CNN has new six-part series on spirituality that is called Believer. The series is presented by CNN’s Reza Aslan, a religious studies scholar. The goal of the series is to accurately present religious groups who are misunderstood.
CNN presenter Reza Aslan has been heavily criticized after he ate part of a human brain while filming with a Hindu cannibal sect in India.
The episode, part of a series called Believer with Reza Aslan, was shown on Sunday and provoked horror and dismay from many viewers and an angry backlash by Hindus in America.
The Science of Eating Brains and Feces
It probably goes without saying that many Hindus were rather upset with CNN. And for good reason. The nauseating practices of the Aghoris shed no light on a faith practiced by more than one billion people.
Science also has something to say about the Aghoris. Humans naturally find certain things, like death and feces, repulsive. This isn’t just because of culture or religion; instead, we seem to have an innate aversion to “gross” things. Why? Because gross things often carry disease.
Though incredibly rare, eating brains caused kuru, the human equivalent of mad cow disease, among a cannibalistic tribe in Papua New Guinea. Quite likely, the epidemic began with a person who had Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), a type of rare brain disorder that is caused by a misfolded protein. This protein, called prion, is infectious. When this person died and the tribe consumed his brain, they became infected. When they died, and the ritual cannibalism continued, the disease spread even further.
In general, eating brains or nervous tissue is not a brilliant idea. The mad cow disease outbreak was probably caused by cows that were fed ground up cow parts, including nervous system tissue. When these cows became beef, the meat was contaminated with prion.
Much more so than brains, feces is often full of pathogens. We are evolutionarily programmed to find feces absolutely revolting. People who eat feces (a practice called coprophagia) are likely experiencing some type of mental illness.
CNN now has a personality that is a cannibal.