What I’d do in a zombie apocalypse

In honor of the apocalypse that didn’t happen yesterday (it’s already Saturday morning in my timezone), I though I’d answer a question that’s near and dear to the hearts of many people of my generation: what would you do in a zombie apocalypse?

[There's a cartoon I wanted to use to illustrate this post with a caption something like, "where you think you'd be in a zombie apocalypse / where you'd actually be," but I can't find it. If someone can find it for me, I'll add it to this post.]

My answer to that question begins with what Nick Bostrom called “Good Story Bias”:

When was the last time you saw a movie about humankind suddenly going extinct (without warning and without being replaced by some other civilization)? While this scenario may be much more probable than a scenario in which human heroes successfully repel an invasion of monsters or robot warriors, it wouldn’t be much fun to watch. So we don’t see many stories of that kind. If we are not careful, we can be mislead into believing that the boring scenario is too farfetched to be worth taking seriously.

Or, put more concisely, Luke Muehlhauser tells the story of being asked if rogue AI would be “like Terminator.” “Worse,” he says. “How could it be worse?” “All the humans could be dead.”

Zombie movies have led us all to greatly overestimate our chances of surviving a zombie apocalypse. So instead, my plan is to organize a giant orgy, and see if I can get my hands on some heroin. Not that I would ever do heroin under ordinary circumstances, or even that I would shoot up right away. Just something to have on hand for when the zombies close in. Because (1) “you’re not going to live long enough to experience any of the negative effects” seems like a good occasion to try heroin for the first time, and (2) I’m fairly certain heroin is a powerful enough drug to make getting eaten alive by zombies not hurt so much.

P.S. – This is also my answer to Robin Hanson’s question of why I don’t pack away that extra bag of rice.

  • Annatar

    I suppose a (somewhat) realistic thing to do in a zombie apocalypse is to just light your house on fire. With a bit of luck you could burn down the whole town (what with fire fighters incapacitated) and maybe stop the spread if you could destroy the zombies before they get outside of your town. It’s a long shot, but it’s not especially hard to start fires. And you’d have to resign yourself to dying, but that’s pretty much granted.

    Yeah, I’m stretchin it.

    • Chiki Li

      Lol…………….you will have to start cranking pre apocolypse. getting started on heroin will make you vomit and cause other distress until you get used to it (it is a poison), I understand it’s no fun ’till you are hooked. I recommend cannabis, you still won’t give a fuck if you get eaten by zombies but if you kill all the zombies you won’t have to do apocalypse rehab.

      • Chris Hallquist

        Really? Hmmm, maybe heroin’s out. But I’ve done weed, and somehow don’t quite believe it would be enough to make me not give a fuck about getting eaten by zombies.

        Clearly I need to put more thought into my zombie apocalypse strategy. Any other suggestions for drug of choice?

        • http://www.smidoz.wordpress.com smidoz

          When I had my back op, I was on a regulated morphine drip, seems like pretty useful stuff, especially if you take the regulaed part out. So if there’s a zombie apocalypse, rob a hospital or medical wholesaler.

          • Chris Hallquist

            Yeah, I didn’t think the military would use morphine as a pain killer so often if it weren’t pretty reliable on the first go. And my impression of heroin is “like morphine, only more fun and more addictive.” But maybe heroin has a higher % of bad first-time reactions?

            Hmmm… Wikipedia mentions vomiting as a side-effect of heroin, but only mentions it in the article on morphine under withdrawal symptoms. There’s also the issue of street heroin being adulterated, so breaking into a hospital is probably the way to go.

        • Sommer

          probably needs a lot more thought.. how many people are going to participate in this giant orgy? im pretty sure people would be focused more on surviving

  • MikeN

    I won’t say how I know this, but it is possible to have a wonderful blissful high the first time you take heroin- you may puke, but you won’t care. You might not have the tolerance to take enough to not mind being eaten by zombies, but then you’ll be dead anyway.

  • MNb

    I’d call Captain America for help.

  • Heart

    Kill the necromancer.

    I don’t care if people start telling me “Oh, but what if it’s a disease or…” no. It’ll be a necromancer, because that’s by far the most realistic option, and I’ll kill them. Problem solved.

    Then I’ll rehabilitate the zombies to normal society, because necromancers don’t obey the laws of no existential inertia. (Also handy because it means the castle won’t fall down on me. What? Of course the necromancer will be in a castle. How unrealistic would a necromancer NOT being in a castle be? And people say that they’ve created plans…)

    • Chris Hallquist


  • Yvain

    “P.S. – This is also my answer to Robin Hanson’s question of why I don’t pack away that extra bag of rice.”

    Really? You don’t think there’s enough chance of a small, survivable collapse – say, the sort that allows some sort of civilization to rebuild within a few years – to make it worth it? A pandemic that kills 30% of the population, or a nuclear war that doesn’t hit your exact area but disrupts trade, or a stock market crash worse than the Great Depression – you think the chances of these things are so low they’re not even worth the cost of a bag of rice?

    • Chris Hallquist

      In event of a local catastrophe, my strategy is to flee to somewhere not affected by the catastrophe. This is something I’ve actually had to think about, living in South Korea these past ten months.

      From the perspective of what my situation will be living in the US in three months, US collapse seems extraordinarily unlikely, yes.:

      1) With a pandemic, even the Spanish Flu only killed 3%, and epidemics of more lethal diseases tend to burn out too fast.
      2) No one has both means and motive (and stupidity) to nuke us into oblivion, and one nuke set off by terrorists in a port somewhere may lead to a police state but doesn’t lead to starvation.
      3) I think a 2nd Great Depression would very likely be met by much better stabilization measures in the part of the government, and even if we saw a similar lasting drop in GDP as defined in percentage points, we’re a lot richer then so a lot fewer people starve.

      I do, however, have less confidence is in whether a biotech/nanotech disaster could have just the right level of severity to make the extra rice useful.

  • kraut

    Morphine is the drug to go for. I had several operations being on a self administered drip – lovely how the pain vanishes.
    As to survival – only a bloody idiotic gun toting survivalist thinks that surviving an atomic war or a major epidemic with the attending economic collapse is fun. Especially with a bunker full of food to defend against intruders – happy shooting.
    I lived in the mountains on a trek for several month (twice) with some supplies but mostly off what the land supplies – rabbits, squirrels, grouse, ptarmigan, beaver (the real one with that flat tail), porcupine, tea from spruce shoots, wild onions, sorrel salad etc. Fun when you know there is a functioning society you can eventually return to, not so much if you know there is no escape.

    • RowanVT

      If there was absolutely no hope of escape, it would definitely be morphine for me. I was given that after my appendectomy and they had to have a nurse sit with me for ages saying “That alarm you’re hearing? That’s ’cause you’ve stopped breathing again. So breathe.” Amazing for pain, but not so amazing with my sensitivity level to it. Not caring that I was not breathing is a little scary to think about now. I only bothered breathing because the nurse was annoying and wouldn’t let me sleep.

  • Ryan

    [There's a cartoon I wanted to use to illustrate this post with a caption something like, "where you think you'd be in a zombie apocalypse / where you'd actually be," but I can't find it. If someone can find it for me, I'll add it to this post.]

    Try this:

  • Darren

    Sounds overly complicated. A fifth of Laphroiag, a pack of smokes, and a 12 gauge would do just as well.

  • Sommer

    i feel like being on any type of drug (excluding weed) would leave you not coherant enough to actually survive an attack .. just my oppinion

  • Sommer

    i feel like being on any type of drug (excluding weed) would leave you not coherant enough to actually survive an attack .. just my oppinion

  • Rowan

    Actually, I think mostly they make us overestimate the chances of zombies causing an apocalypse. A zombie horde is roughly as dangerous to a modern military as a horde of machete-wielding civilians – i.e. not terribly.

    Given that, you can take the zombie apocalypse question one of two ways – either assume zombies have taken over magically, don’t consider the military fighting them, and just think about what you do when zombies are roaming the streets (in which case, most of us aren’t overestimating our chances at all); or you assume the zombies are much more powerful than the ones we see in films and actually can be a serious threat to a modern military, in which case your attitude is probably right but I think these monsters would be far removed from what we normally call a “zombie”.

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