Adam Ruins Death

Dec 20 2015

In this episode, Adam explained that death is inevitable and that that reality must be accepted, showed why immortality is nothing but a fantasy, revealed that the American funeral industry is a racket that exploits mourner's grief and fear of death and demonstrated how if you don't accept death, you can make terrible medical decisions that ruin what life you have left. Here are his sources.


"Back in 210 BC, the first emperor of China took an overdose of what he thought were 'immortality' pills."

Moskowitz, Clara. "The Secret Tomb of China's 1st Emperor: Will We Ever See Inside?" LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 17 Aug. 2012. Web.

"And during the ninth century, an alchemist brewing an immortality potion accidentally invented something horrible [gunpowder]."

Rosado, Eric. "The Deadly Irony of Gunpowder." Video blog post. TED Ed. TED Conferences LLC, n.d. Web.

"The Cryonics Society of California ran out of money and couldn’t keep their customers frozen."

Glass, Ira, and Sam Shaw. "Mistakes Were Made." This American Life. WBEZ. Chicago, Illinois, 18 Apr. 2008. This American Life. Web.

"After Lincoln’s death, his body was embalmed and paraded across the states in order to showcase the hero's sacrifice."

Fox, Richard Wightman. “A Body for the Body Politic”. Slate. The Slate Group. 12 Feb. 2015. Web.

"Embalming is the least respectful thing you can do to a body. The jaw is wired shut and the eyes are sealed with glue. The internal organs are punctured and drained through a hole in the abdomen. The arteries are pumped full of formaldehyde, and the body cavities are packed with cotton."

Ortner, Pamela, MS, RN, CHPN, and Jeremy Semrau, Ph.D. Exploring Occupational and Environmental Impacts of Conventional vs. “Greener “ Funerals and Burials. University of Michigan, 4 Oct. 2012. Web.

"Refrigeration [of the body] is cheaper and just as effective as embalming."

"Embalming Facts." Funeral Consumer Alliance Southern California, n.d. Web.

"The World Health Organization states that dead bodies pose practically no health risks to the living."

Risks posed by dead bodies after disasters.” World Health Organization. 2010. Web.

"Formaldehyde is a carcinogen."

Formaldehyde: What expert agencies say.” American Cancer Society, n.d. Web.

"A lot of ‘local’ funeral homes are owned by a megacorporation named SCI."

Barrett, Paul M. "Is Funeral Home Chain SCI's Growth Coming at the Expense of Mourners?" Bloomberg Business. Bloomberg L.P., 24 Oct. 2013. Web.

"If you can’t face having an honest conversation about death with your doctor, you can end up chasing unnecessary treatments that don’t do much to prolong your life, but just make your last days less bearable."

Gawande, Atul. Being Mortal. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2014. Print.

"That's why in La Crosse, 96% of patients who pass on have participated in advanced care planning, signed an end of life care directive, and received the treatment they desired."

Hatkoff, Craig, Rabbi Irwin Kula, and Zach Levine. "How To Die In America: Welcome To La Crosse, Wisconsin." Forbes. LLC, 23 Sept. 2014. Web. 

For More On This Topic

Mistakes Were Made: from the radio series This American Life, this episode recalls the tragicomic efforts of Bob Nelson, who attempted to launch a cryonics company in Southern California in the 1960s.

The Order of the Good Death: founded by Caitlin Doughty, this community of progressive funeral industry professionals endeavors to help our death-phobic culture overcome its collective anxiety. Doughty answers viewers’ questions in this video series.

Being Mortal: from public television’s flagship investigative series Frontline, this documentary hosted by surgeon and writer Atul Gawande “explores the intersection of life, death, medicine and what matters in the end."

Watch Adam explain why we must accept the inevitable and how funerals are a total rip-off.