Strange news in Korea?

I’m getting a flood of google searches from Korea, from people looking for images of anencephaly. Anybody know what’s prompting this? I know there was some news on the practice of infanticide in North Korea last week…otherwise, it’s a mystery.


  1. says

    I know there have been some strange mummies found in various parts of the world such as the American Northwest that appear to be mummies of tiny “little people.” Here’s an example of such an oddity:

    An alternative hypothesis for these finds are that they are mummified anencephalic stillborn infants (note the flat head). Apparently anencephalism (lacking a brain) carries other odd deformaties with it that could produce such a funny middle-aged Leprechaun looking thing.

    Maybe such a find was made in Korea?

    Just a hypothesis– this is what came to mind when I heard “anencephaly” since I heard a radio show recently about this topic. Yes, I am indeed a bottomless pit of obscure cultural references. :)

  2. Andrew Wade says

    Anybody know what’s prompting this?

    From “Events mistaken as April Fool’s Day hoaxes” on wikipedia [1]:

    Ogrish reports a bizarre baby born in Nepal (note: these links contain images of the child’s body) [104] The baby, who appeared to have anencephaly, died shortly after birth. This was reported on a major Nepal news site on March 29th.

  3. says

    Also, now that you have acknowledge the google searches, you are now doomed to get more and more and more hits from it.

    This is similar to what has happened to certain Debian mailing lists and “dueling banjos sheet music”. Someone, for a reason no one has ever been able to produce, asked once for this on debian-devel. Then a bunch of people replied, quoting the reply, and saying essentially “this is completely the wrong place for that question”.

    Then, google picked up the thread and since the Debian mailing lists have such a high pagerank, that became the top hit. So then more people would send questions to the list about this, and it becomes very quickly a self-reinforcing cycle, especially when you combine the word “free” with the search, which naturally enough often shows up near mentions of Debian.

    The people who keep posting about this all reply with starry-eyed innocence something like “well, you guys were the top google hit for this”, and can’t understand the increasingly nasty replies that list members are driven to.

    Now let’s just hope you don’t start getting questions by Koreans who understand very little English about anencephaly. You’ll start off answering politely, but then that comment will draw more, and more, as Google inexorably identifies you as the authority on Korean questions about anencephaly…

    Fortunately, at some point you can simply delete comments so as to disabuse Google of this notion – the Debian project has philosophical/political issues deleting email to mailing lists from the public archives.

  4. says

    One possibility: the glorified carnival sideshow that is the Discovery Channel (or one of its side-sideshows, like Dicovery Health or The Learning Channel) has aired some hour-long cringe-fest on the condition (not sure how Korea would fit into that equation), and your hits are coming from curious television viewers.

    I base this guess on the regular, cyclic influx of hits I get from searches for “Archie the 84-pound baby.” I mentioned the kid once (in a post detailing the aforementioned sideshow-esque quality of Discovery programming), and now Google considers me the web’s foremost authority on the boy. My humble corner of the blog has gotten hundreds, maybe thousands of its hits based on that topic alone over the last couple of years. Probably all you needed to do was mention “anencephaly” (or maybe “cephalopod” would be enough) and “Korea” and you’re in business.

    People are absolute hounds when it comes to tragic deformities, rare diseases, and horrific accidents. Including me. (How do you think I found out about Archie the 84-pound baby in the first place?)

  5. Ex-Seoulite says

    Korea is a country where it’s more accurate to assume two degrees of separation rather than six, and where Internet memes can easily spread to ten million users over the course of a single day via and MSN messenger.

    Likely, some teenager came across a site full of anencephaly (무뇌아 or 무뇌증 in Korean) photos and posted to a forum for shock value, where someone found a web page like this , where they identified the condition in English, and then another page like this linked to pictures on google.

  6. Nix says

    I seem to recall the phrase `self-perpetuating googleflop’ used to describe the duelling banjos phenomenon.

    Oh yes, here we are.

    Here is an especially notable example, with spelling errors involved, and exceptionally silly responses.

  7. says

    Well, one reason why you’d be showing up for anencephaly at all is the article you did on it awhile back. It just showed up for me on the “Taste of Pharyngula” section, so maybe it popped up and the meme suggestion by ES took over from there.