We are looking for Europeans of different nationalities that can speak about the refugee invasion in your country and how this REALLY is affecting you. Are you in Hungary, Greece, Germany, France, Italy, Austria or another country being heavily invaded? Please reach out: views@redicecreations.com or @rediceradio We want to speak with you!

Who’s in Charge Inside Your Head?
2012-10-10 0:00

By David P. Barash | NYTimes.com

ZOMBIE bees?

That’s right: zombie bees. First reported in California in 2008, these stranger-than-fiction creatures have spread to North Dakota and, just recently, to my home in Washington State.

Of course, they’re not really zombies, although they act disquietingly like them, showing abnormal behavior like flying at night (almost unheard-of in healthy bees), moving erratically and then dying. These “zombees” are victims of a parasitic fly, Apocephalus borealis. The fly lays eggs within honeybees, inducing their hosts to make a nocturnal “flight of the living dead,” after which the larval flies emerge, having consumed the bee from the inside out.

These events, although bizarre, aren’t all that unusual in the animal world. Many fly and wasp species lay their eggs inside hosts. What is especially interesting, and a bit more unusual, is the way an internal parasite not only feeds on its host, but also frequently alters its behavior, in a way that favors the continued survival and reproduction of the parasite.

Not all internal parasites kill their hosts, of course: pretty much every multicellular animal is home to numerous fellow travelers, each of which has its own agenda, which in some cases involves influencing, or taking control of, part or all of the body in which they temporarily reside.

And this, in turn, leads to the question: who’s in charge of your own mind? Think of the morgue scene in the movie “Men in Black,” when a human corpse is revealed to be a robot, its skull inhabited by a little green man from outer space. Science fiction, but less bizarre than you might expect, or want to believe.

Providing room and board to other life-forms doesn’t only compromise one’s nutritional status (not to mention peace of mind), it often reduces freedom of action, too. The technical phrase is “host manipulation.”

Take the tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis, which causes its mouse host to become obese and sluggish, making it easy pickings for predators, notably foxes, which — not coincidentally — provide an optimal environment for the tapeworm to move into the next phase in its life cycle.

Sometimes the process is truly strange. For example, a kind of fluke known as Dicrocoelium dentriticum does time inside a snail, then an ant, followed by a sheep. Ensconced within an ant, some of the resourceful worms migrate to their host’s brain, where they manage to rewire its neurons, essentially hijacking its body.

The manipulated ant, in response to Dicrocoelium’s demands, then climbs to the top of a blade of grass and waits patiently and conspicuously until it is consumed by a grazing sheep. Once in its desired happy breeding ground, the worm releases its eggs, which depart with a healthy helping of sheep poop, only to be consumed once more by snails, which eventually excrete the immature worms for another generation of unlucky ants to consume.

It may be distressing to those committed to “autonomy,” but such manipulators have inherited the earth. Including us.

Take coughing, or sneezing. It may be beneficial for an infected person to cough up or sneeze out some of her tiny organismic invaders, although it isn’t so healthful for others nearby. But what if coughing and sneezing aren’t merely symptoms but also, even primarily, a manipulation of us, the “host,” by influenza viruses? Shades of zombie bees, fattened mice and grass-blade-besotted ants.

Just as Lenin urged us to ask “who, whom?” with regard to social interactions — who benefits at the expense of whom? — the new science of evolutionary medicine urges a similar question: who benefits when people show symptoms of a disease? Often, it’s the critters that are causing the disease in the first place.

But what about the daily, undiseased lives most of us experience? Voluntary actions are, we like to insist, ours and ours alone, not for the benefit of some parasitic or pathogenic occupying army. When we fall in love, we do so for ourselves, not at the behest of a romance-addled tapeworm. When we help a friend, we aren’t being manipulated by an altruistic bacterium. If we eat when hungry, sleep when tired, scratch an itch or write a poem, we aren’t knuckling under to the vices of our viruses.

But it isn’t that simple.


Read the full article at: nytimes.com

Related Articles
Worker bees switch jobs via their epigenomes
Fossil feast for ’zombie worms’
Zombies in Your Head, Not Mind, Control Daily Life
Zombie Politics: Dangerous Authoritarianism or Shrinking Democracy
The Pentagon’s Newest Project: Zombies
Self Determination Theory - Wikipedia
Do You Choose to Believe in Free Will?
Neuroscience: You’re Just a Machine & There’s No Free Will
Think You’re Operating on Free Will? Think Again
Possible site of free will found in brain
Is Neuroscience the Death of Free Will?

Latest News from our Front Page

Migrant Crisis stand-up routine - Sam Hyde
2015-10-10 18:07
YouTube description: "Migrant" "Crisis" AKA Muslim Road Trip. Hundreds of thousands of astronauts, doctors, sciencemen, and peaceful clock inventors descend upon the countries with the most collective guilt and free stuff. This was pretty good man... I wasn't expecting this reaction from the same Boston college audience who so thoroughly disapproved of my 'Mike Brown' routine. I think the invasion of ...
Muslim Rape Gang in Rhode Island
2015-10-10 2:47
2 Mohammeds, a Yazeed, & a Tareq accused of raping two 18 year old female Johnson & Wales students: By Amanda Milkovits, Lynn Arditi, Providence Journal, Oct 7, 2015 (thanks to Andy Bostom) PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Four male Johnson & Wales University students have been arrested in connection with a reported sexual assault and alleged drugging of two female students at the university. The ...
South Carolina city to pay $6.5 million over police shooting of black man
2015-10-10 1:18
The family of an unarmed black man shot in the back by a white police officer will get a $6.5 million settlement from North Charleston in South Carolina, city officials said on Thursday. The man, Walter Scott, 50, was shot after fleeing a traffic stop in April. The shooting was caught on a bystander's video and reignited a national outcry over ...
Finally, The CIA Admits Covering Up JFK Assassination
2015-10-09 23:56
Suspicions that the CIA covered up JFK’s murder have finally been confirmed, according to an explosive Politico report out this week.  Fifty-two years after the President’s death, declassified documents show that the CIA were in communication with alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald before JFK’s murder in 1963, and they were monitoring his mail since 1959. Not only that but John McCone, who was Chief of the ...
More Great Media Moments in Muslim Achievement: Headscarf Lady Wins Bakeoff In Britain
2015-10-09 23:18
Last month, America rejoiced when a 14-year-old Muslim lad in Irving, Texas discovered time, thus solving the universe’s ongoing problem that everything happens at once. This month, Britain is exulting that a Muslim lady can cook better than most Brits. From the New York Times: Muslim Winner of Baking Contest Defies Prejudice in Britain By Dan Bilefsky, OCT. 8, 2015 LONDON — Prime Minister ...
More News »