Bar Codes and the Number of the Beast

I've posted some entries before on people holding weird beliefs, ranging anywhere from the humorous to the frightening and disturbing. This entry, for instance, was an excellent and fun presentation by the famous skeptic, Michael Shermer, on why people believe the weird things they do.

Now we get some more news from Reuters on a single weird belief that's both silly and practically dangerous:

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A hundred residents of a Russian village have refused to switch to new passports because they believe the documents' bar codes contain satanic symbols, state television reported Wednesday.

"We believe these new passports are sinful," Valentina Yepifanova, an elderly resident of the village Bogolyubovo, told Rossiya television as she clutched an old, tattered passport she said she wanted to keep.

"They have these bar codes and people say they contain three sixes. We are against that."

The evidence behind the social acceptance of this belief is as tight as... (feel free to include anything you want here). Residents are refusing to renew their passports because "PEOPLE SAY they contain three sixes"??? Obviously, these are not the most reasonable bunch on the face of the earth...

Given their view, consistency would demand that said residents should abstain from having anything to do with things that possibly have 'the mark of the beast.' That would mean not buying almost anything other than fresh produce, since just about everything today has a bar code.

Now, do you think these people are really willing to put their money where their mouth is? You'd better believe it! The article continues:
Some residents of Bogolyubovo, which means "God-loving" in Russian, have also stopped collecting their pensions at the local post office because the payment slips also have bar codes that might contain the mark of the devil, Rossiya TV reported.
Well, it's settled... if we want to get rid of all the conservative evangelical rapture idiots in this country once and for all, all we have to do is make sure their employment/ unemployment/ pension checks have a bar code. Then not only will we finally stop hearing all that rapture nonsense, since they would soon visit the afterlife themselves, they would also qualify for the Darwin Awards... that's a double whammy, for them...

And talking about the number of the beast, and given the recent controversy on whether the tomb of Jesus and his family was actually discovered, here is a segment of an interesting Radio Lab episode dealing with the amazingly interesting archaeological discovery of some Egyptian trash piles that contain some very weird findings, such as a gospel that makes Jesus sound more like a Buddhist (known as the logia fragment), an ancient story on the outcome of the Trojan War very different from that of Homer, ancient Greek porn (different from Aristophanes' Lysistrata, it seems), and the different versions of the number of the beast, starting from 616 and ending in 666.

You can learn about the story of Oxyrhynchus, the waste paper city, here.
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