Re: The Man-Eating Myth

Gerold Firl (
24 May 1995 12:50:11 -0700

In article <> (Donald K Pollock) writes:

>Third, Fore cannibalism, if it existed, didn't fall out of favor through the
>kind of observation that Firl suggests; Fore themselves report that the
>Australian colonial government in PNG banned it.

Interesting statement; you qualify the existance of cannibalism, "... if it
existed ...", then go on to state that the Fore no longer practise it
because of the PNG government. Are you suggesting that the Fore only
pretend to have been cannibals? Or that they have been tricked into
believing that they were once cannibals? Or that PNG banned cannibalism
even though it never existed?

>Fore have a more elaborate and
>culturally elegant theory of kuru, which Firl might want to consult as an
>alternative to adaptationist just-so stories. See Shirley Lindenbaum's book

Would you care to describe the Fore theory of kuru? Sounds interesting.

Also, I wasn't suggesting that the Fore had forsworn cannibalism because of
kuru; their claim to fame was that they contracted kuru because of their
cannibalism. I was suggesting that the practise of cannibalism may have
fallen out of favor in other, non-cannibalistic parts of the world due to
the risk of contracting diseases which were vectored by the consumption of
humans. The example of the yanomamo practise of burning the bodies and
comsuming the ashes is a typical kind of ritualistic replacement activity,
which still satisfies the spirit of the law, without the risks of the

Many observers have reported the presence of cannibalistic rituals
throughout large parts of the world. There does not seem to have been
any examples of the use of human calories as a significant source of
nutrition (with the possible exception of the aztecs), but the consumption
of human flesh, at least in a ritualized fashion, seems to abound in the
anthropological literature.

Disclaimer claims dat de claims claimed in dis are de claims of meself,
me, and me alone, so sue us god. I won't tell Bill & Dave if you won't.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=---- Gerold Firl @ ..hplabs!hp-sdd!geroldf