Date: Sun Apr 03 1994 19:10:00 Subj: Mass hysteria UFO - Some more information on +quot;Ma

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Date: Sun Apr 03 1994 19:10:00 From: Ed Hackett Subj: Mass hysteria UFO ------------------------------- Some more information on "Mass Hysteria" follows. Thanks to Robert Sheaffer - Scepticus Maximus - sheaffer@netcom.com Past Chairman, The Bay Area Skeptics I find these experiences analogous to many UFO and abduction scenarios. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - From "The West Bank Collective Hysteria Episode" by James R. Stewart, _The Skeptical Inquirer_, Vol. 15 Nr. 2, p. 153 (Winter, 1991). " Episodes of mass hysteria have captivated researchers for years, but have thus far eluded the efforts of social scientists to provide a comprehensive, systematic explanation of the causes and processes involved. Mass hysteria typically involves the "contagious" spread of physical symptoms (such as fainting, convulsions, nausea, and headaches) along with the adoption of a belief system that attributes causation to a toxic agent (such as insects or gases). Although the victims are firmly convinced that their illness is "real," extensive medical and environmental studies fail to identify a chemical or biological cause for the symptoms. With no evidence to support the "real illness" explanation, the authorities typically label the episode as an example of mass hysteria and the whole thing is quietly forgotten. The mass hysteria explanation, however, is usually met with opposition from members of the afflicted group, who remain convinced of the legitimacy of their illness.... " On March 21, 1983, scores of schoolgirls in the village of Arrabah on the Israeli-occupied West Bank were stricken with a mysterious illness. The symptoms included nausea, headache, dizziness, and fainting spells... During this episode more than 60 girls were hospitalized with severe symptoms. Those with milder symptoms were treated by local physicians. Medical personnel conducted a barrage of screening tests on the hospitalized victims, but they were unable to offer conclusive results regarding a cause of complaints. Public health personnel conducted a comprehensive investigation of the environment in and around the school. These studies also yielded negative results.... " A new outbreak flared up very quickly when 300 schoolgirls were stricken in the neighboring community of Jenin on March 26... The vast majority again were schoolgirls; but a significant number of adult females also developed symptoms, and some of the adult males who helped transport the afflicted children to hospitals as well as four soldiers of the Israeli Defense Force also came down with symptoms.... Angry mobs of Arab demonstrators protested the "poisonings.".... From _The Natural History of Nonsense_ by Bergen Evans (New York: Vintage Books, 1946, 1958. p. 98) " In the summer of 1943 absenteeism among women war workers reached such proportions that sabotage was suspected and agents of the FBI were called in to investigate. Their findings, confirmed by other government and private agencies, was that women were being driven from the lathes and benches by strange sexual fears. Some feared that riveting caused cancer of the breast. A wholly new and fictitious female disorder - "riveter's ovaries" - had been invented. And scores of women engaged in filling fire- extinguishers for airplanes had quit in panic when it was rumored that the material they were handling, carbon tetrachloride, caused pregnancy." (References: _The Chicago Sun_, Sept. 2, 1943; _Time_, July 17, 1944, p. 60). [Note the similarity between these WWII episodes, and contemporary hysteria over supposed "environmental illness" and "environmental medicine." - RS]. - - - - - - - - - - From _Rumor, Fear and the Madness of Crowds_ by J. P. Chaplin (New York: Ballantine Books, 1959. Chapter 7.) The Mad Gasser of Mattoon [Illinois; Sept. 1944] "...The people of Mattoon were locked in deadly combat with a phantom who struck in the night spraying poisonous gas into his victims' bedrooms and then vanished into the darkness leaving them paralyzed, nasuseated, and suffering from swollen, bleeding lips. So elusive was the ghostly anesthetist that would-be pursuers caught only glimpses of a "tall, thin man wearing a black skull cap" disappearing into the night. During a two-week reign of terror, the phantom claimed over thirty victims while the local police augmented by citizen volunteers and six squads of state troopers armed with riot guns stood by helplessly..... [Descriptions of the victims' accounts] "...As to the gasser's motive, [Police] Chief Cole now entertained two alternative hypotheses. One possibility was that the phantom was a scientist gone berserk who manufactured gases in a basement laboratory and sprayed them through his victims' windows with some kind of high pressure gun. On the other hand there was a chance that he was a sex fiend attempting to overcome women in a novel manner for his own dark purposes. Some credence was lent to the latter viewpoint by the fact that women in their bedrooms had been his chief targets thus far. " Indeed, this case must interest any student of mass psychology or connisseur of human credulity, for it probably represents one of the purest outbreaks of mass hysteria on record. In the first place, there was absolutely no basis in reality for the attacks. Secondly, the victims' symptoms (choking, swelling of mucous membranes and partial paralysis), are the classic symptoms of hysteria first observed over a generation ago by Janet, the famous French neurologist. Moreover, in keeping with hysterical phenomena in general, they were chiefly induced by verbal suggestion, just as similar manifestations can be produced in hypnotic subjects by means of the same technique." [As occurs today to produce "memories" of supposed UFO abductions, Satanic "ritual abuse", or "repressed" sexual abuse. - RS]

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