Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Fan Death Redux

Close-Up: Electric Fans Sold in Korea
(Image from Wikipedia)

On September 12, 2006, I posted a blog entry on fan death in which I tried desperately to convince non-Koreans of its dire reality by presenting evidence from my own experience:
This summer, fans killed several of my son's pets. First a stag beetle died when our cat, driven mad by ripples in the ether, overturned the beetle's plastic terrarium and fought the poor beetle to its death. Miraculously, the cat survived. Our eel was not so lucky as the cat. Driven insane by the whirling blades' insidious disturbance of the ether, it managed to flip itself out of its aquarium -- through a tiny hole in the top!! -- and die. We found it on the floor ... shriveled and dry. That could happen to you, too. Since then, two other stag beetles have died. Snails as well. And a goldfish has turned deathly white! Scary.
Most responses were supportive, and one scientist, Dennis Mangan (aka Man of Manganese), added this empirical evidence:
A fan killed Thomas Merton. Really.
And yet, there exists the occasional skeptic, some person or other who disbelieves and seems to think him- or herself on a sacred mission to disabuse believers of their fan-death views, such as a commenter calling himself "Anonymous":
Fand death, eh? as i know it i'd say that a fan is made to move hot air from a spot where it's not wanted to a spot where it doesn't bother anything/anyone.
Oh really? Then somebody should place a fan in front of your mouth! We could certainly use less of that bothersome hot air. Plus, the fan blades could trim your words and maybe rid your orthographic rendering "Fand" of its excessive dee. And maybe the breeze would puff up a few of those minuscules to majuscules! Anyway, I replied to this "Anonymous" with the following reasoning:
Anonymous, can 43 million South Koreans and one foreigner be wrong about fan death?
That was several months ago. Now, another skeptical commenter has posted, but not another anonymous poster. This one calls herself "Veronica" and begins by quoting my reasonable words:
"Can 43 million South Koreans and one foreigner be wrong about fan death?"
Then -- inexplicably -- disagrees:
Yes. The consensus is that fan death is an urban legend -- keep in mind that if the 43 million South Koreans are right, then the other 6 billion + people in the world are wrong. Which is the more likely scenario?

I sleep every night with a fan in my room, and I've yet to die. And anyway, if fan death is real, why does it seem to only kill South Koreans? The most likely scenario is that fan death is an urban legend perpetuated by South Korean culture and -- perhaps more importantly -- the South Korean media.
Such a challenge could not go unmet, so I posted the following response:
I raised the following, very -- dare I say exceedingly -- reasonable point about fan death:

"Can 43 million South Koreans and one foreigner be wrong about fan death?"

To this impeccable reasoning, a commenter posts an unexpected reply:


The commenter, who calls herself 'Veronica,' proceeds to willfully post an egregious challenge to the authority of my democratic reasoning by supposedly trumping it with some democratic reasoning of her own:

"The consensus is that fan death is an urban legend -- keep in mind that if the 43 million South Koreans are right, then the other 6 billion + people in the world are wrong."

Sigh, so many skeptics, but oh so many potential converts in dire need of and even waiting for the truth...

'Consensus'? You mean 'compromise'? Oh, yes, let's each give a little bit! That's always the best way to reach the truth.

'Urban'? What arrant nonsense! Even rural Koreans know about fan death!

'Legend'? Well, a legend can be true. Think of a map legend. According to the online Free Dictionary, a "legend" can be:

"An explanatory table or list of the symbols appearing on a map or chart."

Surely, Veronica, you would not claim that such a explanatory table is misleading! What sort of explanation would that be?

As for the 'other' so-called "6 billion + people in the world," I'm sorry, but the democratic reasoning works only in a single political entity.

We don't let the whole world vote for the US president. Why should Koreans allow the rest of the world to vote on fan death? That would be like allowing the entire world to vote on whether or not the magnificent East Sea island of Dokdo belongs to Korea or Japan.

Only Koreans know the truth about Dokdo; logically, then, only Koreans know the truth about fan death. Evidence? Plenty! More than 99 percent of non-Koreans have never even heard of fan death, so how can they possibly have a discerning opinion?

Veronica adds:

"I sleep every night with a fan in my room, and I've yet to die."

Your life is in grave danger!

"And anyway, if fan death is real, why does it seem to only kill South Koreans?"

They are the canaries in the coal mine.

"The most likely scenario is that fan death is an urban legend perpetuated by South Korean culture and -- perhaps more importantly -- the South Korean media."

There's that 'urban' nonsense again! I've already demolished that reasoning. As for your orientialistic dismissal of South Korean culture, I can only advise you to read Edward Said's magnum opus, namely, Orientalism. Reading that should be punishment enough for your thought crimes.

As for your attack upon the South Korean media, I won't even attempt a defense. Everyone knows the fine professionalism shown daily by South Korea's media! South Korea's investigative media bring to light truths that would otherwise remain covered up by lies. In this regard, Korean journalists are like the famous muckrakers of American fame.

Why, without South Korean newspapers, for example, I wouldn't know about the crime wave being perpetrated by foreigners in Korea. Apparently, we commit a lot of crimes relative to our numbers in Korean society. It's actually rather frightening. I've started being more careful around myself. There's no telling what I might do, so I keep an eye on what I'm doing when I think that no one is watching. And you know what? It's all true! I've watched myself steal some pieces of chocolate from the fridge when my wife and kids are out of the apartment. Those unsuspecting, naive people think that I'm slaving away at my computer, working on articles for academic publications, when I'm actually gnawing on chocolate and posting things like this on my blog.

Obviously, I cannot be trusted.
Except when I'm posting on fan death, of course. You should then believe everything that I write.

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At 5:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don’t worry, I believe you. I keep myself safe from fan death by sleeping under the covers, which also protects me from monsters and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

At 6:42 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Praise Dangun for that!

But take more precautions. Fans stir up eddies in the ether that pervades the universe, and these eddies pass right through most cloth. Use aluminum sheets to be secure.

As for monsters, you can prevent monster infestations by cleaning the dust balls from under your bed before they expand to monstrous dimensions.

Jehovah's Witnesses? Sorry to disabuse you, but there is no known protection. They've been known to knock at tent flaps on Everest Base Camp, and legend has it that they've been glimpsed at even higher altitudes, striving to ascend higher than the prince of the power of the air.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the lighthearted post. May I borrow your conclusion the next time the Marmots Hole blogs about Korean xenophobic journalism? Is your wife able to recognize "foreign peril" stories as such? My Korean friends always tooks the reports at face value and couldn't understand why foreigners might find fault with stories about foreign crime waves and dangerous foreign imports.

At 3:41 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Sonagi, of course, you may borrow my concluding remarks (appended by with proper attribution, scholarly apparatus, footnotes, etc.).

Spread the word. It is crucial that everybody understand the threat that we foreigners pose, and I believe that my words will alert more than a few individuals.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:48 PM, Blogger Bohemian in Korea said...

I once had a long conversation with a medical doctor who assured me that not only does fan death have a medical basis but has been scientifically proven. I mentioned to him that growing up in Maine we had a neighbor who was a dowser. He got quite offended as everyone knows dowsing is rank superstition.

At 1:04 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

BohinK, actually, my paternal grandmother was a dowser ... or "water witch" ... but I think that one could hit the water table anywhere in the Ozarks, so I'm doubtful about its real efficacy, too.

But fan death? That's really real.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Grandfather also was a dowser. We have two wells on our property that he located, from different sources (one has a lot of iron in the water, the other does not). I still wonder what would happen if I were to pick a random spot and have a well drilled, if I had the money to do that.

At 9:43 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Richardson, I suspect that you can get water if you drill far enough, but I don't really know all that much about it.

The Ozarks have a lot of water underground, though, so it might work easily there.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 2:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm willing to believe the Koreans. They are a smart people, because they sell their cars overseas (a universally accepted, obvious benchmark).

Another smart people, who export even more cars, know of a related phenomenon which works in the following way:

1) When the surrounding air moves faster than you do, that's wind. It's natural and beneficial.

2) When you move faster than the surrounding air, for example on a motorbike or in a car, that's draft, and it's pleasant and sought-after, except when

2a) you are seated in in train carriage!! In this case, the draft is lethal within a 24h period after exposure, evn a very brief exposure.

The German culture doesn't offer as good an explanation as the Koreans do, but can point to linguistics for proof: "Zug" means both 'draft' and 'train'! This is an obvious warning, safely eternalized in the mother-tongue itself by the the collective unconcious!

I counsel the Koreans to emulate that procedure, and rename the Korean equivalent of "fan" to mirror their word for "bedroom". One day, their scientific knowledge about fan death may be lost, suppressed by the foreign military-industrial complex, but the language similarity will live on, and save countless Korean lives.

At 4:24 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Erdal, if we can just combine Korean energy and German thoroughness, we can save the world from the insidious nature of those air particle forcefully pushed by rapidly rotating blades or stunningly encountered by fast-moving trains.

What is the inner connection between these two fatal forms of air?

If only great scientists like the wrongly-disgraced Dr. Hwang Woo-Suk and the wrongly-sentenced Dr. Johannes Stark could combine their intellects, this link might be found...

Jeffery Hodges

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At 2:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fan death not being real? C'mon, I suffered personally a near death experiencejust days ago. My brother in law and I were sitting on the back porch. A fan was on his left. I was seated to his right, the fan blowing the Ozark's June humidity over each of us.

Karl farted.

Dowsing is a real phenomena too. Fortuntately me recent near death experience didn't rob me of my memories despite death's close proximity. I have seen personally plumbers trace lines from homes to septic tanks then on to leachfields with uncanny precision.

Oh Jehovah's Witnesses? If one answers the door naked (mind it may take more than one visit) word will spread among the afflictors. I found it helpful too to be holding a beer can.


At 3:53 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

JK, you may be onto something. Fans definitely break wind as it passes through their rapidly turning blades.

As for "water witching" (I reject that politically correct term "dowsing"), the subjective reports of the experience always fascinated me. People spoke of feeling a force running through them that went beyond their power to control. A bit frightening to hear, actually...

Jehovah's Witnesses? I find that simply saying, "Sorry, I'm not interested, but thank you anyway," and then closing the door usually works. But your method would probably work almost as well ... if one can do it yet stay out of the hoosegow or loony bin.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well actually in Salem,

I did that on two occasions, "greeting naked" of course.And I guess "one of Salem's finest" did come up to my trailer.

There had of course been a complaint. But since I was in my home, had not stepped out into public, had not solicited in any form my personal copy of the Watchtower, etc. The judge allowedthe case to, pardon the pun, "peter out." I would gladly have appeared at any hearing, indeed was looking forward to it.

But that was an earlier time.

The guys I've seen witching used a #6 bare copper wire bent at 90 degrees, the shorter end resting within loosely gripped fists, the longer end extending out in straight lines some 18". When they walked across the suspected water lines, the two ends of the copper wire which had been pointing ahead, came together.

They mentioned no "mysterious feeling, sensation", just the two ends meeting. They said it was some sort of magnetic field. I saw it happen. I'm not judging the action.


At 2:09 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Hmmm ... yes, I've seen that sort of dowsing as well, but not with copper. Rather, iron. And looking for metal.

If this really has a scientific explanation and also works using copper, then I don't think that we're talking about magnetism, for copper isn't attracted by magnets, not noticeably anyway.

The old "water witches" would make extraordinary claims about the power with which a stick would pull down. I've heard relatives claim that the bark curled off if they tried physically to prevent the stick from dipping.

With all due respect to my paternal grandma, I can't quite believe that part.

The most interesting thing for me is that these old Baptists unselfconsciously called it "water witching." The old hillbillies were a lot less orthodox than their great grandchildren.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do recall the old joke where a husband suggested for variety's sake they do it "standing up".

Wife say's "No, the neighbors might see and think we're dancing."


At 3:39 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I've heard variants on that joke, usually funny and not so repeatable.

Anyway, this entire thread is still more evidence of the dire consequences of using fans -- our thinking has become so warped that we're not even talking about the real danger anymore: i.e., fan death.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's let this one go quietly into the night then. It was just your Old Time Baptist opening.

But I do hope that his one did effortize himself to leave your blog "as is."

No reply needed but I'm not "long -suffering." I kinda feel a need for gypsy. I just wish I had the ability to cope with your usual commentors.


At 7:43 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Okay, I'll leave this one untouched.


Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shall bookmark/favorite this blog ASAP! Delighted to encounter genuine wit and a possible kindred spirit...

I suppose I might also borrow your nomen to add to my usual title of 'bard', as I've gone from the northern wilds of Canada and travelled through Mexico, California, Florida, Taiwan, Israel, Greece, Turkey, Germany, Austria, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, China... hmm, you've still got me beat. I'll have to expand my horizons next vacation...

At 2:41 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

That would make you "Gypsy Bard Judith"?

I'm glad that you enjoyed my fan-death posts. There are two or three more, I think. I've also got some on plagiarism, which can also be an entertaining topic here in Korea...

Jeffery Hodges

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