This morning the Rationalists of East Tennessee had a very entertaining speaker — an “investigator of the paranormal” who, taking a break from his experimentation with dowsing (turns out it works better when you stand in a river, by the way), explained the origins of Halloween. I particularly liked his explanation of “ritualized gourd mutilation” and the traumatic effects it can have on children, as well as Christianity’s co-option of pagan holidays and sanitizing them through the subversive use of greeting cards and candy.
I’ve also seen comedians flirt with women in the audience before, and it’s all in good fun. So when he hit on my wife during his schtick, it was to the great amusement of the entire crowd (and myself) that she threw him for a loop. He also thought that guy sitting on the other side of her, not me, was her husband. His presentation of “Pfighting Psychics” and exploration of how paranormal activists could use a Chevreul pendulum orientation technique to contribute to the war effort was also quite funny — even if the joke was telegraphed.
He also admitted, in response to my question, that he has not investigated the reported phenomenon of the chupacabra. Apparently, he does not like investigating scary paranormal events, because if they turn out to be real, then he will have to confront something dangerous rather than relatively harmless anomalous luminosities. Can’t say as I blame him.