A genetic mutation is causing people to have a cerebrovascular accident as soon as they think or do something considered immoral by the society in which they live.

For instance, in most countries, in the following situations, these people would immediately die of stroke:

  • Someone sees a nice watch and he thinks of stealing it.
  • Someone is very angry, he thinks of hurting someone else.
  • A man sees a women and thinks of cheating on his wife.

In some societies where people have different education and moral values, a similar action would not provoke the death.

  • In a tribal village, killing someone else might be considered brave, so thinking about doing it will not provoke a stroke.
  • In a terrorist group, thinking of killing your enemy is considered your mission, so it will not provoke a stroke.

While in some other societies where moral rules are more precise, people would die for "minor" thoughts.

  • In a religious village, a woman dies when she starts gossiping or judging others.
  • Someone dies because he spits on the sidewalk.

All humans have this mutation, it has been triggered by global warming and is irreversible.

What could happen in such a world? Would most people die because of the rule of society? Would small group of link minded individuals flourish? Would people start moving towards other countries to be able to think freely? How could one control its thoughts to avoid dying?

  • $\begingroup$ God: "Eat not of the forbidden fruit! Or yee shall die". Adam&Eve: "pffft, what can possibly go wrong?" God: "Don't even think about it" - No free will or free thinking makes Jack a dull boy. $\endgroup$ Dec 27, 2015 at 14:32
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    $\begingroup$ I would have died this morning, when I left my purse in a public place, and as I went back to get it, imagined myself finding someone else's wallet in that situation. One of my thoughts was "would I steal it?" The answer was no, but considering it would have killed me rather than made me feel bad for half a second. Oh, that's if the jaywalking didn't kill me first. $\endgroup$
    – Karen
    Dec 27, 2015 at 18:07

3 Answers 3


If one's mortality suddenly respected the morals of the culture which they identify with, then sociopaths and perhaps certain psychopaths would be immune. The human race would therefore survive your moral plague, but they would be thin on the ground after the dying began.

Extreme hermits and maybe megalomaniacs might also survive as the former makes their own rules and the latter holds themselves above all rules.

Now for its effects upon our world, I would assume that nobody, outside of the previously mentioned mentally ill, will survive. Further the accumulation of dead bodies and the resulting decay and bacterial growth, will wipe out the few who remain. This is an E.L.E.

There would be a few lucky ones, who happened to stay pure minded during the initial massive waves of death. In the unlikely event that I was among those survivors and lived long enough to learn that virtue was now a survival skill, I would get and stay so insanely drunk that my moral compass would drown completely. Then, in the inhibition-free zone of the extremely intoxicated, I might live for a few more days, blissfully unaware that I am stretching my culture's expectations to a now fatal level,

...until either my buzz or my liver gave out.

  • $\begingroup$ While this answer is great on it's own. I did want to mention this. Just to help people realize how fast everyone would die. One of the most prominent issues is that the brain acts more as a filter of bad ideas than a creator of good ones. This happens because we have a lot of experience in life. so we start with checking the list of known options. you see a toothbrush. first on list. brush teeth. the conscious brain accepts the idea and we move on. But if you know you can make a shiv with it. It will be an option. you already brushed your teeth? option shiv is presented. and you die $\endgroup$
    – skippy
    Aug 20, 2019 at 15:44

Natural selection:

Here's the crucial part: Most moral systems include a clause that makes it immoral to doubt the moral system.

Result: As immoral thoughts are suddenly deadly, natural selection raises it's ugly head and starts thinning out those who are unable to only have "pure" thoughts. Large parts of society die.

Assuming we don't immediately drop under the repopulation limit, the survivors eventually start rebuilding society. Since society has collapsed enough for normal moral values to become lost, new morals form. Natural selection again kicks in, favoring those societies with clearly defined, but easy to follow morals (= less strokes) over others. "Evil" societies probably wouldn't strive, due to the inherent problems with maintaining a ordered evil society.

Society reforms, globalization happens, morals shift rapidly, we start the circle anew.

Follow up question: What would happen if someone had warned us beforehand?


Your question sparks fear in me. It could very well turn the world into a setting like a zombie apocalypse, albeit without zombies. I believe immorality is not just thinking of sin, but as giving in to that temptation and acting on it. Your example seems rather 'unforgiving,' and in my belief, would most undoubtedly lead to the deaths of all humans.

However, practitioners of monasticism, altruism and asceticism might have a longer lifespan.

You may also need to consider 'universal sins.' For example, killing your neighbor out of boredom is, to my knowledge, sinful all over the world.


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