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Remember Dan Dennett's ant? Even more zombie animals

Posted by: Emily McManus

ZombieAnt.jpg

A glorious slideshow from Discover discusses 8 zombie animals and the parasites that control their minds and/or bodies. Snails, spiders, crabs and people — we all are at risk of zombification from tiny forces that know how to make us do things.

Philosopher Dan Dennett suggests that — just as these parasites force their host to act in ways that benefit the parasite — so do certain ideas find a home inside our brains and make us act in ways that don’t directly benefit us. To hear more about this phenomenon, watch Dan Dennett’s TEDTalk about zombie ants and the dangerous power of memes.

Or just watch some zombies do yoga.

Image: Steve Yanoviak/University of Arkansas at Little Rock. From Discover.

Comments (1)

  • Mike Houghton commented on Oct 23 2008

    Parasites that create zombie hosts are remarkable (and pretty frightening). The slideshow was amazing, but I was ultimately frustrated with Dan Dennett’s presentation. Perhaps it was that I kept wanting him to say “affect” instead of “infect” because of the distinction in value judgments between the two words. I think the question of which “memes” we might be willing to die for is a great one, and I’m thankful that as a species we’re willing to swim against evoluntionary logic from time to time by choosing for the benefit of others over ourselves. So how DO we separate the good memes from the bad memes? Is it really possible to be morally neutral? I don’t think so. And I guess I shouldn’t be bothered that he chose to use the non-neutral term “infect” either, except that he seemed to give the impression that he was speaking from a neutral position rather than in infected one.

    - Infected Mike