tagged w/ Superstition
At least 19 albinos, including several young children, have been killed in Tanzania in the past year.
Life is harsh for millions of Africans who are albinos. Throughout their lives they suffer prejudice, ridicule, social exclusion and isolation. Very few find a place in school. Very few find work. Very few find a place in society or marriage. Superstition surrounds their yellow hair, white skin and pink eyes. In the Shona language albinos are termed “sope” meaning something magical inhabited by powerful evil spirits.(NYT Video) At least 19 albinos, including several young children, have been killed... more
Children from Crarn accused of being witches and wizards, protesting outside the Governor's headquarters. Photo: Mags Gavan, Redrebel Films
Mary is a pretty five-year-old girl with big brown eyes and a father who kicked her out onto the streets in one of the most dangerous parts of the world. Her crime: the local priest had denounced her as a witch and blamed her "evil powers" for causing her mother's death.
Ostracised, vulnerable and frightened, she wandered the streets in south-eastern Nigeria, sleeping rough, struggling to stay alive.
Mary was found by a British charity worker and today lives at a refuge in Akwa Ibom province with 150 other children who have been branded witches, blamed for all their family's woes, and abandoned. Before being pushed out of their homes many were beaten or slashed with knives, thrown onto fires, or had acid poured over them as a punishment or in an attempt to make them "confess" to being possessed. In one horrific case, a young girl called Uma had a three-inch nail driven into her skull.
Yet Mary and the others at the shelter are the lucky ones for they, at least, are alive. Many of those branded "child-witches" are murdered - hacked to death with machetes, poisoned, drowned, or buried alive in an attempt to drive Satan out of their soul.
The devil's children are "identified" by powerful religious leaders at extremist churches where Christianity and traditional beliefs have combined to produce a deep-rooted belief in, and fear of, witchcraft. The priests spread the message that child-witches bring destruction, disease and death to their families. And they say that, once possessed, children can cast spells and contaminate others.
The religious leaders offer help to the families whose children are named as witches, but at a price. The churches run exorcism, or "deliverance", evenings where the pastors attempt to drive out the evil spirits. Only they have the power to cleanse the child of evil spirits, they say. The exorcism costs the families up to a year's income.
During the "deliverance" ceremonies, the children are shaken violently, dragged around the room and have potions poured into their eyes. The children look terrified. The parents look on, praying that the child will be cleansed. If the ritual fails, they know their children will have to be sent away, or killed. Many are held in churches, often on chains, and deprived of food until they "confess" to being a witch.
The ceremonies are highly lucrative for the spiritual leaders many of whom enjoy a lifestyle of large homes, expensive cars and designer clothes.
Ten years ago there were few cases of children stigmatised by witchcraft. But since then the numbers have grown at an alarming rate and have reached an estimated 15,000 in Akwa Ibom state alone.
Some Nigerians blame the increase on one of the country's wealthiest and most influential evangelical preachers. Helen Ukpabio, a self-styled prophetess of the 150-branch Liberty Gospel Church, made a film, widely distributed, called End of the Wicked. It tells, in graphic detail, how children become possessed and shows them being inducted into covens, eating human flesh and bringing chaos and death to their families and communities.
Mrs Ukpabio, a mother of three, also wrote a popular book which tells parents how to identify a witch. For children under two years old, she says, the key signs of a servant of Satan are crying and screaming in the night, high fever and worsening health - symptoms that can be found among many children in an impoverished region with poor health care.
The preacher says that her work is true to the Bible and is a means of spreading God's word. "Witchcraft is a problem all over Nigeria and someone with a gift like me can never hurt anybody," she says. "Every Nigerian wants to watch my movies." She denies that her teachings and films could encourage child abuse.
Children from Crarn accused of being witches and wizards, protesting outside the... more
A young albino girl, Esther Charles (9), was killed on Sunday night and her legs amputated by unidentified people in Kahama District, Shinyanga Region, in Tanzania, according to Shinyanga Regional Crimes Officer (RCO) Aggrey Lufutyo.
After he was informed, the RCO drove to the scene about 50 kilometres from Kahama town. Narrating the awful story on Monday, Segese Ward Councillor Joseph Bundala Mayala said the incident occurred on Sunday night.
Mayala explained that three people armed with machetes broke into the parents’ house, scared off Esther’s mother, Jean John, who was sleeping with her daughter, gripped the girl and took her away.
“As they moved about 20 metres from the house, they put her down, cut off her legs and plucked out some hair from her head and disappeared. The father of the child, Mzorewa Mashiri, wasn’t at the house that night, he was at his second wife’s house,” he said.
After the attackers left, he continued, the mother cried for help and neighbours gathered at the scene but they found the child already dead. No one has been arrested in connection with the death of the albino girl.
Esther was studying at Silela Primary School in Kahama District. Her death comes hardly a week after President Jakaya Kikwete announced a national operation to hunt albino killers and just few hours before activists demonstrated in Dar es Salaam on Sunday to protest against albino killings in the country.A young albino girl, Esther Charles (9), was killed on Sunday night and her legs... more
Many people think that "other forces" are at work.........
Willy Wonka: Because he broke the rules.
Grandpa Joe: What rules? We didn't see any rules, did we, Charlie?
Willy Wonka: Wrong, sir! Wrong! Under section 37B of the contract signed by him, it states quite clearly that all offers shall become null and void if -- and you can read it for yourself in this photostatic copy -- "I, the undersigned, shall forfeit all rights, privileges, and licenses herein and herein contained," et cetera, et cetera... "Fax mentis incendium gloria cultum," et cetera, et cetera... "Memo bis punitor delicatum"! It's all there, in black and white, clear as crystal! You stole fizzy lifting drinks! You bumped into the ceiling which now has to be washed and sterilized, so you get nothing!
Good day sir!
Grandpa Joe: You're a crook! You're a cheat and a swindler! How could you do a thing like this, raise up a little boy's hopes and then dash all his dreams to pieces? You're an inhuman monster!
Willy Wonka: I said good day! Willy Wonka: Because he broke the rules. Grandpa Joe: What rules? We didn't... more
This is an absolute first and frankly it's f---ing brilliant. The California Democratic Party has a giant electronic billboard up somewhere near a Los Angeles-area rally that Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin is doing today that is displaying live text-message questions people are sending in. On top of that, the whole thing is streaming live back onto the web using UStream.tv.This is an absolute first and frankly it's f---ing brilliant. The California... more
"Take a look at the two blurry images [above]. Can you see an object hidden in each one?
Before I give the answers, here’s another question: Do you feel a certain lack of control over events right now?
These questions are not unrelated, according to a report in the new issue of Science by Jennifer Whitson and Adam Galinsky. The researchers found that when people were primed to feel out of control, they were more likely to see patterns where none exist. They would spot an object in each of the images above, even though only the image on the right contains one (the outline of Saturn and its rings). If you thought you saw something in the image on the left, don’t be too hard on yourself — your feeling may be perfectly understandable given the chaos on Wall Street.
The researchers say that their experiments, which also tested people’s tendency to detect conspiracies and see superstitious lessons in stories, help explain why conspiracy theories and superstitions flourish when people are feeling out of control. Previous researchers have reported, for instance, that first-year business-school students are more prone to imagine conspiracies than are second-year students, and that deep-sea fishermen have more elaborate rituals and superstitions than ones who fish in more predictable conditions near shore."
More at link ..."Take a look at the two blurry images [above]. Can you see an object hidden in... more
ANP: Would biblical prophecies influence Palin's foreign policy positions? Nobody's asking her so far.
Does Sarah Palin believe in the Anti-Christ? Does she believe true Christians will be whisked up to heaven sometime in the near future? Does she expect Jesus to come back to earth in our lifetimes and battle the armies of Satan? Would biblical prophecies about Armageddon influence her foreign policy positions on Israel and Russia? These are urgent questions the media have failed to ask. According to Chip Berlet, a leading expert on the Christian right, mainstream reporters tend to view apocalyptic fundamentalists as a "silly little side show" in American political life, when, in fact, one of their own may soon be a heartbeat away from the most powerful office in the world.
ANP: Would biblical prophecies influence Palin's foreign policy positions?... more
Darwin never warned against crossing black cats, walking under ladders or stepping on cracks in the pavement, but his theory of natural selection explains why people believe in such nonsense.
The tendency to falsely link cause to effect – a superstition – is occasionally beneficial, says Kevin Foster, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard University.
For instance, a prehistoric human might associate rustling grass with the approach of a predator and hide. Most of the time, the wind will have caused the sound, but "if a group of lions is coming there’s a huge benefit to not being around," Foster says.
Foster and colleague Hanna Kokko, of the University of Helsinki, Finland, sought to determine exactly when such potentially false connections pay off.Darwin never warned against crossing black cats, walking under ladders or stepping on... more
I've been watching the DNC, and I've noticed an interesting and slightly unsettling trend.
Democrats are constantly referencing Faith and God in their speeches. And right now as I'm typing this, here comes the real kicker. Currently, a pair of Methodist pastors are saying a closing benediction prayer.
What is with this new mixing of Church and State by the Democratic Party? Strange how this is happening while the Republicans are working on putting less focus on religion. I've been watching the DNC, and I've noticed an interesting and slightly... more
Superstitious numerologists have drawn connections between China's final medal count and the exact date and time of the Sichuan earthquake:
China's final medal count of 51 golds, 22 silvers and 28 bronzes coincides with the date and time of May's devastating Sichuan earthquake — 5.12, 2:28pm.
However China actually only won 21 silvers... still kinda creepy though.Superstitious numerologists have drawn connections between China's final medal... more
Monsters are everywhere these days, and belief in them is as strong as ever. What's harder to believe is why so many people buy into hazy evidence, shady schemes and downright false reports that perpetuate myths that often have just one ultimate truth: They put money in the pockets of their purveyors.
According to several interviews with people who study these things: People want to believe, and most simply can't help it.
"Many people quite simply just want to believe," said Brian Cronk, a professor of psychology at Missouri Western State University. "The human brain is always trying to determine why things happen, and when the reason is not clear, we tend to make up some pretty bizarre explanations."
A tale last week by three men who said they have remains of Bigfoot in a freezer was reported by many Web sites as anywhere from final proof of the creature to at least a very compelling case to keep the fantasy ball rolling and cash registers ringing for Bigfoot trinkets and tourism (all three men involved make money off the belief in this creature). Even mainstream media treated a Friday press conference about the "finding" as news.
Reactions by the public ranged from skeptical curiosity to blind faith.
A subsequent test on the supposed Bigfoot found nothing but the DNA of humans and an opossum, a small, cat-like creature.
Also last week, in Texas there was yet another sensational yet debunkable sighting of chupacabra, a beast of Latin-American folklore. The name means "goat sucker." In this case, law enforcement bought into the hooey with an apparent wink and nod.
"Humans first started believing in the supernatural because they were trying to understand things they couldn't explain," says Benjamin Radford, a book author, paranormal investigator and managing editor of Skeptical Inquirer magazine. "It's basically the same process as mythology: At one point people didn't understand why the sun rose and set each day, so they suggested that a chariot pulled the sun across the heavens."
Sometimes the belief in curses crosses paths with religion, as was the case in 2005 when televangelist John Hagee (whose endorsement was solicited and received by presidential hopeful John McCain) blamed Hurricane Katrina on God's wrath for a gay parade that had been scheduled for the Monday of the storm's arrival.
"I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they are - were recipients of the judgment of God for that," Hagee said at the time, reiterating the belief in 2006.
That might lead one to assume religion and paranormal beliefs are intertwined.
Before modern scientific explanations of germ theory, explained Radford, who writes the "Bad Science" column for LiveScience, people didn't understand how diseases could travel from one person to another. "They didn't understand why a child was stillborn, or why a drought occurred, so they came to believe that such events had supernatural causes," he said.
Bader, the sociologist at Baylor, and his colleagues teamed up with the Gallup organization to conduct a national survey of 1,721 people in 2005 and found nearly 30 percent think it is possible to influence the physical world through the mind alone (another 30 percent were undecided on that point). More than 20 percent figure it's possible to communicate with the dead. Nearly 40 percent believe in haunted houses.
"All societies have invoked the supernatural to explain things beyond their control and understanding, especially good and bad events," Radford said. "In many places - even today - people believe that disasters or bad luck is caused by witches or curses."
Which raises the bigger question: With science having answered so many questions in the past couple centuries, why do paranormal beliefs remain so strong?
Monsters are everywhere these days, and belief in them is as strong as ever.... more
If you're superstitious – and, for that matter, even if you're not – today may be a good day to invest in an umbrella.
It rained in many places across Britain on St Swithin's Day on Tuesday, which legend has it, will bring rain for the next 40 days.
And while weather forecasters can't be as precise as folklore, they too are predicting more rain than usual this summer. But don't despair – temperatures are expected to be above average in July and August and September will see an Indian summer, with dry, warm days.If you're superstitious – and, for that matter, even if you're not... more
Some American drivers are becoming so desperate at the increasing price of gas that they are turning to God.
The Pray at the Pump Movement has been holding vigils at gas stations across the country.Some American drivers are becoming so desperate at the increasing price of gas that... more
Floods sweeping southern China seem to have fulfilled the final stanza of an Internet curse involving Beijing's Olympic mascots, but censors have been quick to remove postings that might fuel the superstition.
After a devastating earthquake struck Sichuan province last month, Internet users tied four of the five "Fuwa" mascots to the calamities that have struck China in the run-up to the Games, which begin in August. One Fuwa is a panda, the totem of Sichuan.
The others resemble a torch, reminding netizens of the protests against the international Olympic torch rally; a Tibetan antelope tied to widespead demonstrations in Tibetan areas; and a swallow that looks like a kite, linked to a deadly train crash in Shandong province.
The final Fuwa, sporting a fish, was left unexplained in the original superstition as a curse yet to come.
Unexplained, that is, until widespread flooding in southern and central China claimed dozens of lives in June.
"I am in Shenzhen. There is heavy rain for two days and no sign that it will stop... now the curse of the last "fish" has proven correct. What shall we do?" said a post by yellow_hades on Tianya, a popular online forum.
That and similar posts have disappeared quickly this week. China's censors monitor the Internet carefully and remove any posts deemed inflammatory or not in line with government policy.
Major calamities, earthquakes in particular, were viewed in imperial China as a sign that a dynasty had lost the mandate of Heaven.
Although the Communist Party has tried to stamp out "feudal superstition" since it took power in 1949, the Beijing Games will start on the auspicious moment of 8:08 pm, on August 8 2008. Eight is a lucky number in Chinese.
Floods sweeping southern China seem to have fulfilled the final stanza of an Internet... more