January 2012

Parasitic Twin To Be Removed From Peruvian Boy's Stomach

A parasitic twin is very similar to a conjoined twin; it is essentially a conjoined twin that exists solely inside the main child's body.
I can't decide if Peruvian toddler Isbac Pacunda is a lucky kid, or an unlucky one. Let's consider him lucky: doctors discovered his parasitic twin while he was still young, and the surgery is set for tomorrow. 
Pacunda's parasitic twin is situated in his stomach. It weighs about a pound and a half, is nine inches long, and has "some hair on the cranium, eyes, and some bones." A parasitic twin is very similar to a conjoined twin; it is essentially a conjoined twin that exists solely inside the main child's body. 

Sentient Weapons

An Ancient Tradition

In the “Elric of Melnibone” series by Michael Moorcock, Elric has a sentient (and evil) sword called Stormbringer. That's a work of fiction, but legends of sentient blades with magical powers can be found in various cultures around the world.

Is Venus Populated By Scorpions?

One Russian scientist thinks so
Leonid Ksanformaliti, a scientist with the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, has been closely examining some 30 year-old footage from a Soviet probe's landing on the surface of Venus. And in a recently published paper, Ksanformaliti drops a bomb: there is life on Venus, large life which is sufficiently organized to be disturbed (if not frightened away) by the landing of the Soviet probe.
Venus stands between us and the Sun, and can often be seen in the sky (typically right before or right after sunrise). Venus has a similar size, composition, and gravity compared to Earth. But life on Venus would be harsh indeed. It has no water, although it seems that it did at one point in the distant past. 

Lights in the Sky? Check Your Calendar

This time of year, it's probably Chinese sky lanterns
I smile every time I read a report of a UFO in the skies this time of year. These "seasonal UFOs" move slowly, seeming almost to drift with the wind. They are completely silent. They are a single bright ball of light, or may have a somewhat lopsided or semi-spherical shape. The light may appear to be originating from the bottom of the "craft," illuminating the inside of the sphere from below. There is usually only one or two seen at a time, although occasionally you hear reports of dozens soaring silently past at the same time.
Most likely, they are Chinese sky lanterns.

Should Google Censor Conspiracy Theories?

In a word: no.
On one hand, I empathize with Slate writer Evgeny Morozov when he passionately explains why it is bad that search results for whackadoodle anti-vaccination sites are ranked on Google right along with regular sites that provide actual information which has the benefit of being A) true and B) scientifically proven. 
I get it, because I too have groaned aloud at the latest "anti-vax" tirade. The king of the anti-vax movement has been as thoroughly dethroned as it is possible to be, but people keep believing his lies. And when they do, children die of preventable disease. Diseases which we, in our wonderful modern time, could probably eradicate if there weren't so many idiots out there letting their kids be vulnerable to measles. 

Debunking the Sky Sounds

Mostly, they come from a novel musical instrument called a waterphone
A lot of good work has been done around the internet to debunk the reports of mysterious, seemingly sourceless sounds from the sky. 
Most people have noted that the biggest red flag is that these reports consist almost entirely of YouTube videos, which are trivially simple to fake. There is little in the way of written eyewitness reports, or of multiple reports of the same incident. I mean, if a huge metallic grinding noise filled the sky, wouldn't you expect other people to hear it, too?

Vampire Hunting Kits

A Fun Bit Of Fakelore

According to Ye Ancient Legendary Tome of E-Bay Marketing, 19th century travelers through the wild Carpathian regions of Eastern Europe would often bring along a special “vampire hunting kit,” containing an assortment of weapons against the threat of the undead. Supposedly you could even acquire these from the concierge of any reasonably well-appointed Eastern European hotel. A handful of these kits have survived intact to the present day, and you can still find one every now and then on E-Bay.

Rudolph Fentz: Unfortunately, Not A Real Time Traveler

It sounds like a Twilight Zone episode... which isn't too far from the truth!


The tale of Rudolph Fentz is an amazing one. Too good to be true, you might say. And sadly for those of us in the Fortean biz, you would be right.
Here is the story: in 1950 a man materializes on the streets of Manhattan, right in front of a speeding car. The car strikes the man, killing him instantly. When police arrive at the scene, they note that the man's clothing is bizarrely out of date, archaic yet seemingly new. The man has old currency in his pockets, some of the coins still apparently new from the mint. In his wallet they find a card identifying him as Rudolph Fentz, Sr., along with receipts for such old-timey things as boarding fees for his carriage horse.
One plucky New York City policeman can't let the mystery drop. He checks the phone book and finds a listing for a Rudolph Fentz, Jr. When he pays the younger Fentz a visit, he learns that Rudolph Fentz, Sr. went out for a walk in 1876 and never returned.

Sky Sounds - Real or Hoax?

Not to be a party pooper, but frankly I have to say that I consider these videos to be a straight up hoax.
In the last few months, a number of video and audio-only recordings have surfaced which purport to be strange sounds coming from the sky. In some videos the sound is just a hum that seems to come from everywhere at once. In others, the sound is metallic, or groaning. Some people hear a noise that resembles human screams (similar to those heard in the "Siberian hole to Hell" hoax from many years ago).
What is going on?
There are a number of possible theories. Although not to be a party pooper, but frankly I have to say that I consider these videos to be a straight up hoax. Crop circles for the internet age, if you will.

The Evolutionary Psychology of Lycanthropy

Did Stephen Pinker's Ancestors Prefer Silver Jewelry?

If you should ever happen to run into a werewolf, will a silver bullet slay the beast? This is an increasingly important question in these modern times, as werewolf attacks are at least as much of a problem now as they were for our frightened peasant ancestors, but werewolf habitat is nowhere near as abundant. In fact, the enduring popularity of silver jewelry is most likely due to natural selection. Medieval villagers who were fond of silver would have been more likely to survive and pass on their genes during times of werewolf infestation, resulting in a widespread genetic predilection for silver objects of all kinds.

Street Light Interference Phenomenon

"Enough people have come forth and stated that they can cause street lights to turn on and off externally"
I can't say I've really heard of telekinesis that wasn't erratic or intermittent. People who claim to have nonphysical powers over their environments generally can't replicate their abilities to scientific satisfaction. You might say that all claims of telekinesis could arise from a perceived correlation between certain patterns of thinking and external activity that would probably happen anyway without the thoughts of the supposedly telekinetic. But it is interesting when a large number of people all claim to have control over a very specific kind of object. Street lights, for example.
Enough people have come forth and stated that they can cause street lights to turn on and off externally that there's actually a separate name for the phenomenon. It's known as "street light interference phenomenon" and it's been documented since 1993, when British paranormal researcher Hilary Evans published his book The SLI Effect. According to the text, many people had reported that streetlights spontaneously switched off all on their own in their presence. These people could walk down the street and see each street light go out one by one as they passed by. If we're to believe these witnesses, this sort of activity does seem too regular to be coincidental. 

Police Investigate Abandoned Farmhouse's Mystery Dungeon

But before they could finish, a suspicious fire burned the farmhouse to the ground


Canada's desolate winter landscape is the perfect setting for the discovery of an abandoned farmhouse with a mysterious dungeon in the basement. As part of the process of prepping the 136 year old farmhouse to be condemned and destroyed, contractors went in to examine the property.
In the basement, they found what Ontario police described as a "confinement-style room." The room featured a thick door with several locks on the outside, and its contents were such that the contractors phoned the police - and the police have kept mum. The farmhouse was abandoned in 2006, but according to the National Post, "it is believed the room has been built within the last year or two." When the property was inspected in November 2010, the room was not present.

Obama's Secret History on Mars

When the CIA denies something, doesn't that make you believe it even harder?
It seems like every sitting American president gradually accumulates their own conspiracy theory lore. I suppose it's only natural to suspect the worst of the person with the most (nominal) power in the country. And (although that title has slipped somewhat in recent years) of the most powerful country in the world.
The most well-known Obama conspiracy is the "birther" debate. Although to call it a "debate" is to elevate the discourse beyond what it deserves. But there are other conspiracies, as well. Including one which was recently officially denied by the CIA: that Obama was teleported to Mars in the early 1980s as part of a secret CIA exploratory mission to the red planet.

Blue Ivy: The Conspiracy Theories Behind The Name

I got 99 problems but a name ain't one
The royal leaders of American music, Jay-Z and Beyonce, gave birth to their first baby over the weekend. Following the long and colorful trend of "famous people giving their kids weird names," they chose the name Blue Ivy for their little girl.
The buzz began as soon as it was announced. Jay-Z has a long history of being on the wrong side of conspiracy theorists on the internet. There is a long-standing rumor that he is a member of the Illuminati, or the Freemasons, or both. And it is true that he frequently makes use of highly charged symbols like the pyramid with the floating eye. Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber flash their fans a heart, but that won't do for Jay-Z! His special hand signal to his fans in the audience is to form a triangle (or pyramid, depending on your point of view) with the index finger and thumb of both hands. 

The New England Vampire

Dead People Are Just Like That

Did you know that New England is the Transylvania of the United States? What do I mean by that, you might ask? I'm talking about vampires, those blood-sucking fiends of Eastern Europe. The old-time Yankees believed in something very similar, and dealt with it in very similar ways. Specifically, they would dig up the body of the suspected vampire, remove the heart, and publicly burn it. Sometimes the vampires' victims would mix the ashes in water and drink it in an attempt to get their blood back. The vampires' victims, as in Eastern Europe, were frequently members of its own family. These kinds of rituals occurred on a number of occasions in eighteenth and nineteenth-century New England, with the last known case being the Mercy Brown incident in the 1890s.

Dead Blackbirds Fall From Arkansas Sky (Again)

It's PROBABLY not the end of the world. Probably.


I'm actually glad that this has happened for a second time on January 1st. Because if it was happening for the first time on January 1st 2012, you know that everyone would be panicking in the streets. I mean, I'm sorry for the dead birds, obviously. But the fact that a flock of blackbirds has fallen from the sky over Beebe, Arkansas two years in a row on New Year's Eve hints at a very normal (i.e. not paranormal) explanation.
That, or Beebe is where the baby Jesus is being born, in order to return to the Earth and begin the End Times with the war against Satan and the faithful Christians being sucked up to Heaven and everything. 
It's one of those two things, I'm pretty sure.


Eaters of the Dead

In George Romero's “Night of the Living Dead,” the cannibalistic dead people are not called zombies. Back then, everybody who knew the word “zombie” still associated it with the Caribbean, where it refers to a person raised from the dead to serve as the slave of a zombie master. In Romero's original zombie flick, the zombies were referred to as “ghouls,” because the ghoul was the closest of all folklore monsters to the things he had imagined for his movie.