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have to do when you even begin to try to understand a
phenomenon like the Haitian zombie, which is just one
thread woven through the fabric of this amazing culture,
is to sort of eliminate from your
consciousness all your preconceptions. HAMILTON MORRIS: In 1982,
Harvard ethnobotanist Wade Davis traveled to Port-au-Prince
to investigate the biological underpinnings
of the Haitian zombie. As early as 1938, Zora Neale
Hurston found there was a vodou potion that could induce a
death-like state, though she concluded the ingredients were
so guarded, no sorcerer would ever reveal them. Wade Davis did what Hurston
thought impossible. And over the course of four
years he gained the trust of several vodou sorcerers,
uncovering the ingredients of the secret potion, and
documenting his experience in the 1985 bestseller “The Serpent
and the Rainbow.” Though Davis is quick to say
he’s not a “zombieologist,” he’s still considered the
world’s leading authority on the Haitian Zombie. WADE DAVIS: Now what
is a zombie? A zombie, by folk belief,
is the living dead. It’s an individual who has been
brought to his demise by sorcery, passed through the
grave, or at least passed through a state of death, and
then somehow magically resuscitated. Zombies were almost deemed to
be off-limits for serious academic research. But Lamarque Douyon had found
this really extraordinary case of this man called Clairvius
Narcisse. What made the case unique is
that Narcisse had been pronounced dead in the
Schweitzer Hospital. And his death had been witnessed
by two physicians, both American trained,
one an American. There were impeccable records
describing his pathology at the time of his demise. 18 years later, this man
claiming to be Clairvius Narcisse turns up in his home
village, claiming that he’d been made a zombie. All these lines of evidence
led Lamarque Douyon to go public in about 1980, ’81,
saying that they had found the first medically-verifiable
instance of a zombie. That kind of opening brought
everybody back to a series of reports that had existed in
the folk literature of the reputed existence of a folk
poison that was said to bring on a state of apparent death so
profound that it could fool a physician. Lamarque Douyon had tried for
some time to secure the formula of that preparation,
to no avail. And that’s why I was brought
into the investigation. Schultes, my professor, the
man who sparked the Psychedelic Movement, he was
very much my mentor. I was working in the Amazon, and
one day he summoned me to his fourth-floor aerie at the
botanical museum and asked me if I wanted to go down to
Haiti for two weeks over spring break and try to find the
formula of the drug used to make zombies. Well naturally, I said, sure. There are lots of plants and
lots of animals that are poisonous and that
can kill you. We weren’t just looking for
a toxin that could kill. We were looking for a toxin that
could bring on a state of apparent death so profound that
it would bring someone literally to the edge of death,
a threshold from which they could then recover. And I went down to Haiti and was
able to secure the formula of the preparation. HAMILTON MORRIS: The preparation
contains a veritable Whitman’s Sampler of
poisons, showcasing the great diversity of Haiti’s medicinal
flora and fauna, spanning two kingdoms and eight
Linnaean classes. The potions Davis collected
included such ingredients as datura stramonium, velvet bean,
cane toad, pufferfish Hispaniolan boa, bearded
fireworm, tarantula, cashew leaves, and the bones
of a human child. To the sorcerer who mixes the
potions, each ingredient serves a distinct purpose, with
the human bones playing a role every bit as important as
the psychoactive plants. But to Davis, two ingredients
held the key to understanding the phenomenon of
zombification. The pufferfish contains
a chemical called tetrodotoxin, or TTX. If administered in the correct
dose, the victim will find themselves trapped in a flaccid
paralysis, perfectly mimicking the appearance
of death. Upon their exhumation, the
victim is fed a paste of datura stramonium, which
obliterates their memory, leaving them in a stupefied,
obedient delirium. WADE DAVIS: We never could prove
really anything, but we could show that this was
something that had a kind of coherence within the worldview
of the Haitian people. If it could not be absolutely
proven, it was at least so provocative that it demanded
investigation. If you eliminate the other
possibilities, you have to allow the facts to speak
for themselves. And that’s why I was prepared
to say very strongly that I thought this phenomenon
existed. HAMILTON MORRIS: In the years
since the publication of Davis’s work, there’s been
little formal investigation of the zombie phenomenon. Though teams of scientists and
anthropologists have traveled to Haiti in search of answers,
they often failed to find what they’re looking for. Some have been fooled in
elaborate hoaxes, or found that the zombies could be
explained medically, with conditions such as
schizophrenia. And others have been imprisoned
or sent home with nothing at all. In Haiti, the use of this powder
is a crime on par with murder, and those who concoct
it do so with the knowledge that it will be used to
destroy a human life. In light of all this
uncertainty, I will travel to Haiti to investigate the zombie
and attempt to collect poison samples for the first
chemical analysis in almost 30 years. My results could support Davis’s
theory or redefine our concept of the Haitian zombie. Or I could have a
railroad spike driven through my scrotum.

100 thoughts on “Investigating the Haitian Zombie (Part 1/6)

  1. Its so cringy to sea this skinny boi sitting with shoes while the houseowner is barefoot.
    Who doesnt take his shoes off in houses!!!!

  2. How is a White Man the leading authority on Haitian Zombies, When the Haitians that gave him the information still exist

  3. Pharmacopoeia=witchcraft…thinning the veil between life and death leading to eternal life in hell or heaven. Why risk the eternal fate of your soul for an hour of tripping?

  4. I'm glad that comments are allowed! I HATE channels that don't! I mean..who makes this rule?! Is it the video makers..or, YouTube themselves? Anyway..I really dig Hamilton's 'deliverance' of info. The amazon frog thing was hilarious! Most, if not all, of the VICE videos are interesting. I try to catch the shows on t.v. when I can. There's stuff here you won't find anywhere else. It's cool that they have some VERY adventurous minds on here. Hamilton does shit I'd never even think of the rest of us some insight into some unseen realms. Very cool, indeed! And..damn, Vice! Keep this guy onboard! He does an excellent..and, very entertaining job!

  5. 9:10 wahoo wahoo. A railroad spike what now? Hey, you just ain’t going walk past that like you didn’t say what you said cuz you said. Well damn now I got to watch the rest of these videos.

  6. So y’all want to tell me some backyard voodoo people created a potion using science while scientists with degrees couldn’t do this. It’s official the education system is a scam😂

  7. I don't know anything about this guy Hamilton til now but what's with all those hate comments against him why so many judging the book by its cover why so much ignorance in this world

  8. His sacred cacti are definitely Not getting enough sunlight. He should keep them at a friend's house or something. The new growth is like a quarter of the diameter it should be. It sad.

  9. The man getting ready for burial in the beginning felt wrong. Like I shouldn’t have seen it, as a stranger to him. How was he supposed to consent to being shown to millions of YouTube viewers.

  10. Can't fucking stand how he tries so hard to get his voice as low as possible and how he can drag words out to try and be more dramatic. He may know his shit and that's why vice keeps him, but he's an awful host or reporter

  11. I think it's the vocal fry that makes his voice come off as irritating and normally I can't stand vocal fry but after a while of listening to him you get used to it.

  12. Did you notice that at the beginning of the video when they were dressing the deceased………. the t-shirt they put on him was only a half shirt. It had no backside

  13. Note: @ 3:48 – 4:15 Wade Davis admitted that he is NOT a Zombiologist….but, yet he is still considered to be the world's leading Authority on the Haitian Zombie…. By WHOM?? The World's leading Authority on any aspects of Haitian Culture should be and would be a Black man from Haiti! Remember: Dr. John Henrik Clarke had already told us that: The Europeans not only colonized the world….but they also colonized the Information ABOUT the World itself!

  14. 7:39 really just means that the majority of Haitians believe in witchcraft. reminds me of the priest and the King in Apocalypso – they know exactly when the eclipse is coming – in those days VICE would have no clue.

  15. seriously does anyone ever think how. smart these peoples ancestors were? they passed all of this science thru generations going back thousands of years some people call it voodoo but in reality its science

  16. Holy shit.
    Anyone else down the youtube rabbit hole rn and think maybe a few of the top 1% have faked their deaths using this method?

  17. Most of you mfs talking more about the host then the damn show. Why dont you all start up a pay pal account or something to get em back. This show isnt about him. Relax ppl.

  18. Brah you were in a dangerous situation….they dont give out secrets like that ….too foriegners…you are lucky you just got scammed ….Haitian Magic is nothing too play with ….we know it exist…thus the reason you needed guns on the return trip…because they knew it was a lie too

  19. Not gonna lie, Hamilton reminds me of a person that has like a whole body in his basement that he’s put together with prices of different females to make the perfect girl for him that he treats like a real girlfriend 🤔🤔

  20. I spent 30 minutes figuring out that the 3 molecular structures in the introduction were bufotenin, tetrodotoxin, and scopolamine, only to realize upon playing the rest of the video that he mentions exactly which chemicals they are and that I could have figured it out in 5 minutes had I just watched the video instead of being an obsessive idiot. Was cool having my answers confirmed when he said cane toad, pufferfish, and datura though.

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