Clever Cannibals?

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Clever Cannibals?
by Fjordman

Michael Rockefeller was born in 1938 and disappeared in November 1961 during an expedition in what was then still Dutch-ruled New Guinea. He came from the very rich and powerful Rockefeller family. His great-grandfather — John D. Rockefeller of Standard Oil fame — was not just the richest man in the USA. He is often ranked as one of the wealthiest human beings who has ever lived.

Officially, Michael Rockefeller was presumed to have either drowned or been eaten by a crocodile. However, in 2014 the veteran journalist Carl Hoffman published a book entitled Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller’s Tragic Quest for Primitive Art. He there presents a very different tale: that Michael Rockefeller was murdered and ritually eaten by a violent tribe of local cannibals.

There were rumors that this had been the case already in the 1960s. Hoffman had these stories confirmed by the locals while staying with the same tribe in New Guinea multiple times. The killing was partly in revenge for a standoff where Dutch colonial officials had killed several tribe members three years earlier. The tribe therefore wanted to kill a white man, any white man, in retaliation for the deaths.

In doing so, they followed an extremely ancient cultural pattern of revenge killings and ritual cannibalism. Tribe members in 1961 plunged a 10-foot spear into Michael Rockefeller’s chest while he was still swimming. Afterwards, they cooked his limbs over an open fire and ate them. He was probably dismembered in what Hoffman calls an act of “sacred violence.” Eating the brain was the high point and delicacy for the New Guinea cannibals.

Carl Hoffman describes how a hole was made in the skull and that only the senior men ate it: “They shook the brains out onto the leaf of a palm, scraped inside the skull with a knife to get every last bite, then mixed the mass with sago, wrapped the leaf up, and roasted it on the fire. This food was special.” When it was all over, they wrapped what remained of the skull in banana leaves, packed it in one of the canoes and paddled home.

Professor Jared Diamond in 1997 published the work Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. It became an international bestseller, was translated into many languages and earned him a Pulitzer Prize. He writes specifically in order to dispel alleged historical Eurocentrism.

In his book, Jared Diamond claims explicitly (page 14) that “New Guineans are on the average at least as smart as Europeans.” Diamond suggests that IQ tests measure cultural learning only, not innate intelligence, and that New Guineans are probably more intelligent than the average European or American. He repeats this claim several times. For instance, he suggests (page 21) that “…in mental ability New Guineans are probably genetically superior to Westerners,” partly because they do not have television.

They did have cannibalism for a very long time, though.

It’s a good thing that Europeans got so much help from the sophisticated cannibals of New Guinea. Without them, we would have no Sistine Chapel, no Moonlight Sonata, no Romeo and Juliet, no splitting of the atom and certainly no space travel. We would just have a bunch of racist, homophobic and misogynist white men, raping the Earth and creating global warming.

I touched upon this subject in my 2008 essay On Human Sacrifice and Political Correctness. When I was younger, I was once told that regularly practiced and culturally accepted cannibalism (as opposed to exceptional cannibalism under famines or extreme conditions) didn’t exist in any society in modern times. This was a racist, colonialist lie invented by prejudiced Europeans. One example of this confabulation would be the former cannibal dubbed “Friday,” who converted to Christianity in Daniel Defoe’s 1719 novel Robinson Crusoe. As I grow older and investigate things for myself, I see how wrong this claim was.

Professor Diamond states (page 199) that “…the virus causing laughing sickness (kuru) in the New Guinea highlands used to pass to a person from another person who was eaten. It was transmitted by cannibalism, when highland babies made the fatal mistake of licking their fingers after playing with raw brains that their mothers had just cut out of dead kuru victims awaiting cooking.”

The interesting thing about this quote is that Mr. Diamond has just stated that some New Guineans widely practiced cannibalism, all the way up to the mid-twentieth century at least. He says this matter-of-factly, but he does not clearly indicate that he disapproves of this. In fact, from his writings, he appears to be more critical of television than he is of cannibalism.

In Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond claims that certain tribes of New Guineans are smarter than Europeans, even as he admits that the same tribes have been cannibals until nearly the present day. This raises the following question: Are these clever cannibals of New Guinea smarter than Europeans in spite of being cannibals, or because of it? Does eating human brains makes you smarter? Has anybody done serious studies of this matter? Such studies would be an interesting intersection between Harvard University and zombie movies.

Perhaps the esteemed Professor Jared Diamond will clarify matters in future books. Some of his many readers may want to know more about this subject.


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17 thoughts on “Clever Cannibals?

  1. Genetically inferior, anyone? Raise your hands? Anyone? (crickets…)

    OK. For your homework assignment please read in your algebra book pages 48-56 and complete the word problems on page…

  2. “Officially, Michael Rockefeller was presumed to have either drowned or been eaten by a crocodile. However, in 2014 the veteran journalist Carl Hoffman published a book entitled Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller’s Tragic Quest for Primitive Art. He there presents a very different tale: that Michael Rockefeller was murdered and ritually eaten by a violent tribe of local cannibals.”

    Isn’t multiculturalism great?

  3. Superior to us? yes, just like the muslims I saw defecating in the street in Rawalpindi

  4. Perhaps the esteemed Professor Jared Diamond will clarify matters in future books. Some of his many readers may want to know more about this subject.

    Stephen Jay Gould behaved in the same dishonest way:

    In a 1981 book, “The Mismeasure of Man,” the paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould asserted that Morton, believing that brain size was a measure of intelligence, had subconsciously manipulated the brain volumes of European, Asian and African skulls to favor his bias that Europeans had larger brains and Africans smaller ones.

    But now physical anthropologists at the University of Pennsylvania, which owns Morton’s collection, have remeasured the skulls, and in an article that does little to burnish Dr. Gould’s reputation as a scholar, they conclude that almost every detail of his analysis is wrong.

    Scientists Measure the Accuracy of a Racism Claim

    And like Diamond, Gould had a big network to promote his books and make him famous.

  5. The high esteem Jared Diamond has amongst the anti-racist left has always amused me. He has certainly published some interesting work, such as his paper on ethnic differences in testicle size in the respected scientific journal Nature. The indifference of anti-racists on Diamond’s interest in group differences in primary sex characteristics can be contrasted with their vociferous ridicule directed at a certain other scientist who was similarly interested in the subject matter, and in fact specifically cited Diamond’s work to bolster his own hypotheses on the matter.

  6. Cannibals are clever enough not to impose their language on everyone, while not learning other languages themselves. Many problems arise because the West taught its languages to immigrants, enabling them to infiltrate and to subvert.

  7. Dear Fjordman,

    Thanks for another interesting article.

    I wonder what you think about Diamond’s main thesis–that the West’s superiority is just an accident of geography?

  8. Resources on the subject are extensive, and few are honest about certain realities: in lethal conflicts between groups in tribal societies, especially predaceous ones, it’s pragmatic to sell or eat the excess conquered. This is especially true in an environment populated by carnivores, and you don’t intend to just turn around and go back home. A cultural/moral “PC”-mumbo-jumbo like this is society at large.

  9. The Seaplane Pilot’s Association used to have a fly-in at Camp-of-the-Woods in upstate New York every year ( They made it available to us at a reduced rate because they used seaplanes in their missions. In the lobby was a display (about 15′ wide x 12′ high x 2′ deep) with artifacts from Rockefeller’s last trip, gathered by their missionaries who worked with that tribe. They always said that he’d been killed.

    • hmmmn thats Protestant. Shaidle said the Dutch Government and Catholic Church wewre the only western powers in New Guinea.

  10. “Why the West Rules, for Now” by Ian Morris is a superior exposition of the “Accident of Geography” explanation for the West’s 500 years of hegemony than Diamond’s version. It’s also worth noting that Morris’ definition of “The West” is not confined to Western Europe.

    The West has experienced two periods of collapse and subsequent “Dark Ages”, then recovery and the emergence of far superior civilisations, surely cultural and institutional factors were significant, not just geography.

    It’s amazing in the PC universe that so many ethnic groups seem to be smarter than ‘Europeans’, and the lengths to which cultural relativism is stretched in order to avoid accusations of “racism. The reality is that Europeans invented the modern world, and even the most successful East Asian societies have adapted the Western invention of industrialisation, some have even adopted democracy. There’s no evidence that industrialisation is an inevitable development in any civilisation, it first appeared in a small off-shore European island in the 18th century and nowhere else on earth.

  11. The Chinese generally think that, by eating a particular organ, that would strengthen yours. Except they perceive the seat of the mind as in the chest, not the head. Enjoy your Rocky Mountain Oysters.

  12. I read an article about Michael Rockefeller’s disappearance, too.

    BTW, the proper term for what caused Kuru sickness in New Guinea is necrophagy–disposing of one’s own dead [by natural causes] by eating them. Cannibalism or anthropohagy is properly hunting and killing people or using captive people for food.

    Many years back, a Taiwanese Hakka author named Huang Rongluo published a collection of essays on local history entitled _Du Tai Bei Ge_, focusing very heavily on Hakka settlement in northwestern Taiwan. One of his essays dealt with how the Hakka settlers would cannibalize aboriginal headhunters on whom they turned tables (tribal folk there didn’t like settlers, either). Huang based this on interviews with older people who had mentioned such things happening in their communities back in the 19th century–confirming reports by George Leslie MacKay, a pioneering Canadian Presbyterian Missionary in those parts, of such deeds.

    Huang was not glorifying his own people’s past, but warning that his own culture had its dark parts, too, and should refrain from self-righteous judgments.

    Chinese literature is also noted for references to anthropophagy in such classics as _Journey to the West_ and _Water Margin_. When serving as a US consular officer in southern China, I also heard some rumors that in certain villages where everyone was related, health officials who got over-zealous about the one child policy sometimes “disappeared”, and their body parts cannibalized after being offered on ancestral altars.

    Christian that I am, what might I have done had I gotten the jump on someone who was trying to force my daughter-in-law to abort?

    The Bible itself records cannibalism in Samaria in the days of Elisha, when the city was besieged by the Aramaeans.

    I once read a medieval European poem in which a nobleman murders his wife’s lover, has his cook prepare the heart, and serves it to the wife, telling her it was from a wild boar he had killed. And as for Hansel and Gretel, I wonder how many German peasant women left alone in the wake of some disaster like the 30 Years’ War might have actually preyed on other survivors’ children?

    I think we should all recognize that the human heart is capable of very great evil, wherever it is, and whether or not accepted canons countenance the behavior in question or not.

    In any case, I still thank Fjordman for this reminder that a lot of our PeeCee “anthropology” is mere senitmental Rousseauan rubbish about noble savages.

  13. I just love tha amiable grin of the chap in the middle of the photo, assessing how much red pepper will need to be harvested to properly season the prize Rockefeller on the spit. And the sexual orgy that followed the Rockefeller feast does remind me of modern frat hookups at a kegger party.

    There is something deeply demented about the modern White academic that’s particularly salient in anthropology. Thus you have Maragaret Mead who took a farce played as a joke on her, the stupid white woman, by Samoan women, for their authentic customs, and Franz Boas who pioneered the idea of race and cultural egalitarianism, i.e. cultural relativism , that eventually evolved into categortical race denialism, including by prominent biologists like Stephen Jay Gould.

    There is more common sense in an unwashed peasant in the Peshawar, than in those learned donkeys.

  14. On Dymphna’s recommendation, I’m reading P J O’Rourke’s brilliant & witty “Eat the Rich”- is this what he meant?

    We shouldn’t be too hard on Mr Diamond; he’s a useful ally in dismissing (some of my fellow-) Leftists’ destructive self-loathing of our culture, which is used to justify/excuse PCMC, Israel-bashing, etc.

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