The Zombie in You

I don’t know how to begin this. I have information of an alarming nature, and I need people to weigh it on its own merits.

Hello. I’m, Manchuria. That’s my handle. I cannot give you my real name just yet, and I know that does not help my case. I will reveal my identity as soon as I am able. I know you are reading this on a conspiracy site of all places, and that does not help my case either (sorry Trust No More). I need you to read this, to send it to others, and to talk about it.

I’m not a journalist. I’m not a storyteller. I will start by giving you three examples of some frightening phenomenon in nature. I want you to see how these things work in the natural world, to give you context to what I am going to share.

ONE: the Zombie Ant

Cordyceps is a genus of fungi. Many of its species are endoparasitoids, parasitic mainly to arthropods, including ants. The fungus infects the ant and rewrites its behavior. The ant is programmed to climb a plant and dig its mandibles into the stem, securing it to an ideal place for the fungus to burst from the body and spread its spores. Fellow ants learn to recognize these “zombie ants” and carry them far away from the colony.

TWO: the Zombie Snail

Leucochloridium paradoxum is a parasitic flatworm. It enters a host snail when the later eats bird droppings full of the worm’s eggs. The larva crawl into the snail’s eyestalks, engorging them and showing a pulsing, hypnotic display that looks like writhing caterpillars. The larva control the mind of the snail, fundamentally changing its behavior. The worms desire to be in the belly of a bird, so they command the snail to climb high on a plant and make themselves visible to the predators. Once in the bird’s belly, their life cycle continues.

THREE: the Zombie Rodent

Toxoplasma gondii is a parasite found in cat feces. It can infect rodents. The parasite wants to be  inside the cat (where it’s reproductive process occurs). The infected rodent’s behavior changes subtly. The rodent acts more recklessly, not fearing open spaces as much. It acts in such a way that would entice a cat.

Jaroslav Fleg, a Czech scientist, suspected T. gondii was affecting his mind. Doctors often warn pregnant women to avoid cats because of T. gondii. Fleg went further and hypothesized that the parasite rewrites our behavior, even if only subtly. Fleg suspected the parasite can cause a human host to act more reckless, causing everything from car accidents to schizophrenia.

While many scientists disagree with Fleg, it is a frightening spiral of thought to fall into. How can one tell if their behavior is manipulated so subtly? Why did you step into the street without looking? Why did you procrastinate when success required only a little effort?

FOUR: the Zombie Everywhere

Mind control is a subject that conjures Science Fiction fancies, so I wanted to ground the concept by demonstrating how it works on the natural stage. I want you to have context for what comes next. Trust No More has agreed to publish a series of articles by me. I’m going to talk to you about operant conditioning, algorithms, and influence of the mind. I’m going to talk to you about the dangers of a new dating and social media platform called Tender.

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