Saturday, January 24, 2009

Goat detained over armed robbery

This news item from Reuters probably prompts laughter, but it should also prompt some concern.

LAGOS (Reuters) - Police in Nigeria are holding a goat on suspicion of attempted armed robbery.

Vigilantes took the black and white beast to the police saying it was an armed robber who had used black magic to transform himself into a goat to escape arrest after trying to steal a Mazda 323.

"The group of vigilante men came to report that while they were on patrol they saw some hoodlums attempting to rob a car. They pursued them. However one of them escaped while the other turned into a goat," Kwara state police spokesman Tunde Mohammed told Reuters by telephone.

"We cannot confirm the story, but the goat is in our custody. We cannot base our information on something mystical. It is something that has to be proved scientifically, that a human being turned into a goat," he said.

Belief in witchcraft is widespread in parts of Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation. Residents came to the police station to see the goat, photographed in one national newspaper on its knees next to a pile of straw.

We skeptics are fighting an uphill battle against the most ridiculous superstitions. This alone is difficult, but we also have the additional problem of convincing "moderate" types who dismiss the skeptical position as patronizing, dogmatic, or even religious. Emphasizing stories like these can probably sway lots of those people. What's the Harm? is a good site for more fodder like this.

Cross-posted from Charlottesville Skeptics

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