Adventures in Ethics and Science

Orac’s calculated value (if he shuffled off this mortal coil in his present state — and I really hope he doesn’t) piqued my curiosity and led me to calculate the value of my own potential cadaver. But the calculated value leaves me curious about the assumptions underpinning the calculation.

First, my results:

$4875.00The Cadaver Calculator – Find out how much your body is worth. From Mingle2 – Free Online Dating

(Hey, my corpse is worth more than Orac’s, to the tune of $1285!)

Now, the questions:

  1. Is the underlying assumption that the value of my cadaver would come primarily from transplantable tissue? (That would explain the questions about vision, major surgeries, medications, and the like.)
  2. Given that, strictly speaking, human organs are not supposed to be sold, how do they establish the monetary value of transplantable organs?
  3. Are there circumstances in which a cadaver’s value as a cadaver (to be used in the instruction of medical students, for example) would exceed its value as a source of transplantable tissue? (If so, in what circumstances?)
  4. Are there any other ways to peg the monetary value of a cadaver that the quiz makers could have used here (e.g., its value to a funeral director selling burial services — although, in that instance, my age and present state of health would probably be less relevant than my preferred method of disposal).

It’s like Socrates said: The unexamined online quiz isn’t worth taking.


  1. #1 coathangrrr
    July 22, 2007

    I can only really speak to question three here, but I would say it is a definite yes. I think the quiz even asks if you have any rare or weird diseases or disorders, which I assume means that it would help the study of those diseases or disorders more if you were the subject of study.

  2. #2 Jordan
    July 22, 2007

    As my mom always said when I was collecting baseball cards, its only worth that much if someone actually will pay it. My cadaver ended up being $4090. If you have a baseball card with a listed value of $500, but someone will only pay $50, is it really worth $500?

  3. #3 Alan Kellogg
    July 23, 2007

    I think being offiically obese helpsd. :)

    Thing is, I’m not a normal obese person. Heart’s normal, blood vessels are clear, cholesterol is actually low. If the quiz took things like that into account I’d be worth more.

    Then you have the matter of age. The longer you last the more your body is worth.

    Try this, take the quiz again, but select the oldest age range. See how much your carcass is worth then.

  4. #4 outeast
    July 23, 2007

    This calls for rational testing! We need a selfless science blogger (or loyal commenter) to donate their body for purposes of sale. Proceeds to charity, of course – this must be a non-profit venture.

  5. #5 JM
    July 23, 2007

    I’m worth $5075 when dead. Interesting.

  6. #6 Hank Roberts
    July 23, 2007

    I couldn’t find a “Sell Now” button, and somehow Google AdSense is failing to populate the page with ads from interested companies that want to be buyers.

    I suppose there would be liability issues if they didn’t have an advance proof of willingness to be, er, sold off.

    Perhaps one has to subcontract this through some organized group like the undertakers/funeral directors instead of contracting for a direct sale?

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