Random Asides

Lithuanian Skeptics

This is just cool. OK, so I’m a geek and you may not think it’s very cool. But a few weeks ago I found a Lithuanian-language skeptic blog in New Zealand that linked to us.

Since I am half Lithuanian, am studying the language, and will be spending the summer in Lithuania, I was impressed. In no small part due to the Soviet occupation of Lithuania and the suppression of religion by that regime, Catholicism is huge there now, because religion was an important way for the people to resist the Soviets and retain their national identity. Lithuanians also have a reputation for being very superstitious. They were the last European country to convert to Christianity and pagan rituals continued for a long time side-by-side with the new religion.

Anyway, I was really happy to see this site linking back to us. For any other Lithuanian readers we may have, here’s a post on homeopathy (homeopatija), and you may want to bookmark this interesting blog. I can only partially read it, but the post also includes a video of James Randi (in English).

Lithuanian language blockquote below the fold.

Å iandien kokias 10 minučių džiÅ«gavau mintyse klykaudamas, kažkÄ… panaÅ¡aus – ou jÄ—! Linas – 1, homeopatija – 0.

Trečiadienį vienoj turizmo agentÅ«roj pastebÄ—jau, kad jie pardavinÄ—ja homeopatines tabletes “No Jet-lag”. Tad aÅ¡ paraÅ¡iau gražų laiÅ¡kutį tos agentÅ«ros centriniam skyriuj, kad jų Velingtono skyrius pardavinÄ—ja homeopatines tabletes, kurios yra ne kÄ… daugiau nei brangus placebas.

Šiandien gavau atsakymą, kad tas skyrius tai darė savavališkai ir jie ėmėsi veiksmų, kad tai nebepasikartotų.

Jeigu kÄ…, tai homeopatiniai “vaistai” paprastai tebÅ«na, grynas vanduo, su tikimybe, kad “aktyviosios” medžiagos bent 1 molekulÄ— pasitaikys tame vandenyje gal kas 1000-ojoje tabletÄ—je (priklauso nuo paruoÅ¡imo, kartais gali bÅ«ti ir kad ta tikimybÄ— dar gerokai mažesnÄ—).


Donna Druchunas is a freelance technical writer and editor and a knitwear designer. When she's not working, she blogs, studies Lithuanian, reads science and sci-fi books, mouths off on atheist forums, and checks her email every three minutes. (She does that when she's working, too.) Although she loves to chat, she can't keep an IM program open or she'd never get anything else done.

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  1. So cool! I love to hear about skeptical action in other cultures. Thanks for the heads up, writerdd. Oh, and now that you’ve told us this, you know you have to keep tabs on them and report back on any breaking Lithuanian skeptical news.

  2. Gerai (ok), as much as I can read, anyway. I am still looking for some knitting and skeptical blogs that are actually in Lithuania!

  3. Yes, that is just cool! helloooo Lithuanians!

    I’m quarter Ukranian, btw. Are we meant to be fighting or something?

  4. Labas!
    Just letting you know there is another half-Lithuanian skeptic out there. I grew up in Chicago in the large Lithuanian community there but I can’t read or speak the language. My father’s parents were dead and with my mother not being Lithuanian, my dad didn’t speak it anymore.
    I did however have the great advantage of easy access to Lithuanian rye bread and bacon buns!

  5. Hi mcmatz!

    Do you find the same thing — that Lithuanians in the US have a reputation for being superstitious? Or is it just my family?

  6. I didn’t notice that my father had any obvious superstitions. He grew up in the Back of the Yards (as described in “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair) and with the Depression and all, working and surviving was the number one priority (my grandfather had a small grocery store he owned as a front for selling bootlegged beer – didn’t really do much actual selling of groceries by my father’s account) so I think a lot of the traditions from paganism got absorbed into their practice of Catholicism, if anything.

    What are the superstitions in your family?

  7. “(my grandfather had a small grocery store he owned as a front for selling bootlegged beer – didn’t really do much actual selling of groceries by my father’s account)”

    Your Grandfather is an American Hero! :)

  8. mcmatz, I don’t know. It just seems like most of the Lithuanians I know have some kind of superstitions. My grandmother was very, very catholic, plus she read all the tabloids and watched soap operas. I don’t know that she had any non-religious superstitions. :-o

    There are some funny superstitions in Lithuania but I don’t guess anyone believes them more than we in America actually believe in “knock on wood” or the bad luck of walking under a ladder.

    Here are some from this site http://www.vilnius-life.com/vilnius/superstitions

    Everybody knows that if you light a cigarette (or anything for that matter) from a candle, a sailor dies.

    Never introduce yourself or shake hands through a threshold.

    Don’t place your bag on the floor – you’ll lose money!

    Don’t whistle indoors – you’ll inadvertently ‘call little devils’ to appear!

    Don’t sit at the corner of a table if you wish to marry soon. (You’ll have to wait seven years. Oops!)

    If a knife falls to the floor, it means you will soon have a male guest. If a fork falls, a female guest will visit. (Spoons are inconsequential – toss at will.)

    If a bird shits on you, or if you accidentally step in shit (any old shit will do) – you’ll be (filthy) rich!

  9. At the end my dad, who lost faith in the church after Vatican II, still had faith in the beliefs. He was truly shocked when I told him I was an atheist which surprised me because was a bibliophile of biblical proportionsâ„¢ and very well read. I thought he must have put the pieces together.
    Of course, he also had the idea that I had to live at home and take care of him until I got married.
    Gotta love ’em!

  10. Oh, my grandmother hated that the mass wasn’t in Latin any more, and she never did start eating meat on Friday. She always made potato pancakes on Fridays when she was visiting us, or ordered cheese pizza.

    Fortunately, that grandma was balanced by a Jewish-atheist-communist grandpa on the other side of the family. :-)

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