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Zombies of Wade Davis’s Book Paper

Wade Davis’ book on Zombies was far from fictional in nature. It attempts to provide a rational and scientific explanation on the existence of zombies in our world. In order to achieve such goal, Davis went into the island of Haiti where sightings of zombies are most often reported and tales of zombies originated. Based on his research, Davis concludes the following: real zombies exist. However, the zombie described by Davis was considerably different than the ones displayed on movies and fictional literatures (Davis, 1988). According to Davis, zombies are extremely few in numbers.

They are created by a poisoned powder and effects from the Haitian culture. Davis believes that zombies are created when a person falls into a death-like trance witch is induced by both drug and culture suggestions. After the person fell into the death-like trance, he / she is revived and kept under the control of a ‘master’ by means of drugs. Davis believed that zombies are created by Voodoo priests who are members of the ‘Bizango’ secret societies, a totally secret and hidden group of people beneath the surface of Haitian society.

In addition, Davis believed that ‘zombification’ –the activity of making a zombie is not random, not for profit and not for personal vendetta. It is actually the ultimate punishment for someone who has seriously violated the rules and laws of the Bizango secret society (Davis, 1988). One of the strongest evidence in Davis’ book –and also in many other books- is the experience of Clairvius Narcisse. In 1962, Narcisse was declared ‘officially’ dead and was buried. However, according to his own story, he was later secretly unburied and ‘zombified’ by a master.

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Supposedly, the zombie master enslaved Narcisse with other zombies to work on his sugar plantation. In 1964, when the zombie master died, the zombies become masterless and they wandered across the island in a psychotic daze. In the case of Narcisse, he wandered for 16 years until the drug that made him psychotic finally wore off (Davis, 1988). In 1980, Narcisse discovered her long-lost sister and recognized her. The women did not recognized him, but the records revealed that the man claimed to be Narcisse spoke of childhood memories that only he could possibly knew.

Because the death of Narcisse was neatly recorded by a hospital, the experience of Narcisse has then become one of the strongest proofs of zombie’s existence (Davis, 1988). Along with the story of Narcisse, Davis also describes the steps in the zombification process. Some of the important ones were using natural poisons from exotic frogs and fish to create a death-like trance. This drug created the effect of a very slow breathing and very weak heart beat, which resulted common people to assume that the victim is already dead.

After the victim was buried, he must be dug-out less than 8 hours from his death or he will actually die within the grave. Davis explained that because the Haitian weather required quick burial –the wet and humid temperature caused corpses to rot faster than normal-, it is perfect for the process of zombification. After the victim is ‘revived’, he/she will be given a drug to weaken the mind and erase memories that will cause he/she to be uncontrollable to the master zombie (Cassiel, 1989). III. 2. Critiques on Davis’ Book

Despite the scientific nature of Davis’ book, the literature received tremendous amount of critiques as it induced controversy. First, scientists questioned Davis’s ethics, because he would have to observe the desecration of graves when gathering ingredients for the powder. Second, observer also questioned whether the experiments with the powder were scientifically controlled and tested. Third, scientist point out the argument that Davis has repeated the topical applications of the powder using rats and came up with no effect.

Fourth, scientist pointed out the fact that there have been several studies performed on alleged zombies and discovered only clear cases of mental illness and mistaken identity (‘Zombies’. 1997). IV. Conclusions Overall, most people who saw Davis’ work as the only possible scientific explanation for the Haitian zombie phenomenon. However, many dismiss the literature as unscientific or even fraudulent in nature. Without significant amount of scientific support toward Davis’ work, there is no other argument that supported the existence of zombies in the world.

With the lack of scientific evidences that clarify the possibility of Zombie’s existence until this day, the tale of zombie is left as no more than Hollywood’s money-making tool and little more.


Allen, W. H. 1986. “Stories of the Walking Dead. ” Severn House, Cassiel. 1989. ‘The Encyclopedia of Black Magic’. New York Mallard Books Davis, Wade. 1988. ‘PASSAGE OF DARKNESS: THE ETHNOBIOLOGY OF THE HAITIAN ZOMBIE’. Chapel Hill, The University of North Carolina Press. “Zombies May Not Be what they’re Reputed to Be. ” 1997. Doctor’s Guide, Retrieved December 22, 2006 from http://www. pslgroup. com/dg/3D806. htm

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