Deborah Hyde, editor of Skeptic magazine, gave us a fascinating, amusing and informative talk about how myths of vampires, zombies and numerous other malign beings likely came to be part of human culture.
There’s a current interest in sexy vampires, but all ages have had their share of “unnatural predators”. Socially it is useful to have scapegoats; sleep paralysis now has a rational explanation but this frightening event, experienced by a number attending the meeting, can still be interpreted as a supernatural event; psychologically humans need to make stories around experiences, and these stories reflect our cognitive biases.
To understand how these varied myths came about we need to understand the experiences of the ages that produced them: a high risk of premature death in infancy, in childbirth and from ever-present infectious diseases, combined with a lack of knowledge of the causes of these events, and of development of children and of the decomposition of corpses.
To find out more see Deborah’s website.