Caveat emptor black markets in everything

by on May 25, 2012 at 2:47 pm in Food and Drink, Law, Medicine | Permalink

Nonetheless this story, from the BBC, caught my eye:

South Korea says it will increase customs inspections targeting capsules containing powdered human flesh.

The Korea Customs Service said it had found almost 17,500 of the capsules being smuggled into the country from China since August 2011.

The powdered flesh, which officials said came from dead babies and foetuses, is reportedly thought by some to cure disease and boost stamina.

But officials said the capsules were full of bacteria and a health risk.

Here is more.

Steve Sailer May 25, 2012 at 2:55 pm

The chief leverage America has in civilizing China and Korea to give up eating dead pandas and dead babies for magical purposes is via the elite college admissions process. All admissions applications from East of the Suez should be required to have an accompanying essay on why magic doesn’t work.

Rahul May 25, 2012 at 3:03 pm

You think admissions essays have much to do with what a person really believes in?

Wimivo May 25, 2012 at 5:58 pm

BS or not, it would certainly be more interesting than your typical “I am very passionate about theater arts” application.

Willitts May 25, 2012 at 6:52 pm

Humiliating them couldn’t hurt.

Ray Lopez May 25, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Given that some argue college does not really teach you anything, and is just an expensive form of ‘signaling’ to potential employers that you have a high IQ, how is going to kollege any different than believing in the magic of eating human flesh? It’s a form of societal delusion that could be done more efficiently with a simple battery of IQ tests, but society insists that we do the hocus-pocus of college.

msgkings May 25, 2012 at 4:19 pm

‘Some argue’ that indeed, but they may not be correct. Many (not all) college courses actually impart knowledge, including knowing how to write reports, conduct experiments, regulate your own time schedule and workload, etc. But even if they didn’t, college teaches most teenagers how to be grownups. And the networking and socialization factors are valuable as well. In other words, IQ tests can’t perfectly substitute for college level ‘education’.

Now, whether college benefits are wildly overpriced is another discussion. But they aren’t valueless, or only valuable as signalling.

Willitts May 25, 2012 at 6:59 pm

I’m not one inclined to believe in all this signalling garbage, but you are beating a straw man.

The ability to make it THROUGH college is what they believe signals that you are a high ABILITY (not IQ) person. The model is based on the idea that people with high opportunity costs of a college education won’t make it through or even make the attempt. They will seek career fields more in line with their talents.

But a person with extraordinary ability at, say, acting or sports or creating a new internet product also have a high opportunity cost of college – and that’s why people like Matt Damon, Tiger Woods, and Mark Zuckerberg quit Ivy League colleges.

Then you’ve got Starbucks barristas with worthless degrees in Psychology, Sociology, and Anthropology and $100K in student loan debt. If there ever was a functioning signal, someone broke the fine tuning knob.

What a waste of precious resources.

Andrew' May 25, 2012 at 10:47 pm

So, our business model is to push out Americans from higher ed so the Asians don’t eat Pandas? Nah.

TGGP May 26, 2012 at 11:07 pm

Even a phd in neuroscience doesn’t stop one from rejecting science.

Ray Lopez May 25, 2012 at 3:34 pm

From a Libertarians point of view, such trade should not be hampered, albeit there should be some sort of private sector quality control or even investigative journalism to make sure there’s no murder victims included in the ingredients. But as a Libertarian myself I would not use this as a test case to convince Joe Average of the benefits of less government.

efp May 25, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Sounds like someone has been snorting powdered Milton Friedman ;)

Eric H May 25, 2012 at 4:53 pm

In North Korea, such shipments would be welcome for the high quality protein content. Score another one for less government. ;)

Andrew' May 25, 2012 at 10:49 pm

But as a libertarian, it has a good shock factor and serves as an intriguing recruiting thought experiment. I’m fresh out of red pills. After all, I’ve read the liberal papers supporting infanticide.

dan1111 May 25, 2012 at 3:52 pm

They just look for the boxes labelled “Soylent Green”.

dearieme May 25, 2012 at 6:21 pm

There’s a building near me where every week people eat bits of body and drink blood, or so they claim. The Chinese might well look askance at this activity.

So Much For Subtlety May 25, 2012 at 6:25 pm

The Chinese government is very sensitive to appearing “uncivilized” in the eyes of foreigners. Although they never admit it. The simplest thing to do is to continue to express disgust. Although what is wrong with eating panda – a capital offense in China?

But who is on strong ground here? Western cosmetics are, or used to be, made with fetus tissue. You buy and expensive French face cream for your wife, she is, or used to be, putting ground bits of Eastern European abortions on her face. Is that so much better?

Willitts May 25, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Eastern Europeans are VERY superstitious, especially Russians, Bulgarians, and Romanians.

Steve Sailer May 25, 2012 at 6:45 pm

In “China in World History,” S.A.M. Adshead argued that China got ahead of the West because it emphasized magic and technology while the West emphasized theology and science, but theology and science paid off in the long run.

Rahul May 26, 2012 at 1:29 am

If they irradiated the capsules would it destroy the stamina boosting miracle properties? I wonder.

Mitch May 26, 2012 at 9:32 am

Flood the market with counterfeit powdered fetus, skin, rhino horn. Or are they checking for authenticity using divining rods or something?

Tracy W May 28, 2012 at 5:22 am

I’ve never understood why people just don’t cheat on this. Why fill up capsules with powdered human flesh, instead of dyed flour, or something cheap?
In the same line, how hard is it to fake rhino horns?

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