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MindfulInquirer

Why is human Cannibalism Taboo ?

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MindfulInquirer

I'm starting this thread in this section because I don't believe it is as much an anthropological question as much as it is a psychological one, and really, even more so a philosophical one. I've always been fascinated with topics that were quietly taboo in society, that for some reason were avoided, or ignored. Why is cannibalism so taboo ? Here are a few answers, hopefully this can spark a bit of deep discussion.

Edited by Saru
Video removed due to graphic content
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spartan max2

I think it's mostly evolution, eating your own species is not beneficial for your species survival. Hence it being taboo and feeling wrong. There are stories of people around the world doing it when there is no other choice though, because of starvation. Some isolated cultures also have practiced it. 

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travelnjones

It also screws up your brain ala mad cow disease.  There is a book called Genome a history in 23 chapters, that talks about this in depth in one of the chapters.  I didn't fully get this bit but something about the DNA almost being analog in a sense, as opposed to digital / GATC pairs. It sort of overlays your own DNA reshaping and corrupting it.

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sci-nerd

The eucharist is symbolic cannibalism. I wonder why christians don't find that disturbing at all. And it makes me wonder if Jesus was really a pervert...?

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Rlyeh
52 minutes ago, travelnjones said:

It also screws up your brain ala mad cow disease.  There is a book called Genome a history in 23 chapters, that talks about this in depth in one of the chapters.  I didn't fully get this bit but something about the DNA almost being analog in a sense, as opposed to digital / GATC pairs. It sort of overlays your own DNA reshaping and corrupting it.

Does no such thing.  Mad cow disease is spread by eating infected meat, same as kuru.

Cannibalism is safe as a long as the meat is disease free.

Edited by Rlyeh
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CrimsonKing
2 minutes ago, Rlyeh said:

Cannibalism is safe as a long as the meat is disease free.

True...it's brain and spinal tissues infected by a prion that cause illness.

Seeing as how we can pick up the cow,deer,ect. versions from consumption of similair prion infected meat by eating brain and spinal tissues...it's not the cannibalism itself,but the prion.

Granted with the thousands and thousands of chemicals people are pumped up with daily today,may very well be toxic lol

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Rlyeh
1 minute ago, CrimsonKing said:

True...it's brain and spinal tissues infected by a prion that cause illness.

Seeing as how we can pick up the cow,deer,ect. versions from consumption of similair prion infected meat by eating brain and spinal tissues...it's not the cannibalism itself,but the prion.

Granted with the thousands and thousands of chemicals people are pumped up with daily today,may very well be toxic lol

Not just the brain, other body parts can also contain these prions but the brain contains the most.

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Jon the frog

Eating the same species is a real risk for spreading sickness. Lot of sickness are species specific so eating the same mean you are searching for it !

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CrimsonKing
Just now, Rlyeh said:

Not just the brain, other body parts can also contain these prions but the brain contains the most.

True...mostly organ meats...also cross contamination anytime things are butchered ups the scary factor lol

Truly scary part is,it can't be killed by freezing or cooking! :w00t:

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acute
27 minutes ago, Jon the frog said:

Eating the same species is a real risk for spreading sickness. Lot of sickness are species specific so eating the same mean you are searching for it !

Wouldn't eating the same species be safer?  The risk of catching BSE from cooked human must be around zero.

Edited by acute

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Rlyeh
Just now, CrimsonKing said:

True...mostly organ meats...also cross contamination anytime things are butchered ups the scary factor lol

Truly scary part is,it can't be killed by freezing or cooking! :w00t:

Thankfully prion diseases are rare.  I think if they were as common as viruses most life would be herbivores, everything else would die off.

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Orphalesion

There's the prion thing, of course.

Then we have the fact that, except for exceptions that depend on chance and wouldn't do for a stable food supply, you'd have to murder people, preferably in their prime, in order to get good meat off of them and murdering people is another, obvious taboo. 

Then there's the practical element that humans don't give up a lot of good meat, especially not when compared with livestock specifically bred to produce a lot of good meat. Why eat your scrawny thrall when you can eat a nice, fat cow or pig? Humans also take considerable time to "grow back" and reproduce, relatively, slow when compared to livestock.

And the religious reason that many cultures historically considered or still consider the body to be important for the survival of the soul in the afterlife or simply want to have some remnant of their loved ones around, so eating them would be "sinful" or feel wrong to people. Even in warfare situations this might see the two sides agreeing not to eat their POWs so that an exchange can take place. As far as the religious taboo goes cannibalism has also been historically/mythologically linked to destroying or "absorbing" the "soul" of the devoured person, which also seems to be a factor in modern, criminal cannibalism. 

Edited by Orphalesion
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seanjo
1 hour ago, sci-nerd said:

The eucharist is symbolic cannibalism. I wonder why christians don't find that disturbing at all. And it makes me wonder if Jesus was really a pervert...?

Oh please, you're comparing eating unleavened bread in a symbolistic religious ceremony to eating a person??

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seanjo

It's only a taboo where humans are food rich, it's only become a real taboo in modern times.

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MindfulInquirer

Well the video in the OP was removed but the point about cannibalism simply being taboo as a result of the health issues it can entail... doesn't hold water to me, because plenty of foods or life habits are horribly unhealthy, even in a life-threatening sort of way, much worse than occasional cannibalism, but do not constitute a taboo at all. There's a clear indignation that comes with cannibalism, a shock, a certain horror. That's not merely potential disease that generates that, it's deeper than that.

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spartan max2
7 minutes ago, MindfulInquirer said:

Well the video in the OP was removed but the point about cannibalism simply being taboo as a result of the health issues it can entail... doesn't hold water to me, because plenty of foods or life habits are horribly unhealthy, even in a life-threatening sort of way, much worse than occasional cannibalism, but do not constitute a taboo at all. There's a clear indignation that comes with cannibalism, a shock, a certain horror. That's not merely potential disease that generates that, it's deeper than that.

What do you think about evolution being the reason we find cannibalism taboo? 

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sci-nerd
24 minutes ago, seanjo said:

Oh please, you're comparing eating unleavened bread in a symbolistic religious ceremony to eating a person??

Yes I am! It's called vorarephilia, and if the legend of the last supper is historically true, I think Jesus had that perversion.

It's not like it's the only masochistic trait he had. He also advocated to take a beating and to offer to take another. And he washed feet and wiped them with his hair.

Jesus seem to have been a class A type masochist with a vore twist.

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The Wistman

Given sufficient hunger, people will eat their own.  Otherwise it's 'eat the other.'

In certain societies, consumption of another tribe's warrior, chief, or magician would confer those qualities they possessed upon the eater.  Papua New Guinea indigenous people did this until fairly recently.

Eating of the God is an ancient custom.  In Old and Middle Kingdom Egypt, the Apis bull (living form of Ptah) was not buried but was sacrificed and eaten by the priests. 

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openozy
1 hour ago, The Wistman said:

Papua New Guinea indigenous people did

I've heard they still do in remote areas,also been told by Maori it still goes on in parts of NZ.

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Piney
1 hour ago, MindfulInquirer said:

Well the video in the OP was removed but the point about cannibalism simply being taboo as a result of the health issues it can entail... doesn't hold water to me, because plenty of foods or life habits are horribly unhealthy, even in a life-threatening sort of way, much worse than occasional cannibalism, but do not constitute a taboo at all. There's a clear indignation that comes with cannibalism, a shock, a certain horror. That's not merely potential disease that generates that, it's deeper than that.

The whole Wiindigo legend was my tribe's (The Algonquians) taboo against cannibalism. Whereas the Siouian and Iroquoian tribes practiced it during famine times we were known as "bark eaters" who resorted to mass suicide by poison rather than starve or resort to eating human flesh.

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openozy
1 minute ago, Piney said:

The whole Wiindigo legend was my tribe's (The Algonquians) taboo against cannibalism. Whereas the Siouian and Iroquoian tribes practiced it during famine times we were known as "bark eaters" who resorted to mass suicide by poison rather than starve or resort to eating human flesh.

Would you have a go now if you were starving Piney.

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Jon the frog
2 hours ago, acute said:

Wouldn't eating the same species be safer?  The risk of catching BSE from cooked human must be around zero.

BSE is one sickness...  and it's a rare one too. But cannibalism can spread intraspecific disease.

IT have all the moral side of it too.Numerous reason for one deed.

But some tribes used to eat their enemy in the amazon I think.

Edited by Jon the frog

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MWoo7
3 hours ago, MindfulInquirer said:

I'm starting this thread in this section because I don't believe it is as much an anthropological question as much as it is a psychological one, and really, even more so a philosophical one. I've always been fascinated with topics that were quietly taboo in society

Cat to Cat here, Mindfullnquirer: "fascinated with topics that were quietly taboo in society"

Because eating kittys is taboo too!!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Just thought to toss that in for discussion fodder, its actually the finest meat on this rock always has been but that doesn't mean cats are to be served to the Queen.

Edited by MWoo7
I took out the King. . Its the little things in life eh?!?!?/SARC!
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Vlad the Mighty

I quite agree, No practical reason why it should be. Jonathan Swift had some very practical suggestions on that score.

A Modest Proposal For preventing the Children of Poor People From being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and For making them Beneficial to the Public

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