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Hi, Chinwag, listeners. We feel like we understand you, we know you, and we want to keep delivering great Chinwags to all of you. But look, we need your help. Please go to gum. Fm/chinwag to fill out this very quick survey and help us learn about you so we can bring you the content you want, which presumably is pretty weird. But maybe you don't want weird content all the time. In any case, we're going to learn about it from this survey. It's quite painless, I you. Again, please visit gum. Fm/chinwag to fill out this very brief survey for us. And please note, there's no need to type in www. Just go to gum. Fm/chinwag. Go to gum. Fm/chinwag. And thank you, as usual, for all the support. Wag on. I feel like I'm allergic to something in my own apartment.


I really do. I don't even want to know what's growing in my old apartment. Maybe you're a cat. Well, I've got cats growing in my own apartment, yes. But I don't even think it's them. I think before then, I was constantly feeling a little backed up, a little nasally backed up. And so I'm constantly clearing my throat. Excuse me. Everybody else, they were in Yes, probably.


Yeah, you've got to fucking thousand. God knows what they're shedding. How many books do you think you have?


I don't even want to speculate. It's like, probably. What do you think? What would you guess?


I would say is it 10,000, reasonable? Probably.


I would say maybe.


Maybe. You should reinforce the floors in your apartment.


The shelves start to sag. And it's like, it's a mania. With Biblia mania, it's a genuine thing. It's a collecting mania thing. It's for real. I haven't read. I've read probably like one-fiftieth of probably all the books in the air.


Yeah, you could be reading an article and it could reference some obscure author, and you'd be like, Oh, let me see if I have that.


Right? Right. Yeah. Well, that's true. And that is the goal is that I'm like, Oh, I happen to have something here about that. Yeah, which is like I wanted to make a fucking library, which is just psychotic. This is Chinwag, by the Where we're- Oh, yeah. Yeah. Sorry. This is, this is. Welcome to, welcome to Chinwag. Speaking of mania. Yeah. Speaking of mania and maniax. This is the Chinwag podcast. Welcome to it. This week, it's just going to be Steven and I, a special... I was going to say solo, but that's not solo. It's a duet. Just a duet. A duet. A duet. A pas de deux, as it were, to borrow from the world of the ballet. Indeed. Yes, indeed. Oh, God, the ballet. Gosh Almighty.


Do we need an episode on the ballet?


I won't go into this now. Well, it could be interesting. I won't go into this now. But as a child, I was once in a ballet, and I'm going to leave it at that. Oh, man. I'm not going to elaborate on that. Maybe someday I'll talk about that. All right. I was in a ballet as a child. Yes, it's just going to be you and I, and we're going to be talking about what they call mass panics. Mass panics? Mass hysteria. Yep. Mass delusion.


It goes by a number of different titles, but I think that's all. That's basically where we're going to get into some interesting examples. The classic Orson Welles, War of the World, radio play, stuff like that. Correct.


Things like that. But also some more obscure things. And then just what it relates to a lot of things. More recent. Still going on. More recency, very much so. And then, as usual, we'll try to relate it to larger issues and themes in the greater world. Indeed. Right, Steve?


That's what we're all about.


Dig into the relevance. But before we do that, of course, we urge all of you to visit Apple podcasts and other platforms. Reviews. Good reviews, please. Review or rebuke. If you want to rebuke us, you can do that, too.


Save that for an email, maybe.


Okay, yeah, right. Keep that just between us. If you really want to take us out, keep that. But go and rate us and review us and please write emails.


And Instagram.


Instagram, all these things.


I think we're on Twitter and threads and all that.


Are we on threads?


Apparently, we are making a movement in that direction.


That is the cutting edge. We are on the absolute cutting edge.


But also people need to check out these animations on YouTube because- Correct.


We are also on YouTube.


Our animator.


Holy God. We have tremendous animations that go with the audio version of the show on YouTube, drawn by... The great Alex Sokel. Created by Alex Sokel, like outstanding, beautiful animations that go along with the podcast on YouTube. So please, please, please indulge us by doing that and indulge yourselves.


Fail yourself.


I've had a wonderful opportunity. Indeed. So here we go, Steve. This is where we're going to move on to now, which would be mass hysteria, mass delusion, mass panic. And my first query to you, Professor, is there a difference between all those things, or do they all fall under the same title of psychogenic illness or psychogenic illness? Are they different things?


I think you're right. Psychogenic is a broader umbrella. It just means origin in the mind, and it includes a lot of stuff under it. I don't think that psychologists and sociologists have a very clear universal use of the terms. But if you look at the word hysteria... Actually, this is interesting. The word hysteria comes from the Greek word.


That's an interesting origin.


It means uterus, basically.


Yeah, the hysterectomy. Hysterectomy and those things. Hyster means womb, I think, in Greek, right?


It People know that it got turned into a a term of abuse or prejudice against women, like in the early psychoanalytic tradition. The idea was that, Victorian women were suffering from something called hysteria, and they needed, maybe sex would help this. It's a bad theorizing.


Is that so is that so is hysteria a word that has its origins in the 19th century or does it go further back? Oh, it goes. They just adapted it. They adapted it. Interesting. Yeah.


It goes way back, and there's reference to it in the ancient world, too, as a...


But it basically- Women are going crazy.


Yeah, that women were going crazy. Now it's no longer considered a professional term, but the diagnosis of hysteria went down starting in the 20th century as the diagnosis of anxiety and depression went up. They went directly inverse to each other.


But it was just a matter of semantics. They took on a different word, probably. Yeah. Interesting. Well, that's good.


It means basically you're having an uncontrollable emotional experience, basically, is what they used it to mean. Whereas delusion is more like a false belief. So you're paranoid, you think somebody is out to get you. And then hallucination can be auditory or visual. I think in the case of schizophrenia, you have high levels of auditory hallucination where you hear voices, whereas I think in certain kinds of drug use, you get more visual hallucinations.


Schizophrenia is a term that's not really widely used anymore. Is that a blanket term? It was my understanding that's not really a word anybody uses anymore.


I think it is still used in certain professional circles, but I'm not going to swear to it. I hear professionals use it.


I don't know. Yeah, I know. It's funny. I have heard it sometimes, too, and it jumps out at me and I'm like, oh, are we not supposed to say that anymore? I always thought it was a... It has such derogatory connotations.


There's a general term they call it psychotic illnesses. I don't know if that's any better.


You're not psychotic. You're just psychotic. Listen, no. Listen, to put your mind at ease, you're simply psychotic. Don't panic. So much better. No, no, no, no, no, He's psychotic. He's psychotic. Yeah, that's true. Not really. Not much better. But that's interesting. So mass delusion and mass hysteria are different, but they obviously both lead to panic. Yeah, right. They can both lead to panic.


They can lead to panic, yeah.


Yeah. Although not in all instances, as we will discuss, there are some of these... We're interested in some of these things like the Beatlemania and Elvis, which are things that aren't necessarily, don't have the connotation of panic or fear in them, but they have this idea of mass movement of people joining into this incredibly energetic, intense experience on mass. Yeah, it's like a weird social dynamic. Yeah, yeah. But anyway, that's interesting. So This is the basic idea, is a shared sense of fear over fear generated by this intense emotional experience that's shared by everybody.


Yeah. And if it's a delusion, then There's the added ingredient, which is that you're having a false reality, that it's an erroneous, it's not reality.


And so with a classic example of that, which is the Orson Welles radio broadcast of 1938 of the War of the Worlds broadcast. So good. Which is so good, which I used to listen. I used to have an LP of that when I was a kid. Really? Yeah, that I'd listen to over and over and over again. My grandfather remembered hearing it on the radio. Oh, live? Yeah, my grandfather I remembered hearing it on the radio. And fortunately, I can say to honor my ancestors, he was not stupid enough to believe it was real. Although I shouldn't say stupid. He was not. He did not believe it was real. There you go. He was not that he was stupid or anybody's stupid for having believed it. It's just that he didn't buy it. But that's an interesting one because that's where Orson Welles did this very clever version of War of the Worlds on the Air that was aired as a real radio broadcast, at least for a part of it. Was that in Did they interrupt fake broadcasting or something? Yeah, they faked the fact that they were interrupting. They had said, if anybody had listened to the beginning of the show, they would have known that it was just a play.


But it was this thing of this... It's an early version of this document you mockumentary thing. It's this like, which I always wonder if it's one of the first instances of that, because before in radio or something, people would hoax people in print media. But I don't wonder if anybody had really done anything like this in radio before he did it?


That's a great question because radio was still relatively new. Yeah. And you could do it in print, but it's not the same.


No. I always wonder that if it was one of the first instances of somebody doing that at all.


I remember watching... When I was in high school, I think is when that great, what's the heavy metal send up mockumentary, Spinal Tap came out. I remember thinking this is the most hilarious thing ever. I watched it with a friend of mine who was a heavy metal fan, and he was I don't get it, man. These guys aren't good. And I'm like, no, it's a joke. And he's like, what do you mean?


Well, they said they went out and played concerts and were like, people are coming to this like we're an actual band. People didn't realize. Yeah, people. But there you go. There's a weird delusion or a mistaken assumption about something.


Yeah, it's a mistake, I think.


But the War of the World thing is interesting because it's like people were wrong about it. And so it's like there's a panic happening, but there's also this delusion happening, too, that it's real. So it's like both things happening in some sense.


But then look In terms of the timing, Hitler is on the march in Europe in '38, and people are freaking out about real stressors, geopolitical stressors. And so you put that together, and it seems like it must really push people.


That seems to be a theme in this stuff that there's social, cultural, political stress happening to people that helps to generate people being in a position already be ready to go off because things are not great. Things are bad. And another element of that one, which at that time and everything is the force of the media, then exacerbating it. In this instance, you're actually getting it from the media source. He's gaming the media source. So it's already really fucked up because this thing you're trusting not to lie to you about the news is telling you that the fucking Martians have landed at Grover's Mill or whatever the fuck of Grover's Mill. And it's like, so That's really fine. It was really clever of him to induce. I mean, he didn't mean to induce the panic, but the idea that he was... Because I think in a lot of these panics, the media doesn't help. No, that's right. As usual, the media doesn't help.


The media does not help. It ramps it up.


But the media doesn't help. The media ramps this stuff up and that cycle, that thing that cycles things through.


Well, did you hear that they did it a few years later in the '40s?


And by the way, they did a similar thing?


In Ecuador. It got so much worse in Ecuador. They did it in the '40s in Ecuador, in Quito, Ecuador. And the guy before he- A guy did a Martian invasion? Yeah. He got Orson Welles' actual radio play, and he just put it on in Spanish. I didn't know this. And changed the names. But here's how diabolical he was. He ran fucking stories in the newspaper the week before about spots on Mars and shit.


Now, this is a guy deliberately doing this because he'd witnessed the panic already.


Yes, and it got totally out of hand.


Now, who was it? Was this the Ecuador's answer to Orson Welles? Was he like the- Ecuadorian Orson Welles. Ecuador. Wow. Think of that guy. That guy's fascinating. I want to know more about this guy. He was almost killed.


What happened was people ran en masse to churches to hide- Yeah, and by the way, the thing that happened for anybody who were talking about this is that it created a mass panic.


People freak out when Orson Welles did it and started trying to flee their homes. They packed their cars. I think somebody killed themselves, I think maybe. That's the legend. I don't know if that one was true. Yeah, but anyway, so in Ecuador, in Quito, Ecuador, this happened and it was worse.


It was worse And the military actually mobilized and started to go to where he said shit was happening. Then when they finally got on the radio and said, Hey, it's a fake. It's a joke. Get this. They stormed the radio studio, and they fucking burned it to the ground. I shit you not, and six people died.


Now, because they were pissed or because they thought maybe they were lying? Oh, my God.


I don't know. Maybe they're in your above. Wow.


I've never heard about this. This is crazy. I've never heard about that. And that's amazing. And there you go. There's a guy utilizing the media to deliberately fan the flames of it and stuff like that. And it's not like that hasn't been used by other people, probably in his history to fan panics. The Nazis are doing that in a weird way. They're causing a mass delusion that they're then fanning about Jews and stuff like that, I suppose. I suppose it's argument in a weird way. Radio stories, pamphlets. They're using the media to create this hysteria about things in their own population. So I suppose it becomes a, well, this is to be discussed because this is a whole thing I have about we're all living in constant mass panics and mass delusions.


I think that's really true. Yeah, very much nightly news. Yeah, I do, too.


But here's what's weird to me is that you can go back, and this is something that super interests me. You can go back to before there's any of this media like this to the Middle Ages when a lot of this... And I'm sure before this, there were crazy panics, the Romans, and I'm sure everybody. But in the Middle Ages, there were these not uncommon manias and mass manias, mass delusions, mass... Well, I don't know if they're delusions, but mass panics that all fall under the blanket term of dancing manias. And we're talking from the 14th to the 17th century, these mass movements of people having these crazy physical reactions and being unable to stop dancing.


They can't stop dancing.


They can't stop dancing. It was almost like it was contagious. It would move from small villages to towns, and I mean, thousands of people marching through towns just freaking out, just dancing and shit. And there were efforts to.... There were efforts to stop it by playing music, which made it worse. Those people thought But if we play music, if we get out there with our sack butt and with all of our crazy stuff.


What a horrible way.


Yeah, but that it was only making it worse, actually.


Well, Were they poisoned or were they picking it up?


Well, this is what's fact. Well, no, I don't think... Well, this is interesting. So you had different versions of this. And again, it's almost culturally determined that in a lot of what's now Germany and France and stuff like that. No, it was this like you were having... It was demonic possession. There was all these theories about why it was happening. But of course, a lot of it's happening around the time of the Black Plague and plague So again, there's these stressors.


Like social stresses. Yeah.


Yeah, totally. But it's interesting that in Italy, it was slightly different. They had these things in Italy and Southern Europe more Southernly. They had a different thing. And in their opinion, it was Tarrantism. It was people had been bitten by tarantulas. No way. And it was this whole crazy fear that there were tarantulas, which I'm like, I thought tarantulas are like Quito, Ecuador. I was like, I didn't think tarantulas were like Europe. I Wasn't they a tropical or subtropical? Not that I'm sure they couldn't get to Italy if they wanted to, but it's so funny to me. But that was their big thing. Was that it was tarantulas. Really, tarantulas. Which is, I think, where the word tarantella, the dance, which is a dance. That music comes from. I remember. That's fascinating. That people were having these. I think people thought, but isn't that weird? But that was not in northern Europe.


That was not a thing. That was only in Southern Europe. Yeah, these things are very specific. You could have a general response, which is under stress, human beings will do some fucked up body gyrations. But then the local culture dictates. And then there are these healthy versions.


The special coloring to it.


Yeah. Like you were saying, in Germany, they had the Valturgis Night, which is like to celebrate St. Valturgis, you'd go apeshit crazy.


Which is Halloween, basically, isn't it?


Or Halloween.


Yeah, exactly. But doesn't Halloween come out of Völkbergis Nacht? Isn't Halloween... Maybe not.


I don't know the history of Halloween like I should, but it is like- God damn you. What shit chinwag is this? What fucking philosopher do you call yourself?


Jesus Christ, man.


I know.


God, I wrote a book on Monsters. But it's a witches' Sabbath, Night of Wishes, Night of... Yeah, you did. You wrote a fucking book on Monsters, and you can't tell me about Halloween. Let's move on. Jesus. No, but you're right. But then people formalize it and make it of like, okay, we can go batshit at these certain times of the year.


Structure it for this time of the year.


You can go batshit. Yeah, you can go crazy, which goes back to Romans were doing that, I think. They were having these carnivals where people... And then the Romans just generally, everybody just got batshit in Rome. Then they just, Yeah, let's make It was just like, Everybody go crazy all the fucking time. Especially you emperors. Especially the emperors, you're invited to go crazier than anybody. Nero. Yeah. But they did like, That's interesting.


I mean, even the games could be seen this way. What the Roman games might be seen as a way of getting emotional, like pent-up emotions that are unhealthy out of your system so then you can go back to your life of structured repression.


I suppose you could say that about sport and things like that in general.


That's There already happens in fucking football games and stuff.


You definitely have some of these things we're talking about. There's riots and panics and stapes and stuff, and concerts or sporting events. There's a lot of that. There's a lot of those things happen.


Let me just say one thing about contagion because I think it's important because you can't understand the mass, the spread of it without the contagion component. And we now know that... I'm going to try to redeem myself because I didn't know about Halloween. I know something about contagion.


That would be nice. Okay, that would be good. There we go. Okay. It's small. It's not as good as knowing about Halloween, but go ahead. Tell me about contagion, professor. Let me do what I can.


You and I have what we call mirror neurons, which is there's part of our brain that observes, let's say I'm grabbing something like a piece of food with my hand and I can see it with my eyes, but I can also feel it with my motor system because my hands are grasping it. And what they discovered in Italy, actually, about 15 years ago or so, they noticed they had these monkeys all hooked up and they had little electrodes into their synapses. And they found that when a monkey is eating a grape, let's say, there's a certain part brain that's lighting up. But then they noticed that, oh, when the monkey just watches somebody else eat the same exact neuron's fire. And so they began to do more experiments, and they found that primates and mammals like us, we mirror what's happening in another person. So if I see you getting really afraid, I actually catch the fear in my own brain.


Which makes total sense. Is that an explanation? I'm serious. Is that an explanation for yarning, maybe? Yes. Why people like, yawn. Exactly right. When they see somebody yawn and then they like, wow, that's really crazy.


It also explains porn. Okay. Here's a left turn for you.


Holy cow.


Speaking of mass hysteria.


Okay, well.


All right, go ahead. If you see someone else getting aroused, you will actually start to get aroused. That's what I've heard. I've never seen porn, but I'm told that that's how it works.


That's good. All right, that's good. Yeah, you want to maintain your standing at the university, Professor. You don't want to... Okay. But that's really interesting. And that certainly explains... I mean, because there are all these explanations for the dancing mania thing of it's a weird epilepsy. There's But it's interesting you say that, too, because there's a weird thing in both instances of this, that the color red in Northern Europe and the color black seem to drive people crazy. Really? When they saw it. But it's odd for me that you say that and you think, well, all it took was a couple of people to freak out at the color red for everybody to start freaking out the color red or the color black, or to just see somebody dancing out of control and to get that fear. So the contagion is not just a physical... It is. It's physically based, but psychologically takes effect.


It can be... Wow. Here's an example that shows you the emotional part is, if your mother, when you're a baby and your mother smiles and is also giving you a caring touch or you're being fed.


It didn't happen with me, by the way. Okay. I'm kidding. I don't know what you're talking about, but go ahead.


We need a show on that. We need a show on that.


We need a whole other show. Not in my experience, but keep talking, professor.


Okay, so Most people's mothers would smile. But Paul's mother would frown. No, if you have a correlation like that where the smiling face comes with a positive emotion- Equals, right. Then whenever you see people smile, you get a little nice warm feeling. Wow. It's totally because we're so conditionable, like we're mammals. We could condition.


That makes so much sense out of a lot of this stuff we're going to be talking. Yeah, I think so. That's amazing.


I was wondering if you want to give a... I know this is a classic example. You're the only person I know who knows so much about the Mad Gasser of Matoon.


Well, now the Mad Gasser of Matoon, sure. We can get to the Mad Gasser of Matoon. I mean, in some ways, this is going to be just a rundown of favorites because it's like, I just love a lot of this shit. All these freaky favorites. My freaky favorite. Because I do... But the Mad Gasser of Matoon is later. And again, it's 1940 in the '40s, '44 or something like that, I think, in Matoon, Illinois, which I guess is in South Central Illinois.


Yeah, it's near... It's south of Urbana, Champagne. I've driven by it before.


Right. Yeah. So It's a small town, small city in Illinois. And in the '40s, again, there's stressors because it's World War II is going on. And a lot of the young men aren't in town and stuff like that. There's a lot of women living on their own and older people and stuff like that. And I think there was even a chemical factory or something or munitions factory or something nearby. So it's like that contributes to it, too. But starting in April of '44, is this people begin experiencing. It's a couple. It starts with a couple who are in their bedroom, they're asleep, it's nighttime, and they suddenly smell something strange and they can't move their legs, and they experience paralysis in their legs. And this in over, like only about a two week period begins to catch on.


So both of them experience it? They're like, I can't move.


Both of them experienced it. Both of them experienced it, I think, I believe. And then I think maybe that night or the next day, it began happening to more people. And oftentimes it was women. And there is some thinking that sometimes in a lot of these mass delusions, and there are crazy fainting panics at girls' schools in places. I mean, there's all these, for example, not all the time, but there are certain... But in this instance, a lot of the people experience it were women, although men did, too. But this begins to happen. Strange smells, paralysis, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, all these kinds of things begin to overtaking these people. Pretty early on, one of these people says, there was a guy at the window, tall man dressed all in black with a tight-fitting skull cap.


It's not hat man.


Carrying And it's not hat, man. It's not a big hat. But it's interesting because it sounds like hat, man. It sounds like Springheel Jack. It sounds like all these- Some archetype maybe or something. It sounds like slender man. It sounds like all of these archetypes of a creepy man, a tall man in black.


Can't make out the face, That thing.


Can't make out the face. Some witnesses will say he's carrying one of those insect sprayer big... Some people will say he's got a thing like that with a rubber tube on it. People are discovering holes in their screens and are thinking he's like... But there's always a smell and it begins to increase.


So the idea is he's sticking a gas into the room and gassing them in the room.


He's gassing people in the room. One woman finds Finds a handkerchief on the porch when she comes home, smells it, and has all this stuff happen to her immediately. Oh, really? And nearby is found, and this is one of my favorite. I cannot believe I know all this shit about this. You'll look at me. I'm not even looking at notes, am I? You can see. No, you are. This is all from memory, everyone. Nearby has found a well-worn skeleton key and an empty tube of lipstick nearby. And some of the people claim it's a woman and not a man in black. And some people begin to play as a woman.


There's got to be a movie made about it. Somebody needs to make a movie.


Believe me, it would be great. Footprints, all kinds of weird shit. But it begins to get really out of control. And part of it, again, is media. It begins to hit newspapers in the area, and everybody starts pushing it along.


Does it go national or it stays local?


It goes national. No, it goes national. And vigilante squads, I think the National Guard may have even come in. I can't remember. But it's only about two weeks, and people are freaking the fuck out. And it's bad. And it takes over everybody. And then it stops.


It just stops. So it's just like a two week, one month?


Just about two weeks. It stops. And nobody's ever quite sure why it stopped, what caused it to stop, but it just stops. And it's an interesting one because it's a case study that people really love for studying this, mass hysteria and the media as a part of it. And it's used in psychology textbooks as a prime example of this stuff.


After you told me about it, I had never heard about it. After you told me about it, I do see it crop up. It does. Like, along with the witch trials, it's like the man gas It does.


It's a really... It's such a great... I mean, Mad Gasser of Matoon is not... It's a title alone. Yeah, there's no better title than that. But there is some thinking. It's interesting that was it mass hysteria? Was it driven by the media. But there is, I will not lie to you, some thinking by reputable people that maybe something was actually happening. There is some thinking that maybe somebody did do something once or twice.


It could be a psychopath or a government experiment. Let's see what this does to people and we can run a program on it. Possibly.


There's some thinking that it was toxic waste, maybe, because I think there was some, it was maybe a munitions factory or something, and there was waste being dumped around this place, which they also think maybe it was that. But it's got a lot of interesting features.


Was anybody permanently hurt by this or they would always get their legs back?


That I don't know. That's an excellent question. And all that stuff. That's an excellent question. That I don't know.


I have a theory as to why... Okay, almost every theory I can think of as to why this may happen more to women is probably not good. But here's a good theory as to why it might happen.


Are we going to get letters now?


Yeah, here come the letters. But here's Here's my theory is, if I'm right about the mirror neurons, there is a lot of argument from Anthropology and social psychology that women are much more attuned to social views and empathy than men are. That makes sense. Therefore, if anything is going to travel contagion-wise, women are going to pick it up more quickly than men are because we're like fiddling with a carburetor. I don't know.


Is that what it is? Is that what does it? Because we're all working on our car, Steve. Is that really where you're going with this?


I should add a better example.


Or maybe we're just not so empathetic. Maybe we're just assholes. Maybe it's that. Maybe we're bigger assholes. Fair enough. We have a preponderance of the asshole gene And women don't. Maybe it's that. I don't know. I don't know. But there is a TikTok. That's really interesting. That makes sense.


Tiktok. Girls are having strong influences from certain kinds of performances on TikTok. I There's actually certain maladies, like Tourette's. Kids will share the difficulties of their lives with fans. Hey, here's what it's like to live with Tourette's. And then some of their fans will actually acquire some of the symptoms and traits.


I've seen that. That's interesting. I've seen that. That's really interesting. Not so crazy sounding. And interestingly, again, I think about these dancing manias, and one of them was literally started by one person, by one woman, and all accounts, I mean, it's- She's out there cutting her rug. For the Middle Ages, it's pretty accurate. You get the woman's name and everything. I can't remember what it is. I'm like, wow, somebody was really keeping pretty good records about this shit. But it's like from many sources, there was one person. And conceivably, it might have been somebody suffering from something like that. Yes. And that was enough at that time to freak the shit out of people because it was unknown and it was something so... It seems so strange.


What is Saint Vitus or Saint Vitus?


That's what they started calling it Saint St. Vitus's Dance. Because I think- That's a real thing. Well, but it is. Now I think it relates to a lot of like Huntington's Korea and stuff like that. Yeah, there's neurological. Yeah, that it's neurological. But I think that's because one of the first instances of it happened in some parish where that was the church with St. Vitus's. And so he became associated with people trying to cure themselves of this. So a lot of people would make these crazy-ass pilgrimages, everybody just fucking dancing and leaping around. I forget we can't see ourselves anymore. Everybody just fucking dancing around.


You should see Paul right now, people.


Yeah, thank you. It was uncanny. It was terrifying what I was doing. Like dancing around and heading to try to get cured. And you would go to any site that was related to St. Vitus was seen, I think, too.


Did people dance so much that they died?


Died. Some people... There's some controversy about whether people actually did die, but there's I'm thinking that some people did die.


I don't think I can dance for more than an hour without... I did a workout and I've been in pain ever since.


Yeah, I would just be in pain. Really? You think you'd drop if you dance? Yeah. I wonder. I tell you, if I got out on the dance floor, I'd be everybody else would die, baby.


You could start a revolution.


Dance revolution. I'd kill everybody, baby. I'd kill everybody. There's another interesting factor of this stuff that relates to the Middle Ages ones, which are interesting to me, which is this whole ergot funk guy. Yes, I've heard about that. I don't know that much about this, but ergot poisoning is a thing that a lot of people think can be... They attribute it to a lot of crazy visionary poetry in the Middle Ages, these kinds of religious visions and stuff, is that it's a particular mold that grows in certain kinds of grains. Am I right about this? Yeah. I think rye and different cereals and rye, which a lot of these places, this is what they were making their bread out of. And bread was like it. You ate bread. I mean, people, you may have eaten a lot of other things, but you for sure ate bread in the Middle Ages.


You didn't eat a lot of other things.


You didn't eat a lot of other things. Maybe if you were rich, you ate some fucking- You once ate a peach. Deer meat that had been sitting around for a while that somebody put a shit ton of salt on and serve to the king, and this was a delicacy. But bread was definitely like, and this mole grows on it, and it has some active ingredient in it that's related to LSD, isn't it?


Yes, that's what I've heard. It does cause hallucinations.


So it causes mass hallucinations. And it's horrible, too. I didn't know that it really... Ergot poisoning can kill you. It can cause gangrene and stuff like that, too. Oh, can it really? Yeah. So in a lot of these medieval paintings, you see these people who look like lepers and stuff, and they think that they're actually supposed to be sufferers of ergot poisoning. And so that it's like that there's a similar thing. But that, Hieronymus Bosch, that great- Oh, great painter. Flemish medieval painter who painted these pictures of hell and paradise, and they're crazy. They're really- They're bananas. They're totally nuts. And some people are like, he was eating a lot of bread.


Yeah, his stuff looks trippy as hell. Yeah, it does. Surrealism hundreds of years before Salvador Dali. It's fantastic. Right?


And some of that stuff, you look at it and you think, I don't know, maybe there's something to it. I sometimes don't like theories like this because it feels like it reduces stuff down to like, if he hadn't eaten that moldy bread, he wouldn't have had these great... It wouldn't be those great paintings. It's like, sometimes I feel a little bit like it can be reductive.


Yeah, but see, look at like, so how many other people ate all this erygaid bread and they just went, they just had a connipption and laid down and never did anything.


They just yelled at their kids or something. He took it somewhere.


He made it into something great.


That's true. I suppose that makes it worth it.


But I think a little bit, I'm not sure I'm getting this right. I'm sure listeners will correct me, but I believe ergot in a very small portion is ptosin, which helps the female give birth because it actually causes contractions in the uterus. We're all back to the uterus. Really? Yeah, we've come full circle.


That's fascinating. It really is. That's crazy.


Yeah. Really? Yeah, I believe that that's true.


Well, this is interesting. I don't want to die on that hill. No, I don't want you to die there either, buddy. I'll be right there with you. All right. And if we're in the fox hole together in this shit.


Somebody will correct us.


Absolutely. Absolutely. Hopefully somebody corrects us. But that's interesting because there's some thinking that ergot poisoning relates to the Salem witch trials. Yes. That some of what these women maybe were experiencing that led people to say they were witches was a result of ergot poisoning, which is very interesting. It would explain it. And also what you just said, too.


Because you have hallucinations.


Hallucinations. That's really interesting. Paranoia. Yeah. But again, that takes away from, again, men just being assholes, too.


Well, men were also accused of being witches then, too. I know mostly women went down for it. But if you look at the whole history of witch hunting, a lot of men were also accused of witchcraft. It definitely wasn't gender-specific, but I do think women took the brunt of it, probably.


And they were called a word that I really love warlocks, which is a word that I really like. That is a cool- That was a time where I thought of changing my name to Paul Warlock.


Paul Warlock.


Just Warlock, not Jibadi. No, that's like a stage. It's like a professional name.


It's a professional name. Your career would have had a different path. You think so?


I wonder. That's an interesting... That's a whole other interesting topic, which is names. How much do names matter? Again, as psychological memes or whatever, as this shared thing, how much does a name make a difference?


Do you think your name has prevented you or gotten you jobs?


From the greatness I could have achieved. It has helped me back. It has helped me back From being at the pinnacle of my profession, Steve. Koro, K-O-R-O.




Is a form of mass delusion and panic that you told me you had never heard of, which I have not heard.


I have not heard that. That sounds Japanese. K-o-r-o. It is widespread all over the world.


So we can get out of Europe. We can get out of Europe and talk about the world. Koro is a shared delusion. I mean, it can afflict an individual, but it can become mass. And it is a fear of genital retraction or shrinkage. Now, this happens to men. It can happen to women. Or penis theft in general, which apparently is mostly related, is mostly occurs in African countries. Wow. That your penis is being stolen by a witch for retribution for a witch, witch doctor, warlock, whatever. And so it is this fear that my penis is shrinking or retracting into my body and it's going to disappear or somebody has stolen it. And it becomes, and apparently the Chinese in China, it's a real thing. And a lot of these kinds of folk remedies you hear about. Tiger Penis and.


I've done some of them.


Is it Steven Asma for Koro sufferers? Should we have a hole? But have you done some of those things? Really?


I've done them because only in the sense that all... Tcm, which is traditional Chinese medicine, is available everywhere. Sort of a light version, like tease and roots and animal parts. Yeah. And every time I did, because I lived in China on and off for a couple of years, every time I would do something, like I was sick or I had a cold or whatever, they'd take this and here's a ground up femur. Tincture of this animal.


Tincture of tiger penis. Tiger penis is a big one.


Well, those things are illegal now. So they are controlled. But you can get all kinds of animal parts, a lot of like scorpion in alcohol and stuff like that. I think I told you the story about drinking turtle blood.


Yeah, but it's always a good one to trot out again. Although actually, we agreed that we would never actually hear the story. You would just say that you're drunk turtle blood once. Okay.


No, it's very good. But they always added on like, Hey, this is going to be good for your cold, but also your penis is going to get bigger.


Yeah, well, apparently, it's quite prevalent in China. I saw that Koro is actually fairly well known. What did you surprise me? But Koro is just one of this just extraordinary litany of weird things.


That reminds me there's a witch hunting manual by a German named Instatorus. I know where you're going with this. You're not talking about this. You remember this? And he said they believe that through witchcraft, that witches could steal the penis.


Steal your penis. Yeah.


And he tells this hilarious story where they find that all the penises have been stored in a nest up a tree.


That's right.


And this guy climbs to the top and the guy is missing his penis is like, Could you fish out a bigger one?


Right. Exactly. That's the Malleus Maleficarum. Yes. Well done. The Hammer of witches. The Hammer of witches. And it was a handbook for finding witches. It was a handbook that was like, if you need, here's how you find your witches, fellows. Here's your book. It's an amazing book. You'll know the questions to ask. You'll know what to look for, the signs to look for. Yeah, it is an amazing book. That's incredible. But there's so many... I just want to run down just a brief because now I will consult my notes because it's like there's just too many... The Tanganyika laughing epidemic of 1962, the Hammersmith Ghost Hysteria, the Halifax Slasher. Wait, what's that one? The Halifax Slasher. The Hammersmith Ghost Hysteria is basically exactly what it sounds like. 1803, people freaking out because there were ghosts being seen in that part of London, and everybody freaks out. The Tanganyika laughing academic was in what is now Tanzania in 1962, in missionary schools in Africa, the children having these massive laughing outbreaks that wouldn't stop. They can't stop themselves laughing. It went on for weeks. Hysterical laughing. And again, they think it's because, as I said, like I just said, it's going from Tangen Yika to being Tanzania.


And so there's political stresses.




And a lot of it- Independence, fighting. Independence, exactly. And a lot of it was missionary schools. So you have this conservative colonial culture raising these kids. And at the same time, I mean, this is an interesting theory. That's very interesting. You have all these new ideas and ideas about independence from all this shit.


So they think that that could be a stressor on it. If you feel stress and you have no way to express it because of political or social constraints, then maybe it just has to go somewhere. And so it just comes out of the body in this weird deviant way, laughing, dancing, hitting people.


Yeah, that's interesting. Except here's one that I really love, the Seattle Wind shield Pitting epidemic of 1954.


Who was that?


The Seattle I came across this because I was doing some research about this. It's not like I know everything about this. I was looking and I came across the Seattle Wind shield Pitting epidemic of 1954. People starting to be like, wait a second, there's weird holes in my windshield. Oh my God. What's happening here? Vandals? No, no. It's sand fleets. No, no. It's cosmic rays. And as the media got a hold of this, it got crazier and crazier. It spiraled. Is it radio frequencies from the new crazy giant radio tower they just built outside of town? And it spiraled into this crazy thing because of people finding all these little holes in their windshields. It's 1954. Abruptly stops again, which is weird because maybe the media loses interest. Maybe then after two weeks, they're going to lose interest if nothing's happening.


They're going to go on to something else.


And a theory, too, about that is people for the first time were looking at their winds and going, there's a lot of people were like, what? I mean, there's holes. I'm like, what the fuck? They're looking at their winds and starting to freak the fuck out.


They were They were always there. In other words.


They were always there. It's one of the things that people were saying. It's like you've always got a whole little pince in your fucking windshield, especially in 1954. I'm sure the glass was far less like, shitty glass. And it's like you're getting all this. But I I have that. I'm like, the fucking Seattle, that's fucking crazy.


It's so specific. It's got the year, the town.


So specific. But this brings us up. Now we can't because we don't... But this brings us, actually, we should get to the most current one that we're experiencing. What What's that? Which is Havana syndrome. Oh, yes. This is very interesting. Which is current to us now. Yeah. Is actually we have been, all of us have lived through, which might be ongoing, I'm not sure, a great example of what some people are calling a mass panic or mass hysteria or mass delusion.


Describe what it is for people who don't know.


But there's conflicting thoughts about it, too. Yeah, exactly. But it is in Cuba in, what was it? 2012, maybe, I think.


I think it's all in the last 15 years, maybe even 10 years.


Easily, yeah. Last 10 years or so. We've opened up to Cuba. All of these government workers, State Department, military, Defense Department people in Cuba, begin to experience strange headaches, nausea, dizziness, strangeness, motor problems, all these kinds of things. And it becomes a huge... And then it begins to crop up in other places, too, all over the world.


And usually like diplomatic offices within other countries. Embassies.


But even so far as people in DC claiming it happening and somebody working right near the White House, I think people working right near the White House claiming it's happening. Yes. And a thousand people, I think a thousand documented cases.


Oh, is that many? Something like that.


Yeah. And so it's bizarre. It's puzzling. People claiming that they're hearing weird sounds, strange- Like tones? Tones and things like that. Some people, if I remember right, saying they're in the room and in a certain part of the room they hear it, and in another part of it, they don't hear it. So this whole idea that it's a directional Sonic weapon begins to develop. Okay. Like a gun that's shooting a sound wave that's actually damaging the brain or something. That's doing something to the brain. And then there's a lot of investigation if this goes on. And there's some, as I remember, there were some highly reputable institutions testing this and saying, yes, people's brains are swelling. People are experiencing something unique. People are experiencing something that we don't know what the explanation for it is. I don't know if it's unique, but they don't know what's causing it.


I think that it's like the UFOs, too. There's a certain number of them that have been explained by other underlying medical conditions or phenomena. But then there's another number of them, let's say it's one-third, which are currently unexplained. And so they're open to this theory that it could be a weapon.


And there's enough of those going on that it causes some...


But some people say psychosomatic. Some people say it's in the head of the person.


Which is what a lot of people say about these ones. It And as we were saying before, there's a lot of these things happen at schools where there's mass faintings or mass nausea or people having headaches or people like... And that this seems similar in that it's like... But what's interesting is it isn't... Yeah, Yeah. It's one person experiencing it on their own. You're not around a bunch of people that it's happening to, which is interesting. But then you can talk to others. Yeah. Then you can talk to others and that can start to happen. And so I think the CIA and the defense and national defense have said, there's nothing that we can determine is happening, but they're still saying they want to help the victims of it, which is good. In fact, there's a thing called Helping American Victims Affected by Neurological Attacks has been said by the government, which is an acronym. Havana is the acronym.




Helping American Victims Affected by Neurological Attack. Can you imagine being the guy who realized he could make an acronym? That was Havana. He's like, I'm going for a beer. That was a good day of work for that guy. That guy, the intern who came in was like, oh, my God. Nailed it. Yeah, totally. The fucking Capitol Hill intern who's just like, oh, shit. Perfect. Well, that It was a ton of fun. We really hope you enjoyed this Chinwag. Thank you for listening. We have bonus content coming your way in a few days, so please keep an eye out for that. And don't forget to like us, follow us, rate us, and review us, all that good stuff. We love to hear from you. And until next time, Wagon.


Chinwag is a production of Trefort Media and Touchy Feeley Films, hosted and executive-produced by Paul Giamatti and Steven Asma. Executive producers for Trefort are Kelly Garner and Lisa Amerman. Dan Cerry is executive producer for Touchy Feeley. Our series producer is Rachel Whitley Bernstein. Original theme music by Luke Top with additional music by Via Mardot. Oscar Guido is our executive in charge of production. Tom Monahan is head of audio for Trefort. Audio production supervision by Matt Dyson. Editing and mixing by Jeff Neill. Animation created by Research assistance by Aiden Brooks. Lastly, for more information, go to chinwagpod. Fm, and find us on Instagram or TikTok at Chinwagpod or on Twitter at chinwag_pod..