The Chronicle of Higher Education
October 31st, 2014
Academics have debunked fears of a zombie outbreak. But that certainly hasn’t stopped them from planning for one.
In 2009 a Canadian research team published
a mathematical model for how a zombie virus might spread and what
governments would have to do in order to stop it. A few years later, a
pair of U.S. researchers expanded on that work and demonstrated how similar modeling techniques could be used to predict the spread of influenza.
This is the context of most zombie-related research: trying to better
understand how actual diseases spread. And in a world where people are
suggestible to zombie hoaxes
any time a scary illness like Ebola is in the news, it makes sense to
try to harness that pop-culture fetish in the service of educating
But feeding people’s appetite for zombie scenarios can be a tricky
science. When serious researchers talk about zombies with anything
resembling a straight face, misunderstandings can spread through the
public imagination faster than scientists can contain them.