A Forensic Pathologist Provides Insight into the Human Bodies Exhibit

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This is an absolutely fascinating tour of the Human Bodies Exhibit by forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht. This video will prove to be especially interesting to students of human anatomy and medical students [9:35]


About GrrlScientist

grrlscientist is the pseudonym of an evolutionary biologist and ornithologist who writes about evolution, ethology, and ecology, especially in birds. After earning a degree in microbiology (thesis focus: virology) and working at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, she earned her PhD in zoology from the University of Washington in Seattle, where she studied the molecular correlates of testosterone and behaviour in white-crowned sparrows. She then worked a Chapman Postdoctoral Fellow at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where she studied the speciation and distribution of lories and other parrots throughout the South Pacific Islands. A discarded scientist, she returned to her roots: writing. Formerly hosted by The Guardian (UK), she now writes about science for Forbes and for the non-profit think tank, the Evolution Institute and she writes podcasts for BirdNote Radio. An avid lifelong birder and aviculturist, she lives with a flock of songbirds and parrots somewhere in Germany.
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0 Responses to A Forensic Pathologist Provides Insight into the Human Bodies Exhibit

  1. Anne says:

    This seems to be the same set of bodies “plastinated” by Günter von Hagens that were displayed across Europe. I saw the show here in Munich, and found it fascinating. But there are ethical concerns, I understand: Not all of the bodies are from people who consented to be preserved this way. Wikipedia (for what it’s worth) even suggests that the bodies, many from China, could have belonged to prisoners (who’s to know.) It’s quite difficult to keep track of who’s who, and what’s what, since the artifacts for these travelling exhibits get shuffled around. I used to work at the Deutsche Hygiene Museum, where they have great man-made models (the glass man/woman etc.) But these plastinated bodies are clearly more impressive, no question. There was a huge debate here. How do visitors over in the States see this issue?
    Very nice blog, I’ll be visiting from time to time.

  2. mus says:

    I went to see a similar exhibit called “Boddies… The Exhibition”. I also thought it was fascinating. The main thing I didn’t like about it is that they didn’t allow photography. I think that is just extremely lame.
    I’m not entirely sure what all the fuss is about. Is the issue here that the prisoners didn’t give their consent, or is the real issue that people think that china is actively killing prisoners in order to sell them?

  3. anne says:

    @mus: It was about consent — not killing. Also there was worry about black markets for dead bodies and body parts emerging.
    more on Hagens

  4. mus says:

    Ah. I don’t really get why consent is such an issue… they’re dead, and it’s not like any of the other options are any better (getting eaten by maggots, your flesh sizzling and boiling from cremation, etc. I highly recommend “Stiff:the curious lives of cadavers” by mary roach.). Why in the world do dead people, who have no feelings or interests have rights? I would certainly understand worries about the chinese govt. killing people to sell their bodies, but I don’t understand the consent issues.
    Oh well. anyway… I also recommend “Autopsy: Life and Death”. Sometimes it’s a bit silly, but it’s very interesting nonetheless. And while looking up info, I found that there’s a similar show called “anatomy for beginners”, I’ll definitely have to check that one out.

  5. i have never been to a human bodies exhibit because the price is prohibitive. i am not sure if i would go anyway if offered the opportunity because of the controversy regarding how those bodies came to be in the exhibit. i have not investigated this issue deeply, but what i’ve heard has not inspired my confidence in the chinese who are (reportedly) the source of the bodies in the NYC exhibit. (and i am not talking about consent issues, either).

  6. Dawn says:

    [Check out this post in particular where GrrlScientist links to a video that tours the human body. Pay particular attention to when they show the human nervous system. It makes the human body look like nothing but potting soil for the brain.]