Humanist links

A couple of links to pass along to humanists and fellow travelers:

Niels K. Petersen is on a bit of a roll, and this time covers a recent English-language paper on 18th c. Italian humanist and Archbishop of Trani, Giuseppe Davanzati. Sr. Davanzati went on a tear, it seems, and savaged the vampire panics paralyzing the Hapsburg Empire in the 1730s. The original letter was only published posthumously, in 1793, and even today, is only available in the original Latin and in scholarly Italian translations. A choice quote from Davanzati:

Anyone with a little common sense, so to speak, can clearly realise that the Devil plays no role in a story like that of these vampires; it is all a human creation, or at most a sort of tiresome illness, such as the plague, or some other epidemic disease.

Nonetheless, Davanzati was  a product of his time, and his endless dances around the political and religious realities of his position. For which, read the whole thing.

Meanwhile, historian and closet Fortean Mike Dash inadvertently pokes a few holes in the vaunted Buddhist Exception that some atheists inexplicably cling to, with his tale of venality, violence, vengeance, and venom that lead to the suspicious deaths of four Dalai Lamas (Dalais Lama?) in the early 19th century.

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