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March 04 2009

Vampires cannot possibly exist. Bad news everyone.

I saw this headline and so help me I thought Dollhouse was cancelled. Evil! Like {imaginary} vampires!
Ah, yes, now that there's math involved, of course I don't believe in vampires.

I thought that for a second too, jengod, one awful, awful second.
...this is the sort of thing I can imagine a low-level vampire daring another one to do.

"Hey, Costas Efthimiou! I'll bet you $50 you can't convince people we don't exist." "You're on! And I'll use... MATH!"

Plus, his name anagrams to "A Sitcom? Shout Fie!" I don't trust people like that.
If the first vampire came into existence that day and bit one person a month

In the Buffyverse, at least, it seems to be fairly rare that they actually turn someone into a vampire. Mostly they just kill them (see, for example, "Lie to Me"). Plus, he's completely ignoring the effect of slayers/vampire hunters/angry mobs.

(Not that I think vampires exist, and I'm not sure that it's bad news that they don't...)
I swapped the headlines around to avoid heart failure for our RSS subscribers. But I'm sure that mathematical study has been reported here before.
I don't think it's impossible for such a creature to exist -- there's so much we don't know about our world (not to mention ourselves and our entire universe) that all one can really do is speculate and come up with their "theories."

I don't believe in many things but I'll be the first to admit that I nor anyone else 100% truly knows.
I saw that headline too and was panicking!!
Thanks Simon! I too nearly had a coronary earlier when I first saw it, haha!
Took a pretty narrow view of the vampire mythos, didn't he?
Wait, does this mean I can leave my stake home tonight?

That or vampires are VERY picky on whom to give a taste of their blood. ;)

Side note: what is professor Costas doing at this time and age (with the environment and economy) ‘debunking’ vampires?

[ edited by Mirage on 2009-03-05 09:15 ]
Ha! I guess it gets around.
And that study is highly flawed. It does not take into account the amount of vampires killed by slayers, which obviously is enough to counterbalance the exponential growth in the amount of vampires.
This is obviously bull and shows why physics professors should stay away from biology (and reporters should use their brains when covering science).

Let's try the same logic with rabbits and assume that in the year 1600, there were two rabbits in the world. In 30 days -- say a month -- there will be six more rabbits, so we have eight. Next month, there will be 32 rabbits. The next month ... you get the idea. Soon, the whole mass of Earth will have been converted to rabbits, and after that, the whole universe. Since this is impossible, rabbits don't exist.

Anya would have been so happy.

What Efthimiou fails to take into account is the cull rate, or in other words, Slayers, daylight and other hazards of being a vampire. They reduce the numbers the same way the rabbit population is kept down by cats, wolves, foxes, and earth-moving machinery. Did this guy even watch Buffy?

Now, if you really want to impress me, let's talk about energy balances. How much blood can a vampire drain per victim, how much energy is in that blood, how efficiently can the vampire convert that, and will that be enough to stay alive. That's more of a problem.
I first read this in a book called The Puzzle Book when I was in the single digits age wise. It was one in a series of books that someone in my family gave me as a hand me down. I don't know what the copyright on the books is, but if they are older than me, they are late 70s at best. It was the exact same argument.

What this argument fails to account for is what RachelKachel mentions above, simply biting a human does not make one a vampire. There are certainly different myths about vampires out there, and some might say that a bite turns someone in and of itself, but the general lore is that the bitten must then drink the blood of the vampire as well. I think it might even get more complicated than that, but I'm hazy.

I don't believe in vampires, but this argument against the myth ignores some finer points. Or at least one finer point.
As previously stated he does not take into account an underground force(slayers) or some other natural predator that might hunt the vampires for food. The "vampires" could also be supporting themselves on pig's(animal) blood so that they dont have to move around to avoid publicity or simply because they dont want to eat their less nocturnal counterparts(i e Angel).Humans have several predators on this planet that we know about such as wild animals and other humans(ie serial killers, cannibals, etc), but the population persists. Who's to definitely say that some deaths are not caused by soulless demons while the rest of us survive? I rest my case and keep my stake.

[ edited by RogueDemonWatcher on 2009-03-05 10:41 ]
I have to agree with Rachelkachel, I don't think vampires turn everyone they drink. I think that this scintist have to find a better reason why vampires can't exist.

I think I have to point out that I don't belive in them, but there is a lot of other things I don't belive in.
Not only is the argument flawed, I'd be interested to see how they came up with their population estimation for the year 1600. Archaeologists still can't agree how many native people lived in North America at that time (some argue that it was as many as 100 million). Even if we ignored the non-literate populations of Central and South America, the Antipodes, etc, estimating the population of most literate societies at that time would be hugely problematic.

Using a specific number like 536,870,911 is misleading, even if you're just using that number as an example. It makes readers (at least subconsciously) assume that you're working with concrete figures and facts. I realise that the specific population number doesn't matter to her argument, but choosing to use a specific made-up number rather than a more broadly estimated number (like 500,000,000) is not helpful.
There are two types of people in the world: those who know the mathematical reason why vampires cannot exist and those who do not.

Let us assume that those who know the reason, explain it to somebody who doesn't know at the rate of one every month, turning those people into people who know the reason. Applying the same mathematical arguments as Costas Efthimiou has done, we can demonstrate that it is mathematically impossible for people to exist who know the mathematical reason why vampires cannot exist.

Thus we prove that Costas Efthimiou does not exist.

[ edited by AlanD on 2009-03-05 13:05 ]
That's what they want you to think!
Pfft, science. According to "science", a bumble bee is incapable of flight.

Also, shouldn't they be busy trying to cure the common cold?
Or something "mathy", even :)
Where's my flying car?!
Yes. That's why they don't exist. Maths.
Pfft, science.

Hey! Some of my best friends are scientists! (In fact... I'm a scientist. Well, according to my diploma anyway, now I just write about scientists, which is a whole other thing :p)

Also AlanD, your assumption that people would tell others the reason is missing one minor thing: the need to tell others, like the Vampires' need to feed. (Heh, "the need to feed"... there must be vampire fiction out there somewhere with that title, right? Anyway, moving on...). But given the major deficiencies in the linked "theory", I'd say yours is minor ;).

So, yeah, agreeing with everyone else (how could one not): this is math for silly people :).
According to "science", a bumble bee is incapable of flight.

Actually, according to science bee flight is explainable, just incredibly complex.
I don't think this math is for silly people. Just is a way to prove that something we already now impossible don't exist. What means this guy has much free time.

Now, if you really want to impress me, let's talk about energy balances. How much blood can a vampire drain per victim, how much energy is in that blood, how efficiently can the vampire convert that, and will that be enough to stay alive. That's more of a problem.

There was a video in youtube, of Spike and Buffy, in the MTV pop Ups style, wich has an info about the amount of blood a vampire should drink. But it was in pints, and my dictionary siad there is a Brit and an American pint, so I can't get the right mesure , even it been very high.

And bobw1o is wrigh. Most of the good vampire lore tells that: Buffy: To make you a vampire they have to suck your blood. And then you have to suck their blood. It's like a whole big sucking thing. Mostly they're just gonna kill you.
What's even worse news is that vampires certainly do exist (and I don't mean the recent fad of fashionable vampire wannabes who get capped "fangs", swap blood, and that whole schtick.)

Of course, those (real) vampires aren't actually (un)dead, they have no supernatural powers, and they don't really live on the blood they drink from their victims, but hey, nobody's perfect...
It's the possibility of vampires that makes their mythos exciting, dark, and mysterious, not that they actually exist. And just my luck, if they did, it would be Nosferatu scratching on my bedroom window, not Spike or Angel (how's that for glass half empty this morning?) :=)
OH PLEASE, don't tell me that I can't even dream of Spike coming to visit me in the dark of night. {:-)) Of course it was Alex O'Loughlin as Mick and Jason Dohring as Josef in Moonlight that make me believe that vampires walked among us. And because of them I got hooked on Buffy (IMO the BEST series ever made) and Angel. My two favorite vamps, Spike and Angelus....I wear my cross and carry my stake, just in case.LOL
Pfft, science. According to "science", a bumble bee is incapable of flight.
"Science" has never, at any time, said bee flight was impossible. That's an old wives tale. Not only is it not true, it shows a complete misunderstanding of how science works. Science adjusts its theories to fit the facts, not the other way around.
Coming from a scientist, this isn't science. This is a man with much too much time on his hands and probably a young female relative who's hopelessly in love with Edward Cullen whom he wishes to shut up somehow.
Science adjusts its theories to fit the facts, not the other way around.

That may be how science should work, but in reality it does happen the other way around, sometimes.
I've read this before here... but it's still a great article.

This is why some mythos say that you have to develop a snythetic blood.
That may be how science should work, but in reality it does happen the other way around, sometimes.

Aren't you confusing science with religion? :)
Well, if this highly suspicious mathematical coverup is to be believed, I suppose my friend and I are safe now. We've agreed that if we ever encountered Angelus, we'd end up going willingly to our deaths.
I always knew that math was the highest evil.
But Santa Claus is still good, right?
Actually, static aerodynamics did "prove" that a bumblebee couldn't fly. The amount of thrust generated by the wings wasn't enough to overcome the reasonably large mass of the body. But, taking into account the dynamics and the fact that bumblebees' wings change shape as they move, the aerodyanmics changes, math happens and *poof* bumblebees can fly again. Plus, you get to spend more time in the cool wind tunnels and then many, many more hours pulling your hair out trying to analyize the dynamic data and force it into the database.

Life and engineering would be so much easier if everything was rigid, uncompressible, frictionless and adiabatic. But, then, trained squirrels would be able to do engineering (trained vampire squirrels...just to keep this on topic) and I'd be out of a job.
GVH: Similarly, vampires have a need to feed, but they do not have a need to kill those that they feed on, and they certainly do not have a need to turn those that they kill. Efthimiou's assumptions are as worthless as mine. GIGO.
Someone did this better (PDF) with a predator-prey model.
Actually, static aerodynamics did "prove" that a bumblebee couldn't fly.
No, it only proved that static aerodynamics is not an accurate model for bee flight. And the scientists and engineers involved understood it that way. It was an advancement of science, not a setback.
Someone did this better (PDF) with a predator-prey model.

Now that is an excellent piece of work. Fun!
Wow. Vampires don't exist, and bumblebees can fly... Learn something new every day...
Obviously not surprised... though, I dunno. Maybe my next vampire story will have some stars that feed once every 100 years. Problem solv-ed.
Now that is an excellent piece of work. Fun!

Yes, it's great. I particularly like how it shows the system approaching a stable state and movement away from that is called an Apocalypse. We need a new model post-S7. ;)
We've agreed that if we ever encountered Angelus, we'd end up going willingly to our deaths.
Hehe - me too!

Vampires wouldn't turn everyone they ate, and they'd probably feed as and when they liked. They also haven't taken into account the human birthrate, any vampires who may have had souls or chips, and (as previously mentioned) the slayers.
I've always hated maths.
I thought of one more point in this "argument". He does not take into account vampire infighting, feeding or power struggles, etc.
As many others pointed out, this guys entire study is based on the fact that vampires turn everyone they bite into a vampire or kill them. This is just not true. Feeding without turning or killing is possible in almost all vampire legends.

Think how many girls have been fed on by their vampire boyfriends over the years without turning or killing. We have Buffy, Sookie, Mina, etc...

He also lumps zombies in with vampires.

Now we all know that zombies do change their victims with even a drop of blood in some cases (28 days later), but most vampires have to work relatively hard to turn someone into a vampire.

So yes, a zombie outbreak could replace the earths population in just a few short years and must be destroyed by nuclear bombs.

The vampire population could control their population easily though. Plus unlike a zombie, a vampire is an intelligent thinking being that knows that his gift is only special if he is the only one to have it.

So there, I just proved vampires do exist!
Now if you will excuse me I have to go sharpen Mr. Pointy.

[ edited by Jaynes Hat on 2009-03-05 20:00 ]
Yes, this "math" proof is of laughably poor quality in terms of logic, since he sets up a straw man with an ideal myth for the purpose of his debunking, but ignores the other possible variations. I've actually seen this sort of thing with disturbing frequency recently by supposed experts who are woefully ignorant of the requirements of a logical proof.

If the supposedly rationalistic folks can't get their logic correct, what hope have we?

Still, this is news? That vampires don't exist? Wow. Next thing they'll tell me there really isn't a Firefly-class starship, or that LA didn't disappear into a Hell-dimension for a bit there over the last couple of years.
PaulfromSunnydale: although, who can really say whether or not LA's in a Hell-dimension? I don't know that it would change much.
That's the reason why I DONT believe in math!
If you treat a bumblebee as a fixed wing aircraft, it crashes, and we know that bumblebees can fly. That observation then leads to the solution: treat the bumblebee as a helicopter, and it can then fly. This is a triumph of science, not a disaster.

I'm not sure what the point of the article was, unless it was to demonstrate that from bad assumptions and incorrect application of math garbage follows. If that was the idea, well done.
The greatest trick vampires ever pulled was convincing the world they didn't exist. And like that, poof. They're gone.
Darwinian response: Vampires that overfeed will kill off the livestock and have nothing to eat. Those vampires die off. (Assuming vampires need to feed to survive).

Vampires with a little self control eat and reproduce at a sustainable level. They need to keep any offpring in line to prevent them from overeating, or else the offspring could ruin the food supply as well. As long as they do this, they survive.
I'm a physicist. This guy's argument gives us a bad name.

Obviously vampires aren't real, but this isn't the way to prove it.
Easy WilliamTheB, the is just "MythBusters" wannabe without cool gadgets and nice budget.

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