Any Sufficiently Advanced Technology …

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… is indistinguishable from magic. According to BBC News:

A rumour has spread rapidly in the commercial capital, Lagos [Nigeria], that if one answers calls from certain "killer numbers" then one will die immediately.

A BBC reporter says experts and mobile phone operators have been reassuring the public via the media that death cannot result from receiving a call.

[…]

The BBC's reporter in Lagos, Sola Odunfa, says that the current scare story is reminiscent of a rumour that spread a few years ago that a handshake could cause sexual organs to disappear.

That rumour turned to tragedy as mobs rounded on people accused of making organs disappear.

I wonder how one qualifies as an "expert" in mobile phone death ray technology.

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  1. Ahh, at last a way to respond to Nigerian spammers.

  2. After spending a month in East Africa this year I can confirm that all problems in that region are caused by a combination of the CIA, Demons and Technology.

  3. As a side note, I really wish the CIA were as effective as Boda Boda drivers in Kampala tell me it is.

  4. I wonder how one qualifies as an “expert” in mobile phone death ray technology.

    Probably the same way that most pundits on cable news shows are invariably “experts” on whatever the topic at hand is.

    For that matter, probably the same way that annoying blog commenters (e.g. me) pass ourselves off as experts.

    “My degree in mobile phone death ray technology is from the University of Upmianus”

  5. University of Upmianus? You losers! We always kick your ass!

  6. These people are almost as ridiculous as the people who believe in John Frum “Cargo Cults” and the people who think that Clinton was responsible for balancing the budget back in the ’90s.

  7. I can’t imagine why Africa is so poor when it’s clearly capable of generating valuable horror-movie concepts…

  8. Actually, it’s not answering the phone from the “killer number” that gets you; it’s listening to the “killer joke” that the telemarketing machine on the other end replays for you. If they weren’t so blinded by superstition, and had bothered to investigate the phenomenon scientifically, they would have discovered the truth. Savages.

  9. Last year (I think), when the papers were reporting on how Kenya was declining GM food from America, one story ran a couple quotes from Kenyan citizens talking about how the U.S. was trying to poison them through those handouts. At the time, I assumed the reporter only used quotes from the 2 kooks he/she could find, and that the real reason for declining the food was political, a decision made by a nourished government that cared little about its citizens.

    While I still believe these governments are pure shit, this story and another ( http://www.marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2004/week27/ ) have convinced me that these people still live and think as people did 5000 years ago. How can these countries ever develop, if any foreign company’s plant that gets built there gets pillaged and burned down for being owned by evil, imperialist, voodoo priests.

  10. Of course, we laugh, but here in the U.S. we have evangelical Christian congregations who believe in things nearly, if not equally, as silly. Back in my youthful Christian days, when my then-fiancee bought a new car, the entire congregation gathered around, lay hands on the car, and the minister prayed to “bind the demons of mechanical failure, and the demons of car accidents, in Jesus’s name, amen.” And yes, they did (and do — my mother-in-law still attends this church) believe in real “demons of mechanical failure et al.,” actual spirit beings dispatched by Satan to attack faithful Christians.

  11. And yes, they did (and do — my mother-in-law still attends this church) believe in real “demons of mechanical failure et al.,” actual spirit beings dispatched by Satan to attack faithful Christians.

    So why is it that atheists, non-Christians, and less-than-pure-Christians (e.g. me) get mechanical failures? Is it that the bad stuff happening to them is the fault of Satan and the bad stuff happening to everybody else is God’s punishment?

  12. Practice for the demons.

  13. Phil,
    So did mechanics perform exorcisms on the side?

    I make fun only because my mom is convinced that people can give you the evil eye.

  14. Here in Knoxville a couple kids from a house church went to the mother of a girl who had just died in a car accident. They told her that God wanted them to pray over the dead girl, because he had raised people from the dead in the past, and that he wanted them to do the same. For some strange reason the mother gave them permission, so they went to the funeral home and prayed over this girl’s corpse. Needless to say, it didn’t work. Kinda scary, and that’s coming from someone planning on seminary and the priesthood.

  15. I knew a CPA who continued his accounting practice after becoming an ordained minister. I just had to ask him whether or not you can charge a premium to get your tax return done by an ordained minister, but I didn’t get a straight answer. All he said was “Render unto Caesar what it Caesar’s…”

  16. Thoreau — Those were demons too, but the “unsaved” didn’t have the gift of discernment of spirits (1 Cor 12), so they weren’t aware they could call on the name of Jesus to bind them.

    As funny and mock-worthy as any Nigerian Phone Number Demons, I’ll tell ya.

  17. Plenty of Westerners have equally absurd superstitions. The miracle of transubstantiation? Not only absurd, but a significant yuck factor as well.

  18. “How can these countries ever develop, if any foreign company’s plant that gets built there gets pillaged and burned down for being owned by evil, imperialist, voodoo priests.”

    I see a difference in blessing a mechanical device, which is a waste of time but basically harmless, and burning down a factory that might employ people in the area and make useful products for many people in the culture.

    Perhaps if their priests just blessed the factory they could keep their values and culture intact, while profiting from the darn thing?

  19. There are some of us here in the USA who would fit right into a pre-modern society.

    http://www.jsonline.com/news/metro/jul04/242610.asp

    Minister convicted of felony child abuse
    Exorcism that killed boy may bring 5 years in prison

    Kevin

  20. Killer phone numbers are nothing. I heard of this evil videotape….

  21. Phil,

    I am a trained engineer and I can report that after decades of careful research and consultation with numerous other engineers there are demons of mechanical failue. And electrical failure too.

    In fact we have found rituals that actually work in exocising the demons. But I can tell you for a fact that the Christian stuff doesn’t work. Believing in Jesus has no effect on machines one way or another. However, belief in machines is absolutely essential for the proper and continuing function of said machines.

    Simple example: ever notice how the copier most often fails when a person who hates copying is using the machine?

    I rest my case.

  22. A friend of mine’s Dad is a mechanic for European import cars. As a joke, he used to tie vegetables underneath the engine of cars he worked on and would tell customers that the European engineers recommended it to ward a way evil spirits. Apparently most people believed him. 🙂

  23. James Anderson Merritt wrote:

    “Actually, it’s not answering the phone from the “killer number” that gets you; it’s listening to the “killer joke” that the telemarketing machine on the other end replays for you.”

    So now Nigeria is being threatened by a Monty Python skit…

  24. Our local D.A. is regularly criticized for undercharging malefactors, in order to maintain a high conviction rate. The jury could have convicted on an even lesser charge.

    http://www.jsonline.com/news/metro/jul04/242424.asp

    The defense tried to make the case that the medications the boy was on for his autism were the actual cause of his death. The D.A.’s office probably feared that, had they charged the “minister” with something tougher, – manslaughter, for example – the jury wouldn’t convict. The real surprise was that this went to trial at all. The prosecutors here usually arrange a plea. Perhaps the defendant truly believed he was innocent, and wouldn’t take one.

    Kevin

  25. MAY bring FIVE years in prison?

    What the fudge?

    Do priests, pastors, ministers, etc. receive a Get Out of Jail Free card when they sign up?

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