Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Russian Resurrectionist Convicted

In Russia, a man who claims to be able to resurrect the dead has been convicted of fraud. You don't say. But wait! Did anyone actually test his abilities? I mean, they still have Lenin's body, right?

Raising the dead using magick is awfully difficult and I've never seen or heard of anyone who could actually do it. It might be possible within a few minutes of physical death, and I suppose some of the best EMT's might be directing their wills in such a way that reviving patients happens more easily, but even an hour after death the body is damaged enough that there's really no way to make it live again. That's why nobody has ever managed to build a "Frankenstein's Monster" despite our advanced scientific understanding of biology.

I know that fraudsters like this is why groups like CSICOP perform a valuable function, but I also think that professional skeptics throw out a lot of data if it even looks mildly weird. I'll reiterate a point I've made on many occasions - most paranormal professionals are fakes. It's tough working magick reliably enough for it to pay the bills on its own, and by the time you are good enough that you might be able to function as a honest professional magician or psychic there are a lot of other easier things you can do to make yourself wealthy.

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Unknown said...

Raising the dead using magick is awfully difficult and I've never seen or heard of anyone who could actually do it.

According to Wade Davis, Haitian Bokors manage something like this -very often in order to enforce social norms. Additionally, a French professor I took an Afro-Caribbean religions course from in Buffalo worked for Davis as a translator. They visited a large plantation owned by a reputed Bokor. The many people working around the place apparently qualified as "zombies" according to this professor (they were listless, doing their work, with no cognizance of the white guys approaching the place, etc). Davis was still attempting to acquire the ingredients for the zombie potion at the time. Not too long into their conversation Davis communicated to the elderly man in his home that he was a fraud - a statement this professor was more than a little hesitant to translate after what he had witnessed coming into the home. The old man replied back that he could kill them both dead where they sat. I'm not sure what happened following that exchange (they made it out alive obviously), but going forward, this professor decided that he would bow out working with Davis.

Then there is this guy, who got caught:,2933,374242,00.html

Scott Stenwick said...

I'm somewhat familiar with Davis' work, but his point is that tetrodotoxin doesn't actually kill if given in the correct dosage but makes people appear to be dead to anyone without sophisticated medical equipment. Bringing someone back from a drug-induced catatonic state is one thing and real resurrection is another matter entirely.

I'm also guessing that a lot of the would-be zombies actually do die, given how touchy tetrodotoxin is to administer. It would be interesting to analyze the failure rate for zombification if such a study could ever be done.