Last Updated 21 Apr 2020


Category Essay Examples
Essay type Research
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Zombies There is a current fad of entertainment in popular culture about zombies and zombie apocalypses. Have you ever heard of a real "Zombie"? Have you ever thought of where this idea of "Zombies" came about? Theyre history does not stem from Hollywood or comic books. Zombies have a real history as well as an actual scientific capability of existing. Isak Niehaus (writer for The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute) explained the cultural connection to zombies in Africa, and Wade Davis (writer for New York: Simon & Schuster) researched the reports in Haiti of he zombie culture there.

Ker Than researched the topic for National Geographic news and came up with startling possibilities of a zombie-like outbreak. Just about everybody knows about fictitious zombies, but less are familiar with the facts about zombies. There are many people zombies are very real. They aren't a fable and are something to be taken seriously. Belief in magic and witchcraft is widespread throughout Haiti and the Caribbean, often in the form of religions such as Voodoo and Santeria.

The Oxford English Dictionary, the term "zombie" initially showed up in English around 1810 when historian Robert Southey declared it in his book "History of Brazil. " But this "Zombi" wasn't the typical Hollywood version of the brain-hungry horror. Instead it was a West African deity. The word "zombie" later came to propose the human life force exiting the body, ultimately leaving a creature human in form but lacking self-awareness and intelligence. The word was introduced to Haiti and to other places from Africa through the slave trade.

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Isak Niehaus found that the term Zombie is used to describe a spellbound person deprived of cognizance and self- wareness, yet able to move and react to immediate provocations. Though many people treat the current "zombie apocalypse" as a fun pop culture meme, Haitian culture ” like many African cultures ” is greatly immersed in faith in magic and witchery. Belief in zombies is related to the Voodoo religion, and has been widespread in Haiti for many years. Haitian zombies were said to be people brought back from the dead through magical means by voodoo priests called bokors or houngan.

Sometimes the zombification was done as punishment which struck fear in those who believed that they could be abused even after death. Often the zombies were said to have been used as slave labor on farms and sugarcane plantations. A mentally ill farmer claimed to have been seized captive as a zombie worker for two decades, though he couldn't show researchers where this had taken place. Researchers pursued a case in Haiti, 1937 of rumors that the affected persons were given a powerful psychoactive drug, but they were not able to locate anyone willing to offer much evidence.

After many years the researchers concluded that there is more to Voodoo than ritual and that there is a medical base behind what is going on. Several decades later, Wade Davis, a Harvard ethno botanist, offered a pharmacological case for zombies some of his books. Davis went to Haiti in 1982 and, after investigations, claimed that a living being could be changed into a zombie by way of two specific powders being put into the circulatory system, most of the time by an open wound.

One of the powders includes tetrodotoxin (TTX), a potent and often tatal neurotoxin tound in the putte The second powder consists ot dissociative drugs like datura. These powders could induce a deathlike state where will of the eing would be completely open to that of the bokor. Davis also popularized the story of Clairvius Narcisse, who was claimed to have succumbed to this practice. Davis described the case of an initial state of deathlike suspended animation, followed by reawakening into a psychotic state.

The insanity induced by the drug and psychological trauma was hypothesized by Davis to strengthen socially learned beliefs and to cause the individual to rebuild their characteristics as that of a zombie, since they actually thought they were dead, and had no other role to play in the Haitian society. Though dead humans can't come back to life, certain viruses can induce such aggressive, zombie-like behavior, scientists say in the new National Geographic Channel documentary The Truth Behind Zombies.

For instance, rabies, a viral disease that infects the central nervous system can drive people to be violently mad. If a rabies virus was to combine with the ability of a flu virus, in order to spread quickly through the air, you might have the makings of a zombie apocalypse. The first signs a human has rabies, such as anxiety, confusion, hallucinations, and paralysis ont typically appear for ten days to a year after infection, as the virus incubates inside the body. This is very unlike movie zombies, which become reanimated almost immediately after infection.

Once rabies sets in, though, it's fatal within a week if left untreated. If the genetic makeup of the rabies virus went through enough changes, or mutations, its incubation time could be condensed dramatically. Many viruses have naturally high mutation rates and constantly change as a means of evading or bypassing the defenses of their hosts. For the rabies virus to cause an event like a zombie pandemic, not unlike the ones ou might see in a movie, it has to be much more contagious.

Typically a human could catch rabies after being bitten by an infected animal and the infection usually stops there, but thanks to pet vaccinations, people seldom get rabies in the U. S. nowadays, and even fewer people die from the disease. For example, in 2008 only two cases of human rabies infection were reported to the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A faster mode of transmission would be through the air, which is how the influenza virus spreads. The movie 28 Days Later depicts a scenario of a age virus. If rabies somehow became airborne this movie would be very plausible.

In order to be transmitted by air, rabies would have to mutate or use traits from another virus like influenza. Elankumaran Subbiah, a virologist at Virginia Tech, states that diverse forms, or strains, of the same virus can change pieces of genetic code using reassortment or recombination. Unrelated viruses, although, don't Just randomly create hybrids in nature. Likewise, he also said "They're too different. They cannot share genetic information. Viruses assemble only parts that belong to them, nd they don't mix and match from different families. It's theoretically possible for scientists to use a rabies virus and an influenza virus, though extremely difficult, to create a hybrid rabies-influenza virus using modern genetic engineering techniques. Sure, you could imagine a scenario where you mix rabies with a flu virus to get airborne transmission, a measles virus to get personality changes, the encephalitis virus to cook your brain wit n tever and throw in the ebola virus to cause you to bleed from your guts. You would probably get something like the zombie virus, but nature oesn't let these things to happen all at the same time.

Yet... There is a vast history of zombies, from Africa to Haiti and other trade lands, all the way to Hollywood. The general focus of zombies is the entertainment of it all. To this day there are still cases of zombie voodoo and stories of dead people coming back from the grave. The focus should be on the possibilities of the future though. If Just one team of scientists with access to the means to hybrid existing viruses the entertaining idea of zombies on a TV would not be funny at all. It's not all that unreal now is it?

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Zombies. (2018, Jun 12). Retrieved from

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