What happened to the girls in Le Roy? (NYTimes)
18 girls in Le Roy, New York have been suffering from tics and seizures. Neurologists believe the cause is conversion disorder
(AKA hysteria) combined with mass psychogenic illness. Others have suggested environmental causes, or PANDAS
. [more inside]
The U.S. Department of Transportation released results from the joint National Highway Traffic Safety Administration/NASA study on sudden vehicle acceleration in Toyota cars requested Spring 2010 by Congress. Short version: NASA engineers found no electronic flaws in Toyota vehicles capable of producing the large throttle openings required to create dangerous high-speed unintended acceleration incidents. [more inside]
Do you remember an old photo of a thunderbird/pterodactyl
, nailed against a barn wall, with men standing in it for scale? So do many others
(including myself). But since that photo has entirely disappeared, are we all victims of a form of mass hysteria
? Or victims of a massive reality-altering conspiracy
(ctrl-f for 'Birdzilla')?
Climate change a 'questionable truth'.
Margaret Wente looks beyond the hysteria surrounding the climate change debate. Hysteria her own newspaper has been contributing to
Extraordinary Popular Delusions And The Madness Of Crowds,
Charles McKay's 1841 classic work on mass hysteria and national crazes, still surprisingly readable and engaging. Among the classic examples in McKay's book are the South Sea Bubble
, one of the earliest and largest financial bubbles, and the witch hunts
of Europe (related: try the 1628 Witch Hunt simulation
). Most people remember him best for his history of Tulipmania
, the Dutch flower-speculation explosion of 1647 and 1648... except that it may not have been a delusion at all, but rather a rational response to changes in regulation
Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt our program of dance music to bring you a special bulletin from the Intercontinental Radio News....
Today is the 65th anniversary of the famous Mercury Theatre
presentation of War of the Worlds
, as adapted for Radio
by Orson Welles
. The infamous broadcast (listen in Real Audio or RealAudio or TrueSpeech)
caused no small amount
of uneasyness, and even some outright panic
as listeners, already unsettled by coverage of the impending war in Europe
, were all to willing to believe that Martians
had indeed landed in Grovers Mill, New Jersey
. The broadcast led to an FCC investigation
and remains a touchstone
in the evolution of the American media.