• How People Can Believe In Slender Man

    slendermanIn May of 2014, two 12-year-old girls stabbed their friend 19 times and left her for dead. Last week, police released their interrogation tapes taken shortly after the incident. Why did these two girls nearly murder their friend? Because they feared that if they didn’t, Slender Man would kill them and their families.

    Who is this Slender Man? Slender Man is a tall, slender, faceless man in a dark suit with tendrils that can come out of his back. He is dangerous and evil and goes after children. He might kidnap them or eat them or take them to his mansion in the woods. Oh, and he is imaginary.

    Creative people go online and add their take and their creative energy to the myth. He is a product of online horror fan fiction… or is he? No, he is. Slender Man is a make-believe boogieman. People go online and add to the myth through stories, faked videos, and photoshopped photos.

    So why would anyone even two 12-year-old girls believe he is real? Why do people believe God and the Devil are real? Same reason. Usually however, people are aware that they are adding to the myth of Slender Man with the intention of creating fiction.

    But give it time; one-hundred years from now there just might be a real Slender Man religion. People might forget that Slender Man was a product of collective imagination and some of those fan fiction stories could be canonized into some sort of holy book. Slender Man believers, or “Creepypastafarians,” as they might be called will assert that there is more evidence for Slender Man than there is for Barack Obama. They might brandish all those fake photos and videos to support their case.

    Because at the end of the day Slender Man is really no different than any other religion. This is how Scientology got started. This is how Mormonism got started. This is how Islam got started. And yes, this is how Christianity and Judaism got started too. Give a myth some time and it will become a religion. So is it really all that surprising that these two young girls very nearly murdered their friend over a myth? Fundamentalist religious believers do that all the time.

    Christians often tell me that the Gospels must be true because some of the early Christians died for their beliefs. Well, I bet these two girls would have died for their Slender Man beliefs too. They were certainly willing to kill for them and it probably won’t be long before we see a news story of someone dying for Slender Man either.

    Fortunately, we can prevent that from happening. No, we don’t have to censor Slender Man from the internet (as if that is even possible), but rather we can teach kids and adults how to think critically about these myths and religions. By educating people how to ask the right questions, not hold beliefs above the evidence, and not taking any answers on faith, we can prevent anyone from taking Slender Man or any other religion seriously.

    People can still have fun with the Slender Man myth even though they know it is fiction. Religious believers can still hold on to all their ridiculous rituals and benefit from all the things that their church provides and yet still acknowledge the obvious… that God is as imaginary as Slender Man and isn’t nearly as snazzy a dresser.

    Category: AtheismBelieffeaturedReligionSkepticism

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    Article by: Staks Rosch

    Staks Rosch is a writer for the Skeptic Ink Network & Huffington Post, and is also a freelance writer for Publishers Weekly. Currently he serves as the head of the Philadelphia Coalition of Reason and is a stay-at-home dad.

    4 comments

    1. We need to teach critical thinking in high school, if not earlier. We should also teach children about cognitive biases and logical fallacies. I think that would prevent a lot of belief in nonsense later in life.

      1. It should be much earlier than high school, but you know we’ll never be able to because the hyper-religious parents will complain that it’s anti-religious. Anything that might teach their kids that the religion of their parents is absurd is never going to be accepted, parents will fight to have it removed or at the very least, that their kids are exempt from attending such courses.

        That alone is a good reason to do it and force it into every single class in the curriculum.

    2. I have Schitzophenia and have done some bad things. I have gotten proper help. I do not believe she legitimately has Schitzophrenia. I think she is acting. Unless she has Multiple Personalities I can guarantee you she is faking it. Schitzophrenics do have delusions but the way she was saying thins and acting (yes acting. She isn’t mentally ill) she is just a psychopath. Schitzophrenia doesn’t just pop out of nowhere. It’s an ongoing fight that would have been noticed BEFORE the trial. I don’t mean the doodles either. We have behaviors and they are noticeable. Unless her parents had been ignoring it (which they would have stated more details on her unusual behavior) she’s faking it. She didn’t have them until the trial. Coincidence? Not at all.

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