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Vampire Apocalypse or Bats in his Belfry?

A friend just e-mailed me the text of this article at www.livescience.com, headlined “Vampires a Mathematical Impossiblity, Scientist Says.”

A researcher has come up with some simple math that sucks the life out of the vampire myth, proving that these highly popular creatures can’t exist.

University of Central Florida physics professor Costas Efthimiou’s work debunks pseudoscientific ideas, such as vampires and zombies, in an attempt to enhance public literacy. Not only does the public believe in such topics, but the percentages are at dangerously high level, Efthimiou told LiveScience.

Legend has it that vampires feed on human blood and once bitten a person turns into a vampire and starts feasting on the blood of others.

Efthimiou’s debunking logic: On Jan 1, 1600, the human population was 536,870,911. If the first vampire came into existence that day and bit one person a month, there would have been two vampires by Feb. 1, 1600. A month later there would have been four, and so on. In just two-and-a-half years the original human population would all have become vampires with nobody left to feed on.

If mortality rates were taken into consideration, the population would disappear much faster. Even an unrealistically high reproduction rate couldn’t counteract this effect.

“In the long run, humans cannot survive under these conditions, even if our population were doubling each month,” Efthimiou said. “And doubling is clearly way beyond the human capacity of reproduction.”

Does this guy have bats in his belfry, or what? I mean, I like using simple math and logic to debunk popular superstitions. For example, Carl Sagan did a good job on the UFO myth with this approach. Basically, he took a look at the size of the universe, the distances between planets, the number of planets possibly inhabited by intelligent life, the time it would take them to develop interstellar travel, and the number of alien visitors it would take to account for the numerous recorded sightings here on Earth – and concluded very convincingly that the probabilities against such visits were so astronomically high that there was no point in taking the discussion any further (such as theorizing about what sort of propulsion devices might make the trip from Alpha Centauri to our own solar system).

But Efthimiou’s vampire analysis totally overlooks a point so obvious that it demands a response:

His mathemtical model does not hold up, because it does not take into account the elementary fact the people can – by a variety of methods – destroy vampires before they reproduce, thus preventing the worldwide population explosion of vampires that would drown humanity from the face of the Earth.

Any ten year old could have explained this one to him.