Voodoo Ritual Burns Child in Massachussetts: Belief Has Real World Consequences

A case in Massachusetts is attracting public interest as a young girl received third degree “disfiguring” burns on her face when her mother and her aunt performed a voodoo spell on her to cleanse her of evil spirits that were causing her to behave badly. Here is the story:

http://randolph.wickedlocal.com/news/20180201/women-disfigure-randolph-child-in-voodoo-ritual-say-police

 

While it might seem at first glance to be unimaginable, websites abound on the Internet promoting these types of rituals and providing the supplies and even prepared kits to reinforce and capitalize on this type of belief system.

Here are some typical set-ups for a cleansing ritual. Note that a candle or open flame is often recommended. The oils very likely have alcohol causing flammability. Often, the ingredients are not even fully disclosed:

The women mentioned that part of the ritual involves the burning of myhrr, also introducing a potential fire hazard into the cleansing and also freely available in voodoo supplies:

Sea salt was cited as one of the components of the ritual cleansing:

Herbal Sea Salt Bath

We offer many types of bath salts. Mixed with herbs for different uses. All rid you of negative energy. Their are ones made to match your Element (Earth, Air, Water, Fire) Healing, Love, Purification, Spirit, Prosperity & Protection. Any of these can be used in a cleansing but have the specific herbs added according to your preference. So be sure to specify on the “notes to seller” section on Paypal. As always 100% Free Shipping inside the U.S.A.

Another spiritual cleansing bath mix. No ingredients listed:

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Anointing oils, possibly containing flammable ingredients making a variety of promises:

Cast Off Evil Oil 2 dram: Anoint temples during prayer or ritual to overcome evil forces. Pure anointing oil for external use only

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Eucalyptus oil was used by the sisters, according to the police.

Repelling–eucalyptus and devil’s shoestrings drive off people and habits that are no longer welcome

 

Devil’s Shoe String spiritual supplies are to tie down and restrain the devil and also human enemies. Contains genuine Devil’s Shoe String Root.

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BANISHING OIL, Full Line of Banishing Products

 

Banishing Oil–Banishing spiritual supplies are to remove unwanted people or conditions; far milder than Hot Foot. Further instructional information can be with Free Magic Spells and Prayers and How to Use Oils in Conjure, From “Hoodoo In Theory and Practice”

The Banishing Ritual kit has been created to aid you in banishing negativity and negative influences from your life, home and self. From evil spirits to curses to bad habits, it can aid you in your ritual craft.

Southern style anointing oils are made with genuine roots, herbs, and minerals. They are used to dress candles, anoint the body, and sprinkle on amulets and conjure hands. We prepare these Magical oils on the premises and package them in 1/2 ounce glass bottles, with vivid graphic labels.

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Frankincense & Myrrh Spiritual Oil

 

Frankincense: For consecration and intensification, spirit work, increase power of conjure, empower oils / perfumes / mojo bags, and peaceful sleep.

Myrrh: Traditionally blended with other herbs. Promotes peace, healing, and protection.

Suggested Use: Anoint candles, magickal tools, feed your spirit / mojo bag, use for spell / rootwork, add to your bath, add to sea salt, add to herbs on charcoal, drip a little on a light bulb, dress your chakra points / wrists / temples.


Protection Oil, no ingredients listed:

 

An important part of many magical practitioners kit, Protection Oil, as the name implies, is a potent anointing oil intended to fortify your protection spells and warding magic. Use it as an anointing oil to help strength the creation of magical circles for summoning and conjuration. Otherwise Protection Oil is also a powerful aid when creating magical talismans, charms, and personal spells intended to help protect you or another from curses, hexes, and the evil eye.

 

 

 

Badoo Cult: Police in Nigeria Arrest “Killer Cult Group”

Photo of Chief Herbalist in his shrine, courtesy Nigeria Newsdesk, Twitter.

In late 2016, according to Nigerian authorities, a killer cult group known as badoo, began terrorizing and murdering citizens in the Ikorodu area of Lagos.

Lagos police arrested five suspected key members of the sect on January 2, 2018, and provided video evidence of a shrine run by Chief  Herbalist Fatai Adebayo, age 34.

The killings appeared to be ritual in nature. Victims were murdered in their sleep. At one point, citizens began to suspect the killers were supernatural (and thus invincible), but according to Nigerian press, the arrest of the five suspects proves members of the group are actually human beings.

Suspects confessed to authorities that they only operated at midnight and would spray a powdery substance prepared by the herbalist that would put victims into a deep state of sleep and would then smash the victim’s head with a grinding stone.

Vanguard Nigeria reports: “The powdery substance was also sprayed close to buildings around the targeted building to avoid any intrusion during operation. Thereafter, they would smash their victim’s head with a grinding stone, and dab their white handkerchiefs in victim’s blood before leaving the scene.”

During interrogation, one of the suspects said the cult members were fortified spiritually by drinking water used to wash dead bodies, drinking animal blood, spreading an oily substance from a calabash, and abstaining from sex before murdering someone. He also claimed he was desperate for employment and was offered money to perform the killings.

Further confessions revealed the entire purpose of the operation was to obtain the blood soaked handkerchiefs of the victims and then sell the handkerchiefs to rich politicians and other elite known as the “big boys.” The handkerchiefs soaked in blood were believed to be a source of empowerment and protection and were then used to perform money rituals.

Witchcraft and black magic beliefs have recently plagued Malawi, where villagers believe bloodsuckers are stealing their blood and have formed vigilante gangs leading to suspected vampires being murdered.

Vampires, Blood Suckers, Witchcraft, Resurrection and more in Malawi

 

Spirit photography: William Hope Cashed in on Grief

By Gretchen Mullen, Skeptic Review

Spirit photography, or photos claiming to document ghosts of loved ones, became popular during the late 19th and early 20th centuries as hope rose that photography could finally provide scientific proof of the afterlife.

The impetus behind the proliferation of these highly sought after photos was three-fold:

  1. The photographer mastering this technique could get rich quick, often hanging out with some of the upper echelon of society.
  2. Subjects were anxious to believe their dearly departed loved ones were now heavenly spirits. Too often, subjects photographed were in the throes of a recent loss and were easily exploited. Post-war eras were particularly fruitful.
  3. Cameras were viewed as documenting truth; public knowledge about photographic manipulation was limited.

As early as 1869, American William Mumler, spirit photographer to the stars–not the least of whom was Mary Todd Lincoln–was tried for fraud, but was ultimately acquitted because the prosecutor simply couldn’t quite figure out how the photographs were fraudulently made.

    • Mary Todd Lincoln and the ghost of Abraham Lincoln as photographed by William Mumler, ca.1869.

Enter English spirit photographer William Hope (1863-1933) who garnered a prestigious clientele including an enthusiastic endorsement from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Below is a mere sampling of spirit photos produced by William Hope courtesy National Science and Media Museum:

 

Despite being labeled a “common cheat” by Scientific American, support for Hope persisted. William Hope was also the subject of a sting operation conducted by “paranormal investigator” Harry Price (Harry Price merits his own story, to be discussed in a separate article coming soon).

Price’s investigation prompted Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to publish The Case for Spirit Photography in 1922 “to show the overpowering weight of evidence which exists as to the reality of Mr. Hope’s most remarkable gift.”

 

FACTITIOUS: Game helps users learn to spot fake news

Real or fake? At a time when the reading public daily grapples with the question of fake news, the American University Game Lab/JOLT has created an accessible, easy-to-play game that helps you sort fake news from real.

The brainchild of former AU JOLT Fellow Maggie Farley, she pitched the concept more than a year ago, before the 2016 presidential campaign brought the challenges of fake news to the spotlight. For purposes of the game, “fake news” is defined as stories fabricated for fun, influence or profit, as well as satire, opinion and spin.

“Fake news is impossible to stop, so we wanted to playfully teach people how to recognize it,” said Farley. “But the game is fun to play in itself.”

The game engine in the next phase should also be available to newsrooms, schools, or groups that want to adapt a version for their own use.

PS: My first crack at the game yielded 93%. Second crack, not so much. I highly recommend you try this game! It’s fun, enlightening and horrifying. I am especially excited to hear it will be available as a teaching tool. My nephew asked me this week if I had read the warning that “people are injecting the AIDS virus into bananas.”–Gretchen Mullen, Editor, Skeptic Review

Edvard Munch

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PLAY FACTITIOUS HERE:

http://factitious.augamestudio.com/

 

Tweets We Love

Reasons to Believe: 2017 film by Ben Fama Jr. Now Free on YouTube

By Gretchen Mullen

UPDATE: Filmmaker Ben Fama has now made the full film available for free on YouTube. See link at the bottom of this article.

Filmmaker Ben Fama Jr. was kind enough to provide us with a private screening of his new film Reasons to Believe. Here’s our take on this exciting project available for general release on September 11, 2017.

Allegory of the Cave

The film begins with a cinematically pleasing vision of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, where humans are imprisoned in a cave and denied knowledge of the outside world. In the allegory, humans move from darkness to light, from false beliefs to truth and reason.

The Questions

Fama then poses the following questions:

  • How do beliefs shape our reality? Why do we believe?
  • How are we influenced to believe?
  • How do other people affect our thinking?
  • How do our beliefs hold us back?
  • How do we free ourselves from false beliefs?

The Experts

  • MICHAEL SHERMER, Author, The Moral Arc; The Believing Brain
  • PETER BOGHOSSIAN, Author, A Manual for Creating Atheists
  • CALEB LACK, Coauthor, Critical Thinking, Science, and Pseudoscience: Why We Can’t Trust our Brains
  • JENNIFER WHITSON, Author, “The Emotional Roots of Conspiratorial Perceptions, System Justification, and Belief in the Paranormal”
  • CHAD WOODRUFF, Author, Neuroscience of Empathy and Compassion

The Discussion

Fama’s questions are carefully considered by each expert and are addressed through carefully interwoven comments on each topic.

The film takes us through the human brain’s need to understand the world, often through a process in which beliefs come first and evidence comes second. In other words, beliefs are often not evidence-based, but make us feel better, perhaps even superior to others. These sometimes false beliefs are further influenced and reinforced by family, community, education, and the time period in which we live.  While our beliefs often make us who we are, or who we feel we are, they also have the power to divide us into ideological communities.

The discussion expands on the idea that we may be predisposed to accept certain beliefs because they are often confirmed by intense personal experiences. However, we are reminded, that experience does not equal objective truth.

The experts then explain that much of our human propensity for superstitions, magical rituals, and religious beliefs are rooted in the fact that life is random, unpredictable, and downright scary. We seek to avoid anxiety and a feeling that we like control; we seek comfort and meaning; we want to make sense out of chaos; we want to cope with uncertainty. This magical thinking is reinforced by the brain as we seek out patterns, even if these patterns are false and illogical.

So if false beliefs make us feel better, why does it matter? In the long run, false beliefs can lead to problems, the greatest of which is violence. Bad ideas lead can easily lead to bad behavior. Science teaches us that it really does matter what is right and what is wrong. Faulty beliefs lead to real world consequences and must be combatted. We must update our view of the world and weed out bad ideas. We must use data as opposed to anecdotes.

The film ends on an encouraging and positive note. The experts make practical suggestions to embrace reason. Some of the best:

  • Be comfortable with the words, “I don’t know.”
  • Model the behavior of a skeptic.
  • Use the scientific method.
  • Don’t attack beliefs—be polite, be thoughtful, use humor, listen to others and then respond with statements that open a conversation such as “I wonder how that could be true? What do you think?”
  • Study scientifically why religion has been viewed as so beneficial and how we can address that need in other more rational ways.
  • Help others to trust reason and value correct information.
  • Introduce critical thinking in early education. Teach children to recognize that our brains can fool us.
  • Assert that a more thoughtful and examined life has value.
  • Suggest that an alignment with reality will help humans flourish, that science and reason can and will lead to justice, freedom, prosperity and peace.

Reasons to Believe is well-organized and builds nicely from a primer on the brain to the foundations of belief, ending with a lovely, positive message about the future of skepticism and science and practical solutions we can embrace as individuals and as citizens of the world. It is a film you will want to view more than one time to take it all in.

Michael Shermer ties it up nicely at the end of the film: “I think we have a new enlightenment—a science-based enlightenment.”

View the trailer

The filmmakers

BEN FAMA JR: DIRECTOR

Ben Fama Jr. is an award-winning filmmaker, podcaster, and entrepreneur noted for his work on his short film A Virus Called Fear and his documentary Reasons To Believe. He has been featured in Huffington Post and his films have been featured on PBS, Medibiz.tv, and IndieFlix. Ben’s films and talks reflect the social and psychological behavior of humans and their social constructs on society. He is a very outspoken skeptic and atheist, as well as an advocate for mental health. His goal is to challenge the way we think and see the world, as well as what we believe.

He is the owner of Fama Media Productions, LLC. and the host of the podcast Reality Trip with Ben Fama Jr.

MESA FAMA: PRODUCER

Mesa has produced three award winning films with Ben Fama Jr. including two documentaries and a narrative. She holds a degree in psychology as a graduate from Arizona State University. She continues to produce and manage Fama Media Productions and sometimes is a guest host on the podcast Reality Trip with Ben Fama Jr.

Release date: September 11, 2017

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