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This question is based off an interesting scenario that I began considering while researching XCOM. It's hard to sum up, but the question is inspired by it, so I'll cover it step-by-step:

  1. Aliens called Chryssalids, which resemble giant insects kills an unfortunate person.

  2. The Chryssalid implants an egg in the victim; the baby Chryssalid within hatches

  3. The larva finds the central nervous system of the victim and hijacks it, taking control of the still (somewhat alive) victim and creating a "zombie."

In XCOM, there are serious consequences for killed civilians and soldiers, so some people will have their Psi Operative (a soldier who inexplicably gained psionic powers) Mind Control zombies so they technically don't count as dead (or lost, rather).

Assuming a similar scenario (humans are turned into something like the traditional zombie by parasitic alien larvae, then the resulting zombies are mind-controlled) happens in America, my question is: How Can The Government Maintain Positive PR?

To clarify, the human government is dealing with the zombies (which are created by the alien's insectoid soldier's implanted larvae) by having them mind-controlled; this prevents them from gaining new enemies and gives them a new asset (the new asset being zombies). This is strategically a much better choice than simply fighting the zombies, no?

Additionally, the government has managed to create special implants using alien tech that prevent their mind control-capable soldiers from using it on anything but an alien or zombie, not to mention letting an alien zombify someone (because there is a chance of that happening).

The Issues:

  1. Simply hiding the truth will be, for all intents and purposes, impossible. The aliens are attacking civilians (read: committing acts of terrorism) with the parasitic insects, so more than a few individuals will see (and likely record and/or live stream) the alien parasites creating zombies, and the subsequent mind controlling of said zombies.
  2. The government is trying to protect its citizens from the aliens (like it should). The problem is, having people capable of mind control and using those powers on zombies (reanimated victims of the alien's cruelty) is going to result in an outcry, a whole lot of backlash from humans rights and anti-government groups, new conspiracy theories....the list goes on and on, and the government will have to keep up their PR so they have the support they need from their citizens despite A) mind control and B) the fact they're using mind control on zombies.

As always, I appreciate your input and feedback, you have my sincere thanks for your contribution. As a final note, if you see a problem and chose to downvote or vote to close, please give me an explanation so I can either improve the question or do better in the future. (If my tags are wrong, I'm sorry; I made my best guess and chose governance over government or society.)

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    $\begingroup$ Until "the issues", paragraph 2, I honestly thought the zombies were in government and the whole thing was top-down control by the zombie master. I'm still not 100% convinced that that's not what's happening if all the zombies are (in PR terms) terrorists. My question is - are the government using "mind control" on non-zombies in the sense of more than just the usual press disinformation? $\endgroup$ Jan 31, 2021 at 2:05
  • $\begingroup$ President XXX: "This CCP bugs will go away! I am going to make us great again.. ouch something bites me" $\endgroup$
    – user6760
    Jan 31, 2021 at 2:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Tantalus'touch., sorry for the confusion. The humans are in charge, just trying to deal with the aliens zombifying their citizens. As for your mind control question, I mean that people are legitimately controlling the zombies with their minds. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Jan 31, 2021 at 2:39
  • $\begingroup$ @User6760, while that was hilarious, I feel the Secret Service would notice a Chryssalid and A) alert the President and B) protect the president. It would likely not take him by surprise, and if it did, he wouldn't say "Oh, something bit me" he'd be screaming as a gigantic bug pins him and stabs him with a stinger, zombifying him. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Jan 31, 2021 at 2:42
  • $\begingroup$ Does Trump not prove that a government can convince enough of the population that something obviously bad is good (impeachment, insurrection) or doesn't even exist and it's a conspiracy (covid)? $\endgroup$
    – c1moore
    Jan 31, 2021 at 19:28

3 Answers 3

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A disaster like this is a +20% to +30% polling boost for the government.

Even a mediocre handling by the government will result in a massive PR boost, especially if the government has popularity to gain.

Here is a graph of approval ratings of various world leaders during the first 3 months of 2020:

enter image description here

So casting our mind back to Jan 2020 in politics, people were pissed at their governments:

Then a disaster occurs. Look at those poll numbers! A disaster is like +30 in the polls.

I can't find numbers for all these data series but several have stayed about 30% above their Jan 2020 levels:

The actual disaster type doesn't seem to matter. Here's George W Bush's polling numbers. See if you can spot the Sep 11 2001 spike:

enter image description here

Watching TV on the other side of the planet, I remember hearing conspiracy theories about US government complicity in 9/11, or at least foreknowledge of the plan before the last tower fell. The next day I heard on a news channel "Hey that looks like a controlled demolition". Bush still got a +39% boost in polls even though the attack represented a massive FBI/CIA failure and there was discussion of problems in the narrative. He still got +14% when he invaded the wrong country 2 years later, showing you don't need to do anything correct to get a PR boost - you just have to do something and spin it right.

The "Mind control" part of your story is probably going to be unproven in the heat of the moment. It'll be an unsourced conspiracy theory like many of the post-911 ones, that kind-of fits some of the evidence but no-one knows for sure. It will turn out to be true and perhaps proven months later, but people will see zombies killing them, a government fighting back and trying to save them, and will choose the government's side - the actual details of the story like "mind control" will get lost in the rally-behind-the-flag effect.

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    $\begingroup$ Wow, I'm honestly surprised by how good disasters are for politicians; I assume they have to be handled correctly though, citizens don't take failure well (as evidenced by Scott Morrison). Still, wouldn't mind-controlling zombies cause a backlash and/or rioting? I fail to see why people would be OK with that..... $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Jan 31, 2021 at 3:16
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    $\begingroup$ @Alendyias I remember hearing conspiracy theories about US government complicity in 9/11 or at least foreknowledge of the plan before the towers even fell. Bush still got a +39% boost in polls even though the attack represented a massive FBI/CIA failure. He still got +14% when he invaded the wrong country 2 years later. The actual details of the story will get lost in the rally-behind-the-flag effect. $\endgroup$
    – Ash
    Jan 31, 2021 at 3:30
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    $\begingroup$ Good points overall; great job, this is very helpful! $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Jan 31, 2021 at 3:41
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    $\begingroup$ There are exceptions. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_Madrid_train_bombings - the Prime Minister unconvincingly blamed a terrorist attack on Basque separatists and lost the election a few days later. $\endgroup$ Jan 31, 2021 at 10:10
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    $\begingroup$ @Alendyias: I don't think the disaster needs to be handled correctly for the incumbent government to get a boost. They probably need to not be (known to be) directly responsible for causing the disaster, but that approval rating of 90 for Bush in 2001 isn't people who watched his actions and judged it to be the best any politician could possibly do, or certainly better than any Democrat would have. It's people who, in a disaster, completely change their approach to the question. $\endgroup$ Jan 31, 2021 at 17:36
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1: People will call the police if they find someone dead. Usually people are good at that.

2: Dead people are taken to a facility. We have got that going on too.

3: Dead people will be scanned for bug larva or if that cant be done, will be watched to see if they get up as zombies.

4: Back outside, people will call the police if a zombie shows up. I think people can be relied on to do that.

5: Zombies will be taken to a facility by medical personnel. People will be ok with that too. Maybe they can be helped? The zombies, I mean. People will be ok once zombies are taken away.

6: Zombies collected thru various means will be secured together, mind controlled by humans and given uniforms that conceal their identity then deployed in operations where they will not interact with civilians. If I recall, XCOM involves a lot of shooting aliens that pop up from behind various crates. Zombies could do that.

People will be upset about aliens making zombies. They will be cautioned to run from aliens they see. They will be reassured that authorities will be closely watching any crates.

People will be upset about loved ones becoming zombified. They will be happy that loved ones are getting medical help instead of getting shot. They will not know zombified mind controlled loved ones are actually wearing uniforms and fighting aliens, but would probably be proud.

Maybe after aliens are better understood zombified humans can still get medical help.

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  • $\begingroup$ I feel like eventually someone, somewhere, will get footage of soldiers fighting the aliens, see a familiar face, look closer and go "Oh my heavens, Uncle Bob is fighting the aliens! How is that medical treatment?!" In other words, strategic use of helmets is advised to conceal zombie identify. Good work, private! $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Jan 31, 2021 at 3:18
  • $\begingroup$ To be fair to the XCOM agents, mind-control is a short-term battlefield measure to prevent the imminent hatching of a Chryssalid. Using mind-controlled zombie troops as a staple of the US military is pretty much a separate issue from that immediate sticking-plaster! $\endgroup$ Jan 31, 2021 at 17:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Willk: While I accepted Ash's answer, I want you to know I still found your answer immensely helpful and I will be definitely be using it. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Feb 18, 2021 at 23:18
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You seem to be describing an invasion, involving the mass murder and zombification of citizens (all of which are far worse than mere 'terrorism').

Historically, political and legal objections are strong when the conflict does not seriously threaten society, but are ignored/overridden when folks do consider society to be in imminent danger.

So there may be regrets and navel-gazing later, but if the nature and the scale of the threat call for it, you will see (unconstitutional) press censorship, (unconstitutional) roundups and detentions, (unconstitutional) forced testing, and and (unconstitutional) tracking and monitoring of (innocent) citizens. And after the war is over, you will see statues of the President who did it and schools named after them. It happened most obviously in the USA during the Civil War, WWI and WWII.

When election time comes, free voters --if they understand the threat-- will be satisfied with nothing less than victory: The eradication of every Chryssalid, and the complete scanning of the surviving population to be sure none were missed. If the President can convince the electorate that there is a reasonable path to victory, re-election is likely. A major-wartime election is typically a single-issue election.

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  • $\begingroup$ That's just plain sad, that things like that happen here; out of curiosity, what is navel-gazing? $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Jan 31, 2021 at 3:30
  • $\begingroup$ @Alendyias It means thinking over the moral/ethical considerations - in this case it is to be done only after the event. This would be typically militaristic behavior, to "shoot first and ask questions later" in the most literal sense. $\endgroup$ Jan 31, 2021 at 3:39

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