Tag Archives | Death

America’s most lethal animal

Animal attacks have been in the news a lot. Late last year, a 22-year-old student in New Jersey was killed by a black bear he had been photographing. This summer, swimmers off the coast of North Carolina have suffered a record number of shark attacks, several of which resulted in amputations. And early in July, a 28-year-old Texas swimmer who ignored warning signs was killed by an alligator.

Of course, not all human-killing animals are so large. Each year, dozens of Americans die due to bites by venomous snakes, lizards and spiders. Other small animals such as ticks and fleas, though not naturally outfitted with their own lethal weaponry, can nonetheless kill by transmitting deadly infections, such as Powassan virus.

Worldwide, the animal responsible for by far the greatest number of human deaths is just such an insect that transmits a deadly infection: the mosquito.… Read the rest

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Dying is Absolutely Safe

Cover of the San Francisco Oracle featuring Ram Dass. (CC)

Cover of the San Francisco Oracle featuring Ram Dass. (CC)

Do you remember Ram Dass? He was born Richard Alpert and was known for his personal and professional associations with Timothy Leary. He’s now a spiritual teacher and tells us at his website that dying is absolutely safe:

There is a tombstone in Ashby, Massachusetts that reads, “Remember friend, as you pass by, as you are now, so once was I. As I am now, so you must be. Prepare yourself to follow me.”

Something has happened to me as a result of meandering through many realms of consciousness over the past fifty years that has changed my attitude toward death. A lot of the fear about death has gone from me. I am someone who actually delights in being with people as they are dying. It is such incredible grace for me. In the morning, if I know I am going to be with such a person, I get absolutely thrilled because I know I am going to have an opportunity to be in the presence of Truth.

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Peter Thiel And N.T. Wright Debate The End Of Death

Max Anderson attends a public debate between leading technology investor Peter Thiel (conspiracy theorists may also identify him as one of the progenitors of the New World Order) and revered theologian N.T. “Tom” Wright, and then meets with them privately to discuss the inevitablity – or not – of death. He writes for Forbes:

It turns out that Peter Thiel quotes Hamlet.

Peter Thiel. Photo: David Orban (CC)

Peter Thiel. Photo: David Orban (CC)

For Thiel, a line in the play’s second scene throws open the pessimism that runs throughout the tragedy and, in his opinion, our current cultural moment. “Thou know’st ‘tis common; all that lives must die,” says Gertrude to her son, Hamlet. Her words are a cold comfort to the young prince, who is grieving the death of his father. All that lives must die. “At some level it’s a statement about reality. At another level,” Thiel postulates, “it’s a statement about accepting the rottenness that is in Denmark.” Death is a fact of life, Gertrude says.

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For believers, fear of atheists is fueled by fear of death

Recognizing death’s inevitability, people find comfort in their beliefs. Andreas Hunziker/flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

Recognizing death’s inevitability, people find comfort in their beliefs. Andreas Hunziker/flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

Corey L Cook, University of Washington and Sheldon Solomon, Skidmore College

Skepticism about the existence of God is on the rise, and this might, quite literally, pose an existential threat for religious believers.

It’s no secret that believers generally harbor extraordinarily negative attitudes toward atheists. Indeed, recent polling data show that most Americans view atheists as “threatening,” unfit to hold public office and unsuitable to marry into their families.

But what are the psychological roots of antipathy toward atheists?

Historically, evolutionary psychologists argue that atheists have been denigrated because God serves as the ultimate source of social power and influence: God rewards appropriate behaviors and punishes inappropriate ones.

The thinking has gone, then, that believers deem atheists fundamentally untrustworthy because they do not accept, affirm and adhere to divinely ordained moral imperatives (ie, “God’s word”).… Read the rest

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Dying like an American: spaceflight, coral reefs, and other wild ways to get buried

Screen Shot from UrbanDeathProject.org

Screen Shot from UrbanDeathProject.org

Lizzie Plaugic via The Verge:

On the day before her 56th birthday, Grace Seidel talked to me about dying. It probably wasn’t going to happen anytime soon, she said, but when it did, she knew what she wanted her family to do with her body: compost it. Earlier this year, Seidel found out about the Urban Death Project — a proposed system that would turn bodies of the dead into compost — and knew instantly it was how she wanted to go out.

“It took a nanosecond for me to make that decision,” Seidel said. “My brain was probably already working in that direction.”

Seidel, an avid gardener who lives in Seattle, said she’s recently been drawn to the idea of green burials, and the Urban Death Project felt like an intimate, even spiritual way to return to the earth. So she donated $2,500 to the project’s Kickstarter campaign, which secured her a space in the “core”: a multi-story vault designed to sit at the center of every Urban Death facility.

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Evidence of Earliest Known Murder Found

Cranium 17 bone traumatic fractures. (A) Frontal view of Cranium 17 showing the position of the traumatic events T1 (inferior) and T2 (superior); (B) Detailed ectocranial view of the traumatic fractures showing the two similar notches (black arrows) present along the superior border of the fracture outlines. Note that the orientation of the two traumatic events is different; (C) Detail of the notch in T1 under 2X magnification with a light microscope. (D) Endocranial view of T1 and T2 showing the large cortical delamination of the inner table (black arrows).

Cranium 17 bone traumatic fractures.
(A) Frontal view of Cranium 17 showing the position of the traumatic events T1 (inferior) and T2 (superior); (B) Detailed ectocranial view of the traumatic fractures showing the two similar notches (black arrows) present along the superior border of the fracture outlines. Note that the orientation of the two traumatic events is different; (C) Detail of the notch in T1 under 2X magnification with a light microscope. (D) Endocranial view of T1 and T2 showing the large cortical delamination of the inner table (black arrows).

Evidence of the earliest murder has emerged in the form of a fractured skull recovered from the Sima de los Huesos Middle Pleistocene site.

Lethal Interpersonal Violence in the Middle Pleistocene via PLOS One:

Evidence of interpersonal violence has been documented previously in Pleistocene members of the genus Homo, but only very rarely has this been posited as the possible manner of death.

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Fantasy Coffins Make Death Seem…Fun!

Hennensarg von Kudjo Affutu 2008.jpg

Hen coffin by Kudjoe Affutu (CC)

 

If you’ve ever had to pick out a coffin, you know that the choices are all pretty bland and boring. Unless you live in Ghana, West Africa, that is, where Atlas Obscura finds all sorts of fantasy coffins, from lobsters to beer bottles:

The workshop of one of the most well-known fantasy coffin carvers in the world is squeezed between a barbershop and a clothing store, in the shadow of a three-story Melcom supermarket. In front of the workshop, children skitter through the dirt and women sell fried yam, cell phone credit, and balls of fermented corn mash called kenkey. A generator’s incessant hum fills the air, alongside the echoing calls of the passing tro-tros and the ubiquitous tune of high-life music. Above the shop, a faded wooden fish hangs above a plank with “KANE KWEI COFFINS” painted in black block letters. Inside, Eric Adjetey Anang and his carpenters are spearheading the creation of Ghana’s most fascinating and internationally renowned artistic product: abebuu adekai, or fantasy coffins.

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Atheists Make Americans Think of Death

What do you think of if/when you think of atheists? If you’re American there’s a good chance the thought of atheism inspires further thoughts about death, per Discovery News:

Atheists consistently rank among the lowest of the low in the court of American public opinion. Now, research suggests one reason why: Thinking about atheists reminds people of death.

The Grim Reaper - geograph.org.uk - 522625

Photo: Trish Steel (CC)

In fact, prompting people to think about atheism triggered death-related thoughts just as strongly as, well, directly prompting people to think about death, a new study finds. These death thoughts help trigger a subconscious dislike of atheists, said study leader Corey Cook, a social psychologist at the University of Washington, Tacoma. Not only do thoughts of death put people in a negative frame of mind, Cook told Live Science, but they also prompt people to hold more tightly onto their own values.

“There’s a little circular thing going on where encountering atheism will make people grasp their values closer and then become more negative because atheists are perceived as not having values,” Cook said.

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CDC Predicts How You Will Die Based On Where You Live

OK, this is creepy: the US Centers for Disease Control has released a map that predicts how you’ll die based on which state you live in:

death map

The authors of the study, Francis P. Boscoe, PhD and Eva Pradhan, MPH, explain:

Background

Maps of the most distinctive or characteristic value of some variable at the state or country level became popular on social media in 2014. Among the most widely shared examples have been maps of state-level birth name preferences, music-listening preferences, and mortality from among the top 10 causes of death (1). This form of data presentation has a long history in economic geography, where the mapped values are known as location quotients (2). We use the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision (ICD-10), List of 113 Selected Causes of Death file published by the National Center for Health Statistics (3) to present a more nuanced view of mortality variation within the United States than what can be seen by using only the 10 most common causes of death.

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Oklahoma man pleads guilty in deadly ‘atomic wedgie’ case

Williana (CC BY 2.0)

Williana (CC BY 2.0)

A man from Oklahoma (not Florida!) has plead guilty to first-degree manslaughter for giving a deadly atomic wedgie to his stepfather.

via Reuters:

An Oklahoma man has pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter for asphyxiating his stepfather with the underwear he was wearing in a move police dubbed an “atomic wedgie,” court officials said on Tuesday.

Brad Davis, 34, who pleaded guilty on Monday, faces between four to 35 years in prison for the death of Denver St. Clair, 58, in December 2013 in McLoud, east of Oklahoma City. A mitigation hearing is set for Wednesday with sentencing scheduled for July.

Davis pulled St. Clair’s underwear over his head and around his neck, where the elastic band left ligature marks, police said.

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