Home Page Science Frontiers

No. 11: Summer 1980

Issue Contents

Other pages

Other Interesting Sites











Environmental Stress And Anomalies

A succession of outbreaks of so-called mass hysteria in West Malaysia has been investigated by Lee and Ackerman. The victims behaved in bizarre ways, had difficulties in breathing, entered trancelike states, and saw grotesque and mysterious beings. The local populace knew, of course, that the victims (all young students) had offended the spirits. The psychologists knew, of course, that these were typical instances of mass hysteria akin to windshield-pitting episodes, kissing-bug scares, etc. Bomohs (Malay healers) performed adequate sacrifices and passed out suitable talismans, and the episodes were soon under control. The bomohs and the psychologists both explained things successfully in their respective frames of reference. Lee and Ackerman attribute the mass hysteria to social conflicts in a society in transition.

(Lee, Raymond L.M., and Ackerman, S.E.; "The Sociocultural Dynamics of Mass Hysteria..," Psychiatry, 43:78, 1980.)

Comment. Could bomohs likewise suppress outbreaks of UFOs, bigfoot sightings, spoonbendings, and sundry anomalies?

From Science Frontiers #11, Summer 1980. 1980-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987