NEWS OF THE WEIRD

Third-World Penis-Snatchings Still Vex

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In Tiringoulou (pop. 2,000) in the Central African Republic, phantoms are thought to steal or shrink penises, but according to a March item in Pacific Standard magazine, the stories' origins may simply reflect distrust of outsiders. Townspeople over-attribute worldly powers to strangers, and when outsiders' business deals go sour, men check their genitals. Animal-organ poachers operate nearby, arousing suspicion they may be after human genitals, as well. Asking for perspective on this, though, Pacific Standard's reporter wondered what Tiringoulou citizens might think about Americans who starve themselves "near to death because their reflection in the mirror convinces them they're fat."

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