Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Woo-woo weekend shorts

Here at Worldwide Wacko Watch it's shaping up to be a busy weekend.

First, we have a report from Quebec of a UFO abducting someone's dog.  The report, which was filed with MUFON (The Mutual UFO Network) yesterday, reads as follows:
I was outside shoveling snow when I heard a weird sound. That's when i looked in the air and saw something hovering above my house.  It was clearly a UFO because it was too close to be anything else. It was a coppery, golden color with flashing red lights.  I felt privileged that I was witnessing this rare event.  Then my dog went around front and the UFO took it up through a beam and dropped it backed down about a half hour later. Weirdly my dog was completely unharmed and shortly after the UFO left leaving a tail as it flew away.
I find a few things interesting about this report.  First, isn't it interesting how "UFO" has ceased being an acronym and has become a word?  The eyewitness states that the "something" seen hovering above the house was "clearly a UFO," as if (s)he has forgotten what the "U" in "UFO" stands for.  It's as if I saw something sitting in my front yard, and I called the police, and when asked to describe it I said, "It was clearly something sitting in my front yard."

To be fair, (s)he goes on to give more details, including a "coppery, golden color" and "flashing red lights."  But the fun part is when the dog gets abducted.  I think that if aliens ever came to our house, they might well decide that our Border Collie, Doolin, was in fact the Resident Intelligent Life Form, because she spends most of her time herding the rest of us around and looking extremely worried that she may have Forgotten Something Important.  Doolin doesn't have OCD; she has CDO, because if she had OCD she'd worry because the letters weren't in alphabetical order.  It would be truly terrifying if aliens actually abducted her, though, because within minutes she'd have all the aliens corralled into a corner of the spaceship, and would be handling the controls herself.  The next thing you know, we'd have reports of flocks of sheep being herded from the air by a dog flying a spacecraft, and the Air Force would have to be called out to stop her.

Which, now that I think of it, sounds like a great plot for a movie, if any of my readers are scriptwriters. 

Next, we have a report from Phu Yen province in Vietnam, where students in a school dorm are complaining about a haunted toilet.

Phan Van Tho, headmaster of the Son Hoa Ethnic Boarding High School in Son Hoa District. has reported that one of the dorm toilets is causing students to act oddly if they use it.  The first victim, a student named Pa Ho Luon, was coming back to his room after using the toilet, and suddenly fell down, started scratching at the wall, and "spoke in a nonsense language no one could understand."  Then he fainted.  After being taken to the hospital, Luon recovered, and told authorities that his strange behavior was because he had "seen a ghost in the toilet."

Since Luon's experience, twelve other students have had similar symptoms after using the "haunted toilet."

Well.  First, I have to say that if I was a ghost, I can't imagine why I would hang around in a toilet.  Presumably being a ghost, you have a choice of where to haunt, and I certainly can think of better places to park yourself.  But given that I'm not really an expert regarding the criteria by which ghosts choose sites to haunt, I'll let that go.  A more interesting question is to consider what would have happened in the US had a student babbled incoherently and then passed out, and then woke up with a story of meeting a ghost; we'd have guffawed in his face and then said, "No, really, what kind of drugs were you on?"  But being that this is Vietnam, where drug use is frowned upon (and by "frowned upon" I mean "something you can get hanged for doing") it's no real wonder that the students and the schoolmaster were all eager to jump at the "ghost in the toilet" theory.

If you think I'm wrong about how people would react to this kind of thing in the US, just ask Mount Gilead (Ohio) police officer Joseph Hughes, who was arrested for stealing public property, including an air conditioner that said "Auditor's Office" on it.  When put on trial for the thefts, he mounted a novel defense; the basement where the stolen goods were found had a "paranormal presence," and that "paranormal presence" had "forced him to take the items unconsciously, and bring them back to the basement."  (Read the whole story here.)

I think the whole contention is screamingly funny.  So, a specter told this guy, "Bring me... an AIR CONDITIONER," and the guy went and did it, coming back to the basement carrying it like some kind of sacrificial offering.  "Here is the air conditioner you requested, O Great Paranormal Presence.  What else do you require?"  "Bring me... a COFFEE MAKER.  And not one of those pathetic little two-cup jobs, either.  Let it be...  A TEN-CUP PROGRAMMABLE MR. COFFEE.  And hurry up, because I need a cup and I'm getting kind of cranky."

Not surprisingly, the jury wasn't buying it, and Hughes was found guilty, and is currently serving time in the Mount Gilead Jail.

It's no surprise that they caught the guy, honestly.  If you looked at the story, you saw that he's bald, and bald people simply don't have the intuition that the rest of us hairier folk have.  At least that's the contention of the United Truth Seekers, who believe that long hair helps us to "channel psychic energy" and acts as "exteriorized nerves," that relay "vast amounts of important information to the brain stem, the limbic system, and the neocortex."  This, they say, is why the Native Americans used to let their hair grow long, and is what gave rise to the story of Samson and Delilah.  (Read the whole story here.)

Well, from my own personal experience, I can say that I have had more than one bout of long hair.  I am blessed with unusually thick hair, so when I say I had long hair, you shouldn't think "neat ponytail;" you should more think "lion's mane."  And I can unequivocally say that when I had long hair I felt younger, stronger, and healthier than I do now, so I think we can check off this theory as proven.

What I found especially wonderful about this article was the series of comments from readers that followed.  I'll excerpt several of the better ones below:
Much food for thought here.  Such as a study on the fashion of haircuts through the ages and how it impacted on the enlightenment or otherwise of that particular society?  For instance, in these days of short haircuts for men and covered hair for women, how many wars are we involved in at the moment?

Maybe this explains why women are more intuitive than men... Also, when cutting the hair of female beings became widespread, a proportionate increase was observed everywhere in what they call 'women's diseases,' that is, various sorts of inflammation of the sexual organs, such as 'vaginitis,' 'uteritis,' 'ovaritis,' as well as 'fibrous tumors' and 'cancer.'

Cutting of hair is a contributing factor to unawareness of environmental distress in local ecosystems.  It is also a contributing factor to insensitivity in relationships of all kinds.  It contributes to sexual frustration.

Bald guys would seem to be at a disadvantage here, but bald guys have more body hair, so it all evens out in the gene pool.

I'm a mind body and spirit teacher and would like to add that the human hair is also where we store surplus energy or chi for our body.  When you reach great states of peace/enlightenment the body starts to secrete what Taoist masters call the golden elixir.  This is literally the fountain of youth in spirituality.
So, you can acquire from all of this a number of take-home lessons, the most important of which is, "You people are wingnuts.  Please don't reproduce."

So anyway, there we have it... the weekend wrap-up from Worldwide Wacko Watch.  Canine abductions, haunted toilets, spirit-prompted thefts, and the hair as a psychic antenna.  Thanks to the faithful readers who sent me the links to those stories... keep those cards and letters coming.  As for me, I think I'm going to go make sure my dog is still asleep in her bed.  My hair just picked up a disturbance in The Force.   Of course, that may just be the ghost in the upstairs bathroom demanding that I bring him an air conditioner.


  1. We have the same 'meaning-creep' problem in Israel with our term 'Abam', an acronym for 'etzem bilti mezuheh.', literally an exact equivalent to 'UFO'. I always enjoy in interviews answering the duh question: "Do you think that it was a real UFO?" with: "Of course; that's why you're calling, right?"

  2. "I was just standing in front of my driveway one afternoon, mowing my hedges, when a giant donut, glazed, with lots of little sprinkles, hovered above my head. It then shot a spaghetti noodle out of it's mass at my roof antenna and took it. At first I was both amazed and upset, because I knew I would miss the latest episode of CSI. Fortunately, the donut returned a half hour later and placed my antenna back on the roof. Good thing too, I sure do love CSI.

    Before this incident, I was a nobody. Now, I'm part of the Flying Donut Society. This encounter changed my life. Now I'm an unpublished author of 37 manifestos and I have the largest donut tchotchkes collection this side of the Mississippi. Praise the lord."