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, May 5, 2012

Saturday shorts

Here at Worldwide Wacko Watch we're currently following four stories.  Burning the midnight oil, burning the candle at both ends, and burning rubber in pursuit of truth.

And we are pleased to report that a criminal court in Zimbabwe apparently has the same goal, because they have found three prostitutes innocent of witchcraft.  (Source)  The prostitutes had been accused of "aggravated indecent assault" on the prompting of seventeen men, who claimed that they had been forcibly raped by the women.  This by itself seems pretty implausible, but the implausibility crosses a line into the realm of "just plain crazy" when you hear why the men said they were raped:

To collect their semen in order to perform black magic.

It's scary to think that in this day and age that claim would even make it as far as a criminal trial, but at least the women were found innocent.  After all, in some parts of the world, superstition still rules -- there have been other cases of alleged witchcraft, notably in Sudan and Saudi Arabia, where charges of sorcery have resulted in a death sentence.  But in Zimbabwe, wiser heads have prevailed, and the seventeen accusers have to come up with a different excuse to explain to their wives why they were visiting a prostitute, now that "She made me do it in order to steal my semen!" has been ruled out by a court of law.  Rationality triumphs again.

Which is more than I can say for the people at Nepal Airlines, who have fixed a mechanical problem in a troublesome airplane by sacrificing two goats.  (Source)

Apparently, there was a technical issue with one of the airline's Boeing 757s, and after repeatedly attempting to repair it using conventional techniques, someone came up with the novel solution of sacrificing two goats to the Hindu sky god, Akash Bhairab.   The problem, said Raju K. C., a senior airline official, was solved by this approach.

You have to wonder how this was explained to passengers facing delays because of the mechanical trouble.  "We're sorry, but Flight 1488 from Kathmandu to Hong Kong has been delayed.  Please be assured that your flight will board as soon as the captain and flight crew have finished sacrificing a goat on the runway.  We apologize for the inconvenience." 

I don't know about you, but if I heard something like this, I would elect to get from Kathmandu to Hong Kong by some other method, such as walking the entire way.

Next, we have a report that El Chupacabra might have left his desert home and be vacationing in England.  (Source)

Sue Langham, a mother of two from Hale, England, was up early one day last week to catch a train, and saw sitting on her back doorstep a creature "with the head of a fox and a muscly body that was making a noise that sounded like a strangled wolf."

"I was shocked by what I saw," Langham told reporters.  "We sometimes see foxes in the back garden and this was nothing like that." 

Myself, I think this sounds like a clear report of El Chupacabra.  Okay, I know that most of the sightings of that creepy cryptid are from the American Southwest.  I also know that all the reports of El Chupacabra that have resulted in tangible evidence have turned out to be coyotes, foxes, or dogs with mange, but still.  Why couldn't the mysterious bloodsucking fiend make its way to England?  I know that given the number of people with guns in England as compared to, say, Texas, if I were a Terrifying Carnivorous Beast From Hell, I would prefer to take my chances with the Brits.

And this is doubly so now that a senior official with Texas Parks and Wildlife's Law Enforcement Division has publicly stated that it's legal to kill Bigfoot.  (Source)

John Lloyd Scharf, of Cryptomundo, wrote to Parks and Wildlife to ask the question, given the number of recent Sasquatch sightings in the Lone Star State.  He got the following response from L. David Sinclair, the Law Enforcement Division's Chief of Staff:
Mr. Scharf:

The statute that you cite (Section 61.021) refers only to game birds, game animals, fish, marine animals or other aquatic life. Generally speaking, other nongame wildlife is listed in Chapter 67 (nongame and threatened species) and Chapter 68 (nongame endangered species). “Nongame” means those species of vertebrate and invertebrate wildlife indigenous to Texas that are not classified as game animals, game birds, game fish, fur-bearing animals, endangered species, alligators, marine penaeid shrimp, or oysters. The Parks and Wildlife Commission may adopt regulations to allow a person to take, possess, buy, sell, transport, import, export or propagate nongame wildlife. If the Commission does not specifically list an indigenous, nongame species, then the species is considered non-protected nongame wildlife, e.g., coyote, bobcat, mountain lion, cotton-tailed rabbit, etc. A non-protected nongame animal may be hunted on private property with landowner consent by any means, at any time and there is no bag limit or possession limit.
If you have any questions, please contact Assistant Chief Scott Vaca. I have included his e-mail address. I will be out of the office and in Houston on Friday.


L. David Sinclair
Chief of Staff – Division Director I
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Law Enforcement Division
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744

So listen up, Bigfoot: you're on notice.  If you go messin' around with anyone in Texas, you're likely to find yourself in a world o' hurt, and the law ain't gonna protect you.  You might just want to get outta Dodge now.  Try England, I hear it's really nice this time of year.  But I don't recommend trying to get there on Nepal Airlines.


  1. Ha! I love how he passes the presumed whackjob over to poor old Scott Vaca.

  2. You cannot rape a man unless you have duct tape and popsicle sticks... just sayin'.

    1. You just made me spit out a mouthful of coffee. And I woke up my dog. :-D

  3. So, you can't shoot oysters in Texas. Good to know. If Bigfoot DOES exist, he's intelligent enough to have stayed in hiding all this time and I'm guessing he avoids Texas altogether.

  4. Me and Bigfoot share something in common!
    Spent a year there, couldn't wait to leave.