Skepticism

Bostonist: The Ancestors of Boston Latin’s Vampires

My latest post on Bostonist:

The Boston Latin vampires have been all over the interpages since the Boston Globe reported yesterday that school admins were rushing to cover up for the fact that unholy demons were lurking their halls. Today, the official word is that this is probably more about bullying and rampant rumors of kids cutting themselves and others in an attempt to be Gothier than thou.

As silly as the whole story is, and as jokey as all the media coverage has been, this is a really interesting and prime example of how myths get started. Often, myths and legends can spring from our attempt to explain something we don’t understand and sometimes to dehumanize and spurn people who are seen as “other.” In this case, the narrative seems to have evolved from “Goth kids are weird” to “Goth kids are pretending their vampires” to “Goth kids are vampires.” People tend not to suddenly believe something absurd – instead, each step follows more or less logically from the previous step, until we get to the point where the Boston Globe is writing things like “. . . a male student, rumored to be a werewolf, had threatened on Facebook . . ..”

Consider the last time New England saw a bit vampire craze, back in the late 1700s (at which point Boston Latin was already a good 150 years old). In this case, the big lurking mystery was consumption, which we now know as tuberculosis. [CLICK TO READ THE REST AT BOSTONIST]

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(PS: Boston Skeptics are hosting a social night this Monday. If enough people show, we’ll play team trivia, with prizes! More info here.)

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Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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6 Comments

  1. I feel bad about pointing this out, yet I feel I must.

    “they’re” not “their”

    Probably too late to make the change, but my anal retentive side just couldn’t let it slide.
    (not that I haven’t, or don’t, make errors in spelling or anything, I just felt the impulse to post the correction.)

  2. So they arrested the Goth kid for…dressing different. Nice. I was always a weekend goth anyway, I haven’t been a goth for a long time, I left that identity behind when I grew up, but I read about some kid getting harassed by teachers and other students because he/she likes to dress different and all the rage I used to feel at the norms comes right back.

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