posted on Apr, 10 2006 @ 03:25 AM
Great find, jta79. There are actually quite a number of examples of this kind of thing in nature. Dawkins describes a fluke that gets into the
eyestalks of a species of snail, causing it to change its behaviour and head towards sunlight instead of away from it. So the snail crawls out
into the open from under cover and promptly gets eaten by a bird, inside the gut of which the fluke can begin the next stage of its lifecycle.
I suppose it's possible that such a parasite mechanism could be used as a weapon of mass destruction. Imagine the scene....
With every milkshake sold at Brown's Drugstore, the deadly protazoan infects another victim....
Soon all of Slobsville is overcome by a violent epidemic of itching...
"Gaah -- I can't bear it!"
"It feels like my pants are on fire!!"
As one man, the inhabitants of the town head for the local reservoir....
"I can't take it anymore!!!"
SPLASH SPLASH SPLASH
Three hours later, the parasitologically-savvy Invaders' tanks are rolling through the deserted town...
Back in grandpa's time, every issue of Astounding Science Fiction was full of stories like this. But it was the Second World War or the Korean
War or the Cold War of whatever war it was at the time and paranoia was justified, right, you ate it on the news and heard it in your rice
And of course we all know better now, don't we?
Frankly, I think this kind of fantasy somewhat pedestrian and lacking in imagination -- a very unambitious use of the huge amount of potential
paranoia locked up in this parasite/behaviour-control idea. The thought of people (even people from outer space) using parasites to control human
behaviour is far less tingle-triggering than the possibility that the parasites themselves may be controlling us, and have been doing so for
millions of years!
Have there been any studies to establish whether being infected with the malaria fluke makes people more or less inclined to sit around outdoors in
tropical countries at dusk, causing themselves to be bitten by mosquitoes?
What if there was a parasite-vectored sexually-transmitted disease that made people want to have more sex with more people?
It's not that far-fetched. After all, tapeworm infestation does make people hungrier... and people with chicken-pox have an almost
unconquerable urge to scratch at their pustules, which breaks the skin and helps spread the infection.
Now take this kind of speculation to the next level: consider the possibility that human evolution itself has been affected and influenced by the
parasites that live off us. If not for our parasites, we would be something completely different from what we are now. To me, that's pretty
The more so, since it seems to be what actually happened, at least according to the best theories of evolutionary biology...
Hope this ramps the paranoia level up a bit.