Scientists say we should prepare for a zombie apocalypse… it’s not as mad as it sounds

Zombie preparedness
Support us and go ad-free

It’s a terrifying thought: waking up one day to find zombies have taken over the world and you have to run for your life to avoid being bitten and infected. Thankfully, this only happens in TV shows and films.

But that’s not stopping scientists from planning ahead. In fact, a researcher from Kent State University who has studied zombies and their diseases is calling for international action to make sure we avoid a zombie apocalypse. As ridiculous as it might sound, this could actually help us prepare for various different emergencies.

In a paper published in the British Medical Journal, associate professor Tara Smith studied zombie appearances in books and films, reviewing their biology and epidemiology. She traced the “current epidemic” to 1968, when they burst onto the screens in Night of the Living Dead. In the paper, she says:

Zombie expert Matt Mogk defines a zombie with three criteria: it is a reanimated human corpse; it is relentlessly aggressive; and it is biologically infected and infectious.

Zombies – also referred to as biters, roamers, walkers and Zs – walk the streets unconsciously, looking for fresh, uninfected people to bite. We’re all familiar with their threat – it’s not easy to avoid the odd zombie on TV these days – and many of us have had that conversation: “where would you go if zombies invaded?” (Incidentally, if you want to plan a safe haven, think about a farm, or a zombie-proof house.)

Smith says the threat is only getting bigger. According to her review, there has been an increase in zombie diseases passed on through biting, like the one in The Walking Dead. Yet we’re doing practically nothing to avoid an apocalypse – and she says it’s time to change that. She writes:

The documented rise of multiple zombie pathogens should be a wake-up call to the international community that we need additional funding and cooperation among scientists and government officials to tackle the looming threat of apocalyptic disease.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

This isn’t the first time a scientist has studied zombie epidemics; there’s even a Zombie Research Society. But what’s the point? Well, according to the CDC, it could help us plan for real large-scale emergencies.

On the website, CDC experts suggest we first get prepared for a zombie apocalypse – or hurricanes or pandemics – by putting together an emergency kit with things such as water, food and first aid supplies. We should then come up with a plan with our family (where do we meet, how do we contact each other) and brace ourselves.

This is pretty good advice; according to mathematical modellers, preparing for a zombie attack would look much the same as preparing for an epidemic.

These studies are fun, but they have an important message. Physics Ph.D. student Alex Alemi from Cornell University told IFLScience:

A lot of modern research can be off-putting for people because the techniques are complicated and the systems or models studied lack a strong connection to everyday experiences. Not that zombies are an everyday occurrence, but most people can wrap their brains around them.

Like other members of the Zombie Research Society, Smith is raising awareness of more serious issues, as she told The Washington Post.

We give talks around the country about scientific issues – tied into zombies. It’s a way to bring attention to these subjects that otherwise might not seem interesting. In my case, it’s infectious disease.

So the next time you see a zombie on TV, take a moment to think about what you’d do in an apocalypse (or any other emergency). After all, it could save your life.

Featured image: Daniel Hollister/Flickr


Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed