Across three decades, his goal was to drive a scientist’s skepticism into the heart of India, a country still teeming with gurus, babas, astrologers, godmen and other mystical entrepreneurs.
Dr Narendra Dabholkar,
a former physician, was assassinated at age 67 earlier this week in the city of Pune. From Times of India:
"Since 1983, he was confronted time and again by many religious and spiritual gurus, and faced several threats and even physical attacks. But he rejected police protection for himself. 'If I have to take police protection in my own country from my own people, then there is something wrong with me,' he used to say. 'I'm fighting within the framework of the Indian constitution and it is not against anyone, but for everyone.'"
posted by storybored
on Aug 25, 2013 -
A critique of Sir James Frazer's The Golden Bough
by Colin Dickey.
"For all its erudition and analysis, The Golden Bough has for more than a century helped cement the idea that magic is inappropriate, wrongheaded thought. Yet what separates magic from religion or science is not its methodology—Frazer himself notes that it 'is therefore a truism, almost a tautology, to say that all magic is necessarily false and barren; for were it ever to become true and fruitful, it would no longer be magic but science'—it’s that ordinary people can do it, transforming their lives with the ambitious power of everyday thought."
Via Lapham's Quarterly's Magic Shows
posted by Kitty Stardust
on Jul 26, 2012 -
The Ben-Zvi Institute in Jerusalem houses the Aleppo Codex
, considered the oldest and most authoritative text of the Hebrew Bible. Written in the 10th century AD and annotated by Maimonides himself, it was safeguarded by the Jewish diaspora and revered for its linguistic precision and its beauty. "The story of how some 200 pages of the codex went missing — and to this day remain the object of searches carried out around the globe by biblical scholars, private investigators, shadowy businessmen and the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency — is one of the great mysteries in Jewish history
." [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Jul 25, 2012 -
“We got a bit excited because we realized that people have collected
lots of dybbuk
stories, but our fragment
describes a real event, where you see how they come together and pray in order to exorcise the ghost from a widow,” [more inside]
posted by ServSci
on Dec 21, 2009 -
The Baloney Detection Kit.
"With a sea of information coming at us from all directions, how do we sift out the misinformation and bogus claims, and get to the truth? Michael Shermer, Publisher of Skeptic magazine
, lays out a 'Baloney Detection Kit' — ten questions we should ask when encountering a claim."
posted by homunculus
on Jun 25, 2009 -
In an intriguing blog entry
the mysterious jasminembla muses about the man in the moon, and his relationship with thorns, linking finally to a most remarkable collection of sourced and footnoted Victorian Moon Lore
authored by a Rev. Timothy Harley, 1885. In the "Man in the Moon
" section, we learn that, indeed, the man in the moon has been traditionally linked with thorns, variously being exiled to the moon for stealing a bundle of brambles, strewing brambles on the path to church to hinder the pious, or cutting wood on the Sabbath, among other infractions - and that this folktale has existed since at least 1157, when an English abbot asks, in Latin, "Do you not know what the people call the rustic in the moon who carries the thorns? Whence one vulgarly speaking says,
"The Rustic in the moon /
Whose burden weighs him down /
This changeless truth reveals /
He profits not who steals."
Furthermore, no less a personage than Shakespeare has mentioned the thorny situation of the poor man in the moon... and most interesting, perhaps, the rather convincing theory that the bramble-burdened man in the moon may very well be an older "Jack" of Jack and Jill fame, who did not steal, but was stolen by the moon, along with his sister. [more inside]
posted by taz
on Jun 26, 2008 -
Peculiar corpses: "Incorruptibles
remaining free of decomposition have baffled scientists to this day. These bodies are discovered in many different environments, including environments that would typically cause an accidental or deliberately preserved corpse to decompose rapidly." The photographed examples seem to all be associated with Christian faith. Hmm. "[At Oratorio di San Lorenzo] in Palermo, however, corpses are treated as characters in a play": The Museum of the Dead
, reassuringly less preserved.
posted by nthdegx
on May 30, 2008 -
The real secret to producing superheroes (bollywood or otherwise) is to start them young, really YOUNG
. (Link to single video)
posted by sk381
on Apr 27, 2008 -
The Lucky W Amulet Archive
: "A folkloric resource that contains hundreds of interlinked pages describing and illustrating amulets, talismans, lucky charms, and good luck pieces from around the world and all eras".
posted by taz
on Jan 28, 2004 -
Superstition ain't the way.
A new study
confirms that you can actually be scared to death. They found a 13% increase in cardiac related deaths of Chinese and Japanese Americans on the fourth day of each month. In Mandarin, Cantonese and Japanese, the pronounciation of the word 'four' (shi) is the same
as the word for death. So be careful where you aim those fireworks the next 4th of July.
posted by euphorb
on Jan 11, 2002 -
I need another MeFi posting like I need a...
Here's an organization devoted entirely to *intentionally* boring a hole in one's head. Apparently, it helps your brain to "function better". Well, if you're willing to go through with the procedure, you've certainly got room for improvement in that department.
posted by jpoulos
on Jan 5, 2001 -
The Malleus Maleficarum (The Witch Hammer),
first published in 1486, is arguably one of the most infamous books ever written, due primarily to its position and regard during the Middle Ages. It served as a guidebook for Inquisitors during the Inquisition, and was designed to aid them in the identification, prosecution, and dispatching of Witches. "Therefore, let us now chiefly consider women; and first, why this kind of perfidy is found more in so fragile a sex than in men. And our inquiry will first be general, as to the general conditions of women; secondly, particular, as to which sort of women are found to be given to superstition and witchcraft; and thirdly, specifically with regard to midwives, who surpass all others in wickedness." link via the always excellent larkfarm
posted by lagado
on Dec 8, 2000 -