Sun, May 14, 2006 - Page 9 News List

The top 10 modern fairy tales

UFOs do not exist, an official report has concluded. But what about angels, the Loch Ness Monster and the Abominable Snowman?

By Lucy Mangan

This belief will persist for as long as rocks can be dug up for free. I know this because I have shone a light through my pink imbecilia quartz and it refracted into whole industries stringing stones on to leather thongs and laughing all the way to the bank.

5 Elvis

There is a lesser known version of the philosophical conundrum, which goes: "If the world's first and greatest pop icon dies on the toilet and there is nobody around to independently verify the fact, did he really make a gently expiring sound, or did he fake it in order to live out the rest of his life in solitude, save for the occasional excursion to Neoprene, Ohio, to allow sufficient sightings to keep the flame of remembrance alive?" And the answer is no.

But that doesn't stop collective international grief morphing into years of delusional sightings of the King, a testament to the power of human resistance to the appalling notion that death is the end not just of life but of celebrity. Expect the first Princess Diana sighting at a discount store near you any day now.

6 Electronic smog

This, like crystals, is a favorite of holistic health practitioners, homeopaths and the kind of hippies who advertise pet aromatherapy. But it received the beginnings of mainstream acceptance at the weekend, when the Department of Health announced that it was to make two reports on the phenomenon to the government next month.

Electronic smog is meant to refer to the electrical and magnetic fields thrown out by the electrical appliances in our homes, and the radio frequency fields emitted by masts, transmitters, mobile phones and so on. It is believed, in certain quarters, that these can interfere with the natural electrical activity of the body -- particularly in the heart and between nerve cells -- and cause anything from leukemia to cancer to depression.

Ever since the first electrical pylon was raised, there have been studies both supporting and contradicting the idea that strong electrical fields can cause cancer. Clusters of patients found at such sites by research teams are generally dismissed as truly random occurrences. But the fear of invisible rays is a hard one to allay.

Fighting the belief in electronic smog will literally be like fighting mist.

7 Telepathy

There seemed to be a great many television programs in my youth that centred round people staring at white cards with black symbols on them while other people sat behind a screen and tried to say what they were seeing. It wasn't great TV, but remote controls hadn't been invented so whatever channel was on at teatime stayed on until the end of transmission.

Whatever these and other experiments in telepathy various idiots have carried out over the centuries, they have yet to produce a shred of verifiable or duplicable evidence that the mind can transmit messages. And yet we continue, as a species, to have a deep- seated belief in the idea that telepathy is not only possible, but actually happens.

8 Fairies

Fairy lore has survived for centuries, partly because it arose among Celtic people who historically would rather lose a limb than a good story, partly because it is infinitely adaptable to all times and ages, and partly, and most sickeningly, because fairies have an eternal appeal to the vast swathes of every female generation who love their itty-bitty dresses and their iridescent wings and their flowery bowers. Rational argument becomes sodden and useless upon contact with minds so wet, alas.

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