4. Fan death

No joke, I learned today that there is a serious risk of fan death in South Korea. You’ll even hear stories about it on the news. Fan death. Allow me to explain: should you happen to fall asleep in a room with closed windows while leaving a fan (ceiling, electric or otherwise) spinning throughout the night, you run a high risk of death. How does this happen? The best evidence locals come up with is the theory that the fan chops up the oxygen in your sealed room, destroying it, basically, and so you suffocate. If you check out wikipedia, you get fan death by way of carbon dioxide saturation or hypothermia, though these are countered with logical arguments.

This isn’t about fan death, though.

This is about the crazy ass shit we’re all capable of believing. How falsified information or bad science can become fact. This happens all the time and it’s been happening for centuries. We’re talking about early religion convincing people that some symbols evoked minions of hell. We’re talking about know-it-alls so committed to an earth-centered universe that they excommunicated naysayers. We point blame, we make up tales, we smudge the truth and eventually these otherwise ridiculous notions become fossilized as reality.

Sometimes it’s because we don’t know any better, so as humans we run our mouths before we consult our logic. I’m more prone to forgiving the wild theories and madness of our earlier history, since in my eyes we’re at least somewhat more civilized today, but we’re honestly not doing all that much better. We still believe in holy wars and infinite resources. We still believe in borders and segregation. We think fixing higher education in the United States is as easy as raising tuition again and again. Alcohol is still considered safer than marijuana because a while back the tree-pulp paper companies were threatened by the popularity of using hemp paper. We’re simply gullible, and if enough people tell us that this is the way things are supposed to be, we go along with it.

Fan death is bizarre to me because it makes no sense. I’m sure there are plenty of odd beliefs present in my own country that make even less sense to others. From lead in our paint to addictive chemicals in our hamburgers, we’re a really silly bunch of fools. I’d like to think one day we’d all just stop and think, realize this fact, and move forward, boldly, bravely, and wisely, like we once did when we still thought the world was flat.

 

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