Thursday, November 17, 2022

Institute Q&A

The head of the Institute has encouraged me to do a Q & A session with this blog's readers. So, after collecting questions from Discord and Telegram, here are the answers.

Have you ever investigated (insert weird piece of media here)?

About half of the questions I received were along these lines, so I figured this was a good place to start. 

Polybius: Alleged arcade cabinet that dispensed LSD and was monitored by the CIA. It's a hoax, and a shoddy one at that. Probably based on a failed initiative by the CIA to attempt to bug arcade machines in areas like Berkley or NYC; the noise from the arcade made the bugs useless, and what bugs were useful were often damaged or destroyed by routine maintenance or even people just playing the games. 

SCP: A weird fiction website. I think the only people who believe that it's real are tweens who play too much Infinite IKEA on Roblox (and if you are one of those, please stop reading this blog, I don't want to be slapped by COPPA).

Atuk: Unproduced screenplay notorious for having several actors associated with it die, including John Candy, Phil Hartman, and John Belushi. Due to ongoing legal proceedings, we're unable to comment on this particular work.

Snuff Films: We have found about half a dozen. "GUTS GUTS GUTS GUTS GUTS GUTS" is the worst I've ever seen. We always report them to the authorities, but more than once, it turned out to be a film student's final project that was leaked online, and everyone involved is fine physically.

"That one Super Sentai series where the main actors all died": I have no clue what this is talking about. Super Sentai is the Japanese franchise that Power Rangers is based on, but I've not found anything about this. I know I have at least one Japanese reader of this blog, do you know what this is about?

Literally any found footage film: Do you honestly think that last known videos and/or outright snuff films would be shown in theaters? I wouldn't put it past Hollywood at this point, but found footage is almost always fictional. 

What's the Institute's verdict on the events surrounding the 1912 silent film The Concordance and the subsequent destruction of all copies of the film?

I did my undergrad thesis on The Concordance. It's more influential than people realize; the Motion Picture Production Code of 1934 probably wouldn't have had four pages forbidding various forms of "the depiction of occult acts in a positive manner" if not for The Concordance.

That said, I'm almost positive that at least one copy still exists. It is damn near impossible to destroy a braced film by burning it.

Is the 2003 Tanner Bigfoot tape real?

It's more credible than the Patterson-Gimlin footage, due to the fact that we have hospital records to back up the injuries sustained by Lacey Tanner. However, we don't believe that the creature on film is bigfoot; generally, 'capable of flight' isn't something corroborated by bigfoot lore.

I heard that the Garrison Footage killed sixteen people, is that true?

That was the death toll as of 2019. It circulated online during the height of the pandemic; the current death toll is estimated to be between 36 and 40. I should note it's safe to watch for most people-- just make sure that that you have someone to bring you back after you're done watching it. Most deaths caused by the Garrison Footage are from dehydration.

What's your opinion on 'mind_the_gap$'?

I hope to God that it's a hoax, but it's impossible to know for sure; digital media isn't braced and can be deleted with the click of a mouse, so it's harder to tell genuine anomalies from the hoaxes.

What do you think of the 1989 religious superhero musical film Exodusman?

I think that the accidents on the set were exaggerated and weren't caused by "Satanic saboteurs" as the director claimed, but by sheer incompetence. That said, the alleged 'angel' that kept appearing during production was witnessed by several people who had no ties to the film or the church providing funding, so events are a tad muddled.

Is there any veracity to the story of Lady Annabelle Jones’s psychic photographs? 

Seems like someone saw the Strange Pictures Halloween Special this year. We believe that Annabelle Jones thought the photographs were genuine, but similar photographs from the era have been proven fake with easily replicated techniques. This isn't to say spectral and psychic phenomena aren't real, I have firsthand experience with them. 

Does the institute have any knowledge as to the whereabouts of the lost tablets of Adrahasis? 

At first I thought this was referring to the incomplete tablets of the Babylonian epic Atra-Hasis, but apparently Adrahasis is something completely different, which is… confusing. After talking with some of my archaeologist colleagues, they’re convinced that at least one of the tablets is in the British Museum but haven’t been put on exhibit due to ‘undisclosed dangers’. Beyond that, we’re not sure.

Are there any extant copies of Johann Hofmann’s Ghoul Cults of the Great War, despite its ban by the Nazi government? 

Occasionally a copy pops up in an ‘esoteric bookstore’, wedged between books on homeopathy and copies of “How to Become a Werewolf”, typically on the same shelf as ‘genuine’ editions of the Necronomicon that cost $60. They’re largely reproductions; genuine copies with the anomalies intact are harder to find.

That said, the Institute did manage to procure a copy in the 1990s, when the son of a Thule Society member attempted to burn his father’s possessions (Nazi memorabilia collectors and hate groups had been alternately offering thousands of dollars and threatening the owner to attempt to acquire them) and found several braced items among them.

There are urban legends about NASA scientists trying to locate and photograph God, is there any truth to that? 

A friend of my family worked for NASA, but resigned after the stress of the Challenger incident nearly gave him a heart attack. I asked him about this, and he said that there are photographs from Apollo 13 that took images of space beyond the dark side of the moon, and that there’s something there, ‘But it isn’t God’.


About a decade back I swear an image file called truevoid.gif made the rounds on a bunch of paranormal web forums, but now I can’t find a single trace of its existence. Any idea as to what happened to it?

Oh shit, truevoid, there's a name I've not heard in a while. I remember that someone tried making a game based off of it some time in 2015 but apparently they used a copyrighted song in it without approval, so that got nuked from the internet too.

While the original image has vanished from the surface internet, there's an occasional mention of it on darkweb conspiracy forums. I'm not qualified to write about it myself, but I think Cecily wrote an essay about it back in 2018. I'll ask her if she wants to put it up on the blog.

How do I access Shadow Netflix?

Please let this be a joke. We had to work around the clock in 2018 to shut down Skreen, an actual anomalous streaming service. More about that later.

How long has the Institute been around?/How old is the Institute?

In its current form, the Institute dates back to July 19th, 1986, when a group of "protesters" raided a public library in Michigan and burned several items deemed "corruptive" in the parking lot. Most of the usual suspects of the time were there- Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, Howl, Naked Lunch, and The Color Purple. Among the oddities were a few volumes of Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles, for 'promoting homosexuality'.

A librarian looking through the pile of ashes after the incident found a single volume had escaped unscathed, having been braced. It was a novel, Nemesis by Walter Brink (Not to be confused with the Asimov novel of the same name). Nemesis was about a young woman possessed by the "spirit of revenge" whose victims ended up receiving karmic punishment corresponding to their crimes; the protestors objected to the fact that one of the antagonists was an evangelical preacher. The librarian took it back into the library and kept it hidden for almost a year.

Meanwhile, a string of apparent arsons would plague the city, resulting in the deaths of the majority of the people who had attempted to burn Nemesis. Except it wasn't arson; the librarian saw one of the people who participated in the burning spontaneously combust.

From there, the librarian asked some of their friends around the country about weird things they had found during their job. They realized Nemesis wasn't a unique case, and from there, the community grew into what it is today. 

Does the Institute ever release less-harmful versions of media?

We'd like to, some day. But unfortunately, that requires talent and funding. So while we'd like to take The Rapturous Revival of the Crosse on an off-Broadway tour or release a non-fatal version of any volume of the Adventures in Alorane series, we just don't have the resources at the moment. 

What media have you debunked?

More than you think, less than we'd like. I'll write more on this next year, as this was a very common question. 

Does the Institute have any rival organizations?

Most rivalries we have are academic, and we collaborate with other organizations frequently. A few urban exploration communities partner with us so that we can train to navigate abandoned buildings and other difficult terrain. We also work with paranormal investigators, and we've consulted cryptozoologists when trying to determine what the hell was on the Mackinac Island Drone Footage. 

That said, the Nova Network has been a colossal pain since the mid-2000s, when it shifted away from documentaries to conspiracy and paranormal programming like Skinwalker Ranch, America's Most Haunted and Aliens Among Us, low-effort alternate history programming like their abysmal adaptation of Harry Turtledove's Guns of the South, and of course, Strange Pictures and its spinoff Strange Writings, which both concern forbidden and lost media. 

I won't go into it here, but anyone that claims that the Patterson-Gimlin Footage is real, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, is trying to sell you bigfoot merch. That's not even going into the Damascus Phonograph, the Diary of Martha Packard, or the Werewolf of Warsaw. All fake. And yet we're called crazy.

What preferred "eye bleach" do you have after interacting with anomalous media?

It varies. I know Mr. Draper likes to watch commercials he helped produce, while one of our audio gurus, Squirrel, cleans out their ears with songs by Coheed and Cambria and I Fight Dragons. Personally, when I see something traumatic, I just put on a Marvel film or blast some Billy Joel.

What's the oldest piece of Media the Institute has investigated?

There was a purportedly cursed copy of the Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead that was responsible for at least fifteen deaths since its discovery in the 1880s. Turns out it was just infested with mold. That's why we have a mycologist on staff.

If we're talking film, the Lumière film containing Le Chapeau is the oldest we know of. 

The History of Cardenio is one that keeps getting away from us. It's from 1613, written by William Shakespeare and John Fletcher, and has been lost for centuries. We're not sure if it's anomalous, but it's elusive. 


Here's everyone who's comfortable sharing. 

Cecily: She/They

Squirrel (Audio Specialist): They/Them 

Mr. Draper: He/Him

Azula (Editing Guru): She/Her

Atticus (Mycologist): He/Him

Myself: As long as you don't call me "it", whatever is fine.

Face reveal?


Make, model, and license plate of your car?

This was the weirdest of the "please dox yourself" questions and I'm honestly astounded by it. Do people think we're going to answer these?

Has anyone in the Institute ever died in the pursuit of their studies?


In fact, a member of the Institute who will probably be dead before the end of the month has asked me to post his findings after he dies. But I'll need time to comb through his writing.

What's your story? How did you get involved with the Institute?

Another common question. One I think I'll answer next time.

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