It's the ignoble things that stick – News – Human Remains Found In Dixon

My wife pointed me at this article, and, of course, I think it utterly engages the imagination. You may think it’s weird that I find stories like this delightful, but there you are. Of course my sympathy goes out to the poor man and his family, but still. There have got to be better ways to die, and better places for your corpse to be left than at the bottom of a pile of composting material in the bed of a pickup truck.

Generally when mysterious corpses are found, they get some sort of neat nickname. I’ve come up with several — The Manure Man, the Crap Corpse, the S*** Skeleton, and so on — but I think that I’m going to have to refer to this poor man as the Doo Doo Dude.

There’s a story here. It’s horrific, of course, but it’s also the sort of black comedy that you just don’t see often enough in life.

Milgram Lives

A hoax most cruel

Reading this article, I was reminded of The Milgram Experiment. It seems that people are willing to do horrific things to other people just because someone in authority — or someone they believed was in authority — told them to. Was this something that Orwell contemplated? Or Machiavelli?

If I’d been a participant in the Milgram Experiment, I would like to think that I’d stop administering the shocks very early on. I believe that I would. But I don’t know for sure, never having been in a situation even remotely like it.

Edited to add: I admit that I posted the link to this article before reading it even a third of the way through, so I didn’t know that the author had also referred to Milgram. I also agree with the FBI special agent who said that the duped restaurant managers were not necessarily stupid, they had just not been trained to use common sense. However, I also believe that this does not relieve them of the responsibility for what they’ve done.

This has gotten me thinking about False Authority Syndrome in general ( has a good summary of FAS here), which may or may not be related to this sort of thing. When I worked at one particular department in a large public University back in 1997, I witnessed the entire division decide to shut down their e-mail servers because a vice dean had fallen for the “Good Times” hoax. I’ve fallen for this sort of thing myself; I once shut down a message board on a website I was running because I’d been duped into believing that the service that was providing it for free was going to start charging.