The following is a guest post from one my graduate students in experimental psychology, Thomas Taylor. He previously wrote about the possibility of a zombie apocalypse and the origins of the zombie myth for GPS. This was written as an assignment where the purpose was to write a paper using logical fallacies and point out the fallacies used. As such, I think it is a great, quick critical thinking exercise. Can YOU spot all the fallacies? I’ve put the fallacies in parentheses and provided links to more information about them, but they are in white font so as not to ruin your guesses (you can just highlight the text to show the fallacies, if so desired).
A Logical Proof for the Existence of Zombies by Thomas Taylor
The following set of statements will prove without a doubt that zombies have at some point already existed, currently exist, or will exist in some point in the future and should be giving all the same rights expected to be received by any human being. Anything that has happened can happen again at any point and in any combination with anything else that has happened in the past (Appeal to probability, False attribution, Slippery Slope). So if one has proof that all the individual parts of being a zombie exist, then one has to conclude that the whole can, will, or may have already existed as well. The current mainstream zombie has several characteristics that have widely been accepted as making someone a zombie (Ad Populum). These characteristics are as follow: rotting flesh, being undead, cannibalistic behavior, and a severe lack of intelligence. If all these characteristics are possible in nature, then one has to assume that any combinations of those are also possible (existential fallacy).
When one looks at zombies, the first thing one may notice is the rotting flesh and horrid smell; these are also accompanied by various dripping body fluids and body parts falling off. These are a very unfortunate side effect of being undead, but one that is often reproduced in nature. Many illnesses can cause effects of this type including, but not limited to, drug use, various STI’s, and many mental disorders, but the most likely cause for the type of wide spread skin rot that is seen on most zombies would likely be an offshoot of Mycobacterium Leprae (leprosy). This is a type of drug resistant bacteria that can cause skin and nerve damage, and is by far the most visual out of the other options, so it must be a variant of this disease (Appeal to Ignorance). With the discovery of evolution, one should be able to postulate that given a sufficient amount of generations among bacterium communities, the ability to become transmitted by biting someone is completely within the realm of possibility (False Premise).
When one breaks down the word “undead,” it simply means not dead. One has to assume that it was meant to mean something, or someone, that at one time was dead and is now not dead (argument from omniscience). So in order to fulfill this criterion for being a zombie, one need only to look at what ones assumption for life is. According to dictionary.com (Appeal to authority), life is the animate existence or period of animate existence of an individual. So un-life, or death, must be the opposite of that or the inanimate existence or period of inanimate existence of an individual. In conclusion, to have gone to the point on death and returned, becoming undead, simply requires going from an animated state of existence to an inanimate state of existence and the returning back to an animated state of existence (Definist fallacy). As one moves all the time under normal conditions and cannot stop ones involuntary muscles from such animated actions, one must look to medical science to turn up undead beings. Little Johnnie was in a car accident and was badly injured; on the way to the hospital his heart stopped beating, causing his pulse flat to line. The doctors declared that he was dead for seven minutes before they managed to get his heart to start back up. Little Johnnie is now not dead, or undead (Red Herring).
Cannibalistic behavior and a severe lack of intelligence can both be related to the same issue. Even though there have been many reported cannibalistic tribes proving their existence one may also conclude that the severe lack of intelligence may also evoke the cannibalistic behavior due to a response of being hungry and not knowing what is proper to eat. If people do not know humans are bad to eat and they are hungry, they may just as easily eat a nearby human to sustain their existence off of instinct. As for the lack of intelligence, one has to assume it is some form of regressive delirium, making a person revert to a state of childhood intelligence and actions. According to the Handbook of Psychiatry in Palliative Medicine by Harvey Max Chochinov and William Breitbart, on page 524 (Appeal to authority), this could often be attributed to Alzheimer’s or Schizophrenia, and with the same logic as stated earlier, one can conclude that the addition of Mental Retardation with the concurrent diagnosis of Schizophrenia gives more creditability to the low intelligence (False attribution, Kettle logic)
One may now observe that not only do zombies exist, but they may also be seen as unfortunate humans that are suffering from not only a physical illness that affects their skin and nerves, but also at least one mental disorder that causes delusions (Begging the question). The general consensus of killing these poor people on sight is not only unjust, it is also inhuman and unconstitutional (False dilemma, Appeal to emotion). In looking out for the best of the population, one has to grant true equality to all citizens of said population. With this being said, it makes sense that zombies should have all the same rights as everyone else, and the population should attempt to assist them with any disabilities that may interfere with their daily life. They should thus be given the ability to vote, free access to all restaurants, stores, and entertainment venues. They also have the right to minimal healthcare, and SSI, welfare, and educational benefits. They also should not be put to death without a full trial by their peers and the appropriate amount of time to file repeals. If we allow this process to bypass them, then one may make the same argument to allow it to bypass any current minority population, thus setting the legal system back to the 1940’s (argumentum ad ignorantiam, Appeal to consequences).
In conclusion, all this “zombies are not real” and calling zombie stories “fictional” need to be rethought to better display the validity of their existence (Begging the question). As an active zombie rights person, one should respect them as the people they are and take strides in one’s everyday life to better eliminate areas of strict zombie prejudice that plagues the world (Appeal to emotion). This task is a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week operation forcing one to take as much vigilance in it as the zombies themselves do in their pursuit of happiness, and must be addressed at executive levels of the government to insure their ability to enjoy as full of a life as possible. It is for this reason that one should consider zombie rights when electing government officials at all levels, including the president. One can never assume with the way the world is evolving that one will never be affected by this type of issue. (The Fallacy Fallacy)