Saturday, November 24, 2012

TIME FOR ZOMBIES! Thank you, Vice!

For your Saturday and Sunday viewing pleasure, here's a look at a topic that I've brought up numerous times on this blog: Zombies. I love Vice, so if something comes up that fits with this blog of natural goodness, expect a friendly cross-post.

The quest that our favorite druggie is on concerns the "zombie" potion mentioned in Wade Davis's The Serpent and the Rainbow. I have brought it up a few times when detailing tetraodontiform fish (such as fuuuuguuuu) and anything in the nightshade family.

As the documentary explains, our very notion of a zombie comes from Haiti. In The Serpent and the Rainbow, a Haitian shaman, or bokor, created an "undead" servant using a potent cocktail of macabre ingredients. Among those ingredients were datura (which contains scopolamine, the drug known for brainwashing people) and pufferfish poison (which has "risen the dead" several times). These two combined would theoretically make a "zombie" - a "risen corpse" that could be ordered to do a shaman's bidding.

I've made mention of everything in the documentary before. There have been entries on fugu and datura - look them up. Here's a little bit of extra FYI: TTX can also be found in triggerfish, and datura is related to nightshade, "devil's breath," and tomatoes. You will never think of tomatoes the same way again. You're welcome.

Spoiler alert: At the end of this documentary, we learn that the "weapon" Hamilton was given was made of inert substances. When it was taken to a lab for analysis, the powder did not contain any sort of poison except maybe some stuff found in cosmetics. Either this is one hell of a placebo (which I would not put past Haiti) or Vice just got duped. My money is on the latter.

While there is something to be said for a placebo effect, I think it's pretty obvious that Hamilton got trolled. No smart sorcerer/poison maker would allow his claim to fame to be taken back to the U.S. for analysis so easily. Could it still be a con job, even in its native Haiti? Sure. The way Crescent was behaving makes me think that he duped our intrepid reporter on purpose, however. The zombie poison is still out there.

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