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Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Writer's Life 8/20 - Mass Delusion

The following was culled from, pared and edited by yours truly: Mass delusion is strange, capturing the imagination—and absolute belief—of entire groups. While the psychology of it might be hazy, there are a number of examples of entire communities sharing in the same delusion.
10: The Hunt For The Liverpool Leprechauns: In 1964 thousands of children—and some adults—ventured into a park certain they were going to find leprechauns. The danger of injury was so great that a temporary medical shelter was set up. The rumor may have begun when kids spotted a guy gardening in distinctly leprechaun-like clothes. He yelled gibberish and threw turf.
9: The Hollinwell Incident: In July 1986 students gathered at a showground in England for a marching band competition. Suddenly, hundreds of students fell silent, and nearly 300 collapsed. The symptoms were burning eyes and throat, nausea, headaches and stomach cramps. 259 were taken to the hospital. The event was given an ominous name: All Fall Down. Some claim it was mass hysteria, while others point to the possibility that a pesticide sprayed on the field was responsible.
8: Between March and April 1897, a strange panic gripped the U.S.. Thousands reported seeing what they called the “Edison Star,” a giant apparatus supposedly created by the inventor to reflect light from one coast to the other. Many thought he was preparing his largest project to date—a giant light bulb that was capable of illuminating the whole country.
7: The Orang Minyak Panic: Reports of a terrifying creature, “oily man,” began in 2012 in a Malaysian town. According to long-standing folklore, the thing is a human who prowls the night wearing only underwear, looking for virgins. Each rape is thought to increase his supernatural powers, and the black, oily substance he covers himself with helps him hide in the dark. The sightings were taken so seriously that neighborhood watches, comprised of hundreds of people armed with axes and machetes, were formed. Similar panics have happened in Sungai Petani as well as in Sri Lanka. In the 1960's scholars started to wonder if the sightings were being used to cover up serial rapes.
6: The Myth Of The War Of The Worlds: There is no real evidence of any sort of actual panic, and what evidence there is comes from a less-than-impartial source—newspapers. At the time, radio was the nation's new, preferred information source, and in an attempt to reassert their position as the most reliable source, papers sensationalized the public’s reaction to the Orson Wells' broadcast.
5: Milan Poisoning Scare: In 1630, Spain’s King Philip IV sent an official dispatch to Milan, warning the town that four escaped prisoners might be heading their way with the intention of spreading the plague through contaminated ointments. In what may or may not be a coincidence, plague really did break out. Residents swore they had seen suspicious figures smearing poison on partitions in the cathedral, and soon it was believed every surface in the church had been covered with plague-bearing poisons. People began to point out stains and spots on surfaces across the city, and everyone was looking for the mysterious perpetrators. Countless people were assaulted and even killed for seemingly harmless actions like brushing off a pew before kneeling to pray.
4: The 1828 Hum: The mysterious presence of a low hum has been reported in many places, most famously in Taos, New Mexico. Two explanations are scientific phenomenon or mass delusion. The first written account of an unearthly, persistent hum was in 1828. Travelers making their way through the Pyrenees wrote about a noise that nearly overwhelmed them, describing it as a “low, moaning, aeolian sound, which alone broke upon the deathly silence.”
3: The Windshield Pitting Epidemic: Residents of many states found themselves in the midst of a bizarre phenomenon in 1954. A number of car windshields were pitted by an unknown force. Most other outdoor surfaces were unaffected. Top secret nuclear testing was soon blamed for the unexplained, and rumors began to circulate that the pits were caused by the fallout. Others believed nuclear bombs set off underwater threw billions of tiny marine creatures into the air, and the impact of their fall pitted the windshields. Others claimed that acid-laced bugs were eroding the glass on impact.
2: German Trembling Epidemics: During the summer of 1892, students in Germany were afflicted by tremors that started in their hands and spread to their entire bodies. It was so bad that the schools closed, which led to students in Switzerland attempting the same thing to force their own schools to close.
1: The Tarantism Outbreaks Of Italy: Tarantism is the belief that a person, usually a woman, has been bitten by a tarantula, and that the only way to get rid of the venom was to dance it away to a particular type of music. The tarantella is still danced today and has its roots in this centuries-old mass delusion. Modern interpretations of medieval writing suggest there might have been something else at work. Symptoms reported by the afflicted included fainting, visions and uncontrollable trembling, which may have been caused by the practices of a particular religious sect whose ways were unfamiliar to the masses and to the chroniclers.
Paging Mulder and Scully.

Last night in MLB, for the first time in history, a team hit four home runs before an out was recorded. Despite the barrage, the Baltimore Orioles lost the the Houston Astros, 15-8.

My thanks to whomever read eight pages of Adjustments at Amazon, whether it was one person or several. Authors are paid a token sum for reads even if the book is not purchased.

Business was slow at the floating book shop today. My thanks to the woman who purchased the 900+ page Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, and to author Bill Brown, who bought Never Mind the Pollacks, a rock n roll novel by Neil Pollack.
Vic's Short Works:
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  1. Very interesting reading thank you

    1. All the best, K-meister. Thanks for reading.