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.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The rampages of Oily Man

New Jersey has the Jersey Devil.  West Virginia has Mothman.  Southern England has Spring-heeled Jack.  All sightings of mysterious, humanoid creatures with distinctly non-human features, who are capable of running, jumping and (in some cases) vanishing in a way no normal person could, and who are blamed for strings of attacks on a terrified citizenry.

And now, in Malaysia, we have the orang minyak -- "Oily Man."

According to a story on the Asia News Network, residents of Gombak, Selangor province, have been terrorized lately by an entity (or more than one of them) that would certainly scare the crap out of me -- a large, muscular, half-naked man, with glowing eyes -- and completely covered in oil.

The orang minyak, so goes the legend, is a resident of the dense forest, and comes out at night with the intent of finding human women to have his way with.  In the case of the recent sightings, there have been a couple of unsuccessful attacks -- the women Oily Man attacked escaped unscathed -- but there have been multiple reports of oily footprints, and in one case a human-shaped oil patch on the ground where the orang minyak is alleged to have slept.  One resident, Aslam Khan, says he got a good look at one.

"I saw the bald orang minyak hiding behind the water tank of a house at about two in the morning," Khan told reporters.  "It was breathing really loudly, like a cow.  It was black and shiny.  When I shone my light on it, the thing stuck out its head to look back at me.  Before I could do anything, it climbed up the roof and disappeared."

Khan said that upon investigation, they had found the spot where the orang minyak conducts its nightly oil bath and reciting of jampi (ritual prayers).  I'm relieved, actually.  At least Oily Man is observing the religious formalities.  Who knows what an atheist Oily Man might be capable of?

The article in question clearly treated the appearances of the orang minyak as a paranormal occurrence; and that's obviously what the residents of Gombak think.  In fact, their explanation is that the orang minyak is a spirit that is attempting to complete its initiation into black magic and become a full-fledged demon, and in order to do so has to have sex with a certain (unspecified) number of human women.  To which I say: I'm doubtful.  If I were a resident of Gombak, I would be looking for a guy who seems to be buying more than his fair share of Head & Shoulders Greasy Hair Formula Shampoo.

Once again, I have to ask the question of why people seem so determined to jump to a paranormal explanation for something that admits of a simple, logical, and rational solution.  It's all well and good to say, "Well, those are superstitious people, down there in Malaysia" -- which may or may not be true, and ignores the fact that we self-congratulatory Americans have our own way of ignoring Ockham's Razor (consider how many people read, and trust, horoscopes, and how rich the "Psychic Hot Line" people are).  So it's perhaps unjustified for us to point fingers.  But whatever the source of the attacks -- be it an evil spirit with an affinity for grease, or a sexual predator taking advantage of a credulous populace -- I hope they stop soon.  The article stressed how tense the people of Gombak were becoming, having to be on guard round-the-clock.  I can see how that would wear on one, whatever the nature of the attacker -- paranormal or otherwise.


  1. Good heavens, I'd forgotten all about that. Glowing eyes... it's an oil-covered demon for SURE, then.

  2. You didn't mention the 'villagers with pitchforks (sticks)' part. That to me screams evil scientist. Has that angle been investigated?