Conspiracy theory

The Rosicrucian Mummies of San Jose

The following article is from the book Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Plunges into California.

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Ancient occult societies, alchemy, and magical chanting—how much do you really know about your nice neighbors in San Jose?

MUMMY DEAREST

Tucked away in an area of San Jose best known for its green lawns and high-end homes are ancient mummies of everything from cats to catfish, including a few mummified people. These mummies rest in San Jose’s Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum with more than 4,000 other artifacts (originals and replicas), the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts on exhibit in the western United States.

The museum building, designed to resemble the ancient Amon temple that once stood in Karnak, Egypt, is part of a beautiful, but somewhat baffling, complex built by the Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis (AMORC). The what? They’re a group devoted to self-improvement and the study of mysticism. Rosicrucian Park takes up an entire city block in San Jose and features a planetarium, a research library, a temple, a shrine, and a peace garden replete with Egyptian plants, a pond, and fountains. All the buildings —except the Moorish-style planetarium— have exteriors inspired by Egyptian structures.

How this blend of ancient Egypt and New Age mysticism came to be located in a San Jose suburb is a strange story. For some, it begins in 1915 when Harvey Spencer Lewis, a former advertising illustrator from New Jersey, founded the AMORC to “study the elusive mysteries of life and the universe.” For others, though, the story really begins in 1500 BC, when some of those mummies in the museum were still alive.

EGYPT, BY WAY OF GERMANY?

The AMORC is an offshoot of the Rosicrucian Society, which has puzzled, intrigued, and sometimes angered people for years. Like the Freemasons and the Knights Templar, the Rosicrucian Society has been linked to secret symbols, famous people, and conspiracy theories. The first Rosicrucians appeared in 16th-century Germany, supposedly founded by Christian Rosenkreutz. According to legend, he was both an enlightened mystic and a successful alchemist (he could turn lead into gold, though we have no idea how), so he had a lot of clout in the worlds of religion and mysticism.

But many historians now believe that Rosencreuz was a mythical figure, rather than a real person. Three pamphlets appeared in the 17th century—one about Rosencreuz, a second about his secret society, and a third about alchemy and spiritual enlightenment. No one knows exactly who wrote the pamphlets, but the authors may have been German Protestants who started the society themselves. Regardless, those pamphlets spawned elaborate legends about the Rosicrucians, elite Christian mystics who clandestinely practiced magic and alchemy while trying to bring about spiritual enlightenment. Meanwhile, conspiracy theorists accused the Rosicrucians of trying…

Your Best Weird Food Habits, Securing Online Accounts From Shady Apps, and the Appeal of Conspiracy Theories

This week we confessed our favorite freaky food concoctions—think Doritos peanut butter sandwiches and buttered ramen—secured our online accounts by revoking access from shady apps, looked at the ramifications of Trump’s tax plan, and more. Here’s a look back at this week’s most popular posts.

Remember a few weeks ago, when I asked you all for your strangest, slightly-shameful, secret food habits? It turns out that you people are dirt bag geniuses, and were able to open my eyes to new and exciting ways to eat mac and cheese, instant ramen, and spam.

While cocktails aren’t exactly good for you—alcohol is a toxin after all—some drinks can be more dangerous than others. These dicey craft cocktail ingredients can be found in bars all over the place.

Of all the physical indignities of having a baby—the delivery, the breastfeeding, the mesh undies that made me feel like an enormous wounded sea creature snagged in a tiny net—the postpartum stomach pooch is among the worst.

Every once in a while, an app like Unroll.me pops into the spotlight to remind usthat we all tend to authorize a lot of apps to access our email and social media accounts without much thought. Sometimes, as in the case of Unroll.me, those apps get busy selling off our data. Now’s a good time to audit any other third-party apps you’ve given access to your accounts.

If you’re one of the millions of Americans that downs coffee or other caffeinated beverages to get through the work day, here’s some good news. A new scientific review on the safety of caffeine says drinking up to four cups of coffee, or about 400 milligrams of caffeine, is pretty safe.

We told you what to expect from…

Why Conspiracy Theories Are So Appealing

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Put on your tin-foil hat, cover your webcam with a piece of tape, and wait for the imminent arrival of the lizard people because it’s time for some conspiracy theories. Over half of American adults believe in at least one wacky theory, but why are these absurd and complex ideas are so appealing?

Many conspiracy theories appeal to the basic ways we process information. We are, for example, hard-wired to believe in intentional causality. That means that…