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.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Vampires in Serbia, unicorns in North Korea

Today, we have two stories in from people who evidently need to review what the definition of "mythological creature" is.

First, from Serbia, we have news that the town council in Zarozje has issued a vampire alert, and has gone as far as to suggest that all residents hang garlic on their doors.  [Source]

Apparently the vampire in question is one Sava Savanovic, who in times past lived in a mill next to the Rogacica River.  Savanovic was reputed to drink the blood of people who came to use the mill to mill their grain, a move that you would think would have been bad for business.

Be that as it may, Savanovic eventually died, possibly of blood poisoning (ba-dum-bum-ksssh), and the mill was sold to the Jagodic family.  At first, they were afraid to use the place, for fear of disturbing the dead vampire (so we might also need to refresh them on the definition of "dead"), but soon realized the tourist potential of owning a mill that had vamipiric associations.  But they were afraid to do any renovation on the building itself, not wanting accidentally to uncover anything with fangs -- and now the roof has collapsed.  And this, local townsfolk believe, has pissed off Savanovic, and he's going to exact revenge by going around and drinking some more blood.

You'd think that local government officials would tell folks to take a chill pill, but no.  Zarozje mayor Miodrag Vujetic said, "People are worried, everybody knows the legend of this vampire and the thought that he is now homeless and looking for somewhere else and possibly other victims is terrifying people.  We are all frightened."  He also advised using garlic, resulting in a run on garlic sales in local markets, and added, "We have also reminded them to put a Holy Cross in every room in the house."

Well, that should take care of the problem, I'd think.  I'd hope that when a few weeks have gone by and Savanovic hasn't shown, and no one in Zarozje has been exsanguinated, everyone would heave a great big sigh of relief, have a good laugh at themselves, and say, "Wow, what goobers we've been, believing in vampires and all."  But it'll probably go more like the joke about the guy who, every time he went to a friend's house, would close his eyes, raise his hands, and chant, "May this house be safe from tigers."

After this happened several times, the friend finally said, "Look, you don't have to do that.  There aren't any tigers anywhere near here.  There's probably not a tiger within a thousand-mile radius of this house."

And the guy smiled knowingly, and said, "It really works, doesn't it?"

Then, from North Korea, we have a report that some "scientists" have discovered a secret burial ground... for a unicorn.  [Source]

One of their early kings, King Dongmyeong, who was also known as King Dongmyeongseongwang because "Dongmyeong" was thought to be too easy to pronounce, was supposed to have ridden on a unicorn.  And now the Korean Central News Agency, the official media outlet for the North Korean government, has "reconfirmed" that the burial site for King Dongmyeong's unicorn exists, in the capital city of Pyongyang.

They haven't released any photographs of bones, or (better yet) a skull with a horn.  Their proof, insofar as they've been willing to discuss it, consists solely of a claim that at the burial site, they found a marker that said, "Unicorn Lair."

Well, that proves it to me.

The problem, of course, is that the KCNA is kind of famous for making bizarre pronouncements.  Remember all the hoopla about earthquakes and weeping birds and atmospheric phenomena of various sorts when Kim Jong-Il died?  So it's not like they've established much of a reputation for sorting fact from fiction.

Oh, and there's also the thing about King Dongmyeong having not been born in the usual fashion, but having been hatched from an egg.

Anyhow.  We seem to have yet another example of people believing weird stuff based on essentially no evidence, something that has become sort of a theme on this blog.  I have to admit that it'd be nice to stop running into new examples of this phenomena.  Even though it would put me out of business, just having humanity be a little more rational would be a move in the right direction.  Now, excuse me while I go saddle up Pegasus for the flight to work.

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