It's a time-honored tradition among the perpetually plugged in to, at some point in your online life, find yourself getting sucked into the depths of Wikipedia, bouncing from page to page in a seemingly never-ending search for knowledge. A lot of the time, that knowledge ends up being really weird — or is that just me? Because seriously. every time I fall down this particular rabbit hole, I end up reading the creepiest Wikipedia pages in existence, and I just need to know that I'm not alone here. So, hey, in case you, too, have a strange and unusual interest in… well, the strange and unusual, come. Let us review some of these weird-o Wiki pages together, shall we?
I realize that calling something the “creepiest" anything is kind of subjective; what creeps me out might not creep you out, and vice versa. As such, it's highly possibly that you will have one of two reactions to the articles below: Either you'll scoff at them, rolling your eyes and saying, “Pshaw! That's not creepy at all!”; or, you'll shiver… and then click right on over to the next one, because that's how you roll. Both reactions are perfectly acceptable; you do you and all.
Here are 10 of my favorite pieces of weirdness from Wikipedia. Got something creepier? Please do share it with the class—I'm sure we'd all appreciate it.
Proposed by German historian Heribert Illig, among others, the Phantom Time Hypothesis posits that the dating system we know and love — the Anno Domini system — was not only fabricated, but moreover, was designed such that there's a period of time in it that never actually happened. According to the theory, anything that history recorded as occurring between AD 614 and 911 either occurred during a different period… or not at all. It's a conspiracy theory, so take it with a grain of salt... but the "what ifs" are fascinating, are they not?
Also, I would totally read a novel called The Phantom Time Hypothesis. Just sayin'.
If I remember correctly, this list actually used to be called “List of People Who Disappeared Mysteriously.” I'm not sure what prompted the change, but either way, it's still terrifying — and also incredibly sad. It serves as something of a monument to all these very real people who simply vanished, whether it was because they wanted to or because someone else forced it upon them.
In February of 1959, nine hikers from the Ural Polytechnical Institute met their untimely ends while camping on the slopes of Kholat Syakhl. Their tent had been ripped violently open from the inside, and their remains were found several hundred meters away — sans clothing. Although there is a logical explanation for the mystery — extreme hypothermia can make people do some really weird things, apparently — we still don't totally know what happened, or what the timeline for everything that happened was. And what's more, we probably never will.
Although Hollywood likes to take the story of Anneliese Michel and use it as a springboard for horror movies about demonic possession (The Exorcism of Emily Rose, for example), what actually happened is far more frightening. After experiencing an epileptic seizure at the age of 16, Michel was diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy, and by age 20, she was also suffering from depression. Psychosis is also frequently experienced by those with temporal lobe epilepsy, as is hyperreligiosity; as such, as Michel's condition deteriorated, she became both intolerant of religious objects and began to hear voices.
But these were was taken as signs that Michel was possessed. Medical treatment ceased, instead replaced by exorcism rites. The exorcism, which was performed from 1975 to 1976, lasted 10 months; by the end of it, Michel was suffering from severe dehydration, malnutrition, and pneumonia. She died on July 1, 1976. Her parents and the priests who performed the exorcism rites were tried and found guilty of negligent homicide.
It's not the idea of an exorcism that's frightening. It's the idea of mental illness being treated as demonic possession, preventing the sufferer from getting the medical help she needed.
I may not actually believe in ghosts myself (yet — mostly because I've never seen actual proof with my own eyes that they exist), but I do still love a good ghost story. This gigantic list links out to all the Wikipedia pages about reportedly haunted locations across the globe — although it's also worth noting that some countries have so many (the United States, the UK, France, Canada, and Colombia) that they've got their own pages.
Honestly, I've known about this one for so long that I don't actually remember how or where I learned of its existence. If you find yourself weirdly fascinated by strange or bizarre deaths, this one's for you. What are the odds of some of these things happening?
Located at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan, the forest of Aokigahara is easy to get lost in. It's often associated with several prominent Japanese legends — most notably ubasute, a practice which, according to folklore, allegedly involved leaving an elderly person in a remote place to die in times of hardship or famine; and yurei, angry spirits you wouldn't want to run into on a dark night — but beyond the folklore-based connections, Aokigahara is also known for something very real: The inexplicably high number of suicides attempted or completed within it. Vice released a documentary about the forest in 2010 that's definitely worth watching; check it out above.
8. The Schooner Carroll A. Deering
You've probably heard of the ghost ship Mary Celeste, a brigantine found floating totally deserted by the Azores Islands in 1872 — but that's not the only ship to have turned up with its entire crew missing. The Carroll A. Deering ran aground off the coast of North Carolina in 1921 without a soul aboard. Several other ships had also disappeared in the same area, leading many to speculate about a Bermuda Triangle-esque phenomenon; either way, though, we still don't know what happened, and it remains one of the great unsolved maritime mysteries.
To be fair, numbers stations are probably creepier when you're listening to them versus reading about them. They're shortwave radio stations that continually broadcast the voices of unknown individuals reading off strings of numbers. We don't usually know who's running them, or what they're running them for, making them all the creepier. The one nicknamed “The Buzzer” is a favorite — and an ongoing mystery.
It turns out that chickens really can run around with their heads cut off — for 18 months after the fact!