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, June 13, 2012

Staking a claim

Last week, it was zombies all over the news, what with guys biting each other's faces off, and cutting up  former lovers, and committing various other antisocial, body-part-related atrocities.  And I observed that once one person mentions a woo-woo explanation for something (we're having a zombie apocalypse), every possibly-related story gets cast in that light, and the whole thing sort of develops a life of its own.

Given that these conjectures have no basis in reality, it's no surprise that most of them are short-lived.  Once enough people look around them, and acknowledge that no, the people on the bus and at work are not, in fact, turning into zombies, then they're forced to conclude that the whole thing was rather a non-starter from the beginning.  (Although I will add, in the interest of fairness, that a few nutty ideas seem to be in the Undead Immortal category themselves, such as the Rebecca Black/JFK assassination thing, and the Baltic Sea UFO thing.)

But most woo-woo crazes are just that -- fads -- and as such, they have a limited life-span.  So last week, it was zombies; and this week, we have moved on to another terrifying, immortal, soulless being that doesn't exist...

... vampires.

Things got rolling this weekend, when some archaeologists working in Bulgaria found two medieval skeletons at a dig site in Sozopol, and were shocked to find that the skeletons had metal rods driven through them.  (Source)

Of course, the only reason to do this to a dead body is to make it dead again, because it had risen up from the grave, sharpened its canine teeth, and was prowling around the village looking for beautiful young women dressed in gauzy white garments to terrorize.  And the fact that people in Eastern Europe used to believe this was possible is never cast in the light of, "Wow, people sure were superstitious, back then."  The article states, "The discovery illustrates a pagan practice common in some villages up until a century ago, say historians.   People deemed bad had their hearts stabbed after death, for fear they would return to feast on humans' blood."  Unfortunately, the writers of the article didn't add, "... although this never actually happens."

I say "unfortunately," because there are people with rather tenuous grips on reality who periodically forget the definition of "fiction."  Some of these people then act on those ideas, and it seldom ends well.

Witness the unnamed man "with vampire teeth" who attacked a homeless guy in San Diego a couple of days ago.  (Source)  Police in La Jolla were called when passersby saw someone assaulting a man near a shopping center, and once they arrived, they found a 55-year-old transient bleeding from bites inflicted by a man whose canine teeth were filed to points.  The Dracula wannabee was arrested and charged with assault.  (You should go to the site and look at the attacker's photograph, which gives lie to the claim that vampires were supposed to look sultry and devastatingly sexy, and also that they seldom ever wear baseball caps.)

Now, lest you think that this is just one deluded, possibly high, individual, consider another story that just popped up -- about a Texas inmate who sued the state prison system for preventing his carrying out ritual religious beliefs related to his being a vampire.

Courtney Royal, who is serving a life sentence for aggravated assault and robbery, filed the suit (in which he refers to himself as "Vampsh Black Sheep League of Doom Gardamun Family Circle Master Vampire High Priest") claiming that he had beliefs that stem from West African and "18th century Catholicism" practices.  These beliefs are "marked by prayer to Africans reincarnated by blood."

The most entertaining part of the whole story is that Vampsh Black Sheep etc. stated that his beliefs were no different from Christianity, given that both are "unproven."  In which, I have to admit, he has a point.

In the end, Courtney/Vampsh's lawsuit was denied on the basis of its being "frivolous," which would seem to indicate that the judge thought that he wasn't serious.  Myself, I'm not so sure.  It certainly wouldn't be the weirdest thing I've ever heard people claim to believe (that award would have to go to the members of Werewolf Cathedral).  But just like with the zombies last week, I suspect that we haven't heard the last of the vampire stories.  Now that some archaeologists found a few skeletons with stakes driven through them, proving the existence of vampires to the scientific world, and we've had not just one, but two, instances of real-life vampires show up in the news, we are clearly facing an outbreak.  It's time to get all of your supplies ready, including garlic, crucifixes, and guns with silver bullets (wait, is that werewolves?  I think I'm getting my nonsense mixed up.  Crap.  I hate it when that happens).  Spot checks of your coworkers are recommended ("Excuse me, can I see your teeth?")  Keep it up until the furor dies down next Tuesday, at which point we can all start freaking out about the next craze involving a mythological creature.  I hope this one is about centaurs.  We haven't had a good centaur outbreak in a long time.

1 comment:

  1. Revelation! I'm a Vampire:

    Circumstantial evidence:
    1. Terrorizing young women in gauzy white garments sounds like fun. (consensually, of course)
    2. I abhor baseball caps. (As it pertains to my own head)
    3. My wife considers me to be devastatingly sexy.

    Insurmountable! Case closed! Yay!
    Erm, I mean... Muwhahaha.

    My wearing of mostly black and my enjoyment of macabre themed art, music, and film is apparently notwithstanding, but I digress.

    It is also noteworthy that I have a dental appointment tomorrow morning. While it's just a cleaning and X-rays, maybe we can discuss some more appropriate veneers.

    Yahoo breaking news:
    "Man posing as vampire attacks centaur at bus stop."