Rel 104: Haitian Voodoo
Bob Corbett February 20, 1990
Are there even zombies in Haiti. No one seems to have clear proof. In Davis' book there are two cases cited which are generally taken as two of the most solid cases to defend the existence of zombies. But, as you can obviously see, even these two famous cases are open to much doubt.
But, for the sake of this discussion below we will abstract from this question and proceed AS THOUGH THERE WERE ZOMBIES.
Through the prayer of the houngan or mambo the loa kill the person in question. Then, with the help of the loa, the houngan or mambo raises the person from the dead and the person is a zombie, under the control of the houngan, mambo, or person designated by them.
This explanation is not to be taken seriously. Not because it is a religious hypothesis, but because it is not one the houngans and mambos themselves put forward. They all admit the use of some drugs, especially in two phases:
This view would hold that there are drug-related activities in the making of a zombie:
This explanation is not one I will seriously entertain, since no one seems to argue for it. Those who admit the drug-related explanations use the one below, the two drug hypothesis.
However, note that nothing in this explanation is importantly contrary to the religious implications of the first view above. It is perfectly consistent with the religious interpretation that both drugs and the cooperation of the loa are needed.
Davis argues a secular version of this hypothesis. That is, he argues that there are two drugs used:
Two important notes about this theory:
Also note that this view requires that whatever drug is used to put one under, either one is aware of what is going on around one while in death or the death-like trance, or that one becomes aware as the drug begins to wear off.
Puzzle of this account: Is it not possible that some drugs which might be used for this purpose could just wear off and the person would recover on his or her own? Davis' account is unclear on this point. Nothing in the account seems to rule this out, but he seems to imply the necessity of the "faith healing."
Davis is fascinated with the tetrodotoxin hypothesis, and the view that the tetrodotoxin comes from the puffer fish. As you are aware, Davis has been charged with inadequate evidence for this claim.
Thus two question emerge:
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