Mass Exorcisms Performed on Students in the Philippines

When a large group of students starts acting strangely, some collapsing and others convulsing, most school administrators would call a doctor or at least check to see if the students hadn’t studied for a surprise quiz. At a school in the Philippines last week, they took the children to an exorcist.

Officials at Toong Integrated School in a village near Cebu City say 35 students from various grades began collapsing and convulsing in their classrooms at around 3pm. Two sisters claimed to be possessed by spirits which their mother believed was linked to two mango trees being cut down to build the school.

That was enough to convince teachers to call the nearby Mary Help of Christians Parish which sent Reverend Nicolas Ramos, a deacon trained in exorcisms. He sprinkled the children with holy salts and holy water and some of them reacted violently. Those 14 students were then taken to the Mary’s Little Children Community in Talisay City where Msgr. Frederick Kriekenbeek, the official exorcist of the Archdiocese of Cebu, performed exorcisms on them.

Was a mass exorcism really necessary? Dave Tumulak, chairperson of the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, says it was probably mass hysteria.

In my personal assessment after going to the site, this is mass hysteria. One student claimed to have seen a little child, panicked and fainted. Those who helped said they saw the same and likewise fainted … until it became mass hysteria.

Tumulak went to the school later to talk to teachers and officials about mass hysteria and how to deal with the situation. Msgr. Joseph Tan, media liaison officer of the Archdiocese of Cebu, said that the incident will be investigated but would not admit to mass hysteria.

Let us just wait and see if the possessions continue to hound the students.

The next time these teachers notice their students acting strange, who do you think they’re going to call?…….

Polish Vampires Might Have Been Saved With Clean Water

They were found buried with sharp farm sickles across their necks so their heads would be cut off if they tried to rise from the dead. Some had heavy rocks placed under their chins so they couldn’t open their mouths to bite a living person and pass on to them whatever it was that turned them into strange, frightening creatures and caused their quick, horrible and mysterious deaths in 17th century Poland. Were they truly vampires? New research suggests these poor souls were instead the first victims of a cholera epidemic.

The six vampire graves were found in a cemetery in Drawsko Pomorskie, a town in northwest Poland. The skeletons were among over 300 found at the site between 2008 and 2012. There was one male, four females and a child buried like vampires and it’s possible people at the time may have believed the man infected the others. Legends also suggest that vampires were outsiders to the community. According to a study published in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers led by Dr. Lesley Gregoricka, from University of South Alabama, were brought in to analyze the suspected vampires…….

New Solution to Fermi’s Paradox Involves ET Annihilation

“Where is everybody?”

Enrico Fermi’s famous paradoxical question in response to the high probability that extraterrestrial civilizations exist and should be visiting us has spawned a controversial answer and another question … and this time, the answer could get ugly.

“What if the first life that reaches interstellar travel capability necessarily eradicates all competition to fuel its own expansion?”

Alexander Berezin, a theoretical physicist at the National Research University of Electronic Technology in Russia, proposed in a new paper, published in arXiv, that the ability to leave one’s home planet and travel to other worlds may require the attitude that nothing will stand in their way and anything that does will be annihilated. Berezin calls this his “First in, last out” hypothesis, meaning that the first civilization to achieve the capacity to travel to other worlds will be the last civilization standing. (“Last Civilization Standing” – soon to be a major motion picture?)……

Cursed Jacket Blamed for 20 Deaths

“Killer jacket” means different things to different people. To a woman in New York, it may mean a high fashion item. To a strange guy in Cleveland, it may mean an overcoat once worn by serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. To the members of a village in Zimbabwe, it means a jacket that is allegedly responsible for the deaths of at least 20 people in the same family who got sick and died after the patriarch put it on. No, this doesn’t appear to be a mistake due to Google Translate. And yes, one should wonder why the family didn’t donate the coat to a resale shop (Badwill?) after the first few deaths.

The story comes from The Manica Post, which reports that the strange case of the killer jacket came to light when the Chinoona family appeared in the court of Zimunya, a small village in the province of Manicaland on the east coast of Zimbabwe. Court? Yes, the family was appealing to the chief of the Zimunya court to order their uncle to destroy an “evil jacket” which they believe is responsible for the deaths of 20 family members.

There are a number of spirits and possessions in the story, so pay close attention. A grandchild in the family claimed to be possessed by the spirit of the family’s late father. The spirit said he had been murdered by the uncle and the murder weapon was the “evil jacket.” The jacket became evil after the uncle, Mutsiyabako, committed a previous murder and the spirit of that victim came to haunt him. When the uncle tried an “underworld” ritual to rid himself of the spirit, he was wearing the jacket. Mutsiyabako then gave the jacket to his sister to give to her husband (the patriarch). She later claimed the jacket was “heavier” than usual, but her husband wore it anyways, got sick suddenly and died a mysterious death. In 1998……

Haunted Police Station in India Has Cops Terrified

If there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who you gonna call?

Well, if it’s ghosts, you call the Ghostbusters. If it’s anything else, the police would be a better choice. But … what if YOU’RE the police and you’ve got ghosts in your station house? That’s the situation in an Indian town known for haunted public places where the police are so terrified of what they’ve seen at the station, they abandon it to the ghost every night at 11 pm. Is this a case of evil spirits or just a great way to get some time off?

“Nothing appears fine here. We feel terrified all the time out of sudden fear.”

That would make a terrible opening line for a movie theme song, but it’s the actual quote from the Bihar Times of police sub-inspector S Baske describing the poltergeist problems at the Jugsalai police station in Jamshedpur, a town in the Jharkhand state in eastern India. The ghosts are said to manifest in multiple manners, starting with eerie sounds that begin at 11 pm and increase to haunting heights just past midnight. Even if the police had the number of the nearest ghostbusters or fellow police station, it would do them no good.

“We have been repairing the phone lines on a daily basis, but strangely they stop working by evening. This is an everyday problem.”

One suspected cause for the alleged ghostly activities comes from locals who report that the police station was built upon a shmashāna – a Hindu cremation ground where the dead are brought to be burned on a funeral pyre. Shmashāna are traditionally located on the shores of a river to facilitate disposal of the cremation ashes and this one is near the banks of the Subarnarekha, a 245 mile-long river that is haunted by the manmade ghosts of pollution caused by uranium and copper mining operations……..

‘True’ Face of God Revealed Through Survey of Believers

Among the world’s many religions, it’s pretty common to find that believers worship a god or gods which seem to resemble their own culture. While the existence of deities is debated ad infinitum, the religions that worship them are purely social constructions and, as such, are often subject to the biases and beliefs of those who belong to them. While some religions have rather rigid or monolithic depictions of their supreme beings, others offer some leeway in terms of how their god or gods are depicted.

Similarly, in one of the world’s largest religions, Christianity, depictions of God can vary somewhat due to the fact that the only descriptions of God found in the Bible are rather vague. The book of Genesis famously states that “God created man in his own image,” while Revelation 1:12-15 offers the following description of the Christian god:

Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters.

So does that mean God is an old man with bronze feet, flaming eyes, and a bushy white beard? While that seems to be one of the more common depictions in popular culture, a team of psychologists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill set out to determine how modern Christians visualize their lord and savoir. For their study, the team gathered 511 American-born Christians and showed them hundreds of pairs of randomly-generated faces. From those pairs, participants were asked to select one they felt most accurately matched how they imagined God to look. And the survey says………

We Could Be the Multiple Personalities of a Cosmic Consciousness

Dissociative identity disorder, or DID, remains one of the most mysterious psychological conditions known to science. DID, formerly known as multiple personality disorder, causes individuals consciousnesses to essentially ‘split’ into distinct personality states. In these states, body language, vocal patterns, and even emotional states can vary significantly. Many individuals do not remember events that occurred while in different personality states. While Hollywood and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde tend to exaggerate the symptoms of this mental disorder, there have been documented cases of individuals with DID carrying out violent, sometimes demonic acts while in various personality states.

DID challenges our understandings of consciousness and the human mind, suggesting that consciousness might exist in discrete units separate from the brain or mind-body altogether. If one person’s mind can house multiple distinct personalities, which one represents that individual? Are all of the personalities ‘them?’ Where exactly in the mind do those personalities exist, and what are they made of?

While neuroscience and psychology are still tackling those questions, a new paper published in the Journal of Consciousness Studies takes our understanding of DID one step further into the strange. According to the paper, all living organisms in the universe are different dissociated alter personalities of one singular cosmic consciousness. The paper was written by philosopher Bernardo Kastrup, who according to his website “has a Ph.D. in computer engineering with specializations in artificial intelligence and reconfigurable computing.” You know, the stuff that makes you an expert on the nature of reality and consciousness…….

Treating Aliens, Cryptids and Different Beings With Respect

In late January, oil palm plantation workers from the village of Sibu in Borneo spotted what they called a “strange” creature. According to one of the workers, here’s how they reacted.

We were shocked. None of us has ever seen such thing. One of us then hit the animal until it appeared to have passed out … When it regained consciousness, we forced it to go back into the jungle.

They did not report the incident to authorities but instead took a video and posted it on the Internet.

Have you ever thought about how you would react in a similar situation? What’s the first thing you would do if you encountered a strange being or creature ? What if it was an alien? A Bigfoot? A chupacabra? Something cute? Something with a strange appearance?

How would you react if you were alone? Do you think you would act differently if you with a few people? How about a crowd?

What would you do if you were carrying a stick? A rake? How about a gun? How long would you take to decide if the creature was friendly or harmful before you responded to it?

If the being appeared hurt, would you help it? What if the being was hurt because of something you did?

Would you report your encounter to authorities? Would it depend on whether you had a video or other witnesses?

After being notified of the video on the Internet, the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC), which works for the Borneo government, dispatched a Swift Wildlife Action Team (SWAT) to investigate. After hunting for two months, they finally rescued the creature, which they identified as an endangered sun bear that had lost its fur and its strength due to an unknown cause. Speculation ran from parasites to pesticide poisoning to torture by humans. A spokesperson for the SFC gave an update:

The bear is in a good and safe place. She has eaten the food and drank the water we gave. But she still is hairless and sick, and we need to find out what the sickness is.


Theologians Prepare for Alien Contact

Earlier this year, Internet discussion forums were ablaze with a somewhat bizarre debate over whether extraterrestrials can go to Heaven. But more serious theologians have less provincial questions to ask, and some of these questions were explored at NASA’s September astrobiology symposium, titled (appropriately enough) Preparing for Discovery: A Rational Approach to the Impact of Finding Microbial, Complex, or Intelligent Life Beyond Earth. The event echoes similar interdisciplinary symposia on the social impact of discovering extraterrestrial life and the academic community’s possible responses to it.

While the full recording of the two-day symposium is not yet available online (the Library of Congress has promised to make it available within the near future), this 73-minute panel discussion from June on astrobiology and theology hints at some of the topics under discussion (though the symposium itself fortunately reflects a more diverse range of speakers):……


Is the Internet Making Us Less Religious?

If you’re a sociologist of religion, one of the biggest stories of 2014 has been the decline in religious affiliation in the United States. Both the Pew Forum and the University of Chicago found that the number of unaffiliated Americans has more than doubled in recent years, to the point where roughly 1 in 5 Americans identifies as non-religious.

There are a wide range of theories as to why this happened, the most credible—in my opinion—centering on the culturally transformative role of the American Religious Right, which has made it very difficult to be both theologically conservative and politically liberal. But there’s another interesting factor that could help explain the growth of the secular community: the Internet. The MIT Technology Review’s end-of-year feature highlights an April study that found an interesting correlation between increased Internet usage and decreased religious participation……