5 Eerie Ways Entire Groups Went Insane Science Can't Explain
When one person reports something unbelievable, he's a crank. When a thousand people back him up, something weird is definitely happening. There's no way thousands of people just independently go crazy in the exact same way and for no reason, right? Actually ...
America's 1980s Obsession With Satanic Child Abuse
If we asked you what the most expensive and drawn-out trial in U.S. history was, what would you answer? O.J. Simpson? Michael Jackson? Actually, it was the 1983 trial of a kindergarten teacher accused of gaining demonic superpowers by molesting children. Yes, that was a real thing that we, as a culture, decided merited court time, and yes, it happened in an era where we had spaceships, not the plague.
An era where all the forensic evidence and top-notch investigative journalism
in the world can't hold a candle to a kid pointing at Mr. Duck's no-no place.
The McMartin Preschool trial was a $15 million farce that began when a student's mother (who later turned out to be a paranoid schizophrenic) accused teacher Ray Buckey of molesting his students as part of regular satanic rituals, during which he was said to dress up like a witch, sacrifice animals, drink blood, and literally fly around the room. Reports are hazy about whether these occurrences happened before or after nap time.
Proof that Brian Williams wasn't the first NBC anchor to report total lies.
Nobody was ever convicted of a crime, even after authorities demolished the school in search of secret tunnels and altars dedicated to Balphagore, The Demon Prince Of Coloring. This was not an isolated incident in American history, either -- society went nuts for the "satanic panic." Reports began to flood in that teachers all over the country were exploiting children at Satan's command. One teacher, Margaret Michaels, was thrown in prison for abusing children in devil rituals, only to have the sentence overturned six years later after society collectively calmed down.
This was years after some kid randomly said "he did it" to
a picture of Chuck Norris, aka the unfunniest Chuck Norris joke of all.
After spending an afternoon in the time-out corner, America finally realized that there was no child sacrifice epidemic in the United States, and that they were all just basically stressed out. Why we jumped straight to "the devil is eating our children!" instead of "man, I really need a drink" is anybody's guess.
The American Town Afflicted With Imaginary Allergies
Around 8 miles east of Snowflake, Arizona, there exists a small community of people who share the same unusual disease. Residents there are allergic to everything -- from detergent and cleaning chemicals to car exhausts, perfumes, and air fresheners. Many even report being allergic to electricity, and that's not even a thing.
If Ben Franklin knew this was what America would end up becoming,
he would've tossed that kite and gone back to fucking old ladies for the rest of his life.
It's called multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), and sufferers report migraines, rashes, muscle pain, nausea, and fatigue if they come into contact with any kind of chemical substance. Sufferers from all over the world have flocked to the Arizona community due to its isolation and lack of both air pollution and humidity, and most live in specially designed houses that minimize chemical exposure and either use no electricity or keep electrical items segregated to one room. It's like being part-time Amish.
But with a community gathering to raise up bullshit instead of barns.
Life is pretty terrible for people afflicted with MCS, but according to scientists, it doesn't actually exist. They can't find any evidence that the condition is real at all, and not a single major health organization recognizes it as an actual disease. So what, is this just some kind of coordinated insurance scam? Probably not. As far as anyone can tell, what's really going on here is that sufferers have actually fallen victim to the "nocebo effect," the opposite of the placebo effect, which means that, if you convince yourself that something will make you feel sick, you might actually begin to feel sick. We've mentioned it before as the same reason many people around the world protest against wind farms.
In short, a bunch of people heard rumors about this disease known as MCS, and suddenly began to feel like the underside of balls, so their response was to move to the 21st century equivalent of a leper colony. In Arizona. Damn!
At least lepers get Hawaii.
The Brazilian Riot Caused By One Woman In A Miniskirt
A bright yellow thong and some oil seems like the national uniform of modern Brazil. Which is why it's so strange that, in 2009, a Brazilian woman showing up to class in a short skirt caused a riot so severe that you'd swear you were watching an English soccer game.
When Geisy Arruda rocked up to Bandeirantes University in a hot pink dress cut significantly above the knee, she was probably expecting a few sideways glances and approving nods. Instead, a gang of men began following her around, harassing her, and trying to shove cellphone cameras between her legs. When she shunned their advances ("then I got the perfect upskirt, and that's how your mother and I met!" said nobody, ever), the situation only got worse.
Note: This is the dress that tore asunder the fabric of modern society.
Arruda went to the bathroom to escape, where she was confronted by a group of women demanding that she put on some pants. Meanwhile, that same group of men tried to break in to the ladies' room to catch another glimpse at her gams. Now she found herself trapped between the Fashion Police and the Molestation Marauders.
As the day wore on, a full-on riot developed. Staff attempted to help by barricading Arruda inside a classroom, but the rioting students tried to break in through a window. The riot police finally arrived with a hearty supply of pepper spray and managed to clear a path so that Arruda, cloaked in a lab coat to hide the shame of her uncovered legs, could be escorted from the building.
Unfortunately "Sexy Bill Nye" was a look that fooled no one.
The university expelled Arruda and publicly condemned her for inciting a riot by wearing a miniskirt. (Hang on ... we just need to double-check the year this happened in case our sources made a typo. OK, definitely 2009? Wow.)
After writing this ad, the writer presumably headed out to ogle the contestants at the latest Miss BumBum competition.
The university then reversed its decision due to backlash from sane people, and Arruda was not only reinstated, but received a cash settlement and became a reality TV star, which is amongst the strangest career paths we've ever heard of.
The 1950s Windshield-Pitting Epidemic
In spring of 1954, people in Bellingham, Washington, started reporting a bizarre epidemic of vandalism -- tiny pits were appearing in windshields all over the city. As the news began to spread, so did the phenomenon. People in California, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon, Wisconsin, and even Canada began to report unexplainable windshield damage. This was now a continent-wide problem, and the government could no longer afford to ignore the flood of tens of thousands of reports. Police began to set up roadblocks and random searches to find the culprits, and at one point, the mayor of Seattle even asked President Eisenhower to step in.
This is the kind of crap people expect of you when you're not fighting any wars.
When no vandals could be found, people began to search for weirder theories, like insect eggs hatching inside the glass, acid in the atmosphere, shifts in the Earth's magnetic field, byproducts from nuclear tests, or even cosmic rays. Maybe they gave tiny superpowers to adorable Hulks who pounded itty-bitty holes into glass -- who knows?
"Has anyone seen a bunch of tiny Bill Bixbys hitchhiking out of town?"
Eventually, a team of physicists, chemists, and meteorologists teamed up to solve the mystery. What the investigation finally concluded was that the pits were actually the result of completely normal wear-and-tear from kicking up road debris. They had been there all along. People just hadn't noticed them until they read about the pitting epidemic in the newspaper and went outside to check their own car.
"Can we still destroy every insect on Earth, just in case?"
It's a classic case of people simply not being aware of something until someone points it out, and then they can't help but notice it, just like you weren't really conscious of your own breathing until we pointed it out just now. Also, sorry about that.
The Imaginary Disease That Spreads Through The Internet
Back in 2003, Mary Leitao was at her wit's end trying to figure out what was bothering her 2-year-old son, Drew. He had a rash that dermatologists couldn't explain, and he kept complaining about bugs under his skin. Worse, strange fibers kept appearing on his body. He was struck with ... phantom sweater syndrome!
Freddy Kruger: the snuggly soft years.
Well, you come up with something better, because the doctors sure couldn't. When medical science met her with a collective shrug, Mary figured that she would take it to the Internet. She herself coined the term "Morgellons syndrome," based on a term she had found in an old medical journal. Soon, thousands of people around the world began to notice that they were afflicted with Morgellons. It starts with an itching sensation, and soon develops into strange fibers being excreted from your skin. Sufferers believe it's caused by everything from secret government aerosol programs to a byproduct of the government's weather machines.
And now you know why ugly Christmas sweaters still exist: because Big Brother wants it that way.
Up to 12,000 families are suspected of suffering from Morgellons, so there has to be something real behind it right? Real doctors with credentials above and beyond, who "have used the Internet at least once," have been investigating Morgellons for years, and concluded that the fibers are probably just normal detritus you pick up every day from your clothing and carpet. That's right: 12,000 people all over the world are suffering from "being kinda dirty." Won't you donate today?
Jesus A. Rodriguez speaks English, Spanish, and even Spanglish. So if you know any of those languages, you can find him on Twitter and Facebook when he's not busy pitching articles or participating in the weekly Photoplasty contests here on Cracked.
It turns out people will lose their minds about pretty much anything. Like imaginary bugs or perfume. No shit, check out 5 Terrifying Killers (That Turned Out to be Mass Panics) and learn more. Or see why the news media is dumb and we're dumb for believing it in 18 Terrifying News Stories You Didn't Know Were Media Panics.
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