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Death
image Fan Death is "the belief that if someone is sleeping in a sealed room (windows and doors are closed) with an electric fan on, they could die." The theory is that either hypothermia will get you, or the fan breeze will somehow form a vacuum around your mouth and suffocate you. Apparently many people in Korea believe this is true. Or at least, this is what Robin, the creator of fandeath.net, has concluded after living in Korea for five years. He writes:

When I first heard about fan death, I discussed it with my Korean friends and students. I was the foreign skeptic and they were the loyal natives. I was shocked at how powerful their belief was and at the lack of critical thinking about the issue. All you have to do is bring up the issue of fan death with a Korean and it would be difficult to get them to accept the fact that fan death might not be true. Especially when talking to a foreigner, they are more likely to defend their cultural belief than question it. So, unable to have a semi-neutral discussion, I turned to the internet. After checking the internet for more information about fan death, I became greatly frustrated. I could not find any detailed information about fan death. So, I decided to make this site to encourage others to tell their stories and share their knowledge about the issue.

Robin's site includes info about some other unusual Korean beliefs, such as tongue- cutting, which is the theory that if you cut the frenulum (the tissue linking the tongue to the floor of the mouth) "your tongue will be more flexible and be able to pronounce those difficult English sounds." Robin says that for this reason tongue surgery is quite popular in Korea.
Categories: Body Manipulation, Death
Posted by Alex on Thu Mar 10, 2005
Comments (55)
In the past six months five dogs have fallen to their death off a bridge in Dumbarton, Scotland. This fact does not seem to be disputed. What is controversial is whether or not the dogs fell because they committed suicide. Or did they think they saw something and accidentally leapt? In the most recent case a woman claims that she was out walking her dog when it suddenly ran away from her "vaulted over the parapet and plunged 40ft to its death."

Some animal behaviorists are dismissing the notion that suicide was the cause of the dogs' deaths, arguing that dogs never commit suicide. Personally, I'm not sure what to think. I did once hear about a dog who was so despondent after its master died that it walked out to some train tracks and lay there until a train ran it over. However, I'll concede that this story may be an urban legend because I can't remember where I heard it. And I doubt that five dogs in a row would commit suicide in the same place. However, this bridge in Dumbarton does have a spooky history. In 1994 a guy threw his two-week-old son off of it, believing that the child was the Antichrist. So believers in the supernatural are having a field day with this case.
Categories: Animals, Death
Posted by Alex on Tue Mar 08, 2005
Comments (96)
A statue of Pope Sylvester II in the Basilica of Saint John Lateran is said to become damp when a Pope is about to die. The statue ain't sweating, so that means things are looking good for John Paul II. The accuracy of the statue as a medical diagnostic tool has been confirmed by "two elderly Italian nuns", so this is a pretty definite thing. (thanks to Gary for the link)
Categories: Death, Religion
Posted by Alex on Sun Feb 27, 2005
Comments (8)
image I came across this peculiar news story about a hippo eating a dwarf. It's been floating around the internet for a while, though I'm not sure exactly how long. Google 'hippo eats dwarf' and you'll pull up a bunch of pages. There's even a band named Hippo Eats Dwarf. The article has been circulating as an image file of a scanned article (click the thumbnail), but here's the text of it:

A hippopotamus has swallowed a dwarf in a circus accident in northern Thailand. "A dwarf, nicknamed Od, died when he bounced sideways from a trampoline and was swallowed by a yawning hippopotamus, which was waiting to appear in the next act," the Pattaya Mail reported. "Vets on the scene said Hilda the Hippo had a gag reflex which automatically caused her to swallow." The vets said it was the first time the hefty vegetarian had ever eaten a circus performer. "Unfortunately, the 1000 plus spectators continued to applaud wildly until common sense dictated there had been a tragic mistake. Police said the trampoline has been sent for forensic analysis."

The one true detail in the story is that the Pattaya Mail did indeed report this. However, everything else seems far too outlandish to possibly be true. Though, who knows. Weird things can happen.
Categories: Animals, Death
Posted by Alex on Thu Feb 24, 2005
Comments (61)
image A guy on eBay, inspired by the forehead advertising auction, attempted to sell his will. The winner of the auction would, upon his death, receive everything he owns. Since the seller is a young guy, the winner could be waiting for a while before they get anything. Two other things occurred to me. First, if the guy dies heavily in debt, all you're going to inherit is a bunch of bills. He fails to mention this possibility (and he would have an incentive to die in debt). Second, I'm not sure how you would make this arrangement legally binding. Perhaps it can be done. I'm not sure. But it seems possible that the guy could change his will later and create a difficult situation. I've heard of universities that arrange for people to will their estates to them, and in return the university gives them a certain amount of money until they die. But that seems different from what this eBay guy is proposing (and probably involves better lawyers). Anyway, the auction closed yesterday with no bidders, so I guess it's all a moot point.
Categories: Death, eBay
Posted by Alex on Sun Feb 20, 2005
Comments (9)
image The latest celebrity death rumor going around is that Jon Heder, star of Napoleon Dynamite, died in a car accident while driving with a friend to Salem, Oregon. A website making this claim is here. People have also been speculating about this rumor on the IMDB message boards (Thanks to Ana for the link). Jon Heder, of course, is not dead (unless that person who looks like him and has been making media appearances is just an imposter). Michael Heaton, of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, noted in a recent column that he had heard the 'Heder is Dead' rumor from his daughter. Which prompted him to comment that "It is the zenith of cultural obsession to have false rumors of someone's death spread like goose grease across the land."
Categories: Celebrities, Death
Posted by Alex on Fri Feb 18, 2005
Comments (79)
image Here's an email I received today. I don't think that what it describes is a hoax in any way, but it seemed weird enough to be worth posting. I blurred out the names on the attached picture (click to enlarge) at the request of the emailer.

I so love your website, that I sometimes think that I shall send you more stuff. Let me explain : I work in the head office of a psychiatric hospital, I am the personal assistant to the director which means I am the one opening all the mail. Few weeks ago I got this bill.
So I know this is in Franch, but I will translate it for you, you might find it interesting to know what will ahppen toyou if you give your body to science and how much you cost when you are dead.
As the description you can read "tronc huain non bisexué" which in english would translate to the top part of a human body that is not bisexual. Particulary poetic! It's just half of a human body ! It says the price next to it, after taxes and such. And it's getting worse. The bottom line it says there is a special offer with 5% off !
I though that in the serie of particular things, that may be interesting for you. We actually paid that bill too. :o)


What seems really weird to me is that these human-corpse retailers classify bodies by whether or not they're bisexual. What's the reason for that? Also, I think I can spot a hoax in the email. They obviously didn't take 5% off. I believe they took a full 50% off.
Categories: Death
Posted by Alex on Sun Feb 06, 2005
Comments (11)
image If you've ever wanted to phone up someone who's dead, then Jürgen Bröther has the solution for you: the Phone Angel. If I understand it correctly, this is basically a speakerphone installed inside a coffin. It's configured so that whenever it senses an incoming call, it'll turn on, so that your voice will be broadcast inside the coffin. Just don't expect the occupant of the coffin to speak back. Or maybe they will... The weirdest part of the whole deal is that he offers a rebate if you return the phone once it's battery wears out. Of course, to retrieve the phone you have to dig the coffin back up. (via The Anomalist)
Categories: Death
Posted by Alex on Thu Feb 03, 2005
Comments (5)
A fake news story about the death of actor John Goodman raced around the internet today. It's hard to understand why people believed this for a second, since the story was filled with spelling mistakes and bad grammar. Here's a sample:

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) - Actor John Goodman, star of such hits as Monsters Inc and Beyond the Sea, found dead today in his home. Cause of death is not known. Recently seen in the Kevin Spacey epik Beyond the Sea, Goodman was deemed in fine health by his doctor just three days ago. Cause of death is not yet known, but it is suspected natural causes. Goodman was most notably known as the blue-collar patriarch Dan Conner on the hit TV show Roseanne. Goodman also lent his vocal talents to such films as The Emperor's New Groove and Mosnters Inc, as well as being a semi-regular guest on Saturday Night Live.

Defamer debunked this pretty quickly, even managing to grab a screen shot of the original fake news story before it disappeared. I'll add this to my growing list of celebrity death hoaxes.
Categories: Celebrities, Death
Posted by Alex on Fri Jan 21, 2005
Comments (12)
image One of the many random viral videos that floats around the internet is this 'Aicha Kid Video' that shows a skinny teenager singing and dancing to the song 'Aicha'. But before you click on the link to see the video, first read about the urban legend that accompanies the video, because I think it makes the video itself much more interesting. According to the UL, there's an 'uncut' version of this video, and in this uncut version... well, this poster from ebaumsworld summarizes it better than I could:

it is hard to get the unedited one, most of them stop after he is dancing. In the full version after he dances, he gets a knife out from under his minnie mouse comforter and slits his throat. He bleeds out all over his adidas sweatshirt and falls on the floor. The camera keeps taping for another 5 minutes until the tape runs out. I think you can get the full version on www.rotten.com. Ya it is sad.

So does this uncut suicide kid video actually exist? I don't think so. At least, if it does I can't find it anywhere. Though in a variant of the UL, the non-existence of the extended video is explained away by the fact that the skinny kid's parents supposedly filed a lawsuit to get it removed from the internet. If the video does exist I'm sure that I'll hear about it eventually, but I'd bet good money on it just being a stupid rumor.
Categories: Death
Posted by Alex on Thu Jan 20, 2005
Comments (192)
This attracted quite a bit of attention (relatively speaking), but I only found out about it today, once it was revealed to be a hoax. It was a Countdown-to-Suicide Journal on LiveJournal:

My name is Jerry Romero, and I am 23 years old. If you have found this journal, it is through your own actions. I will not comment on other entries in an attempt to make friends. I am leaving this in the hands of Fate and no-one else. This journal was created solely for the purpose of providing one last lifeline in a vast sea of hopelessness.
On January 13th, I am going to kill myself.
Categories: Death
Posted by Alex on Fri Jan 14, 2005
Comments (17)
image Most people think the musician Jim Morrison, lead singer for the Doors, died in Paris on July 3, 1971. But Gerald Pitts says that he "discovered Jim Morrison Living on a Ranch in the Pacific Northwest in the summer of 1998." According to him, Morrison is living a quiet life as an American cowboy "away from the Hollywood scene." Even though Morrison evidently engineered an elaborate death hoax to escape publicity, he agreed to appear on film for Pitts. You can buy a copy of this film for only $24.95 (shipping is extra). Pitts' site includes a video comparing the features of Jim Morrison the fifty-something cowboy to Jim Morrison the twenty-something singer. However, no matter how many times I watch the video, I just don't see any similarity.
Categories: Celebrities, Death
Posted by Alex on Mon Jan 03, 2005
Comments (1942)
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