halloween. halloween and i like throughout history because ... · throughout history because it’s...
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Don’t Go In the Woods: A Non-Canonical Day of History
Class in which I get to talk about spooky things
throughout history because it’s Halloween and I like
The First Exhibit: The Dyatlov Pass Incident
The Facts● In 1959, 9 frozen bodies were
discovered in the Ural Mountains inside the Soviet Union (USSR)
● Primarily students, their goal had been to travel about seven miles to another mountain
● A snow storm pinned them down, they died that night
● Other than the whole “frozen to death” thing, the exact reason for their death remains unknown
Who cares?● The tent was sliced open from the inside● The stuff was still there, but no bodies
were actually found inside the tent● Many of the bodies were found about a
half mile from the tent, some were found even farther away in a ravine, where they had made a fire to try to stay alive, and yet never returned to the tent
● Many of the bodies were dressed only in their underwear, and seemed to have suffered severe injury
From The Telegraph, 2013Investigators found footprints in the snow of eight or nine people who were wearing socks, a single shoe or were barefoot. The footsteps led towards a dense forest but disappeared after 500 metres.
The first two bodies, of two men, barefoot and dressed only in their underclothes, were found at the edge of the forest near the remains of a fire. The next three bodies — of [expedition leader Igor] Dyatlov and another man and a woman — were found between the fire and the tent, suggesting that they had been trying to return to the tent. Autopsies failed to find any evidence of foul play. An inquest concluded that all five had died of hypothermia.
Two months later, however, the partially-dressed bodies of the other four members of the team were discovered in a forest ravine, not far from the first two bodies. They appeared to have suffered traumatic pressure or crush injuries, and the tongue of one had been ripped out. Otherwise there were no external injuries, but tests conducted on their bodies and clothing showed small traces of radiation.
The conclusions of investigators?
● “A natural force they were unable to overcome”
● The site was closed off. Evidence was classified
● I mean...the conspiracy theories
What actually happened?
Fireballs bro● Eyewitnesses reported “balls of fire”
moving in the sky near the mountain around the time the bodies were found
● Rockets? Other types of weapons? Or paranormal beams of energy?
● This theory was suggested by one of the lead investigators in the case in an article published in 1990
Ultra-Low Frequency Crazy Sound● One author who wanted to sound scientific proposed
that it was a Karman vortex street that killed the hikers
● A Karman vortex street is basically the phrase that describes when high winds pass around mountains and “bend” in the process
● The more cylindrical the object, the harder the air “breaks” around it
● In certain cases, this can cause certain types of ultra-low frequency sound outside of the spectrum that can be heard (I tried it on Youtube, it was boring)
● That sound has been shown to cause panic and anxiety. The author theorized that the hikers were driven crazy by air. I could find no substantive evidence other than that one author to support the theory
The Rational Explanation: Avalanche!● We can never be sure if there actually was an
avalanche, because the bodies were found after about a month, and the snow could have shifted and dispersed
● Does it explain everything? No (the radiation, missing tongue, etc.), but it explains more of it in a more rational way than any of the other explanations
● You flee the tent because you hear the avalanche begin, not taking stuff with you because there’s no time, the rest of the strange behavior is chalked up to hypothermia-induced delirium (paradoxical undressing)
● If some were buried in the avalanche and dug themselves out, it would explain some of the injuries on the bodies (not the missing tongue)
But what about the radiation?● This is where the military theories come in.
Was the USSR dropping parachute mines? Were those the glowing fireballs?
● Secret nuclear tests?● The fact that the files were hidden and the
site was closed off sure seems suspicious● Plus the bodies were “tanned” according
to a funeral observer● However, not all of the bodies had
radiation exposure, and if they had been exposed to some kind of nuclear testing, that should have been the case
● More likely? Lamp wicks were treated with thorium at the time, which was radioactive
In the end? We can never be 100% sure. But maybe the simplest explanations
are the best.
The Second Exhibit: Clowns
The Clown Panic of 2016 (it doesn’t have an official name)
● This was really a classic example of how the right events at the right time can cause a chain reaction of fear and paranoia
● It’s also a disturbing look at how modern technology can stoke unrealistic fear and panic
● While some of this is undeniably creepy (duh, it’s a Halloween-themed history lecture), rest assured no clowns are lurking in the shadows
How it started● In August of 2016, residents of Greenville,
South Carolina started reporting sightings of clowns in the woods near town
● An incident report quoting a concerned mother said that her son had “seen clowns in the woods whispering and making strange noises”
● Going into further detail “Our children mentioned, ‘Mama, there’s clowns out there in the woods, and they’re trying to get us to come out there. Some had chains, some had knives, and some were holding out money, saying, ‘Come here, we’ve got candy for you’”
It might have stopped there...but it sure makes for good local news.
So thanks to pranksters and attention seekers dressing up as clowns, how many states ended up having documented clown sightings?Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
What were these “sightings” like?● Do you really need to ask that question?● It is what you imagine:
○ A woman reports that a clown jumped in front of her car and ran towards it
○ Woman calls 911 after seeing a clown in Walmart
○ Clown chases kid out of New York subway○ My personal favorite Wikipedia discovery?
“A ‘creepy clown’ was spotted and photographed on a MUNI bus in San Francisco; the clown flipped off the photographer after she took the photo”
● How close did the sightings come to Pleasanton? Empty social media threats towards schools in nearby towns. No actual sightings (reported sightings at least, I won’t debate if you insist that you saw one)
Was there ever actually any danger?● No. There was one example of a kid
WEARING a clown mask who was fatally stabbed, but that’s it.
● Wearing a clown costume isn’t illegal● Some police departments tried to say that
wearing a clown costume for the purposes of scaring people is illegal, but at best it’s a grey area
● Plus, just to take all the creepy air out of the sails, it started to be used as a viral marketing tool
So, why did it happen? ● Mass hysteria. We were all touched by it a
little. It happens sometimes.● One of the key differences between this
one and those that have occurred throughout history is that this one was spread through social media. It makes it bigger than it actually is in your mind
● People are willing to dress up and present themselves as clowns for a chance at viral fame
● And we’re just straight up afraid of clowns in general. Exaggerated features, unpredictable behavior, all inspire fear
● Plus, this has happened before, in 1981, in Boston
A special shout-out to the good clowns● One sad side effect of the clown hysteria
was that the profession of being a clown was driven further and further away from what it’s supposed to be: a funny presence to entertain children
● There were lots of clown schools/professional clown organizations that strongly tried to get the pro-clown message out in the middle of the panic
● My personal favorite quote? It’s attributed to Mike Becvar, a professional clown who goes by the name Sir Toony Van Dukes and operates the website “Just for Clowns” (they keep a record of all the clown conventions nationwide by the way. It’s quite shocking
From the New York Times. Sept 7, 2016I wonder how the reporting on the story would go if instead of clowns, people were dressing up as aliens, witches, zombies or doctors? What if they were wearing hospital scrubs, lab coats and a stethoscope around their neck. Would the new report that doctors were hiding in the woods trying to lure kids with candy?
-Mike Becvar (Sir Toony Van Dukes)