15 Ways We Handle The Dead

Human beings, it would seem, have a fascination with death. While most of us would tend to agree that it is something best avoided, it also holds a sense of wonder for us. As the short story “The Body” by Stephen King (later made into the film Stand by Me) graphically illustrates, even as children, we are drawn by the allure of the dead. Just consider how many ways we have of saying that someone has died; Wikipedia counts at least 80, and there are doubtless dozens more.

But nowhere is our fascination with death exemplified as much as how we treat our dead. In most Western countries, death is celebrated with a (often solemn) ceremony, and the deceased is interred in a necropolis, a city of the dead (more colloquially known as a graveyard or cemetery). The burial site is often given a marker or memorial so the deceased may be remembered by future visitors to the site. Of course, funeral rites vary from place to place, but in most cases, great care and ceremony are involved.

Here I present (in no particular order) the 15 most common means of putting someone’s mortal remains to rest.

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Aquamation is the most environment-friendly way of disposal of human bodies. The process involves the rapid disintegration of the human body into high quality fertilizers. In comparison with cremation, about 10% of the energy is used, and all of the associated pollution is avoided.

With Aquamation, an individual body is gently placed in a clean, stainless steel vessel. A combination of water flow, temperature (~90C) and alkalinity are used to accelerate the natural course of tissue hydrolysis. Typically the process takes about four hours to complete.

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Burial is the act of interring a person or object in the ground, and is probably the simplest and most common method of disposing of a body.
Burial is generally accepted to be one of the earliest detectable forms of religious practice, and many hominid remains have been discovered interred with grave goods, or with obvious signs of ceremony. Even today, most burials are presided over by a religious figure, and in many cultures they are conducted with great reverence.

In some cultures, exactly how one is buried may make all the difference. Christian burials, for example, often demand that the body be laid flat, with arms and legs extended and aligned east-west, with the head at the western end of the grave. This is to allow them to view the coming of Christ on Judgment day. In Islam, the head is pointed toward and the face turned to Mecca. Warriors in some ancient cultures were interred upright, and an upside down position is typically symbolic of suicides, or as a punishment.

It is interesting to note that humans are not alone in their practice of burying the dead, either. Chimpanzees and elephants have been observed to cover dead family members with leaves and branches. An elephant that trampled a mother and child buried the remains under a pile of leaves.

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Burial at sea is the term used for the procedure of disposing of human remains in the ocean. Many cultures have regulations to make burial at sea accessible, and it is fast becoming a popular choice. In the United States, ashes must be scattered no less than three nautical miles from the shore, and bodies given over to the sea must be buried in locations of at least 600 feet depth.

Traditionally, the service is conducted by the captain or commanding officer of the ship or aircraft. Possibilities include burial in a weighted casket, burial in an urn, being sewn into sailcloth or scattering the cremated remains. Burial at sea by aircraft is normally done only with cremated remains. It is also possible to have the ashes mixed with concrete to form an artificial reef. This gives the deceased a form of immortality by allowing their remains to contribute to an entire ecosystem.

Most major religions permit burial at sea, and some have very specific rituals concerning it. Islam and Judaism both prefer burials on land, but both have allowances for maritime burials, should the need (or desire) arise.

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Entombment is the act of placing human remains in a structurally enclosed space, or burial chamber. This differs from burial in that the body is not consigned directly to the earth, but rather is kept within a specially designed sealed chamber. There are many different forms of tombs, from mausoleums (specifically built for this purpose), to elaborate (and often decorative) family crypts, to a simple cave with a sealed entrance. A mausoleum is typically an above-ground structure, but a tomb may also be an underground chamber.

Tombs may be designed for singular use, or may serve to house the remains of several generations. Individual remains within a tomb are often sealed in coffins or sarcophagi, though in some cases they are placed in interment niches. Tombs may belong to families, religious organizations or even entire cities. Catacombs, such as the famed Parisian catacombs, are a form of tomb (as well as a mass grave), and in some cases, as with the Capuchin Catacombs of Palmero, serve as macabre tourist attractions.

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Dismemberment involves cutting, tearing, pulling, wrenching or otherwise removing, the limbs of some creature. It is typically committed after death, for a specific purpose, but on occasion has been the cause of death.

Until the late 19th Century, hanging, drawing and quartering was a common punishment for high treason. This involved the offender being dragged through the streets by a horse while tied to a hurdle, then being hanged by the neck until nearly dead (but certainly still alive), having the vital organs removed from the abdomen and burned in front of them (males were typically castrated at this time, as well, and their genitals also burned), then being decapitated and the body cut into four pieces. The head and pieces were then typically boiled and displayed as a warning to others. In the Netherlands and Belgium, those convicted of regicide had their arms and legs tied to horses and the abdomen sliced open.

In modern times, the most likely reasons for dismemberment are to hide the identity of the deceased, or to make the corpse more accessible for transport or fitting into tight spaces. Thus, it is typically performed postmortem. Because fingerprints, hair samples, facial modeling and toe prints can all be used to indicate identity, there are good reasons why many murderers take the extra time to do this.

Dismemberment has also been practiced in the past on the bodies of Catholic saints, as their earthly remains are considered to be holy relics.

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Cremation is the process of reducing dead bodies to basic chemical compounds in the form of gases and bone fragments. This is most often performed in a crematorium, though some cultures, such as India, do practice open-air cremation. Generally, temperatures of no less than 1500oF are required to ensure complete disintegration.

After the process is complete, the dry bone fragments that remain are swept out of the retort (the chamber in which the body is immolated) and passed through a cremulator. This machine grinds the bones into a fine, sand-like powder.
In some cultures or regions, pulverization may be performed by hand. These “ashes” are then provided to the family to be kept, scattered or interred in a traditional grave.

In Japanese and Thai funeral traditions, the bones are not pulverized (unless requested by the deceased). Instead, family members sift through the remains and remove the bones with special chopsticks intended for this purpose. There is a great deal of ceremony involved in this process. The bones of the feet are picked first, with the bones of the head being placed in the urn last. This is done so that the deceased will not be upside down in the urn. The urn is then kept in a place of honor or a small shrine within the home.

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In the late years of the 20th Century, it became the vogue to be “buried in space,” that is, to have a small part of the cremated remains placed into a capsule (about the size of a tube of lipstick) and launched into space using a rocket. Since 2004, there have been about 150 space burials.

This option is not commonly chosen, as it can be quite expensive and only one company currently specializes in providing this service. In most cases, the remains are fired into Earth orbit, though some have been launched into other trajectories, including to the moon, Pluto, and deep space. Famous people who have been “buried” in space include James Doohan (“Scotty” of Star Trek fame), Gene Roddenberry (creator of the aforementioned Star Trek), Timothy Leary (American writer, psychologist, and drug campaigner), Clyde Tombaugh (American astronomer and discoverer of Pluto), Dr. Eugene Shoemaker (Astronomer and co-discoverer of the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9), and Leroy Gordon “Gordo” Cooper, Jr. (American astronaut and one of the original Mercury Seven pilots).

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The Egyptians are perhaps the best-known adherents of this process (although they are far from the only ones), in which a corpse has its skin and organs preserved, by either intentional or incidental exposure to chemicals, extreme cold, very low humidity or lack of air. The oldest mummy found to date was a decapitated head that dates back to 6000 BC. The earliest Egyptian mummy dates back to about 3300 BC.

The Egyptian mummification process is well-known to modern science, through opportunities to study mummies from that culture, and by means of references from Egyptian and other classical accounts, as well as paintings in tombs that demonstrate the process. In short, the internal organs are removed and dried out using natron, and are then placed either in canopic jars, or else made into four packages to be reinserted into the body cavity. The brain is scrambled by means of a hook run up through the nasal cavity, then pulled out through the nose and discarded. The heart was considered to be the organ associated with intelligence and life force.

The body cavity would then be washed out with spiced palm wine and filled with dry natron gum resin and vegetable matter. It was then placed in a bath of natron and left for as long as 70 days. This would dehydrate the body and better preserve the skin. The body cavity was then excavated and refilled with permanent stuffing, and, often, the viscera packages. The abdominal incision was closed, the nostrils plugged with wax, and the body anointed with oils and gum resins. The remains would then be wrapped in layers of linen bandages, between which amulets were inserted to guard the deceased from danger and evil.

But it is also possible for a body to undergo natural mummification. The extreme cold of a glacier in the Ötztal Alps resulted in the mummification of a hunter who lived about 5,300 years ago, now known as Ötzi the Iceman. Bog bodies, who were victims of murder or ritual sacrifice, are a common find in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Germany, Scandinavia Denmark.

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Also known as anthropophagy, cannibalism has been recorded throughout history and continues to be practiced even today. Specifically, it is the act of humans eating other humans. If humans are specifically killed to be eaten, it is called homicidal cannibalism. If the practice is restricted to those already dead, it is called necro-cannibalism. There are two kinds of cannibalistic social behavior: endocannibalism (the act of consuming humans from the same community) and exocannibalism (eating humans from other communities).

Cannibalism may be practiced for a number of reasons. Among primitive peoples, it was often believed that consuming an individual’s flesh could grant their abilities to the cannibal. Cannibalism might also be performed simply because the cannibal enjoys the taste, as a form of insult to the dead, or to honor them.

Cannibalism has long served as a recurrent theme in myth and legend, dating back to Ancient Greece, with stories of Cronus, an elder god who was said to have devoured his children. Baba Yaga is a famous Russian cannibal, and the Brothers Grimm related the story of Hansel and Gretel, in which two young children, left in the woods to die by their parents, find a cottage made of cake and gingerbread. The building turns out to be the residence of a cannibalistic hag who enjoys the tender flesh of young children and plans to cook and eat the pair, but is slain by the cleverness of the children.

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Cryonics is the low-temperature preservation of humans and animals who can no longer be sustained by contemporary medicine, with the hope that healing and resuscitation may be possible in the future. Because, in the United States, cryonics can only be legally performed on humans after they have been pronounced legally dead, procedures ideally begin within minutes of cardiac arrest and use cryoprotectants to prevent ice formation during cryopreservation. However, the idea of cryonics also includes the preservation of people after longer post-mortem delays because of the possibility that brain structures encoding memory and personality may still persist or be inferable. Whether sufficient brain information still exists for cryonics to work under some preservation conditions may be intrinsically unprovable by present knowledge. Most proponents of cryonics, therefore, see it as a speculative intervention with prospects for success that vary widely depending on circumstances.

Unfortunately, current methods are clumsy and far from perfect, and must be undertaken with the hope that a future society that can revive and cure the body might also be able to repair the damage done to cells and body structures by the freezing process. Certain chemicals can be utilized to offset the effects, but some of these are highly toxic and, unless purged from the body before revivication, the effort may be rendered pointless.

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Dissolution is a tried-and-true favorite of those who really want to make certain that remains are never found: simply dissolve the body in a strong solvent, such as lye or hydrochloric acid. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple.

While boiling lye will definitely render a victim unrecognizable in a matter of a few hours, it doesn’t do the job completely. Bits of bone, teeth and any unnatural parts (such as pacemakers) are left behind. Even a single tooth can contain enough DNA to identify a victim and lead the police to your door. That is, if the strong smell of lye doesn’t alert them first. Such methods have been used in the United States for almost two decades, to dispose of animal carcasses. Now, it’s being considered as an alternative to burial.

The process is called alkaline hydrolysis and uses lye, 300-degree heat and 60 pounds of pressure per square inch to destroy bodies, using big stainless-steel cylinders that are similar to pressure cookers. A straining device catches things like teeth, bits of bone and the aforementioned inorganic entities. Bones and teeth are crushed to a fine powder and offered to the family in the same manner as ashes. The rest of the body turns into a viscous brown fluid with the consistency of motor oil and a strong smell of ammonia. This is simply washed down the drain.

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Exposure is not typically practiced intentionally in the West today. More often, it results from an accident where someone dies in an isolated location and the body goes unnoticed for a period of time. However, there are people who dispose of bodies in this manner on a regular basis.

Tibetan sky burial (known as a jahtor ) is the ritual dissection of the body, which is then laid out for the animals or the elements to dispose of. Tibet is a mountainous land where the soil is too rocky to dig graves and there is a scarcity of fuel for cremation, so sky burial arose as a logical alternative. Here’s how it works:

After being sent on their way with ceremony, the remains of the deceased are toted up to a designated location, where the body is laid out (typically naked).
Then the rogyapas (body-breakers) go to work. Flesh is stripped from bones, limbs are hacked away and the whole is ground up and sometimes mixed with tsampa (a mixture of barley flour, tea, and yak butter or milk) and offered to the vultures (which have learned to keep watch on the traditional burial site). The rogyapas do not go about their task with somber ritual, but rather they laugh, joke and chat as in any other manual labor.

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When expedience is an issue, as is often the case with a plague or a disaster, a mass grave may be used. A mass grave is simply a singular location in which multiple human remains are interred. Mass graves are common as a result of wars, plagues, famine and disasters, when health concerns become an issue and it would be unwise to wait for each body to be identified and given the proper rites. Mass burial is generally frowned upon because it detracts from the identity of the deceased.

Mass burial was once far more common than today, but the practice is hardly lost to modern people. Locations known to harbor mass graves include The Killing Fields of Cambodia, the Soviet Union, Chechnya, Iraq and even the United States. Hart Island is a potter’s field, a place intended for the burial of unknown or indigent people, for the city of New York. It is the largest tax-funded cemetery in the world and currently houses over 850,000 “residents,” dating as far back as the Civil War, and is still used even today.

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Taxidermy is the act of mounting, or reproducing, dead animals for display (e.g. as hunting trophies) or for other sources of study. However, some people haven’t let that stop them from taking the next step to immortality and having themselves taxidermied after death. The process is rather simple, but requires a lot of skill. The animal is skinned and the innards disposed of (often without the taxidermist ever seeing any of the internal organs). The skin is tanned and then placed on a polyurethane form. Clay is used to install glass eyes. Forms and eyes are commercially available from a number of suppliers. If not, taxidermists carve or cast their own forms.

The legalities of the taxidermy of human beings escape me (I could find no specific references to them), but I would assume that the process is legal, if one makes all the proper arrangements and can find a taxidermist willing to take the job. However, the difficulties involved in such an enterprise have meant that few people have had the process done. One such individual, however, was philosopher Jeremy Bentham.

Born in Spitalfields, London, in 1748, Bentham was a prolific writer (he left manuscripts amounting to some 5,000,000 words) on the subject of law, equality between the sexes, animal rights, economics and utilitarianism. As specified in his will, Bentham’s body was dissected as part of a public anatomy lecture. Afterward, the skeleton and head were preserved and stored in a wooden cabinet called the “Auto-icon,” with the skeleton stuffed with hay and dressed in Bentham’s clothes. Originally kept by his disciple, Thomas Southwood Smith, it was acquired by University College London, in 1850. It is normally kept on public display at the end of the South Cloisters in the main building of the college, but for the 100th and 150th anniversaries of the college, it was brought to the meeting of the College Council, where it was listed as “present but not voting.”

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As perhaps the ultimate bid for immortality, plastination is a technique used in anatomy to preserve bodies or body parts. The water and fat are replaced by certain plastics, yielding specimens that can be touched, do not smell or decay and even retain most properties of the original sample. The resultant plastinates can be manipulated and positioned as desired.

Plastinates are used as museum displays, as teaching tools and in anatomy studies. The process so perfectly preserves tissue, musculature and even nerve clusters that plastinates serve as invaluable references to the way our bodies (and those of other animals) work.

The process of plastination began in November, 1979, when Gunther von Hagens applied for a German patent, proposing the idea of preserving animal and vegetable tissues permanently by synthetic resin impregnation. Since then, von Hagens has applied for further U.S. patents regarding work on preserving biological tissues with polymers.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2010/11/01/15-ways-we-handle-the-dead/

10 Bizarre Things People Did With Corpses

When most of us die, a few tears might be shed over our bodies. Within a few days, we will likely be buried or cremated, our physical form reduced to a mere memory. But some of us will continue on in our adventures. Below is a collection of stories about corpses that eschewed tradition, from crash test dummies to bodies that became drug paraphernalia.

10Corpses Of Stone

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Mankind has been taken with the idea of preserving corpses. The oldest known mummy is that of a child of the Chinchorro people, a prehistoric fishing culture that lived along the arid coast of present-day Chile and Peru. It was carbon dated to approximately 5050 B.C., long before the Egyptians began their practice.

Born in 1792, Italian anatomist Girolamo Segato was rather obsessed with Egyptian funerary practices. He went on several archaeological expeditions to Egypt, where he became intimately acquainted with the process of mummification. Upon his return to Italy, Segato unveiled an extraordinary technique of preserving flesh—artificial petrifaction.

According to pioneering American surgeon Valentine Mott, who spent some time in Europe in the company of Segato, the Italian “had discovered a chemical process by which he could actually petrify, in very short time, every animal substance, preserving permanently, and with minute accuracy, its form and internal texture, and in such a state of stony hardness that it could be sawed into slabs and elegantly polished!”

Segato died in 1836, destroying all his notes before his passing. His collection of preserved remains was scattered, with the largest concentration located at the Museum of the Department of Anatomy in Florence. Despite extensive study, Segato’s petrification method remains a mystery to this day.

9Pickled Corpses

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A half century before the Panama Canal was constructed, a railway was built to link the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The chief inspiration for this project was the California Gold Rush of 1849 and the mad rush to stake a claim to fortune. Men came from across the globe to work on the railway, many without any identification or known next of kin.

This feat of engineering would come at great cost to many—diseases like yellow fever, malaria, and cholera plagued the workers, and thousands died. A ban on opium caused many of the Chinese workers, who had become addicted to the drug in their homeland, to commit suicide. No official records were kept, but the death toll could have easily exceeded 10,000.

It might seem natural that the Panama Railroad Company would simply bury their dead and move on, but they had other plans. Keeping their eye on the bottom line, they pickled many of the corpses and sold them off to medical schools for experimentation. It was an exciting time in medicine—anesthesia had just been discovered, and surgeries, which had previously been hack jobs performed as swiftly as possible, became far more intricate. Bodies were in high demand, and for over five years, the Panama Railroad Company was a leading supplier.

8Corpse Bongs

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Those given to the frequent consumption of marijuana are rarely lauded for the motivation. But potheads tend to have the engineering prowess of MacGyver when it comes to manufacturing smoking implements, utilizing everything from apples to soda cans. In 2008, three teens in Humble, Texas used a truly ghoulish method to get high. They dug up the grave of a child named Willie Simms who’d died in 1921, severed the corpse’s head, and used the skull as a bong.

The teens may very well have gotten away with this gruesome crime if they hadn’t later been caught during a vehicle break-in investigation. One of them confessed to desecrating Simms’s corpse. At first, the story seemed so bizarre that the police did not believe it, but a visit to the cemetery yielded a disturbed grave filled with rainwater, its headstone broken.

All three were charged with abuse of a corpse, a misdemeanor, along with other crimes.

7The Unclaimed Corpse Indicator

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Funerals can be extraordinarily expensive. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, a traditional funeral and burial can easily approach $10,000. Even a comparatively cheap cremation exceeds $3,000.

In 2009, when the economy was in dire straits, cities across America reported a vast increase in unclaimed bodies, an indicator that the financial outlook of the nation was indeed grim. Los Angeles experienced a 36 percent rise in unclaimed dead over the previous fiscal year. Even in the most dire financial circumstances, most deceased are claimed by their loved ones, but in certain circumstances, it can be seen how a body could go unclaimed. Faced with the choice, would an impoverished single mother take on the staggering debt of burying a great uncle she’d never met?

One of the cities hardest hit by this phenomenon was Detroit, an area plagued by unemployment and poverty. Here, the state of Michigan pays for indigent burials, which cost $750 each. Unfortunately, these payments were rarely timely, as the state struggled through its own financial woes. Meanwhile, the unclaimed bodies piled up in refrigerated storage rooms. In October and November 2008, Michigan paid for 637 indigent burials. A year later, the economy tanked so badly that this number nearly doubled, swelling to 1,268 in the same time period.

6Audrey Mountford, The Jilted Bride

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One of Charles Dickens’s most celebrated works is the novel Great Expectations, in which a boy is subjected to the sinister machinations of a jilted bride. Real life has its own strange tales of jilted brides, including Australian Audrey Mountford. Audrey fell in love with a Canadian man, and the two planned to marry. However, their union was not to be. Heartbroken, she left her home in Sydney in 1969.

Mountford frequently traveled and was described by her family as “flighty,” so though they looked for her, they didn’t worry that anything was amiss. It was believed that she had gone overseas to recover from the failed relationship. However, a teenager discovered her remains in a cave in Australia’s Blue Mountains in 1981. She wore her mother’s wedding ring and was surrounded by various items like toothpaste and utensils. The body could not be identified, and the case was dropped in 1983.

A coroner’s inquiry in July 2009 finally confirmed the fate of Audrey Mountford. Her family was devastated by the news. Her younger sister, 84-year-old Nola Stewart, had been the last family member to see Audrey alive. She said, “Actually it saddens me more to find out what happened to her because I thought that she was living somewhere and not bothering to get back in touch with me.”

5Corpse-Eating Robots

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In the summer of 2009, headlines abounded with tales of military robots being designed to ingest human corpses as a power supply. The macabre creation called EATR™ (Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot) could operate in perpetuity without refueling by consuming any available biomass in the area.

Cyclone Power Technologies Inc. and Robotic Technology Inc., which are developing the robots, were quick to point out that the “biomass” would not be flesh, human or otherwise, but rather vegetation. Cyclone’s CEO Harry Schoell said, “We completely understand the public’s concern about futuristic robots feeding on the human population, but that is not our mission. We are focused on demonstrating that our engines can create usable, green power from plentiful, renewable plant matter.”

Much of the American military concern is located in Middle Eastern deserts not particularly known for their lush vegetation. So it might not hurt to make a few tweaks that would allow the EATR to nibble a corpse or two, despite what the Geneva Conventions might say.

4Samuel Pepys’s Kiss

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Samuel Pepys is a name you may recognize from history lessons. He was a member of parliament and naval administrator, but he is best remembered for his exhaustive diary, which gives us an important source on the English Reformation period. However, along with detailing events such as plagues and fires, the diary also offers a glimpse into Pepys’s social life, including details of liaisons with his mistress.

Perhaps the most bizarre entry comes from February 23, 1669, when Pepys and his family visited Westminster Abbey on the occasion of his 36th birthday. It reads in part, “Therefore I now took them to Westminster Abbey, and there did show them all the tombs very finely, having one with us alone, there being other company this day to see the tombs, it being Shrove Tuesday; and here we did see, by particular favour, the body of Queen Katherine of Valois; and I had the upper part of her body in my hands, and I did kiss her mouth, reflecting upon it that I did kiss a Queen, and that this was my birthday, thirty-six years old, that I did first kiss a Queen.”

Catherine of Valois was the wife of Henry V. She died in 1437 at the age of 35, shortly after childbirth. She’d been dead for over 230 years before Pepys’s romantic advances.

3Crash Test Dummies

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Those of us who grew up in the 1980s probably remember the antics of Vince and Larry, the crash test dummies who taught us the importance of using seat belts. However, only so much can be learned from dummies—the potential for trauma in car crashes can only be truly gauged using real human bodies.

Cadaver research has been going on for decades, although automakers try to downplay their use. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in conjunction with funding from automakers like Ford, conducts cadaver tests every year. Everything from seat belts to safety glass was first tested on cadavers, which could then be given X-rays and autopsies to determine exactly how flesh would respond in just such an incident.

Those with a squeamish bent will be pleased to learn that cadaver testing has declined significantly in recent years. The safety systems in most automobiles are about as good as they’re going to get, and most tests these days are done virtually using computer models.

2An Extra Leg

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The 1995 bombing of Oklahoma City’s Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was a devastating terrorist attack that killed at least 168 people. Among the dead was 21-year-old Lakesha Levy, a member of the Air Force who was at the building to pick up a Social Security card. After Levy’s body was buried, a severed leg was found in the rubble of the building. FBI tests found that the decomposed leg belonged to a black woman. A footprint determined that it belonged to Levy, even though she’d been buried with two legs.

Her body was subsequently exhumed, but officials were unable to determine just where this mystery leg came from. The body’s DNA had been destroyed by the embalming process. According to Oklahoma medical examiner Fred Jordan, “We don’t have a body to match it to. It’s something we haven’t figured out yet.”

1The Oldest Man In Japan

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Japan’s kodokushi, or lonely deaths, are senior citizens who die and go undiscovered for long periods of time. This happens frequently in Japan, which has the most elderly population in the world. Perhaps the body to go longest undiscovered belonged to Sogen Kato, born on July 22, 1899.

In 2010, officials tried to contact Kato, wishing to honor him for his extreme longevity. His family rejected their advances, offering various excuses, including that Kato had become brain dead or that he was undergoing the Buddhist process of sokushinbutsu, or self-mummification, starving himself to death on the path to enlightenment.

Authorities persisted in trying to contact Kato. Police eventually broke into his home, discovering his mummified corpse lying in bed. Newspapers in the room indicated that Kato had likely died around November 1978, meaning that his body had been there for 32 years. Unlike the kodokushi, Kato’s family knew full well what had occurred but continued to collect his pension long after he had died. His daughter and granddaughter were charged with fraud.

The Kato case caused the Japanese government to launch a nationwide investigation to discover whether many of the country’s supposed centenarians are indeed still alive.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2014/11/17/10-bizarre-things-people-did-with-corpses/

10 Of The Creepiest Commercials To Ever Hit The Small Screen

The average commercial ad runs for about 30 seconds or less. That leaves companies with little time to sell a product to the viewer and outwit the competition, and withering audience attention spans are tempting more and more companies to rely on shock value. Unfortunately, these tactics tend to be hit-or-miss. Hits include commercials such as the E*TRADE baby and the overly sexual Quizno’s toaster, while the misses of the group seem to have confused shock value with mental scarring. Here are 10 of those misses.

10Kinder Surprise

This 1980s commercial was originally created to help sell those horrible chocolate eggs filled with a “surprise” item inside. It features a nightmarish Humpty Dumpty knockoff that Italian candy company Ferrero believed would sell more product. The company’s CEO at the time, Michele Ferrero, apparently didn’t realize that an increase in sales wasn’t linked to the emotional scarring of children.

Kinder Surprise eggs have been banned from the United States due to an FDA ruling banning confectionery products with embedded non-nutritional objects. The fine for violating this act is currently $2,500. In 2012, Brandon Loo and Christopher Sweeney had a candy-related run-in on their way back to the US from Canada when border patrol agents found them in possession of the illicit ova, meant to be exotic treats for American family and friends. Since neither man knew the eggs were illegal, they were let off with a warning.

9#PubLooShocker

Passed around under the hashtag #PubLooShocker, this viral video was actually a PSA warning against the dangers of drunk driving, produced by London’s Department of Transportation as part of their “Think!” campaign. The campaign’s aim is to stop drunk driving and and related deaths by any means necessary, including scaring unsuspecting strangers.

Though the #PubLooShocker video is just 52 seconds long, it packs several jump-worthy moments in that short span as several “drinkers” visit a bar restroom and end up cowering in fear. Once inside, the drinkers are caught unawares by a bloody mannequin head as it smashes through the mirror from behind, accompanied by the sound of an actual car crash and a hail of screams, resembling the outcome of a DUI accident.

The video quickly went viral, racking up hundreds of thousands of views in just a day. It was part of the creative communications company Leo Burnett London’s “Change” collective, which features various other projects that send powerful messages. It is also the last ad the company will be making for the London Department of Transportation.

8Little Baby’s Ice Cream

Just when you thought there was nothing in the world that could make ice cream even remotely disturbing, this commercial came along to shatter your worldview and also part of your soul. Released by a small ice cream shop in Philadelphia, “This is a Special Time” features an asexual non-human named Malcolm who is apparently made out of ice cream. Over the course of the video, we watch in disbelief as Malcolm consumes himself with a spoon.

When asked about the commercial, company co-founder Pete Angevine told Philadelphia Weekly, “I came to realize that ice cream is a blank canvas, and you can just let your imagination go wild.” Pete certainly seems to have an active imagination, to say the least. Little Baby’s Ice Cream is a repeat offender: Apparently having decided that one commercial starring the self-cannibalistic Malcolm just wasn’t enough, they made another.

7Phones 4u

Believe it or not, this is indeed a phone commercial. It’s actually part of a series of commercials from 2011 by UK mobile phone retailer Phones 4u. The ads were conceived by Aidan McClure and Laurent Simon and directed by Garth Jennings through production company Hammer & Tongs. The campaign was created with the hope of widening the retailer’s demographic from 18–24 to 18–34 and generating controversy that would lead to more overall awareness of the company and increase potential sales. Though complaints were filed to the company, the company issued a statement that the ad was meant to “build tension,” not to scare innocent children who just may be watching.

6K-Fee

“Ghost Car” is a commercial made in Berlin in 1999 for German soft drink company K-Fee created by advertising agency Jung von Matt. The video hit the Internet in 2005, where it became not only one of the first viral videos on YouTube but one of the first videos ever uploaded to the site.

This video is a “screamer” video, following a similar formula to other K-Fee commercials, starting with peaceful footage of everyday events only to be disrupted by a zombie or gargoyle screaming loudly to make the viewer jump. It was a remarkably effective campaign, considering that none of the ads mention the company name or product.

5The Dark And Lonely Water

Released in 1978 and voted the fourth-favorite PSA of all time in the UK, this 90-second clip called “Dark and Lonely Water” features the sinister voice of Donald Pleasence as the personification of evil water. The video ends as the voice echoes the ominous warning “I’ll be back-back-back.” Originally known by the much creepier title “The Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water,” the clip was meant to warn children about the dangers of careless behavior in the vicinity of water.

After airing regularly for years on children’s TV stations, “Dark and Lonely Water” quickly earned virtual cult status as one of the most chilling PSA videos ever. Unlike many PSAs, this one did have an impact, though not necessarily the one the Central Office of Information intended. Many of the children who viewed the commercial not only became more careful when around water, they stopped swimming altogether, fearing death if they so much as dipped a toe in a puddle.

4Fragile Childhood

Finnish organization Lasinen Lapsuus (“Fragile Childhood”), which fights parental alcohol abuse, titled a series of PSAs “Monsters” in which parents are seen as monsters through their children’s eyes when they drink. Before the commercial aired, the company posted a request on their Facebook page for adults who grew up in households affected by substance abuse to share their stories and opinions.

After reading some of the posts and watching “Monsters,” it’s easy to make the connections between the real-life descriptions and some of the creatures chosen for the powerful video directed by Mikko Lehtinen. Here are just a few quotes posted in response to the request:

“Just because you haven’t had a bad experience doesn’t make it any less real.” –Alias Hurmur

“Only at an adult age would I come to realize why Santa smelled funny.” –Alias A.

“I can remember learning in school not to drink and drive and then have to get into the car with my drunk dad after every family function.” –Alias Ano.

3Japanese Tire Commercial

You know you’ve stepped into dark advertisement territory when a parental advisory warning flashes across the screen. Autoway Tires, a tire shop located in Fukuoka, Japan, takes it a step further and displays a health warning that reads, “Not for the faint of heart. Please refrain from watching the content if any of the following applies to you: Have any mental or physical health concern and may have to see a doctor regularly. We shall not be liable for any injuries, illness, and damages claimed to be caused by watching the contents.”

Despite the commercial’s shocking nature, it is actually a clear forewarning of the dangers of driving on icy winter roads when you don’t have proper tires. Sadly, many people who watch the video find themselves so shaken by what they have seen that they don’t notice the tagline and product details at the end, missing the commercial’s message. The horrifying commercial has since been dubbed “one of the scariest ads ever.”

2Ronald McDonald’s 1963 Television Debut

The origin of Ronald McDonald can be traced back to 1960s local radio personality Willard Scott, who rocked a McDonald’s cup nose as well as a belt that magically contained hamburgers. Willard was already well versed in clowning, having played Bozo the Clown on WRC-TV in Washington, D.C. from 1959–1962. He once even claimed to have created the Ronald McDonald character in an excerpt from his book, Joy of Living, in which he states, “At the time, Bozo was the hottest children’s show on the air. You could probably have sent Pluto the Dog or Dumbo the Elephant over and it would have been equally as successful. But I was there, and I was Bozo . . . There was something about the combination of hamburgers and Bozo that was irresistible to kids . . . That’s why, when Bozo went off the air a few years later, the local McDonald’s people asked me to come up with a new character to take Bozo’s place. So, I sat down and created Ronald McDonald.”

In the years to come, Ronald indeed replaced Bozo, but he could not rid the world of the terror that clowns instill in children and adults everywhere. The first McDonald’s ad featuring Ronald aired in 1963, portrayed by Willard himself—and did nothing to help.

1Krinkles The Clown

Krinkles was the 1960s mascot for Post’s Sugar Krinkles Rice Cereal. He promoted a balanced breakfast that will keep us fueled for the day, which seems a bit hypocritical for a creature who so obviously fueled himself on the fears and screams of children. You would think that a black and white commercial wouldn’t be as scary as its aforementioned technicolor counterparts, but the lack of color does nothing but contribute to its creepiness.

Believe it or not, Krinkles wasn’t the company’s most controversial spokesman. He was actually created to replace the cereal’s previous mascot, a stereotypical Chinese boy named “So-Hi” because he could only reach so high. So-Hi was quickly removed from cereal boxes and commercials after it was quite rightly pointed out that he was the most racist thing. Marjorie Merriweather Post, owner of Post at the time, deemed Krinkles a “safer” alternative. Our nightmares beg to differ.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2014/04/17/10-of-the-creepiest-commercials-to-ever-hit-the-small-screen/

10 Terrifying Nazi Doctors You’ve Never Heard Of

We’ve all heard about the atrocities committed by doctors during the Nazi regime. These terrible deeds tend to be largely personified by Josef “Angel of Death” Mengele and a handful of other, lesser-known Third Reich physicians, such as Erwin Ding-Schuler. However, there is actually a whole host of virtually unknown Nazi doctors who committed unspeakable crimes against humanity throughout World War II and the events leading up to it.

10Herta Oberheuser

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Herta Oberheuser is proof that unspeakable war atrocities are not just a man’s game. As a physician at Ravensbruck concentration camp, she specialized in brutal experiments conducted on women and children.

These experiments were straight out of a horror movie. She deliberately wounded some of her victims, after which she contaminated the open wound with bacteria or foreign objects such as glass shards, rusty nails, or sawdust. The subjects remained alive and in agony until Oberhauser judged that their death was imminent. She then killed them with injections of oil, gasoline, or evipan hexobarbital, sentencing them to an agonizing death that took three to five minutes, which the subjects endured in complete consciousness until the last second. Finally, Oberhauser dissected the bodies, removing limbs and organs for her experiments.

Despite being among the most twisted and ruthless Nazi doctors, Oberhauser was let off with a virtual slap on the wrist after the war. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 1947 but released in 1952 for good conduct. Seemingly oblivious to the horrid nature of her actions, she even attempted to open a practice in Schleswig-Holstein, although protesters soon forced her to close it down. In 1958, someone finally came to their senses and revoked her medical license.

9Friedrich Mauz

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At first, Friedrich Mauz might seem like a strange person to call “terrifying.” He was a successful psychiatrist before the 1930s, but his career stalled during the Nazi regime because, as he himself pointed out, he was a very apolitical person and thus not a favorite of Hitler’s cohorts. He described himself as a good, moral doctor who was forced to brave through Nazi atrocities, and history certainly agreed with him at first. He was exonerated in the denazification trials of 1946, retaining both his license and his career in the freshly formed Federal Republic of Germany.

However, the truth is quite different from the picture Mauz liked to paint. His career difficulties were due to the fact that his scientific work was considered fairly bad, and his area of expertise—psychotherapy—was not a popular one at the time. He realized this and soon adjusted his work to serve Nazi interests. Before long, Mauz served as an “adult euthanasia expert” for the T4 Program, the Nazi plan to kill people the Reich deemed unworthy of living. Yes, this supposedly meek and moral man spent his days determining ways to make Nazi mass killings—and, eventually, the Holocaust—happen.

8Hans Eisele

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Hans Eisele, doctor and second lieutenant in the SS troops, is a prime example of the corrupting nature of power and the sad fact that even the worst crimes sometimes go unpunished by law. Despite his SS status, Eisele was known to be a fairly decent man for most of the war, to the point where the prisoners of Sachsenhausen camp, where he was stationed for a while, called him ”The Angel” and praised his kindness. However, once he was assigned to be the physician of the Buchenwald concentration camp, the atrocities of the place soon corrupted him and turned him into a monster.

Buchenwald was a camp for hardcore communist prisoners, presided over by some of the worst sadists the Nazis had to offer. Even in that company, Eisele became renowned for his brutal experiments, routinely murdering prisoners by cyanide injections and subjecting them to bodily horrors and improper surgery. “The Angel” had become ”The Butcher of Buchenwald.”

Eisele was arrested after the war and sentenced to death in two separate trials, but the sentence was soon changed to life in prison and eventually reduced to just 10 years, with the possibility of even more time off with good conduct. In 1952, Eisele was released from prison and even given a compensation payment by the government, because he ”had been captured and imprisoned by the enemy.” He lived as a free man for six years until he caught wind that an upcoming trial would reveal a lot of his atrocities. He escaped to Egypt, where he lived the remainder of his days as Carl Debouche, leading a quiet life and eluding the occasional bomb package from Mossad.

7Klaus Schilling

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The retired Dr. Klaus Schilling was the world’s foremost expert on tropical diseases when World War II came around. His retirement didn’t last long, as Heinrich Himmler ordered him back to business with instructions to come up with a perfect remedy for malaria, a disease that was hindering the Nazi war machine in North Africa. Schilling was fine with this but didn’t feel like going to the tropics to test his remedies. After all, the concentration camps were much closer.

Schilling set up shop in Dachau and started experimenting on Polish priests, who weren’t required to work like ordinary prisoners and were considered expendable. He systematically infected his subjects with imported mosquitoes and pumped the diseased prisoners full of various medical cocktails. Although he himself insisted that his work was for the greater good of mankind and conducted as ethically and professionally as possible under the circumstances, the Nuremberg trials disagreed with his logic and sentenced the 74-year-old to hang.

6Hubertus Strughold

Hubertus Strughold
Hubertus Strughold is something of a NASA legend. He’s a famous physician who is widely respected as the “father of space medicine.” Every year since 1963, a prize bearing his name has been awarded to people whose work in aviation medicine has been particularly noteworthy. He may also have been one of the most terrifying Nazi doctors.

Strughold lived in Germany during World War II and moved to Texas after the war. His talents were enlisted for Project Paperclip, the US government’s famous plan to put Nazi masterminds in charge of pioneering projects. Perhaps because of this, he was never tried at Nuremberg, despite the evidence that suggests his hands were dirtied in some of the most brutal experiments Nazi scientists could come up with.

Strughold supervised the doctors who were responsible for the infamous Dachau cold experiments, in which concentration camp inmates were subjected to extreme freezing conditions, such as submerging them in icy water until they died. Their agony was documented in the name of science. His underlings were also in the habit of experimenting with pressure chambers, and his Berlin asylum performed cruel experiments with children.

Strughold’s sterling service for the US space program has absolved him of his Nazi-era activities in the eyes of the scientific community, to the point that most vehemently decry any suggestion that he was a war criminal. However, the man himself has been recorded making comments on the subject of cold experiments, so even if he wasn’t personally freezing the poor prisoners to death, it’s almost certain that he was keenly aware of—and interested in—the terrible deeds that were going on under his command.

5Enno Lolling

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Some men just want to watch the world burn, but others are merely too apathetic to do anything about the rising flames. Enno Lolling was such a man. A tired, weak husk of a man, Lolling eventually became the medical officer responsible for concentration camp inspections thanks to his SS connections, despite being little more than a collection of vices (morphine and alcohol were his poisons of preference) and ineffectiveness.

Though his position might have enabled him to significantly improve the prisoners’ conditions, Lolling showed no initiative and accomplished nothing during his many inspections of concentration camps. Then again, perhaps it’s a good thing that he didn’t become more involved—he was known to be interested in horrifying human experiments, and it was not uncommon to find his name in the paperwork of a shipment of tattooed human skin. He committed suicide in November 1945.

4Joachim Mrugowsky

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It’s strange to think that the Nazis even bothered with hygiene, as they were so busy filling the continent with corpses, but they were actually very big on the subject of cleanliness. Sadly, it was racial “cleanliness” they were talking about.

As chief of the Hygiene Institute of the Waffen-SS and senior hygienist at the Reich Physician SS, Joachim Mrugowsky sat at the epicenter of a number of hygiene projects that, in true Nazi style, had little to do with telling the troops to brush their teeth. The Nazi spin on hygiene was closely tied to the T4 program to annihilate all people who weren’t acceptable to the Reich.

Mrugowsky was instrumental in supplying the Nazi forces with hydrocyanic acid, a poison that could kill the Jews and other unwanted people, leaving the piles of corpses as disinfected as possible. The data necessary to determine the optimal composition was, of course, acquired by a vast series of experiments on unwilling test subjects. Mrugowsky was sentenced to death in 1947 and executed on June 2, 1948.

3Albert Widmann

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Dr. Albert Widmann was an active figure in the early stages of the Nazi “euthanasia” program. He was one of the doctors who decided upon the methods of killing and provided necessary gases and chemicals for tests. He was also an expert in the children’s euthanasia program, obtaining poisons and sharing technological insight on the subject of killing children with lethal injections. Over time, he became something of a problem-solving specialist—if a concentration camp crematorium malfunctioned, he was the man to call.

Widmann’s foremost area of expertise was always experimentation—apart from regular poisons, he often dabbled with other horrifying ways to make killing efficient. One of his more infamous experiments was an attempt to bring explosives to the mass extermination game by shutting Russian mental patients in two bunkers and blowing one up to see if everyone in it would die. Some survived, so the experiment was deemed a failure. Another one of his tests involved car exhaust fumes and vehicles full of mental patients. Widmann was able to avoid prosecution until 1959. He served just six years and six months in jail.

2Friedrich Wegener

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Most doctors joined the Nazi movement just so they would be able to keep their license. Pathologist Friedrich Wegener, on the other hand, was a true believer. He was a card-carrying member of the Nazi party before Hitler even took charge and used this status to rise to a high military rank.

After the war, Wegener went on to become a celebrated, award-winning expert until his death in 1990. He even had a disease named after him. His hidden Nazi past was only uncovered thanks to a chance discovery by a fellow doctor researching a glowing article he was going to write about Wegener.

Wegener’s past had been hidden extremely well. Although he was present for, likely involved with, and certainly aware of Nazi atrocities, no specific crimes can be pinned on him. All the medical community could do was punish him postmortem by changing the name of his “signature” disease (Wegener’s granulomatosis) and starting a discussion about whether it’s a good idea to name diseases after people at all. After all, no one wants to be suffering from a dangerous disease that also happens to carry the name of a Nazi.

1Eugen Fischer

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Adolf Hitler and his cohorts may be responsible for the Nazi “Final Solution,” but Eugen Fischer drew the blueprints that made it possible. Fischer was a lifelong student of eugenics, a bastardization of hereditary studies and anthropology that he morphed into rassenbiologie, the race biology system on which Nazis based their Aryan master race ideals and views of “inferior races.” Fischer also invented the concentration camp in 1904, when he established several of them in German-held southwest Africa to prove that “bastard” races are inferior to “pure” ones.

Hitler was entranced by Fischer’s work, incorporating it into Mein Kampf and forming the pseudoscientific basis of Nazism’s bigotry around it. As such, the Nazi regime granted Fischer many liberties—he was free to conduct his experiments and received liberal funding to elaborate on his racial theories. He was such a golden boy that even his refusal to officially join the Nazi party until 1940 couldn’t remove him from the Reich’s good graces.

Eugen Fischer retired in 1942 and died in 1967 at the ripe age of 93. As he was not an active party in Nazi war crimes, he was never put on trial. He didn’t even bother mentioning the millions his theories helped murder in his memoirs.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2014/06/20/10-terrifying-nazi-doctors-youve-never-heard-of/

Top 10 Creepy Aspects of Victorian Life

My birthday is on Monday so today I am in a mood of recollecting that life is short and we should live it to the full. In honor of the “life is short” bit, I have come up with a slightly depressing list (don’t worry – I will post a happier one tomorrow). The Victorians were a special breed and this list looks at 10 aspects of life from the Victorian era that are creepy. Note that the focus is entirely on Victorian England. Be sure to post any we have missed in the comments.

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The Victorian upper class (and later middle class) had no televisions to entertain them, so they entertained themselves. One of the popular forms of entertainment was for friends and family to dress up in outrageous costumes and pose for each other. This sounds innocent – but just think: can you imagine your grandmother dressing up as a greek wood nymph posing on a table in the living room while everyone applauds? No. You can’t. The idea is, in fact, creepy. But for the Victorians, this was perfectly normal and fun.

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Poorhouses were government-run facilities where the poor, infirm, or mentally ill could live. They were usually filthy and full to the brim of societies unwanted people. At the time, poverty was seen as dishonorable as it came from a lack of the moral virtue of industriousness. Many of the people who lived in the poorhouses were required to work to contribute to the cost of their board and it was not uncommon for whole families to live together with other families in the communal environment. In the Victorian era life didn’t get much worse than that of a poorhouse resident.

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London during the Victorian era was famed for its pea-soupers — fogs so thick you could barely see through them. The pea-soupers were caused by a combination of fogs from the River Thames and smoke from the coal fires that were an essential part of Victorian life. Interestingly London had suffered from these pea-soupers for centuries – in 1306, King Edward I banned coal fires because of the smog. In 1952, 12 thousand Londoners died due to the smog causing the government to pass the Clean Air Act which created smog free zones. The Victorian atmosphere (in literature and modern film) is greatly enhanced by the thick smog due and this creepy environment made possible the acts of people like Jack the Ripper.

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English food can be creepy at the best of times, but especially so in the Victorian era (disclaimer: England currently produces some of the finest food in the world). The Victorians loved offal and ate virtually every part of an animal. This is not entirely creepy if you are a food fanatic (like me) but for the average person, the idea of supping on a bowl of brains and heart is not appealing. Another famous dish from the Victorian era was turtle soup. The turtle was prized above all for its green jello-like fat which was used to flavor the soup made from the long-boiled stringy flesh of the animal. Due to dwindling numbers, turtles are seldom eaten nowadays, though it is possible to purchase them in some states of America where they are plentiful.

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In a time when one in four surgery patients died after surgery, you were very lucky in Victorian times to have a good doctor with a clean theatre. There was no anesthesia, no painkillers for after, and no electric equipment to reduce the duration of an operation. Victorian surgery wasn’t just creepy, it was outright horrific. Here is a description of one surgery:

The assembled crowd of anxious medical students dutifully check their pocket watches, as two of Liston’s surgical assistants – ‘dressers’ as they are called – take firm hold of the struggling patient’s shoulders.

The fully conscious man, already racked with pain from the badly broken leg he suffered by falling between a train and the platform at nearby King’s Cross, looks in total horror at the collection of knives, saws and needles that lie alongside him.

Liston clamps his left hand across the patient’s thigh, picks up his favourite knife and in one rapid movement makes his incision. A dresser immediately tightens a tourniquet to stem the blood. As the patient screams with pain, Liston puts the knife away and grabs the saw.

With an assistant exposing the bone, Liston begins to cut. Suddenly, the nervous student who has been volunteered to steady the injured leg realises he is supporting its full weight. With a shudder he drops the severed limb into a waiting box of sawdust. [Source]

Dracula

How could the gothic novel (a genre of literature that combines elements of both horror and romance) not be included on a list like this? It was the Victorian period that gave us such great works of terror as Dracula, and the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Even the Americans got in on the act with Edgar Allen Poe producing some of the greatest gothic literature of the time. The Victorians knew how to frighten people and they knew how to do it in grand style. These works still form the basis of much modern horror and their power to thrill has not dwindled in the least.

Ripper Claimed Earlier Victims

In the late Victorian era, London was terrorized by the monster known as Jack the Ripper. Using the pea-soupers as a cover, the Ripper ultimately slaughtered five or more prostitutes working in the East End. Newspapers, whose circulation had been growing during this era, bestowed widespread and enduring notoriety on the killer because of the savagery of the attacks and the failure of the police to capture the murderer. Because the killer’s identity has never been confirmed, the legends surrounding the murders have become a combination of genuine historical research, folklore, and pseudohistory. Many authors, historians, and amateur detectives have proposed theories about the identity of the killer and his victims. You can read a list of the most fascinating Jack the Ripper suspects on our Top 10 Interesting Jack The Ripper Suspects.

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A freak show is an exhibition of rarities, “freaks of nature” — such as unusually tall or short humans, and people with both male and female secondary sexual characteristics or other extraordinary diseases and conditions — and performances that are expected to be shocking to the viewers. Probably the most famous member of a freak show is the Elephant Man (pictured above). Joseph Carey Merrick (5 August 1862 – 11 April 1890) was an Englishman who became known as “The Elephant Man” because of his physical appearance caused by a congenital disorder. His left side was overgrown and distorted causing him to wear a mask for most of his life. There can be no doubt that the Victorian freak shows were one of the creepiest aspects of society at the time.

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Memento mori is a Latin phrase meaning “Remember you shall die”. In the Victorian era, photography was young and extremely costly. When a loved one died, their relatives would sometimes have a photograph taken of the corpse in a pose – oftentimes with other members of the family. For the vast majority of Victorians, this was the only time they would be photographed. In these post-mortem photographs, the effect of life was sometimes enhanced by either propping the subject’s eyes open or painting pupils onto the photographic print, and many early images have a rosy tint added to the cheeks of the corpse. Adults were more commonly posed in chairs or even braced on specially-designed frames. Flowers were also a common prop in post-mortem photography of all types. In the photo above, the fact that the girl is dead is made slightly more obvious (and creepy) by the fact that the slight movement of her parents causes them to be slightly blurred due to the long exposure time, while the girl is deathly still and, thus, perfectly in focus.

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Queen Victoria has to have position number one on this list because the era is named for her and, frankly, she was bloody creepy. When her husband Albert died in 1861, she went into mourning – donning black frocks until her own death many years later – and expected her nation to do so too. She avoided public appearances and rarely set foot in London in the following years. Her seclusion earned her the name “Widow of Windsor.” Her sombre reign cast a dark pall across Britain and her influence was so great that the entire period was fraught with creepiness. Ironically, since Victoria disliked black funerals so much, London was festooned in purple and white when she died.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2009/08/29/top-10-creepy-aspects-of-victorian-life/

10 Crazy Facts From Bedlam, History’s Most Notorious Asylum

If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, that path may well cut through the fetid halls of Bethlem Hospital. The institution began as a priory for the New Order of St. Mary of Bethlehem in 1247. As religious folks are wont to do, the monks there began to look after the indigent and mentally ill. The monks believed that harsh treatment, a basic diet, and isolation from society starved the disturbed portion of the psyche.

While their aim was pure, those who would succeed the monks were not so wholesome of purpose. What would follow was more than 500 years of madness and squalor. So awful was Bethlem, that its bastardized nickname “Bedlam” would come to be a universal synonym for lunacy.

10Origins

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Bethlem began as a small institution, catering to only a handful of inmates at once. The original structure was built atop a sewer, which frequently overflowed, leaving patients to trudge through the foul muck. It accommodated approximately a dozen patients at any given time, and it featured a kitchen and an exercise yard.

Little is known of Bedlam during the intervening medieval period, but during this time, control of the facility transferred from the church to the crown of England, probably because the government foresaw a potential profit. By the 1600s, the original facility was a crumbling mess. A new building was commissioned in the late 17th century, an imposing structure whose entrance was flanked by two human sculptures wracked with suffering named “Melancholy” and “Raving Madness.” Melancholy appears blank and vacant, where Raving Madness is charged with fury and bound in chains.

Many of the patients locked therein weren’t what we today would consider mentally ill. Along with the raving schizophrenics and psychopaths were epileptics and those with learning disabilities. These souls were often forsaken by their loved ones, allowing for a wild medley of abuse.

9Rotational Therapy

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One of Bedlam’s many controversial treatments, rotational therapy, does not seem particularly awful at first glance. Invented by Erasmus Darwin (grandfather to Charles), this therapy involves sitting a patient in a chair or swing suspended from the ceiling. The chair is then spun by an orderly, the speed and duration dictated by a doctor.

This low-rent carnival ride could rotate a dizzying 100 times a minute. Of course, carnival rides can be great fun, but it is their brevity which makes them manageable. Two minutes in defiance of gravity is a thrill—but can you imagine being stuck on the Zipper or the Scrambler for a few hours?

Countless patients were subjected to this treatment at Bedlam. Inducing vertigo did nothing to curtail the severity of mental illness. The results of rotational therapy included vomiting, pallor, and incontinence. At the time, these were seen as beneficial, especially vomiting, which was considered therapeutic. Oddly enough, rotational therapy would later provide valuable insight to scientists studying the effects of vertigo on balance.

8Famous Patients

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While the majority of Bedlam’s patients were sadly anonymous and lost to history, the facility housed a handful of famous inmates. These included architect Augustus Pugin, who designed the interior of the Palace of Westminster (where the parliament meets), a motley crew of would-be royal assassins, and legendary pickpocket Mary Frith (aka Moll Cutpurse).

Perhaps the most larger-than-life patient that ever roamed Bedlam was Daniel, who’d served as a porter for Oliver Cromwell. Daniel was reportedly 229 centimeters (7’6 “) tall, which would have been a shocking sight in the 17th century, when few men topped 6 feet in height. Per Cromwell’s instructions, Daniel was outfitted with his own library.

A religious fanatic and alleged clairvoyant, Daniel had his own “congregation” inside Bedlam, which would gather to hear him preach. Daniel’s ability to see the future supposedly enabled him to predict several terrible events, including a plague and the Great Fire of London in 1666, which destroyed much of the city.

7Art

There’s little doubt that art often walks hand in hand with mental illness; painters like Edvard Munch, Vincent van Gogh, and Michelangelo all seem to have had demons that sparked their work. So too has Bedlam Hospital done its part to inspire.

Bedlam is depicted as the ultimate ruin of a man named Tom Rakewell in a series of paintings by artist William Hogarth created in the 1730s. The series, titled “Rake’s Progress,” sees Tom inheriting a fortune, which he blows on gambling and prostitutes. In the last of eight paintings, Tom lies prostrate on the floor of Bedlam while society ladies look on and fellow patients suffer through their delusions.

English artist Richard Dadd spent two decades as a patient in Bedlam. Likely a paranoid schizophrenic, Dadd became convinced that his father was the devil, and he stabbed him to death in August 1843. He fled to France to fulfill a lunatic plan to kill the Austrian emperor and the Pope (under the instruction of the Egyptian god Osiris, who he believed communicated with him). He was later captured when he attempted to attack another man with a razor on a train.

Dadd’s masterwork, “The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke,” was commissioned by Bedlam head steward George Henry Haydon. The painting, which Dadd spent nine years on before giving it away unfinished, is a window into Dadd’s disturbed mind. It is fantastical, yet filled with baroque details, Shakespearean context, and ties to folklore. It has inspired many over the years, including Freddie Mercury of Queen, who penned a song in honor of the painting.

6Brutal Treatments

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Psychiatric treatments have come a long way since Bedlam first opened its doors to the mentally ill. Today, we have reliable pharmaceuticals and established paths of psychotherapy. But in the past, treatments could be decidedly more traumatic.

Bedlam was run by physicians in the Monro family for over 100 years, during the 18th and 19th centuries. During this time, patients were dunked in cold baths, starved, and beaten. William Black’s 1811 “Dissertation on Insanity” described the asylum thusly: “In Bedlam the strait waistcoat when necessary, and occasional purgatives are the principal remdies. Nature, time, regimen, confinement, and seclusion from relations are the principal auxiliaries.” He went on to describe the use of venesection (an archaic term for bloodletting), leeches, cupping glasses, and the administration of blisters.

Bedlam was so horrific that it would routinely refuse admission to patients deemed too frail to handle the course of their therapies. As early as 1758, the conditions and treatments in Bedlam were described as archaic by people like William Battie, M.D., who managed his own asylums.

5Mass Graves

Many patients did not survive their stay in Bedlam. In recent years, excavations for England’s new Crossrail system have uncovered mass graves in London, including those of asylum residents and plague victims. After patients died, their families often abandoned them, and the bodies were hastily disposed of without benefit of a Christian burial. Hundreds of skeletons from Bedlam were discovered on Liverpool Street, at a site which is slated to become a modern ticket hall. Before construction can begin, 20 archaeology digs must be completed to comply with planning regulations.

Many of the remains date back to the 16th century and are being studied at the Museum of London before being reinterred. History describes a burial ground next to the hospital whose keeper was charged to “smother and repress the stenches” from the corpses within. Among the bones, even more ancient finds have been made, including a golden coin nearly 2,000 years old, depicting the Roman Emperor Hadrian.

4Dissections

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In the 18th and 19th centuries, anatomical studies were in vogue in Europe. Unfortunately, there was a vanishingly small supply of corpses to dissect; only those of indigents and executed criminals could be used for scientific purposes. This led to the grisly cottage industry of “body snatching”—raiding recently filled graves to sell the bodies to medical schools.

In the late 1790s, a man named Bryan Crowther was brought onto the staff of Bedlam as the chief surgeon. Crowther was tasked with attending to sick patients, but he was much more interested in them after they died. As mentioned, families were often uninterested in claiming their deceased relatives, allowing Crowther freedom to carve them up. He was particularly interested in dissecting their brains, searching for some physiological mechanism responsible for mental illness. Although his activities were highly illegal, even blasphemous, he was able to carry on with these experiments for some 20 years.

3Corruption

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When control of Bedlam transferred from the church to the crown, a certain amount of corruption was inevitable. The majority of this vice was rooted in embezzlement. Donations of food and other provisions would be taken or otherwise sold by management, leaving patients on starvation rations.

Perhaps the most sinister reign was that of John Haslam, who was appointed to head Bedlam in 1795. Haslam believed that mental illness could be cured but only after breaking the will of the patient. This was accomplished through any number of the aforementioned tortures. Haslam’s ugly tenure came to an end after a visit to the hospital by Quaker philanthropist Edward Wakefield in 1814. Knowing full well what a horror show they had on their hands and fearing bad publicity, Bedlam personnel tried to keep him out, but he eventually gained entry in the company of a hospital governor and a member of the British Parliament.

Wakefield witnessed horrifying conditions. He saw naked, starved men chained to the walls. The worst case was one James Norris, who was clad in a harness with chains running into the wall and into an adjoining room. When the staff saw fit, they would yank on the chains, slamming the unfortunate Norris into the wall. Wakefield inquired how long this had been going on, and Haslam told him between 9 and 12 years. This led to a long public inquiry of the goings-on within Bedlam. Haslam blamed the conditions on his chief surgeon, the butcher Bryan Crowther. Eventually, both men were let go, and Bedlam began taking steps toward more humane treatment of patients.

In 1863, Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum was opened, and it accepted Bedlam’s most infamous and criminal patients, including Richard Dadd. With that, Bedlam’s notoriety dipped considerably, and today, it operates as Bethlem Royal Hospital.

2Political Prisoners

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Reasons existed to lock people away at Bedlam besides the treatment of psychiatric issues. Certainly, there were few better ways of silencing an opponent than trapping him in a mental institution. Not only would the person be out of your hair, but the stigma of being a patient at an asylum would undoubtedly damage said enemy’s credibility if he were ever released.

One of the strangest figures in the hospital’s history was a man named James Tilly Matthews. In the wake of the French Revolution, tensions between England and France were mounting, and the possibility of war seemed imminent. Matthews traveled to France, seemingly of his own accord, in an effort to defuse the situation. He was soon locked up by the French on suspicion of being a spy, but after a few years, his claims convinced them that he was merely insane, and he was returned to England. He immediately accused Lord Liverpool, the British Home Secretary, of treason.

Matthews was locked away in Bedlam, where he unspooled a bizarre tale, claiming that he was a secret agent and that his mind was being controlled by the mysterious “Air Loom Gang.” This group used a machine to control his mind by way of a magnet implanted in his brain. Matthews claimed the gang was intent on forcing a war with France. His family believed the dark forces in play were all within Matthews himself, and they had two different doctors go to the hospital to examine him. Both claimed he was quite sane.

None other than the aforementioned John Haslam took a shine to Tilly, using him as the subject for his seminal work Illustrations of Madness. The treatise seemed definitive proof that the man was, in fact, insane and not the unfortunate victim of political scheming. By most accounts, this served as the first fully documented case of paranoid schizophrenia. However, with the exception of his claims about the Air Loom device, Matthews was extremely intelligent and well spoken. Some believe that he merely cracked under the pressure of being used as a pawn in the machinations of two governments.

1Human Zoo

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The most notorious aspect of Bedlam was its availability to the public. It was expected that friends and family would drop in on patients, but for many years, Bedlam was run like a zoo, where wealthy patrons could drop a shilling or two to roam the fetid hallways. These visits were so frequent that they made up a significant portion of the hospital’s operating budget.

Wandering through a facility for the mentally ill was not without its attendant risks. While most patients were probably more of a danger to themselves than anyone else, there was also no shortage of psychopaths manacled to the walls. There was also always the chance that some poor, tormented soul might empty his chamber pot over your head.

Henry Mackenzie’s 1771 work The Man of Feeling described a visit to the hospital as follows: “Their conductor led them first to the dismal mansions of those who are in the most horrid state of incurable madness. The clanking of chains, the wildness of their cries, and the imprecations which some of them uttered, formed a scene inexpressibly shocking.”

Read more: http://listverse.com/2014/04/02/10-crazy-facts-from-bedlam-historys-most-notorious-asylum/

Top 10 Macabre Collectibles

Some people collect stamps, others collect newspaper clippings (perhaps even toenail clippings), and some even collect humans skulls and skins and penis castings. All collections must have a beginning. Perhaps they are sparked from an indescribable fascination, or a love for something unique or odd. Is it a peculiar form of classification, or even a means to siphon off from celebrity / idol hype and contemporary trends? There just may not be a way to fully comprehend the complexities of human wonder. Some examples below have become businesses or resources to like minded individuals with special interests. I allow the reader to question what is macabre. With some collections listed, controversy and lawsuits (in regards to proper ownership and various ethical dilemmas) abound to this day. In no particular order.

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With over 100 skinned masterpieces of the tattooed deceased variety, you won’t see any new age “Celtic/tribal” bands or Warner Bros. cartoons here. Dr Katsunari Fukushi’s full body inked skins are traditional Japanese “tebori” (hand-applied). With a goal to preserve and study, Fukushi’s collection includes one of a kind Yakuza skins dating as far back as the 1920’s. They can be viewed, on request, at the University of Tokyo.

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The “Bone Palace” of Ray Bandar is home to 7000 skulls. The only place free of this biologist’s collection is in the bedroom (at his wife’s demand). 79 year old Bender has been skull and bone collecting for more than 50 years! That’s dedication! With official permits in hand, he has been able to get his skulls from virtually anywhere around the globe. His specimens come from zoos, beaches, and even off the road.

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Dr. Stanley B. Burns Collection has a most revered historical photographic collection, with operating room images, depictions of diseases and the effects of war on the body, post mortem photos and malformations or anomalies, along with criminality behaviors depicted in public lynching and executions. It is the largest of it’s kind in the US, with more than 60,000 images.

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Peter the Great’s “Kunstkammer” is the result of 15 years of collecting the oddities and the rarities of Russia and the world, before making it available to the public in 1719. Animals with two heads or multiple legs or pickled punks are among Frederik Ruysch’s amazing anatomical dioramas (which included fetal skeletons surrounded by “trees” of their own preserved circulatory systems) and in the early days of the museum; live “freaks” were on display.

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Interested in obtaining a true likeness of great men, Laurence Hutton (1843-1904) set out to acquire death masks of historical or well-known figures. Some in the collection include Napoleon, Beethoven, Shakespeare, Goethe, Newton and Charles XII who was killed in battle (the bullet’s entry is visible above his right brow). Today the Hutton collection is housed at Princeton University and is available for viewing online.

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What began in 1968, as a way to “meet awesome men” and to fulfill a college assignment, led to Cynthia Plaster Caster casting famous (and not so famous) penises. Rock stars and road manager’s make up most of her subjects. In the early days, Cynthia’s casting partner would permit the appropriate oral contact – in order to make a good impression. More recently she has included women in her collection. Jimmy Hendrix, Jello Biafra, and Karen O are among her better known donors.

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While the “killer clown”, John Wayne Gacy, was spending the rest of his life in jail, Rick Staton became his exclusive art dealer, becoming one of the first of America’s top collectors of murderabillia. Some well known “murderabillia” buyers include painter, Joe Coleman, Lux Interior and Poison Ivy from The Cramps and shock rock performer Marilyn Manson. The Son Of Sam Law does not allow a killer to profit from his crimes (i.e.: movies or books), but murderabillia has become an internet phenomenon and new laws have been difficult to pass, as first amendment rights are contested, so buying and selling is likely to continue. One proposal is the “Stop The Sale Of Murderabillia To Protect The Dignity Of Crime Victims Act”.

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They can be sold down to the follicle and by the inch! Lincoln, Kennedy, Monroe, Einstein, Lennon and Presley are among John Reznikoff’s hair reps. When Britney shaved her head, guess who was super eager to get her locks? Reznikoff became more widely known for his small donation of Beethoven’s hair to LifeGem, a memorial service company that made three synthetic diamonds from the resulting carbon.

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For more than a year, General Horatio Gordon Robley (1840–1930) made detailed drawings, from life, of the early Maori (New Zealand’s earliest settlers) and their face and body tattoos. He also collected as many of their heads that he could, seeing them as works of art. When later searching for a buyer, the New Zealand government turned him down and all but the best five ended up in New York’s American Museum of Natural History. Over more recent years, New Zealand has been trying to get Robeley’s collection back, (along with other moko heads in different institutions), with varying success.

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Walter Potter (1835-1918), a self taught taxidermist, created strange tableaux of small dead animals, that he arranged in unnatural or humanlike situations. These include gambling rats being caught off guard in a raid, a couple of robins surrounding a tiny coffin in a funeral procession, and a yard filled with exercising toads. The collection was unfortunately broken up and sold at auction to different buyers in 2003.

Contributor: Diogenes

Read more: http://listverse.com/2008/05/30/top-10-macabre-collectibles/

10 Of The Weirdest Alien Encounters People Really Claim To Have

There’s a certain template people have for how they envision aliens. The hypothetical beings will be featureless, grey, small and slender-bodied. Additionally there is a perceived formula for how the alien encounter/abduction goes. Someone in an isolated environment sees a glowing ship and is taken on board for medical experiments, then returned with their memories partially suppressed or erased.

But many close encounters of the third and fourth kind are hugely different from that. Some are much more bizarre and elaborate, others are counterintuitively uneventful (down to earth, as it were). These stories are sometimes so bizarre that you at least wonder how someone could have come up with them.

Are we saying that any of these encounters with non-Earthlings are real? Let’s just remember Carl Sagan’s comment that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Almost every instance here features rather ordinary evidence. Nevertheless, the stories are are not to be missed.

10Malaysia’s Tiny Aliens

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In Douglas Adams’s book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, there is a passage where two powerful alien races send huge fleets to Earth. They cross galaxies and in their quest and fly for thousands of years on the way to their target . . . but don’t realize how small they are compared to Earthlings and all get swallowed by a small dog. A similar sort of alien encounter has been reported many times in Malaysia.

Probably the most notable story of this type occurred on August 19, 1970 to six kids playing in a heavily forested area. They later claimed they saw a UFO less than a meter across, from which five very humanoid aliens filed out. The main visible difference between them and a human being was that they were about eight centimeters (three inches) tall. Four wore blue outfits while one was in yellow with a spiked helmet, who the children interpreted as being the leader. They went to a tree and were attempting to install some sort of “aerial device” in it when one of the kids, identified only as K. Wignerswaran, attempted one of the few alleged civilian abductions of aliens. Unfortunately for him, it turned out that the aliens all possessed ray guns and began shooting at him and his schoolmates, driving them away and inflicting an insignificant wound to Wignerswaran’s thigh.

9Cardiff’s Fleet Of Space Thieves

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Earlier this year, the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense released a case file of hundreds of report they’ve received of UFOs and alleged extraterrestrial activity. By far the most high-profile story released was found on page 167 of the document. In 1992, a man in Cardiff, Wales reported that he and friends were out camping when they saw a group of 12-15 UFOs over their campsite. The fleet then “abducted” their car, a dog that was at the site, and their tent (you wouldn’t assume that would require 12 ships). The man was quoted as saying that the theft left him “gobsmacked.” How exactly a tent and car can be abducted as opposed to stolen was not explained. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely an investigation will ever uncover the desired answers—the reason these stories were released to the public was because the department for UFO analysis was being shut down.

8Voronezh’s Trigger-Happy Invader

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The Western Hemisphere naturally has no monopoly on stories of alien encounters. In fact, probably the most frightening one comes from Russia right around the time the Berlin Wall fell. In the Voronezh City Park on September 27, 1989, some kids were playing soccer when a red disc landed. Out came a three-eyed creature, standing 2.7 meters (nine feet) tall and holding a ray gun-like device, which it used disintegrate a boy identified by at least one source as Dmitri. After the alien took off again, the boy reappeared. While all the witnesses of the event were children, there were adults that saw the UFO itself, including police officers, as reported by the New York Times. It is also worth noting that that Voronezh was going through a period of UFO hysteria at the time.

7Brawl With An Alien

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In 1954, Gustavo Gonzalez and Jose Ponce were driving their truck along a lonely road outside Caracas, Venezuela when they rounded a corner and found a large luminescent sphere blocking their way. More annoyed that someone was disrupting traffic than the fact there was a sphere hovering over the road in front of them, Gonzalez got out to investigate.

At that point, a hatch opened on the ship, and out came three short, hairy humanoids. One of them jumped on Gonzalez, who was barely able to shake him off at first because the alien was both light and extremely strong. In the scuffle, the alien threw him 4.5 meters (15 ft) through the air. Gonzalez then drew his knife and tried to stab the alien with it, but found it’s body was like steel, and his blade glanced off. Still, the aliens were intimidated enough to get back in the ship and fly away, leaving the pair to report their odd encounter to the police. They got a surprise corroboration from a police officer who claimed he had seen the whole thing.

6An Alien Cookout

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Some people seemingly don’t get too worked up about encountering aliens. Among them is Joe Simonton. On April 18, 1961, in Eagle River, WI, a spaceship landed near his home and “Italian-looking” aliens disembarked. Of all things, the aliens evidentally set up a grill and started making pancake-like foodstuffs. Rather than abducting or threatening Simonton in any other way, they asked him through mime to fill a jug with water, which he did. When he came back, he saw the aliens had finished making some food and asked for some. He got four cakes, one of which he ate. Later he sent a few to local universities, which reported that the ingredient were all of earthly origin. If Simonton could encounter beings from beyond our world or understanding and mostly think to just fill their jug with water, it must be said that perhaps he was even stranger than the creatures he claimed to have seen. Reportedly much more bothersome to him were all the journalists that kept coming to the farm and interfering with his work.

5Aliens Out For Fertilizer

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Similar to Joe Simonton’s story in terms of amazingly casual encounters of the third kind was Newark farmer Gary Wilcox’s meeting with aliens on April 24, 1964. Seeing a cigar-shaped object he mistook for a crashed plane, he rode up to it on a tractor. It turned out to contain two beings in clothing that hid their faces. They told Wilcox that they were Martians and then began asking him questions. This lasted for over two hours until they eventually got down to business and explained that they were attempting to terraform Mars by way of studying samples of Earth soil. To that end they asked for a bag of fertilizer, as they had no cows on Mars. Wilcox obligingly went to retrieve a 75-pound bag only to find the Martians had left before he got back. So he left the bag. When he checked on the spot the next day, it was gone.

4Pier Zanfretta And The Lizard People

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We now head over to Italy, where a private security guard was driven to unusually dangerous extremes by an alleged encounter which left behind atypically strong (though still hardly conclusive) evidence. On December 6, 1978, he was out doing his rounds when he saw four lights coming toward the house he was guarding. Approaching the lights with pistol drawn, he saw that they were three meters (10 ft) tall, green-skinned, mouthpiece-wearing reptilian things with spikes extending from their heads. He claimed the aliens then seemed to hit him with some sort of heat beam. He sprinted away, radioed in, and then broke off contact, having to be found by a later security patrol. When he saw the other guards, he aimed his gun at them, but fortunately didn’t fire. When the scene was later investigated, very large unusual footprints (about 50 cm or 20 inches long) were found along with evidence of scorching among the trees, which indicated at least something out of the ordinary had happened.

But that wasn’t the end of it for Zanfretta. On December 26, the aliens returned, and this time they got him. As he later recalled under hypnotic suggestion, the aliens took him inside their craft and attached a sort of communication helmet to him. One of the aliens shot Zanfretta’s gun into a piece of metal, apparently to see what would happen. Zanfretta told the lizard men that he was afraid and wanted to be released. They obliged.

That was until they abducted him again on July 29, 1979, yet again on December 2, 1979, and a fifth time in 1980. On the fifth occasion, the aliens took him to a crystal mothership and showed him a frog-like being suspended in a tube that they claimed was an enemy of their species. Through it all, they provided very little actual motive for why they repeatedly abducted a security guard for short periods. As with others we’ve described, Zanfretta seemed to benefit very little from his claims, and in fact spent decades languishing in obscurity after an initial media flurry over his claims.

3Lee Parish Is Abducted By . . . Structures?

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On January 27, 1977, 19-year-old Lee Parish was driving home when he claimed his car was lifted into the air by a beam of light. Under hypnosis, Parish later described being taken before three strange objects that looked so unlike any known life that he could only guess that they were sentient. One was a large, black, 20-foot-tall rectangle, with a jointless robotic arm extending from it. There was also a red rectangular prism with a similar arm, and a motionless white prism about two meters (six feet) in height. Somehow, the white one gave the impression that it was the leader. The red prism approached him and extended the robot arm, with Parish getting the sense that it was afraid of him. Nevertheless, when it touched him, it gave him a sensation of coldness and pain. Parish thought that was done to run a scan on him. After that, the three objects merged together, dispelling a later impression among some UFO enthusiasts that the things were robots. The next thing Parish was aware of, he was back in his car. Analysis of his missing time indicated the reported experience lasted 38 minutes.

2Brains On The Road

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On August 17, 1971, John Hudges and Paul Rodriguez were driving home in Palos Verdes, California when they saw aliens on the road. They looked like cerebrums, with the smaller of the two slightly bigger than a softball. The larger of them had a large red eye, and began to float toward them. The pair immediately hightailed it away, and Hodges dropped Rodriguez off at his home.

But when Hodges got home, the aliens returned, and this time he was taken to their leaders. According to Hodges, these were aliens of a type more commonly described, with the brains essentially pets that they used for telepathic communication. Why they would let the brains wander free or reveal their existence to their first human contact was not explained.

1Aliens Elaborately Stalk Ed Walters

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In 1988, Gulf Breeze, Florida became the epicenter of a string of UFO sightings and photographs mostly centering around one Ed Walters. With their unusually non-aerodynamic structure, color scheme, and general shape, the UFOs Walters (and allegedly other people) photographed looked less like interstellar craft of galactic villains and more like they should be on tilt-a-whirls—which is very fitting for the odd experience he described.

Starting on November 11, 1987 and ending May 1, 1988, the Walters family claimed to have 20 encounters with aliens that were flying around in an estimated 20 ships, with him seeing at most six crew members to a ship. This was exhaustively described in his book The Gulf Breeze Sightings. Walters’s book also has the odd photo of himself and his family members. One photo has him standing in a towel on the deck allegedly yelling, “Land, or get the hell away!” at a UFO. Another has a blue beam that the aliens purportedly used as a tractor beam of sorts being dodged by his terrified wife. From first photographing a UFO to the end, he experienced such weird telepathic signals as a woman speaking Spanish to a baby, a series of images of dogs, and (some days later) a bunch of images of naked women (“if this was to try to persuade me to board the ship, it wasn’t working”). At one point, they dumped liquid onto his home, some of which landed in a pool. It turned out to be salt water.

Additionally, aliens showed themselves to him repeatedly, both while he was driving at night and outside the sliding glass back door. The road encounter was where he came up with the assumption there were six to a ship: Five disembarked the ship, and he assumed one stayed aboard while it hovered. They were 1.2 meters (four feet) tall and though their faces looked like those of stereotypical aliens with black eyes and almost no features, they were only visible through slits in helmets because the aliens were supposedly dressed in blocky, bulky armor, of a type almost never reported since.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2013/09/07/10-of-the-weirdest-alien-encounters-people-really-claim-to-have/

10 Horrifying Hospitals You Never Want To Stay In

Hospitals are, by and large, pretty creepy. After all, you’re talking about big, sterile, labyrinthine structures where people often go to die. And that’s just actual medical hospitals. We haven’t even touched the insane creepiness of mental hospitals, which kick things up two or three notches based on their purpose and history alone.

Either way, there’s a reason that a lot of scary movies are based on old, run down and abandoned hospitals. These buildings are all over the world, and many of them are creepy for reasons beyond just looking the part. Here are 10 of the most horrifying hospitals to avoid at all costs.

10Royal Hope Hospital
Florida, USA

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Located in St. Augustine, Florida, Royal Hope Hospital was a Spanish military hospital from 1784 to 1821, before eventually being demolished. A replica of the original hospital was later built to house the wounded during the Seminole War. Eventually, St. Augustine city workers were attempting to repair some water lines and dug in the area of the old hospital, only to discover that it had been built on what appeared to be an old Native American burial ground.

Yes, we are talking about a real-life example of the infamous horror movie trope (Poltergeist was scary, okay?). As you might expect, due to its rather gruesome history, and the fact that it was constructed on those sacred grounds, many reports have suggested it is, in fact, one of the most haunted places in all of Florida.

In the surgeon’s office, there have been reports of the equipment shaking on its own; while in the ward, visitors have said that the beds have actually jumped and knocked at their legs as they passed by. All of this despite the fact that it is not the original building. However, those who believe say the spirits of those who died at the hospital have remained on the grounds through all of these years.

9Tranquille Sanatorium
Canada

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Located on Kamloops Lake in British Columbia, Canada, Tranquille Sanatorium began its life as a ranch before the owners began caring for tuberculosis patients. It was converted to a full hospital in 1907, specifically meant to treat victims of TB. After treating more than 4,000 patients over the years, it closed in the 1950’s and wild rumors began to surface that, at the time of its closing, there was no sign of patients or staff, though that has been more or less proven to be false.

It would eventually reopen, primarily serving as a hospital and training facility, but then shut its doors for good in 1985. You may actually recognize it from several movies, including the recent version of The A-Team, as well as several television shows. Over the years, there have been reports of mysterious floating orbs throughout the facility, inexplicable feelings of sadness, unease and sudden drops in temperature. There have also been reports of mysterious voices and spectral figures, including that of a nurse who was allegedly murdered by a patient.

8Sai Ying Pun Psychiatry Hospital
Hong Kong

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Located in Hong Kong, Sai Ying Pun was a mental hospital built in 1892. It has come to be known as the High Street Ghost House due to the many tales of the supernatural that have emerged. It was initially used as living quarters for the nursing staff until World War II. At that time, it was rumored to have been seized by Japanese soldiers and used as an execution hall. Serving as a mental hospital from 1947 to 1961 (then the lone mental hospital in all of Hong Kong), it became a psychiatric out-patient facility until 1971.

Nowadays, you would never know of its ghostly rumors by looking at it, as it is a community center housing several charity organizations. When it was abandoned in the 1970’s, rumors started to circulate of the sounds of a woman crying, or a loud, thunderous sound emanating from the building. Mysterious footsteps, visions of a devilish man appearing on the second floor before bursting into flames and decapitated spirits wandering the halls at night have all been reported.

7Nocton Hall Hospital
England

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Unlike most other hospitals, Nocton Hall began life as a stately manor home until World War I, when it was taken over and used by American forces as a place for injured soldiers to rest and recuperate. It was used again during World War II as a military hospital and has been used in a similar manner ever since, including as an American military hospital during the Gulf War. The intimidating building was abandoned in 1995, and multiple cases of arson rendered it unusable again.

Stories abound of one ghost in particular haunting the grounds–a sobbing spirit of a young girl whose presence has been reported by various people who have stayed at the building. She is said to haunt one specific bedroom more than others, with numerous people claiming to have been awoken at exactly 4:30 in the morning to see the spectral girl standing at the foot of the bed, crying. The story continues that she is apparently the ghost of a servant girl who was raped and murdered by the son of the man who owned Nocton Hall before it became a military hospital.

6Old Changi Hospital
Singapore

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Built in 1935, Old Changi Hospital has become known as one of the most haunted sites in all of Singapore through the years. At the time it was built, it served as the Royal Air Force Hospital and was later used by the Japanese as a prison camp. It was right around this time that Old Changi Hospital became a torture chamber.

It should not come as a surprise then that there are regularly reported sightings of ghosts believed to be the victims of the Japanese. These days the now-abandoned building, which ceased operation in 1997, has been the site of many supernaturally themed shows, as camera crews attempt to catch evidence of an otherworldly presence in the decrepit, spooky rooms and corridors. Visitors to Old Changi also often come away with frightening stories of strange noises and encounters and, occasionally, feelings of nausea or tales of sensing a spirit following them even after they’ve left.

5Ararat Lunatic Asylum
Australia

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Today it is known as Aradale, but when it opened in 1867 it was called Ararat Lunatic Asylum, and it was the largest in all of Australia, featuring some bizarre and horrifying methods of treatment. Throughout its time as a functioning mental health “care” facility, Ararat housed tens of thousands of patients. It was also reportedly home to some of the most dangerous and violent psychotics in the world.

It remained open for 130 years, during which time a staggering 13,000 patients died there–probably why it is known as one of the most haunted places in all of Australia. The facility closed in 1998, but it was shockingly reopened three years later by the Northern Melbourne Institute of Technical and Further Education as a campus for the Australian College of Wine. Ghost sightings are still frequent, and haunted tours are given through various parts of the facility including the morgue. We’re sure that probably isn’t the slightest bit terrifying.

4Severalls Hospital
England

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There’s something especially terrifying about psychiatric hospitals, which is probably why so many are rolling in rumors and speculation about hauntings. Severalls Hospital in Colchester, England is no different, and it probably doesn’t hurt its haunted reputation that it was once known for conducting psychiatric experiments like full frontal lobotomies and substantial electroshock therapy.

In a rather terrifying twist, it has been suggested that these treatments, which were deemed cures, were used on people who exhibited moodiness or teenage defiance. Also as frightening is the fact that several of the female patients were committed by their families after birthing bastard children, often the result of being raped.

The hospital opened in 1913, with actual psychiatric treatments shutting down in the early 1990’s. It closed altogether in 1997, and it has since been subject to rampant vandalism but has remained otherwise largely untouched. Of course, it likely will not remain untouched for long, as current development plans could result in the hospital being torn down in order to repurpose the land. Still, ghost hunters frequent the facility and are particularly drawn to the mortuary (because why wouldn’t they be drawn to the mortuary?).

3Athens Mental Hospital
Ohio, USA

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The Athens Mental Hospital, located in Athens, Ohio, opened its doors in 1874 and over the years adopted a few different monikers, including the Athens Hospital for the Insane, and it stayed in operation until 1993. By the 1950’s, the hospital was treating more than 1,800 patients at once, and became famed for the infamous lobotomy procedure and housing violent criminals. Over time, the hospital became known as The Ridges, though its history has been somewhat shrouded in mystery.

The mystery is largely due to the fact that any information about patients is kept under tight wraps, with special permission needed from the state of Ohio to gain access. There are also more than 1,900 people buried on the grounds, with their headstones marked by number only, no names attached. Eventually, a large portion of the grounds was given to Ohio University.

One thing that gives this hospital an extra creep factor is the 1978 disappearance of a female patient. Her body was found a year later in an abandoned ward, and you can still see a stain on the floor where her corpse was found, more than three decades later.

2Taunton State Hospital
Massachusetts, USA

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Located in Taunton, Massachusetts, Taunton State Hospital was built in 1854 as a psychiatric hospital, and it boasts a rather horrifying history. One of the hospital’s most famous patients was Jane Toppan, a serial killer who confessed to having murdered at least 31 people while working as a nurse. And yet, according to some of the stories, the people who ran Taunton State Hospital may have actually been even more terrifying than many of the criminally insane patients it housed.

Rumors persist that some of the doctors and nurses would take the (obviously unwilling) patients into the basement and use them to conduct satanic rituals, and in its later years both patients and doctors reported feeling a tremendous sense of unease when even approaching the door to the basement. Reports abound of a “shadow man” who would crawl on the walls and watch the patients. At least you wouldn’t feel lonely, right?

1Beechworth Lunatic Asylum
Australia

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Originally known as Mayday Hills Lunatic Asylum, Beechworth was a sister hospital to Ararat in Victoria, Australia, and was open for 128 years before shutting its doors for good in 1995. Both Beechworth and Ararat were opened in the same year after Victoria’s lone mental institution suffered became overcrowded. At its height, Beechworth housed roughly 1,200 patients, and it was remarkably easy to have someone committed, requiring only two signatures to do so.

There were reports of mysterious deaths and disappearances at Beechworth, and in the facility’s first laboratory for experimentation, operations and autopsies, jars filled with body parts adorned the shelves throughout the room. These jars have since vanished, as a fire took part of Beechworth in the 1950’s and the jars disappeared sometime around the restoration of the facility. Of course, when you consider that Beechworth’s first superintendent believed the moon caused insanity and therefore would never go out at night without an umbrella, some of these practices begin to make a big more sense. Overall, nearly 9,000 patients died at Beechworth, including a young girl who was mysteriously thrown from a window, her death going unsolved. Don’t worry–ghost and murder tours are still offered at the facility.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2013/06/21/10-horrifying-hospitals-you-havent-heard-of/

10 Roads That Will Scare You Stupid

All Hallow’s Eve. Samhain. Halloween. Call it what you want, but it is fast approaching!

We have all heard our fair share of urban legends, visited some “haunted” houses, been to these locations willingly. But what if we were simply trying to get from point A to point B? We had no intention of exposing ourselves to the paranormal, the supernatural. A lonely night time drive down the wrong (or right?) road is sometimes all it takes to end up with an encounter you were truly not expecting. The houses and castles seem to have been hogging all the ghosts lately, why not give the back roads and byways a chance to scare the pants off of us? Here are 10 roads that, according to legend, will more than deliver the goods.

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For over fifty years this road has been the scene of numerous hauntings. Reports of paranormal activity have been frequent enough that the road has been nicknamed ‘the Ghost Road’ It is thought to be Scotland’s most haunted road and has received hundreds of reports of unexplained sightings. In 1957 a truck driver saw a couple walk in front of his truck and he thought he hit them. When the driver stopped to investigate the couple were nowhere to be seen. This is something of a typical “ghost story” scenario, but that is what Halloween is all about after all!

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A one-mile section of Kelly Road, Ohioville, Pennsylvania is an area that has had numerous reports of paranormal activity and bizarre happenings. Reports say that when animals have entered this haunted stretch of road they suddenly turn from peaceful and quiet to violent (think Cujo), chasing after other animals and even people. The road is surrounded by dark, thick and creepy forest where white apparitions and noises that can’t be explained have been seen and heard. No one is quite sure why this short section of road is haunted but theories suggest that is could be somehow connected to cult activity that was once taking place in the area and curses that have been put on the land for some reason.

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Dead man’s curve is a dangerous turning intersection in Clermont County–according to the most common reports, at the place where 222 meets State Route 125. The road was part of the Ohio Turnpike built in 1831, and it has a long list of victims. On October 19, 1969, five teenagers died there when their 1968 Impala was hit at more than a hundred miles an hour by a 1969 Roadrunner. There was only one survivor: a guy named Rick. Ever since that day, the intersection has been haunted by “the faceless hitchhiker,” whom Rick has seen five times. It is described as the pitch-black silhouette of a man, a “three-dimensional silhouette.”

According to Haunted Ohio III, Rick’s friend Todd said “Rick and I were heading home from Bethel to Amelia. I noticed a man’s shape on the side of the road. It turned like it was hitchhiking, with an arm sticking up. The thing wore light-colored pants, a blue shirt, long hair and a blank, flat surface where the face should have been. We looked back. There was nobody there. I’ve also seen the black shadow figure, walking its slow, labored, dragging walk by the side of the road.”

Due to rerouting, the actual location of Dead Man’s Curve is somewhat in doubt. They say it is at 222 and SR 125, near Bantam Road. As you head east on 125, 222 turns right towards Felicity and Bantam Road turns left toward East Fork Lake State Park. The spot is just below a carryout.

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In the city of Belvidere in Boone Country, Illinois there is an intersection that has been the site of many hauntings, particularly the Bloodspoint Road. Other roads included in this local haunting are Wheeler, Flora Church, Pearl, Poole, Sweeney, Cherry Valley, Stone Quarry, Fairdale, and Irene. It is believed that the hauntings on these roads are a result of a number of tragic and spooky events that happened there in the past. These events include hangings, suicide, various train accidents and the purported inhabitation of a witch.

Scary Stocksbridge Bypass Bridge

Stocksbridge By-pass is formerly part of the M67 motorway in England, it was then downgraded to a dual carriage way and today it is just a single carriage way. The road, which was finished being built in 1989, runs around north side of the Stocksbridge and its valley. It has been the location of many hauntings. Over time there have been sightings of children playing late at night under the bridge and a monk who just stands and looks out. One sighting of the monk prompted a police investigation which ultimately provided no explanation. Other people have heard the sounds of children singing in the vicinity when there are none to be seen. Perhaps most frighteningly are the reports of people driving who have suddenly noticed an apparition of the monk sitting beside them in the car!

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To answer you question, yes, size does matter. Because in England, many people agree that the longest road is also its most haunted! Motorists making their way down this road have experienced unusual phenomena: Roman soldiers marching, an upset woman trying to hitch a ride, and lorry going the wrong way down the road! Apparently with 230 miles and 6 lanes, there is more than enough room for this parade of freaks. Next time you are utilizing the thoroughfare for travel, beware of a phantom pickup truck.

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Even if you don’t buy into the whole haunted roads business, you would be wise to exercise caution on this road. The road is very heavily used, yet it hasn’t been redesigned to take all of the modern traffic. It is notorious for it’s frequent traffic jams wrecks. And apparently, the ghosts are out to get you on top of this! Many claim that ghosts will suddenly appear in the middle of the road, causing the driver to swerve to avoid hitting the “person”. And to make matters worse, supposedly the ghosts of the crash victims are being added to the already high spirit count. Travel this road with caution, and keep an eye out for much less cautious “pedestrians”.

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Now known as Highway 191, the route (the sixth branch of the famous Route 66) is notorious for accidents, apparitions, and just plain bad luck. Linda Dunning writes on prairieghosts.com about an incident with her husband:

“He [author’s husband] was alone and hadn’t seen a car for miles and miles. Suddenly, he saw a truck that looked like it was on fire heading straight for him, right down the middle of the highway. The truck was going so fast that sparks were flying up off the wheels and flames were coming from the smokestack. It scared him so bad that he pulled way off the road and walked 20 feet or so out into the desert away from his car and waited for the truck to pass him, going what he estimated was 130 miles an hour. He then got back into his car and continued on.”

If you aren’t careful, hell hounds will shred your tires. A young girl walking down the road will vanish if you try to help her. If you are alone, a ghost may just take up residence in your back seat. Dunning has this to say for you advice:

“Take a lot of people with you and don’t leave any space for unwanted passengers who just might decide to appear in your backseat. Pull off the road if a huge diesel truck comes barring down on you from either direction. Don’t be curious to see if there is a driver in that single car passing you in the night. Don’t look for lights floating in the sky. Hope you don’t see any young girls in white dresses. Never stop if you spot something peculiar and don’t pick up hitchhikers. Lastly, if demon dogs approach you in the night, just keep driving.”

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“In November 1992 Ian Sharpe was heading up the A229 from Sussex into Kent. A girl in white with “beautiful eyes” stepped in front of his car and she disappeared under the front Wheels. In total despair Sharpe stopped the car believing he had killed her and was powerless to help.
On leaving the car he found nothing there. No girl, no body no white dress – or even any wildlife; a fox a badger or a rabbit. Not a sausage… I think you get the point.”

If you are faint of heart, this road is not recommended. Another contender for England’s most haunted road is A229. The local constabulary are not strangers to calls of people plowing into pedestrians, more specifically, a woman in white, only to lose track of the body. If you are passing Lower Bell pub towards Maidstone, don’t be too surprised if that hitchhiker vanishes before you reach your destination. The ghost lady is generally regarded as that of Judith Langham, who was tragically killed in a collision of her wedding day, still in her dress.

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“What is it about this road?” inquires the article on weirdnj.com. A question that has been on the minds of many. What causes all the weird happenings? While nobody can seem to answer the “why,” most can attest to the “what”.

If you are visiting the road at midnight, stop by the bridge at Dead Man’s Curve for a game of catch. Toss pennies into the water, and the ghost of a young boy will toss them back.
A gray wolf with red eyes will stalk you from the bushes.
Satan worshippers will hang hang up their bloody clothes to dry, right next to the mutilated animals.
The ruins of a castle reside in the woods.
If you find yourself in the wrong section of woods, expect to be chased out by Satanists or the Ku Klux Klan.
Weird animals, speculated to be survivors and interbred specimens from the abandoned nearby zoo, Jungle Habitat, from which most of the animals escaped.
A dangerous curve that has been the demise of many an unwary driver is rumored to be heavily haunted.
Phantom pickup trucks will gladly escort you from the road. Well, chase you.
Weird lights flying in the sky will draw you attention upward, away from the blood stains on the pavement.

This road is not a joke. Regardless of your stance on the paranormal, it is confirmed fact that many dangerous groups gather here for less-than-savory activities. And they do not like to be disturbed.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2009/10/29/10-roads-that-will-scare-you-stupid/