The Serie The Last of Us of HBO has been having overwhelming success, so much so that it has revealed that the cause of in-game devastation is real, the Cordyceps fungus, is real. This has raised many questions about how much of it is science fiction and how much of it is science fact. But how plausible would an epidemic be based on the aforementioned fungus? now we might have an idea.
Expert mushroom scientists have the opportunity to step into the pop culture spotlight and share some of the scarier realities of what they know. Going by the name of mycology, which is the branch of biology that studies fungi, and one of its biggest names is Paul Edward Stamets, a mycologist and businessman who studies fungi and sells products made from them. Stamets watched The Last of Us Episode 2 and all the new details of the Cordyceps infection that the show revealed. Naturally, Stamets had ideas to share.
I have just finished watching the second episode of #TheLastOfUs and I have two opinions.
First, I’m a science-fiction fan and I love weaving the creative elements of fungi into the narrative.
But let’s get real. Cordyceps can not infect humans. pic.twitter.com/R0cLGq0GPO
— Paul Stamets (@PaulStamets) January 26, 2023
“I just finished watching the second episode of #TheLastOfUs and I have two opinions. First of all, I’m a fan of science fiction and I love weaving the creative elements of mushrooms into the narrative. But let’s be real. Cordyceps cannot infect humans.
But all organisms must eat. There are animals that are predators. There are plants that are predatory. There are fungi that are predators. We are all part of a giant food web where we are sustained by one another. This is a fiction woven with information, a subject peppered with mycology and exploiting mycophobia: the fear of fungi. It is natural for humans to fear what is powerful yet 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 as we tap into the public’s fascination, fear and joy with mushrooms.”
Apparently, Paul Edward Stamets is more fascinated by the mushroom side than against it. Stamets removes all doubt about where he is later in the thread when mushroom campaigns are our greatest ally:
“Actually, Fungi offers us today some of the best solutions needed to solve many of the existential threats we face. In fact, Cordyceps-like fungi could replace most chemical pesticides with an environmentally sound and economically scalable solution.
Who knows, a young person watching this series could become our Einstein of mycology and help save the world from the toxins we create. Breaking news: they’re everywhere, all the time, and you live with them 24/7. These same mushrooms exist under every step you take.
Mushrooms will never be defeated. Our survival depends on a peace treaty with Fungi. Mycologists can help by being the ambassadors…. to our friends, the fantastic mushrooms!”
So according to one insider, there is nothing to fear about Cordyceps fungus infecting a human. The Last of Us is available on HBO and the third episode premieres this Sunday.
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