Knife made from poop: The peak of human improvisation or a 20-year cult trick?

Have you ever heard of a knife made from… human excrement?

Previously, there was a fairly common anecdote about this strange knife, recorded by Wade Davis, an anthropologist at the University of British Columbia in “Shadows in the Sun” in 1998. It happened as follows:

The family of an Inuit man (also known as an Eskimo, living in Greenland) hid all his essentials when trying to convince him to leave the igloo and stay with his family. But the unexpected thing is that this incident caused the man to accidentally create an extremely genius invention.

“In the midst of a bitter winter wind, he stepped out of the igloo to defecate, then used the frozen waste itself to grind it into a blade. It was hard enough to kill a dog” – quoted in the book Davis’s book.

This story was told by Davis from an Inuit named Olayuk Narqitarvik. Regardless of the authenticity, Davis has always considered this to be an entertaining story, and a symbol of the Inuit’s ability to weather the weather.

Knife made from poop: The peak of human improvisation or a 20-year cult trick?
Can frozen waste kill a dog? (Illustration).

But this is not the first time the idea of using feces as a tool has been heard. For example, the explorer Peter Freuchen wrote in his autobiography in 1953, that he once escaped a snow hole thanks to a chisel made entirely of dung.

An anthropologist at Ken State University named Metin Eren, has been following Davis’ story on NPR since his high school years. Because of the virtuality of poop knives , he decided with his colleagues. re-implement and test if a poop knife can do that much damage.

Eren began the experiment by eating like an Inuit, with a diet rich in meat from salmon, beef to turkey. “This menu is really tough. The first days were of course great because who doesn’t like meat, but by the third day I started to have a headache.”

On the fourth day, Eren collected “materials “, shaped the knife and froze at -20°C. He then tested the sharpness of the knife on a piece of pig skin and a piece of meat.

Knife made from poop: The peak of human improvisation or a 20-year cult trick?
Eren proceeds to collect “materials”, shape the knife and freeze it at -20°C.

How about the result? Even though Eren tried to come up with the most ideal experimental conditions – from freezing temperature, knife sharpness, to using cold skin instead of normal temperature skin… the knife still melted and broke. go out. What is left on the skin are long brown streaks, what you probably already know.

The above experiment, published in October 2019, suggested that using poop as a knife is a fiction. However, according to Henry Huntington – an expert on the Arctic in Alaska, such results do not mean that the story is not valid. “This is probably a lesson in resourcefulness, that you can never run out of options.”

“The message of the story lies in this: the Inuit are not only not afraid but also know how to make use of the cold for their daily life.”

Knife made from poop: The peak of human improvisation or a 20-year cult trick?
Using a “stool” knife cut a piece of pig skin. The result is…

But from a scientific point of view, as in Eren’s view, these unfounded stories are a real concern. “When there are people who use unsubstantiated stories to support a point of view, then there will also be others who make claims from baseless things without factual data.”

What is science if it comes from misinformation? Isn’t it fake news – fake news?