As for it being “about to make land on Britain’s shore”? This part is mostly conjecture. The last time anyone heard anything from the missing ship was last March, when those two lifeboat signals were picked up. Around the same time, a radar just off the coast of Scotland picked up an unidentified object that seemed like it could have been the Lyubov Orlova. Search planes were never able to locate it, but according to the Independent, this all suggests that the ship had made it two-thirds of the way across the Atlantic and was headed east.
The head of the Irish coast guard, Chris Reynolds, sees this as reason enough to keep his guard up. “There have been huge storms in recent months but it takes a lot to sink a vessel as big as that,” he said. “We must stay vigilant.” - Independent
Japan's huge magnetic net will trawl for space junk
The electrodynamic tether will be used as a way to help reduce the large amount of space junk in orbit.
Consisting of several hundred thousand fragments of satellites, rocket stages and other objects, space debris represents an increasingly worrying hazard for future space endeavors.
In the event of a collision, an object less than one centimeter in size could inflict significant damage to a spacecraft, while a collision with an object of 10cm or more could prove catastrophic. As the number of objects increases so too does the risk, with the eventual possibility of an orbit so filled with junk that further missions in to space would become almost impossible.
To help tackle the problem, Japan has come up with a special debris-catching net consisting of a 700m mesh of aluminum and steel wires. The device is designed to attract items of space junk as it orbits the Earth and has sensors that can pick up individual pieces.
Once it's filled up, the net would de-orbit and all the debris that it had collected would simply burn up in the Earth's atmosphere. - New Scientist
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