Could Humans Survive In A Post-Apocalyptic World? The Experiment That Proves How Hard It Will Be


If our civilization as we know it collapsed, would we survive? Could we kill animals and prepare our own food without the help of electrical appliances? Could we spend our days chopping wood and build our own shelters? Or are we so dependent on technology that we would be at a loss
without it?

These were some of the thoughts academic Dylan Evans was pondering in 2006 while working in robotics in England. He believed at the time that we were heading into a sort of “Star Trek future” and it would be wonderful. Then he started becoming a bit skeptical.

“I feared that we might drift into a position where we are so dependent on machines, we couldn’t switch them off because we couldn’t live without them. So I became more and more skeptical about technology.

“I started reading a lot and some quite famous scientists were talking about whether this modern technological civilization could collapse. There have been many civilizations in the past that have collapsed – the Roman Empire, The Mayans – but they were all fairly pre-industrial and we tend to think now that couldn’t happen.

“But why not? Maybe it could, and so I started thinking about if it did happen, would we be able to survive? Have we already drifted into a position where we are so dependent on technology that we couldn’t survive without it or would it be possible for some survivors to relearn how to live in an old-fashioned way?”

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So instead of just sitting back and theorizing what could happen, Dylan decided the best way to explore what life would be like in the aftermath of a global collapse would be to act out that exact situation.

A certain theory about global warming led him to the Scottish Highlands; the belief that it is going to get very hot in the south of the UK, too hot to survive and there won’t be enough rain to grow crops. While in Scotland, the rainfall would continue and if it warmed up a bit, that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

And so he set up a camp at Culbokie on the Black Isle near Inverness – and called it Utopia – and put an appeal on his website asking for volunteers to take part in a “post-apocalyptic” experiment. It was to run for 18 months but volunteers could come and go as they pleased. Looking back, Dylan said he had some “very naive predictions” about what was going to happen.

He said: “I thought it was going to be very rosy and wonderful, that if we got past the first initial practical survival element, people might end up being a lot happier without technology around us.


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“There’s a phrase that a science fiction writer coined, ‘cosy catastrophe’ and it’s surprising how many people believe in that; many people just laugh at the idea, most people would probably think it would be more like the movie, The Road where it’s a very bleak, horrible time. But there is this belief in some science fiction writing which sees the collapse of technology is perhaps a good thing – we’re all stressed and unhealthy and obese and maybe if we just went back to living in a more natural way we might end up being happier. That was the main idea I had.”

Over the course of the experiment, Dylan said they had around 50 volunteers with as many as 15 at any one time. Ages and backgrounds ranged from a 67-year-old retired teacher to families with young children. Among the participants was Dylan himself, a fact he admits now ended up being part of the experiment’s downfall.

“I had two roles – one was the organizer and another one was a participant. In the end that was part one of the problems because I didn’t do either particularly well. One moment I’d be distracted getting stuck into a day to day life, planning something, then next moment I’d be planning something and I’d be distracted by helping run after an escaped pig.”

On a day to day basis, the participants spent their time doing manual work such as preparing the land for food and chopping wood while at night they would sit around and chat before retiring to their yurts.


For a long time, Dylan’s prediction that it would “all be rosy” seemed to be coming true, especially in the summer months when it was still warm and chopping wood in the sun was a great alternative to sitting in an office all day.

He said it wasn’t just him either that enjoyed it; most people who signed up had a great time – apart from one woman who got out her car, took one look around and got back in and left.

But for Dylan the happiness wasn’t to last and around a year in, he admitted he “stopped enjoying it”.

“I was slipping down into a depression. I had suffered from depression a few times before but I had always gone to the doctors straight away and got antidepressants and they worked well. I’d always managed to work throughout previous episodes.

“But this time I didn’t take any antidepressants because there weren’t any doctors in a post-apocalyptic world. And anyway I’m back in nature, I should be happy, there shouldn’t be a need for antidepressants. It got worse because I didn’t deal with it. I started drifting into a deeper depression than I ever did before.

“In the end, I was really suicidal so I went to a local doctor. I told him what I was doing, that I was living in this post-apocalyptic experiment and he was like ‘oh this is a bit above my head’ and so he recommended I see a psychiatrist.”


This meeting would eventually lead Dylan to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital for a month. When he was released he returned to Utopia but only to tell his volunteers the experiment was over.

“People told me ‘we like it here, we’re staying’. I kind of thought I could say to them ‘right it has gone on long enough, the experiment is over’ and they would all go away. But they didn’t so it wasn’t my experiment, in the end, it was theirs.”


Another problem that Dylan admits now he should have foreseen happening was that the people in the experiment began to actually believe they were, in fact, living in a post-global collapse. It’s nothing new in social research however and Dylan spoke about the Stanford Prison experiment as an example. It was a study of the psychological effects of becoming a prisoner or prison guard. It had to be stopped after just five or six days after “the guards” became really cruel towards those playing the role of the prisoners.

“What this teaches is if you start to act something out and intensely imagine yourself in a kind of situation, it very quickly becomes real for you,” Dylan explained.

”People started to craft a lot of weapons to defend themselves from…who knows what, they stopped sharing their food and water and most of them separated into small groups.”

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“So there was time when I started to wonder whether the boundary between fantasy and reality was becoming rather blurred and people were acting and talking like as if
they really believed civilization had really collapsed which was quite scary.

“I think I was drifting that way too but when I saw people taking it more seriously than I had imagined they would then that made me realize that it was going a bit too far.”

Pretending in a post-apocalypse experiment turned the people to fight and defend the loved ones, imagine for a second a real scenario where most of the people will kill for a can of beans.


For a long time, Dylan said he couldn’t make sense of what had happened and continually changed his mind about his conclusions. Now with fairly stable observations he has decided to speak about his experiment – and write a book, The Utopia Experiment.

He said much of his analysis is about the likelihood of a real disaster occurring but he also learned a lot about himself too.

“One of my main conclusions is there is a risk of this sort of thing happening but its a lot less probable than I thought at the time,” he said.

“Modern civilization is a lot more robust, I’m not saying it won’t happen but it’s not the sort of thing we should all be rushing out and becoming survivalists for. And also if it did happen it definitely wouldn’t be a cozy catastrophe, it would be a nightmare.

“I’m not even sure I would want to survive. In The Road movie, the father and the young boy are traipsing across this desolate landscape but the mother isn’t there because she’s committed suicide and now I think maybe that is the rational thing to do, who would want to live in that kind of world?

“The survival instinct is pretty strong so there would be people who would just survive whatever but I don’t think it would be a pleasant existence.”

One of the most surprising things to me about Dylan’s thoughts about the experiment was that for a long time he thought it was the worst mistake of his life – and how he was deeply ashamed about it because, in his eyes, it ended so badly.

But now he takes a different viewpoint – one that is much closer to my own about his decision to explore the idea of the survival of the human race.

“Now I’ve kind of come to a position where I am glad about it,” he said. “Even if it did turn into a nightmare in the end. A lot of people have dreams but they never do anything about it. But I did and, OK it turned into a nightmare, but at least I followed my dream. I learned a lot and I learned a lot about myself.”


It was a lesson that Dylan admits was an expensive one in certain respects. To achieve his dream he gave up his job and sold his house to fund the project – and after it was done all he had left was the possessions he had in a field in the Highlands.

But it was also a cheap lesson, Dylan explained, as he discovered that one of the biggest things he got out of it all was that he is no longer afraid of what is going to happen in the future.

He added: “Preparedness is best done in this order: awareness, education, and then action. In our initial panic, we steered clear of education and jumped right into the action phase. That’s my style, I guess. Early on I bought a lot of cheap “survival” products that were recently sent to a thrift store as a donation.

I’ve since figured out that buying the best quality we can afford is smart, even if we have to wait until we have the money. A high-quality pair of walking shoes could make the difference between life and death someday. We want tools, supplies, and even food that is meant to last for the long haul, not bargain basement specials that are cheaply produced and quickly fall apart.”

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Our grandfathers had more knowledge than any of us today and thrived even when modern conveniences were not available. They were able to produce and store their food for long periods of time. All the knowledge our grandfathers had, in one place.Here’s just a glimpse of what you’ll find in the book:

The Lost Ways is a far-reaching book with chapters ranging from simple things like making tasty bark-bread-like people did when there was no food to building a traditional backyard smokehouse… and much, much, much more!


Discover how to survive: Most complete survival tactics, tips, skills and ideas like how to make pemmican, snowshoes, knives, soap, beer, smokehouses, bullets, survival bread, water wheels, herbal poultices, Indian roundhouses, root cellars, primitive navigation, and much more at The Lost Ways


Here’s just a glimpse of what you’ll find in The Lost Ways:

From Ruff Simons, an old west history expert, and former deputy, you’ll learn the techniques and methods used by the wise sheriffs from the frontiers to defend an entire village despite being outnumbered and outgunned by gangs of robbers and bandits, and how you can use their wisdom to defend your home against looters when you’ll be surrounded.

Native American ERIK BAINBRIDGE – who took part in the reconstruction of the native village of Kule Loklo in California, will show you how Native Americans build the subterranean roundhouse, an underground house that today will serve you as a storm shelter, a perfectly camouflaged hideout, or a bunker. It can easily shelter three to four families, so how will you feel if, when all hell breaks loose, you’ll be able to call all your loved ones and offer them guidance and shelter? Besides that, the subterranean roundhouse makes an awesome root cellar where you can keep all your food and water reserves year-round.

From Shannon Azares you’ll learn how sailors from the XVII century preserved water in their ships for months on end, even years and how you can use this method to preserve clean water for your family cost-free.

Mike Searson – who is a Firearm and Old West history expert – will show you what to do when there is no more ammo to be had, how people who wandered the West managed to hunt eight deer with six bullets, and why their supply of ammo never ran out. Remember the panic buying in the first half of 2013? That was nothing compared to what’s going to precede the collapse.

From Susan Morrow, an ex-science teacher and chemist, you’ll master “The Art of Poultice.” She says, “If you really explore the ingredients from which our forefathers made poultices, you’ll be totally surprised by the similarities with modern medicines.” Well…how would you feel in a crisis to be the only one from the group knowing about this lost skill? When there are no more antibiotics, people will turn to you to save their ill children’s lives.

If you liked our video tutorial on how to make Pemmican, then you’ll love this: I will show you how to make another superfood that our troops were using in the Independence war, and even George Washington ate on several occasions. This food never goes bad. And I’m not talking about honey or vinegar. I’m talking about real food! The awesome part is that you can make this food in just 10 minutes and I’m pretty sure that you already have the ingredients in your house right now.

Really, this is all just a peek.

The Lost Ways is a far-reaching book with chapters ranging from simple things like making tasty bark-bread-like people did when there was no food to building a traditional backyard smokehouse… and much, much, much more!


And believe it or not, this is not all…

Table Of Contents:

The Most Important Thing
Making Your Own Beverages: Beer to Stronger Stuff
Ginger Beer: Making Soda the Old Fashioned Way
How North American Indians and Early Pioneers Made Pemmican
Spycraft: Military Correspondence During The 1700’s to 1900’s
Wild West Guns for SHTF and a Guide to Rolling Your Own Ammo
How Our Forefathers Built Their Sawmills, Grain Mills, and Stamping Mills
How Our Ancestors Made Herbal Poultice to Heal Their Wounds
What Our Ancestors Were Foraging For? or How to Wildcraft Your Table
How Our Ancestors Navigated Without Using a GPS System
How Our Forefathers Made Knives
How Our Forefathers Made Snowshoes for Survival
How North California Native Americans Built Their Semi-subterranean Roundhouses
Our Ancestors’Guide to Root Cellars
Good Old Fashioned Cooking on an Open Flame
Learning from Our Ancestors How to Preserve Water
Learning from Our Ancestors How to Take Care of Our Hygiene When There Isn’t Anything to Buy
How and Why I Prefer to Make Soap with Modern Ingredients
Temporarily Installing a Wood-Burning Stove during Emergencies
Making Traditional and Survival Bark Bread…….
Trapping in Winter for Beaver and Muskrat Just like Our Forefathers Did
How to Make a Smokehouse and Smoke Fish
Survival Lessons From The Donner Party

Click here to get your paperback copy of The Lost Ways and The Lost Ways II