My first zombie article! Squeeeeeeeee!

Ok, I’m heading out the door now, but I just couldn’t wait to post this.  But the site that hired me to write zombie blogs is now live and my first post is up!  Here’s an excerpt:

…if you want to survive a massive zombie disaster, you don’t want to be a hero.  Guns?  Yeah, you might be able to dispatch a zombie by pulling the trigger (although, hitting an unpredictably moving target, even for a trained shooter, is still no easy task).  But what good does that do you if firing your weapon announces your presence to dozens more?  I’m not saying guns are never appropriate for this scenario, but most people live in densely populated areas (which will subsequently become densely zombified areas).  That’s not where you want to be making all kinds of racket.

And these guys have tanks and hand grenades?  Not to be incredibly cynical, but I love these guys.  They will be like zombie magnets while the smart people sneak around to relative safety.  People who think the best response to being greatly outnumbered is to go into full-on Rambo mode are the reason the words “natural” and “selection” exist.

I’ll be doing 2-3 articles a week over there and will usually excerpt them here.  :)  Enjoy and stay vigilant!

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Zinc Avenger

    In the event of zombie outbreak, I intend to distract them with a box of communion wafers. They’re flesh, or so I’m told.

    • Rain

      Yeah, you might want to have an emergency backup plan ready. Just sayin…

      • randomfactor

        Weapons of Mass distraction.

    • Gehennah

      Actually communion wafers do turn into the body of Christ, but it is a binary agent. The Vatican is awaiting instructions in order to begin giving the 2nd part of the binary agent to its followers, allowing the consumption of Zombie Jesus to actually turn you into a Zombie for Jesus. And when Zombie Jesus returns, all of the Catholics who have taken both parts of Zombie Jesus’s body will turn into zombies and follow him.

      Jesus can’t have something with free will, or any essence of reasonable thinking to follow him in his holy war in the end.

      Or something like that.

      • Artor

        Dude, it’s the blood. They’ve had the activating agent out for centuries, which is why so many Xian apologists sound like the brain-dead zombies they are.

        • islandbrewer

          Wait, are we talking about zombies or vampires? Drinking the blood of the head vampire turns humans into thralls.

          • Gehennah

            Drinking the blood of zombie Jesus and eating of the zombie Jesus’s flesh turns you into a zombie. It is a binary agent.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    But the site that hired me to write zombie blogs is now live

    Well, not actually live, but undead…

  • invivoMark

    And I just made plans for my first zombie pub crawl! Woooo!

    I figure experiencing it from the other perspective should be very informative for a survival plan. Preliminary data: zombies love beer.

    • Michaelyn

      Zombie pub crawl?
      That sounds awesome.

      • invivoMark

        Apparently there’s a scavenger hunt.

        More importantly, it’s the weekend after an enormous beer fest, and so there will be tons of craft beer on tap everywhere.

        • Michaelyn

          Will you scavenge for brains?

          • invivoMark

            I hope so!

  • Philip Smith

    Why don’t you right a buzzkill article about how it’s scientifically impossible for zombies to exist. The biological problems alone are a good starting point.

    The fact that zombies can no longer produce neurotransmitters would make moving after death impossible.
    The fact that cellular decay would begin almost immediately means that most zombies would decay to the point where movement was all but impossible after a few days.
    The fact that the lungs shut down after death would make it impossible for Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide to be exchanged to allow the muscles to move.
    There’s the lack of higher order brain function to allow for conscience movement.
    The list goes on and on…

    Zombies may be cool monsters, but they are scientifically impossible.

    • Gehennah

      Unless they are still alive when infected and a highly modified version of toxiplasmosis (sp) that greatly affects how one functions infects the body.

      There’s a few other nasty things out there that infect animals and make them behave oddly (usually allowing the animal to be killed easier in order for it to make it back into the intestines of the correct animal).

      But of course that is so highly unlikely it isn’t worth worrying about.

    • Artor

      I believe there’s a new Zombie game out, titled, “The Last of Us,” in which the zombie plague is a mutated form of the cordiceps fungus. While still fanciful, it makes the zombies look a lot more biologically plausible.

      • Feminerd

        There is, and that is the zombie mechanism. It’s also an amazing game (PS3 exclusive) that everyone should go play if they can.

        This comic sums it up:

    • Feminerd

      The book Feed by Mira Grant (and sequels, it’s a trilogy) has a semi-plausible-if-you-squint-at-it zombie virus scenario. It’s incredibly unlikely, of course, but has enough biological plausibility to be interesting.

    • invivoMark

      If we allow for “living zombies” – with hearts still beating, lungs still breathing, etc. – then zombies are quite possible.

      In fact, rabies comes close. It causes hallucinations, aggressive and violent behavior, erratic movement, and partial paralysis. It also causes the infected to panic at the sight of water due to intense thirst and an inability to swallow. Rabies virus accumulates in saliva, so it is readily transmitted by biting.

      The virus-zombie idea is attractive because viruses are known to replicate and spread very quickly. You can also be infected with a virus and be totally asymptomatic, a la The Walking Dead. The downside is that viruses are always simple things. Rabies breaks down neurons and causes general encephalitis, so as zombie-like as some of its symptoms may be, it’s incredibly unlikely that any virus could cause someone to become any more zombie-like than rabies. And on top of that, rabies takes months before symptoms appear due to its method of avoiding the immune system by traveling down neural pathways.

      So I’d say viruses can get close, but never quite there. On the other hand, parasites and fungi could probably do it. Cordyceps fungus has already been mentioned. It causes insects to behave in rather un-insect-like ways. Of course, there are no such fungi that infect mammals, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

      Parasites can be at least as sinister as cordyceps. Certain species of parasitic wasps take over the brains of caterpillars and transform them into a bodyguard for their cocoons. They cause it to stop feeding, and it becomes intensely defensive of the cocoons, sometimes even spinning webbing around them. Another species of wasp does something similar with spiders, causing them to spin a different web in order to support their cocoons.

      None of these infect mammalian brains, so it’s impossible to say if they could have the same ability to affect our behavior. But we do know that Toxoplasma gondii infects humans, and we know it affects our behavior – it makes us less fearful, it slows our reaction time, it makes us worse drivers, and it gives us worse fashion sense (true story!), plus who knows how much else. It doesn’t exactly make us zombies, but it does show how much parasites can control our thoughts and behaviors!

      • JTEberhard

        It’s so hard to write these articles balancing between coming off as serious while still having the silent understanding with readers that it’s sci-fi and shouldn’t be taken *too* seriously.

    • Cake

      Right. the Zombie menace boils down to magic.

      If the body is dead, you just have to wait a few weeks for the bugs and bacteria to render them to goop.

      If the body is still alive, lack of water, exposure to the elements, fecal impaction, and again bugs and bacteria will take care of them too except just a little bit longer.

  • Cake

    I do like the whole zombies are attracted to noise thing. You can heard them easily with some boom boxes on remote control stuffed into some US Mail Boxes.