Some people might describe me as seeing things in black and white. I am – I believe – ruthlessly logical, and will accept nothing other than scientific evidence (ideally peer-reviewed in a meaningful sample size) to influence my decision. “But homoeopathy works; I used to have dreadful back pain, but since taking this tiny dropper of something which is made of 0.00001% crocus harvested by the light of a full moon,” you might tell me. Yes, of course it works. Because of the placebo effect, which can reduce the perception of pain as effectively as 50% of an actual drug.
“But… but… what about the power of prayer?” you might question. And I would point you to this study where the patients who were prayed for, actually worsened. Taking this to its logical conclusion, as I am wont to do, it means that a) there might actually be a God (who knew?) and b) S/He is a dick.
“But I saw this acupuncturist and he got me pregnant,” you might insist. I would congratulate you and suggest you didn’t mention this to your partner.
So I am not an easy target market for mediums (media?), psychics, tarot card readers or Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Nevertheless, I do enjoy a good bit of bullshit, so I was utterly delighted when I was in South Africa recently, to be handed a copy of the local newspaper’s classified section.
In South Africa, culturally, witch doctors are still consulted for ailments by a large percentage of the indigenous population. I do not wish to undermine entirely the witch doctors – oral history and trial and error has meant that there is a wide range of plants that are known to ease various complaints. (Although as Tim Minchin would have it, “Do you know what they call alternative medicine that’s been proved to work? Medicine.”)
What bothers me more is the preying on desperately poor people with the tantalising offer of wealth. But also, how objectively ridiculous the claims made by these witch doctors are.
I present to you:
Let me say that again.
Short boys and magic rats.
Now, it took me a significant period of research to discover what these mystical creatures were. The adverts in the local paper make the assumption that they do not need to define their terms because – of course – each household has at least six short boys and five magic rats.
But I was unenlightened. So I did some Googling.
So, short boys are apparently djins you can rent, who will steal money for you. They are directed by spiritual words which will be taught to you by the witch doctor, presumably after handing over lots of money (that you don’t have – hence your initial need for Rentaghost). Still, having your own djin – albeit rented – that must be fun, right? Something to show off at dinner parties? Oh, one thing to mention – the djins are unfortunately invisible so you can’t actually prove you have one. But they will definitely steal money for you. Sounds like a good investment.
But where are the short girls? That’s what I want to know. Knowing South Africa, the short girls are probably at home, making dinner for the short boys when they come home from their stealing spree. We need to work on the equality aspect of the thieving ghosts. That’s the biggest problem here.
If the short boys sound a tiny bit like a massive scan, then perhaps magic rats are more your thing. I had to do a bit more Googling to find out about magic rats, but it was definitely worth it. According to Dr Victor (medical school details pending):
“Spiritual rats (amagundane okungokomoya) are the miraculous rats that we sale to you and keep it in the safety of your house/home. Dr. Victor will give you instructions on how to command the rats to go into the nearest banks or shops to grab or duplicate for you cash and bring it in you into the place you want without anyone noticing or lose his own.”
Aha! Magic rats will either grab or duplicate (with a photocopier? Maybe just with magic) money from shops or banks for me, and nobody will notice! This is genius. I am not sure of the legality of the process. I guess it’s difficult to prosecute a rat. Because rats can’t speak, it’d also be impossible for them to rat you out. See what I did there?
If the rat is duplicating the money, I would have some concerns about the wider economy in terms of potential hyperinflation. I mean, if this works, which I am almost certain it definitely does, then presumably everyone does this all the time, which would inevitably lead to the devaluing of the currency. Unless this is just South Africa’s answer to quantitive easing – magic rats.
Dr Victor (medical school details still pending) even carefully points out to prospective customers that if they have a cat or dog at home, then magic rats may not be for you. He is so thoughtful. So if you were cynical enough to think that you might be being ripped off when you exchange money for your invisible djin, then don’t worry. For a mere LOTS OF MONEY you can have an actual rat. To live in your house. With your children.
None of the adverts mentions a refund policy.