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Neuroscience Zombies of the Wild Wesley Crusher

February 11, 2013

Readers of this blog should by now be familiar with Dr. Steven Schlozman, zombie research society psychiatrist. Dr. Schlozman has a piece today in the Guardian: “Americans love zombies because they remind us of the Wild West“:

Like most complex occurrences, I’d argue that the explanations for zombie-mania throughout the United States (and beyond) are multi-faceted and inter-related.

Start by examining the mindless trek we all make in our relentless march toward the unique depersonalization that modernity affords.


Zombies appeal because they represent the excruciating pains of our vanishing sense of being special.


After years of being told how unique we are by all facets of American culture – by vampires in our movies, by evangelists in our churches, by politicians on our pedestals and advertisements on our computers – perhaps we have grown tired of the disconnect between these messages and the experience that the Registry of Motor Vehicles affords. The zombies help us to confirm our experience.

Consider the role of “creativity” in schools and the models of parenting since the 1960’s. Consider Dr. Schlozman’s argument that false expectations of uniqueness lead to a feeling of zombie reality. Consider similarity with Star Trek, a sort of space-western, final frontier.

Consider also that this futuristic science world is full of false promises and that this is particularly true for the modern neuroscience and that brain science is itself still a wild west of exploration.

See this recent neuroscience game-changer also from the Guardian: “Fearless brain-damaged patients are terrified of suffocation” by Mo Costandi about patients with damaged amygdala (recall America’s amygdala) that don’t feel fear but still panic in response to carbon dioxide:

“Fear” is a highly subjective experience that’s hard to describe, and we cannot know exactly how the three brain-damaged patients experienced it. Indeed, LeDoux argues that using words such as “fear” and “pleasure” to describe our feelings is problematic, and that it’s time to rethink the emotional brain.

Maybe it’s time to throw out everything we think we know and start over. Dr. Schlozman acknowledges:

the unique freedom of a zombie Armageddon is itself strangely appealing.


we love our zombies because they just might bring us together before we go and tear ourselves apart.

Our shared fears are reflective of shared hopes. The dream of freedom has been oversold, we’ve been told to be creative but it turns out we are more than just our brain parts. Creativity is not just something we do in our heads, it is also our position in the social network. Choice is about the perception of choice; freedom is a feeling.

See additionally, Ars Technica: “Is scientific genius a thing of the past?” by Kate Shaw about research by Dean Keith Simonton published in Nature: “After Einstein: Scientific genius is extinct” — No more genius, no more individual creativity, we are cognitive zombie crossed beyond the final frontier and nostalgia is a cost of progress.

But there is the tale of one. One who was able to escape the system and become his own person. He was able to slip out of the stream of time itself. His name was Wesley Crusher. His stories prove the childish fantasy that naïve divergent thinking may intuit the best solutions.

Stories of the one (see also “The Matrix”) are Deus ex machina – but the Holy in not (entirely) in the machine, there is the body – a zombie body that responds to more than consciousness can (yet) imagine. Free your mind and what is left? Anonymous soulless hordes of cybernetic zombie in cyberspace?

And what when the power goes out? Is that something I should really worry about or was it a once in a decade kind of storm? Can I truth my city officials to improve for next time? What about the fiscal cliff? No reason to panic right, Congress always waits til the last possible moment, so it’s ok right? How do I know what I should legitimately be afraid about? -=– These questions require making moral choices and talking to the people in your community. And with modern global communications technology, we find community is not necessarily local to the body. So we are zombied by distance, uncertainty and a physical separation of mind from body (something like The Traveler meets Slaughterhouse Five)

Time Travel is highly related to notions of archive and permanent internet archives and zombies information – memories, false projections. ZombieLaw mentioned the recent movie Looper and also Robert Heinlein’s ‘All you Zombies’ scheduled to be a movie with Ethan Hawke. Consider also The Terminator series where cyborgs are zombie-like and consider what President Obama said about immigration:

When we talk about that in the abstract, it is easy sometimes for the discussion to take on a feeling of us versus them. And when that happens, a lot of folks forget that most of us used to be them.

See also other ZombieLaw references to articles from The Guardian or ZombieLaw references to articles from Ars Technica.


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