Episode 239: Cannibalism: The Ultimate Taboo

On this episode of The Sofa King Podcast, we explore the ultimate societal taboo: cannibalism. Cannibalism falls into three distinct categories: Endocannibalism, Exocannibalism, and Auto-Cannibalism. They are eating relatives to honor them, eating people to scare others, and eating your own flesh. But that of course leaves out the number one reason for modern cannibalism—starvation.

We cover a lot in this discussion, not focusing on a specific area, time frame, or peoples. We cover cannibalism in a buffet of different succulent varieties. We talk about some old chestnuts like the Stalin starvation of the 1930s and the Donner Party, but we also look at a lot of examples from World War Two. From the battle of Leningrad to Japanese prisoner of war camps, people were eaten as a means to survive the horrors of the war (leading of course to more horrors of the war…).

We talk about the negative physical side effects of eating human flesh—neurological diseases. From spongiform encephalopathy to a disease called kuru, cannibalism causes some fatal flaws based on strange protein folding or prion development. We talk about the Maori in New Zealand, Christopher Columbus’s horrible cannibalism lie, the strange Leopard Society. From George H.W. Bush to serial killers, and from crashed airplanes to how long it would take for every human being on earth to eat every other human being on earth, this one covers it all.

Blog post about the whole world becoming cannibals: https://what-if.xkcd.com/105/

Our Sponsors