Monthly Archive: April 2014

The Unspeakable Tragedy Of Human Zoos

For almost 50 years, zoos and traveling exhibitions featured much more than animals. So-called exotic humans, brought back from what were then the farthest reaches of the world, were put on display for the entertainment of Americans and Europeans alike. These exotics included a “Tribe of Genuine Ubangi Savages” and their advertised “crocodile mouths,” the “cannibal chieftains” from Africa, and entire villages of people uprooted from across the African continent and shipped off to be displayed for public entertainment. The practice didn’t fully end until World War II, but they were first banned by Hitler.

Why Karl Marx Actually Loved Capitalism

One of the most enduring stereotypes about Marxism is its supposed opposition to and rejection of capitalism. However, Marx’s explanation of communism is not as simple as rejecting capitalism. Marx saw history as a progression of societies attempting to produce as much capital as possible through exploitation of class differences. Communism was Marx’s idealized society, the ultimate realization of human progress: Humans produce as much capital as possible, sans classes. For this reason, Marx saw capitalism as a massive improvement on previous modes of production, especially since it would lead to communism.

Spices Weren’t Used To Cover The Taste Of Rotten Meat

The popularity of spices skyrocketed in Europe around the time explorers were opening up the Middle and Far East. We’ve all heard the story that the newly discovered spices were so popular because they covered the taste of rotten meat, but that’s just not true. Spices were expensive, and using them meant that you were rich enough to be able to afford such luxuries—but you still weren’t going to waste them on bad meat. Fresh meat wasn’t hard to get, after all, and it rarely lasted long enough to go bad.

Australia’s Giant Feral Cats

A disturbing new twist on Australia’s feral cat population has emerged. Already nearly impossible to control and rapidly wiping out native wildlife, the cats have begun growing to a massive size. Reports from across the continent indicate the presence of 20-kilogram (50 lb) beasts that are mistaken for panthers.

Ikaria, The Island Of The Ancients

On the small Greek island of Ikaria, people are known to live astonishingly long lives. Ikarian men are four times more likely to make it to 90 than Americans and do so in remarkably good health. This is attributed to a healthy, all-natural diet, a laid-back lifestyle, and a strong sense of community among other factors.

The Bizarre ‘Breatharianism’ Fad Diet

Throughout the world, people are preaching the concept of “breatharianism”— the notion that the human body requires only air to survive. Although it seems ridiculous at face value, many are lulled into the idea by mystics who seemingly never need to eat or drink. Tragically, experimentation with breatharianism has led to several deaths.

When Three Jesus Christs Collided

In the late 1950s, psychologist Milton Rokeach and a team of researchers began an experiment in which they gathered three psychiatric patients and had them live together in Michigan’s Ypsilanti State Hospital to see how their beliefs might change or adapt. The bombshell? They were all suffering under the delusion that they were Christ. Rokeach’s methods were questionable, and his results both inconclusive and of little worth, but the experiment has become one of the weirder and more infamous of psychological case studies.

There Is A Spider That Is Almost Completely Vegetarian

We think of spiders as viciously predatory, injecting venom into their prey and sucking out the liquefied innards. However, there is one species of spider, called the Bagheera kiplingi, that subsists almost entirely on nutrient-rich leaf tips. Scientists are somewhat baffled as to how this spider developed a vegetarian diet or even how it manages to digest plant matter in the first place.

The Clove Tree That Defied An Empire

In the 1600s, the Netherlands United East India Company controlled the Indonesian spice trade. All clove trees that didn’t belong to them were destroyed, with only 800–1,000 tons of cloves allowed out each year, giving them a monopoly on clove prices. However, one free tree remained. A Frenchman stole some seeds from it and took them to other countries, taking away the company’s monopoly on the trade.