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Thread: Cannibalism Meets Human Extinction

  1. #1
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    Cannibalism Meets Human Extinction

    Wasn't sure what place to post it, but sociology seemed good enough.

    Let's assume that the entirety of humanity can only eat food from cannibalism. All other food stuffs are rejected by the body, but are not poisonous. How many weeks, months, or years would it take for the last person on earth to die of starvation or violent trauma? When we would see the utter breakdown of society?

    I want to entertain two possibilities:
    1. Everyone immediately knows this knowledge about only being able to eat via cannibalism.
    2. The knowledge must be figured out.

  2. #2
    凸(ಠ_ರೃ )凸 stuck's Avatar
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    Utter breakdown of society: in about 14 minutes
    Last person on earth: at least another 10,000 years.

    Society would break, immediately reform around the idea of human body recycling, and create what are essentially baby mills, to sustain a very small techno-cannibal elite.

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    I think stuck makes a good point. If we can sustain cow meat production, we should be able to reliably farm humans. Only the wealthy, and the human cattle will survive... But no big deal in the long run.

    The second scenario has a better chance of stabilizing than the first, but I think both are going to be stable in the long term.
    Violence is never the right answer, unless used against heathens and monsters.

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    The problem with the baby farming idea is that they would require human meat to grow as well. There's a finite amount of human meat available, and eventually it turns into non-human.

    I think everyone would realize this and just sort of commit mass suicide.

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    (edit: lud beat me to it :P) ^^ Not really because there would by definition be a "fixed" supply of energy and the degradation of that energy would be exponential. So we'd run out of energy super quickly. An effective strategy to lengthen human existence (to maximise t for time left) would be cull all but the minimal population needed to survive until time t and freeze all the culled bodies for the remaining population to eat. Of course, there's some gains to be had from also eating some of the minimal population after they have reproduced, but that would be negligible compared to what would be in the freezer from the first cull.

    Of course the real problem would be malnutrition and things like scurvy, etc.

    Also, nobody has mentioned Soylent Green yet?

  6. #6
    Amen P-O's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lud View Post
    The problem with the baby farming idea is that they would require human meat to grow as well. There's a finite amount of human meat available, and eventually it turns into non-human.
    This is just the temporary solution while we wait on the structures for the tech stuck talks about.
    Violence is never the right answer, unless used against heathens and monsters.

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    Utisz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by P-O View Post
    This is just the temporary solution while we wait on the structures for the tech stuck talks about.
    The difference with cows is that they eat grass which get their energy from the sun. If humans can only consume humans, the energy cycle would be a closed system with an exponential decay ... a decay I would guess with a very short half-life.

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    Amen P-O's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Utisz View Post
    The difference with cows is that they eat grass which get their energy from the sun. If humans can only consume humans, the energy cycle would be a closed system with an exponential decay ... a decay I would guess with a very short half-life.
    yea but we already know how to grow organs. It's just a matter of setting up the facilities to mass produce them. So let's say every 2 weeks the population halves (this is a reasonably conservative estimate i think). That gives us around 6 months to get our flesh factory working I guess. I guess it's cutting it close. But if we have all the resources on earth at our disposal, I think it's not so unreasonable.
    Violence is never the right answer, unless used against heathens and monsters.

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    Utisz's Avatar
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    Grow the organs from what though? And whatever we grow them from (unless it's somehow pure sunlight :P), why wouldn't we just eat that in this scenario?

  10. #10
    Merry Christmas Blorg's Avatar
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    Going with 1:

    I think this would polarize humanity into the categories of good, bad, and dead. (these aren't literal categories; there is a lot of room for moral ambiguity in the bad category especially.)

    In the dead category are the people who kill themselves with no intention of getting eaten. There will probably be an initial wave of suicides, and numerous subsequent deaths by starvation. People will desperately scavange for these bodies. If the world lasts long enough, a market might develop around "suicide meat." (emphasis on the quotes around "suicide.") People would prefer this meat for the same reason that people today prefer buying free-range chickens. It means that their lives were just a touch less violent and unjust.

    In the Good category are the people who sacrifice themselves. Often, these 'sacrifices' might be caused by external pressure more than internal motivation: family structures would become rigidly hierarchical. On a broad scale - on an micro scale, the hierarchies would be way more controversial and complex - grandparents would go first, then parents, then older siblings, then younger ones (edit: but maybe newborn babies would BR killed before, say, five year olds). Old gender roles would probably come into play too, but I'm not sure if that would generally mean that men or women go first. Good people wouldn't sacrifice their whole bodies at once. They would go piece by piece as well as they could without dying, so that they could protect each other for as long as possible.

    This describes only the most functional families. Families in which there is already significant friction - ie, most - would completely fracture due to the additional trauma and paranoia. (Likewise, all broader governing bodies would collapse due to a total lack of trust. The notion of countries and borders would disappear.) There would be a lot of parent/child or sibling duos. Because of the extremely magnified stress and paranoia this event would cause, some of these duos would actually prefer to prey on their alienated family members rather than complete strangers: they would think, hunt or be hunted. (And they would have a better sense of each other's strengths/weaknesses, whereas strangers are complete wildcards.)

    That type of people fits into the bad category. They hunt. A few would become quite successful, and form little roving gangs. They might also be the ones to develop markets for human meat. No Good people would have the guts, stamina, or faith in others to develop such markets, so ironically, it's the Bads who would provide humanity with any chance of surviving for more than a few months. Goods would visit these markets and exchange whatever valuables they possess in exchange for a few fingers or eyes to feed their children before they start cutting off their own fingers. When things reach their last stage, the Bads would start eating their patrons, and then each other.

    *have to go but I'll give this more thought later. Fun! *
    "Better not to feel too much until the crisis ends—and if it never ends, at least we’ll have suffered a little less, developed a useful dullness...The constant—and very real—fear of being hurt, the fear of death, of intolerable loss, or even of “mere” humiliation, leads each of us, the citizens and prisoners of the conflict, to dampen our own vitality, our emotional and intellectual range, and to cloak ourselves in more and more protective layers until we suffocate." - Toni Morrison

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