We’re fond of saying that you don’t need a gun… just about anything can kill somebody. Gold? Sure. If it’s molten gold, taken orally. Smithsonian Magazine:

Centuries ago, having molten gold poured down your throat was actually the preferred means of death by molten metal.

Marcus Lincinius Crassus, an astoundingly wealthy Roman general, is rumored to have died this way, as is Roman Emperor Valerian the Elder (though others contest that he was flayed alive). Spanish inquisitors used this technique and so did tribes in South America—as one corrupt, gold-loving Spanish governor found out in 1599.

Horrific as this sounds, it begs the question: just what killed the victim? Was it the hot gold itself, the steam, perhaps suffocation?

You should Read The Whole Thing™, because they have a report of a group of scientists who actually got interested in this problem and tested it experimentally in an animal-cadaver model.

What sort of scientist would be messed up enough to do that? Well, not real scientists. Social scientists. After all, social science is to science as social promotion is to promotion.

And specifically, psychologists. That loony catch-all bin for all those who dream of diagnosing their own pathologies someday.

This entry was posted in When Guns Are Outlawed… on by Hognose.

About Hognose

Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF).

12 thoughts on “When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Gold

Jack Feldman

You’re usually spot-on, but screwed up big time. The authors were MDs, specifically pathologists, not psychologists. And yes, I am a psychologist, a retired professor. I had a correspondence about the scientific status of psychology 40+ years ago with Isaac Asimov, of whom you may have heard. The first sentence of his reply was “You are perfectly right and I am wrong.” Photograpghic evidence on request. Notarized, if you like.

Jack M. Feldman

Professor Emeritus

School of Psychology

Georgia Institute of Technology

Atlanta GA 30332-0170

“The state that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting by fools.”


Haxo Angmark

they used lead not gold. The entire investigation is therefore invalid. Much like most of the “peer-reviewed” nonsense psychologists and other “social scientists” publish. I myself was briefly in the poli sci racket.

Thucydides was right about scholar-warriors though.


For this purpose, is lead that much different from gold? Density, specific heat capacity, are there too different?


Give us the whole letter!

“You are perfectly right and I am wrong. Not.”

-Isaac Asimov”

I kid. I kid.


Err… Am I the only one who noticed that the folks doing this were pathologists, not psychologists…?

Kinda-sorta an important distinction, in my past experience.


They may have used lead instead of gold, its pretty close on the table of elements after all, but I’m pretty sure that any kind of molten metal poured down your throat is going to ruin your whole day.

John M.

“Horrific as this sounds, it begs the question: just what killed the victim?”

This begs no questions whatsoever. It may raise questions. It may prompt a few. It may lead the reader to ask some. But it begs no questions.

Begging the question is a logical fallacy whereby certain premises are assumed when they are, in fact, very much in dispute. “When did you stop beating your wife?” begs the question of whether the listener ever started beating his wife. But horrific-sounding execution methods beg no questions.

-John M.

John Distai

“When she started listening to me.”

That may be a fun response to that question.

Windy Wilson

Your definition of “Fun” and mine apparently differ greatly.


The melting point of Lead is 327 c or 621 in “real” Fahrenheit degrees

The melting point of Gold is 1063 (pretend) degrees c or 1946 F

So Liquid Gold is 3 times hotter than liquid lead

Hognose Post author

However, “taken internally,” is that any difference? Contact burn at either temp is instantaneous 3rd degree, tissue destruction, is it not?

John M.

Physics being what it is, the gold will burn deeper than the lead. I’m not sure if that matters at all in the case at hand, but it is true.

-John M.