Category Archives: Paranormal Culture
Virtual Skeptics #19 revealed that the end of the world comes alongside a bad hair day. I linked to the video of the show at the bottom in case you missed it. But this was an interesting topic this week for me. Here is a write up…
I follow a lot of sources for news stories for Doubtful News including some more paranormally-minded or, should I say, unskeptical sources. I’m always interested to see what kinds of stories are circulating in that community and they are often the first to spot the bizarre ones.
I use information from those stories to promote critical thinking about them. I think it’s harmful to spread inaccuracies so I wish to provide the skeptical, rational view.
Earlier this week, I saw a story on a news blog site about a mass grave found in Mexico that contained skulls that had deliberate cranial deformation. That is an interesting story in itself but the hook was that these skulls looked like your pop cultural stereotypical alien head. The “alternative news” sites Beforeitsnews.com and abovetopsecret.com, hubs for UFO and conspiracy tales, had latched onto that idea calling it a “mass alien grave” (that’s the way BIN said it, and I advise not visiting that site even for a laugh because it’s a piece of shit. However, they have since altered the title to delete the alien reference.) Then it appeared on the Daily Mail and the story went huge. Read the rest of this entry
On November 24, a story appeared in the Austrian Times relating fear of a vampire roaming the remote village of Zarozje,Serbia.
That seemed odd. Vampires aren’t something we assume people actually believe are real.
The story, however, was legendary. According to Serbian folklore, a man, Sava Savanovic, lived in a wooden house near a mill on the Rogačica river. He was a horrible guy, a vampire, who would attack villagers and drink their blood. These stories went on as late as the beginning of the 20th century. For several decades, the watermill was owned by the Jagodić family and was in operation until the late 1950s. After its closure, it became a tourist site. The legend of Savanovic appears to play a part in that draw for tourists.
The Balkans, of which Serbia is a part, has a rich history of superstitions involving vampires. As late as the 18th century, the accusation of a person being a vampire brought on mass hysteria, mob violence and public executions.
Back in the village… the Savonovic house by the old mill stream recently collapsed. That was followed by reported misfortune upon the local towns – five deaths and a suicide occurred. I also found in news reports that people were hearing strange sounds and footsteps in the woods. OOoo, spooky. Also rumored is that Sava can exist not as a bat but as a butterfly.
Here’s a funny story…
When I was little, my mom loved the show In Search Of… It was my first introduction to paranormal topics and also to Leonard Nimoy, believe it or not (which reminds me of another show that first introduced me to Jack Palance).
In Search Of… was so influential to my interest in paranormal topics. It was where I saw the Patterson Gimlin Bigfoot film. It was where I first saw the famous Loch Ness monster photos. It was where I heard about the Bermuda Triangle and Amelia Earhart. It was my primer to all these topics I still think about and write about today.
Well now, it’s out on DVD. 152 episodes on 21 discs. 63 hours!
The Internet is so vast a source of news that it’s impossible to keep up. Some news sites are gold, some are worthless, depending upon your worldview and your interests.
I’m a news curator with Doubtful News. I’m constantly on the lookout for the right stories to post on the site that might pique the interest of people who enjoy following the goings on of the paranormal community, the occasional anomalous stories and oddities, the strange and Fortean, and the plethora of questionable claims that the media latches on to.
Every day, there are hundreds of stories on these themes. Most are utterly worthless. They are the same stuff over and over, they are unsourced, thoughtless opinion or speculation, poorly written, or just ho-hum boring. Whenever I find one that grabs me, I want to share. I want to see what you think. So, I post it to the site.
Curation of news is a valuable thing these days. For years I relied on The Anomalist to bring me the news of the weird. I still visit everyday but the curation filters there have changed. I don’t want to visit personal blogs or citizen journalism sites for stories. They aren’t high quality. So, I curate the curated. If I find a good link via that site, I will pass it on, but through my filter instead.
I have finally experienced Dragon Con, the world’s largest sci-fi/fantasy convention, which was held August 31 to Sept 3 in Atlanta, Georgia. Encompassing 5 hotels and including 40,000 or so attendees, many of whom were in costume, it was a bit overwhelming at times. But, I was determined to squeeze the most out of my participation, hosting a great discussion panel on Monday about skeptics and believers, and attending as many talks as I possibly could.
Besides the uniqueness inherent in a convention fueled by artistic flare, this conference is different from all others I’ve been to in that the various “tracks” (themed schedules) are visited by others who may not attend a conference based solely on that particular theme. Certainly many people wandered into the Skeptic track room as they made their way to events in the nearby Science or Space tracks. This buffet of choices allowed me to see how other fields discuss their content. So, I wanted to share my observations on the Paranormal track, the sessions featuring the TV ghost hunters, and the fantastic talks about monsters.
I finished my thesis last year on amateur paranormal investigation groups. Many of you have requested copies. It can be purchased but not many would want to spend the money for that so I’m giving it away via PDF.
This was always a pet peeve of mine – a show or commercial presented a very biased or incomplete case and told viewers, “You decide”. It sounded so democratic and fair. They were just providing information. But the SMART COMPETENT viewer would be able to use common sense to come to the right conclusion.
Except it doesn’t work that way. Nearly everyone telling you a story is trying to help you see things their way. It’s skewed. No matter how strongly they assert “I’m not trying to make you a believer” they will add “But THIS happened to me.” Left unsaid is, “and if you don’t buy it, you think I’m either a liar or you are an idiot.”
I’m going to have a bit of a rant. This post is mostly opinion. However, it is based on actual situations that can be documented.
It’s about cryptozoology forums and how they don’t work.
I’ve posted before about how I stopped visiting Cryptomundo because my comments were not posted as they were critical of the views of the original post. Or, other commentators were allowed to have free say but I was ostracized as a skeptic. Those who know me know that I am not a ranter. I try to be civil in discourse. Worse, some of my comments were edited on Cryptomundo to bias my viewpoint (an evil skeptic). See this post.
While I still don’t visit because of the ad content (ubiquitous, which makes the page unsightly and slow to load) and the content being not so great, the situation there has gotten considerably better. I feel I could post a comment there and it would now be published unchanged.
Second, I quit going to Bigfoot Evidence because misogynistic or crude remarks by some commentators (some were disgusting and personal about me [here: comment #8]) were not moderated or removed even after request (we had a small group discussion via twitter). Comments there degenerated into a cesspool at times. The content also became cheap with various “tipsters” posting unsubstantiated stories and guest posters being really off the mark. Comments were moderated for profanity but not for other sad qualities.
And, again with the ads. I get the feeling these Bigfoot sites are about profit, ego and status, not getting to the best answers about what is really going on with the Bigfoot phenomena. Read the rest of this entry
I posted a new piece that was inspired by two Januarys in a row where weird things were in the news. Then, I found some common themes between the two. Here’s a preview:
In January 2012, the Internet was buzzing over a string of reports about strange sounds coming from the sky. It’s what Forteans would call a “flap,” meaning there is an outbreak of activity in a relatively short time span that causes a commotion. This flap reminded me of last January (2011), when another flap manifested. This one got the public all aflutter over mass animal deaths, mostly birds and sea critters.