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Digital Subscriptions > Skeptic > 21.4 > Clown Panic!

Clown Panic!

Sightings of Mysterious Clowns Rattle Nerves in South Carolina

REPORTS OF PHANTOM CLOWNS IN THE UNITED STATES can be traced back decades and are a form of social panic. They reflect age-old fears that are dressed up in new garb—literally.

During late August 2016, police in Greenville, South Carolina, were besieged with reports of children being stalked by clowns. In some instances, these nefarious figures reportedly tried to lure youngsters into the woods with offers of candy and money. Despite the best efforts of law enforcement the clowns seemed to vanish into the shadows and no arrests were made.1 The sightings and rumors began at the Fleetwood Manor apartment complex on August 21st. Soon adults were spotting clowns. There were reports of clowns clanging chains, clowns whispering from the woods, clowns playing with green laser lights, and clowns seen running from homes. There were even reports of clowns firing guns and clowns living in an abandoned shack in the woods. Police investigated the boarded up building, but it showed no signs of habitation, nor were shell casings found where they had reportedly fired weapons. In short, there was no tangible evidence to corroborate any of the reports.2

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About Skeptic

DECEPTION IN CANCER TREATMENT SPECIAL ISSUE: The Cancer-care Industry’s Marketing is Among the Most Deceptive on the Consumer Landscape. SPECIAL SECTION: Classic Skepticism: The Amityville Hoax at 40; Alien Sulls: Do the Mysterious Rhodope Skull and Adygea Skulls Belong to Aliens?; The Real Meaning Behind the Nazca Geoglyphs; Clown Panics: Sightings of Mysterious Clowns Rattle Nerves ARTICLES: The Case for a Galactic Defense System; Is “Spirituality” so Broadly Defined that Testing for it is Meaningless?; Are We Living in a Computer Simulation?; Luck and Regression to the Mean: One of the Most Fundamental Sources of Error in Human Judgment; Political Obfuscation: Thinking Critically about Public Discourse. COLUMNS: The SkepDoc: Anti-Aging Claims: The Fountain of Youth is Still Only a Legend, by Harriet Hall, M.D.; The Gadfly: Can Working Memory Be Trained to Work Better? by Carol Tavris REVIEWS: “Three books about the Salem Witch Trials and their legacy: The Witches: Salem, by Stacy Schiff; In the Devil’s Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692, by Mary Beth Norton; America Bewitched: America Bewitched: The Story of Witchcraft After Salem, by Owen Davies JUNIOR SKEPTIC: Mammoth Mysteries! Part Two, by Daniel Loxton