In Ep. 20 of Squaring the Strange we explore how urban legends can sometimes turn dangerous, and even deadly, from Slenderman to ebola rumors. And Celestia opens another fun fortune cookie! Get it while it's fresh HERE! You can find more on me and my work with a search for "Benjamin Radford" (not "Ben Radford") on Vimeo, and please check out my podcast Squaring the Strange!
I'm quoted in a new article about the "Blue Whale game" scare.: On the surface, Blue Whale has all the hallmarks of a moral panic similar to other "challenges" that often scared parents, such as the choking game, pharma parties, and the fire challenge. All of these were cases where parents, local authorities, and click-hungry media outlets took either isolated incidents or rumors and turned them into full blown scares, no matter how many people were actually doing them. Indeed, prominent skeptic Benjamin Radford wrote that Blue Whale shares many traits with classic moral panics, including "modern technology and seemingly benign personal devices as posing hidden dangers to children and teens, the threat [of] some influential evil stranger who manipulates the innocent, and an element of conspiracy theory." There's also more on this in a recent episode of Squaring the Strange.... You can find more on me and my work with a search for "Benjamin Radford" (not "Ben Radford") on Vimeo, and please check out my podcast Squaring the Strange!
From Steve Terrell at The Santa Fe New Mexican: He’s written factual studies about the mythical chupacabra, about spooky New Mexico folklore like the tales of La Llorona, of monsters who live in lakes. But in his latest book, New Mexico author Benjamin Radford turns his attention to a subject that for some people is much scarier than any of those legendary creatures. You can read the rest HERE. You can find more on me and my work with a search for "Benjamin Radford" (not "Ben Radford") on Vimeo.
I recently appeared on 2 KASA Style and had a short but fun interview talking about my new book "Bad Clowns." You can watch it HERE! ALBUQUERQUE (KASA) – ‘Bad Clowns’, the phrase alone sends shivers down many people’s spines. Those malicious misfits of the midway who terrorize, haunt, and threaten us have been a cultural icon. But why are we so fascinated and terrified by them? We are making an attempt at answering that question by talking with authorBenjamin Radford to discuss his book “Bad Clowns”. You can find more on me and my work with a search for "Benjamin Radford" (not "Ben Radford") on Vimeo.
My new article on KFC urban legends, and how a piece of chicken can look like a fried rat, is up at Discovery News, you can read it HERE. It's an interesting blend of psychology, folklore, and culture...
My new CFI blog on the bizarre, misogynistic mess that is Disney's "Into the Woods." You can read it HERE.
On Saturday Sept. 20 I'll be giving a free talk at the Taylor Ranch Library in Albuquerque, New Mexico, from 2-3 PM. I'll be discussing my research into (and solving the mystery of) the Hispanic vampire beast El Chupacabra. I'll also be talking about and signing copies of my new book Mysterious New Mexico: Mirackes, Magic, and Monsters in the Land of Enchantment. So stop by and check it 0ut!
I was recently a guest on the Edge of the Unknown radio show, talking about skepticism, investigation, and my new book Mysterious New Mexico! It will be rebroadcast at various times this week, and be archived, you can find it HERE.
A classic piece I wrote about my trip to Macchu Picchu, in Peru... Hard-headed types like scientists and skeptical investigators are often seen as dour debunkers, devoid of magic and awe. We are seen as eggheads and naysayers who don’t believe anything wondrous that we can’t put under a microscope. Yet I passionately disagree; as Richard Dawkins, Carl Sagan, and others have eloquently pointed out, the skeptic’s world is not devoid of awe. Instead, we simply find wonder in the natural universe instead of a supernatural one. In 1997 I visited two of the great mystical “energy centers” of the world: the pyramids at Ghiza and the Peruvian ruins of Macchu Picchu in the South American Andes. The Peruvian ruins sit atop a steep verdant mountain, surrounded by lower hills emerging regally from cottony white clouds. The huge stone complex, which is a remnant of the Inca civilization, was rediscovered only recently (in 1911), having escaped the Spanish Conquest because of its remote location and rugged terrain. You can read the rest HERE.
A man fainted while holding his breath as he drove through a tunnel near Portland, Oregon, causing a head-on collision that sent four people to the hospital, possibly highlighting the ill effects of even common, and seemingly silly, superstitions. You can read more about it HERE.
For those who missed my appearance last week on the Rob Breakenridge show (Canada's NewsTalk 770) talking about urban legends and the Slenderman stabbing, you listen HERE. It’s only about 15 minutes, and you might learn something new and interesting about “folklore made real"...
My new article on a creepy Slenderman-inspired attempted murder by two 12-year-old girls is now up on Discovery News, you can read it HERE.
My article on a modern-day witch hunt that killed a woman in Brazil lats month is on Yahoo News; you can read it HERE. A woman suspected of being a witch was beaten by a mob and died last week in Guarujá, Brazil, near the country's largest city, São Paulo. The attack was prompted by suspicions the woman was involved in a kidnapping in the area, following a Facebook post by a local news outlet, according to a report from Folha de São Paulo, the country's largest newspaper.
An interesting article in Skeptical Inquirer magazine about demonology... I've met several self-described demonologists, and this rings pretty true to me. You can read it HERE.
Lunar eclipses are always interesting, though the “blood moon” is a much rarer event. Instead of a total eclipse, the moon is bathed in a red-orange hue of refracted light coming from around Earth. You can read more about it HERE.
A scary update on a tragic story I wrote about a few months ago: An Asian-American couple has been found guilty of killing their daughter to sell her organs. Belief in rumors and urban legends can have very bad consequences.... You can read the story HERE.
As officials from several countries, and dozens of planes and boats, scour the South China Sea and the Bay of Bengal for the mysteriously missing China-bound Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 with 239 people aboard, some people are wondering if there might be some connection to the Bermuda Triangle. My article appeared last week on Yahoo News and you can read it HERE.
Last month I appeared on the Edge of the Unknown Radio on the All 1 Broadcast Network, and talked about a wide variety of weird and non-weird things. It was a fun show, and you can listen to it HERE.
My Discovery News article on the top myths busted this past year is now up! This past year was a strange one, with a variety of popular beliefs being busted. Some were welcome news: Other myths left a funk like a fart-filled balloon when they burst.... You can read it HERE.
For your podcast pleasure: My recent guest appearance on the Project: Archivist show! Episode 101, Kidney Thieves and Urban Legends with Ben Radford. I return to the show to talk about urban legends. We talk about all the good ones from Disney’s frozen head, kidney thieves, Dead hookers under hotel beds and other urban legends... You can listen to the show HERE!
It is not hard to find sacred religious sites; churches, synagogues, shrines, mosques, and other such places dot the landscape, offering a place for followers of one religious faith or another to join with others and worship. There is another kind of secular sacred site that also involves respect for the dead, or at the very least respect for tragedy. Though not necessarily a modern invention, it is, I would argue, very much a product of the Internet age and its associated social activism.... You can read more HERE.
I wrote this for Halloween, but it's a classic urban legend year-round: The history and mystery of Bloody Mary! You can read my Discovery News piece on it HERE.
The second-largest hospital in the Southern African country of Swaziland may be operating a black market in human body parts used in magic spells, according to claims made by a reverend and others. Weird, creepy, and not really surprising if you understand the magical beliefs in the region. You can read my piece on LiveScience.com HERE.
Most people have heard of alchemy, but many don't know much about it... Alchemy is an ancient practice shrouded in mystery and secrecy. Its practitioners mainly sought to turn lead into gold, a quest that has captured the imaginations of people for thousands of years. However, the goals of alchemy went far beyond simply creating some golden nuggets. Read more HERE.
A “weird news” story circulated in June about a trend among Japanese schoolchildren licking each other’s eyeballs and supposedly spreading the highly contagious disease pink eye. But was it too good to be true? Find out HERE.
As you probably heard, Duchess Kate Middleton gave birth to a baby boy recently. But for the past weeks and months there have been countless predictions about the regal infant’s gender — much of it based on folklore and superstition. HERE's my look at the subject, on Discovery News.
I'm sometimes asked for insight into how my articles and columns come about, what the process is for assembling them. HERE's one recent example....
The decision made by expectant couples to have their births in water attended by dolphins has raised eyebrows; it's part of a New Age "natural birthing" trend, but it may be dangerous; you can read more HERE.
A Kickstarter campaign for my new board game, Undead Apocalypse: War of the Damned, will go live in a few days. I've been working very hard on it, and I hope you'll support it, and/or tell your friends. Even if you're not interested, you probably have friends who might, so please let them know. I'll post a link to it once it's up. You can check out the nifty teaser video at the board game's web site, HERE! What's the game about? Well here's the scenario: The year is 2060. After World War III the people of Earth thought it couldn’t get any worse; they were wrong. The nuclear devastation was bad enough, reducing once-great cities to rubble and forcing hardy survivors to scavenge for resources. But soon—whether the result of radiation, toxins, or supernatural wrath—ancient evils long thought mere legend awoke and took hold in the real world. First it was vampires—bands of merciless undead who roamed the land, sucking the blood from whatever could not defend itself. Then came the relentless zombies, the rotten flesh-eaters who staggered through ruined cities in search of brains and other organs. Then savage werewolves suddenly emerged, springing from now-overgrown forests to feed on humans, zombies, and vampires alike. Leaders of each group arose—including half-human mutations with intelligence and feral cunning—to scavenge food and weapons, including chainsaws and machine guns, left behind in the wasteland. Though undead ravaged the Earth, hope for mankind was not lost: Clans of humans remained scattered around Europe in small enclaves, trying to rebuild civilization. While the fearsome monsters had brute strength and supernatural powers capable of transforming humans into their kind with a mere bite, human scientists developed a vaccine capable of transforming the undead back into living humans. Rumors soon spread of unholy grimoires—ancient magic books—hidden among the ruins that could be found and assembled to achieve even greater power. Using science and magic, these four groups are now engaged in the final war in Earth’s history. This would become known as the Undead Apocalypse: War of the Damned.
I recently wrote about penis-theft panics for LiveScience.com. I'd written about it before, for example in the book I co-authored with Bob Bartholomew, "Hoaxes, Myths, and Manias: Why We Need Critical Thinking," and I included it in a talk I gave last year on mass hysterias at a skeptics conference. It's an interesting subject that always gets people tittering... You can read my recent story HERE.
A devil is said to haunt the wooded Pine Barren of southern New Jersey. Dubbed the Jersey Devil, it has never been photographed or captured, but has appeared in dozens of books, films, and television shows including "The X-Files." I recently wrote about it, and you can read the full story HERE.
Recently I was asked by Discovery News to explain to the public why coffee doesn't go in your butt. Yep, this is what my life has come to; at least I got to debunk a few urban legends. You can read it HERE.