Sunday, June 6, 2010


Shamans are messengers between human and spiritual worlds. Through their supernatural abilities, followers believe Shamans have the ability to cure people of ailments and illness, “restore physical balance and wholeness to one’s soul/spirit, and resolve “problems afflicting the community” (Wiki 1).

Relative to resolving community issues, I was reading an article about the extradition of Dutch murder suspect, Joran van der Sloot, to Lima, Peru. Below is a fraction of the report:

Wearing a green bulletproof vest, his hands handcuffed behind him,
the husky 22-year-old stared straight ahead and didn't respond to reporters'
questions or make eye contact.

Outside, seven Indian shamans in brightly colored ponchos repeatedly
stabbed a cloth doll representing van der Sloot in a "spiritual punishment"
ritual. "We're punishing him so that all the forces of evil are purged,"
one shouted.

Beliefs in Shamans exist all over the world, especially in the indigenous communities. If Peruvians truly believe Shamans, a bullet proof vest isn’t going to be enough for van der Sloot.

Since this is a pseudoscience and paranormal class, I attempted to find articles to debunk shamans, but found an article by Michael Harner called Science, Spirits, and Core Shamanism. He states that even in Darwin’s The Origin of Species 1 and The Descent of Man 2 the scientific community reluctantly recognized “humankind’s kinship to all other life forms”, which includes Shamanism. Harner further states “advancement in Western knowledge is being limited by a truncated science whose Achilles heel is that it is partly founded upon an unproven belief: the belief that spirits, including souls, cannot exist. In actual fact, of course, science has never disproven the theory of the existence of spirits. And disproof of theory, or falsification, is a cornerstone of scientific method (cf. Popper 5). As long as the theory of the existence of spirits is not falsified, it cannot logically be ignored by science. In other words, the position of science on this matter is quite unscientific and, ironically, a matter of faith.”

It will be interesting to see whether the spiritual punishment from the Indian Shamans will prevail over the legal system in order to provide the Peruvian community with the justice they want.

Shamanism, Wikipedia, author unknown, date June 5, 2010,

Moist-eyed Dutch murder suspect interrogated, Associated Press, author unknown,

Science, Spirits, and Core Shamanism, by Michael Harner, ©Shamanism, Spring/Summer 1999, Vol. 12, No. 1,

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