Dead birds found on Feb. 20 at the University of Texas at Arlington. Image Source: The Shorthorn.
Curiouser and curiouser. This week, three reports are circulating about dead birds: one from Maryland, one from Pennsylvania, and one from Texas. Unlike earlier cases, two of these incidents now involve ritualistic aspects, just in time for Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras.
On February 20, dozens of dead birds were found wrapped in plastic bags around gravestones at Aulenbach Cemetery in Reading, Pennsylvania. James Delle, an anthropology professor at Kutztown University, believes that this is evidence of a Santeria ritual being performed in the cemetery at the beginning of Lent, a season of sacrifice, "to try to maintain balance between the physical world and the spiritual world, and a graveyard or a cemetery is the place where those two places combine."
Also yesterday, students at University of Texas at Arlington found 16 birds arranged in a circle, with two birds placed beak to beak in the centre. Police are investigating whether it is a student prank or some kind of ritual.
On February 15, hundreds of dead Starlings fell from the sky during rush hour in Laurel, Maryland.
This is just what we needed to add to the list of possible causes of mass animal and bird deaths: secret sacrificial rituals. To quote one forum quip when birds started falling from the sky in their hundreds in 2011: "Conspiracy theorists, start your engines!" Conspiracy theorists have already had a field day with these reports. They explain recent mass bird, fish and animal deaths in terms of magnetic polar shifts; Illuminati cover-ups; HAARP; Project Blue Beam; Scalar weapons; fracking; genetic experiments, bioweapons and secret toxin releases; and government or industrial plots. More likely possibilities, such as pollution, nuclear waste and Bird Flu in wild avian populations - or just the mere fact that the Internet enables the instantaneous global sharing of weird incidents - are often dismissed. In the case of Bird Flu, a weird inverse conspiracy theory has arisen, wherein the Flu itself is seen as government-, industry- or conspiracy-sourced.
It's easy for theorists to take (possibly) unrelated events and correlate them online, thereby launching quite plausible-sounding connections and unproven causes. The Internet was practically tailor-made for lining up verified facts (for example, dead birds on I-95 in Maryland) out of context in such a way as to reach some very strange, unverified conclusions. It's one of the oldest logical fallacies in the book: correlation proves causation (cum hoc ergo propter hoc (Latin: "with this, therefore because of this")). Similarly, correlation does not imply causation.
It has never been more important not to confuse questioning information and uncovering the free truth with questioning information and uncovering unfree untruth. The Internet is awash in truth-seekers who mistake false narratives, fakery and illusion for fact; and they take fact to be pure fiction. This turn of mind is dangerous. Nothing is more alarming than when mass illusions are held to be answers, while reality is virulently denied as a manipulative, plotted fiction, woven together by shadowy agents to create a means for mass control. Yet this is increasingly the mood on the Internet. In other words, reality is perceived to be the [false] proof of fictitious conspiracies, of plots by unseen movers, cabals, and higher-ups. Reality itself is also claimed to be the very mark of authoritarianism.
In conducting research for this blog, I have seen a lot of forums, blogs and information sites that claim to be bastions of unoppressed truth against the monstrous military-government-industrial complex. Yes, that complex has a lot to answer for. But chances are, if you are able freely to blog that you think you are living in a police state, then you are not living in a police state.
Trust is being eroded in all the authorities upon whom we would have to rely in a real disaster, let alone the day-to-day running of the society. This is made all the more complex and difficult because, more often than not, again, our authorities are richly deserving of criticism. In this atmosphere, society is vulnerable to self-appointed romantic rebels and anti-authorities who march into the power vacuum and claim monopoly on the truth. To spot them, watch them easily and clearly display disturbing authoritarian tendencies, which they explain away or justify superficially through the transference of blame and responsibility. This is how real tyrannies are born.
All that said, a glut of information ironically makes it nearly impossible to confirm what is happening: having dead fish regularly wash up out of the lakes, rivers and oceans, and flocks of birds falling dead from the sky, while the authorities dismiss these events in wishy-washy language, is undeniably creepy. Lacklustre official explanations do not match the drama of these incidents. No one in a position of authority appears to be particularly concerned (although some local officials plainly are worried). And so, it is not surprising that these incidents are taken as malevolent omens and signs of evil plans afoot - and feed the growing hunger for 'real answers' in an uneasy atmosphere.
Image Souce: Activist Post.
For some of my earlier posts on bird, fish and animal kills, see: here, here, here, here, here and here; and related posts on epidemics are here and here.
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