The Zombie Research Society has defined the modern zombie as a relentlessly aggressive, reanimated human corpse driven by a biological infection. This is our official position, and we maintain that nearly all aspects of the undead can be explained biologically and scientifically. However, we continue to receive inquiries from many journalists and the press regarding the inherent theological, supernatural, and metaphysical implications of the living dead.
After alluding to the fact that his zombies were a result of radioactive contamination, George Romero proceeded to muddy the waters with a single line of dialogue from the 1978 sequel Dawn of the Dead – “When There’s No More Room in Hell, the Dead will Walk the Earth.”
While the theological concept of demons or inter-dimensional aliens possessing the bodies of the dead is compelling, we are dedicated to biological and scientific research. But we make no assertions that these theories are untrue. To the contrary, they are absolutely fascinating!
Instead, we are limited by our mission statement and can only offer a scientific view of such phenomena. For example, consider the story of Phineas Gage; a railroad worker involved in a dramatic accident in which a large iron rod was driven completely through his head and brain, destroying much of his frontal lobe. This was perhaps the first case to suggest the brain’s role in determining personality. The Smithsonian describes his ordeal in this article from 2010.
Gage’s initial survival would have ensured him a measure of celebrity, but his name was etched into history by observations made by John Martyn Harlow, the doctor who treated him for a few months afterward. Gage’s friends found him “no longer Gage,” Harlow wrote. The balance between his “intellectual faculties and animal propensities” seemed gone. He could not stick to plans, uttered “the grossest profanity” and showed “little deference for his fellows.” … In time, Gage became the most famous patient in the annals of neuroscience, because his case was the first to suggest a link between brain trauma and personality change.
Unlike psychiatry, neuroscience can point directly to a physical or biological trauma as the cause of such behavior. However, when dealing with the undead these issues are completely overshadowed by the very concept of death, our conscience, and the incorporeal soul itself.
If the person we once were is no longer present, if our bodies are now an empty shell, if Gage was “no longer Gage” – what could possibly drive our corpse to roam the earth with such a relentlessly aggressive nature? This idea extends to the possessed, bedeviled, and controlled. Whether that is by demonic forces or inter-dimensional aliens; the very concept that our dead bodies are merely a husk to be inhabited is fascinating, but remains completely unfounded.
We’re amused and flattered by the recent interest in the undead, but maintain our position that almost all aspects of zombies can be completely explained by science, at least for now!
If any of that changes, we’ll be sure to contact the journalists and bloggers with a apology. In the meantime, we suggest that you read this account of Phineas Gage currently available via The Smithsonian online, or perhaps this condescending article that purports to distinguish “satanic possession” from mental illness by Stephen A. Diamond from Psychology Today.
Once again; we remain dedicated to the science, survival, and culture of the living dead. But we won’t simply discount any theory out of hand. After all, what you don’t know can eat you!