LiveScience has a spectacularly bad article that covers the toxicology results of Rudy Eugene, the ‘Miami cannibal’ who was immediately labelled as being high on ‘bath salts‘ and was predictably, not high on bath salts.
But don’t let the Parp! Parp! Clown Taxi notion of drugs causing cannibalism put you off from suggesting that drugs cause cannibalism because the article makes a point of carefully considering which substances were responsible for the face eating.
Eugene tested positive for marijuana. Could that have been the cause? Definitely not says the article.
“Some people have said, ‘Well, it must have been the marijuana that triggered Eugene’s behavior.’ That, in my opinion, is outrageous, and out of the question. Marijuana will not cause this type of behavior,” said Dr. Bruce Goldberger, professor and director of toxicology at the University of Florida.
Goldberger said that although a significant amount of research has found a link between marijuana use and the onset of schizophrenia or psychosis in at-risk individuals, this isn’t what happened to Eugene. “This behavior exhibited by Eugene is well beyond the scope of someone suffering from acute psychosis,” he told Life’s Little Mysteries. [Could Cannibalism Solve a Future Food Shortage?]
The ‘Could Cannibalism Solve a Future Food Shortage?’ link is genuinely in the original article by the way, presumably inserted by an automatic algorithm with an unintentional genius for badly timed inappropriate humour.
But one of the major points of the article is to report the toxicology results which found no evidence for ‘bath salts’ drugs in Eugene’s body.
Conclusion: the cannibalism was caused by bath salts. Secret bath salts. That no-one can detect yet.
There’s probably a cognitive bias that leads people to believe in impossible causal mechanisms in the face of evidence that all but rules out the presence of the supposed trigger – but I’m damned if I can find it.
Hang on. I think it’s called the Living Elvis Makes Me Girlfriends Out of Gatorade bias.