If there is one thing I learned from my undergraduate evolution course, and many wasted hours on the game Pandemic 2, it’s that the zombie apocalypse is not going to happen. Sorry guys. From an evolutionary standpoint, it’s just not that good at wiping out the human race. Here’s a few reasons why:
As a mode of transmission, biting is just horrible. What a pandemic wants is to spread throughout the population quickly, and without being noticed. That would allow for the maximum number of people infected. Biting fails on all accounts. First of all, it’s obvious. What’s the first thing someone is going to do when bitten by anything ? Probably go the hospital, right? You know that a bite probably means bad news and you are going to get it looked at. This would allow medical professionals to assess you and prepare for more bite victims. You have a bunch of people coming in with human bites and getting sick? Yeah, the CDC is gonna be right on that.
Biting also takes a lot of energy, and you can only bite one person at a time. This means that the amount of people getting infected is super small, and it would take a long time gain traction in a large population. By the time the authorities figure out what’s going on, there would be more than enough time to just isolate all the zombies from the rest of the population and kill them. Done. Apocalypse averted. That’s probably why some shows like the Walking Dead (spoiler alert I guess? This is like from the second season) just makes everyone infected to begin with.
A sneakier mode of transmission (such as respiratory droplets) would allow more people to be infected and less people would be alerted to the crisis.
This is where the zombie virus starts to make a little bit more sense. In general, you want symptoms that people are willing to ignore, allowing the virus to spread through a larger population and preventing scientists and medical professionals from starting to work on a solution. So flu or cold like symptoms tend to work best, which some zombie shows/movies actually have in the phase where the person was just bit. HOWEVER this is completely ruined by the fact that the victim is not contagious at the point. What the hell. You could absolutely have people catching the zombie virus from other sick people who are just trying to hide the fact that there were bit. But no, we are going with just biting as the mode of transmission so that’s out the window.
Now we get to one of the biggest problems: the zombies themselves. They are slow, and lack any ability to think. I’m sorry but these guys would be dead so fast it would make your head spin. Their only impulse is to eat, not to preserve their species and the only mode of transmission is if someone is bitten, but not killed/eaten. It just wouldn’t work. Too many people would get away, and even if a large population of zombies were to arise they would die out pretty quickly because humans would just kill them off before they had a chance to reproduce. Humans 1 Zombies 0.
There are a few pros to the stereotypical zombie pandemic. First of all, the fact that all people who are bitten become zombies. That’s good, if only a portion of those infected were to actually become zombies then it would severely limit the ability for infection of a large population. Having zombies difficult to kill is also a plus. Headshots take more skill and are difficult to achieve in a crisis, so if you were surprised by a zombie and not a marksmen, it would be reasonable to assume you would either miss completely or hit them in the body, which doesn’t seem to slow them down particularly well. I still don’t think these things make up for the weak mode of transmission and the behaviors of the zombies themselves, but they help to make the zombie apocalypse idea a little more palatable.
Now that we’ve established the stupidity of this fad can we please move on to another type of horror genre? Please? I for one would like to see a legit movie about lizard people. Make it happen Hollywood.