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Featured Jeremy Bentham's severed head to be displayed as scientists look for clues of autism

Discussion in 'Autism Spectrum News, Events and Research' started by Sportster, Oct 10, 2017.

  1. Sportster

    Sportster Aged to Perfection V.I.P Member

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    Frankly, I find the following article from Fox News a bit bizarre. I can't wait to read what others think.

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    Eccentric Jeremy Bentham's severed head to be displayed as scientists look for clues of autism



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    According to his final will, dated 30 May 1832, Bentham left to friends twenty-six mourning rings made by John Field in 1822. (Credit: UCL Culture)

    Philosopher Jeremy Bentham's severed head will put on display for exhibit, with scientists also looking to see if the famed eccentric may have had autism.

    Bentham, who died in 1832, was a leading philosopher during the late 18th and early 19th century, weighing in on issues such as social and economic reform. He established the "greatest happiness principle," which brought about the idea that the greatest happiness to the greatest number of people was the measure of right and wrong.

    “The exhibition positions Bentham’s head within the context of his scholarship and his beliefs, with reference to prevailing ideas of the time about death and dead bodies," Subhadra Das, Curator of Collections, UCL Culture, said in a press release. "It asks the question, 'why did he believe donation was important'? And forces us to ask what that means to us today.”

    Bentham was an atheist, who said the teachings of the church at the time were "nonsense on stilts." As a result, he was opposed to a traditional Christian burial.

    The body has been on public display at University College London, but due to a mistake with the mummification process, Bentham's head has been thought too distasteful to show in the past, being checked only once a year for upkeep, including checking that the skin and hair are not falling off, according to The Telegraph.

    Scientists have also taken samples of the famed philosopher's DNA to see if he has Asperger’s or autism.

    Das said that by putting his head on display, it allows scientists to find out the truth about his mental state, as Asperger's or autism have genetic components to them.

    “It has also allowed scientists to test his DNA to see if he was autistic," Das said. "We have been working with the Natural History Museum who have new techniques of studying ancient DNA."

    “Studying ancient DNA is like looking at the shredded pages of a book, so much information is missing," he added. "And we have found that 99 per cent of the DNA taken has come from bacteria in his mouth. So it may be tricky to come to a firm conclusion. We want to explore what drove Bentham to donate his body, but also to address the challenges of putting this type of material on display.”

    The exhibition runs from October 2 2017 to February 28 2018 at the Octagon Gallery, Wilkins Building, UCL.
     
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  2. the_tortoise

    the_tortoise Well-Known Member

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    Epigenetics is not the same as traditional genetic heritability.....if autism is produced by both environmental and genetic factors in combination, then confirming that a dead person had the DNA part of he equation doesn't prove anything. If it did, then living people could be diagnosed based on a blood test and whether or not they have odd beliefs for their time and place in history.
     
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  3. kay

    kay Well-Known Member

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    Ah! A mummified head and I can't go see it. :( Perhaps I am a little, well, I don't know...but there is a museum called Woolaroc in north east Oklahoma with a shrunken head collection. Oh, that is the absolute best part. And I don't know why I like it so much because I hate funerals. Oh, and another cool thing I like to go to. This makes me seem kinda morbid, but there is this place in Lucas, Kansas called the Garden of Eden. It's a house and yard full of sculptures made of cement by S. P. Dinsmoor starting in 1904. He had himself put behind glass in a backyard mausoleum so tourists could view his body. And we do!
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  4. Gritches

    Gritches Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I know you didn't mean it to be, but that is the most metal thing I have seen or heard of in a long time. The one in Kansas especially is going on my bucket list.

    \m/
     
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  5. Alaska

    Alaska Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Dead bodies put on display seem gross and sickening to me. I like a nice clean cremation instead. The idea of speeding up the return of my body to nature seems much better than slow decomposition, or worse, arrested decomposition.

    Sometimes people do not get a choice about such things. A doctor stole Einstein's brain. It was done without Einstein's permission or that of his family.

    His brain did contribute to knowledge of differences between an ordinary brain and a brain belonging to a genius like Einstein. His brain has more neural connections than normal, even though his brain is smaller than average.

    I think they should put his brain back with the rest of him. I think it is disrespectful to leave it floating in a bottle somewhere. He already contributed enough.
     
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  6. Suzanne

    Suzanne Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Interests me too. Morbid? Or just fascination?
     
  7. Suzanne

    Suzanne Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    See where you are coming from and see that it indeed would be disrespectful to his family, but he is no longer conscious and therefore, it cannot be offensive to him. Unless, you meant his family and not him?

    Just to add though: how can science "move on" if things like this were not permitted?
     
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  8. bails0bub

    bails0bub the outsider

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    through the correct lens anything is disturbing, but through a different lens fascinating.
     
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  9. pax

    pax Well-Known Member

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    I thought this story was familiar. The guy donated his body for dissection, and wished for his mummified remains to be put on display at the college.
     
  10. Sportster

    Sportster Aged to Perfection V.I.P Member

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    I'm in that camp, though that shrunken head museum that @kay mentioned does sound interesting. I enjoy museums of any type. However, I have drawn the line at the Bodies Exhibit in Atlanta. I think it goes way beyond mere curiosity like a shrunken head:

    http://www.premierexhibitions.com/exhibitions/4/48/bodies-exhibition/bodies-exhibition-atlanta
     
  11. bails0bub

    bails0bub the outsider

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    I wish there where more museums around me, there is one big science museum but they have had the same exhibits for about 30 or so years...granted it is my favorite spot to take women on dates (as rare as that is)
     
  12. onlything

    onlything Gathering pieces V.I.P Member

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    Nonsense on stilts.
     
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  13. tree

    tree Blue/Green Staff Member V.I.P Member

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    I remember the story about Jeremy Bentham's body
    from an Econ. class I had in undergrad. He wanted his
    body stuffed and brought out for the annual board
    meeting each year.

    The taxidermy resulted in a lumpy, aesthetically unappealing
    presentation. The head was replaced by a wax mock-up,
    for display.
    Jeremy Bentham - Wikipedia
     
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  14. Katleya

    Katleya A bit of an acquired taste V.I.P Member

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    I can't connect how putting the head on display will help science, as opposed to just taking DNA samples without displaying the head, but I suppose it makes for a more attention-catching article that way.

    That head looks like something from the Bad Taxidermy website, honestly (which has some hilarious pictures, am I a bad person?).
     
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  15. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member

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    Personally I'd prefer recalling Jeremy Bentham for keeping his head while so deeply immersed in moral philosophy covering everything from utilitarianism to animal rights.

    The kind one can likely find in any freshman political science 101 class rather than mortuary science. :p
     
  16. OkRad

    OkRad Well-Known Member

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    Holy Shhhh*****t, Sport. A nice warning for those who are sensitive and nightmare would have been nice........BAD SPORTSTER!!! :-O
     
  17. dragoncat16

    dragoncat16 Active Member

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    Didn't Einstein also donate his brain to science?

    Dead bodies, and particularly severed parts thereof, give me the major heebie-jeebies, but that photo looks more like a halloween mask.
     
  18. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member

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    Might be good to see Bentham make a "cameo appearance" under such circumstances on "Futurama".

    With Bentham's head of course, under glass. With him and Nixon having some heated arguments. :p

     
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  19. Nitro

    Nitro Immoral Turpitude Staff Member Admin V.I.P Member

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