Zombies: Why they’re more likely than you think.

Zombies: Why they’re more likely than you think.

The word zombie conjures up images of the dead rising out the earth from their graves. It used to be the primary way people thought of the undead. Now, with pop culture and creative writers and directors, the zombie has evolved into a myriad of types and interpretations. There are types that are no longer undead, but people infected with a “rage virus” or people so removed from their own humanity that they go mad and become cannibals. Then there is the question of consciousness. Some types of zombie are mindless, others are able to think simply like we imagine cavemen to be like. They can even be intelligent and able to think as we do but with the desire to destroy and consume us driving them.

We know what zombies are, right? Now you’re probably wondering how likely it is for the dead to come back to life to feast on our flesh. Reality time, it’s not. Sorry, maybe science will blunder upon a way to re-animate necrosed tissue in some way but it won’t be the zombie apocalypse we’ve seen in the movies. I’m not an expert in biology but I know enough to apply some careful thought to this. What mechanism in nature exists that can re-animate dead flesh? I haven’t heard of one, maybe because it doesn’t make sense. Something that’s dead is food. Everything that lives in some way is trying to keep living.

So what does make sense? Well, the usual culprits are viruses, bacteria and parasites. There is a reason for this, there are real-world examples of each that (not on their own) could potentially lead to the apocalypse we fear.

Let us start with a virus like rabies. It can cause extreme aggression and altered behaviour but is often fatal past a certain point. In order for it to be a zombie virus, it would have to mutate in a way to not kill the person in the process. Cannibalism would be less likely and violence would be the main issue with infected people. The scary part of rabies would be the vectors of infection. Viruses can be transmitted through just about any medium including the air, making it one of the worse options.

Next would be bacteria. There are bacteria that can alter behaviour, notably toxoplasma gondii found often in cats and other animals. It can lower IQ, increase recklessness and alter attention span making the infected more susceptible to predators which benefits the bacteria. Infection vectors for bacteria and parasites are more classic compared to zombie lore. Infected bodily fluids and materials like blood, feces, and questionable water or food sources.

Time for the fun little guys known as parasites. There is a wide variety of parasitic creatures that can be as small as bacteria right up to insect size (like the Costa Rican and Jewel Wasp) with my favourite for creepiness going to the flatworm (or fluke).  There are many (I’ll say too many) types of flatworms that hijack the brains of its victims making them suicidal and easy prey for predators.

One thing to help reduce that growing panic you be having is that any of these possibilities, even with mutation, are still highly unlikely to give rise to zombies on their own. Should any two or all three team up, then the human race will have a very unpleasant time. In nature, any of these organisms crossing paths will just kill each other. The possibility of just one unique host animal able to bridge the biological gap and create the (living) zombies we see in the media may be incredibly low but still possible.

No matter how unlikely zombies actually are, the official stance of the CDC is that if you’re prepared for a zombie apocalypse then you’re prepared for any disaster. Don’t believe me? Google it.

Stay healthy survivors.

If money is the root of all evil, what’s its exponent to itself?

If money is the root of all evil, what’s its exponent to itself?


Don’t mind the fairly laboured math joke of the title, I aim to discuss the sloppily-effective, disjointed economic system we have compared to the value we place on essentials. My particular focus will be on the shift of value due to a world disaster where there would likely be a suspension of rule of law, like a… Oh, I don’t know, zombie apocalypse. I can hear the eyes rolling but let’s just assume it’s possible. I maintain that a viral/bacterial, parasite hybrid could hijack the central nervous system and/or brain and produce the famous zombies we know of in popular media.

So, assuming it’s all possible, what becomes of our economy then?
Currently we watch the news and read the articles, all of which are yelling economic crisis and collapse. If what we have is so good and advanced, why do we have all these problems with businesses and economic classes? The only logical answer is that the system sucks. Even if the problem isn’t the system itself, it’s the execution. A good system, I’d argue, would be hard to take advantage of. I think that would be best represented by the outcome of a disaster situation. Without stock markets, credit bureau’s or banks the tried, tested and true barter and trade-based economy would rise.

If a zombie apocalypse were to happen, the things we value would change drastically along with their supply. Food and water would be paramount and more valuable than gold is now. In a disaster situation, someone with a well would be considered rich and have a valuable resource to trade for food or weapons. The economy we have now is focused on wants, not needs. Water and food are cheap because they are plentiful and easy to get and produce. The economy is so bad in many places now because everyone is trying to get their own fortune over everyone else. Those who have money will always have an easier time making more and maintaining what they already have. Those who have to struggle will often fall behind and have little or no opportunity to catch up. There. I just explained the dwindling middle class. If you want the specifics, go take an economy class.

Despite the necessity of food and water even at times of peace and stability, the values remain disjointed. Shortages in supply and production can affect the pricing but never to the degree where you would take a bottle of water over a gold bar. Enter the zombie apocalypse, an event that suspends rule of law. This suspension of governing law ramps up peoples survival instincts adjusting their personal value systems. With no official economic system and money becoming essentially useless, trade and barter becomes the easiest and most efficient method to obtain resources.
If you get caught in a grocery store during an apocalyptic event and stock up on food then run into someone who stocked up on weapons (improvised or otherwise), it would make sense and benefit both parties to trade for mutual survival. With any system there is the potential for exploitation. Someone with power may use it to coerce a beneficial situation for themselves. However, ignoring that aspect, a trade system compared to what we have now would be harder to take advantage of. Without the addition of monetary notes and currency values, the value of traded resources would not be static and vary depending on the need of the individuals in the trade. The lack of independent value of currency would keep everything else normalised affected only by supply and demand based on culture and region. A trade of fresh water for gold would now seem silly but possible when water is more necessary for a majority of people.

Now when you think of how our money, gasoline and economy changes values based on analysts, brokers, and banks the oddities are more apparent.
Maybe I’m wrong that a trade system would be better, but I’m confident in saying that what we have now is dysfunctional and needing, not just renovation but innovation.