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Dancing Plague


JadedAtheist
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I've been addicted to crack (yes, terrible pun I know) this last week after reading a few articles linked here and I read one here about a bunch of terrifying diseases that they don't have a cure for or know how/where they came about from. Anyways, I pretty much took all of them in stride and wasn't bothered in the slightest except for the first one mentioned. It has completely unnerved me like you wouldn't believe.

 

To be honest, the first thought on my mind (and I haven't thought religiously in a very long time now mind you) was this has to be demonic or something. I had trouble sleeping after reading about it last night and even now just mentioning it to a friend has completely unnerved me again. I don't know how to explain why it's so unnerving, it just is. I guess it's because it's not "expected"; bleeding, dying, going crazy are all "normal" symptoms of a disease but this isn't.

 

It also doesn't help that the possible explanations suck. I was also convinced that it couldn't be real until reading up on several sources. Anyways, anyone else get what I mean about the unnerving part? Better yet, plausible explanations for its cause so I can sleep again? :P

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dancing_Plague_of_1518

 

Why do you fret so much over this. Isn't the explanaition given o wiki plausible enough. Masshypnosis is not uncommon, (You must have noticed in church), people led to belived they are possed are frequent in history. Think about the witch trials.

 

Another example is the "Devils of Loudon"

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Devils_of_Loudun

 

We can go back to the 19th century where the Dr Charcot made a spectacle of his poor female patients at the looney bin "La Salpetriere" who all experienced spectacular physical convulsions and delusional acts. Charocot didn't believe in demons only in female hysteria. And a lot of mes still do. :) Maybe humans sometimes can react like lemmings and do harm to themselves inspired by a group. Think about Jim Jones and other sects.

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I'm fairly skeptical of "mass hypnosis" or any psychological phenomena that supposedly occurs in group settings. Whenever it's thrown out there it always seems like "well, that's the most technical and plausible reason I can give without saying witchcraft". Now, I know it isn't demonic or whatever but whatever caused it can still be "out there" so to speak.

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I meant a lot of MEN still do. I can't find an edit button.

 

I was also thinking about demonic possesion very often reported through history. Voodoo and such, when a person might die on the spot ,practically scared to death because he belived that somebody could kill him through sticking pins in a ragdoll.

 

Maybe you caught some sort of temporary supercticious flue or something. I wish you a speedy recovery!

 

I scare myself much to often so I do understand you. I easily obsess over things like this but usually acceptythe sanest explanation and i think there are such here.

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The problem with trying to explain this "dancing disease" that occurred in 1518 is that it occurred in 1518. The proper way to determine a cause for something like that is to do a study to determine whether the individuals had been exposed to some bacteria, virus or whatever. You are probably too young to remember when AIDS first showed itself in the early 1980s, but it was quite the mystery for sometime. A number of mostly young people began developing these rare diseases and dying from them. As more and more people developed these rare diseases, it got the attention of the medical establishment who then began studying it more closely. They determined that most (though not all) of those who were developing these rare diseases were male homosexuals and there were also intravanous drug users who developed the diseases. And what did these groups have in common? It was exposure to bodily fluids of others. The male homosexuals were exposed to their partner's semen and the intravenous drug users were sharing needles and so were exposed to the blood of others. Then it turned out that people like hemophiliacs who needed blood transfusions began developing the same rare diseases like others had. Well that narrowed it down pretty well that transmission to whatever was causing this had to do with blood and other bodily fluids. And when more and more heterosexuals began developing these rare diseases, it became clearer and clearer that it was not just male homosexual sexual activity that put a person at risk, but also heterosexual sexual activity. Then, finally, HIV was discovered and we had our cause along with mode of transmission.

 

My point in all of that is to say that in 1518 the type of sophistication that was present in the 1980s to determine the cause of a disease and mode of transmission was virtually non-existent. Assuming this Dancing Plague was an actual disease, we will probably never know its cause nor its form of transmission because those alive in 1518 had no idea how to go about the task of determining such things.

 

Bottom line: it was not demonic possession any more than what we later named AIDS was god's judgment on male homosexuals and intravenous drug users as so many people were so fond of saying when AIDS first surfaced.

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Yes (what Overcame Faith said).

 

My Husband is reading a book about Salem for school, right now. He was reading it out loud to me and it just boggled my mind.

 

When he was done reading we talked about the crucible a little bit. The author of that book wrote about it as if the girls were nefarious, attention-seeking conspirators. I wonder if they were, or if it was some sort of mass-hysteria. But mostly, I wish I could know more about their environments. They may have been exposed to a toxin or a parasite that excited the temporal lobes causing visions/seizures, etc. And many epileptic maladies can be "set off" by suggestion. For instance people with auditory hallucinations, try not to think/talk about it many times...because this can cause the event to happen (read about this in "Musicophilia").

So every time a preacher would come to investigate, these girls threw dramatic fits.

Demons? No

Seizures? maybe

Conspiracy? Possible.

 

Interestingly, husband agreed with me on this.

 

Funny how god and spiritual warfare are s'possed to be real, but we can dismiss this event as "not witchcraft". Next time we talk about it, I am going to tell him that I believe that they were witches, cause the bible said not to suffer a witch, God said it, I believe it.

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Great post! I am really susceptible to spiritual fearmongering but in cases like this actually not so much. You have nailed it!

 

I am a lot more scared about that people in the modern world can be for example Calvinists and that some of them are politicians and many people vote for them. I am scared of people who seems intelligent and good people who still defend cruel dogmas and refuse to see the goodness in people who don't adhere to these.

 

And once again. What is so hard to buy about the idea of masspsychosis? You have watched Darren Brown's videos, J A, I hope. Otherwise, please do!

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