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Dr. Schlozman and Zombie Lies

October 25, 2013

Hot off the heels of his lesson plans appearing on PBSnewshour, the Harvard zombie-neuroscientist, Dr. Steven Schlozman, has a “riff” in New York Times magazine: “The Harvard Doctor Who Accidentally Unleashed a Zombie Invasion“:

I am in fact a physician, I do teach at Harvard and I’m also a fiction writer. … Ataxic Neurodegenerative Satiety Deficiency syndrome, the disease that I simply made up, now has its own Web site … conspiracy myths and mass hysteria were not invented with the Internet. But the online world allows a tiny spore of ridiculous conjecture to mushroom quickly into a widely disseminated belief. This happens, in part, because you often go to the Internet to look for information that confirms your pre-existing mythologies. This is what social and cognitive psychologists call “confirmation bias” — the idea that, if you have a preconception, you will selectively examine the available evidence to support that belief. Perhaps worse, you will selectively ignore the evidence that challenges your convictions. … we’re more likely to believe a fictional account told by a reputable source using a modality through which many people receive their news, especially in the context of the uncertainty characteristic of modern times. Voilà! A Harvard physician talks about zombie infection on the radio during a time when we can’t open a newspaper without reading about pandemic flu or the risk of mercury in our fish oil, and then the Internet confirms every fear of zombies that anyone ever harbored, supported by references to the very doctor who was just on the radio.

This is a good point, but Dr. Schlozman goes a step too far. He still seems to believe that there is such a thing as truth. This is perhaps his science training overwhelming his fiction writing. And yet this whole article is about his experience as a fiction writer overtaking reality. His last argument in this piece is “of course, there’s no male pregnancy among humans.”

But that is not true. All we need is one transgender person to get pregnant and blamo (“Voilà!”), a person can have a uterus and ovaries and still consider themselves gender male, right? (like how Bradley Manning is now Chelsea Manning and should properly be referred to as a her, despite still having male parts). Zombies are trans-human!!! Zombies destroy these binomial false dichotomies – like dead and alive, male and female and even true and false!

See Columbia Journalism Review: “Audit Notes: Zombie lies and regular old lies” by Ryan Chittum about Maria Bartiromo and “How misinformation spreads”:

Relying on The Wall Street Journal edit page and Red Alert Politics for facts is a really bad idea. That’s how the zombie lies bounce around the right-wing echo chamber.

When the Wall Street Journal is no longer credible, neither is the New York Times. Recall, the radicals on the left and the right have more in common with each other than with these moderate fact-mongers. Zombie Lies are everywhere! Some are fast, others slow, but no one knows what is true. Who will you let persuade you?

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From → Academics

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