A scientist explains how the Cordyceps virus could actually happen
The last of us The HBO series brought the dark and twisted mythology of the hit video game series to a much wider audience, raising many questions about how much of it is science fiction and how much is science fact. TV version of The last of us It’s expanded the mythology of a world-turning fungal virus outbreak into a dystopia, giving us more science-based horror about how a fungus like Cordyceps could mutate into a world-ending threat.
Now, thanks The last of us The HBO TV series, scientists who are experts on fungi get a chance to step into the spotlight of popular culture and share some spooky facts of what they know.
Mycology is the branch of biology that studies fungi, and one of its biggest names is Paul Edward Stamets, a mycologist and entrepreneur who studies fungi and sells products made from them. Stamets saw episode 2 of The last of us The show revealed all the new details about the Cordyceps infection. Naturally, Stamets had ideas to share — and what better place to do that than Twitter?
I just finished watching the second episode of #The last of us And I have two opinions.
First off, I’m a sci-fi fan and love incorporating the creative elements of fungi into the narrative.
But let’s be realistic. Cordyceps cannot infect humans. pic.twitter.com/R0cLGq0GPO
– Paul Stamets (@PaulStamets) January 26, 2023
“I just finished watching episode two of #TheLastOfUs and I have two opinions,” Stamets said at the beginning of his thread. “First off, I’m a sci-fi fan and love weaving the creative elements of fungi into the narrative. But let’s be real. Cordyceps cannot infect humans.
But all living things must eat. There are predators. There are predatory plants. There are predatory fungi. We are all part of a giant food web where we support each other. This is a figment of fictional information a topic tinged with mycology and exploiting Mycophobia: the fear of fungi. It is natural for humans to be afraid of what is powerful but mysterious and misunderstood.
So I applaud the writers for seeing this opportunity to take us on a literary adventure into the realm of science fiction while exploiting the public’s fascination, fear, and joy with fungi.”
As you may be able to discern from these statements, Paul Edward Stamets is for fungi, not against them. Stamets erases all doubt about his whereabouts later in the topic When fungi campaigns are our greatest ally:
“In fact, fungi today offer us some of the best solutions needed to solve many of the existential threats we face. In fact, fungi similar to Cordyceps can replace the majority of chemical pesticides with a solution that is ecologically reasonable and economically scalable.
Who knows, any young person who watches this series can become the Einstein of our mycology and help save the world from the poisons we create. News flash: They are everywhere, all the time, and you live with them 24/7. This fungus is under every step you take.
You will never defeat the fungus. Our survival depends on a peace treaty with fungi. Mycologists can help by being ambassadors….to our friends, the wonderful fungi! “
Stamets may be right about one thing: The last of us The HBO series (and the game) is perhaps the best mycology recruitment campaign we’ve seen…maybe ever. And yes, I hope everything Stamets said about fungus being our friend is true, because we’ve seen what the alternative looks like, and… no thanks.
The last of us New episodes air on HBO Sunday nights.