It’s shrinkage!

Cancel your trip to Africa! There are sorcerors stealing…personal items.

Police in Congo have arrested 13 suspected sorcerers accused of using black magic to steal or shrink men’s penises after a wave of panic and attempted lynchings triggered by the alleged witchcraft.

Unfortunately, it’s not very funny since deluded people are blaming their tiny, impotent penises on random people and beating and lynching them.

Cancer: This is not a good day to molt—there’s a cephalopod with an eye on you. Hunker down beneath a rock with some ripe rotting fish and wait.


  1. says

    This sad story comes back around every few years. Imagine being so superstitious that you think your penis is retracting into nothingness. Of course, then panic causes maximum retraction and irrational thinking does the rest. And the accused curse-casters get lynched for supposedly stealing the victims’ potency. It would be hilarious if people weren’t getting killed.

  2. says

    It is always more comfortable to blame outsiders for problems of our own. So it comes as a no surprise to find this kind of news and most of all, people who falls for this esotheric approach to something that can be blamed only on poor genetics >< I wonder, what would Sagitarius hold for me and my ilk :S

  3. says

    “Before we begin, my dear, I must inform you that I recently had an unfortunate encounter with a sorcerer, and … well, as you will see …”

  4. firemancarl says

    Not to be outdone, the country of Malawi had a vampire scare there last year. Yep, the nitwits were beating people to death because they thought they were vampires. Of course the beatings occurred during the day.

  5. brokenSoldier says

    Are they going to ban cold showers, curse blizzards, and prohibit anyone from going apprehensively slow while getting into a pool now, too??

    (But then what will they think about during a presentation or other public event to prevent that tent-pitching that is so commonly humiliating to all of us males??)

  6. kid bitzer says

    the astrological crawler at the bottom of the post is a touch of genius–a definite keeper.

  7. firemancarl says

    @#4So the sorcerors made them think of baseball and grandma’s cooking?

    Or Boy George in a bikini!

  8. noncarborundum says

    (But then what will they think about during a presentation or other public event to prevent that tent-pitching that is so commonly humiliating to all of us males??)

    Ann Coulter always works for me.

  9. phantomreader42 says

    RE #7:

    the astrological crawler at the bottom of the post is a touch of genius–a definite keeper.

    Yes, it’s a great one, though with this story Scorpio may have fit better, because it gives you an excuse to use the word “prick”. :P

  10. Michelle says

    …As much as I try to stop I can’t help but laugh. This is ridiculous.

    “I’m sorry girl, I know I can’t please you well with this thing but that guy shrunk my weewee!”

    I know it’s horrible for the suspected guys though….

  11. brokenSoldier says

    Ann Coulter always works for me.

    Posted by: noncarborundum | April 24, 2008 11:02 AM

    Maybe we should arrange for her to take a trip to Africa sometime soon. (Though I think you’d have to render her unconscious beforehand…) Then maybe she’ll work that repulsive magic and reap the consequences!

  12. says

    In related news I heard on the radio this morning that artisanal copper miners in the Congo fear women because women on the mountain “make the minerals disappear”.

    The resource rich Congo region has a long and very sad history of exploitation.

  13. Julian says

    Dang; that Darwin sure is tricky. He’s been dead for centuries and yet here we are; beating people to death over small penises because of Darwinism. I wonder which section inspired this? Could it have been the one on artificial selection in pigeons…

    For some reason, I don’t think the Pentecostals and Lutherans will be pointing to this as an example of how protestantism is enlightening Africa.

  14. says

    Jeez, P.Z…

    Why did you include that damn horoscope?…

    Now I’m going to be on campus looking over my shoulder all day…

  15. Dennis N says

    Be careful which superstitions of a primitive tribe you ridicule, in 3,000 years, they may become the basis for a Bible or other Holy Book.

  16. allkoma says

    These sorcerers know swabo about marketing. Where they working
    reversely size wise, they would be rich by now.

  17. MAJeff, OM says

    Instead of stringing up the “wizards” they should get public email addresses and check their spam folders. Lots of opportunities for to override wizardry woo in there!

  18. noncarborundum says

    African men with tiny penises, looks like another stereotype has bit the dust.

    Of course, it all depends on what you call “tiny”.

  19. Louis says

    Wait, sorcerors are responsible for small penises?

    Well that explains EVERYTHING! I’m off to tell the wife the good news and get me some counter curse mojo happening.

    Erm, not that I need it or anything. It’s for a friend, I mean erm…oh bugger.


  20. Hank Fox says

    I’m wondering what they do with them after they steal them.

    I’m picturing a museum, or maybe a wall with “greatest hits” plaques.

    Or maybe they just sew them together and make vice presidents.

  21. says

    firemancarl wrote: “Or Boy George in a bikini!”

    Gaahhh! You foul sorcerer! Please forward us your address so we can come lynch you! :)

  22. Mena says

    Maybe Nancy Reagan can ward off those sorcerers with the same voodoo/magic that she used to keep her husband from dying from the “Zero Year Curse”.
    (The sad thing is that I didn’t come up with this, it was from a very unintentionally funny show on The History Channel)

  23. Hank Fox says

    Okay, now I’m hearing the voice of John Lithgow from 2010: “It’s shrinking! It’s shrinking!”

  24. says

    Hank Fox wrote: “This looks like a job for …Enzyte Man!!”

    Fighting superstition with fraud; it may not be the perfect strategy, but it’s certainly an appropriate one! :P

  25. craig says

    I was just noticing the same effect on my penis after this morning’s long bike ride. Some witch has cursed my bike saddle!

  26. Jay says

    I KNEW there was a sorcerer in the room last night. And she was telling me I just had too much whiskey. Pfft.

    Has Kirk Cameron’s friend, Boner, weighed in on the issue?

  27. Gene says

    This reminds me of Monty Python–
    “She turned me into a newt!”
    “A newt?”
    “Well, I got better.”

  28. says

    Wow, these are the *best* horoscopes I’ve ever read! PZ, you may be defeating your own purpose: I used to think astrology was a bunch of hooey, but I find myself coming to appreciate it (and watching for lurking cephalopods).

  29. says

    I had a lot of discussions about superstition and witchcraft when I was living in Uganda–usually after I’d excitedly picked something up off the street (“Hey, look! Free pack of matches! And a hankie to boot!”) Interestingly enough, the fear of witchcraft was seen–in typically obsequiously Buganda fashion–as an embarrassingly ‘backward’ relic that whites were way too socially advanced to ever have had to deal with. However apologetic they were about it, it didn’t stop people from collecting the hair they left on brushes or their nail clippings for disposal so that witches wouldn’t be able to get a hold of them.

  30. Cappy says

    “Some Kinshasa residents accuse a separatist sect from nearby Bas-Congo province of being behind the witchcraft in revenge for a recent government crackdown on its members.”

    Heh,heh, heh. He said members…

  31. Vagrant says

    Psychologically, penis panics aren’t much different from the terrorism panic that’s gripped the US since 2001. The only difference is that the terrorism panic has government backing and that Americans are targeting (harassing, detaining, torturing, invading) anyone who looks Muslim rather than ‘sorcerers.’ Ergo, the average American is about as sophisticated as the average Congolese….

  32. says

    *insert obligatory Monty Python reference here*

    Question is though how precisely do you figure out who is using black magic to shrink your penis?

    Is there a penis shrinking detector beam or something?

  33. dennis says

    well, now we know where all the flying penises in Second Life came from–victims of sorcerous depenising.

  34. MikeM says

    I’m a cancer (some say in more ways than one), and am itchy today. I’m trying not to scratch; I don’t want to molt, based on your horoscope. Thanks for the advice.

    Must. Control. Fingernails. Of. Death.

    Where can I get a rotting fish?

  35. Terry says

    It’s just like my mom always said about playing with sorcerers, “It’s fun until someone loses a penis.”

  36. Liesele says

    Terry, that’s not what Mad Eye Moody warned Harry about (as I remember, it was the potential loss of a buttock).

  37. says

    Isn’t “beating and lynching” what people do with penises anyway?

    If that’s your impression of a rub’n’tug, then I don’t think that’s a massage parlour you’re going to….

  38. says

    Reading the article closely, it looks like the “arrests” were an attempt to prevent lynchings:

    “You just have to be accused of that, and people come after you. We’ve had a number of attempted lynchings. … You see them covered in marks after being beaten,” Kinshasa’s police chief, Jean-Dieudonne Oleko, told Reuters on Tuesday.
    Police arrested the [13] accused sorcerers and their [14] victims in an effort to avoid the sort of bloodshed seen in Ghana a decade ago, when 12 suspected penis snatchers were beaten to death by angry mobs. The 27 men have since been released.
    “I’m tempted to say it’s one huge joke,” Oleko said.

    Judging by the report, Mr Oleko, the police chief, would seem to have his head screwed on straight.

    I can image some rather weird conversations in the cells overnight as everyone cooled off…

  39. says

    As always with this sort of thing, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Or both.

    At least Westerners only drive fancy cars to make up for small penises.

  40. folderol says

    Amstrad @ #4:

    So the sorcerors made them think of baseball and grandma’s cooking?

    That only works for Ron Jeremy. ;-)

    (If you’re referring to same thing I’m referring to. . . .)

  41. Robster, FCD says

    Better not let them know about the “got yer nose” trick…

    Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Here’s a little number that I tossed off recently in the Caribbean…

  42. Claire says

    If these sorcerers would just refine their technique so as to leave a vagina in place, they could make good money at the business! Surely magicking a penis into a vagina would be at least a little more cost effective than the surgical methods.

  43. anne says

    Try our delicious Norwegian rakfisk. Strictly speaking, it’s fermented, not rotting, but you have to be a Norwegian to tell the difference.

  44. Brandon P. says

    Unfortunately, some people are going to take crazy shit like this as evidence that black people (or at least Africans) are stupid. Why does this sort of nuttery fester in Africa right now?

  45. MAJeff, OM says

    Fortunately, I don’t need to fear the sorcerers. I can travel anywhere I want confident in the knowledge that I have a spare penis at home just in case my original equipment gets stolen

    Who needs a spare when you have one that’s detachable?

  46. says

    Why does this sort of nuttery fester in Africa right now?

    Poverty. Lack of opportunity. Hopelessness. Name your poison.

    But there are also people there working hard to improve the situation. It’s hard enough being a scientist or clinician here; imagine trying to do it in a resource-poor environment. Yet, people persevere.

    Supporting science, health care, or microbusinesses in Africa by Africans is one way to fight back against the problem, which–while often more intense there than elsewhere–is certainly not unique to Africa.

  47. Brandon P. says

  48. jomega says

    According to Kramer and Sprenger’s “Malleus Maleficarum” (A well known European manual for the detection and prosecution of witches) witches in Europe were frequently “guilty” of -and punished for- this very thing less than half a millenium ago. How wierd that two diverse cultures so widely separated by time and distance should both subscribe to the same batshitinsane notion! Truly a wonder is Mankind!