The (Un)Death of a Dream
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I sincerely want the zombie apocalypse to happen. I want to wander the post-apocalyptic countryside with my katana (or machete) slaying the monsters all day and night. Such a cruel joke the universe has played in offering me the false promise of a coming apocalypse. Skeptics, gather your toolboxes, and prepare yourselves for what may be a painful debunking.
For years I clutched them to my breast as a harmless indulgence of my childish lust for the fantastic. But now that stupid old reality has flirted with the notion of zombies, I must confront the dream, and let it die. After much thought and cognitive dissonance, I’ve emerged with my skepticism intact.
But oh how I wish it were true. I am sure I’m not unique in this regard. My generation looks forward to the zombie apocalypse as eagerly as the greatest generation looks forward to the rapture. We’ve grown up projecting our rage and alienation onto zombies, and then imagining ourselves wantonly slaughtering them without mercy. We were born to kill zombies. The post-apocalyptic countryside is our promised land, in which we may finally vent our 20+ years of pent up social aggression. We want this so bad, that even the slightest spark of pseudo-evidence might set our imaginations ablaze and burn down our carefully constructed rational worldview.
We are witnessing the birth of a paranormal belief cult, and if we’re not careful, we may serve as midwife. The media feeding frenzy is capitalizing on our collective obsession with zombies, and providing stories that could be mistaken as evidence for zombies, perhaps offered humorously at first. All it takes is time and internet incubation for this silly little fantasy to blossom into a genuine threat to public rationality. As an avid fantasizer of the zombie apocalypse, it is with great sadness that I now prepare myself to debunk the forthcoming zombie craze. Zombies have become a thing that will soon need be debunked. Soon, The zombie apocalypse will be our Nessie. Our Bigfoot. Our UFO’s. As skeptics, it will be our enemy. This realization ruined my day.
Of course, I do not dismiss the possibility of zombies a priori. It may be that zombies are real and in the early stages of uprising. I hope so. But I’m skeptical. I invite the rest of you, who also hope for a zombie uprising, to remain skeptical. Let us adopt the position of James Randi in his quest for real magic; of Joe Nickell in his investigation of monsters; of Sagan on UFO’s. We would be delighted if it were true, but we don’t let that determine what we believe, or even what we pretend to believe, for the lulz. Even if you never took the recent events so seriously, you can recognize that many of the internet trolls, in their dark, damp, stinky internet caves, have taken it quite seriously, and really do believe that the event in Miami (and those elsewhere) heralds the zombie uprising. Any tiny bit of encouragement we give the trolls now, we reap ten-fold five years down the road when we find ourselves scrambling to debunk the virally spreading zunkum (zombie-bunkum), should the zombie apocalypse turn out to be fictitious.
To conclude, I’ll say that the events reported by the media that have thus far fueled the zombie craze are insufficient to support the conclusion that the zombie apocalypse is happening. I remain open-minded on the issue, but am inclined toward the negative, despite my desire for the positive. But, I have been refining my post-apocalypse survival plan with my post-apocalypse partner, and we should be in good shape. It is rational to be prepared.
Seth Kurtenbach is a philosophy Master’s student and computer science PhD student at the University of Missouri. His research focuses on applications of formal logic and game theory to questions about knowledge and rationality. He is growing a mighty beard, in order to increase his philosophical powers. Feel free to contact Seth at email@example.com with inquiries about philosophy, logic, guest blogging, or visiting to give a presentation!
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