TIL about a town in Kazakhstan whose residents genuinely believe they are radioactive mutants in the wake of Soviet nuclear testing

Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semipalatinsk_Test_Site?sometextmoretextdontremove

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  1. Of all the bizarre bits of trivia to come out of the Semipalatinsk test site, this one certainly sticks out

    >The people within Koyan, Kazakhstan have been affected by the radiation and have suffered from radiation caused illnesses just as other surrounding areas have. However, unlike other communities, the citizens of Koyan have formed an identity around this fact.[14] The people consider themselves to be a new breed of human, a step-up evolution. As they understand it, they are mutants who have grown and adapted to the radiation present in their home.[14] In their eyes, the air and food are poisonous, and the people consume this and yet live. Thus, they must be adapting to the radiation and that is why people only get a ‘little sick’. They even have begun to believe that they are so used to radiation that their bodies require it.[14] This belief has stemmed from the fact that the majority of individuals that moved away from the city died within two years. As such, to those left behind, it seems that the lack of radiation killed them. This has further cemented their belief that they are ‘radioactive mutants’.[14]

    >The locals also believe that their status is backed by science.[14] The basis of this was a training exercise performed by the Comprehensive Test-Ban-Treaty Organization (CTBTO).[14] The exercise was based around a hypothetical nuclear explosion, so they came in wearing full protective gear. The citizens of Koyan witnessed this but were not informed of the ‘exercise’ status nor the reason for the outsiders’ presence. As such the citizens perceived strangers having to wear protective gear to enter the area around their community while they, the residents, had no need.[14] This further cemented their belief that they must be radioactive mutants as other people seemed to need protection to exist within their home.

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