On Black Swans

For over a thousand years Europeans took for granted that black swans were mythological beings, like unicorns and mermaids. The Roman poet Juvenal wrote in his Satires that the ideal wife was “rara avis in terris nigroque simillima cygno” or, “a rare bird on earth, like a black swan.” Black swans were assumed not to exist because no one had… Read More »On Black Swans

Satanic Panic at the Disco

Moral panics are nothing new. Collective anxieties over periods of social instability manifest a primal desire to either propitiate, or punish, whatever is causing the ill fortunes. The Biblical ritual of the Scapegoat placed the sins of the tribe upon a sacrificial animal that was driven into the wilderness. Ironically, in the modern era the scapegoat became a human sacrifice.… Read More »Satanic Panic at the Disco

On Witch Hunts: A History of Gender, Politics, & Labor

Few phrases in the English language evoke the unique horror associated with the words “witch hunt” in any context. That specific form of religious persecution has become synonymous with injustice, so much so that notorious criminals will routinely invoke the words when deflecting questions about legitimate charges. The historical phenomena of witch hunts peaked between the 16th and 17th Centuries… Read More »On Witch Hunts: A History of Gender, Politics, & Labor

On Conspiracy Theories, extended

In my first installment I described how traditional authorities used disinformation campaigns to manipulate public opinion and hide their own misdeeds. The late 20th Century information technologies revolution democratized access to the documentation of violations of both civil and human rights on all levels of government around the globe. The facts of these conspiracies could no longer be hidden by… Read More »On Conspiracy Theories, extended

On Conspiracy Theories

My interest in conspiracy theories originated from my childhood fear of the woodland monsters commonly called Bigfoot. Whether or not you believe the creatures are real, there is no explanation for the phenomena that doesn’t involve some kind of conspiracy. Any hoax elaborate enough to be plausible requires multiple parties agreeing to keep schtum. The famous Patterson-Gimlin footage filmed in… Read More »On Conspiracy Theories

The Mystery of the Sherman Ranch: Horror or Hoax?

According to Southwestern folklore, a Skinwalker is said to be a malevolent member of a Shamanic cult, or secret society, with the power to transform into various animals not unlike the An-yoto Ani-ota (West Africa’s Human Leopards). This parallel is particularly strong concerning the role of greed and petty jealousy motivating their applications of Black Magic. As with the Human… Read More »The Mystery of the Sherman Ranch: Horror or Hoax?

Werewolves? In America?

The folklore and campfire tales of the North American wilderness are rich with mysterious beasts and phantom creatures. The lake monsters and wampus cats might well have been mythological, or they may have been unknown species driven to extinction by the fur trade long before scientifically-minded explorers could document their existence. However, along with rumors of unknown yet plausible beasts,… Read More »Werewolves? In America?

Savannah Georgia: The Most Haunted City in America

I have had the dubious distinction of walking the streets of some famously haunted cities and towns. My empirical nature has been tested and teased from the spooky glades of Gettysburg to the shady alleys of New Orleans. I’ve climbed the infamous “Exorcist Steps” in Georgetown, and visited notorious Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. I’ve lived in more than one “haunted house”… Read More »Savannah Georgia: The Most Haunted City in America

Sasquatch and Wendigo: The Two Faces of the North American Hairy Man

A Study of the Persistence of Archetypal Wild Men, Mysterious Abductions, and Cannibalism in North America. For over a thousand years North Americans have described a mysterious phenomena that eludes conventional scientific explanations. Pictographs made by the ancestors of the Yokut people of central California depict a family group of three “hairy people” among the known fauna of their homeland.[fig.1]… Read More »Sasquatch and Wendigo: The Two Faces of the North American Hairy Man