Have you ever thought about the possibility that there actually can be zombies? No? Why not?
There are examples that show some parasites actually change the behavior of the animals they live inside. In other words, their hosts. There are even examples that reveal humans aren't immune to zombie-like manipulations either.
Athena Aktipis, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Arizona State University has a podcast called "Zombified." In the podcast she explores how humans are vulnerable to being controlled by everything, from parasites to monstrous algorithms.
"Things will evolve to manipulate other things if they can benefit from it. That's why you see all these bizarre things like parasites manipulating host behavior," she said during the podcast. "And we're kind of at this really interesting inflection point where we have, as humans, set in motion a whole other evolutionary process for zombification and manipulation without quite realizing that we've done it; we've set these monster algorithms into motion that are evolving to manipulate us."
In the program experts from other disciplines such as evolutionary biology, psychology, parasitology, microbiology, and computer science try to find an answer to the question "Have you been zombified?" It can be by anyone, anything, by your dog, by your phone or by your significant other.
In animals, parasites can lead their hosts to act for their own benefit. Take the Ophiocordyceps fungus. It releases spores that infect the body of its host, the carpenter ant. It does it by taking over the insect's locomotive activity. In the end, it forces the ant to leave its nest and make it bite a piece of vegetation to which it will get stuck because of a tetanus-like infection that gives the ant lockjaw.
The parasitic fungus causes a mushroom-like growth in its host's head, which is called stroma. At night, when uninfected ants show up and start to forage, this growth ejaculates more infectious spores and then the cycle of 2-3 weeks starts.
Yes, the world of creatures can be horrifying. But, have you ever thought that you can also be zombified?