Radu Umbres’ blog

Ethnographic tidbits on minds and cultures.

Staring back at the evil eye

A few months into my fieldwork in a Romanian village, I was told by friends that I wonder way too much. When visiting people in their homes, I alway noticed something interesting, be it old house architecture, inventive implements, cute animals or anything catching my attention. My mistake, I was told, was expressing my curiosity out loud, wondering how this was made or where that came from. Worse, I was praising my hosts’ properties, mistakenly thinking they wouldn’t mind, or quite feel proud. Instead, I was told people were uncomfortable with such expressions of wonder, curiosity, and praise because they bring misfortune by means of deochi the “evil eye”....

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Why do scammers persist in saying they are from Nigeria?

A research report by Cormac Herley, a Microsoft security analyst, proposes a clever response to an apparent paradox. Nearly everyone minimally competent in Internet use knows about the Nigerian 419 ...

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Snipe hunters of preys with low epistemic vigilance

What weapon would you use to hunt a dahu? Where would you start looking for a Volkswagen Beetle radiator hose? Does elbow grease come in cans or tubes? You shouldn’t even begin thinking about ...

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