Correction Cecil!!!!!

A QUOTE FROM CECIL “Let’s take this step-by-step. Number one, forget about laughing sickness. It’s possible to die laughing, a topic I have addressed in the past, but that’s not the disease you allegedly get from people eating. Most likely you’re thinking of kuru, a fatal neurological ailment characterized by trembling. From 1957 to 1977 kuru was epidemic among certain New Guinea tribes and was suspected of being contracted by eating human flesh. But cannibalism had been outlawed long before.”

Hey Cecil… Cannibalism in the ares you speak of was out lawed in 1950 not much sooner as you stated… Also the epidemic your talking about was between 1920 and 1960 and was Kuru as stated by you, it was ONLY found among the FORE people and relatives of them in PNG… A characteristic of kuru IS laughing despite your contridictions and HELLO Mr Talk-Alot-But-Know-Little it was known as THE LAUGHING SICKNESS!!

It costs nothing to ensure you have the correct facts so i suggest you take advantage of that freedom in future! :wally

Cites for all your assertations, including Cecils words, please? Provide some reputable links with the information you have imparted.

The OP’s quote came from here: Is there realy such a thing as cannibalism?

Ohhhh how I love when someone asks for proof… :rolleyes: I myself do exactly the same when I think there has been a mistake! not so in this case though love because I NEVER open a can of worms without checking ALL relevent info
here is the link to Cecil’s comments that I felt the need to correct

Now seeing as we’re now entering a more informed debate lets take a look at a few things Cecil said, he suggested that “Many now believe, for instance, that New Guinea natives are not cannibals and that kuru is spread by contact with corpses during funeral preparations” and according to any information I have had the chance to read, those who contract KURU fall into 2 classes of people… (1) cannibals, particularly in the central New Guinea highlands and (2) those who submit to transplant surgery.

Another area of debate regarding cannibalism is whether it may spread infectious diseases. Animal studies have suggested that cannibals may be at greater risk for being infected by parasites and diseases from members of their own species than from other prey. One famous study associated human cannibalism with the spread of a fatal viral disease called Kuru in highland New Guinea. **Carlton Gadjusek ** won the **Nobel Prize in medicine ** for discovering a new category of viruses called slow viruses, which include Kuru and Creutzfeldt-Jakob (Mad Cow) disease. Part of Gadjusek’s research was based on epidemiological research he did with anthropologists that linked the spread of a Kuru disease to the practice of funerary cannibalism.

Beth Colkin who wrote the book Consuming Grief: Compassionate Cannibalism in an Amazonian Society [University of Texas Press] said “William Arens made a valuable contribution in pointing out problems in historical accounts of cannibalism and in sensitizing us to the dangers of negative stereotypes of indigenous people as cannibals,” Conklin says. “I have great respect for his work in that regard. But it’s going too far to claim that cannibalism never existed at all, because there is substantial evidence that consuming human body parts has been an accepted practice in a number of societies in Europe, South America and elsewhere.
And as for the information that i used to correct Cecil I read quite a few sites but you want something CLASSY perhaps, so will the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC website be considered REPUTABLE??? If so please do go here

I’ll even quote the information you’re after!!!

"Mead and colleagues began their investigation by looking at the Fore, an isolated indigenous people who live in the mountains of Papua New Guinea. The Fore, according to oral history, had a custom of consuming their dead at mortuary feasts.

The tradition is believed to have begun at the end of the 19th century and persisted until Western settlers abolished the practice in the 1950s. Men ate the best meat, the muscle, while women and children munched the brain.

From approximately **1920 through the 1960s ** an epidemic of the prion disease kuru swept through the Fore, killing upwards of 200 people a year. One symptom of infection was uncontrollable laughter, which gave the affliction the nickname “laughing disease.”

Anyway i do hope I have answered your questions in a manner you approve of… Thank you in advance for reading my post. :smiley:

Cecil’s words in the original column aren’t totally clear to me - I wouldn’t necessarily infer that he was denying that laughter can be a symptom of kuru. But thank you for your informative post, oneidkat.

Also, the column about dying from laughter that Cecil refers to in his cannibalism column is this one:

Take the time to hang out here a little more to figure out the “culture”. From the “rolleyes” you gave, I’d infer that you’re not aware of the fact that you need to back up your assertations with proof, and if you are going to reference something else from this board, be it from Cecil, or another poster, you need to link to the tread or post in question. Not grouching at you, just letting you know how we do things here. For goodness sake, people ask for cites in the BBQ Pit. Often for such reasons as the OP being so incensed they forgot to link to the thread they were speaking of.

The stated purpose of this message board is “To fight ignorance.” If you’re going to refute someone, and make many statements of fact, you’re going to need to link proof of what you say. Not only is this good for keeping people who don’t konw as much as you do on the topic up to speed, but it’s courteous too, so people can see your sources of information. :slight_smile:

Cecil doesn’t USE unecessary CAPITALIZATION. That already PUTS him above THE threadstarter, if I may say SO.

Welcome to SDMB. Accurate information is always a good thing, but there’s really no need to assume an adversarial position in presenting it.

Hang around and acquaint yourself with the routines here. It’s worth it!

Just to make clear the order of events:

Cecil’s post that the OP is referring to is from 26-Feb-2001.
The National Geographic article that the OP cites is from April 10, 2003.

It’s definitely possible that some of the info your citing was not possible in 2001. With that in mind, I would think a friendlier, “hey, new facts about that laughing disease item have come up…” would be more in line. But hey, if you WANT people to thank you’re obnoxious…

Further, there is a distinct difference between outlawing something and abolishing it. I don’t claim to know the date of the legal ban on cannibalism, but your cite doesn’t actually state it either.

:smack: Its definately possible that in choosing a more recent artical I did my post an injustice. I located many articals, very few were recent, and the National Geographic contained all relevent info and was not very old. Here are some other links to articals written in 2001 and prior with mentions of Kuru being known as the Laughing Sickness, there were dozens but I didn’t want to post lots of links, I hope these will do.

Just with regard to your commenting on the distint difefrence between outlawing & abolishing something, To outlaw something means to declair something illegal… Abolition is the act of formally destroying something through legal means, either by making it illegal, or simply no longer allowing it to exist in any form. To reference that info just go to Google and type Define:outlaw/abolish… Also I am afraid I am not able to locate a date of the actual abolition(sorry for that I thought the year would suffice) however as started in my post and in the National Geographic artical it was in 1950, you can google up several other pages citing the same info.

I do appoligise for my attitude to all of you who brought it up… My bad, big vent and the post came out all wrong… I am an obnoxious little so & so and I do take your critisisms seriously. Zabali Clawbone, thanks for the message about the rolling of eyes, I posted that emoticon right beside where I stated I myself would have asked for documentation as a poke at my idiocy for not posting links, sorry if it seemed directed at you. Bryan Ekers, I used catitalization on relevent information assuming it would be correct to draw attention to those facts. Seems it was a mistake and makes me a lowly poster, thank you for doing the same and making me feel a little less retarded. No sarcasm intended.

For some reason a stray smilie popped up in the post… The sentance should have said define : outlaw/abolish

The claim has been made that evidence of cannibalism in relation to kuru was fabricated.

Cite: G. Kolata, Science 232, 1497 (1986).

I don’t think that the relationship beween “slow viruses” and kuru (or some other diseases said to be caused by same) has been uncontraversially established at this point.

I am not quite sute what you mean by that post… Could you elaborate? I shall try to answer as best I can given my understandng of your post. I think I have located your reference… Is this is?

“Kuru” was a fabricated disease concocted to support the “Slow Virus” theory of Carlton Gadjusek. Anthropologists who had studied the same New Guinea tribes as Dr. Gadjusek openly contested his claims of cannibalism and brain disease, as they had lived among these tribes and witnessed no unusual disease called Kuru or any Cannibalism (Science 1986; 232: 1497-1500).

That statement was based on the fact that Gadjusek had not ruled out all possible causes on the transmission of the disease, not that in said disease was 'pretend"… There are some claims that Kur was actually invented by the Japanese…

Covert Testing of Other Disease Agents Mad Cow Disease/Kuru/CJD in the Fore Tribe

Before and during World War II, at the infamous Camp 731 in Manchuria, the Japanese military contaminated prisoners of war with certain disease agents.

They also established a research camp in New Guinea in 1942. There they experimented upon the Fore Indian tribe and inoculated them with a minced-up version of the brains of diseased sheep containing the visna virus which causes “mad cow disease” or Creutzfeldt Jakob disease.

About five or six years later, after the Japanese had been driven out, the poor people of the Fore tribe developed what they called kuru, which was their word for “wasting”, and they began to shake, lose their appetites and die. The autopsies revealed that their brains had literally turned to mush. They had contracted “mad cow disease” from the Japanese experiments.

When World War II ended, DR Ishii Shiro – the medical doctor who was commissioned as a General in the Japanese Army so he could take command of Japan’s biological warfare development, testing and deployment – was captured. He was given the choice of a job with the United States Army or execution as a war criminal. Not surprisingly, DR Ishii Shiro chose to work with the US military to demonstrate how the Japanese had created mad cow disease in the Fore Indian tribe.

In 1957, when the disease was beginning to blossom in full among the Fore people, DR Carleton Gajdusek of the US National Institutes of Health headed to New Guinea to determine how the minced-up brains of the visna-infected sheep affected them. He spent a couple of years there, studying the Fore people, and wrote an extensive report. He won the Nobel Prize for “discovering” kuru disease in the Fore tribe. see Are the COVID Jabs Responsible for Rising Mortality Trends?

Most information regarding the pathogen of Kuru is predominantly in relation to Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease. Now according to the infomation i was able to search CJD and Kuru are considered to be transmitable diseases, this has been shown by evperiments involving injecting subjects with affected brains. What is a subject of debate is the transmissible agent. here is the link containing this information

Virus Or Prion

       Initially, the agent was thought to be a slow virus due to the unusually long incubation period, which can be up to forty years, between the time of exposure to the pathogen and the onset of symptoms. Further research, however, has indicated that this agent differs significantly from viruses and other conventional agents. Whereas viruses and other known infectious agents contain nucleic acids which house a cell's genetic material, researchers have been unable to identify any nucleic acids in the CJD agent. Additionally, the chemical and physical procedures that inactivate most viruses have proved ineffective in decreasing the infectivity of the CJD pathogen. In contrast, the procedures that degrade protein have been found to inactivate the pathogen. 

       Accordingly, a new theory regarding the transmissible agent has emerged and gained widespread acceptability. This theory holds that the transmissible agent is neither a virus nor other previously known infectious agent, but rather an unconventional agent consisting of protein. This newly-discovered pathogen is called a "prion", short for " proteinaceous infectious particle". Prions are thought to transform normal, benign protein molecules into infectious, deadly ones by altering the shape of the healthy molecules to the dangerous conformation. This transformation then induces a chain reaction to alter the shape of the other benign protein molecules into the deadly form. 

Other Diseases Caused By Similar Agents

       CJD falls within a category of related human and animal diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (“TSE’s”), all of which appear to involve the abnormal prion protein and leave their victims with the characterisitic sponge-like holes in the infected brains. In addition to CJD, the suspected human prion diseases include kuru, Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker disease and fatal familial insomnia. Kuru has been found only among the Fore tribe in Papua New Guinea and has been virtually eliminated since the cessation of the ritual handling and eating of the brains of deceased relatives. The disease is characterized by progressive problems with coordination which are typically followed by dementia. Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker disease and fatal familial insomnia are predominantly hereditary disorders with the former usually marked by progressive coordination and movement problems and the latter evidenced by sleeping problems preceding dementia. The suspected prion diseases occurring in animals consist of: scrapie in sheep and goats; transmissible mink encephalopathy; chronic wasting disease of mule deer and elk; feline spongiform encephalopathy; and, bovine spongiform encephalopathy ("BSE"), also known as "mad cow disease". TSE’s have also been found in some exotic zoo animals. 

There was never a relationship between kuru or any other diease as stated by you as they were actually believed to be slow diseases… Maybe the relationship was “self”… Anyway science has gone on to show they are not slow diseases and are not classified as prions

just wish to make a quick correction… the last line in my post has a typo… the las line should read:- "Anyway science has gone on to show they are not slow diseases and are now classified as prions

I don’t know how (or if) to reply to all of that, but:

There is debate about cannibalism in that (and all) societies.

And there is debate over the ability of kuru to be transmitted via brain munching.

Not saying I have the answers to these, but there are some pretty bright people with a lot of experience asking the Qs and I think we just don’t know yet on either count.

a) It in only found in the Fore area of Okapa
b) It is one-hundred-percent fatal.
c) 80% of all known cases have been women and children.
d) The entire process of dying is painless with death actually resulting to starvation.

The people of the Fore/Okapa area eat their relatives only and at the point of death - so everything is still nice and warm! Then, instead of eating the meat, the women and children eat the viscera and brains. The men rarely participate at all and, should they do so, they prefer the meat. They believe the dead relative could live on in their bodies in this way.

I am not suggesting it is practiced any longer but I have no doubt that it did occur… Their own verbal history tells of funerary cannibalism but I will have to get back to you on the actual transmision, it is true that as you say it is still widely debated as to the hows and whys but again there are many illnesses in that basket. The one common link that has been proven is the act of cannibalism…

From my second link, above:

It seems that CJD and Kuru are one and the same according to information i have located… Altho the myth of kuru being a seperate disease remains…

taken from

Causes, incidence, and risk factors:
Kuru is an extremely rare prion disease. It is almost exclusively found among people from New Guinea, who practiced a form of cannibalism in which the brains of dead relatives were eaten as part of a funeral ritual. Kuru causes neurodegenerative changes similar to another prion disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which occurs sporadically around the world and for which risk factors are unknown. taken from here

Also I have to correct a post I made in saying Kuru and CJD are one and the same, actually they are not, they are almost identical but Kuru is slightly different and has only ever been found in the Fore people of PNG

I came across this artical at a website that appears to promote getting yourself a “fun disease”… Its really just a bit of fun but again factually interesting… just go to this page

CJD appears to happen primarily in Westerners who have already had brain surgery. That’s not a particularly successful transmission route for a specific virus.

One of my links noted that “most,” not all, of the kuru victims were Fore.

In any event, Gajdusek was never able to locate a virus and was only able to cause deterioration in monkey brains by drilling holes in their heads and introducing a brain slurry. Sounds like the sort of thing that could cause brain damage without needing an exotic ‘slow virus.’ He apparently wasn’t able to transmit neurological damage by feeding monkeys infected (presumably, because he didn’t have a virus) tissue.