Anti-Science

Zombie rises from grave, eats brains of living.

You gotta love articles with wildly misleading headlines. In the case of one recent story, the headline was “Dead’ man awakes during Buddhist prayers,” which someone submitted to Fark as “Man wakes up at his own funeral, family stunned, priests say it’s a miracle.” I interpreted this to mean that a man was declared dead, tossed in a coffin, and waited until the funeral to throw the lid open and jump out, giving his poor mother a heart attack. The truth is far more mundane: an 87-year old man was on a breathing tube, and doctors warned the family that if the tube was removed, he’d probably die. They took him home to die in peace, and when the tube was removed he began breathing on this own.

Ta-da! Doctors “can’t explain what happened” according to “the report.” The report? That would be the news as reported by the Chinese News Service, citing “Taiwan media.” To recap: most people will get this news via Fark via ShanghaiDaily.com via the Chinese News Service via Taiwan media via some guy who totally saw this dude keep breathing without a tube. Now you can add Skepchick to the top of that list, you lucky dog.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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8 Comments

  1. "most people will get this news via Fark via ShanghaiDaily.com via the Chinese News Service via Taiwan media via some guy who totally saw this dude keep breathing without a tube. Now you can add Skepchick to the top of that list, you lucky dog."

    That chain of information could have broken down anywhere along the line, and yet there it is, a pure unbroken link from me to the Lazarus of Shanghai. Now what are the odds of that? Pretty small, I would say. In fact, I think it might be some sort of miracle.

  2. I'm just hoping that Perez Hilton somehow ends up linking to your post. Somehow that would make sense to me as the next logical step of removal from whatever it is that actually happened. That, or some form of LOL-meme:

    "I'm in ur coffin, scarin ur momz"

  3. There was a minor blogospheric infestation of zombies on June 13, but it seemed to have cleared up the next day. Go figure.

    And, yeah, Boston has zombies once in a while. I was one of them, once! Only I stayed indoors drinking booze instead of wandering the streets looking for brains. I'm a lazy zombie.

  4. I gave a paper at a conference last September about the zombie genre and its audience. After putting out a survey among zombie fans (film, etc) and non-fans, I was shocked to see that in the case of fans 52% agreed/strongly agreed that a "zombie outbreak" was possible. It gets worse…of non-fans, 39% agreed/strongly agreed that it was possible. My paper ended up being about the various reasons people might be so out of touch with reality. Part of it was stories like this…I cited some internet hoaxes, but also legitimate medical research. All it takes is one creative "journalist" to use certain language and the zombie genre message boards light up, screeching "Danger, Will Robinson!" Even after the hoax is discovered (or the truth of the matter, whatever it might be), the dialog amongst these people remains the same—that science is so crazy, and can "prove" so many things we never thought could be possible, it automatically makes anything possible…including zombies rising a la George Romero to eat out brains. *sigh*

  5. I considered that, but I spent a long time on those message boards (I actually moderated the big one for about three years). Those folks aren't kidding, and really, most people seemed sincere in their essay responses to some questions. There were only a handful that were clearly screwing around. And those were pretty funny. :)

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