Interesting If True - Episode 70: Mysterious Monsters And More!
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I’m Aaron, and this week I learned that the natural enemy of Cryptozoologists and Ufologists alike are… moths. Moths that play tricks of light in their terrible, blurry, “evidence”…
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This week we talk about what clerical celibacy is, who it applies to, how it developed, and the problems it’s causes.
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Mysterious Monsters And More
October is finally here and with the fall leaves and apple cider come the monsters and mayhem of Halloween. This is my favorite time of year, sweatshirt weather and Ugg boots, heck yes! Might I add I look great in yoga pants, too? Well, to kick this scary season off, today I’m gonna introduce you to some mad monsters and paranormal predators you may have never heard of. This week I delve deep into ancient mythos and modern myths to bring you mysterious monsters and more…
While reading some weird Creepy comics this week I stumbled on a haunting creature called Vrykolakas. Vrykolakas, also called Vorvolakas or Vardoulakis, is a terrible, undead creature in Greek folklore. It shares similarities with numerous other legendary creatures but is generally equated with the vampire of the folklore of the neighbouring Slavic countries. While the two are very similar, vrykolakas eats flesh, particularly livers, rather than drink blood, which combined with other factors such as its appearance bring it more in line with the modern concept of a zombie.
<figure class="wp-block-image alignwide size-full"><figcaption>A Vrykolakas</figcaption></figure>
The word “Vrykolakas” isn’t strictly vampiric in and of itself, and is actually linked to wolves! It is Slavic in origin and comes from the root words meaning “wolf.” According to ByLightUnseen.net, “the etymological leap from werewolf to vampire is obscure.” The earliest uses of the word seem to be around the mid-1600s. In 1645, Leo Allatius. According to Allatius, “The vrykolakas is an evil and wicked person who may have been excommunicated by a bishop. Its body swells up so that all its limbs are distended, it is hard, and when tapped it thrums like a drum.” It has also been reported, along with the rise of the Greek Orthodox Church, that the Vrykolakas had to do with evil (or the devil) inhabiting a body of the already dead, causing it to move.
The Vrykolakas do not turn those with a bite. Instead, it would spread death through disease. If you saw a Vrykolakas walking around town, you would immediately know your town was in mortal peril. In order to draw people out, it would knock on doors. Once a person opened the door, they would soon die. To this day in Greece, it is common in some places to not open the door until the second knock. However, it also seems that not all Vrykolakas wanted to kill everyone they came into contact with. Sometimes, Vrykolakas were people who had died unfortunate or violent deaths and had to attend to some unfinished business. One can become a Vrykolakas fairly simply. It is said that if you live a sacrilegious life, were excommunicated, or were buried in the unconsecrated ground that you run the risk of joining the undead. Of course, there is one more strange way to become a Vrykolakas…by eating mutton that was previously eaten by a werewolf. So don’t go sharing your meals with people you don’t know, especially if they are hairy.
You can get rid of a Vrykolakas much the same way you’d get rid of an Eastern European vampire – a stake through the heart, some kind of impaling, cremating the corpse, etc. However, there Vrykolakas also has some times to poltergeist-like activity and the devil, so an exorcism is also said to work.
One infamous Vrykolakas was called Patino. Patino, before his turn, was a merchant from Patmos, who died while on a trip to Natolia. While being shipped home for proper burial, he was revived. Although his wife buried him with a funeral, he soon began appearing around town assaulting people, damaging property, and generally creating mayhem. In an effort to stop him, an exorcism was attempted and prayer was increased…unfortunately, this had no effect on Patino. Eventually, not sure what to do next, the village had his body exhumed and sent back to Natolia. During his journey back in the coffin, he terrified sailors and they decided to burn his corpse which finally ended the phenomenon.
<figure class="alignleft size-full"><figcaption>Welp, that’s creepy.</figcaption></figure>
French botanist, Joseph Pitton de Tournefort traveled to Mykonos in 1701 where he heard stories from the locals of a villager who roamed at night as one of the living dead after being assassinated by an unknown intruder.
In his writings, the botanist describes that at first, the man turned vrykolakas was nothing more than a nuisance, sneaking up on people from behind, stealing their alcohol, and overturning furniture. However, the villagers soon became concerned and Joseph Pitton de Tournefort witnessed first-hand the exhumation of the vampire’s grave and the cutting out of the corpse’s heart.
Their efforts were futile as the vrykolakas continued to destroy the village and started attacking people and even suffocating them in their sleep. Then, one Saturday, the only day that vrykolakas rest in their grave, the authorities moved the vampire to the neighboring island of Agios Georgos where he was cremated and never heard of again. At least, no one ever lived to tell if they saw him again…
Between 1764 and 1767 a mysterious creature called the Beast ravaged the rural region of Gévaudan, France. About 100 men, women, and children reportedly fell victim to La Bête du Gévaudan. While many French at the time presumed the Beast to be a wolf and many modern scholars agree, some have suggested that the Beast may not have been a wolf at all.
Gévaudan, a region in southern France, was just as mysterious as its monster. “It had the reputation for being a remote, isolated backwater where the forces of nature had not been fully tamed, where the forests were indeed enchanted,” says Jay M. Smith, a historian and the author of “Monsters of the Gévaudan: The Making of a Beast. “It’s fascinating, it’s powerful, it’s scary, it’s sublime.”
<figure class="wp-block-image alignwide"><figcaption>It’s a wolf!</figcaption></figure>
The first recorded fatal attack of the Beast occurred on June 30, 1764, when a 14-year-old shepherdess, Jeanne Boulet, tended a flock of sheep. Boulet was not the creature’s first victim. About two months prior, a young woman tending cattle was attacked by a creature “like a wolf, yet not a wolf” but escaped because the herd defended her.
The attacks continued through the summer and into autumn, according to George M. Eberhart’s 2002 book, Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology. The ferocious beast attacked and partially ate women and the young, according to the reports, but lone adult men were also targets. There were so many attacks that some speculated there were in fact two or more beasts. In three years’ time, the beast racked up nearly 300 victims, and its legacy lasted long beyond the 18th century.
The terrified populace of Gévaudan did not sit idle—and individual stories of bravery captivated the public. As Smith writes, bounties were offered and hunters combed the countryside looking for the creature. On October 8, 1764, hours after a mauling, the Beast was seen at Chateau de la Baume, stalking a herdsman. Hunters followed the animal into the estate’s woods and flushed the animal into the open. The hunters shot a volley of musket fire into the creature—but after a fall, the Beast rose and ran off.
The press also created popular stories out of the women and children who survived attacks by defending themselves, emphasizing the virtue of the peasantry.
Take Jacques Portefaix. The young boy and a group of children were out in a meadow with a herd of cattle on January 12, 1765, when the beast attacked. Working together, they managed to scare it off with their pikes. Portefaix’s courage was so admired that Louis XV paid a reward to all the children, and had the boy educated at the king’s personal expense.
And then there’s Marie-Jeanne Vallet, who was attacked on August 11, 1765, and managed to defend herself and wound the beast, earning herself the title “Maiden of Gévaudan.” Today a statue stands in her honor in the village of Auvers in southern France.
<figure class="wp-block-image alignfull size-full"><figcaption>Romulus?</figcaption></figure>
Individuals may have had some success defending themselves, but official hunters had none. In February 1765, the d’Ennevals, a father-son hunter duo from Normandy, announced they would travel to Gévaudan to eliminate the beast. Jean-Charles, the father, boasted he’d already killed 1,200 wolves, relevant information assuming the predator was, in fact, a wolf. But no one was sure of that. “It is much bigger than a wolf,” wrote Lafont in an early report. “It has a snout somewhat like a calf’s and very long hair, which would seem to indicate a hyena.”
Duhamel described the animal as even more fantastical. In his words, it had a “breast as wide as a horse,” “a body as long as a leopard’s,” and fur that’s that was “red with a black stripe.” Duhamel concluded, “You will undoubtedly think like I do, that this is a monster [hybrid], the father of which is a lion. What its mother was remains to be seen.”
Other witnesses claimed the beast had supernatural abilities. “It could walk on its hind feet and its hide could repel bullets and it had fire in its eyes and it came back from the dead more than once and had amazing leaping ability,” Smith says.
<figure class="wp-block-image alignfull"><figcaption>Nom.</figcaption></figure>
Whatever its origins or appearance, the hunters were determined to score their prize. But again and again, they failed. The d’Ennevals eventually gave up at which point the king sent his own gun-bearer and bodyguard, François Antoine. Along with his son and a detachment of men, Antoine traipsed around the forested countryside in search of the beast. At last, in September 1765, he shot and killed a large wolf. He had the body sent to the court at Versailles, received a reward from Louis XV, and accepted the villagers’ gratitude
Two brief months later the attacks started up again.
For another 18 months, something continued to stalk the villagers of Gévaudan, with a reported 30 to 35 fatalities in that period. The king, believing the beast had already been slain, offered little aid.
Local farmer Jean Chastel had been involved in a previous hunt but was thrown in prison by Antoine for leading his men into a bog. But his past crimes turned to bygones when he managed, at last, to bring the creature down with a bullet on June 19, 1767.
The end of the savagery did little to answer the burning question: What was the beast? It’s been up for debate ever since. Historians and scientists have suggested it was an escaped lion, a prehistoric holdover, or even a werewolf.
<figure class="aligncenter size-full"><figcaption>Why do flamethrowers exist? Yep…</figcaption></figure>
Our next creature actually starts off and an innocent little spider, well as innocent as a spider can be anyway. Specifically a golden orb spider, their body size averages between two to three centimeters long, but they can grow much larger as they age; some are large enough to catch and eat small birds. These spiders are renowned for their large size, their vividly beautiful colors, the large and strong webs they weave, and for the cruel destruction, they wreak on young men. Their name is written with kanji which means “entangling bride.” However, these characters were added to her name much later to cover up the original meaning of the name: “whore spider.”
You’re probably asking yourself, how do these creatures wreak havoc on young men? Well, you see when these beautiful spiders reach their 400th birthday they go through a pretty interesting puberty, the spider gains strange powers and becomes the size of a cow. It can then change its shape to a beautiful woman. It uses this shape and its skill at playing biwa, a traditional Japanese lute, to lure victims into its traps, where it then binds their feet and stores them away for later feeding. Possessing a cunning intelligence and a cold heart, they see humans as nothing more than insects to feed on. These super spiders are then called Jorōgumo, a yôkai/Japanese monster with the form of a spider.
<figure class="alignleft"><figcaption>Japanese woodcut</figcaption></figure>
At the Jōren Falls of Izu, Shizuoka Prefecture, allegedly lives the jorōgumo mistress of the waterfall. The local legend tells of a man who rested beside the waterfall basin when the jorōgumo tried to drag him into the waterfall by throwing webs around his leg. The man transferred the webbing around a tree stump, which was dragged into the falls instead of him.
After that, the people of the village dared not venture close to the falls anymore. Then one day, a visiting woodcutter who was a stranger to this all tried to cut a tree and mistakenly dropped his favorite ax into the basin. As he tried to go down to fetch his ax back, a beautiful woman appeared and returned it to him. “You must never tell anyone what you saw here”, she said. Initially, he kept the secret, but as days went by, the need to spill the story burdened him. And finally at a banquet, while drunk, he told the whole story. Feeling unburdened and at peace, he went to sleep, but he never woke again. In another version, the woodcutter was pulled outside by an invisible string and his corpse was found floating the next day at the Jōren Falls.
In yet another version, the woodcutter fell in love with a woman he met at the waterfall. He visited her every day but grew physically weaker each time. The oshō of a nearby temple suspected that the woodcutter was “taken in by the jorōgumo mistress of the waterfall”, and accompanied him to chant a sutra. When a spider thread reached out to the woodcutter, the oshō let out a thunderous yell, and the thread disappeared. Now knowing that the woman was actually a jorōgumo, the woodcutter still persisted and tried to gain permission for marriage from the mountain’s tengu. When the tengu denied him the woodcutter ran towards the waterfall, where he was entangled by spider threads and disappeared into the water.
<figure class="wp-block-image alignfull"><figcaption>As seen in all anime ever.</figcaption></figure>
Stories of Jorogumo pop up all around Japan and have made their way into popular culture with video games and movies. SO next time you see a beautiful woman by a waterfall be a bit wary and watch out for her silken traps.
The Inuit children of the arctic knew never to get too close to the water’s edge because there, underneath the ice, Qalupalik lay waiting for them.
When you think of a mermaid, a few different images may cross your mind – images of kind-hearted, beautiful half-fish, half-human maidens or perhaps sirens that may be beautiful but once they have you in their clutches turn to heinous beasts ready to kill you. But, the Qualupalik is a bit different, there is nothing attractive about the Qualupalik. They are described as aquatic humanoids with scaly, bumpy skin. They are often depicted as having fins coming out of their heads, backs, and torsos. Their hands, though webbed, are clawed and made for the hunt. The Qualupalik is also rumored to smell like sulfur and wear eider duck clothing. Most hauntingly is what they carry – an amautik. Amautiks are commonly worn by Inuit women to secure their babies to their backs. They carry amautiks so they can snatch small Inuit children.
<figure class="aligncenter"><figcaption>Fish People… fish… people…</figcaption></figure>
Those who have sighted the Qalupalik report that these creatures can only be seen for an instant before they are gone, but the child victims of the Qalupalik would not be as lucky. She would leap out from under the water, sink her shark claws into their flesh and drag them forward into the water. It is said, once she seizes a child, she takes them down to the freezing depths of the ocean where she either eats them or takes them away enchanting them with sleep and feeding off of their youth so that she may remain young forever; the child is never to be seen or heard from by their family again. Alternatively, the child would get a brief glimpse of the face of the Qalupalik, which might resemble a woman’s face that had turned green and bloated from rotting and under the sea—this child would experience their last few moments of life in pain as the freezing water rushed into their open, screaming throat, and feel the blood in their veins freeze as they heard the distant voices of their family, crying out their name.
There is at least one tale where a boy’s father, a skilled hunter, searched for his son ceaselessly. Qalupalik saw this and was afraid of being found, so she let his son go. After that, the boy turned into a model citizen of the tribe and never disobeyed his parents or the elders again.
Like many creatures from folklore, Qualupalik serves a utilitarian purpose in the harsh environment of what is now Northern Alaska and Canada. By scaring the children out of wanting to be alone or going too close to sea ice or the shore, they lowered the chances that the child would venture near those dangerous places.
Well, I hope you learned something this week, tune in next week as we keep our Halloween theme going and bring you more scary stories and haunted hijinx.
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Alright, Shea, that was a pretty good list of monsters… but what do you know about weird aliens?
Perhaps they’re not as spooky-scary, though when I was a kid Greys freaked me the hell out. Still, since alien abductions became popular in the 1960’s — a story you’ll hear before too long, as we’ve just recorded it as a get-ahead — there have been a ton of aliens made up. Obviously, popular storytelling has a hand in all this but we’re going to skip right over Wookies, Dalek’s, and ETs oh my! And look at some of the weird aliens that people have reported as being real, or at least, real to them.
So, to kick things off I’ll follow Shea’s example and introduce you to the Flatwood’s Monster.
Also known as the Braxton County Monster or the Phantom of Flatwoods, this West Virginian spade of a creature is was first spotted on September 12, 1952, as a bright light streaked across the sky.
Two brothers, Edward and Fred May, and their buddy Tommy said they saw the light land in local farmer, G. Bailey Fisher’s, field. As one does, they freaked out and ran home fetching their mother, Kathleen May, and two small children because… why not I guess? They made their way toward Fisher’s field, picking up National Guardsman Eugene Lemon along the way.
When they got to the field, Lemon used a flashlight to look out over the area the boys said they saw the crash and he noticed a “man-like figure with a round, red face surrounded by a pointed, hood-like shape”.
<figure class="aligncenter"><figcaption>The Ace of Spades!</figcaption></figure>
Descriptions varied, mostly in color with many claiming the thing to be mostly red. Aptly named UFO writer Grey Barker described the figure as about 10 feet tall with a blood-red face, a large hood, and greenish-orange light-emitting eyes. Fate Magazine recounted Lemon’s story, continuing his description of the figure as having “small, claw-like hands”, clothing-like folds, and “a head that resembled the ace of spades.” Yeah, the Ace of Spades!
What happened next terrified all who were there. The creator rose up from the ground, hissed, and “glided toward the group” which caused Leamon to drop his flashlight, scream, and run away. The rest of the group, seeing the guardsman flee, did the same.
The next day police investigated but found no evidence of the creature, its landing, or the terrible smell they said it emitted. Later, Lee Stweart Jr., of the Braxton Democrat (a newspaper) said he found skid marks and an unidentifiable ooze that he, and UFO enthusiasts, claimed as evidence of a saucer landing. This garnered the event’s national attention. Reporters from all over flocked to the May’s house… along with a minister from Brooklyn apparently. Not sure why he was there, I guess just in case they needed an old priest and a young priest.
In the years that followed, a number of investigations were held and nearly all came to basically the same conclusion as Joe Nickell of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry… oh and the Air Force: the light in the sky was a meteor. One had been reported by just about every area that could see that part of the night’s sky. The red lights were either an airplane or those blinking lights they use to help planes not crash into high tension lines. And the object that hissed and hovered over them was… a local owl.
Our next extraterrestrial critters I’ll talk about together as nearly everyone will have heard of them. The Greys and the Little Green Men.
Starting with the latter, Little Green Men are, as you might imagine, those little green Picalo looking aliens you see in cartoons, comics, and movies. Prior to the 1950’s, the term was generally used to describe goblins and other supernaturally tiny, green, people.
And because nothing in yee-oldie American pop culture is complete with a sprinkling of causal racism, in 1942 the LA Times used the term to describe Japanese soldiers due to their camouflage and stature. They came up again in the Wall Street Journal’s reporting on the Brookings Report. Commissioned by NASA the study looked at the possible social effects of the discovery of extraterrestrial life. The Journal concluded, editorially, by assuming that “the little green men with the wiggly antennae” would be hostile.
Still, if The Great Gazoo (introduced in episode 145 of the Flintstones) has taught us anything, it’s not to judge little green men by their… greenness.
Like Little Green Men, the Greys, are thought to have crashed on Roswell and are, generally speaking, what you picture when you think of an alien. These are the short, naked, grey humanoids with large black eyes and round bald heads. You know, the ones that put a radio tower in Cartman’s ass.
Commonly referred to as Greys, they’re also known as the Roswell Greys, and Zeta Reticulans by someone desperately seeking to be known as more scientific than they surely are. Journalist C. D. B. Bryan wrote in 1995 in Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind: Alien Abduction, UFOs, and the Conference at M.I.T., that 73% of all alien encounter or abduction cases reported are said to be Greys. Again, we’ll do a full show on it at some point, but these are the quintessential aliens as reported by Betty Hill under hypnosis. The Hill’s being America’s first, famous, case of alien abduction. Still, they didn’t come entirely from her imagination, though the Hill’s certainly helped shape the story of the Greys. Their origins are, as best as I can tell, Kenneth Folingsby’s 1891 novel Meda: A Tale of the Future, in which the narrator encounters small, grey-skinned aliens with big balloon-like heads. H. G. Well’s article The Man of the Year Million described humans as evolving into, essentially, Greys. In 1933, the Swedish novelist Gabriel Linde (that’s a pen name, he was actually Gustav Sadgren) write a young-adult novel essentially about Greys invading that was made into the 1956 film Earth vs. The Flying Saucer, which you may not recognize but I promise you’ve seen the poster for it.
<figure class="alignleft"><figcaption>Flying Saucers Attack!</figcaption></figure>
Then, in the 1960’s the Hill’s claim to have been abducted by Greys and the story quickly finds its way into the American zeitgeist. Not long after, The Outer Limits, does an episode titled “The Bellero Shield” depicting the aliens as we would now recognize them.
In 1987 novelist Whitley Strieber published the book Communion, chronicling his purportedly numerous encounters with Greys. It was a bestseller, a movie with Christopher Walken because of course, and totally for realsies, nonfiction.
From there we’ve got a million more books. At some point they became central in New World Order conspiracies. Games like X-COM feature Greys prominently. Babylon 5, South Park, American Dad!, and Stargate SG-1 all famously feature Greys.
And of course, there are the grainy, 16mm reels of the “alien autopsy” at Area 51, in which you totally for real can’t see a zipper.
Grey as, typically, the ones who abduct people. I mentioned they’re in 73% of reported U.S. abductions, but also 48% of E.U. reports. Nearly all claim some kind of paralysis, alien sexy times, and a lecture on how terribly we’re borking the planet. But as Carl Segan points out in The Demon Haunted World, that always seems to be the case:
Occasionally, I get a letter from someone who is in ‘contact’ with extraterrestrials. I am invited to ‘ask them anything’. And so over the years I’ve prepared a little list of questions. The extraterrestrials are very advanced, remember. So I ask things like, ‘Please provide a short proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem’. Or the Goldbach Conjecture. And then I have to explain what these are because extraterrestrials will not call it Fermat’s Last Theorem. So I write out the simple equation with the exponents. I never get an answer. On the other hand, if I ask something like ‘Should we be good?’ I almost always get an answer. Anything vague, especially involving conventional moral judgements, these aliens are extremely happy to respond to. But on anything specific, where there is a chance to find out if they actually know anything beyond what most humans know, there is only silence.* Something can be deduced from this differential ability to answer questions.”
Excerpt From: Carl Sagan. “The demon-haunted world: science as a candle in the dark.” Apple Books.
Skipping back over to something you probably haven’t heard of… Nordic Aliens!
According to ufology, which… ugh, Nordic Aliens are humanoid extraterrestrials hailing from the Pleiades… or, well, what one assumes are habitable planets orbiting them. Called Plejaren, or previously, Pleiadeans. Those who encountered them, like Ufologist Geroge Adamski, who is credited as being the first to make up… er… meet, the six-foot-tall, blue-eyed, fair-skinned aliens with, of course, long flowing, golden locks. So Thor, basically we’re talking about Asgardians.
Though, since the 1950’s these “Aryan” aliens… yeah… boast the powers of telepathy, benevolence, and physical beauty, so that’s nice.
Then there are the Venusuans. These are, predictably, from Venus. Entertainingly, Wikipedia specifically says that while scientists sometimes use the adjective Cytherean to describe things related to Venus, because of the goddess Cytherea, they never use the phrase Venereal because… well.. That’s what we call drippy-dick isn’t it?
Venusuans are, of course, tall, light-haired, light-skinned, light-eyed, telepaths from Venus or sometimes other planets in the Sol system. They’re encountered less than Greys and other aliens… well… actually they’re encountered exactly the same amount of zero times, but we’re working off of reports here, not evidence. One such report, and likely the earliest and most famous, is from George Adamski of Palomar Mountain, California, who said he met one in the Cali desert in 1950. The telepathic alien, Orthon, explained the dangers of nuclear war.
If that sounds familiar, then you’ve probably seen the 1951 film, The Day The Earth Stood Still, but like, the good one not the one with Neo. In the film, a tall, whitesom and delightsom, alien comes to Earth to warn of the dangers of nuclear weapons, demonstrating his species’ incredible power by stopping all machines, except those in the air or which are needed in hospitals. This display convinces some, but not all of Earth, that the aliens know their shit. The unconvinced… shoot him. Ah, the more things change…
In media, the Venusians are giant frogs, Captain Marvel, hydras in Planet Comics, Lost World. Superman’s Cosmic King was exiled from Venus for mad scientist crap. Wonder Woman has fought Venusian, Aphrodite worshipping, fairies. Green Lantern protected some blue-skinned humanoids living in the caves of Venus… basically, like most things, DC can’t keep its own internal logic straight. For the less comic-book inclined, Zsa Zsa Gabor played Talleah, leader of the Venusian resistance in 1958’s Queen of Outer Space. And, because the name is fantastic, we can’t forget the Twilight Zone’s “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?”
Anyway, it’s a long list.
Back to George Adamski. He had a number of pictures of the aliens and their craft, some he claimed were given to him by Orthon the alien. It didn’t take long for George to write three books and start hawking swag, including reprints of the photos, which were quickly discovered to be close-ups, or intensional blurs, of things like General Electric light bulbs. As part of Operations Bluebook, the Air Force’s 1950’s and 60’s investigations into UFOs, Captain Edward J. Ruppelt compared George and his aliens to the famed hoaxer, carnival, and circus showman PT Barnum. Which is not a comparison you want. George died in 1968 an exposed hoaxer from the peritonitis he said the aliens told the Pope how to cure…
Nordic Alien encounters made up the bulk of European alien abductions until, in the 1960s, their popularity was supplanted by the Hill’s Greys.
Now, I could keep going for bloody ever, but instead, I’ll save some of these delights for future episodes and end on not lizard people, not cryptoxenology, or the Men in Black (not the movies), but on Rods or Skyfish.
Not to be confused with the sky sharks from Doctor Who (also an alien), these are visual artifacts that appear in photos and video that are often said to be UFOs or otherwise proof of alien action but are in reality, an optical illusion caused by motion blur. The effect is especially common in interlaced videos. These can be caused by the sun or by afterimages of flying insects or other small critters reflecting ambient light or the camera’s lights.
These are also common in Cryptid circles. Your famous pictures of Big Foot or Nessy are, sometimes, just these artifacts.
<figure class="wp-block-image alignfull"><figcaption>Moths in the light</figcaption></figure>
If you look at your phone now you can see an outdoor light in the rain and what appears to belong to branches or “rods” but are actually a bunch of moths flapping their wings and moving about quickly enough to be captured in multiple frames making them appear to be a single, long if bumpy, rod.
In 2003 Robert Todd Carroll consulted entomologist Doug Yanega to identify the rods in his video. And identify them they did, like moths and flies. The Straight Dope columnist Cecil Adams in 2020 also experimented with this phenomenon and other tricks of light to create rods that Ufologists would attribute to, well, UFOs.
Most notable was CCTV, China Central Television, which aired a two-part series debunking rods seen in Tonghua City. The Tonghua Zhengzhou Pharmaceutical Company had captured rods on their security cameras and set up nets to catch whatever was causing the artifacts. After a night of recording rods, they checked the nets and found a bunch of moths.
So there ya go, aliens, you may or may not have heard of explained. So the next time you see something unexplainable in the sky, check for owls, moths, and low-flying weather balloons first.
I’m Shea and this week I learned that Qanon is just Scientology for hillbillies. Before we go I’d like to thank all our listeners, supporters, and my co-host Aaron.
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