Why you’re too smart to fall for the latent-humanity fallacy

18 Oct

Let’s be honest: It’s hard to accept the complete and total debraining of another human being. You look at a zombie and see remnants of the man he used to be—half a nose, part of a jawline, a dangling eye or two. It’s like looking at a gorilla: You can trace the outline of humanity in its rough shoulders and dragging arms. Because of these glancing physical similarities, theories have popped up that seek to locate typical zombie behaviors in the human that preceded it. The bellwether of the latent-humanity theory is the zombie’s passive fascination with football. Much has been written about their marked preference for Super Bowl III, and we all know that zombies love watching the New York Jets trounce the Baltimore Colts. Zombie behaviorists attribute this partiality to a vestigial love of football shared by all men—a primal scream manifesting itself as a primal sport.

But this supposition perpetuates millennia of dangerous female thinking because it suggests that if we just look hard enough, if we just dig deep enough, we will find the decent human male buried beneath the monster. It wasn’t true for Dr. Jekyll and it isn’t true today. Scratch the surface of a monster and you will find more monster. To imply otherwise puts the onus on women to look harder and dig deeper, which is misleading and cruel.

Zombies aren’t typical “monsters,” to be sure. True monsterness requires intent, and zombies don’t intend anything. They merely do: forage for brains, stare at football, lumber about. If anything, they’re a force of nature—the wind, say—and like the wind, they can destroy or be harnessed for good. There is no middle ground, no recovery of an inner soul. Zombies are empty shells.

But you already know that. Because you’re too smart to fall for the latent-humanity fallacy.

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