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Sorcerers charged with trying to steal penises

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http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/reuters/080423/odds/odd_witchcraft_dc

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Police in Congo have arrested 13 suspected sorcerers accused of using black magic to steal or shrink men's penises after a wave of panic and attempted lynchings triggered by the alleged witchcraft.

Reports of so-called penis snatching are not uncommon in West Africa, where belief in traditional religions and witchcraft remains widespread, and where ritual killings to obtain blood or body parts still occur.

Rumors of penis theft began circulating last week in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo's sprawling capital of some 8 million inhabitants. They quickly dominated radio call-in shows, with listeners advised to beware of fellow passengers in communal taxis wearing gold rings.

Purported victims, 14 of whom were also detained by police, claimed that sorcerers simply touched them to make their genitals shrink or disappear, in what some residents said was an attempt to extort cash with the promise of a cure.

"You just have to be accused of that, and people come after you. We've had a number of attempted lynchings. ... You see them covered in marks after being beaten," Kinshasa's police chief, Jean-Dieudonne Oleko, told Reuters on Tuesday.

Police arrested the accused sorcerers and their victims in an effort to avoid the sort of bloodshed seen in Ghana a decade ago, when 12 suspected penis snatchers were beaten to death by angry mobs. The 27 men have since been released.

"I'm tempted to say it's one huge joke," Oleko said.

"But when you try to tell the victims that their penises are still there, they tell you that it's become tiny or that they've become impotent. To that I tell them, 'How do you know if you haven't gone home and tried it'," he said.

Some Kinshasa residents accuse a separatist sect from nearby Bas-Congo province of being behind the witchcraft in revenge for a recent government crackdown on its members.

"It's real. Just yesterday here, there was a man who was a victim. We saw. What was left was tiny," said 29-year-old Alain Kalala, who sells phone credits near a Kinshasa police station.

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Actually this is an old thing that has been going on for ages in central Africa.

It is just that the western media picks up on the story every once in a while when they feel they need a bit of sensationalism.

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This kind of thing is surprisingly common in 3rd-world countries. I have no idea how you can convince someone their penis is missing when it isn't, though.

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From Loaded Weapon 1-----v

Emilio Estevez: "Who are you?"

Tim Curry: "I am your worst nightmare."

Emilio Estevez: "No, waking up without my penis is my worst nightmare."

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i saw this last night, superstitious people in the third world are pretty gullible.

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POTGIESSER said:
listeners advised to beware of fellow passengers in communal taxis wearing gold rings.

New J. K. Rowlings novel out soon - Harry Potter and the Ring of Emasculation. :D

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Butts said:

i saw this last night, superstitious people in the third world are pretty gullible.

No more so than superstitious people everywhere else.

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I literally heard about the penis panic on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart about 6 minutes ago.

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Well, that tops the weird news I've seen lately. This is even better than the man who used a hedgehog as a weapon.

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Xenphire said:

This is even better than the man who used a hedgehog as a weapon.


What? Please, do tell! Was it about some over-obsessed Sonic The Hedgehog fan?

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fraggle said:

No more so than superstitious people everywhere else.

Well, it depends how broadly you define the term, but I disagree. Superstition certainly exists in every culture, but I think there's no doubt its more prevalent, or at least wields a stronger influence, in "third world" societies. It's not down to any racial difference, it just a reflection of the poorer level of education and the greater influence of traditional beliefs.

The concept of Penis Panic seems ridiculous to us, but not because we have some spider sense that lets us tell truth from bullshit, or even because most of us have the required education in medicine or biology to specifically refute it. Instead, we have a sort of cultural corpus that comes from direct education, received opinions, first hand experience, etc., which determines how we interpret the world. Luckily for us, ever since the enlightenment our corpus has been shaped increasingly by education, science and rational enquiry. That's not to say it's free of superstition, myth and irrationality, but their influence has been eroded. I think to argue differently is to take relativism a step too far, and derogates the positive effect that the hard-fought progress of science and rationality has made in the developed world.

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Superstition still has a powerful influence in our culture, too. It's a universal human trait to see patterns where they do not exist, and to base false beliefs on them. This ability to generalize quickly is actually valuable to our survival as a species, but in modern societies it does tend to cause mistaken beliefs that are pretty hilarious.

The education that our culture benefits from only slightly reduces the realm of superstitious beliefs that we hold. While many of us are very scientifically minded, most people in our culture still believe in various forms of "magic" that are only moderately less absurd than penis-stealing curses. Many of us believe in ghosts, psychic powers, and that prayer can cause objective change in the world, because of just a handful of anecdotes that seem to support these beliefs. I'm sorry if I've offended a holder of these beliefs, but there simply isn't scientific justification for them.

Another fun superstition in our culture is the belief that PMS is medically real.

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Creaphis said:

Another fun superstition in our culture is the belief that PMS is medically real.

Well it is, it just isn't as common as people think. At least that's how the claim goes. I also heard that the claim itself is a bunch of BS. Who knows?

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Fair enough, it is likely that menstruation would have an effect on emotions, but the vast majority of claims to having PMS are the result of a self-fulfilling prophecy: "I expect to feel grouchy so I will."

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Creaphis said:

Another fun superstition in our culture is the belief that PMS is medically real


I'm going to call bullshit on this, just because it was used successfully in court as a defence doesn't make it any less of a real problem.

My Girlfriend has this problem. She's happy one day, "See you in a week" the next. but it's not her fault. yet.

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The third world means peripheral nations not in the Soviet bloc and not strictly aligned with the the US and central European powers. Wealth and stability in third world countries, or among them, varies greatly. I don't get the impression that in my third world country there's really more superstition than in the US, for example.

Jonathan said:
Instead, we have a sort of cultural corpus that comes from direct education, received opinions, first hand experience, etc., which determines how we interpret the world. Luckily for us, ever since the enlightenment our corpus has been shaped increasingly by education, science and rational enquiry.

From a subjective perspective perhaps, although maybe sometimes we put too much stock in learning and forget that in western civilization we have many long-standing rich cities and establishments where we may feel cozy and find the leisure to reason about any problems, or just have a good time in general. Their panic reactions are to actual and often more or less unavoidable issues like genocide, prolonged economic hardship, abuse from more powerful neighbors, mass homelessness, and much less protection against the forces of nature. Import learning to their lands or culture, or otherwise generate it, and it may be washed away in a season if it is not somehow very well protected.

This penis stealing fear might well be a symptom of some sort of severe social issue, and some rudimentary way for people to try to cope with it.

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myk said:

The third world means peripheral nations not in the Soviet bloc and not strictly aligned with the the US and central European powers. Wealth and stability in third world countries, or among them, varies greatly.

I'm a little annoyed that after the Cold War ended, the terms first, second and third world mostly lost their political meaning and became economical terms. I've heard people speak about Russia as a third world nation, which would have been laughable 15 years ago. Maybe we ought to just stop using those terms and use developing/developed nations instead.

Derail over.

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