“I’m not superstitious, but I am a little-stitious.” – Michael Scott, The Office.
A Hard Look at Blood Superstitions.
We at Newgateconcise.com want to take a look at superstitions relating to blood. Believe it or not, there aren’t actually that many superstitions. The obvious one is Jehovah’s Witnesses. They are famously known for refusing blood transfusions based on their religious beliefs. And they take it seriously: a medical professional can be sued for assault and battery for giving a Jehovah’s Witness a blood transfusion.
Why do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe This?
In the Bible, you are told again and again not to ingest human blood. It is believed that these laws were put in place to prevent any kind of markets for human meat showing up. This belief in not consuming human blood is pretty much universal among Christian denominations. Jehovah’s Witnesses take it a step further and believe that blood transfusions are a type of consumption. You are essentially consuming human blood through an IV instead of the mouth.
What’s the Straight Science?
Here’s the part where we shine. Is it good for you? Is it bad for you? The bottom line:
Drinking blood is very bad for you.
Why? According to Livescience, blood is very high in iron, which your body has trouble secreting efficiently. When blood is flowing through your veins and arteries there isn’t a problem. But when your digestive tract is given lots and lots of excess iron, it starts to store it on the organs in your body, which can lead to serious condition called haemochromatosis.
In addition, ingesting another person’s blood could mean that you also ingest some dangerous pathogens.
So you can imagine why most of our human societies have taboos against the consumption of human blood. The iron content is dangerous for our health, and the blood-borne pathogens mean that you could infect yourself with a potentially-deadly disease. This is before the time of antibiotics, where the risk of these diseases was much higher.
Which brings us back to blood transfusions. Blood transfusions take blood from where it’s supposed to be, in your veins and arteries, and transmits them directly into another person’s veins and arteries. Now that we understand how antigens work, blood transfusions are used to heal people that are sick and give them a chance to live. The dangerous ingestion/infection worries of centuries past are….just that: in the past. Yep, I respectfully call JW’s a bunch of hooey.
Another Superstition: Blood Type Dating:
This is another major superstition that revolves around blood, but we understand if you’ve never heard of it. If you have a Korean friend, then perhaps you have. Here’s how it works: people with different blood types are seen as being more or less compatible with other people based on their blood type.
If it sounds familiar, it’s basically exactly like horoscopes. Just like the sixties when “what’s your sign?” was a not-lame pick up line, in many Korean social circles you may be asked “what’s your blood type?”.
It’s crap: blood-types are based on the antigens on the surface of blood cells and in no way are they correlated with personality factors. But….
…it’s harmless. It’s one of those cultural artifacts that stick around because it gives people a chance to talk about relationships and compatibility (just like horoscopes). If you ask a Korean if they truly believe in the blood-type dating, they will shake their head. It’s just a way for people to approach other people and strike up a conversation. So it will persist.
Here’s a video of the Joke at the top of this post:
Michael Scott was a comic character for the ages: