Re: Human Animals(was Vegetarianism and Ethics)

Eugene Leitl (
Sat, 14 Dec 1996 13:55:10 +0100 (MET)

On Fri, 13 Dec 1996, Hal Finney wrote:

Agree. It is a seriously bad idea to eat parts of a human (or a higher
primate) CNS, whether raw or cooked. Especially, if it is a deceased person.

A lot of CNS diseases rare in Europe were quite common in that part of
the world which practiced ritual cannibalism. I seem dimly recall the
occurence of curucuru (sp?) where women/childred had to unearth and then
to excavate the contents of the cranial cavity of their deseased
relatives. Skin cuts were enough for an infection, even no need for a
quick snack.

Apropos higher primates: whenever a parasite manages a leap from its target
host the stakes are high it is maladapted. Usually, it kills a large
number of the new hosts before both adapt sufficiently to each other.
Density of species is very high in rain forests, and since both the
habitats are routinely destructed _and_ there is a large number of
genetically pretty homogenous new hosts (humans) in the immediate
vicinity no wonder lots of wonderful new bugs comes from the tropics.
HIV and Ebola are only the most prominent examples. (Apart from that,
large-scale tourism selects the more vicious bugs).

One should point out, that we were very lucky in case of HIV. If the
bug was as susceptible as a rhinovirus, a lot of us wouldn't be reading
this list, in fact there would probably be no such list at all. The scary
part is that the danger is not over, a bug with such a high
latency/lethality may be well under way. HIV has been detected in
specimens from 1956...


> I have always heard that eating humans is a bad idea because people are
> most vulnerable to the infectious organisms carried by other people.
> Eating animals is less risky because we share fewer diseases. But with
> people there are lots of overlaps in disease susceptibility.
> So if you do it, make sure the meat is well done.
> Hal

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